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Headlines for Monday, January 30, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Crowd at Kansas City Airport Protests President Trump's Travel Ban

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A large crowd gathered at Kansas City International Airport Sunday to protest President Donald Trump's suspension of refugee entry into the U.S. The Kansas City Star reports that hundreds of people rallied at the airport with many chanting: "Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here!" Airport officials said they were aware of the protest but didn't issue any further statement. Trump's executive order temporarily bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. The order has sparked protests around the country.

Travel Ban Protests Also Held in Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Protests against President Trump's travel ban spread to Wichita, where two separate events were held. The Wichita Eagle reports about 100 people gathered Sunday at the Wichita Eisenhower National Airport to protest the president's order. Earlier in the day, another 100 people formed a human barrier in front of the Islamic Society of Wichita to show support for Muslims and refugees. Protesters at the Wichita airport said the group wanted to spread the message that American democracy is about welcoming all people. Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay and several police officers were at the airport event to ensure a peaceful protest. No problems were reported at the gathering.

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Judge Sets Hearing Date on Kansas Citizenship Proof Lawsuits 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A judge has set a joint hearing on the fate of two federal lawsuits in Kansas challenging the state's proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Monday granted the unopposed request to consolidate oral arguments on motions seeking partial summary judgment. She set March 3 as the hearing date. At the crux of the lawsuits is a disputed voter registration law that requires Kansans to provide a document such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport proving they are U.S. citizens. Robinson will hear arguments from all parties over claims that the state's requirement unconstitutionally burdens the right to vote and violates the right to travel because it allegedly discriminates against U.S. citizens who come to Kansas from other states.

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Kansas Special Election Adds Urgency to Pending Court Cases

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The upcoming special election for the 4th District congressional seat has added new urgency to pending court decisions in multiple federal lawsuits. Those lawsuits challenge restrictive voter registration requirements in Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback has called an April 11th special election to fill the congressional seat formerly held by new CIA Director Mike Pompeo.  Preliminary court orders allowed Kansans who registered using a federal form or at motor vehicle offices to vote in the November election even if they didn't provide documentary proof of U.S. citizenship. The uncertainty comes in part because federal judges hearing three separate cases unfolding in Kansas and in Washington, D.C. could rule on pending motions seeking summary judgment that could impact April's special election.

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Wichita-Based Koch Brothers to Spend More than $300 Million on Public Policy

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) - The conservative Koch network is planning to spend between $300 million and $400 million to influence politics and public policy over the next two years. That's according to spokesman James Davis, who says the network will be aggressive in promoting its goals and holding elected officials accountable as President Donald Trump takes power. The spending plan was disclosed as donors gathered in Indian Wells, California, for the network's winter conference. Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch hosted the event, which attracted more than 550 donors, each willing to donate at least $100,000 annually to the various groups backed by the Koch brothers. The spending level marks an increase from the network's spending in the 2016 election, which was roughly $250 million.

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Utilities' Attorney Defends Great Plains Plan to Buy Westar

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a Missouri-based utility is telling Kansas regulators that its proposal to buy their state's largest electric company will result in significant savings that will keep rates in check for customers. But the Kansas Corporation Commission also heard arguments Monday from attorneys strongly criticizing Great Plains Energy's proposal to purchase Topeka-headquartered Westar Energy. Great Plains is the parent of Kansas City Power & Light. The acquisition would create an electric company with 1.5 million customers straddling both sides of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Great Plains would assume $3.6 billion in Westar debt. Attorney Rob Hack argued on behalf of Great Plains and Westar that the deal provides long-term benefits to consumers. But the commission's staff and consumer advocates contend the deal is not good for consumers.

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KU Sex Violence Prevention Program Marks 1 Year

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas's new sexual assault prevention office says it has trained nearly 15,000 people since it was established last year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university is marking the one-year anniversary of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, or SAPEC. The center says almost 15,000 people have received training so far, including many training events held with fraternities, sororities and athletic teams. The center's director, Jen Brockman, says students are required to complete the university's sexual assault prevention training created by SAPEC, otherwise they could face a registration hold. She says one of the center's goals is to find more outside funding. Brockman works with two full-time prevention educators and a part-time intern who works on data analysis.

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Bragg Charged in Municipal Court in Drug Possession Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas sophomore basketball player Carlton Bragg is charged in Lawrence municipal court with possession of drug paraphernalia. Court administrator Vicki Stanwix confirmed Monday that Bragg was given a notice to appear in court after police said they found two glass smoking devices with residue inside. The paraphernalia was found December 17 while university police were investigating a reported rape at McCarthy Hall, home to the men's basketball team and other male students. KU coach Bill Self indefinitely suspended Bragg from the team for violating team rules. He said the suspension is not connected to the alleged assault at McCarthy Hall. Police also said in a news release there is no indication that the drug paraphernalia is related to the sexual assault case. Bragg's first appearance is scheduled for February 14.

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Woman Accused Former Lawrence Police Officer of Locking Her in Kennel 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The city of Lawrence says in a court filing that a female police officer told investigators that another officer beat her, chained her inside a dog kennel and choked her until she blacked out. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city released the information in responding this month to former Officer William Burke's defamation lawsuit. Burke claimed consensual sex led to his February 2015 arrest. He is seeking $525,000 in damages in the lawsuit filed in September in federal court. No criminal charges were filed against Burke, who resigned. He remains licensed to work as a police officer in Kansas. Among the evidence the city says investigators collected are text messages from Burke to the female officer in which he said he'd "never hit a girl before."

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Report: Winter Wheat Condition Mixed in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government snapshot gives the Kansas winter wheat crop a mixed review. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 20 percent of the wheat is in poor to very poor condition. The agency rated 36 percent of the wheat in fair condition, with 42 percent in good and 2 percent in excellent shape. Their assessment comes after a month in which all of Kansas received some precipitation, with the heaviest amounts falling along the state's southern border. Topsoil moisture is rated as adequate to surplus in 63 percent of the state. Temperatures in January were two to four degrees below normal in much of western Kansas, while the rest of the state saw temperatures ranging from two to six degrees above normal for this time of year.

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Leavenworth Police Investigate Man's Shooting Death

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Leavenworth police are investigating the shooting death of a 54-year-old man. Police Chief Pat Kitchens says Gary Frantz died after being shot several times on Friday night. Investigators determined a 50-year-old woman was a potential suspect. Kitchens says the woman was later arrested in Burlingame. The Leavenworth Times reports the shooting might have involved domestic violence but no other details were released.

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Kansas City Searchers Discover Second Man's Body While Looking for Missing Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — For the second straight week, people searching for a missing KC-area woman found a man's body. Relatives of Jessica Runions found the body Saturday morning while searching for Runions, who has been missing since early September. Kansas City police say the death is being investigated as suspicious but released no other details. Runions' relatives search for her nearly every week. Last week, they found another man's decomposing body in a creek bed. He was later identified as 21-year-old Brandon Herring of Raytown, Missouri, who had been reported missing in November. His death is being investigated as a homicide. Runions was last seen leaving a gathering of friends in south Kansas City. Her burned vehicle was found two days later in a nearby wooded area.

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Investigations into Kansas Child Deaths Shrouded in Secrecy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas welfare officials rarely release details after a child's death or serious injury despite a decade-old law designed to provide more transparency. The Kansas City Star reports that it has made numerous requests for documents to see how officials with the Kansas Department for Children and Families were complying with the 2004 law. Of 15 media requests, the department released information about the department's involvement in only one instance. In several cases, judges kept information sealed at the request of prosecutors, police departments and even parents suspected of abuse. Department Secretary Phyllis Gilmore says the agency is "constantly striving to make sure children in Kansas are safe." Democratic Representative Jim Ward of Wichita says the current law requiring disclosure has "too many loopholes."

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Fort Riley, KU Team Up on Brain Injury Study

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — More than a hundred Fort Riley soldiers are helping University of Kansas researchers study how intense running affects wounded soldiers with mild traumatic brain injury. David Johnson, who is leading a two-year study, says many soldiers have significant problems with traumatic brain injuries often as the result of bomb explosions. Clinical trials will assess whether intensive cardio-respiratory exercise helps wounded soldiers recover from mild traumatic brain injury. Johnson's premise is that aerobic exercise helps the brain heal itself. All the soldiers participating in the study have been exposed to major explosions. Johnson says soldiers will run to improve their aerobic capacity, with a goal of running more miles more quickly. The research is supported by $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense.

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Fundraising Complete for Kansas City Urban Youth Academy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball have raised enough money to fund an Urban Youth Academy sports complex in Kansas City.  officials say the entire project near the historic 18th and Vine district should be finished by September or October. The Kansas City Star reports that construction on the complex designed to attract urban boys and girls to baseball and softball began last April. The project's cost has grown from $14 million to $19 million but officials say fundraising is complete. Architect Justin Cox said the complex will have baseball fields, a softball field, basketball courts, tennis courts, bleachers and a walking trail. It also will have multipurpose building to provide a year-round free academy for classes and activities.

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Missouri Pedestrian Hit, Killed by Truck  

WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 25-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, man died after being hit by a car late Sunday. The patrol says Demetrius Hayden was hit along U.S. 50 in Warrensburg. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The patrol says a 19-year-old man from Ottawa, Kansas, was driving the pickup truck that hit Hayden. An investigation is continuing.

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'Home on the Range' Film Featured at Kansas State Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Lawmakers and staff members will have a chance to see a made-for-television film to celebrate Kansas' official song, "Home on the Range." The film will be shown three times at the Capitol's auditorium today (MON). The film shows how "Home on the Range" became a well-known Western anthem. The movie's director, Ken Spurgeon, says the film shows how a couple sued 30 entities, including NBC and Bing Crosby, in 1934 over the song. The movie was filmed in Smith Center, El Dorado, Topeka and Wichita. Filming also was done at the historic cabin in Smith County where the song was written by Brewster Higley in 1872.

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Kansas Man Admits to Bank Heist, Jewelry Store Confrontation 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has pleaded guilty to robbing a bank and to brandishing a firearm during a confrontation with a jewelry store owner. The U.S. attorney's office says 25-year-old Terence Thomas entered the pleas Monday. Prosecutors say Thomas admitted he had a knife when he approached the jewelry store owner and his wife as they arrived for work. The owner drew a handgun in self-defense. The two men wrestled and shots were fired before Thomas got the gun. After forcing the owner to open the door to the business, Thomas dragged the owner's wife inside before she feigned a heart attack. Thomas fled after the owner locked him out of the business. Prosecutors say Thomas also robbed a Fidelity Bank branch a month earlier. Sentencing is set for April 19.

 

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