MUSKEGON, Mich. -- A firefighter put his reptile-handling experience to good use when he rescued a 6-foot-long python from a burning home in western Michigan.
Muskegon firefighter Scott Hemmelsbach told The Muskegon Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1jQ2Vbf ) that he reluctantly agreed to enter the two-story, smoke-filled house Sunday night to retrieve the snake. He says he cradled the "weighty" snake before carrying it to safety.
"It was trying to crawl up the side of his terrarium and get out," Hemmelsbach said. "His face was pushed up on the screen and trying to get out. There was a lot of smoke and he was trapped."
The firefighter said he learned how to handle snakes while he was at Grand Haven High School, where he helped showcase them.
"I'd take them around and show them to the kids in the elementary classes," he said. "That didn't bother me at all."
When Hemmelsbach reached the python inside the home, he gingerly handled him so not to scare the reptile.
"I removed the screen off the top and knew to approach it by coming up behind his head. He became very active, and I was glad because that meant that he was OK."
Two people in the home escaped without injury, fire officials said. The fire significantly damaged the home, and the cause is under investigation.
"I would do it for any creature," Hemmelsbach said. "I'm just glad it had a happy ending."
Gives docs temporary Medicare fix: Congress once again has given doctors temporary relief from a flawed Medicare payment formula that threatened them with a 24 percent cut in their fees. A 64-35 Senate vote Monday cleared the measure for President Barack Obama's signature, which was expected as early as today. The $21 billion bill would stave off a 24 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements to doctors for a year and extend dozens of other expiring health care provisions, such as higher payment rates for rural hospitals. The legislation is paid for by cuts to health care providers, but fully half of the cuts won't kick in for 10 years.
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Appears under debate: The Obama administration appears to have begun considering the early release of Jonathan Pollard, an American serving a life sentence for spying for Israel, as it tries to nudge the Middle East peace process forward. On Monday, U.S. officials conspicuously declined to comment on reports that Pollard's release might be under consideration. Just days earlier, the State Department had issued flat denials after Israeli press reports that the idea was under discussion.
Camp won't run for re-election: U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican who has in recent years chaired the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, will not seek re-election this year, adding to the growing number of Michigan members of Congress heading toward the exits. Camp, 60, made the announcement official Monday, saying the decision was "reached after much consideration and discussion with my family." He did not give a reason for the decision.
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Olmert convicted in corruption trial: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted Monday of accepting bribes in a case called one of the nation's largest corruption scandals, ending an intense two-year trial and most likely his political career. Tel Aviv District Court convicted Olmert and nine other defendants -- including real-estate developers, a former mayor, a former city engineer, a former bank chairman and former councilmen and aides -- of accepting or taking bribes. Three other people were acquitted. Olmert was acquitted of two counts of bribery but convicted of two others, one involving approximately $140,000 in a series of post-dated checks given to his financially distressed brother, Yossi Olmert, by a third person who turned state witness and later died during the trial.