EPA water task force to work with universities
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 21:30
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A task force established by the Environmental Protection Agency to curtail farmland pollution that flows into the Mississippi River said Wednesday it has reached an agreement to work with 12 universities on the problem.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Task Force will work with Purdue University in Indiana, University of Illinois, University of Arkansas, University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University and Ohio State University. Others include University of Tennessee, University of Missouri, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University and Louisiana State University.

States already collaborate with their local universities on local water quality research and agricultural programs, but there hasn't been a formal process for sharing research and ideas across the 12 states in the task force, the EPA said in a statement.

This agreement "will encourage university research into nutrient reduction strategies, will help communicate water quality messages and will encourage more involvement in voluntary science-based nutrient reduction efforts," said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, a co-chairman of the task force.

WNBA to market to LGBT community
Written by DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 21:27
NEW YORK (AP) — Amid a surge of public opinion in favor of gay rights in the U.S., the WNBA is launching a campaign to market the league to the LGBT community, becoming the first pro sports league to specifically recruit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender fans to its games.

With the marketing campaign, the WNBA is capitalizing on what it has known for years: The community makes up a significant portion of its fan base. The difference now is that the league is talking about it publicly and making it a deliberate part of its marketing strategy.

The launch of the effort coincides with a surge of political and legal advances for the gay-rights movement in the U.S., and shifting public opinion behind many of those advances.

The campaign, which begins with the debut of a website Wednesday, includes having teams participate in local pride festivals and parades, working with advocacy groups to raise awareness of inclusion through grassroots events and advertising with lesbian media. A nationally televised pride game will take place between Tulsa and Chicago on Sunday, June 22. All 12 teams will also have some sort of pride initiative over the course of the season.

Indiana GOP debates gay marriage line for platform
Written by TOM LoBIANCO, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 21:23
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — As lawmakers continue pushing to ban gay weddings under the Indiana Constitution, state Republicans are debating whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman — a clause removed from the party platform two years ago.

The Indiana GOP's platform committee this week voted to reinsert the language in the document, which serves as an official statement of the party's values and typically includes sweeping statements such as support for fiscal responsibility.

The last platform approved at the party's 2012 convention did not address gay marriage. But when Republican delegates gather in Fort Wayne next month, they'll have to decide the party's official position.

Republican delegate Megan Robertson said the fight is divisive. Robertson, who led the lobbying campaign against a proposed marriage ban this year, said the issue "drives a wedge" in the party.

Fort Wayne council debates limits on city unions
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 21:25
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Hundreds of Fort Wayne city workers and others booed at times as City Council members discussed proposals to scale back or eliminate collective bargaining for city employees.

Republican Councilman John Crawford said during Tuesday night's meeting the proposals to stop contract negotiations with unions would reduce spending in Indiana's second-largest city.

"There is money to be saved here in Fort Wayne," he said. "I don't know the exact amount, but you don't know till you try it."

The proposals sponsored by Crawford include one to eliminate collective bargaining with all nine unions that represent city workers, with another only continuing contract talks with unions representing public safety workers such as police officers and firefighters.

Democratic Mayor Tom Henry has said he would veto any of the proposals, while Republicans could use their 6-3 council majority to override such action, The Journal Gazette and the News-Sentinel reported.

Lightning strikes blamed for 3 Indianapolis fires
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 21:22
ANGOLA, Ind. (AP) — Thunderstorms packing hail, gusty winds and dangerous lightning have swept across central and southern Indiana.

An Indianapolis Fire Department spokeswoman says lightning strikes Wednesday were blamed for three fires, including a two-alarm blaze that caused an estimated $250,000 damage to 16 units at an apartment complex.

The National Weather Service reported hail measuring as much as 1 inch in diameter fell in Frankfort, Indianapolis and Jeffersonville. An emergency manager in Indianapolis estimated a wind gust at 60 mph.

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