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Headlines for Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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

Kobach Supports Trump's Unsubstantiated Voting Fraud Claims 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is supporting President-elect Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that he would have won the popular vote if "millions" of people hadn't voted illegally. Kobach offered no evidence Wednesday of specific cases of election fraud this year. Instead, he cited a large-scale study of the 2008 election to suggest several million non-citizens living in the U.S. could have voted illegally. He also argued that the overwhelming majority also would have supported Democrat Hillary Clinton. The study Kobach cited surveyed nearly 33,000 people, including a small number of non-citizens who said they voted. But the conclusion that it shows significant illegal voting has been disputed. An American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman called Kobach's assertion "plainly false." Kobach is a potential Trump nominee for U.S. homeland security secretary.

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Kansas Governor Announces Effort to Spread High-Speed Internet to Schools Statewide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have announced a two-year initiative to spread high-speed internet to school districts across the state at a cost of up to $100 million. Governor Sam Brownback says the state might have to allocate as much as $10 million toward the program, which supporters say could help mitigate a teacher shortage in some rural areas. He says the money would come from the Universal Service Fund. The governor says the California-based nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is providing technical expertise at no cost to the state. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the group's CEO says as many as 20 percent of the state's school districts may need upgrading. Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson says greater connectivity will help "level the playing field" between rural students and suburban and urban students.

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Kansas City Police Arrest 140 Minimum Wage Protesters 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police in Kansas City, Missouri, say they made roughly 110 arrests of protesters who were demonstrating in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage. Kansas City police confirmed that the protesters were arrested Tuesday while they blocked a street. St. Louis police also took nearly 30 protesters into custody after they staged a sit-in on a street near a fast-food restaurant and blocked a McDonald's drive-through for about a half-hour. The protests were among hundreds across the country seeking a $15 minimum wage. Protesters also want a union for fast-food workers.

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Kansas Tax Preparer Sentenced for Stealing $2.4 Million in Refunds

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas tax preparer has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing his clients' identities and more than $2.4 million in refunds. The U.S. Justice Department says Richard Drake, of Stilwell, also was ordered Tuesday to pay restitution. Drake pleaded guilty in June to aggravated identity theft and theft of government funds. As part of his plea, he admitted to getting refunds from the Internal Revenue Service by filing false tax returns using his clients' names. Drake directed refunds into accounts he controlled.

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Moran Sponsors Senate Bill Targeting 'Bots' That Scoop Up Concert Seats 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is cracking down on computer software used by ticket brokers to snap up tickets to concerts and shows. Senators passed legislation by voice vote Wednesday that would make using the software an "unfair and deceptive practice" under the Federal Trade Commission Act and allow the FTC to pursue those cases. The House passed similar legislation in September, but the bills are not identical so the Senate legislation now moves to the House. The so-called "bots" rapidly purchase as many tickets as possible for resale at significant markups. They are one of the reasons why tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert or performance of the musical "Hamilton" can sell out in just a few minutes. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran sponsored the bill. He says it takes aim at artificially inflated prices.

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Woman Accused of Killing Wichita Mom and Taking Baby Fights Extradition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a Texas woman accused of faking a pregnancy before killing a mother and kidnapping her newborn daughter is fighting extradition to Kansas. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office said Tuesday it has begun the process of obtaining a governor's extradition warrant for Yesenia Sesmas. She has been held in a Dallas jail on an outstanding Kansas warrant since a police raid on November 19 at her Dallas home. The 34-year-old Mexican national is a suspect in the killing earlier this month of Laura Abarca-Nogueda of Wichita and the abduction of Abarca-Nogueda's 6-day-old daughter, Sophia. The baby has been reunited with family.  Extradition could take up to 90 days. 

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Regulators Approve Kansas Gas Service Rate Increase

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Residential customers of Kansas Gas Service will pay an additional $1.25 a month under a settlement agreement approved by state utility regulators. The Kansas Corporation Commission on Tuesday signed off on the deal that increases Kansas Gas Service's revenue by $15.5 million. That includes the $7.4 million Gas System Reliability Surcharge, which is currently being recovered from customers as a separate line item. Kansas Gas Service had proposed a $4.54 monthly increase that would have generated $20 million more than what the commission approved. The utility withdrew a request for an alternative ratemaking mechanism that would reset rates each year.

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Raw Sewage Overflow Reported in South Lawrence 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Officials say close to 2 million gallons of raw sewage overflowed from a manhole in south Lawrence, prompting a health and stream advisory. The Lawrence Journal World reports the overflow happened after a bypass pump failed Monday evening. Officials say sewage overflowed the manhole for about 12 hours and went into the nearby Naismith Creek. The city wasn't aware of the overflow until Tuesday morning, and the flow of sewage was stopped about an hour after it was reported. Officials say the sewage could result in elevated levels of bacteria and contaminants in the creek, which is bordered by a city bike and walking trail. Residents are advised to not enter the stream. City spokeswoman Megan Gilliland says the city has reported the incident to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

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Man Fatally Shot by Kansas City Police
 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say an officer shot and killed a robbery suspect after the man reached for his gun. The Kansas City Star reports that police said the shooting occurred Wednesday after narcotics officers pulled over a driver as part of a planned arrest. The man who was shot was a suspect in several robberies, and told police he was armed and ready for a shootout with officers if they tried to arrest him. Police said an officer shot the man as the man reached for a gun while officers were trying to remove him from the car. The man was taken to a hospital, where he died. His identity wasn't released. Jackson County (Missouri) Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was at the scene to oversee the investigation.

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No Injuries in Missouri Gas Pipeline Fire Near KCI 

SMITHVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say there were no injuries as a result of a fire that erupted when a gas pipeline ruptured north of Kansas City, Missouri. The Platte County Sheriff's Department says the fire was reported about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday not far from Kansas City International Airport. The Southern Platte Fire District said the blaze resulted from a pipeline explosion. The identity of the owner or operator of the pipeline was not immediately available. The Kansas City Fire Department says the pipeline carries ethane and propane. Joe McBride, a spokesman for the airport, said the fire did not affect flights.

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Funeral Services Held for Slain Wichita Mother
 
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Funeral services were held for a 27-year-old Wichita woman slain earlier this month before her newborn was kidnapped. Laura Abarca-Nogueda of Wichita was shot and killed November 17 in her apartment in west Wichita. Her then 6-day-old daughter was kidnapped and later found safe in Dallas and reunited with her family. The Wichita Eagle reports that about 150 people attended Abarca-Nogueda's funeral, which was conducted in English and Spanish on Wednesday. Authorities have arrested Yesenia Sesmas in Texas in connection with the death and kidnapping. The 34-year-old Mexican national is fighting extradition back to Kansas. The complaint detailing the charges against Sesmas won't be revealed until she appears in court.

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Firefighters Rescue Worker from Kansas City Trench Collapse 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal agency is investigating after firefighters had to rescue a man trapped in a mud trench at a Kansas City work site. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a release Wednesday it's investigating the collapse that occurred Wednesday at an apartment complex. OSHA says an employee of Hydro Tech Plumbing was injured after the trench he was working in collapsed. The worker was repairing underground sewer lines in a trench more than 10 feet deep. OSHA says it's investigated collapses in which 23 workers have died since January. The Kansas City Star reports that firefighters worked more than two hours to rescue the worker, who had become trapped up to his waist inside the mud trench.

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Feds Agree to Review Status of Lesser Prairie Chicken

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials have agreed to reconsider the status of a grouse found in Kansas and across the Great Plains as environmentalists fight to return the bird to the list of protected species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it will review the lesser prairie chicken in response to a petition filed after the species was removed from the list earlier this year. The removal followed court rulings in Texas and a decision by government lawyers not to pursue an appeal. The oil and gas industry and state officials are worried that relisting the grouse could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs for developers, energy companies and farmers. Environmentalists say emergency protections are needed for isolated populations in western Kansas, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

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Spring Trial Date Set for 3 in Wichita Bomb Plot 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A spring trial date has been set for three Kansas men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex where Somali immigrants live. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren scheduled the jury trial for April 25 at the federal courthouse in Wichita. Prosecutors say 47-year-old Patrick Stein, 51-year-old Gavin Wright, and 49-year-old Curtis Allen were part of a militia group called The Crusaders. The government alleges they conspired to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in Garden City. One of the units in the complex was used as a mosque. The three have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Trial had been set to begin December 20, but attorneys asked for more time to prepare a defense.

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Kansas City Store Clerk Shoots, Kills Armed Customer 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities are investigating after a Kansas City store employee reported shooting and killing a customer during a fight for control of a gun. Police said in a news release that the shooting happened Tuesday after the customer entered the business with a gun. The employee said he wrestled with this customer over the gun and shot the customer before calling 911. The customer was declared dead at the scene. No other information was immediately available, including the name of the customer who was killed.

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Temple Grandin Delivers K-State Landon Lecture 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A noted professor with autism whose work to understand livestock was the subject of an HBO movie has spoken at a lecture at Kansas State University. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Temple Grandin spoke Tuesday as part of the university's Landon Lecture series, named after former Kansas Governor Alf Landon. Grandin, who showed signs of autism at an early age, spoke about her visual thinking process and how it helped her create cattle handling facilities. Grandin stressed hands-on learning and encouraged teachers attending the lecture to build on the strengths of students with different learning styles. Grandin is a livestock equipment designer and animal welfare advocate, as well as the author of several books. An HBO biopic, "Temple Grandin," starred Claire Danes and won five Primetime Emmys.

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Man Charged with Wounding Kansas Officer Has Criminal Record

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man charged with shooting and injuring a Topeka police detective has a criminal record, including a sex crime case and a case involving another law enforcement officer. Twenty-nine-year-old Christopher Curtis Harris appeared in court Monday on charges of attempted capital murder, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated robbery and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. It wasn't clear if Harris has an attorney. Harris and detective Brian Hill exchanged gunfire November 5, while Hill was trying to apprehend the suspect after a convenience store robbery. Hill is expected to make a full recovery. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Harris previously pleaded no contest to indecent solicitation of a sex act involving a 14-year-old girl, and pleaded guilty to interference with a law enforcement officer in March. He received probation in both cases.

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Kansas City Area Man Charged After Ex-Girlfriend Killed 

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri man has been charged with three felonies after his ex-girlfriend was fatally shot and another man was wounded. The Kansas City Star reports that 54-year-old Brian Parks, of Harrisonville, is being held on $50,000 bond after he was charged Monday with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm. The charges were filed after 42-year-old Tammy Christiansen was killed and Sylvester Harbour was wounded at their Harrisonville residence. Court documents say Harbour told police that Parks and Christiansen once dated and recently had been arguing. Harbour said he woke up Monday morning to find a man standing over him, holding a revolver. Harbour was wounded while jostling for control of the gun.

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2 Men Plead Guilty in Dodge City Hate Crime 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Two southwest Kansas men have pleaded guilty for their roles in a hate crime against black Somali men in Dodge City. The Justice Department said 24-year-old Armando Sotello pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of a hate crime for the June 2015 attack on a Somali man who was sitting on a bench with two other Somali men outside an African grocery store. Thirty-two-year-old Omar Cantero Martinez pleaded guilty to one count of perjury for falsely testifying during last month's federal jury trial related to the hate crimes. Martinez admitted during his plea hearing that he used a broken glass bottle to stab one victim and slash another. He also acknowledged using racial and anti-Somali slurs during the attack. Sentencing is set for February 22. 

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Boy, 15, Accused of Role in Deadly Kansas Shooting 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 15-year-old boy is accused of playing a role in the shooting death of a teenager last week outside a laundromat in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office is charging the suspect as a juvenile with first-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and misdemeanor marijuana possession. Police say they also have arrested another suspect and are searching for a third person for questioning in last Thursday's death of 15-year-old Jimmy Shopteese. Police say the suspects met Shopteese and a 13-year-old boy in the laundromat's parking lot early on Thanksgiving Day for what appeared to be a drug deal. During the transaction that police say involved marijuana, Shopteese was shot in the back. He later died at a hospital.

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2 Charged 6 Months After Death of Kansas Girl, 4 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have charged two people in the death of a 4-year-old Kansas girl. The Kansas City, Kansas police department said in a release that 28-year-old Devondre Sanders and 23-year-old Sierra Mitchell are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Honesty Sanders, who was found unconscious in a Kansas City, Kansas, apartment on May 27. She died about a week later at a hospital. Her death was recently ruled a homicide. Police say the two defendants turned themselves in at the Wyandotte County Detention Center. The Kansas City Star reports that Mitchell was booked into jail late Tuesday night, and Sanders was booked early Wednesday. It's unclear if either Sanders or Mitchell has a lawyer. They're being held on $500,000 bond.

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Kansas Judge Rules Sperm Donor Not on Hook for Child Support

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ruled that a Topeka man who donated sperm so two women could have a baby together isn't legally the child's father and doesn't have to provide financial support. The state Department for Children and Families had not decided as of Tuesday whether it would appeal last week's ruling by Shawnee County District Judge Mary Mattivi. The department sought to force William Marotta to pay child support for the girl born in December 2009. Marotta answered a Craigslist ad from the same-sex couple. Kansas law says a donor providing sperm to a doctor for insemination isn't legally a father, but the two women didn't use a physician. The women later separated. Mattivi ruled the woman who didn't give birth is the girl's second parent.

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Victim of Deadly Topeka Fire Identified as 50-Year-Old Man

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified the victim of a deadly Topeka house fire as a 50-year-old man. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that David Packett was identified Tuesday as the man killed Saturday. Topeka Fire Marshal Mike Martin says the fire started in the front living room. The cause is listed as undetermined but likely accidental. The house didn't have utilities connected at the time of the fire. Martin says the use of candles in the residence couldn't be eliminated as a contributing factor. The fire caused $15,000 in structural damage.

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Topeka Woman Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka woman has pleaded guilty to committing health care fraud while operating a business that was licensed to provide day and residential services to developmentally disabled adults. The U.S. attorney's office says in a news release that 45-year-old Kristina Hansel entered the plea Monday. Through her plea, she admitted to billing Medicaid for services that weren't provided while she owned Achieve Services. The release says she also admitted that in one case she withheld medical treatment from a patient and directed others to help her cover up medication overdoses so licensing authorities wouldn't learn of the problem. Sentencing is set for April 17. The prosecution and defense have agreed to recommend two years and six months in prison and restitution of more than $480,000.

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Man Charged in Kansas City, Kansas Shooting Death

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged an 18-year-old man in a Kansas City, Kansas, shooting death. Efrain Gonzalez, of Kansas City, Missouri, was charged Tuesday in Wyandotte County with first-degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Louis Scherzer, of Kansas City, Kansas. He was found early Sunday on a sidewalk and taken to a hospital, where he later died. Gonzalez is jailed on $1.5 million bond.

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After New Regulations, Oklahoma Quakes Calm Down a Bit 

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press statistical analysis shows a dramatic drop in Oklahoma earthquakes since late May, when the state limited wastewater injections into energy wells. And a new study says the state is on its way back to calmer times that prevailed before a huge jump in man-made earthquakes. In parts of Oklahoma, the state ordered a 40 percent volume reduction in injection of saltwater — waste from hydraulic fracturing — that scientists generally blame for the massive increase in earthquakes. An AP analysis of U.S. Geological Survey data of earthquakes magnitude 3.0 or larger shows that before the new rules went into effect, Oklahoma averaged 2.3 quakes a day in 2016. Since then the average dropped to 1.3 a day, though some were large and damaging.

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Former Army Officer Admits Illegally Having Grenades

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former U.S. Army explosives expert has admitted in federal court that he illegally possessed grenades that authorities say were among a cache of explosives found in his Kansas home. Forty-two-year-old John Panchalk of Overland Park pleaded guilty Monday in Kansas City, Kansas, to possessing two M-67 fragmentation grenades unregistered to him. Federal prosecutors say they'll recommend probation. Panchalk caught investigators' attention in May when police responding to a report of a stolen vehicle at a Parkville, Missouri, self-storage site found storage trailers vandalized. One of them, later linked to Panchalk, contained explosives that included ammunition canisters, blasting caps, C-4 explosives and military grenade simulators. A search of Panchalk's home uncovered 38 pounds of C-4 explosive, detonation cord, blasting caps, grenade simulators, incendiary devices and the two fragmentation grenades.

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Kansas Jayhawks Beat Long Beach State, 91-61 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lagerald Vick scored a career-high 23 points on near-perfect shooting, Svi Mykhailiuk had 14 and fourth-ranked Kansas rolled to a 91-61 victory over Long Beach State on Tuesday night. Josh Jackson added 13 points and Devonte Graham had 12 for the Jayhawks (6-1), who were ahead of  the 49ers (1-8) at 50-25 at the break and coasted to their 44th straight win at home in Allen Fieldhouse. Vick was 9 for 9 from the floor, one shy of the school record held by Norm Cook and Danny Manning, and hit four 3-pointers. Justin Bibbins had 13 points to lead Long Beach State, which has lost eight in a row — all on the road and mostly to teams that will be in the NCAA Tournament.

 

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