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Headlines for Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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

Johnson County Elections Officials Under Fire over Registration Form

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ Johnson County elections officials are under fire for not offering the easiest option for people who wanted to register to vote.  The American Civil Liberties Union told The Associated Press it's trying to determine whether other counties were doing the same thing.  The Kansas City Star reports that until yesterday (MON)-- the day before the last day to register -- Johnson County election officials only offered a form that requires documentary proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote.  After the newspaper questioned whether doing so violated the National Voter Registration Act, the office began providing a federal form that simply requires people to attest they are citizens.  Recent court decisions have blocked Kansas from requiring proof-of-citizenship documents from people who register when getting their driver's license or when using the federal form. The Kansas voter registration deadline is today (TUE).

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AP: U.S. Elections Chief Left Behind Kansas Scandal

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Emails obtained by The Associated Press show a top U.S. elections official left behind an unfolding scandal in Kansas where he was having an affair with a woman he promoted in his previous job and used her to skirt oversight of their lavish expenses.  Brian Newby is now executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.  The affair and much of the fallout at the Johnson County elections office where he previously worked are revealed in emails ordered released after AP sued Johnson County.  Those emails and hundreds more AP obtained from the Kansas secretary of state's office through a separate open records request show a toxic workplace whose finances prompted an investigation by a local prosecutor.  Newby did not respond to numerous messages seeking comment.

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Kansas Man Accused in Failed Army Base Bomb Plot Sentenced

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas man has finally been sentenced for his role in a plot to blow up Fot Riley.  Today (TUE), a judge sentenced 29-year-old Alexander Blair, of Topeka, to 15 months in prison.  Prosecutors say Blair was helping a would-be jihadist in his effort to detonate a bomb at the army base.  Blair loaned $100 to 21-year-old John T. Booker Jr. to store what they thought was an explosive device. The device was a fake bomb built by FBI informants. Prosecutors allege Booker intended to plant it near Fort Riley in support of the Islamic State terrorist group.  Booker, who is also from Topeka, pleaded guilty in February to two felonies under an agreement calling for him to serve 30 years in prison, but he has yet to be sentenced.

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Ex-Kansas Bank President Guilty of Laundering Drug Money

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A former southwest Kansas bank president has admitted he failed to report suspicious activity at his bank.  Prosecutors say a Mexican drug cartel was using the bank to launder drug money.  Former Plains State Bank President James Kirk Friend entered a guilty plea yesterday (MON) in a deal that spared him from serving prison time. Instead, if the judge approves, he'll get one year on probation.  Prosecutors say Friend helped bank customers George and Agatha Enns of Meade launder nearly $7 million dollars between 2011 and 2014. The Mexican cartel is suspected of laundering drug proceeds in Kansas to avoid tighter restrictions on U.S. currency in its home country.

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Ex-Kansas Prison Guard Sentenced for Taking Bribes

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A former prison guard at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth has been sentenced to two years of probation for accepting bribes in exchange for helping to smuggle contraband tobacco into the prison. Fifty-three-year-old Michael Harston, of Kansas City, Missouri, also was ordered to serve six months of house arrest and pay $4,800 in fines.

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Feds Find Nepotism Complaint at Haskell Unsubstantiated

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Administrators of Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence say federal investigators have determined a complaint about nepotism at the Lawrence school was unsubstantiated.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the complaint accused of Haskell President Venida Chenault committed nepotism by supervising her son, Joshua Arce, while he served as acting dean of students for eight months. Arce's permanent job is chief information officer.  The university said Tuesday the federal Office of Inspector General found the complaint was unsubstantiated.  However, to meet a new U.S. Bureau of Indian Education policy, Haskell will move supervision of the vice president for university services under the vice president for academic services.  Arce was removed as acting dean of students as of September 1. Haskell later named faculty member Melissa Holder as acting dean of students.  

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No-Brainer: $300,000 Campaign to Rescue Dorothy's Ruby Slippers

WASHINGTON (AP) - The ruby slippers that whisked Dorothy back to Kansas in three clicks are looking a little down at the heels, prompting the Smithsonian to launch a $300,000 online campaign to conserve them.  Museum officials started a Kickstarter fundraising drive Monday to repair the iconic slippers from 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" and create a new state-of-the-art display case for them at the National Museum of American History.  The sequined shoes were crafted almost 80 years ago by the MGM Studios prop department and have grown fragile over time. The fundraising page says the color has faded and some threads affixing sequins have snapped.  The campaign, dubbed "#KeepThemRuby," offers donor rewards ranging from T-shirts and tote bags to replica slippers and behind-the-scenes tours.  This isn't the Smithsonian's first Kickstarter drive. In 2015, it raised $700,000 to conserve Neil Armstrong's spacesuit.

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Governor Brownback Won't Rule Out Tax Hike 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback isn't ruling out a tax increase next year to balance the state budget even though he thinks it would be harmful to raise taxes with agriculture in an economic downturn. Brownback said in a Statehouse news conference Monday that he sees several successes in Kansas that include highway projects and a reading program for struggling third-graders. Income tax cuts championed by the governor have become a key issue in legislative races as Kansas has struggled to balance its budget. Brownback says Kansas is facing a "rural recession" because of slumps in agriculture and energy production. He said a large tax increase at this time would be "very harmful." But asked whether he would rule out a tax increase, he said, "I'm not ruling anything in or out."

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Governor Decries Plot Against Somalis in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says the arrests of three men accused of plotting to attack Somali immigrants in the southwestern corner of his state shows that "no place is immune" from violence. Brownback told reporters during a news conference: "This is sort of hate and violence doesn't have any place in this country, let alone our state." He said the global conversation about refugees has been marked by "lots of sharp words." Brownback continues to back GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has called for strictly limiting Muslims from entering the U.S. Brownback defended his April decision to withdraw from the federal government's refugee resettlement program and repeated his argument that President Obama's administration is not doing enough to ensure that potential terrorists are kept out of the country.

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Kansas Man Accused of Shooting Texas Driver 

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man is accused of fatally shooting a motorist from Texas during what authorities described as a road rage confrontation in Missouri. Prosecutors in Platte County, Missouri have charged 22-year-old Bobby Crumpton of Wichita with second-degree murder in the Friday night death of Clinton Alsobrook. Authorities say they found 35-year-old Alsobrook of Charlotte, Texas, dead and unarmed in his bullet-riddled sport utility vehicle Friday night. The vehicle was lodged on an embankment, its engine running. Police say Crumpton told them that Alsobrook hit his vehicle, forcing both vehicles off the road. Crumpton allegedly said he feared for his life when he fired after Alsobrook tried to drive toward him. Crumpton's bond was set at $100,000.

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Charges Filed in Overland Park Drug Overdose Death

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - A 24-year-old man has been charged in the drug overdose death of a Kansas City, Kansas man. The Kansas City Star reports that Michael Christopher Bickley made his first court appearance Monday in Johnson County District Court. Bickley is charged with the distribution of drugs resulting in the death in February of a 27-year-old Overland Park man. Bickley also is charged with possession of heroin, possession of oxycodone and possession of Xanax. He is jailed on $250,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for October 27.

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Road Rage Fueled Fatal Shooting in Independence, Missouri

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - Police in the Kansas City suburb of Independence suspect that road rage contributed to the weekend shooting death of a 22-year-old woman.  The Kansas City Star reports that police say Whitney Gray was driving a minivan with three children inside when she was fatally shot shortly after 7:30 Sunday night.  Authorities say the other passengers were a teenager, a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old. They were not injured. Police say they are searching for a white sport utility vehicle they believe was involved in the incident.

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Mammoth Tusk Found in Kansas Moved to Wichita Lab

CUNNINGHAM, Kan. (AP) _ An 8-foot-long tusk of a mammoth uncovered earlier this year by a southern Kansas construction company has been moved to a lab at Wichita State University.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the tusk will be cleaned and prepped for display in the Kingman County city of Cunningham, where it was found as Skyland Grain LLC ran a sewer line across a grain elevator's property.  Radiocarbon dating will be conducted to determine the tusk's age.  The tusk was longer when first discovered, but part of it broke off during the project.  Wichita State associate anthropology professor David Hughes, who worked at tusk's excavation site with his students, says the tusk belonged to a mammoth that was probably about 15 to 20 years about and was about 12 feet tall.
   
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Ex-Wichita State University Worker Files Discrimination Suit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A former Wichita State University administrative assistant has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the university of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Vicki Huntoon says in the lawsuit that she was fired from the university because of her generalized anxiety disorder after two doctors diagnosed the disorder and she requested to work in a quieter department multiple times.  According to the lawsuit, a transfer request recommended by a university selected doctor was denied.  University spokesman Lou Heldman tells the Wichita Eagle that school officials were not yet aware of the lawsuit.

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Dodge City Hits 100-Degrees in October

DODGE CITY, Kan. - Temperatures in Dodge City broke a 142-year record when the mercury hit 101° degrees Monday - in the middle of October.  The last time the mercury hit 100-degrees in October in Dodge City was 1874. Dodge City also set record highs on Sunday. 101° is the highest temperature seen in Dodge City this year. The 101° was the city's hottest temperature ever recorded in October.

 

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