Michigan to Spend On Cancer Research

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Michigan will spend about $1 billion of its tobacco settlement money on research intended to make the state a national leader in the race to cure diseases.

"There's often a lot of talk about research like this, but this time there's a tremendous amount of money involved," Gov. John Engler said Monday as he signed legislation funding the initiative.

Under the plan, $50 million will be spent annually for the next two decades to encourage life sciences research at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan State University in East Lansing, Wayne State University in Detroit and the private Van Andel Institute.

Amway Corp. billionaires Betty and Jan Van Andel have separately pledged $1 billion for the nonprofit medical research institute, set to open next year. Engler signed the bill inside the partially completed institute.

SCLC Cancels Session In South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A prominent civil rights group canceled its national convention in Charleston to protest lawmakers' refusal to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol dome.

"We will urge every organization and corporation who loves justice to join this effort to push America back from the brink of senseless tribalism," Martin Luther King III, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said on the steps of the Statehouse.

The announcement came four days before about 2,500 delegates and their families were to arrive in Charleston. The decision could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Lanneau Siegling, the former chairman of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The NAACP voted last week, at the urging of its South Carolina chapter, to boycott the state for flying the banner.

Eye Doctor Convicted Of Fraud in Art Theft

LOS ANGELES A wealthy Beverly Hills eye doctor was convicted on fraud charges after arranging the theft of two of his own paintings to collect $17.5 million in insurance money. Steven Cooperman, who could face more than 20 years in prison, had pleaded not guilty, claiming that a former friend stole his Picasso s Nude Before a Mirror and Monet s The Custom Officer s Cabin at Pourville out of jealousy. Cooperman showed little emotion when U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie read the verdict of guilty on the first of 18 counts against him. A jury convicted him on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements to banks and filing false tax returns. Cooperman, 57, is cheduled to be sentenced in October.

Addenda

NEW CUYAMA, Calif. -- Aircraft bombarded wind-driven flames in a 6,000-acre wildfire crackling through 75-year-old thickets skirting Los Padres National Forest. Hundreds of firefighters endured temperatures in the 90s and steep, rocky terrain while 13 air tankers and helicopters dumped fire retardant, said Santa Monica fire Capt. Charlie Johnson.

LOS ANGELES -- Friends of Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Kathleen Ann Soliah posted her $1 million bail, allowing her to return to Minnesota to await trial on charges she planted bombs under police cars during the 1970s.

ALBUQUERQUE -- A former Church of Christ minister received a 15-year federal prison sentence for torching or vandalizing four Mormon churches, including the one where his ex-lover was the organist. Prosecutors said Walter Grassie, 50, was upset when the organist, Sharlene Jensen, broke off their eight-year affair, saying her Mormon faith bars her from getting a divorce.