U.S. LIFE EXPECTANCY HAS BIGGEST DECLINE SINCE WWII: U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years (AP). The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths. Black life expectancy has not fallen so much in one year since the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression. Health officials have not tracked Hispanic life expectancy for nearly as long, but the 2020 decline was the largest recorded one-year drop. The abrupt fall is “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in U.S. mortality.

 

FEDERAL COURT NIXES INDIANA VOTE PURGE LAW: A federal appeals court has sided with opponents of an Indiana law aimed at having elections officials immediately purge voter registrations for people who appear to have registered in another state (AP). The decision released Monday upholds an order issued by an Indianapolis-based judge that blocked the law enacted in 2020 from taking effect. The appeals court disparaged the law adopted by the Republican-dominated Legislature as an attempt to get around court rulings against a similar 2017 law. The revised law dropped a much-criticized national voter database started by Kansas officials in favor of Indiana election officials collecting voter registration information from other states to compare with Indiana’s. The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals called the change “different window dressing” that was “largely cosmetic.” “The laws Indiana passed in 2017 and 2020 risked improper purges of Indiana voters, particularly Black and brown voters,” Indiana NAACP President Barbara Bolling-Williams said. “This decision is a win for democracy and racial justice.” The Indiana secretary of state’s office, which oversees Indiana’s voter registration process, said it was reviewing the ruling.

 

INDIANA POSTS MOST COVID CASES SINCE MAY; 7% POSITIVITY: The Indiana State Department of Health announced 713 new coronavirus cases, the most since May 21, with 7% of today's batch of tests coming back positive (Berman, WIBC). The 7-day positivity rate, which runs a week behind, moves into the ISDH's "moderate risk" yellow zone for the first time since May 16, at 5.1%. Ten counties have positivity 10%, including four above IDH's 15% high-risk red line. The data are a day ahead of the weekly risk scores, which will be updated tmrw. Half Indiana's 92 counties are in the 5-10% moderate risk zone, including Marion and all its neighbors but Hamilton. Gibson County has Indiana's highest positivity rate at 22.2%. Randolph, Jennings and Switzerland Counties have positivity rates of zero.

 

DELTA VARIANT ACCOUNTS FOR 83% OF U.S. COVID CASES: The highly infectious Delta variant now accounts for an estimated 83 percent of new coronavirus cases in the United States — a “dramatic increase” from early July, when it crossed the 50 percent threshold to become the dominant variant in this country, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday (New York Times). In some regions, the percentage is even higher — particularly where vaccination rates are low, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said during a Senate health committee hearing. Two-dose vaccines have been shown to be effective against the Delta variant but questions have been raised about Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose regimen against Delta. While almost 60 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, less than half of the total U.S. population is.

 

CONGRESSIONAL GOP DECLINE TO PUSH BACK AGAINST ANTI-VAX SENTIMENTS: As the coronavirus surges in their states and districts, fanned by a more contagious variant exploiting paltry vaccination rates, many congressional Republicans have declined to push back against vaccine skeptics in their party who are sowing mistrust about the shots’ safety and effectiveness (New York Times). Amid a widening partisan divide over coronavirus vaccination, most Republicans have either stoked or ignored the flood of misinformation reaching their constituents and instead focused their message about the vaccine on disparaging President Biden, characterizing his drive to inoculate Americans as politically motivated and heavy-handed. Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, said skeptics would not get their shots until “this administration acknowledges the efforts of the last one.”

 

McCONNELL IMPLORES AMERICANS TO VAX: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell implored unvaccinated Americans Tuesday to take the COVID-19 shot, issuing a stark and grave warning of a repeat of last year’s rising caseloads and shutdowns if people refuse to protect themselves from the coronavirus (AP). McConnell urged Americans to ignore the “demonstrably bad advice” coming from pundits and others against the vaccines. As cases skyrocket, he noted that nearly all the new virus hospitalizations in the U.S. are among people who have not been vaccinated. “If there is anybody out there willing to listen: Get vaccinated,” McConnell, R-Ky., said at his weekly press conference at the Capitol.  “These shots need to get in everybody’s arms as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for — that we went through last year,” he said. “This is not complicated.”

 

ATTENDANCE PLUNGED AT INDIANA SCHOOLS DURING PANDEMIC: About 70 percent of Indiana schools had lower attendance rates in 2020-21 compared to the previous year, a sign of the toll that the fragmented education during the pandemic took on students (McCoy, Indiana Public Media). At many schools the dip in attendance was modest. But at about 80 schools, attendance rates plummeted by more than 10 percentage points, according to preliminary data released last week by the Indiana Department of Education. Indiana schools were largely open in person despite the pandemic. But many ping-ponged between in-person and virtual instruction throughout the year. Some districts began the year online or went to a virtual schedule during spikes in the coronavirus. And even when schools attempted to operate face to face, plans were often disrupted when students and teachers were sick or quarantined.

 

60% OR PURDUE STUDENTS SAY THEY ARE VAXED: Purdue University says 60% of incoming students and 66% of school employees have submitted proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 four weeks ahead of an Aug. 13 fall semester deadline (AP). Purdue announced the figures Tuesday in its first release of overall campus vaccination rates. Purdue said it is strongly encouraging all students and employees to get the vaccine if possible. The university expects the numbers of those fully vaccinated will grow before the first day of fall classes Aug. 23, said Eric Barker, dean of the College of Pharmacy and leader of the Protect Purdue Health Monitoring and Surveillance team.

 

INDIANA PASSES ORGAN DONOR MILESTONE: Indiana Donor Network is celebrating a milestone. In the first six months of this year, more than 500 people have received an organ transplant from a Hoosier (Connett, WIBC). “That’s all transplants that we have facilitated from Indiana organ donors,” says Indiana Donor Network President/CEO Kellie Tremain. “500 people have gotten a transplant from Hoosier donors.” That puts the organization on pace to have its best year ever. Tremain says there are many reasons that 2021 has been successful. “We’ve been working really hard with our hospital partners to identify more people who are eligible for an organ donation,” she said. “More people are also saying yes to being a donor. And our team has been working hard to innovate and really manage the donors to the best of their ability.”

 

OLYMPICS COULD BE CANCELLED: As Games-linked Covid cases continue to rise in a city rising in indignation at the Olympics taking place, Tokyo 2020 chief Toshiro Muto said he was prepared to discuss a last-minute cancellation. Tokyo chief Toshiro Muto refused to rule out the Games being cancelled just HOURS before the opening ceremony (U.S. Sun). Muto said: “We can't predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases. “We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. “At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises." Muto’s stunning intervention, just hours after IOC President Thomas Bach admitted he had suffered ‘sleepless nights’ and feared the Games would not be able to take place, came as Tokyo suffered another two health and safety body blows.

 

INDYCAR SIGNS EXTENSION WITH NBC: IndyCar announced an extension with NBC Sports on Tuesday that guarantees a majority of its races will be on the main network broadcast rather than cable, including a series-high 13 events on the flagship channel next season (AP). Still, the migration toward streaming will hit full speed next season as NBC Sports plans to exclusively stream two IndyCar races on Peacock. The rest of the IndyCar schedule, which is expected to be 17 races but has not yet been released, will air on USA Network. Jon Miller, president of NBC Sports programming, said the network never wavered in its desire to extend its relationship with IndyCar because “we think its some of the most competitive racing out there. We think it is, quite honestly, really, really good racing.”

 

SOX SIGN COLSON MONTGOMERY TO $3M CONTRACT: Colson Montgomery stood on the mound at Guaranteed Rate Field and fired a pitch to the plate during pregame festivities Tuesday. “I never thought I would be throwing out a first pitch at a White Sox game,” the first-round draft pick said during a conference call (Chicago Tribune). “This is pretty crazy. I’m very blessed and honored to be a part of this organization.” The Chicago White Sox announced they signed Montgomery to a minor-league contract with a $3.027 million signing bonus. They selected the shortstop from Southridge High School in Indiana with the No. 22 pick during the July 11 MLB draft. “It was very exciting, just a whirlwind of everything,” Montgomery said. “It’s a dream come true for any type of ballplayer, coming to the stadium and then sitting down in the rooms and signing that contract and putting on the White Sox jersey.” Montgomery, 19, hit .333 with nine doubles, seven home runs, 23 RBIs and 42 runs as a senior, helping his team win the IHSAA Class 3A state championship.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: In Thursday's weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana, we review the three new books about the end of the Trump presidency and the role Vice President Pence played. We'll also look at the impact on Pence's political career. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

PENCE LAYING POLICY MARKERS: As he steps back into the spotlight and possibly to a 2024 presidential bid, former Vice President Mike Pence has begun laying down policy “markers” (Washington Examiner). It started this week with a forceful speech on China policy and will include others over the next year, said aides of Pence and his group, Advancing American Freedom. The initial goal, one said, “is to really merge the traditional conservative principles that Pence came up through ... with the ‘Make America Great’ Trump-Pence agenda.”

 

SEN. YOUNG RAISES $2M: Indiana Sen. Todd Young, one of 20 Republicans up for reelection next year, said he raised a record $2 million for his campaign and has $4.5 million on hand. His bankroll has so far kept serious challengers out of the race (Washington Examiner).

 

INDEM TOUR TODAY IN SULLIVAN COUNTY: At 7 p.m. today in Sullivan County, Joe Donnelly, Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb, Vincennes Mayor Joe Yochum, Todd Thacker (IBEW, Terre Haute City Councilor) will continue the Indiana Democratic Party’s American Jobs Plan tour, an effort by the Indiana Democratic Party to show why Indiana needs the Jobs Plan and a revitalized infrastructure system (Howey Politics Indiana). The statewide tour, a sequel to the American Rescue Plan tour, will allow Hoosiers to hear more about a Plan that will create good-paying jobs, dismantle the INGOP’s “right to work” laws (creating Indiana’s “work more for less” economy), and build a better future for Hoosier families. It will take place at the Sullivan Civic Center, 344 N. Main St.

 

MILLER 'POSTPONES' STUDENT INDOCTRINATION EVENT: A political movement aimed at “stopping student indoctrination in Hamilton county and throughout Indiana” has gained the support of 14 Indiana business owners. Scott Wolf, owner of Wolfies Grill in West Lafayette and 5 other locations in Indiana, was set to be the chairperson of the event. Then it was canceled (Purdue Exponent). A flyer advertising the group as well as a “political advisory gathering” set for Friday at Wolfies’ Indianapolis location circulated Twitter and Facebook Monday afternoon. Wolf’s photo was included, and he was listed as “chairman.” The event was put together by Advance America, a “pro-family and pro-church” organization that intends to educate Indiana citizens on issues of civic and governmental literacy. A representative from Advance America, whose first name is Bill, said Wolf is the acting chairperson for the panel. A statement from Wolfies Grill later contradicted Wolf’s alleged involvement. The statement, sent by Aaron Smith, said the restaurant “is not affiliated with Advance America, and only served as the hosted space for the event.” “Since Wolfies Grill opened in 2004, we’ve been proud to be known as a place where all feel welcome,” he said. “Going forward, we will institute a review process to ensure future events are consistent with this sentiment."

Polls

 

CBS POLL FINDS 78% SEEK MORE JAN. 6 INFORMATION: With Congress' January 6 Select Committee slated to start work soon, Americans still overwhelmingly disapprove of the events they witnessed that day, a sentiment that includes big majorities of both Republicans and of former President Trump's voters, too — and most do think there's more to learn about it (CBS News). But beyond that larger sentiment at 72%, not everyone describes what happened the same way. A majority of Americans still specifically call what happened that day an "insurrection" and an attempted overthrow of the government. This is where most Democrats and independents land. But roughly one-third of the country call it patriotism, or defending freedom, even though some of them nonetheless disapprove of the attack itself. And on those descriptors, we see divides within the GOP.

 

Congress

 

BRAUN PRESSES FAUCI ON MISINFORMATION: Misinformation about the COVID pandemic, vaccines, and everything in between was the topic of discussion between Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana and Dr. Anthony Fauci in a Senate hearing on Tuesday (Darling, WIBC). Fauci is the chief medical advisor to President Biden after having served as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the Trump Administration. He is also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Braun questioned Fauci about the rules by which social media companies, such as Facebook, “filter speech” when the pandemic is being discussed on their platforms. Facebook has said it has consulted with “leading health organizations” about how it handles misinformation being spread. “Was your organization, the NIAID, one of the ‘leading health organizations’ that Facebook consulted with when deciding what speech to filter through,” Braun asked Dr. Fauci. “To my knowledge, senator, that is no the case,” Fauci replied. “I don’t ever recall, or have ever heard of, any discussion about filtering speech.”

 

BRAUN PUSHES FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT ON STATE MEDICAID: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun requested unanimous consent for his Let States Set Medicaid Requirements Act on the Senate floor. He was joined by Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) (Howey Politics Indiana). This legislation would empower states to set their Medicaid work and community engagement requirements for certain Medicaid recipients. Indiana’s Gateway to Work program would require 20 hours-per-month of work, job searching, school, or community service activities for certain able-bodied adults receiving state health coverage, but the waiver was revoked by the Biden administration. Braun believes states should be able to set these standards, and should be able to adapt programs to the particular needs of their communities' Medicaid enrollees.

 

SPARTZ APPOINTED TO SUBCOMMITTEE: U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz (IN-05) has been appointed to serve alongside Reps. Kevin Hern (OK-01) and Rick Allen (GA-12) on the Affordability Subcommittee of the Healthy Future Task Force. This subcommittee will explore value-based solutions to lower health care costs for Americans (Howey Politics Indiana). “We need to deliver real policies to improve health care affordability and value. I worked on these important issues for Hoosiers at the Statehouse, and I look forward to developing meaningful solutions in Congress,” said Rep. Spartz.

 

REP. SCALISE GETS VAXED: “Soon,” U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise replied at the beginning of April when asked when he would be vaccinated against the coronavirus (NOLA.com). “Soon,” he repeated at the beginning of May when asked the same question. Scalise received his first Pfizer vaccination on Sunday at an Ochsner clinic in Jefferson Parish. Why? “Especially with the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” he said in an interview. “When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.”

 

COVID REINVADES CAPITOL HILL: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s trip to Israel got postponed. Nearly half of House members are masked on the floor again. One Senate Democrat even floated a “proof of vaccination” card to enter the Capitol (Politico). As Covid infections have crept back onto the Hill, they've shattered the sense of calm that had just begun to settle across the complex after the deadly pandemic and insurrection. After a weekslong trudge toward normalcy, fears are now spiking over the highly contagious Delta variant, which the Capitol physician confirmed Tuesday has been reported in Capitol office buildings. Several fully vaccinated individuals on the Hill have tested positive for the virus — including the first known member of Congress since January — spurring a heightened sense of unease for the thousands of people who traverse the Capitol complex each day. “It's a nightmare,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who said he saw about half of members — including himself — wear their masks on the crowded House floor on Tuesday. "The mood is one of frustration and concern. ... It's a disappointing turn of events."

 

THE SENATE will meet at 10:30 a.m., with votes on the nominations of Bonnie Jenkins as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security and Jennifer Abruzzo as NLRB general counsel throughout the day. The chamber will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the INVEST in America Act in the afternoon. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify before the Judiciary Committee about immigrant farmworkers at 10 a.m. THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. and at noon take up the PFAS Action Act of 2021, with first and last votes expected between 2 and 3 p.m.

 

General Assembly

 

LEGISLATORS REVIEWING ROAD, BRIDGE GRANT FUND: Five years into a 20-year local road and bridge program, legislators are looking at whether it should be tweaked (Berman, WIBC). The Community Crossings program was created by then-Governor Mike Pence in 2016, and made permanent under Governor Holcomb the following year. The fund will surpass a billion dollars in grants awarded later this year. It’s helped pay for more than 100 bridge repairs and 18,000 road projects in nearly 500 cities and towns. State Rep. Jim Pressel wants a review of whether all cities are getting their fair share. The grant fund is financed by gas taxes and a 15-dollar vehicle registration fee. Pressel says he’s been told that Allen County gets back a tenth of what it pays in.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: STATE APPEALS JOBLESS BENEFIT RESTART - Indiana filed its formal appeal overnight of a Marion County judge’s order to restart federal unemployment benefits (WISH-TV). The state argues the five citizens who filed the suit have no legal right to sue over the expanded unemployment insurance program, and that even if they did, state law doesn’t require Indiana to participate in the CARES Act extension of unemployment. Governor Eric Holcomb and Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Frederick Payne are listed as appellant-defendants in the case. “The Governor made a quintessential policy determination that continued participation in federal CARES Act programs was now harming Indiana’s economy more than those programs were benefitting it,” the appeal reads. “The Governor reasonably determined that CARES Act benefits, while at one time useful, were stunting Indiana’s recovery from the pandemic by incentivizing some people not to reenter the workforce.

 

GOVERNOR: CROUCH MEETS WITH ELECTRIC COOPS - Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch today joined Indiana electric cooperative leaders and community and industry partners from central Indiana to discuss broadband initiatives. The group discussed the impact cooperatives have on closing the rural digital divide and the different ways cooperatives are working to provide this essential service to their communities (Howey Politics Indiana). “As I meet with Hoosiers around the state, I'm seeing firsthand how the need for affordable, dependable broadband is more critical now than ever before,” Crouch said. “It's great to hear how Indiana cooperatives and partners are taking significant steps toward bridging the digital divide and bringing greater opportunities for all Hoosiers."

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS -  The Indiana Department of Health announced Tuesday that 713 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 762,127 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 13,530 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of five from the previous day. Another 428 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,637,538 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,635,079 on Monday. A total of 11,062,438 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA SUES APARTMENT COMPLEXES - The Indiana Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit involving a pair of Indianapolis apartment complexes, alleging that mismanagement led to poor living conditions for residents (Fox59). Aloft Mgt, LLC and Fox Lake AHF, Inc. are accused of “allowing the Fox Club and Lakeside Point apartment complexes in Indianapolis to fall into egregious disrepair, endangering the health and welfare of thousands of residents,” according to Attorney General Todd Rokita.

 

EDUCATION: IQE SEEKS INPUT - The Institute for Quality Education (IQE) and MySchoolOptions.org (MSO) are conducting more than 130 Parent Information Sessions and 80 community-based events over 90 days (June 1 – September 1) to inform Hoosier parents about their K-12 educational options given a change in Indiana law passed earlier this year (Howey Politics Indiana). These events are open to the public and are being facilitated by a staff of 14 and community-based volunteers prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year. It is estimated that between 80-90% of Indiana families with school-aged children now qualify for a voucher. Nearly one million Indiana K-12 students out of a population of 1.1 million school-aged children likely would be eligible. With this significant change in the law and planning for resumption of in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year, more parents than ever are looking at their K-12 options. Thus far, a total of 20 community events and 55 Parent Information Sessions have been conducted with 1,272 parents attending. The MySchoolOptions.org outreach team is partnering with churches, schools, community centers and organizations, as well as area festivals and fairs to meet its goals. A mobile app and website with parental resources include tools such as a school finder, a financial calculator, information on various school types and tips on how to enroll.

 

COVID: IU STUDENTS FILE VAX MANDATE APPEAL - Eight Indiana University students filed an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge upheld the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement (Indiana Public Media). The case now moves to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. “The federal district court found that Students constitutional rights were at issue, but failed to acknowledge that these rights were fundamental,” attorney James Bopp Jr. said in a statement.

 

JUSTICE: PUBLIC DEFENDERS SEEK PROPOSALS TO FUND - The Indiana Public Defender Commission is currently seeking proposals to fund projects to improve the quality of assistance provided to Indiana at-risk youth and families (Howey Politics Indiana). The primary goals of this project are: (1) to create long-term improvements in public defense systems that serve Indiana at-risk youth and families involved with Indiana’s family/child welfare system, the juvenile delinquency system, or both; and (2) to create system improvements that proactively prevent such involvements. Projects will study Commission Standards related to Juvenile Delinquency, Children in Need of Services (CHINS), and Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) cases. “Indiana families are often subjected to state intervention as a result of a minor issue that could and should have otherwise been resolved,” said Commission Chair Mark Rutherford. “We hope to receive innovative funding proposals that will lead to systemic improvements that reduce the need for state intervention.” The Commission received a new state appropriation of $2 million/year over the next two years to fund projects that will improve services for Indiana’s at-risk youth and families.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BRADY JOKES WITH BIDEN - President Joe Biden honored the Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House Tuesday in a ceremony that featured quarterback Tom Brady cracking a joke about those who continue to deny that the President won the 2020 election (CNN). “Not a lot of people think that we could have won. In fact, I think about 40% of people still don’t think we won. You understand that, Mr. President?” Brady said to laughter. Biden responded, “I understand that.”

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULES - President Biden's schedule: 10:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. 2:25 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to Hebron, Ky., where he is scheduled to arrive at 4:10 p.m.  5:40 p.m.: Biden will visit the IBEW/NECA Electrical Training Center in Cincinnati, where he will discuss his Build Back Better agenda. 8 p.m.: The president will participate in a CNN town hall at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. 10 p.m.: Biden will depart from Hebron to return to the White House, where he is scheduled to arrive at 11:35 p.m. Press secretary Jen Psaki will gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to Cincinnati. First lady Jill Biden will travel to Anchorage, Alaska, where she will tour Alaska Native Medical Center and promote vaccines. At 3:30 p.m. AKDT (7:30 p.m. EDT), she will depart for Tokyo for the 2021 Summer Olympics. VP Harris schedule:  The VP will meet with poll workers and other election officials at 2:45 p.m. in the VP’s Ceremonial Office.

 

JUSTICE: BARRACK INDICTED - Thomas Barrack, a close adviser to former President Trump and chair of his inaugural committee, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with a violating federal lobbying law after allegedly failing to disclose his work on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, the Justice Department said (CBS News). A seven-count indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Barrack and two others, Matthew Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, for their alleged efforts between April 2016 and April 2018 acting as agents of the UAE. Barrack attempted to influence the foreign policy positions of then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and later the incoming Trump administration, according to the indictment.

 

NASA: BEZOS EARNS HIS WINGS - Jeff Bezos, the richest human in the world, went to space on Tuesday. It was a brief jaunt — rising more than 65 miles into the sky above West Texas — in a spacecraft that was built by Mr. Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin (New York Times). “Best day ever,” Mr. Bezos exclaimed once the capsule had settled in the dust near the launch site. The flight, even though it did not enter orbit, was a milestone for the company that Mr. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, started more than 20 years ago, the first time a Blue Origin vehicle carried people to space. That Mr. Bezos himself was seated in the capsule reflects his enthusiasm for the endeavor and perhaps signals his intent to give Blue Origin the focus and creative entrepreneurship that made Amazon one of the most powerful economic forces on the planet.

 

NBA: GIANNIS LEADS MILWAUKEE TO FIRST TITLE IN 50 YEARS - In the immediate aftermath of a legendary performance to close out the 2021 NBA Finals and win a championship for the first time in his career, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo declared that he signed his five-year, supermax contract extension prior to the season because "there was a job that had to be finished," and that staying in Milwaukee meant doing it the "hard way" (ESPN). "I just couldn't leave," Antetokounmpo said after putting up 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks to lead Milwaukee to a 105-98 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the Finals, delivering the Bucks their second championship -- and first in 50 years. "There was a job that had to be finished.

 

MLB: REDS NIP METS 4-3 - Joey Votto and Aristides Aquino homered on consecutive pitches, Wade Miley worked effectively into the seventh inning and the Cincinnati Reds snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday night with a 4-3 win over the New York Mets (ESPN). Jonathan India hit his first leadoff homer, a no-doubt shot to center field that glanced off the batter's eye. Pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson delivered a key sacrifice fly in the seventh as the Reds kept New York from its first three-game winning streak since June 14-16 against the Cubs.

 

MLB: CUBS RALLY TO TOP CARDINALS 7-6 - Ian Happ said he was being "selectively aggressive" with the game on the line (ESPN). The Chicago outfielder triggered a six-run rally in the ninth inning, and the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 in a matchup of NL Central rivals. Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak by rallying against St. Louis closer Alex Reyes, who converted his first 22 saves opportunities this season.

 

MLB: ABREU HOMER LEADS CHISOX TO 9-5 WIN OVER TWINS - Jose Abreu doubled and tripled early, then homered to cap a five-run rally in the eighth inning that vaulted the Chicago White Sox over the Minnesota Twins 9-5 Tuesday night (ESPN). Abreu hit his 18th homer, a three-run drive that sent the AL Central-leading White Sox to their fourth win in five games. "(The game) had so many twists, so many guys that came through for us," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. Abreu connected off Hansel Robles (3-5) shortly after the Twins seized their first lead in the top half on a two-run homer by Jorge Polanco off reliever Ryan Burr. Minnesota has lost five of six. "(The Sox) look like they believe they're in every game," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

 

Local

 

CARMEL: BRAINARD DISAPPOINTED IN SLASH OF COVID FUNDS - Carmel will receive approximately $13.6 million less through the federal American Rescue Plan than initially projected, which came as a disappointment but not a surprise to city officials (Carmen Current). The city has been allocated $7.5 million, although initial estimates in early March indicated that Carmel would receive nearly $21.1 million. “The budget committee released an estimate (in the spring) I suspected was wrong, so we did not plan on spending the money,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “I’m not happy with the way the formula was done. We’re getting $67 a person, where Gary is getting over $1,000 a person.” Carmel isn’t alone in receiving less than initially projected. The cities with the three largest deficits between expectations and reality are all in Hamilton County. Fishers is receiving $13 million less and Noblesville is receiving $7.3 million less.

 

HAMMOND: SCHOOLS TO REQUIRE MASKS DUE TO LOW VAX RATE — The School City of Hammond is planning to return to full-capacity in-person learning for the first time since March 2020, but the district is taking a phased approach for masking (Hilton, NWI Times). At the school board meeting Tuesday night, the district's 2021-2022 Return to Learn plan was approved unanimously. Students will be back in their buildings five days a week starting Aug. 18, the first day of school. But because of the low Lake County vaccination rate and rise in COVID-19 variants, masks will be required for all students to start the school year, the plan document says. Masks will be provided to students who need one.

 

SOUTH BEND: HOUSING AUTHORITY EMPLOYEES CHARGED WITH WIRE FRAUD - Three people once with the Housing Authority of South Bend and two contract business owners have been charged on 11 counts by the Acting U.S. Attorney (WSBT-TV). Former Executive Director of the Housing Authority from 2014 to 2019 Tonya Robinson faces bank fraud, wire fraud, and federal program theft charges. Albert Smith, 44; Tyreisha Robinson, 30; Archie Robinson III, 60; and Ronald Taylor, Jr, 42 also face charges of bank and wire fraud. It is alleged that Robinson and the four others conspired to defraud and obtain money belonging to the HASB through fraud for their personal benefit. The scheme allegedly involved paying for contracted work that did not actually take place, and the contractors kicking back a portion of the money to employees at HASB.

 

LAKE COUNTY: ELECTION BOARD THROWS OUT McDERMOTT COMPLAINT - The Lake County Election Board unanimously agreed Tuesday to reject a complaint accusing Democratic Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. of violating multiple state campaign finance laws (Carden, NWI Times). The five-member, bipartisan panel determined there was no evidence to support the allegations filed by Charles Kallas, a Griffith resident who leads the Hammond Republican Party. Kallas accused the five-term mayor of Lake County's most populous city of spending campaign funds on personal expenses and orchestrating a straw donor scheme to fund his unsuccessful 2020 congressional bid using money from his mayoral campaign account. The McDermott foe presented no witnesses or documents — other than an incomplete collection of McDermott's campaign finance filings — to substantiate his claims.

 

VANDERBURGH COUNTY: COVID CASES, VACCINATIONS RISE - Vanderburgh County Health Department administrator Joe Gries is giving an update to county commissioners Tuesday (WFIE-TV). Spokesperson Joe Gries says any rise will seem significant after having a low number of new cases for so long. He says while cases are higher, so are vaccination numbers. He reports 500 people got vaccinated this past weekend. Gries announced the health department got the green light from the state to partner with the Vanderburgh County Fair next week. They’ll be able to offer more vaccines with the state’s resources, which Gries hopes will help against this variant. ”We know these vaccines are effective against these variants,” stated Gries. “People, even if they catch or contract the variant, they don’t get as sick, they’re less likely to be hospitalized or even be on a ventilator. So the more people that get vaccinated, the safer everyone’s gonna be.”

 

ALLEN COUNTY: COVID CASES RISING - Allen County will be back in the yellow category for coronavirus risk as of Wednesday, Dr. Matthew Sutter, county health commissioner, said Monday during the health board's quarterly meeting (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Sutter said the county had been in blue, the lowest category, based on both its number of new cases and a positivity rate of under 5%. The positivity rate is a measure of how many tests for COVID-19 come back positive. But there has been an uptick in the numbers, Sutter said, with the county's positivity rate now standing at 6.2%. The state health department's COVID-19 dashboard will reflect the new category when it is updated Wednesday. Sutter does not plan to change recommendations for the county, he told The Journal Gazette after the meeting. It was unclear late Monday what the existing recommendations are. “I don't have any plans to do another order at this point,” he said.

 

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: SCHOOLS MAKE MASKS OPTIONAL - Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. board members unanimously approved the COVID-19 reopening plan presented at Monday night’s meeting (Columbus Republic). The plan, which was shared with the public last week and went into effect Tuesday, states that in most situations, masks are optional for students and staff and recommended for those at risk or unvaccinated. BCSC Superintendent Jim Roberts noted that “at-risk factors” could refer to one’s own health or the health of someone else in their home. Masks are still required on buses due to a federal mandate.

 

GIBSON COUNTY: CASE AGAINST FORMER CLERK DISMISSED - The case against a Gibson County clerk has been dismissed (WFIE-TV). The trial for James Morrow was in Vanderburgh County and was prosecuted by Pike County prosecutors. As we reported earlier this month, there was a mistrial. Prosecutors say they filed the motion to dismiss because the judge told them the jury found Morrow not guilty on counts two and three.