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Cause of blaze determined in house fire

(Indianapolis) Fire investigators say a 4-year-old boy playing with a lighter caused a blaze at a near north side home Wednesday. Shortly after 5 p.m., fire personnel were dispatched to a home in the 3000 block of Ruckle Street. When firefighters arrived, they found a two-story home with heavy smoke and fire coming from the second floor.  According to investigators, ages 14 and 12 were home at the time of the blaze.  All three were able to escape the burning structure without injury. The parents of the children returned home shortly after the firefighters arrived at the scene.

Police pursuit ends in arrest

(Indianapolis) – A man who police believe had been drinking before getting behind the wheel was arrested Thursday morning after leading police on a chase. The pursuit started in the 3300 block of Fall Creek Parkway about 9:15 a.m. Todd Spradlin, 44, of Anderson, was driving an SUV northbound in a southbound lane.  Officers attempted to pull him over, but Spradlin refused.  The pursuit reached the intersection of 46th Street and Binford Boulevard where he sideswiped two other vehicles, lost control of his vehicle and then slid down an embankment. Spradlin was arrested on charges of fleeing and resisting law enforcement and was taken to Wishard Hospital for a blood draw. No one was injured in the incident.

Charges expected against suspect in abduction-murder case

(Fort Wayne) –  The man accused of killing and then dismembering a nine-year-old girl is expected to be formally charged today. Michael Plumadore, 39, has been charged with murder after he reportedly confessed to killing Aliahna Lemmon. The Allen County Sheriff’s Department says Plumadore will not make a court appearance today as originally scheduled.  , but is expected to appear in court by next Wednesday.

Governor makes last bid to save state’s program

(Indianapolis) Governor Mitch Daniels said Wednesday he has made a last attempt to save the state’s health care program for low-income residents.  Daniels requested the federal government to authorize the continuance of the Healthy Indiana Program, or HIP, which is slated to end in 2012.  The program is funded by taxes on tobacco purchased and is used to help subsidize health insurance for the working poor and keep them off Medicaid. Governor Daniels says the program has helped 50,000 low-income families have insurance coverage. Daniels admits three requests in the past have been met with no response.

State agency releases figures for jobs programs

(Indiana) – Officials say a drug-testing program that began in July for unemployed people seeking job training has revealed that about 2% of applicants have failed mandatory drug tests. The state Department of Workforce Development says 13 people, or 1 percent, of the 1,240 applicants tested for drugs through the end of November did not pass with 3 applicants refusing to take the test and seven samples were retakes due to diluted samples. Agency Commissioner Mark Everson says he thinks the program has been more effective than the numbers show and that he expects many who would have failed didn’t bother applying because they knew they wouldn’t pass. The ACLU said it thinks such tests are unconstitutional, but it hasn’t challenged the practice because it has not received any formal complaints.

Program to help female inmates suspended

(Indianapolis) – The Marion County Sheriff’s Department announced earlier this week that the Liberty Hall program designed to provide rehabilitation opportunities to incarcerated women has been suspended. Liberty Hall located at 675 E. Washington St. is a private facility housing low-security women offenders and is owned and operated by New Jersey-based Community Education Centers Inc. The sheriff’s department cited budget cuts as the reason for the suspension of the five year pilot project. The offenders will be returned to the Marion County Jail by the end of this week.

Cardinal defends gay rights & KKK comparison

(Chicago, IL)  –  Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George in a recent statement  defended his recent comparison of gay rights groups to the Ku Klux Klan. His remarks included saying Pride Parade organizers are inviting comparison to other groups that have attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church.  George said the annual Pride Parade marching past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lakeview, Illinois would interrupt Sunday services, despite parade organizers agreeing to push back the start time to noon.

“Changing Role Of Christianity” Top Trend Of 2011

(Undated)  —  A Christian research organization finds the “Changing Role of Christianity” in America is a top trend of 2011.  According to the “Christian Post”, a recent survey by the Barna Group sound over 40 percent of Americans were unable to name an American leader they considered an “influential Christian.”  A survey earlier in the year found that 50 percent of of Americans believe that “all people are eventually saved or accepted by God, no matter what they do.”