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AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-PENCE-INDIANA

Pence's handling of 2015 HIV outbreak gets new scrutiny

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence's handling of an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana when he was governor is getting new scrutiny now that President Donald Trump has tasked him with overseeing the U.S. response to the new coronavirus threat. Critics say he mishandled the 2015 HIV outbreak. Pence delayed allowing a program to provide clean needles to intravenous drug users in one rural county where nearly 200 people eventually tested positive for HIV. Foundation for AIDS Research official Greg Millett says the outbreak would have been “entirely preventable” if Pence had acted earlier. Pence shared the concerns of many law enforcement officials that needle exchange programs enabled illegal drug abuse.

INDIANAPOLIS LAYOFFS

Company to close Indianapolis site, lay off 199 workers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis asset financing and fleet management company has told the state it plans to close its Indianapolis facility, eliminating 199 jobs. 19th Capital Group filed a notice with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development this week saying layoffs will begin on or about March 27 and most will occur over 14 days beginning April 27. The affected positions include sales reps, accounts receivable analysts, truck maintenance workers and drivers. Its website says 19th Capital Group provides asset financing and fleet management solutions for the North American trucking industry.

BC-LAKE COUNTY-OFFICIAL ARRESTED

Domestic battery charges against Lake Co. official dismissed

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — Six domestic battery charges have been dismissed against Lake County Recorder Michael B. Brown after his attorneys provided prosecutors with videos showing the alleged victim hitting him in front of children several times and defecating on his personal belongings. Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said the videos undermined his office's ability to prosecute the case. The charges were dismissed Wednesday. The 36-year-old Hobart man was charged Feb. 10 with eight felony counts that also included criminal confinement and neglect of a dependent. Brown's attorney, Michael Woods, has said Brown is the victim in the case.

AP-US-ELECTION-2020-BUTTIGIEG

Buttigieg back in political fray after respite for bad cold

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has resumed his whirlwind schedule after taking a half-day to rest after getting hit with a bad cold. Buttigieg appeared Thursday at a panel discussion with black leaders in Greenville, South Carolina, about racial health care disparities. He drew laughs when he said, “Excuse me, I've had my own health moment.” He is still a bit hoarse and has an occasional cough. But with a bit more color in his cheeks than the day before, Buttigieg is starting the windup to Saturday's South Carolina primary. The contest is an important test of his strength in attracting black voters.

OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT

Train hauling crude oil derails in NW Indiana, no oil spills

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — Northwestern Indiana officials say a freight train hauling tanker cars loaded with crude oil partially derailed in East Chicago after dozens of the cars disconnected from the rest of the train. Officials say 41 tanker cars somehow became disconnected Wednesday evening from the CSX train's conductor car, resulting in the derailment of several cars. Hazardous materials teams were sent to the site, but officials say no oil was spilled, and no injuries were reported. The East Chicago Fire Department says between five and 10 cars needed to be uprighted following the accident. The cause of the derailment remains under investigation.

ELECTION 2020-BUTTIGIEG

Buttigieg aides say path beyond March 3 possible but tricky

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is bracing his supporters for a difficult stretch, with the sobering assertion front-runner Bernie Sanders likely will emerge from next week's Super Tuesday contests well ahead in the race for delegates. It comes as the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor prepares for the uncertainty of Saturday's South Carolina primary. But Buttigieg's campaign strategists say there remains a path to the nomination for him, though one marked by assumptions about the rest of the field and Buttigieg's performance over the next few critical days. Buttigieg's campaign Thursday announced the launch of a multimillion-dollar television and digital advertising buy in 12 of the 14 states holding primaries March 3.

INDIANA LEGISLATURE-SMOKING AGE

Indiana lawmakers agree on tougher tobacco sales penalties

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers are poised to double the fines stores could face for selling smoking or vaping products to anyone younger than 21 years old. Legislators advanced an agreement Wednesday reached by Senate and House negotiators on a bill that supporters say will help reduce Indiana’s high smoking rates by making it more difficult for youths to obtain tobacco-related items such as cigarettes or e-cigarette liquids. But the Republican-sponsored proposal doesn’t include any additional taxes on cigarettes or regulations on vaping liquids as sought by health advocates. The agreement would boost the maximum fine against a retailer for a first violation from $200 to $400.

PUERTO RICO-CRUISE SHIP DEATH

Grandfather to plead guilty in toddler's cruise ship death

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana man who was holding his granddaughter before she fell from a cruise ship window and plunged to her death in Puerto Rico has agreed to a plea deal. Salvatore Anello says he wants to "help end part of this nightmare." Attorney Michael Winkleman says Anello filed documents Monday in a Puerto Rico court to change his plea to guilty to a charge of negligent homicide in the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand last July. He says Anello won't serve time behind bars. Royal Caribbean Cruises has said Anello was leaning out of an 11th-floor window before he picked up the toddler and she slipped from his grip.