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Coats Votes Against Senate Spending Bills

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Senator Dan Coats
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) voted against the Senate Fiscal Year 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and Financial Services Appropriations bill in today’s full committee markup.
Although Coats supported a number of amendments to these bills, he remains opposed to all of the Senate Appropriations bills because collectively they violate current law under the Budget Control Act.
“While these bills include amendments I offered and many worthy initiatives, I could not support the final legislation because the collective spending levels among all Senate Appropriations bills will violate current law,” said Coats. “The Senate needs to abide by the laws it enacts and stop playing games to avoid hard fiscal decisions.”
During the Senate Appropriations Committee markup, Coats along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) successfully included an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 State and Foreign Operations spending bill that would impose steep cuts on U.S. aid to the Government of Afghanistan if exit fees on American property continue during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The amendment would reduce foreign aid to Afghanistan by five dollars for every one dollar in taxes, fines or levies imposed on U.S. property exiting Afghanistan.
“Over the last twelve years, thousands of brave Americans have given their lives heroically to break the Taliban’s stronghold on the Afghan people and provide Afghan troops with military training and support,” Coats said. “We will not stand aside and allow the Afghan government to exploit the United States after all of the lives and resources our country has sacrificed.”
The U.S. military is gradually reducing its presence in Afghanistan as more responsibility is passed along to the Afghan security forces. The Government of Afghanistan reportedly has fined the U.S. up to $1,000 per shipping container that does not have a corresponding invoice of its contents. Recently, the U.S. special investigator for Afghanistan informed Congress of nearly $1 billion in business taxes and penalties imposed by the Afghan government on contractors and warned of hundreds of millions of dollars in additional future costs if the exit fees remain.
Coats also backed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services Appropriations bill to prevent funding for implementation of the individual mandate in the president’s health care law.
“The Affordable Care Act is proving to be anything but affordable,” said Coats. “I consistently hear from Hoosiers across Indiana about the negative impacts this law is having on family budgets and job creators. Rather than force an unwanted and unpopular law onto the people, let’s regroup, reset and deliver effective health care reform for all Americans.”
The amendment failed along party lines during the committee markup.
The Senate Fiscal Year 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and the Senate Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services Appropriations bill cleared the committee and will now be placed on the Senate calendar for consideration at a later date.
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Providing Fire Training to Indiana State Prison Inmates

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(Photos Courtesy of the Indiana State Prison)
inmate fire training 2
A program to provide fire fighting training to inmates of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City is scheduled to conclude tomorrow. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Department of Corrections says the program, which began on Monday, provides entry-level knowledge for participants to meet performance requirements and perform basic tasks, in the classroom and through hands-on lessons in topics such as fire behavior, forcible entry and ventilation. Indiana State Prison Superintendent William Wilson says this is the first time that certified fire training has been conducted inside the facility, and upon graduating, the inmates will be certified to fight interior fires which benefits them when they return to their communities so they can give back.
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Pilot and Passenger Injured in Columbus, IN Plane Crash

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Two people aboard a small home-built plane are receiving treatment for their injuries after it crashed into a home, which caught fire as a result, near the Columbus Municipal Airport in downstate Columbus, around 9:30 this morning. Authorities say the pilot, 81 year old Gerald Clayton, of Columbus, and his passenger, Dennis King, whose age and hometown have not been released, are in serious and fair condition respectively at last check in an Indianapolis hospital. Officials say a woman was in home when the crash occurred, but was not injured.
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Donnelly Questioned DOD and Navy Nominees

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Washington, D.C. –Today, Senator Joe Donnelly questioned nominees for General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Inspector General of the Department of Defense, and two Assistant Secretaries for the Navy about military suicide prevention, improving the Department’s investigation of sexual assault cases, and Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane’s model of joint basing with the Army, which reduces costs for taxpayers.
Watch Senator Donnelly’s questions here.
Senator Donnelly’s ">first bill as U.S. Senator was the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2013, which would establish a pilot program in each of the military services and reserve components to integrate annual mental health assessments into a servicemember’s Periodic Health Assessment and identify risk factors for mental illness so that servicemembers can access preventative care.  More recently, Donnelly successfully advocated for a study in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that would assess the design and possible implementation of the pilot program in the Jacob Sexton Act.
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Pence Directs Flags Be Flown at Half-Staff on Saturday

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Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence today announced that flags at state facilities across Indiana be flown at half-staff this Saturday, July 27th, in honor of Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. Governor Pence is also asking businesses and residents to lower their flags to half-staff as well.
President Bill Clinton proclaimed July 27 a national day of recognition in 1998 to commemorate the more than 37,000 U.S. service personnel who lost their lives during the 37 months of combat in Korea, from 1950 through 1953.
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Attempted Murder Conviction of Lake Station Man Upheld

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed police testimony regarding a Lake Station man's confession during his trial in 2012 in a 3-0 decision. 38 year old Jason King had appealed his attempted murder conviction, stating questioning by officers should not have continued when he asked if he needed an attorney, which the appeals court determined was not actually exercising the right to demand an attorney be present. The court also determined the 45 year prison sentence King received for shooting Woodrow McGuire, of Gary, in the face in February of 2011, was justified, in light of his significant criminal history, and the disturbing motive of the crime, in which King shot McGuire, a total stranger because, “he was black” and due to the fact McGuire had asked King to stop leaning against him while at a South Haven bar.
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IL Governor Signs Bill for 3rd Airport

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today signed a law that moves forward plans for a third major Chicago-area airport. The new law lets the Illinois Department of Transportation enter into a public-private partnership for the development, construction and operation of a south suburban airport in Will County and will allow the state to spend about 71-million dollars on land acquisition near Peotone. The state is still awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration on a master plan for the proposed airport.
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Teens Won't Face Adult Charges

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Two teenagers arrested after police say an explosive device was found in a backpack at the La Porte County Fair earlier this month are not being charged as adults. La Porte County's prosecutor tells the Times says the crime did not qualify for an automatic waiver into adult court, and since the suspects don't have a criminal history the case wasn't eligible for juvenile court officials to request a waiver. Police allege one of the teens made the so-called 'sparkler bomb' and the other took it to the fairgrounds.  Police say the device could have caused serious harm, but tell the newspaper they do not believe the suspects intended to hurt anyone.
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Plane Crash in S Indiana

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In downstate Columbus, two people were reportedly hurt after a small plane crashed into a house this morning just south of the airport in the south-central Indiana city, which is about forty-miles south of Indianapolis. Both of the injured were said to have been aboard the plane.
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Purdue Discovery May Help Prevent Kidney Stones

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The discovery of a gene's function in E. coli and other bacteria might lead to a probiotic to prevent the most common type of kidney stone, according to a Purdue University study.
Human cells can't metabolize oxalate, an acidic chemical found in nearly all plants we eat, so any oxalate we absorb from food must be excreted from the body. Calcium-oxalate urinary stones can form when oxalate reaches a high concentration in the kidneys. About 80 percent of kidney stones are composed of insoluble calcium oxalate.
T. Joseph Kappock, assistant professor of biochemistry, and his research team made the discovery during a study of genes in Acetobacter aceti, a harmless bacterium that is typically used to convert wine to vinegar. Acetobacter aceti, which normally lives on plant tissue, thrives in acidic conditions that easily kill most other bacteria, Kappock said.
The researchers were searching for other acids in addition to acetic acid, the acid present in vinegar, that the bacterium can metabolize.
"We were very excited when we realized E. coli has the same genetic setup as Acetobacter aceti," said Kappock, whose findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Kappock and doctoral students Elwood A. Mullins and Kelly L. Sullivan found that Acetobacter aceti and E. coli each contain an enzyme with a previously unknown function, called YfdE in E. coli.
DNA sequencing had identified related genes in each bacterium, but provided little insight about its function.
"When we look at a bacterial genome by DNA sequencing, we can't tell what many of the proteins in the organism do," Kappock said. "I compare it to knowing that a vehicle has an internal combustion engine. You don't know if it's in an Indy car or a diesel truck. DNA sequencing tells us we have an internal combustion engine in this organism, but we don't know what it's for or what it can do."
Many other bacteria have the same genes but don't seem to be capable of using them.
"A few bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract eat oxalate, and we think we know how those work," Kappock said. "But we don't know why so many others are killed by oxalate, even though they have genes that would seem to be able to protect them. Oxalate is a very hard nut to crack. It's a very stable molecule that is difficult to decompose. The enzymes that process it are pretty specialized and don't seem to connect to normal bacterial metabolic pathways in an obvious way."
The researchers determined which chemicals are processed by the YfdE enzyme, following a hunch that it would use oxalate. Their results connected oxalate degradation to the core of bacterial metabolism.
Assigning a function to YfdE may help identify beneficial bacteria that could serve as probiotic agents in the human gastrointestinal tract to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation. Kidney stones, which affect more than 5 percent of the U.S. population, can cause painful blockages of the urinary tract.
"If we understand what bacteria need to degrade oxalate, then we might have a better idea how to identify strains that can do that, and thereby suppress the uptake of dietary oxalate" he said. "There are probably bacteria out there that have engineered themselves to do this for us."
Genome-sequencing information will increase the speed of the search, Kappock said.
"Because we've figured out what the gene product does, we will be able to find it in any organism and can zero in on those that might be beneficial," he said.
The researchers used X-ray crystallography to pinpoint the most important regions of the YfdE enzyme.
Kappock said the information has other applications, as well. Scientists and engineers who are interested in mapping and reprogramming microbial metabolism now know what one more gene product does.
"Our one piece of the puzzle will help others understand other metabolic networks," he said.
Agricultural Research at Purdue, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy funded the research.
News Release/Purdue University
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Fire at Old Joliet Prison

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Authorities say a fire broke out overnight at the old Joliet prison made famous in the 1980 “Blues Brothers” film. A maintenance building was reportedly destroyed. Formerly and formally known as the Joliet Correctional Center, the facility's been closed for more than a decade. The long-shuttered state prison has also been featured in television shows.
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Indy Airport Announces New Nonstops to Tropics

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Indianapolis International Airport has announced new, nonstop flights to two tropical island destinations.   Beginning December 21, Delta Air Lines will operate weekly nonstop service between the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) and Nassau, Bahamas (NAS).
"Delta Air Lines is the largest provider of non-stop destinations at IND, and we are pleased with their decision to offer our passengers new, convenient choices for popular winter travel destinations," said Chris Matney, air service director for the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA). "Adding to our international leisure markets diversifies the destination variety and connectivity that IND provides our community."
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Coast Gd Participates in SS Eastland Memorial

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Petty Officer 3rd Class Brennen Coles (left) and Seaman Nicholas Konopka of Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor place a bouquet of flowers in the Chicago River Wednesday during a ceremony marking the 98th anniversary of the SS Eastland disaster, one of the worst maritime disasters in US history. The SS Eastland capsized on the river in 1915 with more than 2,500 onboard. Eight-hundred-forty-four people perished.  
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Petty Officer 3rd Class Brennen Coles (left) and Seaman Nicholas Konopka of Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor prepare to salute after placing a bouquet of flowers in the Chicago River during a ceremony marking the 98th anniversary of the SS Eastland disaster.
[U.S. Coast Guard photos by Auxiliarist Jonathan Roth]
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Hammond Police Investigate Two Shooting Deaths

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Hammond Police are investigating two homicides this week, and the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force is assisting to see if the two are related. The Lake County Coroners office says 58-year-old James Edwards was pronounced dead at an area hospital early Wednesday after suffering multiple gunshot wounds at his home in the 61-hundred block of Ray Street. Police Chief Brian Miller says 18-year-old Cameron Sanders was shot and killed Monday afternoon. Police say they're also investigating the report of shots fired in the 12-hundred block of Highland Street an hour before the fatal shooting yesterday.
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Winfield Adopts New Curfew

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The town of Winfield has its first curfew law. The town council this week unanimously adopted a curfew ordinance for children under the age of 18. The action follows recent thefts and vandalism in town as well as nearby Lakes of the Four Seasons. Winfield is also in the process of setting up a crime watch program.
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Crime Down in Griffith

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Violent crime appears to be down in the town of Griffith. Police Chief Greg Mance says June's call volume was the lowest for the month in a dozen years, and second lowest since 1998. Mance noted among other things Griffith is part of a new task force with police departments in the other Ridge communities of Highland and Munster. He also pointed to the department's amped-up bicycle patrol.
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Region Call Center in Hobart will add more jobs

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Mayor at Americall
Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor, Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen Jr., and Scott Amo, Teleperformance Americall Site Director at the Wednesday, July 24th, press conference/tour announcing the hiring
Teleperformance Americall is to hire 300-400 employees in the next 30 to 60 days.  According to a press release from the City of Hobart, two new contracts have been signed with new clients withAmericall looking to hire both Full Time and Part Time employees.  Although some work is tempoary running through December, it has the ability to become full time year round for the company. 
The jobs will be 95% inbound customer service/sales.  Americall says it's excited to announce an increase in their wages on these programs and are hiring in at $10/hr. with sales compensation on top of that as well with Insurance Agenst starting at $13/hr. with compensation as well.
The company adds that this is a great opportunity not only for the community but the company as well as it is in the process of refurbishing the office as well, which will be in a few phases over the next 60 days.

Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen Jr., praised Mayor Snedecor and the Hobart Town Council for their hard work in providing an inviting atmosphere for comapnies like Teleperformance Americall to locate a facility in Northwest Indiana. 
Teleperformance Americall is located at 1901 Northwind Parkway in the back of the complex just off Mississippi and 61st Avenue. 
For more information on hiring log onto the campny's website:  http://www.teleperformance.com and click on the Hobart location.
The City of hobart will also be sponsoring a recruiting fair at Festival Park Community Center located at 111 E. Old Ridge Rd. in Hobart, on Tuesday, July 30th,  from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Americall call center in Hobart
Teleperformance Americall call center Hobart, facility
(photos courtesy of Jay Stevens/Radio One Communications)
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Groundbreaking for Merrillville Stormwater Center

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A ceremonial groundbreaking held at noon on Wednesday, represents a new era in storm water management for Northwest Indiana. 
Matt Lake, Executive Director for Merrillville Stormwater Utility says the new Merrillville Stormwater Resource Center , will not only serve the operation side of the utility, it will also  "demonstrate water quality aspects and flood management aspects, so that everything we do here is an example of what should be done throughout the town and the entire Region."  Lake says, "we want to become the hub of stormwater management in Northwets Indiana.  So, I think it is a pinacle moment, not only for the town of Merrillville, but the Region in general."
According to a press release from the Utility, The Pangere Corporation of Gary submitted the lowest, most responsive bid in the amount of $849,410.00, which was awarded by the board.  The building is expected to be about 6,800 square feet and will be built at the utility's property at 7404 Broadway.  Construction will begin immediately, with the facility to be completed by the end of the year, according to Lake.

Matt Lake
Matt Lake, Executive Director for the Merrillville Stormwater Utility at Wednesday's groundbreaking of the utility's new Merrillville Stormwater Resource Center

 


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A sign at the new site of the Merrillville Stormwater Resource Center to be built at 7404 Broadway in Merrillville


(photos courtesy of Jay Stevens/Radio One Communications)
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US Senate Passes Plan to Lower Student Interest Rates

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The US Senate today passed a bipartisan plan to lower student interest rates by a vote of 81 to 18. Both of Indiana's US Senators, Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly voted in favor of the proposal, which Senator Coats says is market-based and will allow students to take advantage of low interest rates while protecting taxpayers. Senator Donnelly says the proposal reduces rates on all student loans, not just subsidized Stafford loans, while putting in place a cap on how high the rates can grow.
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Chicago City Council Approves Overhaul of Wrigley Field

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(An artist rendering of the proposed renovations at historic Wrigley Field in Chicago, photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
 It was a big win for the Cubs today. ABC News reports the Chicago City Council approved a massive overhaul of Wrigley Field. The 500 million dollar plan is privately financed, but neighbors in the Wrigleyville neighborhood have been fighting proposal, which includes a jumbotron, news signs, and a hotel across from the 99 year old ballpark. The Cubs did alter some of the plans before the city council's vote, which was applauded by Mayor Emanuel, who stated, "May this also bring forward, as others have noted, the team we would all like to see happen on the North side." The renovations will take five years to complete.
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