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Regional Headlines for Monday, March 19, 2012



Update: Lawyer Claims Afghanistan Massacre Suspect's Memory Not Precise

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — The lawyer for the Army staff sergeant accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians said the solider has a sketchy memory of the night of the massacre. Lawyer John Henry Browne said 38-year-old Robert Bales remembers some details from before and after the killings, but very little during the time the military believes he went on a rampage through two Afghan villages. Browne spoke with The Associated Press from Fort Leavenworth, where Bales is being held. Bales, 38, has not been charged yet in the March 11 shootings, though charges could come this week. The killings sparked protests in Afghanistan, endangered relations between the two countries and threatened to upend American policy over the decade-old war.


Lawyer Describes Conversation with Afghanistan Murder Suspect

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for the American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians says meeting his client in person was one of the most emotional meetings of his life. Seattle lawyer John Henry Browne flew to Kansas on Sunday to meet with Staff Sergeant  Robert Bales, and spent three-and-a-half hours with him Monday morning at Fort Leavenworth. Bales is being held in isolation at the military prison. They met again in the afternoon. Browne spoke briefly by telephone with The Associated Press during a lunch break. Browne says Bales clarified one story: It was two days before the Afghan shootings when one of Bales's friends, another soldier, had his leg blown off by a roadside bomb. Browne says Bales didn't witness the explosion but saw the aftermath.


Kansas House Passes $14B Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a $14.1 billion state budget that cuts overall spending by about $600 million, or 4 percent. House members voted 87-36 Monday on the bill containing the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The measure now moves to the Senate, which is working out details of its version of the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. The House legislation also contains a provision to prohibit state employees from being involved in abortions. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the House added $29 million to help K-12 public schools grapple with high student enrollment. The bill also retains a ban by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to deny food stamp benefits to some U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.


State of Kansas to Receive $4.4M to Fix Faltering Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas is receiving a $4.4 million federal grant to continue efforts to turn around its persistently lowest-achieving schools. The Kansas State Department of Education says the money will benefit seven schools in the Wichita, Kansas City, Kansas, Topeka, Cherokee and Liberal school districts. The schools have received funding previously from the U.S. Department of Education program, which requires districts to choose an aggressive turnaround model. One option is replacing the principal and improving the school through comprehensive reforms.


Survey: Kansas Among Top 10 States for Government Transparency 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas ranks among the top 10 states in a study of government transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms. The state is one of 19 to receive an average grade of "C'' in the State Integrity Investigation, conducted by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity. The Topeka Capital-Journal  reports the study found that states are doing a poor job delivering accountability and transparency to their residents. No state received an A from the months-long probe that looked at 330 "Corruption Risk Indicators" across 14 categories of government. Kansas scored a 75 in the study, ninth best in the nation, while Missouri also received a C grade with 72 points. New Jersey had the highest grade with a B-plus, while eight states received an F.


Topeka-Area Legislators Omit KNI Admissions Freeze from Budget 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bipartisan group of Shawnee County legislators has managed to strip the House budget of a provision that would have frozen admissions to the Kansas Neurological Institute. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that lawmakers led by Representative Annie Kuether, a Topeka Democrat, introduced an amendment on the House floor Friday to overturn the one-year freeze. One Topeka legislator after another lined up to support the amendment, saying KNI provides unique and necessary services to Kansans with severe disabilities. The measure passed 75-46. The admissions freeze was proposed by Social Services Budget Committee chairman Dave Crum, an Augusta Republican, who spoke against Kuether's amendment on the floor. He says there's been no attempt to close KNI, but that there's a trend to home-and-community-based services for the developmentally disabled.


State Ethics Panel to Hear E-mail Solicitation Complaint

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The state ethics panel will hear a complaint this week about a Wichita City Council member's email use. Wichita City Council member Michael O'Donnell has admitted using his city e-mail to send out 39 solicitations for financial sponsors for an October 30 meet-and-greet for his friend, state Sen. Garrett Love, a Republican from Montezuma. Some of the emails were sent from the bench during a council meeting. O'Donnell said it was a mistake and he wants to put it behind him. State law prohibits the use of public resources for any campaign for elective office. O'Donnell faces a hearing Wednesday before the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, a nine-member commission appointed by the governor, Legislature and state officials.


State of Ohio Signs Concealed-Carry Reciprocity Agreement with Kansas

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Ohioans who have permits to carry concealed handguns will be allowed to do the same in Kansas under an agreement signed by the attorneys general in those states. The same will be true for Kansas residents with valid permits who visit Ohio. People carrying concealed weapons in either location still must follow state laws on having, storing and using such firearms. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the deal he signed with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt means Ohio has reciprocity agreements with a total of 23 states. Ohio law allows for such agreements with states where the eligibility requirements for carrying concealed weapons are  "substantially comparable'' to those in Ohio.


US Attorney Plans Discussion of Kansas Priorities

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom will be in Hutchinson to talk about his priorities for federal law enforcement in Kansas. Grissom is scheduled to speak at noon at the Hutchinson Rotary Club meeting at the Ramada Inn. In 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Grissom. He was recommended by then-Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson and then-Representative Dennis Moore, both Democrats. Grissom was legal counsel for Moore's 1998 and 2000 campaigns and served on the committee for a major fundraiser in 2007 for Obama in Kansas City, Missouri. At the time, Grissom was an Overland Park, Kansas attorney who specialized in discrimination claims under the Civil Rights Act.


KU Men Survive Narrow Contest with Purdue to Advance to NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Elijah Johnson scored 18 points, including the go-ahead basket in the final minute, and No. 2 seed Kansas rallied to beat Robbie Hummel and No. 10 seed Purdue 63-60 on Sunday night. Thomas Robinson managed 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Jayhawks (29-6), who trailed nearly the entire game but still managed to advance to St. Louis. They'll play No. 11 seed North Carolina State in the Midwest Regional semifinals. Purdue was clinging to a 60-59 lead and had the ball and under a minute remaining when Lewis Jackson, the shot clock winding down, lost control at the top of the key. Johnson picked it up and went the other way for the go-ahead layup with 23.3 seconds left. Hummel missed an open 3-pointer at the other end and Tyshawn Taylor scored a transition dunk for Kansas with 2.5 seconds left. After a timeout, Purdue sharpshooter Ryne Smith unloaded a long potential tying 3-point try that hit the backboard and the rim before falling away. Hummel finished with 26 points to lead the Boilermakers (22-13).


KU Women Defeat Nebraska to Advance in NCAA Tournament 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Angel Goodrich scored 20 points to lead 11th-seeded Kansas to a 57-49 win over former Big 12 rival and sixth-seeded Nebraska in the Little Rock Regional on Sunday. The Jayhawks led by as many as 10 points in the first half and held on in the second for their first NCAA tournament win since 1999. The appearance was the school's first since 2000 and the first in eight seasons under coach Bonnie Henrickson. The win comes after Kansas narrowly made the tournament after losing six of its final eight games when leading scorer Carolyn Davis injured her knee. Goodrich picked up the slack, and Chelsea Gardner added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Kaitlyn Burke led the Lady Cornhuskers, which was just 20 of 61 or 33 percent from the field, with 14 points.


K-State Women Prepare to Play Basketball Powerhouse UConn in NCAA Tournament

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) _ Deb Patterson and Kansas State will finally get their chance to play the University of Connecticut. The eighth-seeded Wildcats will face the top-seeded Huskies in the second round of the NCAA women's tournament Monday night. It will be the first meeting between the two schools despite Kansas State being in UConn's draw five times in the past 11 years. K-State lost in the first round last season to Purdue, blowing a chance to play against UConn. The Wildcats survived a tough test from Princeton in the opening round Saturday, beating the Tigers 67-64. Senior Branshea Brown had a career-high 22 points to lead the Kansas State women's team. The Wildcats have made the NCAA tournament six times since advancing to the regional semifinals in 2002, but haven't been able to win more than one game.


KS Military School Has History of Abuse Claims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Court documents show a Kansas military school accused of fostering a culture of abuse has been repeatedly sued by parents. St. John's Military School is due in federal court tomorrow (TUE). The Salina school is seeking a gag order prohibiting people involved in the case from publicly talking about the current litigation or past lawsuits that ended in settlements. But evidence in the public record hint at long-running abuses. Nine other abuse-related lawsuits have been filed since 2006. One lawsuit included photos of a student who had been branded on his arm with a hot, star-shaped medal. A school official acknowledged in a deposition that at least 10 other students were similarly branded. A cadet testified how higher ranking students would swat young cadets on their bare bottoms with ceremonial sabers.


SE Kansas Ready for Predicted Rain 

PARSONS, Kan. (AP) — Weather officials say southeast Kansas is in good shape to handle several days of steady rainfall because of a shortage of precipitation that goes back a year. State Climatologist Mary Knapp says the area's precipitation since last April is about 72 percent of what it normally would be. She says National Weather Service forecasts for up to 8 inches of rain between Monday and Wednesday night in southeast Kansas "would be a very, very good start to our spring season." Labette County emergency management director Larry Steeby says his county is relatively dry, so "the first couple of inches will probably not be a big deal." He says several more inches of rain on top of that might cause some initial flooding in low-lying areas and possible flash floods.


Former UN Ambassador Bolton to Speak in Lawrence 

LAWRENCE, Kan.(AP) _ The former ambassador to the United Nations is scheduled to speak in Lawrence next month. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that John Bolton is scheduled to speak about threats to American security on April 4 at the Lied Center in Lawrence. Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he researches U.S. foreign and national security policy. He previously served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006. He also served previously in the U.S. State Department as undersecretary for arms control and international security. 


High School Custodian Hailed as Hero

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) _ An eastern Kansas sheriff is calling a high school janitor a hero for pulling an elderly man from a burning car that had backed into a ditch. Denny Gray and his wife, Lori, were headed home from the store earlier this month when he saw what he thought was a brush fire on the side of the road. Gray, a custodian at Hiawatha High School, instead discovered it was a car that was on fire.  Gray ran to the vehicle and found 94-year-old Gerry Alkire of Hiawatha trapped inside. He pulled Alkire, who suffered only minor burns, to safety as tires started blowing out from the heat. Brown County Sheriff John Merchant said Gray was a hero for risking his life to save another's.


5 to Be Inducted into National Teachers Hall of Fame

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) _ Five teachers from across the country will be the latest additions to the National Teachers Hall of Fame at Emporia State University.  Surprise announcements were made last week at the teachers' schools. The inductees will be honored May 8 during a reception at the Washington headquarters of the National Education Association. In June they will be in Emporia for a recognition banquet and the induction ceremony. The trip also will give them a chance to meet students and attend a roundtable discussion and community events.


Armenian Delegation Visits Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Two delegations of Armenian officials are visiting with Kansas military and civilian leaders to foster continued relations. The first group arrived Saturday and a second is due to arrive today (MON). The Armenians are scheduled to meet with officials with the Kansas National Guard, including Major General Lee Tafanelli, the state's adjutant general. Tafanelli led a delegation of Kansas officials to Armenia in September 2011. During their stay the Armenians also will visit the Statehouse to speak with Governor Sam Brownback and other state government leaders. Kansas has had a relationship with Armenia since 2003 through the State Partnership Program of the National Guard Bureau. The Armenians are also expected to make stops in New York and Washington to meet with senior U.S. Defense Department officials.


University Press of Kansas Publishes Book on Watergate Scandal 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University Press of Kansas is publishing a new book about the reasons the man known as "Deep Throat" helped newspaper reporters in the Watergate case. The book by author Max Holland is entitled "Leak: Why Mark Felt became Deep Throat." The Lawrence Journal-World reports that in the book, Holland says Felt was upset that he was had not been immediately chosen to lead the FBI after J. Edgar Hoover died. Felt provided reporters in 1972 and 1973 with information that exposed the Nixon administration's obstruction of an FBI investigation. Nixon resigned in 1974. Michael Briggs, editor-in-chief at the University Press in Lawrence, edited the book. He said the University Press of Kansas has taken a special interest in the topics of American politics, American history and military studies.


Manhattan-Based Company to Acquire Louisiana Hotel 

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — The mayor of Alexandria, Louisiana, Jacques Roy, says the town has a deal to sell the Alexander Fulton Hotel to the company that is managing it. The Town Talk newspaper reports that Noble Hospitality Incorporated of Manhattan, Kansas would pay $4 million. The city would put in about $2 million worth of repairs to the hotel and the connected Alexandria Riverfront Center, give up to five years of utility and tax breaks, and offer up to $2 million more in breaks on the purchase price. Roy says Noble would need to meet what he calls "onerous" requirements to get the price breaks. The City Council is to consider the proposal Tuesday. Council President Harry Silver calls it "a double win" for the city, putting the hotel back into private commerce and money into the treasury.


KCK Police Officer One of Nation's Leading Enforcers of DUI Laws

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ People who drink and drive in Kansas City, Kan., don't care much for Kenneth Garrett. The police officer has earned a reputation as a tough enforcer of drunken driving laws. The Kansas City Star reports Garrett made more than 400 arrests for DUI last year. In his 20-year career, he's taken an estimated 10,000 impaired drivers to jail. State statistics say no other officer in Kansas comes close to those numbers. And a spokeswoman for MADD says Garrett is easily one of the top DUI enforcers in the country. Garrett says he uses different methods to catch drunken drivers. He says he looks for drivers who are weaving, making wide turns, straddling lane dividers or driving at night without headlights.


Siblings Seek to Keep Sister's Killer Behind Bars

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Two sisters are gathering hundreds of signatures as they seek to keep the man who killed their sibling nearly 33 years ago behind bars. During a hearing Tuesday in Wichita, Allen Jordan will be considered for parole for the third time. The hearing will give members of the state Prisoner Review Board a chance to hear from the sisters, Jan Colvin and Sue Jones. Jordan received essentially a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder, rape and aggravated burglary in the May 1979 death of Augusta High School senior Kay Robinson. The Wichita Eagle reports that Robinson's sisters don't expect to learn the board's decision until next month. Colvin says she would be "very fearful" of Jordan being paroled. He is now 56.


Kansas City Chiefs Sign Backup Quarterback, Right Tackle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have formally announced the signing of free agent quarterback Brady Quinn and veteran right tackle Eric Winston. Winston was in the fourth year of a $30 million, five-year deal when he was cut by the Houston Texans to save salary cap space. Winston helped Houston become the NFL's second-leading rushing team, and he will address a glaring need for the Chiefs. Quinn will back up Matt Cassel, who is coming back from a season-ending injury to his throwing hand. The former first-round pick of the Browns started 12 games over three seasons in Cleveland, completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,902 yards and 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He did not play in Denver last season. Terms for the two deals were not disclosed Monday.


Lawyer Visits Afghanistan Mass-Murder Suspect

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Seattle defense attorney has arrived at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and is meeting with an Army staff sergeant who is suspected of carrying out a deadly nighttime attack on two Afghan villages.  Post spokeswoman Rebecca Steed says lawyer John Henry Browne is having his first face-to-face meeting Monday with Robert Bales. The 10-year Army veteran is being held in an isolated cell at the military prison. The meeting has been described as a privileged visit. Along with medical visits, such meetings are generally more private than others conducted in the prison. Bales hasn't been charged in the March 11 shootings that left 16 people dead, including nine children. The attacks have endangered relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan and threaten to upend U.S. policy over the decade-old war.

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