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Headlines for Monday, September 7, 2020

 

Coronavirus Cases Spike in Kansas College Town

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Active coronavirus cases in the Kansas State University area spiked more than 400% since classes resumed in mid-August.  The Manhattan Mercury reported Sunday that active cases in Riley County increased from 125 on August 17 — the first day of classes — to 679 as of Friday.  Cumulative cases in Riley County went up almost 135%, from 500 to 1,174 in the same time period.  The newspaper reported that the local health department declared virus outbreaks at three fraternities, six sororities and the college football team. There are 20 active cases at one fraternity.  The Riley County Health Department canceled permits for all September events at sorority and fraternity houses.  

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UPDATE: KU Student Group Stages Strike to Protest Campus Opening

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A group of University of Kansas students went on a strike from classes on Monday to protest the opening of the campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Kansas held classes on Labor Day due to a modified academic calendar amid the pandemic, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. The student organization Jayhawker Liberation Front publicized the strike in tandem with a petition calling for the closure of campus due to the virus spread. Kansas health officials reported on Monday four new coronavirus-related deaths and 1,694 new cases of COVID-19 in the state since Friday.

(–Earlier Reporting–)

KU Student Group Demands Campus Close Amid Pandemic; Also Wants to End Capitalism

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A student group at the University of Kansas is calling for a strike as reported coronavirus cases on campus number nearly 550.  Jayhawker Liberation Front, a student-run club, is calling on students to stay home from their classes on Labor Day Monday, to demand that the campus move to remote learning.  "Our institutions have failed us," the club leaders tweeted. "(The University of Kansas) has put profits over the people. Enough is enough."  As of Thursday, the university reported 546 cases after testing 22,563 people, which included all students, faculty and staff, ahead of the start of the semester. This makes for a positive test rate of 2.42% at the onset of the semester. University officials have said they plan to continue with more targeted testing of smaller groups as the semester continues.  KU Chancellor Doug Girod has said it is "unlikely" campus will close in the future.  Jayhawker Liberation Front leaders posted on Twitter: "Students have asked for more protection. Faculty/staff have voiced fears."  They said the university has ignored these pleas.  The group, which describes itself as "a club working for the liberation of people through the dismantling of capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy at KU and beyond," is also asking students to sign a petition demanding that the campus close.  As of Sunday afternoon, more than 500 people had signed the petition.

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Kansas Reports Nearly 47,000 COVID-19 Cases, 485 Deaths Since Start of Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas health officials say the state has recorded close to 47,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  The Department of Health and Environment reported Monday that there are now 46,914 cases, including 485 deaths. Coronavirus cases have been reported in every Kansas county.  Updates are released Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on KDHE's coronavirus webpage. Another update is expected Wednesday.

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Missouri Adds 77 COVID-19 Deaths; Most Aren't Recent

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri added 77 COVID-19 related deaths to its total Saturday, most of which occurred weeks or months ago. The state’s Department of Health and Senior Services blamed technical issues in a tweet for the spike that brought the state’s total number of deaths since the pandemic began to 1,639. The newly reported deaths included five that occurred over the past 24 hours, with the bulk occurring from June to August. Health officials said more deaths that were identified through this evaluation would be added to the total on Sunday.

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Investigators Examining Wichita's Handling of Records

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are examining the city of Wichita’s handling of records after a complaint by a founder of a group seeking to save the Century II Convention and Performing Arts Center. The Wichita Eagle reports that group's leader says she’s gotten what she believes to be incorrect and incomplete information in response to requests she’s filed in her campaign to save the facility from potential demolition as part of a redevelopment project. City Treasurer Mark Manning acknowledged there are errors, but said they were inadvertent clerical mistakes and the money actually went where it was supposed to go.

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Fire Damages Downtown Topeka Building

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a downtown Topeka building sustained about $1,000 in damage when a fire that was apparently intentionally set in a pile of debris behind it spread to the rear of the building. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports no one was hurt. Firefighters responding to the 7:30 p.m. Sunday call arrived to find smoke and flames coming from the rear of the two-story building. No working smoke detectors were found in the building.

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ACLU Drops Lawsuit Alleging Agency's Retaliatory Complaint

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has dropped its lawsuit that accused a former lawyer for the state utilities regulating agency of filing a baseless, retaliatory complaint against two environmental activists. A joint stipulation of dismissal was filed Monday, with the parties agreeing to bear their own costs and fees. Last month, U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter gutted the ACLU's lawsuit by finding that members of the Kansas Corporation Commission are immune from liability, leaving only the former general counselor as a defendant. The lawsuit contends he filed a bogus consumer protection complaint in 2018 against two activists protesting injection well applications.

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Kansas City Police: 2 Hit While Pushing Out-of-Gas Vehicle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say two people have been hospitalized after being hit by an SUV while pushing their car to a gas station. A police spokeswoman told the Kansas City Star that the driver and a passenger were pushing their SUV Sunday after it ran out of gas. While they were pushing, a silver Chevy Traverse SUV struck them from behind. The driver abandoned the Traverse in the road and fled. The passenger has been hospitalized with serious injuries. The driver was hospitalized with injuries that are not life-threatening.

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2 Men Die in Exchange of Gunfire in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say two men died in an exchange of gunfire in Kansas City, Kansas.  Police said in a news release that the shooting happened Friday night in an alley beyond a home. One man in his 50s died at the scene, and another man in his 20s died later at a hospital.  The Kansas City Star reports that the men were shooting at one another for unknown reasons and no one else was involved in the shooting. Police have not yet released the men's names.

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Judge Recommends Dismissal in Missouri Duck Boat Case

A federal magistrate judge has recommended that criminal charges be dismissed against three men indicted over a duck boat sinking on a Missouri lake that killed 17 people two summers ago. KCUR reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge David Rush concluded Friday that charges should be dismissed because Table Rock Lake, where the boat sank in a storm, is not considered a navigable waterway under admiralty law. A 47-count indictment unsealed in June 2019 accused the general manager of the boat’s operator, Ride the Ducks Branson, and the manager on duty with a variety of neglect and misconduct charges. An earlier indictment charged the boat’s captain with failure to properly assess incoming weather before launching.

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Judge Won’t Let Kansas High School Golfers Play While Lawsuit Proceeds

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Five high school golfers who sued after their suburban Kansas City districts put the brakes on fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic have failed to convince a judge to let them play while the case works its way through the courts.  The Kansas City Star reports that the golfers, all girls, and their parents sued the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley school districts, arguing that they should be allowed to play because golf poses a lower risk of spreading the virus than other sports.  Blue Valley officials on Friday, though, announced the district would resume high school sports.  Attorney John Duggan, who is representing the families, was not immediately available to comment on how Blue Valley’s decision will affect the lawsuit.

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18-year-old Rhino Dies Unexpectedly at Wichita Zoo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An 18-year-old black rhinoceros named Klyde has died unexpectedly at Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo. The zoo said in a Facebook post that the zookeepers reported that Klyde appeared healthy when he went on exhibit Saturday but then collapsed. Staff was not able to be revive him. The veterinary team plans to perform a necropsy to learn more about Klyde’s health and a potential cause of death. The zoo post described Klyde as having a “gentle demeanor and sweet personality.” The zoo also posted a video that showed guests hand-feeding Klyde.

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State Bird Among Species Disappearing from Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (Wichita Eagle) - The U.S. is losing its bird population, to the tune of 3 billion since the 1970s, and Kansas is no different, but the answer as to which bird species Kansas is missing and why they’re leaving is more complicated.  The Wichita Eagle reports some birds are changing their range due to climate change and other factors, while others are leaving the state as their habitat disappears, in search of it elsewhere.  Local experts say that 11 species of birds have decreased in number or nearly disappeared altogether over the past 25 years. They suspect there may be more.  “We don’t have enough measures and a long enough period of measures to accurately document it,” said Chuck Otte, the secretary of the Kansas Bird Records Committee. “We know the situation is dire. We just don’t know how dire it is...It’s me having been a birdwatcher for 60 years saying ‘there aren’t nearly as many warblers migrating through as there were 20-30 years ago.’ It’s anecdotal, not hard science.” Birds account for 15% of all endangered species in the U.S., the second largest animal group after fish, according to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  There are many reasons for bird populations decline, such as habitat loss, pesticide use, invasive species of plants and animals, feral and outdoor cats, industry practices and climate change.  (Read more about this story.)

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Kansas Appeals Court Upholds Charge in Self-Checkout Machine Windfall

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Appeals Court has upheld the theft conviction of a man who repeatedly returned to a Walmart self-checkout machine that was mistakenly spitting out $20 bills instead of $1 bills, eventually receiving nearly $500 in extra change, The Wichita Eagle report that a three-judge panel wrote Friday in its ruling rejecting Nicholas Ryan Morris’ appeal that “Sometimes, things are too good to be true.” Morris’ conviction for theft of property delivered by mistake stems from a January 2019 shopping trip in which he discovered a self-checkout machine at the Walmart in Wellington was giving incorrect change.

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Several People Shot, Injured at Kansas City Park
 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Police are investigating a Sunday night shooting that left several people injured at Swope Park in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports all the injuries were described as non-life threatening and no arrests have been made. Police say five victims arrived at a nearby hospital while they were enroute to the scene and another victim drove home and called police from their residence. 

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Big Catfish Tournament to Launch in Atchison

ATCHISON, Kan. (St. Joseph News-Press) - A long-standing Kansas fishing club is scheduled to host its last catfish tournament of the season this month on the Missouri River.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the PBSS Flathead Club, which was organized by local fishermen in northeast Kansas, is scheduled to launch the tournament from the Atchison boat ramp on September 26.  The club was organized more than 25 years ago by founding members Ray Lee Whetstine of Highland, Kansas, and Roger Whetstine of Troy, Kansas, and is one of the longest-running in the region.  The next event will be a catfish day tournament from 7 am to 5 pm on September 26. Spectators can watch the catfish weigh-in at 5 pm free of charge at Independence Park.  The rules allow for up to two people per boat to register. However, a team can have a third member who is 16 years old or younger or anyone older than 60.  Registration will begin at 5:30 am the day of the event.  The entry fee is $120.

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

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