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Headlines for Monday, May 23, 2016

Here's a look at area news headlines from the Associated Press, as compiled by the KPR News Team.

Kansas Lawmakers Expect to Consider Transgender Restroom Use 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers say they anticipate taking up the issue of transgender school bathrooms upon reconvening next week. The issue gained attention after the Obama administration's recent guidance that transgender students at public schools be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The Wichita Eagle reports that Representative John Whitmer says he and other conservative lawmakers will try to run a resolution that would express the Legislature's displeasure. The Wichita Republican says the plan is to send the resolution to federal officials. A bill introduced in the Kansas Legislature this year would have ordered schools to require transgender students to use the facilities corresponding to the sex determined by their chromosome makeup as recorded on their birth certificate. But that bill stalled in committee.


UPDATED: Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Aiding Foiled Bomb Plot at Fort Riley

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of conspiring in a foiled plot to bomb a Kansas military base on behalf of the Islamic State group has pleaded guilty to conspiracy.  Alexander E. Blair changed his plea to guilty today (MON) in a Topeka federal court.  Prosecutors say Blair helped 21-year-old John T. Booker in his plot to plant a 1,000-pound bomb at the Fort Riley military base to aid the Islamic State group. Blair admitted in court that he loaned Booker $100 to secure a storage space for the explosives and failed to inform law enforcement of the plot.  A court document states that Blair decided to change his plea because he believed that the government had collected enough evidence to convict him.  Booker has pleaded guilty and admitted to the plot.

(earlier version of this story)
Judge Hearing Change-of-Plea Request in Fort Riley Bomb Plot 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is hearing a change-of-plea request this (MON) morning from a 29-year-old Topeka man accused of helping another man who plotted to bomb the Fort Riley Army Base in northeast Kansas last year. Alexander E. Blair previously pleaded not guilty to charges that he helped 21-year-old John T. Booker in his plot to plant a 1,000-pound bomb at the military base to aid the Islamic State group. Booker has pleaded guilty and acknowledged the plot. Authorities say Blair loaned Booker $100 for a storage space for the explosives and failed to inform law enforcement of the plot. A federal court document says Blair has decided to change his plea because he believes the government collected enough evidence to convict him of conspiracy.


Kansas Drought-Free for First Time in 6 Years

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — For the first time in nearly six years, Kansas is officially considered drought-free.  The Hutchinson News reports the current U.S. Drought Monitor map of Kansas says no drought exists in the state for the first time since July 13, 2010.  One of the worst droughts in the state's history began in the summer of 2010. The drought fluctuated but as late as April 12, 97 percent of Kansas showed some drought conditions. Rains in April and May helped wipe out the last of the drought — at least for now. Rainfall amounts in those months included more than 4 inches in Salina and Garden City and 7.46 inches in Hays. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the 2011 and 2012 droughts cost farmers nearly $5 billion in crop losses.


Former Missionary Recalls Hostage Experience 15 Years Later

ROSE HILL, Kan. (AP) — A former missionary held hostage for more than a year is recalling the experience as the 15-year anniversary of her abduction approaches. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group kidnapped Gracia Burnham and her late husband, Martin, on May 27, 2001. The Kansas couple had been celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at a Philippines resort. Gracia Burnham was wounded and her husband died in the June 2002 rescue effort that freed her. The Wichita Eagle reports that Gracia Burnham still travels about 100 days a year, talking about her captivity. A few weeks ago, Gracia moved back into the house that the south-central Kansas town of Rose Hill built for her and her family. One of her three children had been living there after a missionary pilot stint.


Winter Wheat Coloring as Harvest Draws Closer in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government report shows winter wheat in Kansas is turning color as harvest draws closer. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 96 percent of the wheat has headed, with 16 percent now coloring. Wheat condition is rated as 8 percent poor to very poor while 33 percent is in fair shape. The agency says 51 percent is in good condition and 8 percent is in excellent condition. Meanwhile, spring planting made some progress last week despite some rainy days that kept farmers out of fields. About 90 percent of the corn has now been seeded in Kansas, along with 21 percent of the soybeans and 6 percent of the sorghum. The agency says 72 percent of Kansas pastures and ranges are in good to excellent condition.


Man Dies After Being Shot in Northeast Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man has died from injuries suffered in a weekend shooting in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that the victim was taken to a hospital after he was shot Saturday night. Police say he later died. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward. The man's death is the city's 13th homicide for 2016.


Man Arrested in Deadly Head-On Crash in Salina

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 33-year-old man has been taken into custody in connection with a deadly head-on crash in Salina. The Saline County Sheriff's Office says the Great Bend suspect was arrested Saturday on a warrant and booked into jail. The Salina Journal reports that he is suspected of being drunk on April 27 when he drove a pickup truck into an oncoming sport utility vehicle. Fifty-five-year-old Song Horton, of Salina, was driving the SUV, and died the next day at a hospital.


Regents Groups Study Title IX, Increasing College Degrees

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has approved a working group to study how the state's universities respond to sexual violence and other sex-based discrimination issues. A separate group will study how to find and enroll Kansans with some college credits but no degree. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the regents approved both groups during meetings this week. The first group will involve university Title IX coordinators working together to determine the best practices for investigating and resolving cases of sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination on college campuses. The second group will explore organizing a statewide initiative to persuade Kansans with some college but no diploma to return to higher education to complete a certificate or degree.


Missouri Man Gets 17 Years for Role in Kansas Bank Holdup

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man has been ordered to spend 17 years in federal prison for his role in a Kansas bank robbery that injured employees and a customer. Fifty-four-year-old Clifton Cloyd of Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced Monday. He pleaded guilty to one count each of bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a robbery. Authorities say Cloyd and another man robbed a Bank of America branch in Overland Park in October 2014. Cloyd admits he helped hold five bank employees and a customer at gunpoint, dragging one of the female workers by her hair and scarf before hitting her in the face with a gun. He also acknowledged he hit a customer, knocking off her glasses, and a male bank worker, causing his head to bleed. A co-defendant awaits sentencing.


Historical Society to Return Remains to Kansas Tribes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Historical Society plans to return human remains excavated from Native American burial sites in Kansas to two tribes.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the remains of two people dug up in Pottawatomie County were donated to the historical society in 1881 by a private collector. In the years since, the historical society has received Native American remains from other counties.  Robert Hoard, a state archaeologist, wrote in April that the remains of 17 individuals and 148 burial objects belong to the Kaw Nation. He also determined remains of at least one person, along with glass beads and pottery found in 1916 or 1917 in Atchison County, belonged to the Kickapoo tribe. Unless other tribes object during a public comment period, the remains will become the tribes' property.


Kansas Trooper Uninjured in Crash

MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper avoided injury after a car hit his parked patrol vehicle while he was helping a disabled motorist on a busy interstate highway. The trooper had pulled over north of the Moundridge exit on Interstate 135 around 1:30 p.m. Sunday when a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed hit his patrol car. Highway Patrol spokesman Ben Gardner says the disabled car was parked in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes. A northbound car that was changing lanes clipped the trooper's vehicle, sending it into the disabled car, which then struck another vehicle. Gardner says the trooper had to jump out of the way of the impending crash. Two people in the disabled vehicle suffered minor injuries.


Body of 40-Year-Old Kansas Man Found on Colorado Riverbank

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) — The body of a 40-year old man discovered along the west bank of the Animas River has been identified as Kansas native Randy Shaw of Hutchinson. Authorities say that a worker spotted Shaw's body around 2:30 p.m. Saturday downstream from the Main Avenue bridge in Durango. Local police say the body was in a sleeping bag, covered in brush near the river's edge. Detective Deck Shaline says an autopsy will determine if foul play may have played a role in his death. But Shaline says there are no obvious signs of trauma. Cathy Seibel, the LaPlata County deputy coroner, says it's unclear how long Shaw's body had been along the riverbank.  Family members said that Shaw, who grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, was plagued by drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Exonerated Man Says Kansas Should End Death Penalty

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A man who spent nearly 16 years in prison for a rape and killing to which his brother confessed wants Kansas to pull the plug on the death penalty. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 39-year-old Floyd Bledsoe shared his story over the weekend to the congregation at a Lawrence church. Bledsoe never faced the death penalty himself. But he was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of raping and killing 14-year-old Camille Arfmann. He was released in December after a DNA test and suicide notes indicated his brother, Tom Bledsoe, killed Arfmann. Bledsoe says the court system is flamed and questioned what would have happened if he had been sentenced to death. Kansas hasn't executed anyone since it reinstated capital punishment in 1994.


Pro Football Hall of Famer Ron Mix Admits Felony Tax Fraud 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pro Football Hall of Fame Member Ron Mix faces up to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty in Missouri to a felony tax-fraud charge. The Kansas City Star reports Mix agreed to pay nearly $50,000 to the Internal Revenue Service under his guilty plea Monday in Kansas City to one count of making false statements in a tax return. Authorities say Mix was a San Diego-area lawyer who illegally paid a non-lawyer for referrals on clients and donated about $155,000 over three years to a charity operated by that person. Prosecutors say Mix then claimed those payments as charitable deductions. Mix was enshrined in 1979 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after 11 seasons as an offensive lineman with Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland.


Anti-Abortion Movement Splintered After Historic 1991 Wichita Protest 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Protesters will come to Wichita this summer for the 25th anniversary of the tumultuous anti-abortion event called the Summer of Mercy. But since 1991, the broader anti-abortion movement has splintered into disaffected factions and its strategies have evolved with the shifting political and legal landscape. Growing restrictions placed by state legislatures on abortion clinics culminated this week with an Oklahoma bill that would have effectively banned abortions, though it was vetoed. And a thwarted move in Congress to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood has spawned similar efforts in conservative states. The current leader of Operation Rescue, which organized the 1991 event, says the group is distancing itself from the July 16-23 event because of the rhetoric that other anti-abortion groups use. Troy Newman also says that the group has accomplished more with politics than protests.


Museum Designed to Honor Unsung Heroes to Open in Kansas

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — A new southeast Kansas museum is designed to honor people who have taken extraordinary actions to help others. The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes opens tomorrow (TUE) in Fort Scott. The 6,000-square-foot museum replaces a smaller exhibit gallery that opened in 2007 in the city's downtown. The new high-tech facility includes a 48-seat theater and a conference room.  People honored in the museum have been the subjects of student research projects. They include Irena Sendler, who rescued more than 2,500 Jewish children during WWII. Also honored are a white man and woman who were teens when they befriended black students who were integrating a Little Rock, Arkansas, high school at the height of the civil rights movement.  The Milken Family Foundation also is known for honoring educators with $25,000 checks.  


Bomber Restored in Wichita Passes Last Major Flight Hurdle  

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Volunteers have achieved another major milestone in their efforts to restore a World War II bomber. The Wichita Eagle reports that the nonprofit group Doc's Friends announced that the Federal Aviation Administration has given the B-29 Superfortress, known as "Doc," an airworthiness certificate. The announcement came exactly 16 years after the bomber's parts were transported to Wichita. Several dozen Doc's Friends members and other supporters attended a ceremony Friday at the World War II aircraft's hangar at Air Capital Flight Line. The certificate was one of the last obstacles to getting the plane off the ground. The nonprofit will now seek permission to operate the plane at McConnell Air Force Base. Jeff Turner, board chairman of Doc's Friends, says the plane could fly in the next few weeks.


Royals Fall to White Sox, 3-2

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Sunday to avoid getting swept for the first time this season. The Royals had won the previous two games. Chicago's Carlos Rodon (2-4) allowed two runs and pitched into the seventh inning for his first victory since April 13. David Robertson got three outs for his 11th save in 13 chances, helping the AL Central leaders win for just the third time in 11 games. The Royals' Lorenzo Cain and Paulo Orlando had two hits apiece for the World Series champions, who had won six of their previous eight. Yordano Ventura (4-3) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings for the Royals. He is 3-0 in four home starts but 1-3 in five road games. The Royals travel to Minneapolis for a three-game series versus the Twins starting tonight.


Evan Maxwell Transferring from Liberty University to KU
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Liberty forward Evan Maxwell is transferring to the University of Kansas, where the school announced Monday that he will have to sit out next season under NCAA rules. The 6-foot-10 Maxwell played two seasons for the Flames and started all but one game last season. He was second on the team with 10 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He had a career-high 24 points with 12 rebounds in a game against Radford in December. Maxwell joins a highly regarded recruiting class that includes Josh Jackson, the top-ranked college basketball prospect in the nation.  Five-star forward Udoka Azubuike and forward Mitch Lightfoot have also committed to KU. Maxwell will be eligible to play during the 2017-18 season.

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