News

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Indiana has a new contract in place securing the future of the Hoosier State Rail Line for the next two years. 

The deal between the state, Amtrak and Iowa Pacific began Sunday after months of negotiation and uncertainty. 

Amtrak will operate the line running from Indianapolis to Chicago, while Iowa Pacific will be responsible for train equipment and maintenance.  The line will feature food service and free wi-fi internet.

If ticket sales don’t cover all expenses, Indiana will pay Amtrak the difference. 

Visitors flock to the Louvre every day for a glimpse of her wry half-smile, but few people know the story of the real-life Mona Lisa. Author Dianna Hales tells the story of Lisa Gheradini, the likely subject of Leonardo DaVinci's famous portrait, in Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered. West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel has the review for Hales' fascinating biography.

Purdue University

One of the watchwords in higher education is “more.” Schools have to be careful what they strive to have more of – and often, what they never meant to accumulate in the first place.

On this month’s conversation with Purdue President Mitch Daniels, we ask about a couple items Purdue wants to have more of: gifts to the university and minority students and faculty members.

By almost any measure, Purdue has struggled to recruit African-Americans to campus – either to teach or to learn.

Slogan Signs Cost Taxpayers Almost $300,000

Jul 27, 2015
Indiana Public Media

It’s an often-heard phrase in the Statehouse: “Indiana’s a state that works.”

Governor Pence has made the catchphrase a cornerstone of his economic policies.

Now, that slogan is embedded on the Indiana Government Center North and the One North Capitol buildings that surround the Statehouse.

The materials and installation of the signs, which were added in 2014 and 2015, cost just shy of $300,000 . 

Indiana Democratic Party Spokesperson Drew Anderson calls it a waste of taxpayer funds.

M Glasgow / https://www.flickr.com/photos/glasgows/

With Indiana's Supreme Court bringing an end to a 10-year legal battle over high-fence hunting preserves, the deer farming industry is stepping in to try to set standards for itself.

Deer and elk farmers have formed the Indiana Deer Advisory Council, to recommend standards for deer treatment and how they are hunted.

Advisory council chairman Gary Jacobson says he believes getting the group’s seal of approval will be valuable enough to preserve owners that they’ll follow whatever rules IDAC sets.

Matthew Hurst / https://www.flickr.com/photos/skewgee/2463077387

Executives with Indianapolis-based Anthem have given their first interviews about the deal that will make the health insurance company the largest in America, following a $54 billion deal to merge with rival company Cigna.

The companies announced the agreement Friday morning, after a year of sometimes-contentious negotiations. The purchase price represents about $34 a share above Connecticut-based Cigna's current value.

Anthem says the merger will allow the combined company to save $2 billion in operating costs while reining in the costs of care.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Significant tax relief for Hoosier employers could be on the horizon if the state’s revenues do well the next few months.

Indiana took out a more than $2 billion loan from the federal government at the height of the recession to pay unemployment benefits.  It’s been paying it back ever since. 

And as long as the state owes money on the loan, employers have to pay a penalty. 

This year, that penalty is $105 per employee; next year, it rises to $126. 

Elle Moxley / indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact

In politics, as in life, there are good days and bad ones.

As of late, nobody knows this better than gubernatorial candidate and current State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

Following allegations last week that Ritz’s campaign may have violated some election finance laws, the candidate and her team are now in clean up mode – but progress has been slow.

To make matters more complicated, Ritz lags far behind her opponents in campaign funding.

Department of Veterans Affairs / http://www.va.gov/

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald says his department is making progress in rebuilding trust lost in last year’s scandal involving manipulated wait times and falsified waiting lists. 

In a visit to Indiana Thursday, McDonald said the disability claims backlog has been reduced by 80-percent in the last couple of years, and the VA has completed more than seven million more appointments this year than last year. 

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/14738709658

Vendors are being asked not to sell or display the Confederate flag at next month's Indiana State Fair.

A spokeswoman says the fair "wants to be welcoming to all." She says vendor contracts contain language that allows the prohibition. The fair opens August 7th.

The Kentucky State Fair Board has also voted to prohibit the sale or giveaway of any item displaying the Confederate flag.

NASCAR is asking race fans not to bring the flag to the Brickyard 400 Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sandor Wiesz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/santheo/160606924

With the Brickyard 400 a few days away, state officials are stepping up efforts to target sex trafficking.

Indianapolis Representative Christina Hale says officials have made door-to-door visits to Speedway businesses posting fliers urging victims of sex trafficking to call a state helpline, and urging everyone to call authorities if they see early-teens who seem unusually fearful and under an adult's control.

Courtesy Crawfordsville Mayor's Office

To paraphrase Norma Desmond, Crawfordsville is ready for its close-up. But before officials from the Lieutenant Governor’s office visit the city in the waning days of this month, we take one more opportunity to ask Mayor Todd Barton what he’s got up his sleeve – and whether he’s scouting the competition to see if there are any areas where he might gain an extra edge.

Detractors of modern-day Israel often compare it to apartheid South Africa, but how valid are those claims? Journalist Benjamin Pogrund, who has lived in both modern Israel and apartheid South Africa, examines the comparison in his book Drawing Fire: Investigating the Accusations of Apartheid in Israel. West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel has a review.

Tony Webster / https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/

12:45 p.m. Update:

Indiana State Police have reopened Interstate 65 in both directions following a fiery, multi-vehicle crash that killed five people overnight. A description of the crash's circumstances from state police can be found here. WARNING: description of the crash may  not be suitable for some readers. 

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6:00 a.m. Update:

Michael Marusin / https://www.flickr.com/photos/marusin/202386456

When a 19th Century songwriter mentioned a spot “where the buffalo roam,” he probably didn’t mean Kosciusko County in North Central Indiana. And yet, that’s exactly what startled neighbors there late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Sheriff’s deputies say a herd of nearly two dozen buffalo and bison escaped from a holding area and wandered toward a nearby highway.

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