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Headlines for Tuesday, September 12, 2017

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

Voter Panel May Make No Recommendations 

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's voter fraud commission meeting in New Hampshire (all times local):

5:55 p.m.

The vice chairman of President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud says there's a "high possibility" the panel will make no recommendations when it finishes its work. Republican Kris Kobach's comments came amid growing criticism from Democrats that the commission is bent on encouraging voter suppression. The commission met in New Hampshire on Tuesday. The Kansas secretary of state told reporters after the meeting that such claims are "bizarre" because they assume the commission can perform a "Jedi mind trick" on state legislatures to make them adopt its recommendations. Kobach also said it's possible the commission will make no recommendations and just tell states "here's the data." Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in May to investigate his unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016.

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Kobach Clarifies Voter Fraud Claims in New Hampshire Senate Race 

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) —  The vice chairman of President Donald Trump's election integrity commission says he's now less certain that fraudulent out-of-state voters led to a Democrat's victory in a U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire. Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach paused Tuesday's commission meeting to clarify his recent comments on statistics about people who registered to vote in New Hampshire using out-of-state driver's licenses. Kobach wrote last week that the statistics were proof that people enter the state to cast fraudulent votes and that it "appears" they led to Maggie Hassan's win. On Tuesday, Kobach acknowledged that New Hampshire allows college students and others to vote in the state without getting driver's licenses if they consider the state their domicile. He said "appears" might have been the wrong word.

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Report: Kansas Didn't Follow Up on Half of Problems Found 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal report says Kansas inspectors failed to follow up on nearly half the problems they found in nursing homes in 2014. The Inspector General's report issued Monday said federal officials examined 100 deficiencies related to health services that were found by state inspectors at 79 nursing homes. The federal investigators found that the state verified that the nursing homes fixed the problems in only 48 cases. The Kansas City Star reports that in other cases, inspectors from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services required the nursing homes to submit plans to correct problems but didn't check to see if the plans worked. The report cited a shortage of inspectors as a possible reason for the findings Governor Sam Brownback said he would study the federal findings.

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Governor: Kansas Prisons Face Disruptions in the Near Term 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says Kansas prisons are likely to see "real disruptions" as inmates are moved around the system in preparation for building a new prison to replace the 1860s-era facility in Lansing. Inmates rioted last week at Norton Correctional Facility, and El Dorado Correctional Facility had three disturbances this summer. Brownback said Monday a new Lansing prison and pay raises given to corrections officers last month should ease the situation in the long run. Low pay had been considered a factor in high turnover among corrections officers. The governor told The Wichita Eagle that building a new prison will require moving inmates out of the current facility and into others, which disrupts the system Senate President Susan Wagle, of Wichita, says inmates are acting badly to get media attention.

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Suspect in Kansas City, Kansas, Death Arrested in Rural Area 

BELLEVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a suspect in a Kansas City, Kansas, homicide after a search that caused several schools and public agencies to be placed on lockdown in two small towns near the Nebraska border. The Salina Journal reports that 24-year-old Zachary Barnes, of Gardner, was apprehended Friday as he walked on a road, about 4 miles south of the small Republican County town of Cuba, Kansas. The lockdowns happened one day earlier in two other towns in the area. Barnes is charged in Wyandotte County with second-degree murder in the Aug. 30 killing of 29-year-old Kevin Fowler. Barnes lived in Republic County during part of his childhood. Republic County sheriff's Sgt. Andrew Bates says Barnes is accused of visiting or getting rides from acquaintances who didn't know he was wanted.

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Winter Wheat Moving Again to Gulf Coast Export Facilities 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hard red winter wheat exports are flowing again from Kansas and other central states to the battered Gulf coast for shipment overseas. Industry experts say grain export facilities suffered little damage from Hurricane Harvey, but the railroad tracks that move wheat were more damaged by the storm. Most lines have since been inspected and repaired. Jay O'Neil is an agricultural economist for the International Grains Program at Kansas State University. He says the storm caused about a four-day stoppage, depending on the port. Hurricane Harvey was more of a disruption than Hurricane Irma for grain exports because the U.S. loads its exported wheat out of the Texas coast and New Orleans. The Texas facilities load onto ships the wheat that comes by rail cars from Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

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Man Whose Body Was Found in Burning Car Identified 

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have released the identity of a man whose body was found inside a burning car in rural Lyon County. The victim who was identified Tuesday as 19-year-old Jesus Avila-Galvin Jr. of Emporia. Emergency responders were called to the site on a rural road on September 6. When deputies arrived they found the body inside the car. The death is being investigated as a homicide. No further information on the case has been released.

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Report: Kansas Corn Production Forecast Down from Last Year 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report is forecasting that the Kansas farmers will harvest smaller corn and sorghum crops this fall. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Tuesday that the state's corn production is expected to come in at 665 million bushels. That is down 5 percent from last year. A far bigger downturn is forecast for sorghum in Kansas. The agency forecast the state will bring in 196 million bushels of sorghum, down 27 percent from a year ago. Kansas is expected to harvest a record 202 million bushels of soybeans, up 5 percent from last year. A record harvest is also forecast for the state's cotton crop at 205,000 bales. That is up 189 percent from last year.

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Prosecutor: Officers Justified in Deadly Kansas Shooting  

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City prosecutor has found that law enforcement officers were justified in fatally shooting a woman. KMBC-TV reports that District Attorney Steve Howe made the decision after reviewing the Aug. 23 shooting of 26-year-old Ciara Howard in Olathe. He found that two Olathe police officers and a Johnson County Sheriff's deputy acted reasonably. Police said deputies and police were trying to serve an arrest warrant at a home when a standoff ensued. When officers and deputies entered the home several hours later, authorities said Howard threatened them with a weapon, and the officers opened fire. No officers or deputies were injured.

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Vandals Cut Cross from Lawrence Church Roof 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A wooden cross on the roof of a church in Lawrence has been found sawed off in a recent act of vandalism. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that church member Esther Harjo found the cross on the ground outside the Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church on September 7. Harjo says the cross and its metal flame punctured the roof, causing damage to a gutter. Police say the vandalism occurred sometime between the night of September 6 and the morning of September 7. The investigation is ongoing. The motive behind the destruction is unclear. Although the church serves mostly Native Americans, congregant Frances Gerty thinks the vandalism wasn't because of hate toward indigenous people but because of religion. The church says it's thankful for the support from other Lawrence congregations.

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University of Kansas Library Adds Gender-Neutral Restrooms     

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A library on the University of Kansas campus now offers gender-inclusive restrooms. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Watson Library has debuted two private, non-gendered bathrooms this semester. Dean of Libraries Kevin Smith says the renovations create a more welcoming space for those who don't identify with traditional binary genders. He says the response has overall been very positive. Smith says the staff-led restroom renovation project is part of the university libraries' Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives. Other bathrooms in the library have also been renovated to be more accessible to those with disabilities. Smith says the Spencer Research Library is also planning to add single-user restrooms similar to the new restrooms in the Watson Library.

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Koch Gift Goes to Wichita State Institute on Economic Growth 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University will use a $3.6 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to create an Institute for the Study of Economic Growth. University officials say the institute will focus on economic and business research. It will be housed in the Barton School of Business. The Wichita Eagle reports the Koch Foundation's support of economic research centers at universities across the country raised some concerns that the Kochs' conservative, free-market politics would influence academic research. Anand Desai, dean of the business school, says Wichita State would preserve its academic freedom at the new institute. Desai said the institute will emphasize thinking about entrepreneurial activities and their role in free enterprise. He said an executive director should be hired by next August. The institute will employ three faculty members.

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Man Sentenced for Taking Minor Girl from Virginia to Kansas 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A registered sex offender from Kansas has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for taking a 16-year-old from Virginia across state lines for sex. Federal prosecutors say 21-year-old Logan Viquesney, of Kansas City, Kansas, was sentenced Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of a minor for sexual activity. In his plea, Viquesney admitted that he communicated with the girl on the internet while she was staying with her grandparents in Virginia. The girl was reported missing from her grandparents' home in May 2016. Investigators learned that Viquesney drove to Virginia and picked up the girl. He took her to Maryland, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas and had sex with her on the trip. He was arrested when he and the girl arrived in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Police: DNA Confirms Identity of Wichita Boy Encased in Concrete

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Police say DNA results have positively identified the Kansas boy discovered earlier this month encased in concrete.  Wichita police said in a news release Monday that the Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center has notified them that the remains are those of 3-year-old Evan C. Brewer. Police discovered on September 2 his body inside a Wichita rental house where his mother and her boyfriend had been living. The landlord who was cleaning out the property alerted police to the suspicious concrete structure emitting an odor. Police removed it and later found the body inside it. The boy's father, Carlo Brewer, had earlier contacted state officials and police concerned about his son's welfare. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office says the case has not yet been presented for prosecution. 

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Police ID Victim of Kansas City, Kansas Shooting 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have identified a man killed in a shooting that left two others wounded near the University of Kansas Medical Center complex in Kansas City, Kansas. Police said Monday that the victim was 31-year-old John Calata. Investigators say he and two other men were shot Friday night. Afterward, the victims drove away and called police. They were taken to a hospital, where Calata died of his injuries. The injuries of the other two men weren't life threatening. The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call a tips hotline.

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Report: Winter Wheat Planting Underway in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A government report shows that planting for the 2018 winter wheat crop is now under way in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 3 percent of the wheat has been planted. That is equal for the five-year average for this time of year. Kansas farmers are also busy harvesting some of their fall crops.  About 10 percent of the corn and 1 percent of the sorghum in the state has now been cut. Growers have also harvested 1 percent of the cotton crop in Kansas. 

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1 Seriously Injured in House Explosion in Butler County

ROSE HILL, Kan. (AP) _ The Butler County sheriff says a person was seriously injured in a house explosion northeast of Rose Hill. Sheriff Kelly Herzet says the explosion happened Monday afternoon. He says at least one person was injured and taken to Via Christi Hospital at St. Francis. He says the man suffered severe burns and was listed in critical condition. KAKE-TV reports a propane tank was on the property but the cause of the explosion is under investigation.

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White Sox Home Runs Overpower Royals in 11-3 Win 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  The Chicago White Sox' Jose Abreu had four hits, Adam Engel hit a three-run homer and the White Sox pounded out an 11-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night. Abreu, who hit for the cycle Saturday and had two home runs Sunday, drove in two and scored once while raising his average to .306. He was one homer short of another cycle. Engel went deep off Brandon Maurer during a six-run sixth. Yolmer Sanchez, Yoan Moncada and Abreu, the first three White Sox hitters, combined to go 9 for 16 with six runs and four RBIs. Moncada had his first career three-hit game. Reynaldo Lopez (1-3) gave up three runs and eight hits in six-plus innings to pick up his first victory since September 2016. Royals' starter Jason Hammel (8-11) was pulled after giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings.
 

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