The latest local news

Neighbors worried about proposed hog confinement in Mercer County

WQAD News -

VIOLA, Illinois-- Some people living south of Viola say their community is peaceful and quiet. But driving through you notice dozens of white signs with red lettering reading, "No hog confinement near our family homes."

People are worried a proposed hog confinement facility just a mile away could change their homes for the worse.

"Some people in the area have been here 50, 60 years," says one neighbor sitting around Mychele Mack's kitchen table Monday, January 21.

Mack has been rallying her neighbors against the hog confinement. Proposed by Bradley Colton Welch, it would bring 2,400 hogs to the area. But neighbors say it will also bring pollution and health problems.

"Which it's his property, he should be able to do what he wants," Mack says. "But it's actually going to affect everyone around him... It will pollute the well. It will pollute the air. It can cause asthma and bronchitis more often in people living around those fumes."

Only neighbors living within a quarter mile of the confinement were notified. Mercer County could have held a public comment period if the proposed facility would house at least 2,500 hogs, but the facility will keep just 100 short of that.

Neighbors say there's little they can do to stop the project.

"We're just really nervous about all the things that can happen," Mack says.

News 8 reached out to Welch for comment but he declined.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture says Welch's notice of intent to construct has been accepted but the construction plan is being reviewed.

The Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs Warren Goestch tells News 8 the paperwork Welch has submitted is a "pretty standard application." Goestch says confinements have to meet standards to ensure manure and water don't come into contact.

But neighbors say they're worried an accident or lack of upkeep at the facility could let manure and chemicals run-off into the waterways.

Goestch says facilities are inspected throughout the building process but are not inspected after completion.

Neighbors are also worried about dust from the manure.

"That dust will get in the air and it will travel for miles," says Robert Young, whose parents live closest to the proposed confinement.

He says dust is blown off of the manure, getting contaminates into the air and water.

"(My parents are) going to be confined to their home," he says. "They won't be able to hang their clothes out on the lines for fear of the wind change. They won't be able to leave their windows open."

Other neighbors say their property values will take a hit from being so close to a hog confinement.

Several neighbors have written letters to the editors to bring awareness to hog confinements and the problems they can pose. They say raising awareness is the only way they can hope to stop the project.

The Department of Agriculture says construction can start after the construction plan is approved.

This $1.3M home is yours with a winning essay and $19

WQAD News -

When Canada’s Alla Wagner tried and failed to sell her home in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, she took inspiration from the movie The Spitfire Grill and came up with a writing competition of her own.

The contest has a $19 entry fee and involves participants submitting a 350-word letter explaining why they should win the $1.3 million house in Millarville. Among other things, the 5,000-square-foot home features a wine cellar and scores of windows to accommodate the mountain views.

In an interview with CTV Calgary, Wagner said she is banking on the competition generating sufficient entrants to offset the minimum asking price.

In fact, the main condition of the contest is that it must attract at least 68,000 entries. If this does not happen, the competition will be canceled and all the entry fees refunded. If it does, though, the entries will be whittled down to 500, from which an independent panel of judges will select the winning letter.

The competition is set to run for three months, although this may be extended to six months. For full details of the competition and all the relevant rules, see this Facebook page.

“I know that it’s going to be a beautiful story in the end,” says Wagner.

(What’s no longer hot in real estate: homes on golf courses.)

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Taco Bell-obsessed viral star treated to 5th birthday party at her favorite restaurant

WQAD News -

ROCKFORD, Mich. – A 5-year-old Michigan girl whose overjoyed reaction Christmas morning went viral, got the royal treatment from her favorite place on Earth – Taco Bell.

When Natalie Grove wrote her letter to Santa Claus, she only asked for one thing: a Taco Bell gift card.

"All she wrote was ‘Taco Bell gift card, love, Natalie,'" says her mom, Sarah Grove.

Sarah caught Natalie's reaction to getting her Christmas wish on video and it's since been seen around the world after WXMI first shared her story on December 26.

"It just took off from there," Sarah said.

Even network TV shows and foreign online publications picked up Natalie's story. The buzz was enough to get the attention of Taco Bell's corporate office, which sent Natalie a box of Taco Bell merchandise.

In the seven years she's worked for Taco Bell, area coach Tranquility Sampier said she's never met anyone as excited as Natalie. She decided to invite Natalie to celebrate her fifth birthday at the Taco Bell in Rockford.

“To be able to build this relationship with our guests as well is amazing. We’re so excited," Sampier says.

Taco Bell provided balloons, decorations and even a giant foam taco hat for Natalie's party.

"I like being at Taco Bell," said Natalie, who added that she wants to work for one of the restaurants when she gets older.

At least 1 hurt after ‘multiple shots’ fired at suburban Illinois mall, police say

WQAD News -

ORLAND PARK, Ill. — Police responded to the scene of a shooting at a mall in Orland Park, Illinois Monday evening that left at least one person wounded, reports say.

Police confirmed to WGN News gunshots were fired inside Orland Square Mall around 6:30 p.m. A 19-year-old man was shot outside an H&M store and critically injured, Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy told WBBM Newsradio.

Shots fired Orland Square shopping mall in Orland Park. Police on the scene. Heard multiple gunshots around 6:40 pm and spotted mall customers running on the lower level. More to come.

— Tahman Bradley (@tahmanbradley) January 22, 2019

The mall is located in Orland Park, which is about 20 miles south of downtown Chicago.

WGN anchor Tahman Bradley happened to be inside the mall and said he heard multiple shots fired and saw shoppers running.  He said a customer reported seeing police inside the mall.

First video from inside Orland Square Mall as police respond to reported shooting. Witness tells me she saw paramedics performing CPR on 1 person. (h/t @tahmanbradley ) @WGNNews

— Ben Bradley (@BenBradleyTV) January 22, 2019

No arrests had been made as of 8:30 p.m.

This is developing story.

Farmers look past uncertainty toward the future at QC Farm Show

WQAD News -

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Attendance was strong at the Quad Cities Farm Show in Rock Island, vendors said, despite uncertainty weighing on farmers' minds.

More than 200 agricultural companies are represented at the 28th annual farm equipment show at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island, according to organizers. Vendors say there has been a lot of interest from farmers browsing the equipment and products on display, even as they expressed concerns about current economic conditions.

"There's definitely uncertainty, but there has always been uncertainty in ag," said Mike Brokaw, Vice President of Blackhawk Bank & Trust, one of the exhibitors.

Farmers are worried about grain prices and tariff issues in the ongoing trade war with China, he said.

"The last three to four years since the high prices of 2012 have been stressful for farmers," he said. "Everyone is trying to hold things together."

Add to that the current government shutdown, in its 30th day Monday, some farmers say they are concerned it goes on for much longer.

Offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Farm Service Agency have been closed as part of the shutdown, affecting those waiting on loans to be serviced or approved.

"Most people have trouble with working capital. That's your short term type money. That seems to be disappearing from a lot of farmers fast. It's a big concern for all of us," Brokaw told WQAD News 8.

"Most farmers pretty well take it in stride. They are frustrated. But they find a ways to work around it. Farming, it's a way of life and people are gonna figure out a way to stay in it if they at all possibly can," he said.

Farmers hit by the tariff dispute originally had until January 15 to apply for relief but FSA offices closed amid the shutdown. The agency subsequently made January 17, 18 and 22 available for farm loan activities on a limited staff availability basis. The deadline to apply will be extended by the number of days the FSA is closed due to the shutdown.

In Eastern Iowa, agencies in Dewitt, Maquoketa, Mt Pleaseant and Tipton will be open Tuesday. In Illinois, offices in Cambridge, Morrison, Monmouth, Galesburg and Ottawa will be open. Check the FSA website for a full list of service centers operating during the limited availability.

The farm show wraps up Tuesday.

YOUR HEALTH: Why kids just won’t stop vaping despite the risks

WQAD News -

STANFORD, California – More than 3.5 million U.S. teens used e-cigarettes last year.   That's one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students.

Stanford University researchers found most kids don't realize the very serious health risks they are facing.

Christian Hernandez knows you probably don't approve of his  Juul habit.

That's the popular e-cigarette that delivers a hefty dose of nicotine in kid-friendly flavors.

However, Christian isn't concerned, even after hearing the warnings.

"If I think about other things I could put in my body, I'd rather have just nicotine and or Juul then everything else."

And that behavior is why Stanford University Developmental Psychologist Bonnie Halpern-Felsher worries teens don't fully understand the true harm of Juul.

"It has about 41, 42 milligrams of nicotine per pod. So that's equivalent to one to two packs of cigarettes," said Halpern-Felsher.

According to a new study by Halpern-Felsher, adolescents who use Juul do so more often than those who use other vaping devices.

"We also found that adolescents and young adults who were using Juuls reported being more addicted."

We talked with Junior, who wishes not to have his face shown.  He said he felt the effects of Juul quickly.

"I got lightheaded at first," he said.

"I just didn't know what to do with myself for a cool minute or so, and then I just kept on taking more hits."

"My parents don't really know what it is," said Christian.  "They just think it's a flash drive."

Halpern-Felsher isn't convinced that restricting sale will make a difference.

She's trying to reach kids before they start with a prevention toolkit.

"We have reached over a hundred seventy thousand youths throughout the country."

An impressive number, but Christian has a warning.

"I don't see myself quitting vaping."

While Juul maintains that its products are meant for adults only, Stanford researchers say they found a landmine of ads and social media posts that indicate otherwise.

In November of 2018, after federal regulators declared youth vaping an epidemic and demanded action from companies, Juul announced its decision to pull its flavored products from stores and remove its social media presence

  • Gone from retail stores are its mango, fruit, creme and cucumber flavored pods
  • Age verification is needed for online sales of the flavors
  • It will delete its Facebook and Instagram accounts and halt promotional posts on Twitter

But still it's also ultimately up to kids to stop using the product.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Moline police say 8 cars have already been stolen in 2019

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois  --  Moline police reported that 127 cars were stolen from the city in 2018. In 2019, eight cars have been stolen as of January 21.

"If you average that out for the year, we're going to again be over 100 for the year," Moline Detective Michael Griffin said.

On Sunday, January 20th, police say four juveniles stole a vehicle in Moline, before crashing into a Rock Island railroad crossing.

Moline police say they see a spike in vehicle thefts during winter months.

"Don't go outside and warm your car up," Detective Griffin said. "You're not warming it up for yourself, you're warming it up for juvenile car thieves. They are going to have a warm joy ride and you're going to have a cold walk to call police."

"I think it's probably hard to break the habit," Moline resident Jim Rutherford said. "I think people feel safe in their own community and I think it's really hard to change."

Moline police say breaking the habit of keeping keys in your vehicle is the only way to stop the crime. You can also receive a citation if you leave your vehicle running and unattended on a public street.

"It continues to increase," Detective Griffin said. "We continue to warn people about the dangers of leaving an unoccupied vehicle running, because they are getting stolen at an alarming rate."

Seven of the eight stolen vehicles this year had keys left inside them.

Puppy that survived euthanasia attempt gets adopted

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The puppy that survived a euthanasia attempt has found his forever home.

Rudolph, the eight-month-old Lab/American Pitbull mix, was adopted on Saturday, January 19, according to a post on the Kings Harvest Pet Rescue Facebook page.

The puppy came from an overcrowded shelter in Oklahoma.  He was selected to be put down, but the procedure didn’t take.  When the veterinarians walked in, Rudolph was still awake, getting a second chance at life.

Click here to read Rudolph’s astounding story.


Farmington, IL Casey’s evacuated after suspect reportedly runs into cooler

WQAD News -

FARMINGTON, Illinois — A Casey’s General Store southeast of the Quad Cities was evacuated after someone who was thought to be armed came inside and ran into one of the coolers, police said.

Police were called to the Casey’s, at 84 North Main, around 6:15 p.m. Saturday, January 19, according to a statement from Chief Chris Darsham.

Officers helped get workers and customers out of the store safely, and closed off the streets surrounding the store, said Chief Darsham’s statement.

Chief Darsham said shortly before 8 p.m. the suspect, Clinton J. Shaffer, came out of the store peacefully, with his hands up.

“The store was not robbed and there were no injuries or shots fired during this situation,” said Chief Darsham. “Also, no firearms were recovered from the scene.”

He was charged with felony disorderly conduct and was set to appear in court on February 28 at the Fulton County Courthouse.

What changes are coming to Tour de Brew in 2019

WQAD News -

RIVERDALE, Illinois -- Some changes are coming to the 2019 Tour de Brew Quad Cities.

The new route was announced, to start at the Front Street Taproom in Davenport.  Organizers said that location could bring more attention to their cause, battling cancer.

If we can provide information and showcase the charities we represent like Camp Kesem, children's cancer connection, the Livestrong at the Y program, and the Livestrong Foundation that if anyone does hear those words you have cancer you know there is resources here in the quad cities," said ride director Tina Anderson.

Another new addition to the race will be a 5k, so people who don't bike can still take part.

Registration for the event, held on Saturday, May 4, is open. Click here. 

How the federal government shut down could impact expecting mothers

WQAD News -

GENESEO, Illinois-- The partial federal government shutdown is affecting hundreds of thousands of government workers and that includes employees at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency in charge of making sure the food we eat is safe. Now the shutdown could impact expecting mothers.

Making the last minute touches on the baby nursery is a first for expecting mother Jenna Panicucci.

"I am eight-months pregnant. I'm due March 5. We're having a boy," says Panicucci.

Some things for baby are obvious like the crib, changing table and car seat. But other things may be less apparent but maybe even more important.

"It's not something I'm totally freaked out about, but I think it's always better to be safe than sorry," says Panicucci.

Because of the government shut down, some routine food safety inspections have stopped. The FDA is now doing "high risk" assignments only, inspecting things like baby formula, sea food, and fresh produce.

On twitter,  FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says "taken together, it's smaller than our usual footprint but we're targeting the riskiest products." Gottlieb tweets out of 550 investigators with the Office of Human and Animal Food Operations, more than 200 are currently working.

Knowing fewer eyes are inspecting, Panicucci airs on the side of caution, rinsing each piece of fruit individually.

"We're talking about food, this is stuff you put in your body. So that's pretty important, and you would want someone to be there to make sure they are checking what's going out there," says Panicucci.

The FDA agrees. They suggest people wash and rinse all produce properly, stick to brands you trust and cook at home as much as possible. They say to be especially diligent if you're pregnant, have kids, or have a compromised immune system.

"Since I have another life to think about now, I make sure I'm thorough because you can never be too safe," says Panicucci.

About 150 FDA employees currently working right now are doing so without pay. Gottlieb says more staff could be on the way in the upcoming weeks depending on the need.

One night in North Korea: Davenport man shares his experience in one of the world’s most isolated countries

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- As the White House has announced a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a Davenport man who made a rare trip to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang says he hopes the dialogue will warm relations between the cold war adversaries.

Brendan Iglehart will share his travel experience at the DeWitt Operahouse Theater on Tuesday, once at 3 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. for the Noon Lions Club travelogue series, an educational fundraiser.

"I just have this interest in traveling to places that my mom doesn't like me to go," said Inglehart, who now runs a travel company in the Quad Cities. He said he's also been to offbeat destinations like Cuba and next plans to go to Chernobyl, Urkraine, the site of a catastrophic nuclear disaster.

He traveled to North Korea in 2014 with Young Pioneer Tours, the same group that American college student Otto Warmbier hired on his fateful trip. The U.S. State Department banned American travel to North Korea after Warmbier returned to the United States in June of 2017 with fatal injuries after 17 months in detention there.

Iglehart said Warmbier's story made him rethink how dangerous his own trip was.

"You just have to be respectful of local laws and realize that if you step out of line, you may not have due process like you would expect in the U.S. or other similar countries," Iglehart said.

But in June of 2018 there was an apparent breakthrough in Washington-Pyongyang relations. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made history in Singapore, marking the first time leaders of the two countries ever met face to face.

Iglehart said in his experience, North Koreans are a lot more savvy about the world than Americans give them credit for.

"Even though they live in this very controlled country, the people aren't stupid," he said. "They know about the U.S., they know about the prosperity of other countries around the world."

The U.S. extended it's travel ban for another year last September, so the North Koreans won't be welcoming American tourists again any time soon. Still, Iglehart said he is hopeful that dialogue will improve relations over time.

"I think that we can all agree that even if the governments don't get along, we're all people," Iglehart said. "And I got to really gain respect for the people that I met."



Iowa has highest risk of radon exposure; recognizes January as ‘Radon Action Month’

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa, the state that has the highest risk for elevated levels of radon, now recognizes January as “Radon Action Month.”

Radon is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that can cause lung cancer after long-term exposure, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In mid-January 2019, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared January as “Radon Action Month.”  It’s meant as a way to remind Iowans to test their homes for the gas.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set an action level of 4 picoCuries per liter of air, or 4 pCi/L.  That means, property owners who find levels that meet or exceed that number are urged to hire a radon mitigation contractor to fix their radon problems.

According to the EPA, the State of Iowa has “a very high potential for elevated levels of radon gas,” reported the IDPH.  A survey found that Iowa has the largest percentage of homes above the acceptable radon level.

Radon comes from nature, and tends to be higher in Iowa because the soil has elevated levels of radium.  According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, this dates back to the state’s glacial history.   Radon seeps into homes the same way air does: from soil around the home, through cracks in the foundation, floor or walls, through openings around floor drains, pipes and sump pumps or through hollow-block walls.  It can be found in old and new homes alike, and having a basement, or not, makes no difference.

Click here to see the EPA’s Radon Zones map

All of Iowa is listed as being in “Zone 1” which are counties predicted to have radon levels of more than 4 pCi/L. Illinois has a mix of “Zone 1” and “Zone 2” areas.  “Zone 2” is counties that are predicted to have radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L.

The university reported that about 400 Iowans die from radon exposure each year.

For more information about radon, or ordering a test kit, click here. 

OSF competition recycles a ton (and a half) of Christmas lights

WQAD News -

MONMOUTH, Illinois- Five Illinois OSF hospitals held a friendly competition amongst themselves to see which hospital could save the most Christmas lights from clogging landfills.

“It is estimated household waste increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, adding an extra six tons of trash to landfills nationwide.”

Steve Looney, Western Region Director of Facilities Operations for OSF HealthCare, predicted this year’s unwanted Christmas light drive would collect 500 pounds.

The usual competition had three hospitals participating but in 2018 two other hospitals joined the recycling effort.

Together they saved 3,061 pounds of Christmas lights from the landfill.

Eagle Recycling in Galva partnered to accept the lights which can be stripped down to raw materials including plastic, glass, and copper to make new products. The collection drive was held from December 3, – January 11.

OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford won the friendly competition with 925 pounds collected. Facilities Manager Mike Mader was impressed by the response.

“The final tally from our efforts far exceeded our wildest expectations, especially because it was our first time participating here at OSF Saint Anthony. It’s a tremendous feeling knowing that we could serve as a valuable community resource,” said Mader.

Here are the finals numbers:
#1   OSF Healthcare Saint Anthony Medical Center, Rockford, IL- 925 Lbs.
#2   OSF Healthcare Saint Paul Medical Center, Mendota, IL- 816 Lbs.
#3   OSF Healthcare Saint Luke Medical Center, Kewanee, IL- 594 Lbs.
#4   OSF Healthcare St. Mary Medical Center, Galesburg, IL– 515 Lbs.
#5   OSF Healthcare Holy Family Medical Center-Monmouth, IL- 211 Lbs.

Netflix to reboot ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ to ‘haunt a new generation’

WQAD News -

Netflix is rebooting the show “Unsolved Mysteries,” the streaming service announced Friday.

According to Netflix, the original creators of the show have teamed up with the producers of “Stranger Things” for a modern take on the series.

As with the original series, investigators will be looking to the viewers for help in solving cases.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, unlike the original series, each episode will focus on a single case rather than multiple cases.

The original series debuted in the late 1980s and ran for 14 seasons with almost 600 episodes.

Each episode of the show covered a different real-life mystery, usually of a true crime variety and occasionally even a paranormal one.

Netflix has not given viewers a release date yet.

“Unsolved Mysteries” is coming back to haunt a new generation! The original creators have teamed up with the producers of #StrangerThings for a modern take on the series that will once again look to viewers to help aid investigators in closing the book on long outstanding cases.

— See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) January 18, 2019

Eye doctors offering free eye exams for NFL referees after New Orleans Saints loss

WQAD News -

NEW ORLEANS — Eye doctors are offering free eye exams for NFL referees after the New Orleans Saints loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.

An eye care business in Covington, La. is offering free exams for the officials:

“We will GLADLY provide no cost eye exams to all NFL officials prior to next season to prevent the atrocity that occurred tonight,” Louisiana Family Eyecare posted on Facebook. “We would hate for someone else to feel our pain.”

Another eye center, in Texas, is also offering free eye exams to NFL referees.

“In light of the atrocious lack of calls during the New Orleans Saints game, we would like to extend free eye exams and glasses to any NFL referee in need. You know who you are,” CrystalVisionCenter tweeted after the game.

In light of the atrocious lack of calls during the New Orleans Saints game we would like to extend free eye exams and glasses to any NFL referee in need.

You know who you are.

— CrystalVisionCenter (@CrystalVisionCS) January 21, 2019

The Saints’ lost Sunday night 26-23 in overtime after a very disputed non-call.

If the Rams win, these refs are gonna be run outta town with torches and pitchforks because of this no call on a clear Pass Interference #NFCChampionshipGame #LARvsNO

— That Blind Ref (@ThatBlindRef) January 20, 2019


Bangladesh’s ‘tree man’ is back in the hospital and needs more surgery

WQAD News -

Abul Bajandar, a 28-year-old father from a small town in southern Bangladesh, made headlines three years ago when he underwent a series of complex operations to remove lesions which resemble tree branches from his hands and feet. (Sugam Pokharel/CNN)

A Bangladeshi man who suffers from an extremely rare genetic disease known as “tree man” syndrome is back in hospital and faces more surgery after the condition returned after multiple operations in 2016.

Abul Bajandar, a 28-year-old father from a small town in southern Bangladesh, made headlines three years ago when he underwent a series of complex operations to remove lesions which resemble tree branches from his hands and feet.

Bajandar has been living with the disease, epidermodysplasia verruciformis, for more than two decades, resulting in extreme wart-like growths across his body.

The condition is caused by a defect in the immune system which increases one’s susceptibility to HPV, or human papilloma virus, often leading to chronic HPV infection, skin lesions and an increased risk of developing melanoma skin cancer. It is so rare there have only been a handful of reported cases around the world.

Doctors told CNN that Bajandar has had more then 25 surgeries since 2016 but skipped out of further treatment in May.

“It’s a complicated case and we were making progress but he left to go home. I requested him many times to come back but he didn’t,” said Dr. Samanta Lal Sen, co-ordinator at the Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.

“He came back to the hospital on Sunday with his mother. He should have come here six months back. He came too late.”

Bajandar’s condition has now worsened, with lesions on his hands around one-inch long. The warts have also spread to his feet and other parts of his body, doctors said.

Sen’s team are now working on a plan for Bajandar’s future treatment and said he will need five to six more operations.

Sen told CNN in 2016 that Bajandar first noticed the lesions when he was 10. Over time, the growths completely encompassed his hands, stealing his livelihood as a rickshaw driver and making him the subject of international news.

Before the surgeries, Bajandra could not eat, drink, brush his teeth or take a shower by himself.

“I want to live like a normal person. I just want to be able to hold my daughter properly and hug her,” he told CNN at the time.

In 2017, the surgeries had left him in “very good shape,” enabling him to eat and write using his own hands, Sen told CNN in a previous report, but now more treatment is needed.

The government bore the cost of his treatment in 2016 and Sen said this will extend to any new surgeries Bajandra now needs.

The top 26 billionaires own as much as 3.8 billion other people – $1.4 trillion

WQAD News -

The world’s billionaires are growing $2.5 billion richer every day, while the poorest half of the global population is seeing its net worth dwindle.

Billionaires, who now number a record 2,208, have more wealth than ever before, according to an Oxfam International report published Monday. Since the global financial crisis a decade ago, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled.

The annual study was released ahead of the yearly World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together some of the wealthiest and most influential people on Earth. The 106-page report is meant to call attention to the growing gap between rich and poor.

The combined fortunes of the world’s 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion last year — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people.

Most of these mega-wealthy are American, according to the Forbes list of billionaires used by Oxfam. The names include Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who collectively are worth $357 billion, according to Forbes.

Oxfam recommends that nations tax wealth at fairer levels, raise rates on personal income and corporate taxes and eliminate tax avoidance by companies and the super-rich. It also advocates providing universal free health care, education and other public services — and ensuring that women and girls also benefit. And it suggests investing in public services — including water, electricity and childcare — to free up women’s time and limit the number of unpaid hours they work.

Tax systems questioned

The report echoes policy positions embraced by the newly empowered Democrats in the United States, who are advocating for similar reforms.

“There is going to be a broader and increasingly energized public conversation in the US and globally on what a fair and effective tax system looks like that will be very different from today,” said Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America’s vice president of policy and advocacy.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman lawmaker from New York, has proposed taxing the wealthy as high as 70% to fund a climate change plan she’s pushing called the “Green New Deal.”

And a growing group of lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are pushing for Medicare for All to expand the number of Americans with health insurance.

Those issues are global.

“In many countries, a decent education or quality healthcare has become a luxury only the rich can afford,” Oxfam said. “Every day, 10,000 people die because they lack access to affordable healthcare.”

The impact is disproportionately felt by women.

“Girls are pulled out of school first when the money isn’t available to pay fees, and women clock up hours of unpaid work looking after sick relatives when healthcare systems fail,” the organization said, estimating that “if all the unpaid care work carried out by women across the globe was done by a single company, it would have an annual turnover of $10 trillion.”

The problem is felt acutely in places like India, the world’s fastest growing major economy. The country has one of the world’s lowest female labor participation rates. Recent data from the World Bank showed only 27% of women aged 15 or older were classified as working or actively seeking a job.

A report last year by the McKinsey Global Institute said India could add $770 billion to its economy by increasing gender equality, while Asia as a whole could boost its gross domestic product by as much as $4.5 trillion if more women are brought into the workforce.

Winter Weather Advisory for Tuesday… Find out what wintry mix you’ll see

WQAD News -


A fairly cloudy and down right cold day as temperatures are only in the teens.  Winds have remained in check so thankfully no dangerous wind chills to worry about.

Clouds will thicken and lower tonight and into tomorrow as another winter storms creeps toward the Midwest.  With its progress, southeasterly winds ahead of the system will allow temperatures to hold steady in the teens through the evening before slowly rising in the lower 20s before dawn.

Area of low pressure associated with this storm will track right across the area.  That means a mix of precipitation will fall from snow, freezing rain, sleet and rain as temperatures climb around the freezing mark of 32 degrees.  Along the Highway 34 corridor we’ll see a mostly rain event, where areas between the I 80  and Route 30 corridor will see a wintry mix in the morning followed by a mostly rain event by afternoon.  The farther north of Route 30 and you’re talking all snow, where 2 to 5 inches is likely late that night.  Along I80 an inch or less of snow and slush with areas farther south being a light slush.

Much colder temperatures are on the way especially by the upcoming weekend with high temperatures approaching zero and wind chills as cold as 30 below!

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

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Cat survives long slide down frozen dam spillway

WQAD News -

HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. – Two members of the Army Corps of Engineers rescued a cat that found itself stranded on an Indiana spillway on Wednesday.

The Huntington County Sheriff’s Office says it’s unknown how the feline got there, because there’s no way to access the area, but it’s possible it had fallen off of State Road 5 or was thrown off.

“The cat was clearly in distress and retreated to the very top of the spillway area and lodged itself in the metal structure,” the sheriff’s office said.

There wasn’t an easy way to access the cat, so crews decided get a boat out and try to coax the animal down.

“It was decided it was worth a shot to attempt the help the cat versus doing nothing,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

After about an hour, Ryan Martin and Jared Perrott with the Army Corps of Engineers were able to shut the water off and launch the boat. When the boat reached the spillway, the cat came out of the structure it was hiding in, slid the entire way down and the rescuers were able to grab the animal before it hit the water.

One woman commented on the Facebook post claiming to be the owner. She says, "Mr. Vanjie is safe and sound! He has been missing for almost 2 weeks."

"I’d truly like to thank the Huntington County Sheriff Department and the rescuers from the Army Corp of Engineers who saved our beloved cat! He is an inside-outside cat we took in when he landed on our doorstep a little over a year ago. We are very thankful to have him home! He is exhausted!"


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