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Headlines for Monday, October 23, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

US Attorney's Office Stops Cooperating in Recordings Probe

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the investigation of prison recordings at a federal facility in Leavenworth:

4 p.m.

The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas has declined to comment on a court-appointed official's report that the federal office is no longer cooperating with an investigation into the taping of attorney-client meetings at a federal detention center. Jim Cross, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Tom Beall, says the office does not comment on pending litigation. Special Master David R. Cohen said in a report obtained by KCUR Radio that he received a 24-page letter last month from the U.S. attorney's office stating that it will no longer provide him with information and documents as part of his investigation of claims involving at the Leavenworth Detention Center. The decision may heighten suspicions that the U.S. attorney's office is concealing information about the tapings from criminal defense lawyers, many of whom have filed motions to dismiss cases on the grounds that the Sixth Amendment rights of clients were violated.

2:10 p.m.

The special master looking into the taping of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial detention facility in Leavenworth, Kansas, says in a new report that the U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas is no longer cooperating with the investigation. Special Master David R. Cohen says in a report obtained by KCUR Radio that he received a 24-page letter last month from the U.S. attorney's office stating that it will no longer provide him with information and documents he seeks. A message on Monday seeking comment from the U.S. attorney's office was not immediately returned. The decision may heighten suspicions that the office is concealing information about tapings from criminal defense lawyers, many of whom have filed motions to dismiss cases on the grounds that clients' constitutional rights were violated.


2 University of Kansas Students Arrested on Rape Accusations

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Police say two University of Kansas students have been arrested on suspicion of rape at a KU residence hall. Campus police made the arrests Saturday. KU Police Deputy Chief James Anguiano said in a news release that a female student reported she was sexually assaulted by two acquaintances, at different times, early Saturday in her room at Cora Downs Residence Hall. Anguiano says the suspects were taken to the Douglas County Jail following interviews and an investigation. Jail booking logs show that two 19-year-old men were booked on suspicion of rape.  No other details were immediately available.


Kansas Unemployment Rate Dropped in September

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas reports that its unemployment rate dropped slightly to 3.8 percent in September but the state saw a small decline in the number of private-sector jobs over the previous year. The state Department of Labor says the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month was lower than August's rate of 3.9 percent and the 4.3 percent rate for September 2016. Monthly unemployment rates this year have remained below those for last year. But the number of private-sector, non-farm jobs was 5,000 lower in September than in September 2016. The decrease was 0.4 percent. It was the sixth consecutive month with lower private-sector job numbers than in 2016. But Department of Labor officials say the state is maintaining a healthy labor market that was stronger in September than in August.


Kansas Lawmakers Study Insurance Payments for Telemedicine

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering whether insurance companies should be required to pay health care providers the same amount for telemedicine services as for in-person visits. A committee studying the issue is expected to make recommendations to the Legislature before its 2018 session begins in January. Advocates believe greater use of telemedicine could increase access to health care in rural areas. Director Eve-Lynn Nelson of the Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth at the University of Kansas Medical Center said telemedicine can reduce costs and make providers more productive. But Insurance company lobbyists say primary care physicians are paid more because they're expected to continue managing a patient's care rather than the one-time service generally offered with telemedicine.


Medicaid Director Leaving as Kansas Prepares Extension Bid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas official overseeing the state's privatized Medicaid program is departing as the state prepares to ask the federal government to extend the program past 2018. The Department of Health and Environment has announced that Mike Randol will step down as Medicaid director. Spokeswoman Angela de Rocha could not say exactly when Randol will leave. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that KDHE Secretary Susan Mosier praised Randol's service to the Medicaid program. He has been director since 2012. The announcement of Randol's departure came the same day KDHE announced that it would wait until next week to release its plan for the privatized Medicaid program going forward. The release date had been Friday. But de Rocha said the delay was tied to legal issues and not Randol's departure.


Kansas Agriculture Community Divided over Livestock Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas agriculture community has been divided over a decision by the Trump administration to block new livestock rules from taking effect. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture had proposed the rules that were scheduled to go into effect Thursday. The new rules were intended to protect poultry producers from unfair commercial practices by food processing giants like Tyson Foods. Republican Senator Pat Roberts praised the decision to block the rules. He says the decision promotes economic prosperity and reduces regulatory burdens in the agricultural community. But some groups disapprove of the decision. An official with the Organization for Competitive Markets says the block favors large agricultural corporations and hurts farmers and ranchers.


Members Criticize Trump Voting Commission for Lack of Transparency

WASHINGTON (AP) -  President Trump's advisory commission on election integrity has integrity questions of its own — with some of its own members raising concerns about its openness. This past week, two members fired off letters to commission staff complaining about a lack of information about the panel's agenda and demanding answers about its activities. That comes as Democratic U.S. senators are requesting a government investigation of the commission for ignoring formal requests from Congress. The commissioners' criticism was remarkable because it came from the very people who are supposed to be privy to the commission's internal discussions and plans. One commissioner, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, wrote that he feels — quote — "completely uninformed" about the commission's activities. A commissioner from Alabama, Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan L. King, says he sent a similar letter.


Voting Advocates Push for States to Leave Multistate Voter Database

CHICAGO (AP) - Voter rights advocates are pushing election officials in Illinois and other states to withdraw from a multistate voter registration database over questions of accuracy, security and voter suppression. They're also raising fresh questions about Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the head of the program who's also helping run President Trump's voter fraud commission. Kobach says the database provides information not available elsewhere and can be a valuable tool. But critics are urging states to take another look. Now, more than two dozen Illinois state lawmakers are supporting the effort to have Illinois withdraw. Their push comes as Trump's commission asks states for voter information while investigating unsubstantiated claims that millions voted illegally in 2016.


Kansas Author's New Book Examines Future of Rural Churches

MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas pastor has written a book that focuses on what rural churches can and must do to stay alive. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Brad Roth is a pastor at West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge. He says his experiences in rural settings and his career in ministry led him to write his first book, "God's Country: Faith, Hope and the Future of the Rural Church." Roth says the way for rural churches to thrive is to make sure the community surrounding it thrives too. He says this is the case because rural churches are located in areas without a continual influx of new residents. Roth emphasizes church involvement in the community, including through nonprofits. He says it's vital for churches to involve themselves into the lives of communities.


Shootings Prompt Increased Security at Lawrence Venue 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A large downtown entertainment venue in Lawrence is ramping up security in the wake of recent fatal shootings nearby. All people attending events at Liberty Hall must now pass by handheld metal detectors to enter. The venue already prohibited guns, large bags and purses. Three people were killed and two others injured on October 1 in the city's downtown entertainment district, following an altercation. Liberty Hall general manager Dean Edington says the venue wants to make sure that everyone there feels welcome and safe. He says the "world that we live in" requires more stringent security measures.


Man Who Popularized Cowboy Culture is Remembered in Wichita 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More than a century after Joseph McCoy's death, people in Wichita celebrate the life of the man who made the cowboy an American icon. Historians, cowboys and musicians came together Sunday to honor the Illinois livestock trader buried on October 22, 1915, at Wichita's Maple Grove Cemetery. McCoy had the idea 150 years ago of driving cattle from near San Antonio north into Oklahoma and then on to Kansas to rail hubs. Jim Gray, director of the National Drovers Hall of Fame in Ellsworth, says McCoy was the man responsible for much of what is considered the cowboy heritage.


KCK Man Pleads Guilty in Death of 4-Year-Old Daughter 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of his 4-year-old daughter. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Devondre Sanders was scheduled to go to trial Monday but instead entered the guilty pleas. Sentencing is set for December 15. The child, Honesty Sanders, died in May 2016. Officers tried to save her with CPR, but she never regained consciousness and died at a hospital. Sanders's 24-year-old girlfriend, Sierra Mitchell, is also charged in the case and is scheduled for trial in March.


Kansas and Missouri's "Showdown For Relief" Raises Millions for Hurricane Relief

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas University and the University of Missouri finally got back together on the basketball court, teaming to raise money for hurricane relief in a "Showdown for Relief" exhibition in Kansas City. KU's Devonte' Graham scored 25 points in the Jayhawks' 93-87 victory. The last time Kansas and Missouri met in basketball was in 2012, before the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC and Jayhawks coach Bill Self swore off renewing the Border War despite decades of history and tradition. Five years later, though, in an effort to raise money for hurricane relief organizations, Kansas and Missouri squared off in the "Showdown for Relief" exhibition Sunday at the Sprint Center. While the additional game will certainly serve as valuable experience for the teams as they prepare for the start of the regular season, both sides stressed that the true importance of the matchup rested in raising the highest amount of money possible. Kansas State and Missouri State played a similar game Saturday in Manhattan, in which all proceeds went to the Red Cross' disaster relief.

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