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Headlines for Monday, November 18, 2019

KU Researcher Denies Working for Chinese University

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An associate professor in Kansas accused of secretly working for a Chinese university alleges that a visiting scholar fabricated the allegations after trying to extort $300,000 from him. Attorneys for Feng “Franklin” Tao filed a motion on Sunday seeking to dismiss the indictment charging him with wire fraud and program fraud. Tao contends he never accepted a teaching position in China and therefore had no obligation to disclose it to the University of Kansas. The defense filing alleges that the unpaid scholar who tipped off the FBI was upset that she was not given enough credit for some research. It contends the woman hacked into his email account to get the unsigned contract from Fuzhou University in China, then lied to the FBI about where she got it.

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Rollover Crash Kills 16-Year-Old Hiawatha Boy, Injures 4 Other Teens

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old boy is dead and four other teens are hurt after a rollover crash in northeast Kansas.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened early Sunday in Brown County near U.S. Highway 36. The 17-year-old driver of a 2010 Toyota Corolla lost control of the car and veered into a ditch before the car went airborne and rolled onto its roof.  The Patrol says Ian Miller of Hiawatha, Kansas, died in the crash.  The other teens in the car — ages 15, 17, 18 and 19 — all sustained serious injuries and were taken to a hospital.

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Kansas Distillery Pleads Guilty to Clean Air Act Violation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A distillery could be fined up to $1 million for a chlorine gas cloud that lingered over a city in northeastern Kansas in 2016. Federal prosecutors say MGP Ingredients pleaded guilty Monday to negligently violating the federal Clean Air Act, a misdemeanor. In October 2016, a chlorine gas cloud formed at the company’s Atchison plant when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid were mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite. Residents evacuated the city 50 miles northwest of Kansas City, or sheltered in place for hours. About 140 people sought medical attention. A federal report blamed the leak on missing key rings on chemical storage tanks and a lack of attention to procedure. Sentencing is Feb. 24. The company could be sentenced to five years of probation.

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Man Suspected of Wounding Girlfriend, Killing Himself

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man is suspected of shooting and critically wounding his girlfriend before fatally shooting himself in a Wichita home. KFDI reports Wichita police said Monday the man involved in the Saturday night shooting was 23-year-old Brandon Sandoval. The woman’s name has not been released. Wichita police said a man who lives in the home told police that Sandoval shot the 22-year-old woman during a fight. When officers got the woman on the phone, she told them she had been shot and then started screaming. Police say as officers forced their way into the home, they heard another gunshot. The woman was suffering from a bullet wound to her abdomen and Sandoval was shot in the head. Police say his wound appeared to be self-inflicted. The roommate wasn’t hurt.

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Man Who Reported Carjacking Arrested on Suspicion of Murder

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a suspect is in custody after a man was run over and killed in southeast Wichita. KAKE-TV reports police responding to a call about a possible carjacking early Saturday found 42-year-old David Lee pinned underneath a car. Lee died at the scene. Another man, 40-year-old Travis Shaw, called 911 to report the incident. Police say further investigation led to Shaw’s arrest. He is facing possible charges of second-degree reckless murder. Authorities say Shaw and Lee knew each other but no further information was immediately released. The investigation is continuing.

(– earlier reporting –)

Wichita Police Responding to Carjacking Find Man Under Car

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man has been run over and killed and another man arrested in connection to a carjacking report in southeastern Wichita.  Police say officers were called to the area around 2:30 am Saturday for a report of a carjacking. Arriving officers found a 42-year-old man in critical condition underneath a car in front of a house. He died at the scene. His name has not been released.  Police say another man at the scene was questioned and later arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder in the case. Police say the 40-year-old suspect and the victim knew each other.

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Missouri Collecting Containers Floating in Floodwaters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of containers — many carrying hazardous materials — have floated into Missouri since flooding in the upper Missouri River basin during the spring. Missouri Department of Natural Resources officials say the agency collected more than 740 containers this year. Many are believed to be from Nebraska and Iowa. The containers range from small buckets to 500,000 gallon tanks. Many contain diesel fuel, pesticides or ammonia. KCUR reports most of the containers washed up on the banks of the Missouri River in northwest Missouri. Environmental scientist Stephen McLane says the goal is to return the containers to their owners, but many don’t have identifying marks. A recycler in Kansas City has helped the agency dispose of roughly 12,000 gallons of fuel, pesticides and herbicides. McLane said the agency expects to be collecting orphaned containers through at least January.

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Day Care Worker Gets 10-Year Term in Kansas Baby’s Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A woman convicted in the killing of a 9-month-old boy at a Kansas day care has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Forty-five-year-old Carrody Melissa Buchhorn was found guilty in July of second-degree murder in the September 2016 death of Oliver Ortiz at the Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home in Eudora. She was sentenced Monday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a coroner ruled Oliver’s death a homicide caused by blunt force trauma. He testified that Oliver had a fractured skull caused by enough force to make him immediately unresponsive and, without intervention, died within minutes. Oliver’s parents last year filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the day care operators in whose home Oliver died, Gina Brunton and husband Morgan Eric Brunton. The court later approved a settlement.

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Police Investigate Fatal Shooting in Kansas City, Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating a fatal shooting in a neighborhood east of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  After gunfire was reported shortly before 2 am Sunday, officers found a man lying in the street with a gunshot wound near 10th Street and Chestnut Avenue. The man died at the scene of the shooting.  Police detectives are trying to find any witnesses to the shooting.  

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Police: 1 Killed, 1 Injured in Independence, Missouri, Shooting

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police in the Kansas City suburb of Independence are investigating a double shooting that left one person dead.  The Kansas City Star reports that officers responded just before 7 am Friday to a report of a shooting, and arriving officers found two people with gunshot wounds.  Both victims were taken to a hospital, where one of them was pronounced dead. The names of the victims have not been released.  Police had not reported any arrests in the shooting by midday Saturday.

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Wichita Man Pleads Guilty to Carjacking During Chase

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 30-year-old Wichita man pleaded guilty to a federal charge of carjacking that was part of a police chase that included officers firing shots at a speeding car. Federal prosecutors announced Monday that Zachary Ausdemore pleaded guilty Monday. He admitted that on Sept. 10, he stole a car from an elderly Wichita couple after threatening to kill them if they didn’t give him their car keys. Police say the incident began when officers tried to stop a stolen Jeep. Officers fired at the Jeep as it sped toward them, injuring the driver and Ausdemore. Ausdemore ran to a house where the couple was watching the chase. He took their car and police chased him until the car went into a ditch. Ausdemore will be sentenced in February.

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Highway Patrol Identifies 2 Who Died in Crash in North-Central Kansas

BELLEVILLE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says two people from Belleville died in a crash with a semitrailer truck in north central Kansas.  The Highway Patrol says Steven and Sherry Torres, who were both 62, died in the crash Saturday morning.  The crash happened on U.S. Highway 81 just north of U.S. Highway 36 when Steven Torres tried to turn south onto Highway 81. The Torres’ vehicle was struck on the driver’s side by a northbound semitrailer truck driven by 28-year-old Douglas Watts, of Nebraska.  The semi overturned during the accident, but Watts was not hospitalized afterward.

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1 Killed in Wichita House Fire; Cause of Blaze Under Investigation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person has been killed in a house fire in Wichita.  KWCH-TV reports that that the fire started late Sunday in the northwest part of the city. Captain Chad Winton says that one person was found inside the structure and died despite life-saving efforts.  The fire was contained to the room where it started. Investigators are working to determine what sparked the blaze.

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No Signs of Foul Play in Death of Man Found in Freezer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say an autopsy has found no signs of foul play in the death of a man whose body was found in a freezer in his wife’s bedroom inside the couple’s southwest Missouri home.  Joplin police say the autopsy also confirmed that the man was Paul Barton, whose wife, 67-year-old Barbara Watters, is charged with abandonment of a corpse. The body was found last week after a witness told police that Barton’s body had been in Watters’ freezer since his death on December 30, 2018. No details were provided about how the witness knew the couple.  No charges have been filed in Barton’s death. Police said before Watters arrest on Thursday that she has unspecified “mental disorders” and is known to carry firearms.  Police say the investigation is ongoing.

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2020 Could Bring More Serious Flooding to Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — More than six months after floodwaters overwhelmed Lakeside Village’s well system, residents of the northeast Kansas community still drink, cook and bathe with water hauled in by the Kansas National Guard.  The Kansas City Star reports it’s one example of the lingering damage from floodwaters that rose across Kansas earlier this year. Lawmakers at the Capitol last week heard from state and federal officials who told them to be ready for more.  Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli said excess water that hasn’t evaporated, heavier snowfalls and early storms could set conditions for a 2020 with more flooding.  This year’s floods damaged at least $15 million worth of infrastructure and generated $3.8 million in federal flood insurance claims.

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Kansas City School District Increases Pay for Substitute Teachers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City school district is increasing the substitute teachers’ pay in a move to address a shortage that is plaguing classrooms around the metro.  Center School District Interim Superintendent Michael Weishaar said the district decided to raise its pay rate for substitutes from $100 a day to $110 over the summer. But the district decided to increase pay to $130 a day just a few months into the school year.  Weishaar noted that the number of available substitutes has dropped progressively over the last few years.  Center High School Principal Edward Tate said the lack of substitute teachers substantially burdens other teachers who then must fill in.  Steve Parker, a world history teacher at the school, noted that time is vital is for grading papers and making lesson plans.

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Fire-Damaged Kansas Tyson Plant to Resume Operations Soon

HOLCOMB, Kan. (AP) — A fire-damaged Tyson meat processing plant in Kansas is expected to resume operations in December.  Tyson announced Monday in a news release that reconstruction of the Holcomb plant is nearing completion. The company says it will begin processing beef again in the first week of December and be fully operational by the first week of January.  The fire started in August in an area of the plant near where animals are killed, causing part of the roof to collapse. Reconstruction included replacing support beams and the roof, as well as installing more than 50,000 feet of new wiring.  The plant employees about 1,200 people. The company says it continued to pay full-time workers during the shutdown.  Holcomb is located less than 10 miles west of Garden City.

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UMKC Says Removal of Controversial Artwork Was Planned

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City says the removal of a controversial work of art from the school’s fine arts building display was long planned and not a response to complaints.  The Kansas City Star reports the work is a statement on the current unrest in Hong Kong and features a depiction of an altered, torn Chinese flag, with yellow stars arranged to form a swastika. On the image is written “#CHINAZI.” The other half of the image depicts a yellow raincoat and gas mask with the words “FREE HONG KONG.”  Chinese students complained Thursday to the art department and asked that the piece be removed.  It was removed, but the university said Friday in a statement that student artwork is displayed on three-week cycles, and the piece had already been set for removal on Thursday.

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College Students Turn to "Adulting" Classes for Life Skills

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas college students are turning to workshops offered by their schools to learn basic living skills like how to change a tire or balance a checkbook.  Older generations might scoff at young people for not knowing how to complete such simple tasks. But educators say today’s college students grew up under intense pressure to pass college entrance exams and achieve high grade point averages — giving them little time to learn what some call “Adulting 101.”  The Kansas News Service reports hovering parents and a decline in the traditional home economics classes in high school contributed to the need for life skills workshops. Kansas State University offers a series of workshops that focus on car maintenance, food safety and conflict resolution. Wichita State offered a workshop on budgeting.

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Camel, Cow, Donkey Found Roaming Together Along Kansas Road

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have found the owners of a camel, cow and donkey that were spotted roaming together along a Kansas road in a grouping reminiscent of a Christmas Nativity scene.  Police in Goddard had asked for help over the weekend in a Facebook post locating the owners of the “three friends traveling together (towards a Northern star).” The post said that if police couldn’t find the owners, they would be “halfway toward a live nativity this Christmas season.” No details were provided about the owners. And no one was immediately available at the police department to answer questions. Amid the search, one poster inquired, “Are there 3 wise looking men near?” Another said, “who knows, they may lead you to the second coming.”  Goddard is about 15 miles west of Wichita.

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More Land Affected by Keystone Pipeline Leak than Originally Thought

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A crude oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in eastern North Dakota has turned out to have affected almost 10 times the amount of land as first reported, a state regulator said Monday. North Dakota environmental scientist Bill Suess said the leak reported on Oct. 29 is now estimated by state regulators to have affected about 209,100 square feet of land near Edinburg. State regulators had said the leak affected about 22,500 square feet of land. Calgary, Alberta-based TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, estimated its pipeline leaked an estimated 383,000 gallons of oil. Suess said that estimate has not changed. The cause of the spill is still unknown. An affected portion of the pipe has been sent to a third-party laboratory for inspection, as required by federal regulators. TC Energy said the pipeline returned to service on Nov. 10 after approval of a repair and restart plan by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The company has not given an estimate on the land that was affected, Suess said.  The company reported late Sunday that it had recovered about 337,550 gallons of oil, along with 141,834 gallons of oily water, Suess said. Cleanup crews and state regulators remained at the site on Monday. Some wetlands were affected, but not any sources of drinking water, he said. TC Energy has said people were at the site working around the clock to clean up the spill. Suess said the cleanup work was cut to daylight hours on Monday. The company has referred questions to its website but has not updated it in more than a week. TC Energy has put up berms around the affected area and is excavating contaminated soil from the entire site, at depths of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters), Suess said. The oily soil is being stockpiled and will be taken to a landfill in Sawyer, North Dakota, he said. Crude began flowing through the $5.2 billion pipeline in 2011. It’s designed to carry crude oil across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri on the way to refineries in Patoka, Illinois and Cushing, Oklahoma. It can handle about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) daily. It is part of a system that also is to include the proposed $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline designed to transport the oil from western Canada to terminals on the Gulf Coast. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has drawn opposition from people who fear it will cause environmental damage.

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Duke Climbs to No. 1 in AP Top 25; KU at No. 4

Duke is back at No. 1, moving up a spot following a pair of victories last week. The Blue Devils can thank Evansville for the jump. Duke moved to No. 1 for the first time this season, receiving 52 first-place votes from a 65-member media panel in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll released Monday. The Blue Devils climbed a spot after unranked Evansville pulled off the 2019-20 season’s biggest surprise so far by knocking off previous No. 1 Kentucky. Duke (4-0) crushed Central Arkansas 105-54 last Tuesday and beat Georgia State 74-63 Friday behind Tre Jones’s career-high 31 points. No. 2 Louisville received eight first-place votes and No. 3 Michigan State, the preseason No. 1, had four. Kansas and North Carolina rounded out the top five, with No. 7 Virginia receiving the final first-place vote, one spot behind Maryland.

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