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Headlines for Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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

Ex-Kansas Commerce Secretary Ends Run for Congressional Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas commerce secretary has ended a congressional race days after Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's office confirmed he was fired partly over questions about state contracts. Ex-Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave posted a statement Tuesday on his campaign's Facebook page citing family reasons for ending his bid for the GOP nomination in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Soave said he and his wife are expecting a sixth child after a miscarriage earlier this year and stress from the campaign was greater than anticipated. Brownback's office said Friday that he fired Soave in June and questions about Department of Commerce contracts for consulting and marketing services were a reason. The Kansas City Star reported that at least nine Soave associates landed contracts during Soave's 18 months as secretary.

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Judge: Produce Grand Jury Material in Kansas Recording Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ordered the U.S. government to give grand jury materials to a court-appointed official investigating the recording of attorney-client meetings at a federal prison in Kansas. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson gave prosecutors until November 21 to produce grand jury transcripts related to a prison contraband case in which criminal defense lawyers discovered that the privately run Leavenworth Detention Center was routinely recording meetings between attorneys and their clients. The recordings at issue were made as part of a grand jury investigation in the contraband case. A special master is looking into the government's collection and use of conversations between attorneys and their clients that are supposed to remain private. The special master recently informed Robinson that the U.S. attorney's office has stopped cooperating with the investigation. Robinson cited that in issuing her order Tuesday.

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Kansas Lawmakers to Spend $400K for Help on School Funding Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislative leaders plan to spend $400,000 to get help in drafting a new public school funding law, including separate lawyers for the House and Senate. The five top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature agreed on the plan Tuesday. The two Democrats present at legislative leaders' meeting called it a waste of money and opposed it. The House and Senate each would spend $100,000 to hire its own attorney. The entire Legislature has had a single attorney previously. Lawmakers also plan to spend $200,000 to hire a school finance expert to study how much it costs to finance a suitable education for every child. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last month that a law phasing in a $293 million increase in school funding over two years wasn't sufficient.

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Kansas City Residents to Vote on Proposed New Airport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A fight over the fate of Kansas City International Airport will be decided today (TUE) when voters in Kansas City, Missouri cast ballots on whether to approve a nearly $1 billion project to build a new airport terminal. The question on the ballot calls for replacing the 45-year-old airport's three horseshoe-shaped terminals with a single terminal. Supporters say the makeover will help boost the economy, attract new businesses and provide jobs for Kansas City and the entire region. Supporters also promise that no taxpayer money will be used. But opponents say taxpayers will be on the hook for at least part of the cost in the future. Opponents also say improvements could be achieved at a much lower cost by remodeling the current terminals and that a single terminal would be less safe and less convenient for travelers.

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K-State Black Student Union Wants Charges over Racist Graffiti Hoax 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The Black Student Union at Kansas State University is calling for criminal charges against the 21-year-old black man who defaced his own car with racist graffiti in what he described as a Halloween prank that got out of hand. The group posted on its Facebook page late Monday a statement saying it was "appalled, disgusted and hurt" by the false report. Police earlier had announced that Dauntarius Williams admitted that Wednesday's incident was a prank. Police said they thought charges wouldn't be in the community's best interest. The union said that the fact that an African American man was involved should not diminish its effect on students. It urged Riley County authorities to reconsider pressing charges. Reports of the graffiti fueled racial tensions at the university and in the community.

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Police: 3 Suspects Shot, Wounded During Exchange of Gunfire

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say officers have shot and wounded three suspects during an exchange of gunfire in Kansas City, Kansas. Police officer Cameron Morgan says the suspects were taken to a hospital with minor injuries Monday night. No officers were hurt. Morgan says the shooting happened during a traffic stop that was part of a "violent crime investigation." A fourth person in the suspect's vehicle wasn't shot. Morgan provided no details on the investigation or what led up to the shooting. He says a Kansas City, Kansas, officer who also is an FBI task force officer was involved. After the shooting, police pursued a vehicle into Kansas City, Missouri. Police initially suspected the vehicle's occupants of possible ties to the shooting but said later that they aren't believed to be directly involved.

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Man, Woman Sentenced for Sex Trafficking Operation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates for victims of sex traffickers in Kansas say they are pleased federal prosecutors are searching for traffickers but they were upset that two traffickers sentenced in Topeka received relatively light sentences. On Monday, 43-year-old Frank Boswell, of Topeka was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. And 34-year-old Rachel Flennkin, also of Topeka, was sentenced to two weeks of time served and placed on three years of supervised release for three crimes related to a sex trafficking ring run by Boswell. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Boswell had as many as 20 women, including Flenniken, working for him as sex workers. Sharon Sullivan, chairwoman of the Topeka-Shawnee County Human Trafficking Coalition, says 46 months was not enough time for the crime Boswell committed.

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Death Certificate Says Slain Topeka Man Was Shot in Back by Police 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The death certificate for a black man killed by Topeka police in September says he died from gunshot wounds to his back, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports . The newspaper obtained a copy of Dominique White's death certificate Saturday. The document isn't a public record. Topeka police said initially that White was shot after a struggle and that at least one shot struck his chest. The department declined to discuss the death certificate Monday and referred questions to Lawrence police, who are investigating the shooting. Lawrence police described the investigation as "ongoing." Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay says his office will review the investigative report once it's completed. A group demanding to know what happened has been camping since Thursday in front of the law enforcement headquarters in Topeka.

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Kansas Democratic Party to Pay $19,000 Fine for Errors in Finance Reports 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Democratic Party has agreed to pay a $19,000 fine after an audit concluded it had filed incorrect campaign finance reports in 2011 and 2012. The Federal Election Commission's audit earlier this year found the party underreported contributions and other receipts by a total of $149,000 in 2011 and 2012. The audit said expenditures were underreported by more than $227,000 during the two-year period. The audit also said the party failed to keep required monthly logs documenting the time employees worked on federal and state campaign activities. The commission last month approved the agreement between one of its enforcement attorneys and the party's attorney. The Kansas Democratic Party said in the agreement that the problems with its reports were inadvertent and that it took steps to prevent future errors.

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Salina Adds Sexual Orientation Protections for City Workers

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A new resolution says Salina city employees cannot be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Salina city commissioners voted Monday to add those categories to the city's personnel manual. The resolution applies only to city employees. The Salina Journal reports the commission also approved a resolution adding public accommodation protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for access to city facilities and services. Natalie Fischer, the city's director of human resources, said she had received positive responses to the proposal from city employees. There was no public comment but several people in the audience applauded after the vote.

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Police Say Death of Douglas County Man in Burning Home Was Homicide

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in a burning northeast Kansas home as a homicide.  The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has identified the victim as 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora. He was found Friday night after deputies arrived at the home south of Lawrence following reports of gunshots. No one else was inside the home. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward. 

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Former Northeast Kansas Jailer Charged with Sex Crimes

GARNETT, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have arrested a fired Anderson County jailer who is charged with sex crimes. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says 27-year-old Lexington Laiter, of Garnett, was arrested Monday. He worked at the Anderson County Jail from 2013 until he was fired last December. The KBI says it began investigating in January at the request of the sheriff's office. Anderson County prosecutor Brandon Jones says Laiter was charged October 31 with 11 counts of unlawful sexual relations and two counts of attempted unlawful sexual relations. The charges became public when Laiter made his first appearance. The KBI says Laiter is accused of committing the crimes while working at the jail. Laiter is jailed in Osage County on $250,000 bail. 

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Salina Man Who Admitted Killing Son to Get New Sentencing Hearing

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina man who admitted killing his infant son will get a new sentencing hearing under an amended law involving how a court determines if a defendant has an intellectual disability. On Monday, 31-year-old Nicholas Corbin's sentenced was rescheduled for February 23. Corbin and his girlfriend, 24-year-old Desirah Overturf, both pleaded guilty to premeditated murder in the death of their 3-month-old son. The Salina Journal reports Corbin filed a motion seeking to be found a person with an intellectual disability. That motion was denied in February 2015 and Corbin was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years. During Corbin's appeal, state law was changed to include more ways to determine intellectual disability, prompting the Kansas Supreme Court to send Corbin's case back for review.

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Officials Say Fire at Middle Eastern Restaurant in Wichita Was Intentional

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Federal investigators have determined that a fire last week at a  Wichita restaurant run by a Middle Eastern family was intentionally set. The Petra Mediterranean Restaurant was destroyed last Wednesday. The words "Go back" were painted on a nearby storage unit. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a $5,000 reward for information about the fire. The FBI, which investigates hate crimes, was notified last week. The restaurant's owners, Ranya Taha and Bashar Mahanweh, said last week that they thought the fire might have been a hate crime. They also said the community has rallied around them and they have lived in Wichita for years and have always found the community to be loving and supportive.

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Judge Approves Jail Postcards Settlement in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge given the final go-ahead to a settlement in the lawsuit filed against the Wilson County sheriff over his jail's policy of allowing inmates to receive and send only postcards in the mail. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson approved the agreement and consent decree allowing inmates to send and receive letters in envelopes at the southeast Kansas jail. The deal also requires the sheriff to pay $10,000 in litigation costs. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and the Social Justice Law Collective sued Sheriff Pete Figgins last year alleging the post card policy violated the free speech and due process rights of prisoners and the people who write to them. Jail officials can still restrict correspondence that poses a safety threat or encourages criminal activity.

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Kansas Researchers Turn Tea Leaves into Green Energy

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Researchers at Pittsburg State University are trying to turn natural waste into green energy. The Joplin Globe reports that an assistant professor of chemistry and a team of students are looking to transform waste such as green tea leaves into batteries. The project aims to develop a suitable high-performance, lightweight and safe replacement for lithium batteries, which are commonly used to power cellphones, computers and some cars. But researchers say the chemistry of lithium batteries make them more likely to catch fire under certain conditions because they contain a flammable electrolyte and are kept pressurized. The team has created small batteries from tea leaves and bamboo. Researchers are now focusing on creating a hybrid device that has the long-lasting power of a battery and the instant charge of a supercapacitor.
 

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