The racing sanctioning body IndyCar held a public memorial service, punctuated by laughter and tears, Sunday to celebrate the life of two-time Indianapolis 500 champ Dan Wheldon.
Those at the memorial, held at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, recalled Wheldon not only as a successful driver, but remembered his winning charm, his sense of humor, and his devotion to his family and his fans.
Wheldon, 33, was near the back of a 34-car field at the Las Vegas Indy 300 on October 16 when he got mixed up in a crash that saw several cars spin out of control and burst into flames, spewing smoke and debris. He died of head injuries.
"The victories and the accolades, they didn't define him," said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. "His strong character, his enthusiastic approach to life, and the love of family, friends and fans did."
The owner of the Indianapolis Colts confirmed on Monday morning what most NFL fans expected – star quarterback Peyton Manning is unlikely to play again this season.
But Jim Irsay said he expects Manning back for the 2012 season.
"Peyton should be back. He had the neck fusion, it went well. The biggest thing is to get the regeneration back in the nerve in his throwing arm. We feel that it will. My anticipation is he can come back, probably 2012," Irsay said in a breakfast meeting with Super Bowl organizers and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according to CNN affiliate WTHR-TV. "I don't see him coming back this year. It's possible he could practice in December. We'll see. I think he can come back and finish off a great career here."
In a later Twitter post, Irsay said the Colts would keep Manning on the active roster, and that there is an "outside chance" Manning could return in December.
Without Manning, the Colts have been winless this season, dropping games to Houston and Cleveland and then to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, 23-20.
Manning had surgery for a neck injury earlier this month, forcing him from the lineup for the first time in his 13-year NFL career.
In July, the Colts signed Manning, a four-time MVP, to a five-year, $90-million contract extension.
Kerry Collins has replaced Manning as the Colts quarterback.
Colts coach Jim Caldwell may have more information at a press conference later today.
[Update: 10:59 a.m. ET] A 24-year-old woman who sustained injuries in a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair this month remained on life support Monday, according to the Marion County Coroner's Office. Indiana police initially said Monday that Meagan Toothman had died.
[10:23 a.m. ET] A seventh person has died as a result of injuries sustained in the stage collapse that occurred at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, Indiana State Police say. The victim is identified as 24-year-old Meagan Toothman. She died just before midnight on Sunday.
Indiana investigators and the FBI began combing through a western Indiana landfill Tuesday in search of fresh clues to the June disappearance of college student Lauren Spierer.
The Bloomington Police Department has isolated a roughly 170,000-cubic-foot patch of garbage at the landfill and may need two weeks to sort through it, the department said in a statement announcing the search. The site holds waste transported from Bloomington, including from bins intersection where the Indiana University student was last seen.
"While working with the company that operates the landfill, Republic Services, waste that was taken from the city on and around the dates of Spierer's disappearance was identified at the landfill site," police said. "That location within the landfill has remained isolated and secured since that time with no additional waste placed in the identified area."
The landfill is in Pimento, about 60 miles west of Bloomington and about 10 miles south of Terre Haute. In a statement issued through police, the Spierer family offered investigators their "sincere thanks and appreciation for their continued support in our efforts to find Lauren."
Update: Sunday 11:28 a.m. ET
At least five people were killed Saturday night at the Indiana State Fair when a massive wind tore down a concert stage, authorities said. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels described the collapse as a "freakish accident." Watch an iReport shot by someone who captured the stage collapsing.
"You could see a lot of people panicking," said Aaron Richman, who witnessed the incident in Indiapolis. Deafening screams were heard over the crumbling of the main concert stage. "All the scaffolding and speakers - all that came crashing down - and the whole stand just collapsed."
Allison Hoehn said many in the crowd rushed to try to help people trapped under the debris. "We tried to get down to help, but no one was moving," she said. "The storm came on so fast and the stage just snapped like a toothpick."
Spectators grabbed parts of their seats to assemble makeshift stretchers, Hoehn said. "Everyone rushed to help, and we saw people searching and pulling people out," she said. "(I) saw five people go away on stretchers. It was amazing how many people ran in to try to lift the scaffolding."
As crews sifted through the rubble late into Saturday, on Sunday Indiana State Police Sgt. Dave Bursten reported that in addition to the fatalities, at least 40 were injured.
"It's a very sad day at the state fair and our hearts are really breaking," said Cindy Hoye, the fair's executive director.
Investigators are trying to figure out the cause of the collapse. A stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed Saturday. At least a dozen were hurt, according to the Indianapolis Star newspaper.
The country music duo Sugarland, who was slated to appear on stage Saturday, tweeted that they were okay: "We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you'll join us. They need your strength."
A witness told CNN that inclement weather played a part in the incident, which was posted on Youtube.
"A big gust of wind came through. You could see a lot of people panicking. All the scaffolding and speakers - all that came crashing down - and the whole stand just collapsed," Aaron Richmann said.
Video from CNN affiliate WTHR showed flashing lights and emergency vehicles on the scene.
The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for central Indiana Saturday evening. “Thunderstorms may be severe with damaging winds and large hail as the main threats,” the weather service said. “The storms will also produce dangerous lightning and brief heavy rainfall.”
The weather service said thunderstorms were possible for the area Sunday.
Read the complete story on CNN.com
A man at an Indiana amusement park pulled a small alligator out of its enclosure, offered some children the chance to pet it and then fled when the gator bit an 11-year-old boy, police said.
"Someone we're still trying to identify was able to get one of the alligators out," said Sgt. Michael Grennes of the Valparaiso Police Department.
Grennes said the police are investigating Monday's incident and it's unclear what charges, if any, the man may face.
A Valparaiso police incident report said the man took a pole with string attached, which patrons may use to feed gators from a distance, to create a noose and pull out an alligator. After fishing the reptile out of its enclosure, the man told some children they could pet the alligator, the report said.
"The alligator snipped at one of the fingers of one of the kids that was there," Grennes said.
According to the police report, the boy was injured on his right index finger. Grennes said the injury was not serious.
Grennes said a woman believed to have been with the man at the time has since said she cannot identify him.
"She continues to tell us she doesn't know who he is," Grennes said.
The Valparaiso park, called Zao Island, is a small family entertainment center that includes go-karts and mini golf as well as the live alligators.
Handwriting experts and educators worry that Indiana's choice to stop teaching cursive in schools could negatively affect a child's ability to learn.
The Indiana Department of Education joined 39 other states in adopting the Common Core curriculum, an initiative to phase out cursive writing in classrooms in favor of providing students more time to hone digital skills.
But some believe the move could adversely affect children.
"The fluidity of cursive allows, I think, for gains in spelling and a better tie to what they are reading and comprehending through stories and such and through literature," said Paul Sullivan, principal of St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Burbank, California.
"I think there’s a firmer connection of wiring between the brain’s processes of learning these skills and the actual practice of writing."
Listen to the full interview here:
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Three things you need to know today.
Yellowstone spill: Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will get a close-up look Tuesday at damage done to the Yellowstone River when an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured last week and leaked tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the river, CNN affiliate KTVQ reports.
ExxonMobil reported Monday night that more than 280 people have converged on the area near Billings to clean up the spill, including workers from the Texas-based oil company and the Clean Harbors environmental firm.
But ExxonMobil officials told the Billings Gazette that workers have yet to reach the site of the rupture and determine its exact nature.
Historically high water levels and rapid currents have made things difficult. On Saturday, for instance, levels near Billings reached their peak for the season at 13.95 feet, nearly a foot above flood stage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
“It’s not a safe place to be right now,” ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers told the Billings newspaper.
The rupture occurred on a pipeline that brings oil from Wyoming to a refinery in Billings, the Gazette reported.
More trouble for former IMF chief: A lawyer for French writer Tristane Banon said he will file a criminal complaint Tuesday against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn over an alleged attempted rape eight years ago.
The development comes days after charges against Strauss-Kahn in New York appeared to be on shaky ground.
In anticipation of the new claims, a Strauss-Kahn lawyer in France said he had filed a counterclaim against Banon for "false declarations" after the 32-year-old journalist and writer alleged the ex-IMF chief assaulted her.
The filing by Strauss-Kahn's lawyer was announced shortly after Banon's lawyer, David Koubbi, said he will file the criminal complaint Tuesday with prosecutors, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to file charges.
Missing student case: An autopsy Tuesday may shed some light on the case of missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer.
The autopsy will be conducted on a decomposing female body found in a creek Monday north of Indianapolis, CNN affiliates reported.
Bloomington police have been searching for Spierer, 20, since June 2, when she was last seen leaving a sports bar in the city after a night out with friends.
New York's, Washington's and Atlanta's federally designated drug-trafficking zones just got a little bigger.
They're called High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, to be exact, and they're designed to regionally coordinate law enforcement efforts to tackle issues such as drug production, distribution, chronic use and money laundering. Local, state and federal agencies operating in HIDTAs receive extra equipment, technology and other resources to combat drug trafficking.
Approximately 16% of the nation's counties - encompassing a whopping 60% of the population - fall within one of the 28 HIDTAs, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
You can now add the following to the list: Orange County, New York; Mendocino County, California; Porter County, Indiana; Harford County, Maryland; Lexington and Richland counties, South Carolina; and Putnam and Mercer counties, West Virginia.
More storms in Midwest – Many people across the midsection of the country are going to spend Memorial Day cleaning up, after severe storms hit Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois overnight. More than 100,000 people in those states are without power. "It sounded like a freight train." That's the refrain of this past week. Missourians described the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, on May 22 that way, and now someone is using the same description in Michigan. Winds of more than 80 mph hit Battle Creek, Michigan. Hundreds of flights were canceled in Chicago.
Twin suicide bombings in Afghanistan – Suicide bombers targeted security forces and foreign civil affairs workers in separate blasts Monday in the western Afghanistan city of Herat, killing at least five people and wounding 33, a police official told CNN. The attacks occurred within minutes of each other just blocks apart in Herat, an area where U.S. military officials have hinted American troops would be withdrawn by July because it has been largely free of violence.
The second bomber blew himself up outside the main gate of a compound that is home to a Provincial Reconstruction Team, an attack that allowed gunmen to rush inside. Afghan and NATO-led forces fought the gunmen, Afghan government official Harif Taib told CNN. A police commander later said the situation was under police control and the gunfight had ended.
Endeavour heads home – The space shuttle undocked from the international space station and is scheduled to land early Wednesday morning. There is one last shuttle mission after Endeavour's journey: Atlantis is scheduled to launch in July.
The brood is back, and it's gonna be noisy.
Trees, posts, walls and other vertical surfaces throughout the American South are being covered this spring with billions of periodical cicadas: red-eyed insects that emerge, like Chicago Cubs fans' pennant hopes, for a few weeks just once every 13 years.
The bugs are perfectly harmless to humans, unless you count annoyance caused by the remarkable amount of noise the love-starved little critters make. The male cicada's mating call has been compared to a circular saw, only more shrill - and that's just the way the lady cicadas like it. FULL POST
Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on reaction and fallout to the death of Osama bin Laden.
Today's programming highlights...
9:30 am ET - Employment numbers hearing - We will learn this morning what April's employment numbers are. The Joint Economic Committee will meet to discuss those numbers and the country's jobs situation.
After weeks of hard-fought battles, stunning upsets and unbelievable Cinderella stories, it all comes down to tonight’s NCAA Tournament championship.
Pitting Brad Stevens-led Butler against UConn, the title matchup rounds out a remarkable tournament that saw the impossible become possible. The Butler Bulldogs will be making their second consecutive title game appearance, after missing a shot in the last seconds against Duke in 2010.
The UConn Huskies will be returning for a shot at the title for the first time since their 2004 national championship. As SI.com’s Luke Winn points out, no matter the outcome, both of these teams have clawed their way to amazing tournament runs.
But despite the incredible skill and determination both teams showed, who is this year’s underdog?
With every No. 1 and No. 2 seed knocked out of this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament, it’ll be Cinderella battling Cinderella next weekend in the Final Four.
It’s safe to say that few, if any, saw this coming. This year’s season was marked by the fact that there was not the traditional powerhouse that all other teams were chasing. This year’s tournament was arguably one of the more wide open in recent memory.
But this wide open?
Libya violence – Coalition warplanes dropped bombs on the outskirts of Tripoli early Friday as Libyan forces retaliated with anti-aircraft fire. Hundreds of miles away in Ajdabiya, coalition airstrikes targeted armored vehicles that the British Defense Ministry said were threatening the civilian population there. The military action marked the sixth straight day of bombardments from coalition jets and came a day after NATO agreed to take over enforcement of the "no-fly" zone.
Rebels on the ground continue to fight leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, and in Misrata – where more than 100 people have died in the last week and hundreds more have been wounded – reports have emerged that a hospital has been operating on generator power with no anesthesia or painkillers.
One person was shot Friday at a middle school in Martinsville, Indiana, police said. One person is in custody after the shooting at West Middle School, the Morgan County Sheriff's Department said. Additional details were not immediately available.
Indiana House Republicans have adopted a $250-a-day fine against missing Democratic lawmakers who left the state in protest over a controversial education and labor bill, lawmakers from both parties said Thursday.
More than 35 House Democrats remained in Urbana, Illinois, for a second week, denying their Republican counterparts the two-thirds quorum necessary for a vote on a school voucher proposal and a measure that would restrict collective bargaining rights for state workers.
As Wisconsin's pro-union protests rage, a huge crowd in Ohio is gathering Tuesday for the event "Rally to Save Ohio's Middle Class." The movement, which reportedly could draw 20,000 people, is being documented live on Facebook. The AFL-CIO also is tweeting the event.
Protesters are demanding lawmakers drop a bill that would end Ohio public employees' right to collective bargaining. An Ohio Senate committee has said it will revise and vote this week on the legislation that would affect about 350,000 state workers, teachers, public safety employees and others.
And in Indiana, lawmakers have stooped to name-calling in a debate that pits union forces against legislators who want to undo union rights.
Are you in the middle of any of it? Send an iReport.
Libya - Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is calling Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi "delusional." Her remark followed Gadhafi's ABC interview in which he insisted that there are no protests in Libya and that citizens "love" him. It is actually day 15 of massive protests in the chaotic country. Thousands are demanding Gadhafi's ouster, as the world wonders what would happen if he did step down. Enigmatic and eccentric, he has ruled Libya for more than 40 years. As night fell Monday, forces loyal to him tried to retake the town of Zawiya with tanks and anti-aircraft guns, an opposition leader said Tuesday. The town, which is a short drive from Tripoli, the capital, seemed to be in control of those who oppose Gadhafi, so the pro-Gadhafi crowd was stopped, the opposition leader said. CNN journalists are on the ground in Libya and across the Middle East and North Africa to bring you background on the crisis in Libya. Other countries across the region have seen unprecedented protests calling for changes in government to reflect a more democratic models. CNN's Fareed Zakaria breaks down the history that led to the uprisings, and he urges the U.S. to recognize Libya's new provisional government led by anti-Gadhafi forces. What are the U.S.'s options for Libya? The Obama administration has said nothing is off the table.
Charlie Sheen – Charlie Sheen continued his nonsensical ranting Monday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." He said that he has results of a test that showed him to be drug free. "I'm super-bitchin' [and] I don't believe myself to be an addict," Sheen declared. His recent rants, speculated to be some kind of drug-addled meltdown, have been major headlines since reports of a high-profile night of debauchery with prostitutes that ended when he was rushed to a hospital for severe pain. In the past few weeks, Sheen has repeatedly texted journalists and given interviews to a radio show during which he has insulted his former bosses at his hugely popular sitcom "Two and a Half Men." The show was canceled. When Morgan asked Sheen if he felt any responsibility to act as a role model because the sitcom was a family-oriented comedy, Sheen replied that he thought the show's content was "juvenile or gross." Sheen also said Sean Penn and Mel Gibson had reached out to him to offer advice, and denied that he is violent toward women. Sheen remarked, "I'm still alive, which is pretty cool." Time magazine wonders today if Sheen is bipolar.
Florida wildfires - Firefighters are having a tough time getting a big wildfire under control in central Florida. About 20 miles of Interstate 95 are closed. Officials say the blaze has burned about 10,000 acres. Heavy winds and dry conditions are fueling the flames.
Union protests - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker warns of dire consequences, including layoffs of state workers, if Democratic state senators don't return to the legislature in Madison to vote on the budget. The budget plan the governor will unveil Tuesday has led to protests by throngs of public employees who are enraged that lawmakers would consider ending their right to collective bargaining. Polls indicate there is growing support for Wisconsin's public workers. Protests about similar union issues are heating up in Indiana and Ohio. Background on those protests can be found here.
Libya – It's Day 14 of a massive, and often violent, uprising to force Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to step down. CNN's Nic Robertson has been in Zawiya, a town about 40 miles from Tripoli, and watching as crowds of Qadhafi opponents grow. Gadhafi clings to power despite members of the country's security forces deciding to defect and join the protesters over the weekend.
Abdullah Alzubedi, Libya's ambassador to South Africa, told journalists Monday that Gadhafi should leave office and that he would not continue to work for Gadhafi if the leader survives the popular uprising. But Alzubedi said he will not quit despite resignations by other Libyan officials because he said he must "serve the needs of Libyans living in South Africa and help South Africa evacuate its citizens."
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