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Headlines for Thursday, May 18, 2017

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

Forecasters Predict Severe Weather Outbreak in Kansas and Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _Forecasters are predicting a tornado outbreak in parts of the Southern Plains later today (THUR), the latest in a stormy week that has raked the country's midsection and left two people dead. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, is classifying Thursday's storm chances as high risk in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma. The bull's-eye of the storm is predicted to include Wichita and rural areas of southern Kansas and western Oklahoma. Forecasters say the storms could bring ``strong long-track tornadoes'' in central and southern Kansas into western Oklahoma along with baseball-sized hail. Storms have battered Midwest and Plains states all week, with deaths reported Tuesday in Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Visit the National Weather Service webpage for the latest warnings and watches.

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Kansas Lawmakers' Work Stalls on Undoing Brownback Tax

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Work in the Kansas Legislature has stalled on a plan that would fully repeal past income tax cuts championed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback.  House and Senate negotiators failed to agree Thursday evening on a plan to raise taxes to fix the state budget and boost spending on public schools.  They reviewed a plan that would return Kansas to the income tax laws in place in 2012 before tax cuts touted by Brownback began. Rates would have risen and an exemption for farmers and business owners would have ended.  It was the most aggressive plan lawmakers have considered and would have raised $1.4 billion over two years.  Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019, and the state Supreme Court has ruled that education funding is inadequate.

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New Requirements for Kansas Abortion Providers Near Passage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A rule nearing approval in the Kansas Legislature would require abortion providers to give women information on their doctors' history in black, 12-point Times New Roman font.  Republican House and Senate negotiators agreed today (THUR) on the bill's language. They also took procedural steps to bypass committee Democrats, who say the bill treats abortion providers differently than other doctors.  The bill would require that providers give women information about the physician performing the abortion at least 24 hours ahead of time. The information would include the doctor's credentials, start date at the clinic, malpractice insurance, hospital privileges, state of residency and disciplinary record.  The bill's supporters say women need the information to make an informed decision.  Abortion rights supporters say the bill is meant to discourage women from having abortions.

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Kobach Says He Won't Pre-Judge Voter Fraud Panel's Findings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kris Kobach is preparing to help lead a new presidential commission on election fraud with the certitude that he's found significant evidence of problems in Kansas.  As Kansas secretary of state, he was the first state elections chief to gain a prosecutor's powers.  Kobach said he's not pre-judging what might be happening in other states before the commission appointed by President Trump begins compiling hard data.  In Kansas, he has described the dozens of non-citizens on voter rolls and nine successful prosecutions as evidence of a significant problem.  Voting rights advocates have criticized the commission and Kobach's appointment.  He has been advising Trump for months and said he talks to the White House each week. He is the new commission's vice chairman, with Vice President Mike Pence as the chairman.

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Kansas Democrats Seek $600 Million Boost in Education Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Legislature's top Democrats are proposing that the state phase in a $600 million increase in spending on public schools over three years.  Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka and House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita made their proposal public Wednesday. A House committee has proposed phasing in a $280 million increase in spending over two years. The increase in funding under the Democratic plan after two years would be $400 million.  A Senate committee is drafting its own proposal.  Kansas spends about $4 billion a year on aid to its 286 school districts. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that education funding is inadequate. The Democrats said they believe their plan would satisfy the court's order.

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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Sales Tax to Help Fill Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators are wrestling with whether to end sales tax breaks in a larger plan to fix the state budget and raise additional funds for public schools. Senate tax committee members were not satisfied with a House-passed plan to raise $110 million over two years by imposing the state's 6.5 percent sales tax on some services. They include towing, pet boarding and bill-collecting.  The panel heard testimony from collection agency operators who said that their businesses would be harmed in competition with out-of-state firms.  Backers of the House bill are working on a new plan to raise about $330 million over two years by eliminating sales tax exemptions.  Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 through June 2019, and the Kansas Supreme Court has said education funding is inadequate.

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Judge: Government Destroyed "Critical Evidence"

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A judge has expanded an investigation into prison recordings of attorney-client conversations in Kansas to focus on the government's conduct after "critical evidence" was destroyed.  U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered the special master to investigate federal prosecutors in Kansas, citing their lack of transparency as well as inaccurate and misleading statements.  Her ruling reveals the hard drive of the one computer used to play video recordings was wiped clean. The action was taken despite the court's earlier order to preserve all hard drives for computers assigned to attorneys and staff in the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City, Kansas.  Robinson says this precluded the special master from analyzing the meta data and other information.  Neither the U.S. attorney's office or federal defender's office immediately responded to emails seeking comment.

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Babysitter Who Left Toddler's Body in Field Pleads Guilty

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The babysitter of a Wichita child whose body was found in a field last year has pleaded guilty to interfering with a police investigation.  The Wichita Eagle  reports that 26-year-old Tyerria Miles pleaded guilty Monday to interfering with the investigation of the May 2016 death of 2-year-old Jhornee Bland.  Miles had been caring for Jhornee in the days before her death and had initially told the police she had left the child with a friend. She later admitted that she moved Jhornee's body to a field after her death.  The coroner wasn't able to determine the cause of death.  Court records show that Miles is scheduled for sentencing on June 28.

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Manhattan Reports Doubling of Rape Reports

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Riley County authorities say the number of rapes reported in Manhattan and surrounding areas has doubled during the first quarter of this year compared with the same time last year. 16 rapes were reported in the first quarter of 2017.  That’s up from eight in the same period last year.  The Manhattan Mercury reports a total of 40 rapes were reported in Manhattan in 2016.

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Kansas Board Hears Testimony on Parole for Wichita Sniper

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Several witnesses asked the Kansas Prisoner Review Board to keep a man known as the Wichita Holiday Inn sniper in prison.  During a hearing Wednesday, no one spoke in favor of paroling 59-year-old Michael Soles, who killed three people and wounded eight others in 1976 in a sniper attack in downtown Wichita. Soles is eligible for parole in July.

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Lawrence Cable News Station to Convert to All-Sports Network; Lay Off 20 Employees

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A cable news station serving the Lawrence area will convert to an all-sports network and end local news this summer.  6News Lawrence says its parent company, Midco, has announced it will expand its Midco Sports Network into the Lawrence market.  That will mean the end of local and area sports and news and will dissolve Channel 6 and 6lawrence.com, which originates local programming.  Yuchen Lin, web/social media producer for 6 News Lawrence, says more than 20 employees will be laid off.  Channel 6 will continue to air local news, weather and sports until a final newscast August 4.  Midco, which provides cable, internet and other services in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota, acquired the Lawrence cable system in October 2016.

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Charges Dropped Against 2 Salina Men in Conspiracy Plot

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ Prosecutors have dismissed charges against two Kansas men accused of plotting to kill people in Illinois.  Assistant Saline County Prosecutor Amy Norton dropped the charges Wednesday against 25-year-old Xavier Lewis and 22-year-old Xavier McCray, both of Salina. The Salina Journal reports the charges could be refiled.  The men were charged with conspiring with Alex Karcher to kill three people in Illinois. Charges were dropped in April against Karcher, who has been indicted Jackson County, Illinois, on allegations of being involved in a drug ring. McCry and Lewis were not indicted in Illinois.  A Carbondale, Illinois, police officer was wounded in the same time frame in which the men were accused of planning to travel to Illinois to kill three other men.  No one was killed  

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Man with Sword Arrested for Attempted Bank Robbery in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Police say a 23-year-old man has been arrested after trying to rob a Topeka bank with a sword.  The man was booked into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with an attempted robbery at a Bank of America branch.  Police say he was wearing a sword housed in a scabbard.  No injuries were reported.  Apparently, the man surrendered the weapon to a security guard at the bank and was taken to police headquarters for questioning before being booked into jail.  

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Prosecutors Charge Woman in Kansas City-Area Homicide

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - A 32-year-old woman has been charged with beating her aunt to death with a baseball bat in an Independence home. Courtney Hackney was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killing of Holly Barnett who was found dead Tuesday in her home. Court records say a woman who lived with Barnett noticed her in the chair and that Hackney said she was sleeping. The woman then ran from the house but Hackney attempted to drag her back inside. She called police after getting free. Responding officers found Barnett dead and recovered a bat that appeared to have blood on it. Hackney told police Barnett was her aunt. Witnesses said they saw Hackney frequently carrying the bat.

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Classified Document Leaker Chelsea Manning Set Free from Leavenworth Military Prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Private Chelsea Manning – the soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks -- has been released from Fort Leavenworth military prison. She says she's unclear where her life will take her now that she's free after serving seven years.  Manning, who is transgender, was known as Bradley Manning before she transitioned in prison. She was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison, but President Obama granted her clemency in January.  She remains on active duty in the military but in a special status - pending her final appellate review.  Manning was convicted in 2013 of leaking secret military and State Department documents and battlefield video.  She is appealing her court-martial conviction. Manning will be on unpaid active duty in "excess leave'' status, which makes her eligible for medical care at Army treatment facilities.  The special status also allows her to wear her preferred civilian clothing, including women's attire.  

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Lawrence Cops Rescue Rowers on Kansas River

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials say emergency responders helped rescue a team of rowers stranded on the Kansas River after their boat capsized. The Lawrence Journal-World reports at least eight people were stranded Wednesday morning on the river near the University of Kansas boathouse. No injuries were reported.  The Kansas boathouse is the base for the KU women's rowing team and a co-ed club team. The eight people rescued were all men.

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Painting of Kansas Muslim Teen to Hang in U.S. Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A portrait of a Muslim teenager from Kansas painted by a schoolmate will soon be hung in the U.S. Capitol.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins of Topeka visited Washburn Rural High School on Monday to present a certificate to the artist, 18-year-old Claire Fallon.  The Kansas congresswoman says Fallon's oil painting is the only one from a Kansas artist that will be hung in the Capitol as part of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. Each representative picks a submission from a high school student in their congressional district.  Fallon says the painting, "Red, White and Blue,'' is a tribute to her friend and classmate, 18-year-old Noor Kyasa. Kyasa is a Muslim-American and was wearing a red, white and blue outfit the day she modeled for the portrait.  Fallon and her parents will visit the Capitol in June with the other contest winners.  

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Yankees Beat Royals in 11-7 Romp 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run fourth inning as the New York Yankees piled up 16 hits and rolled to an 11-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night. New York's Michael Pineda (4-2) allowed three runs and six hits with two walks over six-plus innings. The Yankees teed off on the Royals' Jason Vargas (5-2), who came into the game with a major league-leading 1.01 ERA. The left-hander allowed as many earned runs in the fourth as he had in his first seven starts combined, and was pulled after allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks in four innings. The Royals' Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer and Whit Merrifield also went deep for Kansas City, which scored three times in the ninth.

 

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