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Headlines for Friday, October 15, 2021

 

Kansas Lawmakers to Introduce New Bills on K-12 Schools, Curriculum

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Republicans in the Kansas Legislature say they plan to target school curriculum and certain school library books when the legislative session begins in January. The move comes after some parents in Johnson County raised concerns about a book with, what they described as, graphic sexual content. Republican Molly Baumgardner chairs the Senate Education Committee. She told the Board of Education that her colleagues are working on bills addressing what types of reading materials can be purchased with state funding.  Republican leaders say they also plan to introduce bills addressing critical race theory. Those measures would limit how teachers can discuss history and current events related to racism.  It would continue a nationwide trend, with at least eight states passing bans this year on teaching critical race theory. The Kansas Board of Education says that critical race theory has never been part of Kansas academic standards.  

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*CORRECTION: Judge Considers Evidence in Case of KU Professor with Ties to China

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR) - A federal judge is deciding whether to suppress evidence in a case involving a University of Kansas professor whom the government accuses of failing to disclose his ties to China. The government charged Feng “Franklin” Tao with fraud two years ago. Tao is a tenured professor at KU who remains on leave. The government says he secretly worked for a university in China while employed at KU.  But his lawyers say the FBI provided false information to obtain warrants to search Tao’s emails, computers, home and office. They say that information came from another Chinese researcher who sought to frame Tao after she was unhappy with the credit he gave her for her contributions to a scientific paper. U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson is holding a hearing to determine whether to suppress the search warrants and to limit other evidence in the case.  

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated "the government says he (Tao) was a spy who stole intellectual property."  Prosecutors have charged Tao with fraud, not espionage.  

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Ex-Detective in KCK Accused of Corruption Faces Federal Probe

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating a former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective who has been accused of sexually abusing minority and poor women for decades and framing Lamonte McIntyre, who was wrongfully imprisoned for a 1994 double murder. The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department acknowledged Thursday that since 2019 it's been responding to subpoenas from the FBI involving allegations against Roger Golubski. CNN reported Thursday that federal authorities have convened a grand jury for the investigation. Former Kansas City, Kansas Police Chief Terry Zeigler told the network he and more than a half-dozen officers have or will testify before the grand jury.

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KBI Reports It Has Opened 122 Clergy Sex Abuse Cases in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation told state lawmakers this week that it has received 215 tips about Catholic clergy sexual abuse and opened 122 cases. KBI Executive Director Robert Jacobs told lawmakers a task force set up to investigate clergy abuse has reviewed almost 40,000 records since its work began in 2019. He says Catholic church leaders have cooperated with the effort. KBI’s Catholic Clergy Taskforce was established at the request of Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office. Investigators are not only interested in looking at the allegation itself, Jacobs said, but are investigating what follow-through occurred after a claim was reported.

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Former Kansas Congressman Dan Glickman: We Need More Compromisers in Washington

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Former Kansas Democratic Congressman Dan Glickman says more compromise is needed in Washington to end political gridlock.  Glickman, who also served as U.S. Agriculture Secretary, spoke Thursday night at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. Glickman said Congress needs more politicians with backbone. “Political leaders need to show some courage,” Glickman said. “And if they lose their job because of it, so be it.” The former congressman from Wichita said he is frustrated by current members of Congress “pandering” to voters by refusing to condemn the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.  He recalled his own time in Congress, saying moderates from both parties often compromised to get things done.  Glickman is on tour, promoting his new autobiography.  

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Native American Art Installation Returned to Spencer Museum After Theft and Vandalism

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) - About 100 people gathered outside the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence Thursday to celebrate the return of artist Edgar Heap of Birds’ artwork titled, Native Hosts. The piece sits on the museum’s lawn and last month, one of its five panels was stolen and others were damaged. The ceremony featured traditional flute and drum music and remarks by KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, members of the First Nations Student Association and officials from the museum. The Douglas County District Attorney’s office is investigating the theft and vandalism case.  

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Kansas Lawmakers Question National Guard Vaccine Mandate

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (KNS) – A Republican state lawmaker says members of the Kansas National Guard should not be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Representative Pat Proctor, of Leavenworth, sent a letter to the commander of the Kansas National Guard, raising questions about whether a vaccine mandate conflicts with state law. The new law bars state funds from being used to enforce a vaccine mandate. “I don’t know how the Kansas National Guard, which when not federalized is a state agency, can legally require proof of vaccination,” Proctor said. Proctor says said he isn’t questioning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and says he has no issues with other vaccines required by the National Guard.

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University of Missouri to Stop Requiring Masks

UNDATED (AP) - The University of Missouri System will stop requiring masks at all four campuses starting Saturday, but local mandates in two of those places will mean the face coverings must remain on. Statewide, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped sharply in recent weeks. A news release from the University of Missouri System on Thursday said the mask mandate is set to expire Saturday and won't be renewed. It was put in place in July and extended in September, when the delta variant of the virus was still ravaging Missouri. But St. Louis and Kansas City still require indoor masking. Those rules apply to the Missouri campuses in those cities.

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Virtual Therapy Catching on in Kansas, but Problems Persist  

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Virtual therapy appointments have become more popular during the pandemic, but some lawmakers say the growing industry needs more oversight. Health experts say some patients are joining virtual appointments from the backseat of an Uber or while driving. Shawna Wright, with the Center for Telemedicine, told a legislative committee this week that she wants to see more training for providers offering telehealth sessions and require people to join virtual appointments from a stationary location.

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CORRECTION: Study: Kansas Has Nation’s 8th Lowest Childhood Obesity Rate

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – A new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that the national rate for child obesity is 16.2 %. About 12% of Kansans aged 10 to 17 are considered obese, giving it the nation's 8th lowest childhood obesity rate. Missouri’s rate exceeds the national average at nearly 20%. Jaimie Bussel, Senior Program Director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says the rates for Black, Hispanic, and Native American youth are worse than those for their white and Asian counterparts. “Children of color and those who live farthest from economic opportunity are at greatest risk,” Bussel said. The report reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the childhood obesity problem. The foundation makes several policy recommendations, including making universal school meals permanent, expanding Medicaid in states that haven’t done so, and extending eligibility for WIC, the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children.

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Weather Service Confirms Seven Tornadoes in Southwest Kansas Tuesday Night

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service in Dodge City says seven tornadoes touched down in southwest Kansas during storms on Tuesday night. The weather service rated the tornadoes at EF-0 or EF-1 strength. The tornadoes touched down in mostly rural areas, and the damage was generally contained to irrigation systems and outbuildings. No injuries were reported. The tornadoes were reported near Sublette, Howell, Spearville, Fellsburg, Truesdale and two near Greensburg.

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Rice County Man Arrested, Accused of Child Sex Crimes

RICE COUNTY, Kan. (KPR) – A Sterling man has been arrested for child sex crimes following an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI).  KBI agents took 43-year-old Jonathan A. Braden, also known as Jonathan Behnke, into custody Thursday morning at a residence in Sterling (2020 Avenue R).  The Rice County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol assisted during the arrest, which took place without incident.  Braden was booked into the Rice County Jail on two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, and 25 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The crimes allege Braden engaged in sexual conduct with a juvenile and possessed and manufactured child pornography.  In September 2019, a report was made to the Grandview Plaza Police Department when a subject discovered images of child pornography that were suspected to be Braden’s. The Grandview Plaza Police Department began investigating. They requested KBI assistance in October of 2019.  in December 2019, a search warrant was executed at Braden’s residence in Sterling, and evidence was located and seized.  

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Trial Set for Man Accused of Kansas City Trail Killings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man charged with killing six people on or near trails in south Kansas City, Missouri, in 2016 and 2017 is now set to stand trial next year. A judge on Thursday set Fredrick Scott's first-degree murder trial date for September 6, 2022. Earlier this year, Scott had been found not mentally competent to stand in the separate shooting deaths of 57-year-old Steven Gibbons; 54-year-old John Palmer; 67-year-old David Lenox; 57-year-old Timothy Rice; 61-year-old Michael Darby; and 64-year-old Karen Harmeyer. The killings terrorized those who used and lived near the popular trails in south Kansas City.

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Judge: Kansas Election Database Function Not Public Record

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that the Kansas secretary of state did not violate the state’s open records law by ordering the removal of an election database function that generates a statewide report showing which provisional ballots were not counted. This week's decision by Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson comes in a lawsuit filed by voting rights activist Davis Hammet. He's the president of Loud Light, a nonprofit that strives to increase voter turnout. The judge sided with Republican Secretary of State Scott Schwab in finding that the ability to produce a statewide provisional ballot report in the database is not a public record as defined by the Kansas Open Records Act. 

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Wichita Police Make Arrest in Shooting of 11-Year-Old Girl

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say they've made an arrest in a drive-by shooting earlier this week that injured an 11-year-old girl. Police say 25-year-old Byron Monroe Purcell was arrested Thursday and booked on counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and weapons, drug and parole violation charges. He's accused of being the gunman in a shooting that happened early Tuesday in the city's Ken-Mar neighborhood in which bullets hit a house. Police say the 11-year-old girl was in the house and asleep in her bed when she was hit by the gunfire. She was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Police say four other people in the home at the time of the shooting were not injured.

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Wichita Woman Charged with Murder, Child Abuse, in Baby Daughter's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A 27-year-old Wichita woman is charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse in the death of her 1-year-old daughter. Neriah Dilley is jailed on $250,000 bond after making her first court appearance on Thursday. KAKE-TV reported officers found Dilley's daughter in critical condition after responding to a call about an infant not breathing on Saturday. The girl, Myonna Townley, died later at a hospital. Police said she suffered trauma to her body. A criminal complaint alleges Dilley tortured or cruelly beat her daughter. Her next court appearance was scheduled for October 28.  

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Man Charged in Shooting of 2 Kansas Brothers Enters Plea

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — One of two Topeka men accused in a 2019 double shooting in a Lawrence park that injured two brothers will get prison time after pleading no contest last month to attempted first-degree murder. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 19-year-old Sahavione Caraway also pleaded no contest to aggravated robbery on September 13. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped additional counts of each charge. The minimum sentence for the attempted murder charge is about 12 years in prison. Caraway is set to be sentenced next Wednesday. Prosecutors say Caraway and another man, Benson Edwards Jr., were 17 when they shot two brothers, ages 18 and 16, in Holcom Park on March 19, 2019, seriously injuring both. Edwards has pleaded not guilty and will face trial in January.

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Two Men Charged After Double Homicide in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two men have been charged with murder after a double homicide earlier this year in Kansas City. The Jackson County Prosecutor's office announced this week that 20-year-old Earl L. Dunn III and 24-year-old Vontez G. Howard, both of Kansas City, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder, robbery and five other counts. Officers called to the scene of a shooting and crash on March 1 found Kyle Gerhardt and Kristopher Lunsford-Barrett inside a car that had crashed and burned. Both men had been shot. Prosecutors said video showed the two suspects chasing the victims' car until it crashed.

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Nursing Schools See Applications Rise, Despite COVID Burnout

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications to nursing schools are rising, driven by what educators say are young people who see the global emergency as an opportunity and a challenge.  Nationally, enrollment in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral nursing programs increased 5.6% in 2020 from the year before to just over 250,000 students, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The higher enrollment could help ease a nursing shortage that existed even before COVID-19. But the increase, combined with the departure of too many experienced nurses whose job is to help train students, has left many nursing programs without the ability to expand. 

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Kansas Legislators Seek Halt to Gas Payment Plans for Utilities

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —A group of Kansas lawmakers is asking state regulators to stop approving payments to utilities to recover the costs associated with spikes in natural gas prices during a winter storm in February. During the storm, the price of natural gas from one of the main pipelines in Kansas went from around $2.00 per unit to more than $600.00.The current plans allow gas utilities to pass their costs on to customers. Kansas legislators are asking for a pause while the federal government finishes its investigation into potential price gouging and market manipulation. Kansans are currently on the hook for about $1 billion in gas bills due to those spikes. But if federal regulators find the market was manipulated, that bill could be significantly decreased. The major gas utilities in Kansas are asking regulators to approve payment plans that would have customers pay the extra costs over a period of 10 to 15 years. 

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Deere & Co. Workers Go on Strike After Rejecting Contract

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday after the United Auto Workers union said negotiators couldn't deliver a new agreement that would meet the "demands and needs" of workers. The vast majority of the union rejected a contract offer earlier this week that would have delivered 5% raises to some workers and 6% raises to others. Thirty-five years have passed since the last major Deere strike, but workers are emboldened to demand more this year after working long hours throughout the pandemic and because companies are facing worker shortages. Illinois-based Deere says it's committed to resolving the strike with an agreement that benefits all employees.  A strike could affect Deere dealerships and farmers across the nation, especially in the farm belt.

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8-Year-Old Missouri Boy Was Fatally Shot by Younger Sibling

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City investigating the accidental shooting death of an 8-year-old boy say he was shot by a younger sibling who found a gun in their home. The shooting happened early Saturday morning in Independence. Officers called to the home found the boy with a gunshot wound; he later died. Investigators told television station KSHB reports that the younger sibling found a gun that had been left unsecured in the home and was handling it when it fired and hit his older brother.  Police have not released the victim's or his family members' names. Police say the case will be sent to to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether charges will be filed.

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Kansas City Police Investigating Shooting Death of Teen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City are looking for suspects after a teenager was shot to death on the north edge of the Squier Park neighborhood. Police say the shooting was reported Wednesday night, and arriving officers found 17-year-old Michael Parks already dead in the street from a gunshot wound. Police say they have no suspects yet in the case.

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No Indictments in Two Deaths After Dispute over Firewood

PARKVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A Platte County grand jury declined to indict a man in the death of two men after a dispute over $200 in firewood. Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd announced Wednesday the grand jury found no crime was committed when 44-year-old Jonathan Lutz, of Kansas City, and 34-year-old Kalob Lawrence, of Kimberling City, died in February. Zahnd said the two men had delivered firewood to a Platte County home but left before unloading the entire order. The homeowner's 22-year-old son chased the men and confronted them. Zahnd said when Lawson pointed a gun at the son and threatened him, the son grabbed his own gun and fired several times, killing the two men.

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Kansas, Other GOP States Urge Court to Let Texas Abortion Law Stand

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas ban on most abortion is getting a show of support from 18 states. It comes as clinics and the Biden administration on Thursday waited for a ruling to determine whether the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. can remain in place. Republican state attorneys general from 18 states say the Biden administration overstepped by bringing a lawsuit against Texas in their attempt to stop the restrictions. The Texas law bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around the sixth week of pregnancy. It has been in effect since September. Signing on in agreement were the state attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.

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'We Have to Be Heard': Texas Women Travel to Seek Abortions

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The nation's most restrictive abortion law is driving many women from Texas to seek services as far away as Oklahoma and Kansas. The Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana, near the Texas border, is among the clinics seeing a major influx of Texas patients. On a recent Saturday, more than a dozen women arrived at the single-story brick building. Some came alone. Others brought their children because they were unable to get child care. All were seeking to end pregnancies. One of the patients was a 33-year-old woman who already has three kids. She said adding a baby to the family would take time and resources away from her other children.

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Police Kill 2 Steers that Fled Missouri Processing Plant

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City say two steers that escaped from a Blue Springs meat processing plant were shot and killed by police — including one on a high school football field. Blue Springs Police spokeswoman Jennifer Brady confirmed the incident happened Wednesday afternoon, after three steers escaped the Valley Oaks plant and headed through residential and business streets. One steer was captured and loaded onto a trailer, but Brady says the other two had to be killed because they were acting aggressively. One steer was shot by police as it headed onto Interstate 70. The other made its way to a Blue Springs High School football field, where it was fatally shot. Brady says students were kept inside the school as the animal was shot.

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Former KU Football Coach David Beaty Cleared in NCAA Case

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Former University of Kansas football coach David Beaty is no longer part of an NCAA infractions case against the school. The independent organization that investigates such cases notified Beaty last week that an allegation against him had been withdrawn. In 2019, KU self-reported violations in the football program. Beaty says he plans to get back to coaching now that the NCAA allegations are behind him. He hasn't worked in football since KU fired him in 2018. The two reached a $2.5 million settlement last year in a dispute over his buyout.

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KU Chosen by Big 12 Coaches as Preseason Favorite

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The University of Kansas has been selected as the Big 12 preseason men's basketball favorite by the league's head coaches. The Jayhawks got eight of 10 first-place votes from coaches who couldn't vote for their own teams. Texas got the remaining two first-place votes. Defending national champion Baylor was picked to finish third. AP Big 12 player of the year Jared Butler is among three standouts guards no longer with the Bears. The coaches picked three Kansas players for the preseason All-Big 12 team. That includes preseason player of the year Remy Martin.

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These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!
 

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