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Gleaners Food Bank runs low on volunteers while packing emergency meal boxes

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana is working overtime putting together emergency family meal boxes and is experiencing a shortage of volunteers.

According to Gleaners, volunteers impact about 40% of the product that leaves their facility, meaning they need all the help they can get.

“For us to go from needing about 100 volunteers a day, and getting pretty close to staffing that, to going down to 10 maybe a day. We are really starting to feel the pinch,” said Gleaners Food Bank Manager of Group Volunteers Treva Burgess.

They are looking for volunteers on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. To sign up to volunteer, click here.

If you are unable to volunteer, Gleaners is also accepting online donations. A $20 donation can feed a family for up to a week.

Indiana coronavirus timeline

IPS hands out free student meals

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public Schools started handing out free meals for students Friday at distribution sites around Indianapolis after schools were closed amid concerns of the coronavirus.

Students and families received pre-packaged lunches for Friday and breakfasts for the next day.

The district officially shut down all schools Friday. They will be closed through April 5.

IPS says meals will also be handed out for students next week.

“We don’t want families to go without meals. They were supposed to be in school today, so that was two guaranteed meals, as well as next week, so we want them to keep having the nutrition they receive daily at school,” said Ellen Eichenbaum, IPS food service operations manager.

“I think it’s really sweet what IPS is doing. It’s just shocking that all this stuff is going on,” said Naomi McCaslin, parent of three IPS students.

IPS’ food service team is currently working on a food distribution plan for next week. News 8 will keep you updated with any new information we get.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A proposal focusing on climate change is headed to the full City-County Council for consideration.

The Rules and Public Policy Committee voted in favor of the plan from District 7 Councillor John Barth Thursday night. The plan calls for a commission to study how the city can lessen the effects of climate change.

People from both sides spoke out during the public meeting. After comments were heard, the proposal was advanced by the committee.

“Part of our process in going through this commission will be making recommendations to the council for how we should prioritize different actions we can take to protect the city from the effects of climate change,” said Barth.

The full City-County Council will consider the measure on March 16.

Indiana bill to require cursive in schools advances to House

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A bill that would require cursive writing in elementary schools has passed the State Senate.

The bill will now go to the House for consideration. If passed and signed into law, House Bill 1066 would, among other things, require each school corporation, charter school and accredited nonpublic elementary school to include cursive writing in its curriculum.

But, if the last nine legislative sessions are indicators of the bill’s future, it may not go any further. Cursive writing legislation has been introduced in all of those legislative sessions and failed to make it to the governor’s desk.

In 2019, State Sen. Jean Leising also noted that within the last year, Illinois, Ohio and Texas had joined the majority of states in requiring the teaching of cursive in elementary school. Also, she said, many private schools in Indiana have continued to teach cursive, creating a disparity between public and private schools.

Arguments in favor of eliminating the teaching of cursive have pointed toward increased communication via keyboards and the small proportions of adults who use cursive for day-to-day writing. It has also been argued that students should have more important skills than cursive writing as part of their Common Core standards.

NAUGATUCK, Conn. (CNN) — In Connecticut, you may soon have to be 16 years old to buy an energy drink.

What started as a school science project for a group of middle school students, the idea of an age limit on energy drinks quickly got the attention of a lawmaker, as well as people around the country who blame the drinks for the death of a loved one.

“I will never ever consume an energy drink, and I want other children to feel the same way that I do about them,” said Lily Kiernan, a seventh grader at City Hill Middle School in Naugatuck.

Kiernan is among the group of students who researched the effects of the drinks. Part of the group’s project was to also lobby a lawmaker.

Last year, it resulted in a bill before the children’s committee. This year, the bill is back.

“It really took on a life of its own that we didn’t even anticipate would happen,” said Katrina Spina, a teacher at City Hill Middle School.

Energy drink companies say they are being unfairly targeted, and that their drinks are safe.

Joseph Luppino, a lobbyist for Red Bull North America, said in written testimony “simply put, energy drinks are safe. They are no different than coffee, tea, sodas, or other caffeine containing conventional food products.”

Luppino testified that energy drink companies have regulated themselves, including labels that identify ingredients, and state products are not intended for kids. The industry also doesn’t market to anyone 12 and under or in schools.

However, Loretta Lowe from Tennessee said a medical examiner determined energy drinks caused her otherwise healthy son to have a heart attack at 31.

“If it can kill a grown man like my son, that was perfectly healthy, who didn’t even smoke cigarettes, then what can it do a kid,” Lowe said.

Energy drink companies point out their products have roughly 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces. Coffee can vary, but Starbucks says its Pike Place roast has 155 milligrams.

The students warn it’s the combination of caffeine and other stimulants that is dangerous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, energy drinks can cause dehydration, heart complications, anxiety and insomnia.

In a statement, the American Beverage Association said, “Energy drinks have been enjoyed by millions of people worldwide for more than 30 years and are recognized as safe for consumption by government food safety agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and the European Food Safety Authority. Additionally, mainstream energy drinks typically contain half the caffeine found in coffeehouse coffees. Independent scientific research shows adolescents get most of their caffeine from coffee and other sources, not energy drinks; however, energy drink companies have proactively and voluntarily committed to not market their products to children.”

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(CNN) — It was Isabella Tadlock’s dream to be able to bend her fingers and pick things up. But she was born with a disability that made that challenging.

So when the 11-year-old “Star Wars” fan asked for an R2-D2 bionic arm, she thought it was going to be the best gift ever. Then came the call from someone familiar.

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the movie series, had a video call with Isabella when he found out her new arm had been delivered. She showed him her new R2-D2 arm and after the two had a 30-minute conversation, he sent her passes to Disney World.

“He could not have been more encouraging and kind,” Isabella’s mother, Pamela Tadlock, told CNN.

Isabella was born with what her family describes as a nub on the end of her left arm and without fingers on her right hand. After multiple surgeries, she now has three fingers and a thumb on her right hand.

The Tallahassee, Florida, girl’s family started fundraising for the bionic arm after Isabella saw a video of a little boy with a similar device last summer.

Thanks to her supporters, she raised almost $14,000 — with Hamill’s help along the way. He retweeted her donation link to his 3.6 million followers in November after Isabella’s nanny sent the link to him, saying how big of a fan she was.

Three months after that, on February 20, they met.

“I heard you’re a ‘Star Wars’ fan. But I have to tell you, I’m a big fan of yours. I’m so proud of you,” Hamill said in the video. “They call it a hero arm because you really are a hero.”

Life with the hero arm

The makers of the “hero arm,” Open Bionics, created it for that exact reason. They wanted to give children with limb differences an empowering arm. “Welcome to the future, where disabilities are superpowers,” the company says on its website. They’re made to pick up signals from muscles in the residual limb.

When it came time for Isabella to choose what kind she wanted, she asked for one that resembled R2-D2, Luke Skywalker’s droid in the movies.

It’s been only two weeks since she got the new arm, but Isabella says these have been the best days of her life.

“I am so excited. I will be able to ride my bike, swing on the monkey bars, create in the kitchen and be like my friends,” Isabella said in an update on her Mightycause account.

“It’s helping tremendously with her self-esteem and confidence,” Tadlock said. “Just last night for the first time she was able to blow dry her hair by herself.”

The strong-willed “Star Wars” fan has faced several obstacles in her young life, but her family has been there every step of the way. And her six siblings have treated her no differently, Tadlock said.

And now she has a new dream: to be a bionic arm model.

™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Imagine an NCAA Tournament with no fans in the arenas.

What normally would be thought an impossibility isn’t so far-fetched as the United States and the rest of the world attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

An advocacy group for college athletes has urged the NCAA to consider holding its winter sports championships with no fans, and the idea has not been dismissed out of hand.

“If you can think of it, it’s something that we’ve gone through an analysis around,” NCAA Chief Operating Officer Donald Remy told Bloomberg News on Tuesday. ”We’ve contingency planned for all circumstances.”

The NCAA declined further comment to The Associated Press on the possibility of no fans in the stands. Presumably, the games still would be televised.

The virus has sickened more than 92,000 people and killed 3,100 worldwide, the vast majority of them in China. Nine people have died in the U.S., all in Washington state. Most cases have been mild.

Also Tuesday, the NCAA announced it has established an advisory panel of medical, public health and epidemiology experts and NCAA schools to address the virus, also known as COVID-19. NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline will lead the group.

“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” Remy said in a statement. “Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned; however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.”

Hainline said the advisory group will make recommendations on competition based on evolving medical protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and state and local authorities.

“We are in daily contact with the CDC and are advising leadership on the Association’s response to this outbreak,” he said.

The NCAA generates nearly $1 billion a year, most of it coming from the men’s basketball tournament through media rights fees, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales.

Total attendance for the 2019 tournament was 688,753, an average of 19,132 per game. The Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis drew 72,711 for the semifinals and 72,062 for the championship game.

Attendance for the 2019 women’s basketball tournament was 274,873, an average of 6,545 per game.

The men’s tournament is scheduled to open March 17 and the women’s tournament begins on March 20. The men’s Final Four will be played the first weekend in April at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and the women’s Final Four is set for Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

The NCAA wrestling tournament is March 19-21 at U.S. Bank Stadium, the first time the event has been held in a football stadium. The tournament is expected to break the attendance record of 113,743, set in Cleveland in 2018.

Conference basketball tournaments are set to begin next week, and the Big East, Pac-12, Mountain West, West Coast and Western Athletic conferences said in statements to the AP that they are proceeding as if their tournaments will go on but monitoring the situation.

The WAC noted that if its tournament is not completed, the tournament’s No. 1 seed will advance to the NCAA Tournament as the league’s automatic qualifier.

Sporting events across the globe have been canceled or contested with no spectators allowed in stadiums or arenas.

Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association, urged the NCAA and the schools to take steps to protect athletes.

“Precautions should include cancelling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds such as meet and greets, and press events,” he said in a statement. “Athletic programs should also take every possible measure to sanitize buses and airplanes used to transport players.

“In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should also be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present. … The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste.”


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

(CNN) — Members of Congress threw a surprise party for Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia on Tuesday, celebrating the civil rights icon’s 80th birthday.

Katherine Clark, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, was just one of many lawmakers to capture the surprise on social media. The Massachusetts Democrat tweeted a video of the assembled lawmakers singing to Lewis, with the caption, “Surprise, @repjohnlewis! The pride of our lives is calling you a friend. Happy 80th! #GoodTrouble.”

Lewis’ actual 80th birthday was February 21, but this year’s celebration has taken on added significance. Last December, Lewis was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. This announcement triggered an outpouring of support across Washington, with tweets from leaders like Nancy PelosiBill Clinton, and former President Barack Obama. In 2011, Obama presented Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

Clark was not the only Democrat with their phone out at the party.

Rep. Mike Levin captured the moment Lewis walked into the room, sharing the video on Twitter with the caption “Fantastic to surprise our dear friend and colleague @RepJohnLewis for his 80th birthday today!”

Rep. Barbara Lee shared more photos, again using Lewis’ signature phrase “good trouble.”

At the surprise party, members of Congress also presented Lewis with a portrait.

Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes large segments of Atlanta. He was first elected in 1986.

As a young man, Lewis was fiercely active in the Civil Rights Movement, leading the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and helping to organize the March on Washington. In 1965, he famously marched from Selma to Alabama’s capital, Montgomery.

™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Riley Hospital for Children shows new fetal center clinic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An open house Tuesday afternoon showcased the Riley Fetal Center clinic at Riley Hospital for Children.

The center is the first patient space to open in the hospital’s Riley Maternity and Newborn Health building project. The project allowed for the outpatient maternal fetal medicine clinics from IU Health University Hospital and IU Health Methodist Hospital to relocate to Riley’s campus.

The clinic was designed to serve women who have high-risk pregnancies. Dr. David Boyle, co-director of Riley Maternity and Newborn Health, says the facility allows those families to have the different resources they may need in one location.

“This is all part of our service line plan to provide wraparound care for a mother and baby from predelivery, post-delivery and every time in between,” Boyle said.

The Riley Fetal Center is on the fourth floor of the Riley Outpatient Center. It will open its doors to patients on March 16.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday that he spoke on the phone to a Taliban leader, making him the first U.S. president believed to have ever spoken directly with the militant group responsible for the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops in nearly 19 years of fighting in Afghanistan.

Trump said the United States has a shared interest with the Taliban, which harbored al-Qaida before the 9/11 attacks.

“We had a very good conversation with the leader of the Taliban today, and they’re looking to get this ended, and we’re looking to get it ended. I think we all have a very common interest,” Trump said. “We had, actually, a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban.”

The United States and the Taliban signed an agreement last Saturday calling for the withdrawal of American troops, allowing Trump to make progress on a key campaign pledge to extract the U.S. from what he calls “endless wars” and paving the way for all-Afghan talks to begin on Tuesday.

Trump suggested the phone call, which the Taliban said lasted 35 minutes, was not his first. Asked if Tuesday was his first conversation with a leader of the Taliban, Trump said, “I don’t want to say that.”

Earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted that the president had spoken on the phone with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban and head of their political office in Qatar.

“The relationship is very good that I have with the mullah,” Trump said. “We had a good long conversation today and, you know, they want to cease the violence. They’d like to cease violence also.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo witnessed the agreement, which was signed last Saturday in Doha, Qatar, by chief negotiators from the two sides. According to the deal, all 13,000 U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban meet their obligations to America. Those promises are tied to fighting terrorism, preventing Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists, denouncing terrorist groups, severing past links with the likes of al-Qaida and helping fight the Islamic State group affiliate.

It also envisioned talks between Afghans on both sides of the conflict starting March 10, most likely in Oslo, Norway. But so far there’s no confirmation that important next step will take place. The U.S. withdrawal is not tied to Afghanistan’s warring sides figuring out how to talk to each other, let alone coming to an agreement on what peace among them will look like.

Already there are hurdles. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has refused to release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, which the agreement said would happen before the start of the so-called intra-Afghan negotiations next week. The Ghani administration claims those releases will be part of negotiations. The Taliban are to release up to 1,000 Afghan government and military captives.

Trump said it’s still unclear what the Afghans will do when and if they sit with the Taliban and attempt to draft a peaceful political future for the nation. “The country really has to get it ended. We’ve been there for 20 years. Other presidents have tried and they were unsuccessful,” he said.

In addition to the tweet, the Afghan Taliban also released a statement, saying the phone call took place shortly after 9:30 a.m. EST. SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors communications from militant organizations, said the Taliban statement claimed the call was held in the presence of a number of members of the Taliban negotiating committee and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy who negotiated the deal.

According to the statement, the phone conversation was about how both sides will implement the agreement. Baradar assured Trump that if the United States honored the agreement, then the U.S. and the Taliban will have “positive bilateral relations,” the statement said.

The statement said the Taliban leader told Trump: “Mr. President! Take determined actions in regards to the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and do not allow anyone to take actions that violate the terms of the agreement thus embroiling you even further in this prolonged war.”

The White House provided no additional details about what was said on the call.

In the past, people have wrongly believed that President Ronald Reagan had a meeting with the Taliban. In 1983, Reagan hosted five “Afghan freedom fighters” in the Oval Office. At the time, the U.S. was backing these Afghan fighters battling the Soviet Union. The Taliban was not formed until the 1990s.

In the 1980s, the U.S. was among those who encouraged hundreds of Arab fighters to travel to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Afghan mujahedeen, or holy warriors, against the Soviet Union’s forces there. Today, many of those fighters make up the Taliban leadership, while others are in power in the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

As the war came to a close in 1988, many of the Arab fighters united to follow the wealthy Saudi leader Osama bin Laden to create al-Qaida, which orchestrated the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.


Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.