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Headlines for Friday, June 4, 2021

Universities Asked for List of Critical Race Theory Classes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents is asking the state's six public universities to provide a list of classes that include Critical Race Theory teachings. The regents asked for the list after a request from state senator Brenda Dietrich, a Topeka Republican. Dietrich said she sought the information so she could better answer questions from her constituents. She said she did not intend to create any chilling effect in university classrooms. Critical race theory discusses how historical inequities and racism still shape public policy and social conditions. Critics say it promotes a distorted view of American history and vilifies white Americans.

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Officials: Body of Man Pulled from Northeastern Kansas Lake

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a search team has pulled the body of a man from a lake in northeastern Kansas after nearly 10 hours of searching. The Riley County Police Department says the man's body was found late Wednesday in Tuttle Creek Lake. Authorities were called to the lake around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday after someone found a vehicle and clothes near the shoreline. The man was identified Friday as 24-year-old Okheem Riley. Fort Riley officials say Riley was a First Lieutenant from the 1st Sustainment Brigade and had served at the Fort since 2018. Foul play is not suspected in this death.

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Kansas Orders Less Than 1% of Its COVID Vaccine Allocation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas ordered less than 1% of its vaccine allocation from the federal government for this week. The state health department's disclosure Friday came as its data showed that Kansas still had nearly 593,000 unused doses. The state health department said that this week it ordered only 1,020 or 0.7% of its federal allocation of 147,660 vaccine doses. Its data showed that an average of 4,348 vaccine shots a day were administered during the seven days ending Friday to make it the lowest seven-day average since Jan. 21. The department said 42.5% of the state’s 2.9 million residents had received at least one vaccine shot as of Friday.

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Police Identify 43-Year-Old Woman Found Dead in Salina Park

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police have identified a woman who was found dead in a park as a 43-year-old local resident. News reports said police have not said how Kristie Fisher died and are still gathering information about her death. Police responding to a report early Tuesday morning found Fisher lying face down near the south entrance of Lakewood Park. She was declared dead at the scene.

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16-Year-Old Girl Dies as Result of Memorial Day Crash that Injured Six

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, said a teenage girl who was among six people injured in a two-car Memorial Day crash has died of her injuries. Police say 16-year-old Chelsey Updike, of Kansas City, Kansas, died Wednesday at an area hospital from the injuries she sustained. Two adults injured in the crash remained hospitalized four days later, but are expected to recover. Police say the crash happened around 4 am Monday, when a speeding car carrying four teens collided with an oncoming vehicle. The car with the teens then hit a utility pole. Police say five of the six victims were thrown from their cars. One person had to be cut out of a wrecked vehicle.

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Man Killed in Lyons House Explosion Identified

LYONS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Rice County have identified the man killed in a house explosion last month in the town of Lyons. The victim was identified on Thursday as 65-year-old Terry Sawyers. Firefighters responded to the home on May 27. The fire chief says Sawyers was found dead in the home where he had lived for 10 to 12 years. The cause of the explosion has not been determined, but Lyons Police Sgt. Cory Ryan says there was no crime. Results of an autopsy of Sawyers are expected in July.

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31-Year-Old Parolee Arrested over Topeka Woman's Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 31-year-old man on parole in connection with the fatal weekend shooting of a woman at a Topeka mobile home park. Local news organizations reported that federal marshals took Kajun Brock into custody Wednesday night in Topeka. Police had described him as a person of interest in the death of 32-year-old Shakeita Young. Brock was being held Thursday in the Shawnee County jail and its online records showed that his bond was $1 million. State records showed that Brock served time in prison on charges including robbery and assaulting a law enforcement officer before being paroled in May 2020.

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Videos Show Disputed Police Shooting of Kansas City Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group of Christian ministers is raising questions about the fatal police shooting of a Kansas City man. Police shot and killed Malcolm Johnson at a gas station on March 25 while attempting to arrest him for questioning in an earlier shooting. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Johnson was shot after he shot and wounded a police officer during a struggle. Two videos taken at the gas station that were released this week show the struggle and the shooting. The ministers contend the videos contradict the patrol's earlier version of what happened, and they are calling for the officers involved to be taken off the street during the investigation.

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Kansas COVID-19 Case Count Passes 314,500; Death Toll Rises to 5,084

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that there have been 314,855 COVID-19 cases in Kansas, including 5,084 virus-related deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 332 cases and four new deaths since Wednesday. Another update is expected Monday.

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Man's 'Cutting' Death in Kansas City Being Investigated as a Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police say the "cutting'' death of a man in Kansas City, Missouri, is being investigated as a homicide. The death of 56-year-old Rickey Bishop was reported Thursday. Police were called Wednesday night to a home. Police Captain Leslie Foreman said officers found Bishop inside suffering from an "apparent laceration.'' He was taken to a hospital where he died. One person is in custody, but police provided no further details about that person. 

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Former High School Coach Pleads Guilty to Sex with Student

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former high school coach has admitted to having sex with a former student in Holden. Forty-four-year-old Joshua Hood pleaded guilty Wednesday to eight sex-related felony counts. Hood was sentenced to five years of probation and agreed to forfeit his teaching license. Hood coached in Holden during the 2003-2004 school year. The Jackson County Prosecutor's office said he had several sexual encounters with a student under the age of 17. He has been a coach since 2013 in the Park Hill School District. The district said it is unaware of any similar conduct since Hood was hired at Park Hill.

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Wichita Police: Man Killed in Riding Mower Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man is dead after he became pinned under water by an overturned riding lawn mower. Authorities say 42-year-old Juan Salazar died after the accident Wednesday afternoon on the city's east side. Salazar was mowing residential property when the mower slid into a lake and pinned him. Witnesses told police that Salazar was submerged for about 10 minutes before first responders found him. Medics pulled him from the water and performed CPR, but could not revive him. Police said Salazar worked for a lawn service. 

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Voting Rights Advocates Sue over 2 New Kansas Election Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — National and Kansas-based voting rights advocates are suing Kansas state election officials over two Republican-backed election laws passed this year. VoteAmerica and the Voter Participation Center filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, a day after the League of Women Voters of Kansas, Kansas Appleseed, and Loud Light sued in Shawnee County. The organizations contend the new laws are designed to suppress voter turnout and make it more difficult for groups to help voters navigate the election process. Both lawsuits ask courts to find the laws unconstitutional. Supporters of the election changes, which were pushed by Republican lawmakers, say the laws will help ensure the integrity of elections by reducing fraud. Many political analysts and statisticians say that true voter fraud (i.e., deliberate intent to subvert the vote rather than a misunderstanding of deadlines and requirements, the result of clerical errors, or legal address issues) is extremely rare. 

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Kansas to Pay $826,000 to Man's Estate over Wrongful Conviction

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state-court judge has ordered Kansas to pay more than $826,000 to the estate of a man who died in February following his release from prison after serving more than 12 years over a wrongful murder conviction. The order Wednesday resolves a lawsuit filed in November by Olin “Pete” Coones only days after a Wyandotte County judge threw out his 2009 first-degree murder conviction. Coones received a life sentence in connection with the 2008 death of his late father’s caregiver. His defense argued that she framed him for murder when she killed herself and her husband because of investigations into how she handled money for Coones's father.

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Widow of Kansas Man Killed in Evergy Accident Wins Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Texas jury has awarded $222 million to the widow of a man who was killed in an accident at Evergy's Jeffrey Energy Center power plant in Kansas. The jury found Team Industrial Services, a Texas-based subcontractor for what was then called Westar Energy, was 90% responsible for the death of Jesse Henson, of Manhattan. Henson and a co-worker, Damien Burchett, of Overbrook, were burned alive by steam at the plant near St. Marys in June 2018. Westar, which is now called Evergy, was found to be 10% responsible. The men were engulfed by hot steam while checking on a loss of power. Burchett's relatives have filed a separate lawsuit.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justices Reject Johnson & Johnson Appeal of $2 Billion Missouri Case 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is leaving in place a $2 billion verdict in favor of women who say they developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson talc products. The justices did not comment Tuesday in rejecting Johnson & Johnson's appeal. The New Jersey-based company argued it was not treated fairly in facing one trial involving 22 cancer sufferers who came from 12 states and different backgrounds. A Missouri jury initially awarded the women $4.7 billion, but a state appeals court dropped two women from the suit and reduced the award to $2 billion. The jury found the company’s talc products contain asbestos and asbestos-laced talc can cause ovarian cancer. The company disputes both points.

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Kansas Deputy Suspended Following Domestic Violence Arrest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy has been suspended following his arrest over the weekend on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic violence disorderly conduct. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says Deputy Clayton Blackwood was arrested Saturday stemming from an incident involving Blackwood's domestic partner. Records show the woman involved also was arrested. Authorities say Blackwood has been with the Sedgwick department for five years. He was suspended without pay pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations.

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Missouri GOP House Leader Asks Governor to Pardon Kansas City Inmate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Republican House member says he and some other lawmakers plan to ask Missouri Governor Mike Parson to pardon a Kansas City man who has spent more than 40 years in prison for a triple murder that prosecutors now say he didn’t commit. State representative Andrew McDaniel of Deering, who leads the Missouri House committee that oversees the state's prison system, said he plans to send a letter to Parson seeking a pardon for Kevin Strickland. McDaniel says three other Republican and five Democratic lawmakers plan to sign the letter. Strickland has been in prison since being convicted of a triple murder in 1978.

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Court Upholds $6.5 Million Award for Man Badly Hurt by Police Taser

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a $6.5 million jury award for a man who was injured by a former Independence police officer during an arrest in 2014. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals last week denied former officer' Timothy Runnels' argument that he was entitled to qualified immunity. KCUR Radio reports that Runnels used a Taser on Bryce Masters for up to 20 seconds during a traffic stop. He then dragged an unconscious Masters for several feet before dropping him facedown on the pavement. Masters was 17 at the time. Runnels was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to deprivation of Masters' rights.

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UPDATE: White-Knuckle Thriller for AMC as It Sells Stock into Frenzy

UNDATED (AP) — The wild ride for the summer’s blockbuster stock, AMC Entertainment, is getting even crazier. The movie-theater company’s stock plunged nearly 40% after it announced plans to sell 11.6 million shares to raise cash, while warning buyers they could lose all their investment. But it erased the loss in just a few hours and then bounced between gains and losses before ending Thursday with a drop of 17.9%. It’s the latest stupefying move for one of the “meme stocks” that have rocked Wall Street. Many professional investors say these stocks are set to fall, but that’s not deterring an army of smaller-pocketed investors sticking with them.

(-Related-)

AMC, This Summer's Blockbuster Stock, Warns of Plot Twists

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP/KPR) - AMC may sell up to 11.6 million of its shares with a trading phenomenon pushing stock in the movie theater chain up almost 3,000% this year, and 140% just this week. AMC is emerging from pandemic lockdowns that threatened the existence of the company and industry analysts have yet to fully explain the extreme volatility that is being driven by large numbers of online traders that seem to have disregarded the rough path the company faces in its recovery. AMC acknowledged that phenomenon Thursday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission when it announced the potential sale of shares "from time to time."  AMC is headquartered in the Kansas City suburb of Leawood.

AMC Embraces Meme Stock Status, Share Price Nearly Doubles

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP/KPR) - AMC Entertainment is looking to keep in closer contact with some of its newer investors, as the movie theater chain embraces its meme stock popularity. AMC says it's launching AMC Investor Connect, an initiative that will put the company in direct communication with its individual shareholders to keep them up to date about important company information and provide them with special offers including invitations to special screenings and a free large popcorn at a movie this summer. AMC's retail shareholder base has grown to more than 3 million owners over the last several months.

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Missouri River Winter Water Release Expected to Be Minimum

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Only two years after historic flooding along the Missouri River ravaged parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, officials are now dealing with what's shaping up to be one of river's driest years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that the forecast from last month hasn't changed: Significantly less water is expected to flow into the river this year because conditions remain so dry and snowpack is below normal levels. Officials say only about 69% of the normal amount of water is expected to flow into the Missouri River this year, which would be the 22nd driest year in the upper basin since 1898.

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