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Headlines for Tuesday, December 6, 2016

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

Kansas Legislature Selects New Leadership  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Democrats in the Kansas House have ousted their leader in a move signaling that they'll be more aggressive in criticizing Governor Sam Brownback and his fellow Republicans. Democrats on Monday removed Representative Tom Burroughs of Kansas City as House minority leader Representative Jim Ward of Wichita will replace Burroughs. Ward has been vocal in criticizing Brownback and other Republicans. In the Senate, Minority Leader Anthony Hensley faced no opposition to keeping his leadership job.  Republicans gave state Senate President Susan Wagle a second four-year term. The Wichita Republican overcame a challenge from Representative Ty Masterson of Andover. Both Wagle and Masterson are conservatives but Wagle has been willing to break with Governor Brownback on tax and budget policy, while Masterson has been a reliable Brownback ally.  Republicans also named Senator Jim Denning of Overland Park as their new majority leader. Denning has been a vocal critic of Brownback's fiscal policies.  Republicans in the Kansas House have elected one of the chamber's most visible GOP moderates as their new majority leader. Representative Don Hineman of Dighton prevailed over more conservative Representative John Barker of Abilene. Hineman has also been a vocal critic of Brownback's tax policies. But the vote for Hineman came after House Republicans designated conservative Representative Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe as the speaker for the next two years. Ryckman prevailed Monday over moderate Representative Russ Jennings of Lakin. Democrats will hold 40 seats in the 125-member House when lawmakers open their next session in January, and the vote suggests they could form coalitions with the more moderate Republicans.  The full Senate must ratify the selections when lawmakers open their next session in January.

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Wichita Woman, 3 Children Found Safe After Abduction

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have found a Wichita woman and three children who were abducted at gunpoint. Police said this (TUE) morning that 36-year-old Melissa Gifford, 2-year-old Grayson Gifford, 8-year-old Madison Ruiz and 8-year-old Aiden Ruiz are safe. Kansas Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Melissa Underwood says a man and his girlfriend who were suspected in their abduction were taken into custody at a hotel in Wichita. No charges have been filed. The relationship between the suspected abductors and the missing woman and children wasn't immediately released. The disappearance of the woman and three children led law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert overnight. Police have now also found the sport utility vehicle that may have been involved. 

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Brownback Names Kansas Revenue Secretary to Economic Council 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback has named Kansas's top revenue official to an economic advisory post and replaced him with a retired executive of a marketing and advertising agency. Brownback announced former state lawmaker Nick Jordan's appointment Monday to the lead role with the Governor's Economic Advisory Council with the Kansas Department of Commerce. Jordan will start that job Dec. 12. Jordan has been the state's revenue secretary since Brownback took office in 2011. Brownback named Sam Williams to be Jordan's successor. Williams is a former Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce chairman and board member, as well as a retired chief financial officer and managing partner at Sullivan, Higdon and Sink. Williams's appointment will require confirmation by the state senate.

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Police: Officers Shot, Killed Hutchinson Man Who Pointed Gun

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say officers have shot and killed a man who pointed a gun at them. Police said in a media release that the shooting happened at 2 am Tuesday when officers responded to a home and encountered a white man in a bedroom armed with a handgun. The release says officers fired their weapons when the man pointed the gun at them. Police identified the man killed as 55-year-old Richard Jones, of Hutchinson. None of the officers were injured. The release said the person who contacted police wasn't clear about the "nature of the problem." The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is leading the inquiry into the shooting.

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Court Filing: In Army's Eyes, Chelsea Manning Is a Man 

A military prison psychologist is refusing to recommend that Chelsea Manning's gender be officially changed to female in her Army employee-benefits file. Lawyers for the transgender solider imprisoned for leaking classified information made the assertion in a federal court filing Monday in Washington. The document says the chief of mental health at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, prison recently declined Manning's request. Manning contends she has "achieved stability in her female gender." The document doesn't say why psychologist Ellen Galloway declined the request. Manning's lawyers say an Army policy enabling soldiers to officially change their gender does not provide an avenue for Manning to do so unless she is released or receives transgender surgery. Her lawsuit seeks a court order allowing Manning to wear her hair longer than 2 inches.

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Economists: Kansas to Have Higher Unemployment Rate than US 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas economists predict the state will have a higher unemployment rate than the nation beginning in 2018. The Wichita Eagle reports that in October, Kansas' unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent, slightly lower than the national average. Kansas Department of Labor economist Tyler Tenbrink says the state's unemployment rate held steady around 4 percent for most of 2015 but rose during the second half of 2016. Tenbrink says the state expects the Kansas unemployment rate to rise to about 4.7 percent in 2018 based on current data. He says the Federal Reserve predicts a national unemployment rate of 4.5 percent for that year. He says the Federal Reserve and the state use different methodologies to make these predictions. Kansas has historically had a lower unemployment rate than the nation.

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NAACP Critical After Teacher Accused of Racist Remarks 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The NAACP in Lawrence is critical of school officials' handling of a middle school teacher who was suspended after he was accused of making racist comments during class. A letter to district officials expresses disappointment that school board members last month broke from past practice and agreed to accept the resignation of a teacher without publicly naming the teacher. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the teacher who resigned is believed to be the same South Middle School social studies teacher who was under investigation. Ursula Minor, president of the NAACP's Lawrence branch, objected in the letter, saying future employers would be in the dark. Superintendent Kyle Hayden said in a statement that the district is committed to "providing learning environments free from harassment and discrimination."

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Pedestrian Killed by Car in Lawrence Was KU Libraries Employee 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police say a pedestrian who died when he was hit by a car was a longtime employee of the University of Kansas Libraries. Police say 58-year-old Bruce Coburn of Lawrence was hit by a car Friday as he walked along a street. Coburn was an office assistant with the libraries since 1981. He died at the scene. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that no arrests or citations have been made against the 26-year-old man who was driving the car. In a statement released Monday, Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Coburn's work over three decades helped keep the university community connected. She extended condolences to Coburn's family, friends and university employees who knew him.

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Program Helps Youths Who Have Aged Out of Foster Care 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Young adults who have aged out of foster care are getting some Christmas cheer through a statewide program. Department for Children and Families spokeswoman Theresa Freed says about 600 young people are signed up this year for the Hope for the Holidays program. Donors contribute gift cards and personal notes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the effort started in 2006 when a staff member wanted to help out former foster children. While they didn't have much, they also didn't qualify for assistance. The program has since gone statewide, with 313 youths reached through the campaign last year. Hope for the Holidays program consultant Deborah O'Neil said last year, organizers received many thank you notes saying that the program's gift was the only one they got for Christmas.

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Christmas Cookies a 4-Generation Family Tradition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Cookie making is a four-generation family tradition for one Polish-American family in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Augustyniewicz family whipped up about 670 cookies over the weekend using a 70-year-old set of cookie cutters. Two family members flew in from Seattle to join in the baking extravaganza. They started by scribbling down names of 19 species of cookies they planned to bake: sugar cookies, butterscotch, cinnamon nut, walnut butter balls, Santa Claus faces, cinnamon pecan pinwheels . and more. Forty-five cups of flour went into the project. The cookies will be boxed carefully and sent, a few dozen each, to 15 to 20 Augustyniewicz families. Frank Augustyniewicz says the cooking "binds us all together as a family."

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1 Killed, 2 Wounded After Shooting Inside Kansas City Bar 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a shooting inside a Kansas City bar after a suspected dispute left one person dead and two others wounded. Police said in a news release that a suspect was taken into custody at the scene of the 2:30 am Tuesday shooting at the Tool Shed Bar. Police identified the dead victim as 34-year-old Jarrod Blake of Kansas City. A second victim was critically injured, and a third suffered non-life threatening injuries. Police say the shooting happened after a disturbance between Blake and the suspect.

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Transgender Student Named King of Kansas School Dance 

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A 17-year-old transgender student who advocated for LGBTQ rights at a suburban Wichita high school was crowned king of a winter formal at the school. The Wichita Eagle reports that Tyler Krayer received the most votes from classmates for Holly Ball King at the school's annual event Saturday night. Krayer, a senior, says he at first thought it was a joke when he found out a month ago that a classmate nominated him. And he says he was surprised to win the honor. He was one of several students who testified in July before the Derby school board in favor of a school policy that allows students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. He says he was bullied and harassed at previous schools before moving to Derby.

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50-Year-Old Man Convicted in Kansas City Triple Slaying

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 50-year-old man has been convicted of fatally shooting a mother, son and a family friend at a central Kansas City house. Anthony Walker of Kansas City was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder in the January 2012 deaths of 62-year-old Donna Pike, her 41-year-old son Herschel Pike, and 57-year-old Edward Williams. He also was convicted of three counts of armed criminal action and one count of first-degree burglary. The killings happened at the Pikes' home. Prosecutors say Williams was shot when he went to the home to check on the Pikes. Prosecutors say an undercover police officer later purchased the murder weapon from Walker. Walker already is serving 30 years in federal prison after he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against Business 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Reno County judge has temporarily blocked a South Hutchinson business from reselling a pair of machines that purport to assist in body healing amid an ongoing legal dispute. The Hutchinson News reports that the temporary restraining order issued last week also prohibits Greg Dovel and his company, Energy Genesis of Kansas, from revealing confidential information about the machines. The order comes in a lawsuit filed by Beaver Creek LLC, which says it sold the machines to Dovel for $40,000 each. The suit alleges Dovel agreed to buy 12 machines and later indicated he would sell the two he had — and proprietary information — to a Beaver Creek competitor. Dovel says he never agreed to buy more machines. He says he's negotiating to settle the lawsuit.

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Man Accused in Double Homicide Charged with Fleeing Country 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 42-year-old man has been charged with fleeing the country to avoid being prosecuted in a Kansas City shooting that left two people dead and two others wounded. The Kansas City Star reports that the federal unlawful flight charge was filed Monday against Jose Yepes-Zavala. He previously was charged in Jackson County (Missouri) with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 31-year-old Antonio Hernandez and 39-year-old Omero Garcia. They were among four people shot in July 2015 at a party. Court documents filed in the federal case say investigators obtained a court order to track Yepes-Zavala's cellphone and also received information from a confidential informant that he is living in Mexico.

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Plaque Tells Little-Known History of KU's Oldest Building 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A bronze plaque tells the story of a small stone stable that is the oldest building on the University of Kansas campus and the fiery abolitionist who built it. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the building was constructed in 1862 on property owned by James Lane, a prominent abolitionist and one of Kansas' first senators after statehood. The building is now part of KU's Max Kade Center for German-American Studies, which is located in the former Sudler House adjacent to the annex. The plaque's inscription includes this little-known quote by Lane. While rallying a group of Free-State men in 1857, he said, "Jayhawks remember, 'Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord,' but we are His agents!" It was paid for with about $3,000 in donations but hasn't yet been hung.

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Kansas Woman Gets 3 Years for Embezzling $570K from Employer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A southern Kansas woman who admittedly stole more than $570,000 from her former employer has been ordered to spend three years in prison. A Sedgwick County judge on Monday sentenced 46-year-old Jeannette Block of Wichita. She had pleaded guilty in October to one count of felony theft. Authorities say Block worked for Pizza Hut of Southeast Kansas Inc. as an accountant and controller for 15 years. Prosecutors say Block's thefts took place over the last five years of her employment, ending in 2014. The district attorney's office says in a statement that Block asked the judge to grant her probation so she could pay back the rest of the money, insisting she already had sold her home and returned $200,000 of the stolen money. 

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Missouri Man Convicted in Triple Murder in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 50-year-old man has been convicted of fatally shooting a mother, son and a family friend at a central Kansas City house. Anthony Walker of Kansas City was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder in the January 2012 deaths of 62-year-old Donna Pike, her 41-year-old son Herschel Pike, and 57-year-old Edward Williams. He also was convicted of three counts of armed criminal action and one count of first-degree burglary. The killings happened at the Pikes' home. Prosecutors say Williams was shot when he went to the home to check on the Pikes. Prosecutors say an undercover police officer later purchased the murder weapon from Walker.  Walker already is serving 30 years in federal prison after he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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Trial Set for Missouri Man Accused of Daughter Sex Slaying 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A trial has been scheduled for late next year for a Missouri man accused of sexually attacking and suffocating his daughter, a high school honors student, at a motel. Forty-year-old Jerry Bausby has pleaded not guilty to Jackson County charges of first-degree murder, sodomy, incest and sexual abuse in the March death of 18-year-old Daizsa Laye Bausby. A judge set his trial to begin on Nov. 27 of next year. Authorities say Daizsa Bausby's body was found March 22 in a Kansas City motel room. A medical examiner concluded the teenager died of asphyxia by smothering. Police say Bausby denied having sexual contact with his daughter, and that lab tests later showed genetic material swabbed from Jerry Bausby's body matched the victim's DNA. Bausby remains jailed on $750,000 cash bond.

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Kansas Jayhawks Move Up to Third Place in AP Top 25 Basketball Poll

LAWRENCE, Kan.— Reigning national champion Villanova is No. 1 in the AP Top 25 men's college basketball poll for the second time in school history. The Wildcats (8-0), who were No. 1 for three weeks in February last season, moved up one spot from last week with 57 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel on Monday. UCLA (9-0), which beat No. 1 Kentucky 97-92 on Saturday, jumped from 11th to second with two first-place votes. Kansas moved up one spot to third place and Baylor (8-0) jumped from ninth to No. 4. Duke held fifth place and was followed by Kentucky, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Indiana and Creighton.
 

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