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Headlines for Friday, August 23, 2019

Kansas Billionaire David Koch Dies at 79

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Billionaire David Koch has died at age 79.  Koch, who grew up in Wichita, was a major donor to conservative causes and educational groups.  A person close to the Koch family told The Associated Press today (FRI) that Koch had died.   The person wasn't authorized to discuss the death and spoke on the condition of anonymity.  Together with his older brother, Charles, the Kochs were best known for a vast political network they built that became popularly known as the "Kochtopus'' for its far-reaching tentacles in support of conservative and Libertarian causes.  (Read more about this story in the Topeka Capital-Journal.)

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Charles Koch Remembers Brother as 'Giant Personality'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Billionaire conservative donor Charles Koch is remembering his brother David Koch for "his giant personality and passion for life" and says he will be "greatly missed, but never forgotten." Charles Koch and David Koch together were major donors to conservative causes and educational groups. David Koch died Friday at age 79. Charles Koch says his brother was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer 27 years ago but liked to say that "brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay." Charles Koch says his brother "was able to touch so many more lives as a result" in the ensuing years. He says his brother got married, had three children and remained dedicated to Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kansas. The brothers each had an estimated net worth of $50.5 billion, tied in 11th place in 2019 on the Forbes 500 list of the nation's richest men.

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Pompeo Calls Koch 'Compassionate Philanthropist'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he was saddened to hear of the death of billionaire industrialist David H. Koch. Pompeo said in a tweet Friday that Koch was "a compassionate philanthropist, successful businessman, and a proud American." David Koch and his brother Charles Koch were major donors to conservative causes and educational groups. David Koch died Friday at age 79. The Koch brothers became best known for building a political network dubbed the "Kochtopus" for its far-reaching support of conservative and libertarian causes and candidates. The brothers are lionized on the right but have been vilified by Democrats who see them as the embodiment of fat-cat capitalism and the corrupting role of corporate money in American politics.

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Koch's Twin: He Was My Best Friend, Despite Suit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Billionaire industrialist David H. Koch's (kohk's) twin brother is mourning the man he calls his best friend despite a billion-dollar business dispute decades ago. Bill Koch said in a statement Friday that his twin was "an outstanding human" with "strong principles, great character and strength." Bill and Frederick Koch came out on the losing end of a 1980s power struggle with their brothers David and Charles over control of the board of Koch Industries, the company their father had co-founded. Bill and Frederick sold their stake in Koch Industries in 1983, later unsuccessfully claiming in a lawsuit that they were cheated out of more than $1 billion. Bill Koch says he and David reconciled their business differences 20 years ago.


Aetna Changes Kansas Leaders with Medicaid Contract at Risk

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Insurance company Aetna is bringing in new leaders to run its Medicaid operations in Kansas after complaints from hospitals and others put it at risk of losing its state contract. KCUR-FM reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Friday that Keith Wisdom is no longer the CEO of Aetna Better Health of Kansas. The company declined to answer questions about whether it had replaced Wisdom but said in an emailed statement that it is bringing in additional leaders with extensive Medicaid experience. The company would not identify the new hires. Aetna insures about 100,000 Kansas residents on Medicaid under its $1 billion-a-year state contract. The state told Aetna last month that it was out of compliance with the contract's terms because of the complaints.


State of Kansas Improves on HPV Vaccination Rate

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/KNS) -- Kansas has been doing a much better job vaccinating teenagers against a certain type of cancer.  In 2014, only 34 percent of Kansas teens received the vaccination -- the worst rate in the nation. A new federal report now shows the state has made big strides, with almost two-thirds of teens vaccinated in 2018.  Dan Leong (lee-ONG), with the American Cancer Society, says the state and advocacy groups have worked to improve vaccination rates by focusing on education and by urging health care providers to recommend the HPV vaccine.  It's not all good news.  Both Kansas and Missouri remain in the bottom 10 states when it comes to HPV vaccination.  Leong says some people still don’t know about the vaccine, which is approved for boys, girls and some adults up to age 45.


Court: Prosecutor Can't Claim Immunity in Floyd Bledsoe Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that a former Kansas county prosecutor cannot claim absolute immunity from lawsuits filed by a man who spent nearly 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in a lawsuit filed by Floyd Bledsoe against former Jefferson County prosecutor Jim Vanderbilt. Bledsoe claims Vanderbilt and others fabricated evidence to convict him in the 1999 murder of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann near Oskaloosa.  Bledsoe was released from prison in 2015 after his brother, Tom, confessed in a suicide note that he killed the girl.  In May, Bledsoe received a $1 million settlement from the state of Kansas for his wrongful conviction.  (Read more about this story in the Lawrence Journal-World.)


Water Releases into Missouri River Will Remain High Leading to Increased Flooding in Kansas, Missouri

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The amount of water being released into the lower Missouri River will remain high at least into September.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says water releases from Gavins Point Dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will remain at current levels of 70,000 cubic feet per second.  The Corps says it is still clearing out floodwater that accumulated in the reservoirs during the spring.  The large amount of water flowing into the river may exacerbate flooding in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri because many levees are still damaged from spring flooding.


Kansas Prison Chief Changes Policy on Banned Publications

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The interim chief of state prisons in Kansas has abolished a list of 7,000 banned books and adopted a policy that allows for the review and appeal of confiscated publications.  Jeff Zmuda became acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections last month.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that under Zmuda's policy adopted July 30, prison mailroom employees flag questionable publications for a manager's review.  Inmates can appeal if a manager confiscates their publications.


Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach Had Law Enforcement Officer Investigate Voter Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A law enforcement officer says former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach asked him to investigate possible double voting and non-citizen voting.  His role came to light yesterday (THUR) after the current Secretary of State, Scott Schwab, issued a news release saying he had asked the FBI to find out what happened to 1,000 rounds of missing ammunition purchased during Kobach's tenure.  The FBI says it investigated and referred the matter to federal prosecutors. The U.S. attorney's office says it declined to prosecute.  Craig McCullah says he was working in the secretary of state's office as communications director when Kobach asked him to take on law enforcement duties in order to conduct interviews with people suspected of voter fraud. He says the ammunition was used to keep his certification current.


Indictment: University of Kansas Researcher Working Secretly for Chinese College

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A federal indictment alleges an associate professor at the University of Kansas was secretly working full time for a Chinese university while doing research in Kansas on projects funded by the U.S. government.  Feng "Franklin" Tao was charged Wednesday with one count of wire fraud and three counts of program fraud. The 47-year-old Lawrence man has been employed since August 2014 at the university's Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis. The center researches sustainable technology to conserve natural resources and energy.  The indictment accuses Tao of falsely claiming to have no conflicts of interest. It alleges he fraudulently received more than $37,000 in salary funded by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.  Court records do not list an attorney for Tao, who was arrested Wednesday at his home.


Remarks of Man Accused of Shooting at Police Not Admissible

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A judge won't allow prosecutors to use statements that a Lawrence man made to police after he was accused of shooting at officers because he had asked for an attorney before he made them. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County Judge James McCabria ruled in favor of 35-year-old Abdul Jalil Hussein on Wednesday. Hussein is charged with multiple felonies, including attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer. The charges stem from a June 2018 incident in which Hussein allegedly used an ax to chop through his mother's front door while armed with a pistol. He then drove back to his own home a few blocks away, where he is accused of exchanging gunfire with a Lawrence police officer. The detectives who questioned him were from Johnson County.


Lawrence Man Shot by Police Given 1 Year of Probation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man who was shot by police after a traffic stop has been sentenced to a year of probation. Akira Lewis pleaded no contest Thursday to battery of a law enforcement officer. He will be required to take anger management courses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Lewis was stopped in May 2018 for a seat belt violation. Police video shows Lewis refusing to provide his license and demanding that a supervisor be called. When officer Ian McCann tried to physically remove Lewis from the car, Lewis began hitting McCann. Another officer, Brindley Blood, shot Lewis. She told investigators she meant to use her Taser but accidentally grabbed her gun. Lewis, who is black, claimed he was racially profiled. Blood was charged in the case but those charges were dismissed . She resigned from the force.


Ex-Employee at Saint Francis Ministries in Salina Charged

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A former employee of Saint Francis Ministries in Salina is facing 11 charges including rape, sexual exploitation of a child and indecent liberties with a child. The Salina Journal reports Saline County District Court records show Nathaniel McEachin worked for Saint Francis Ministries from December 2018 to May 2019, when he was fired. Morgan Rothenberger, spokesman for Saint Francis Ministries, says the organization notified authorities when suspicions were raised about McEachin. McEachin worked at the Youth Residential Center II in Salina. Court records say victims were born between 2001 and 2003, and the alleged crimes occurred between May 30, 2018, and May 5, 2019. Saint Francis has been a contractor for Kansas Department for Children and Families since 1986. It provides foster care, family preservation, reunification, adoption and child placement services.


Ex-Emporia Chiropractor Acquitted of 2 Sex-Related Charges

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A jury has acquitted a former Emporia chiropractor on two of three charges alleging sex crimes against patients. Eric Hawkins was found not guilty Friday of aggravated sexual battery and rape charges stemming from separate incidents. Hawkins was accused of rape against a then-16-year-old girl in 2015 and aggravated sexual battery against a then-22-year-old woman last year. The Emporia Gazette reports defense attorney Christopher Joseph said Hawkins was sloppy and should have better explained his procedures to the women but he didn't molest them. He said no one doubts that the patients believed their versions of what happened but the jury found there was reasonable doubt. Jury selection for another sexual battery charge is scheduled for next week. Hawkins is accused of inappropriately touching a 32-year-old female in March 2015.


Wichita Officers Save Shoplifting Suspect from Drowning

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say officers saved a teenager who nearly drowned in a pond after running from police during a shoplifting attempt. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says the 16-year-old girl and a man were confronted Thursday night carrying clothing worth more than $1,000 at a Kohl's store. KSN reports the man ran but the girl jumped into a retention pond near the store. She couldn't swim and went underwater. Davidson says two officers jumped into the pond. They brought the girl to shore and revived her with CPR. She is hospitalized in critical condition. The two officers became ill and were treated and released at a hospital. Davidson said the retention pond apparently contained bacteria. Police are still looking for the man and a woman who was in a getaway car.


14-Year-Old Accused of Pointing Gun at Girls Near School

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 14-year-old was arrested after he pointed a loaded gun at a group of girls near a Wichita elementary school. Police spokesman Charley Davidson says the boy has been booked into juvenile intake on suspicion of aggravated battery, criminal possession of a firearm by a juvenile and unlawful use of a weapon. No one was hurt. Davidson says the teen was among a group of five boys and six girls that got into an argument around 4 p.m. Thursday outside Woodman Elementary after leaving a nearby middle school. A school employee called police after witnessing the teen pull out the gun and point it at the girls during the dispute. The school was temporarily locked down while police rushed to the school to apprehend the teen.


Kansas Launches Prison Book Policy, Strikes Banned Book List

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas state prisons chief has abolished a list of 7,0 banned books and adopted a policy that allows for the review and appeal of confiscated publications.  Jeff Zmuda became the Department of Corrections acting secretary last month. Under Zmuda's policy adopted July 30, mailroom employees flag questionable publications for a manager's review. Inmates can appeal if a manager confiscates their publications.  Corrections spokesman Randy Bowman says of 13 appeals so far, six decisions to censor materials have been upheld and seven reversed.  The Human Rights Defense Center revealed the mass censorship in May. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the banned books included cooking, health and tattoo magazines, self-help books and Margaret Attwood's "The Handmaid's Tale."  Zmuda has yet to be confirmed in the Senate for his role in Corrections.


Kansas Judge Rules Immigration Law Unconstitutional

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge in Kansas has ruled that a law making it a crime to "encourage" or "induce" immigrants to enter the country illegally is unconstitutional.  KCUR-FM reports that U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia issued his ruling from the bench Wednesday before throwing out the convictions of Jose Felipe Hernandez-Calvillo and Mauro Papalotzi. They worked for a Lawrence drywall company while in the country illegally.  After they were convicted, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found that the law violated the First Amendment. Kansas isn't governed by that court, but Murguia found the argument persuasive.  Violations of the contested law carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, with another five tacked on if the defendant acted for "commercial advantage or private financial gain."

Kansas Fights Claim of Man Wrongly Imprisoned for 23 Years

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas is fighting the compensation claim of a man who spent 23 years in prison for a double homicide before a judge vacated his convictions, which were secured despite a complete lack of physical evidence and motive tying him to the crimes.  Lamonte McIntyre's case was one of three that helped prompt the state last year to allow the wrongfully convicted to seek compensation. When signing that bill into law, then-Governor Jeff Colyer publicly apologized to McIntyre and the other men.  The state attorney general's office supported the other two men's petitions for compensation and a declaration of innocence, but it issued a statement saying it couldn't do so for McIntyre because it found "the record of prior judicial proceedings" in his case to be "insufficient." It said it will be up to the court to decide and recommended that the court deny McIntyre's claim.  McIntyre's lawyer blasted the move, saying the attorney general's office could conduct its own investigation into McIntyre's case.


KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 AM weekdays and updated throughout the day.  KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1pm Saturdays and Sundays.

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