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Headlines for Saturday, June 27, 2020

Sports, Bars Fuel Jump in Kansas COVID-19 Cases

MISSION, Kan. (KPR/AP) — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Kansas jumped by 568, fueled in part by outbreaks linked to bars and sports.  State health officials report 18 cases in four "sports clusters," including a boys basketball tournament in Wichita and a girls basketball tournament in Hays on June 20th and 21st, and an outbreak this week among the Kansas State University football team.  An uptick in cases in Shawnee County has been linked to a Topeka bar.  The Shawnee County Health Department says anyone who went to the Wild Horse Saloon June 19th or 20th is at risk of exposure.  The Douglas County Health Department reports that several cases have been linked to The Hawk June 19th and 20th.  Anyone who was either bar last weekend is asked to self-monitor for COVID-19.  Riley County health officials have also identified outbreaks at several locations in Manhattan's Aggieville.  Meanwhile, the University of Kansas men's basketball team is delaying its return to campus amid rising COVID-19 numbers across the state.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Jayhawks had originally planned to return to campus July 6th, but the team has pushed that back to July 19th.

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Kansas Governor, GOP Clash over COVID-19 Budget Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Laura Kelly is locked in another partisan dispute with the Republican-controlled Legislature over a new plan to largely paper over a massive budget shortfall with short-term accounting moves. Republican legislative leaders argued yesterday (FRI) that measures that Governor Laura Kelly’s budget director outlined to keep the next budget balanced only push most of the state’s financial problems off a year. The state is facing a big shortfall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Kelly is trying to avoid cuts in funding for public schools, social services and highway projects. The criticism showed that the partisan rancor is all but certain to continue into next year.

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KC Makes Masks Mandatory as COVID-19 Cases Rise

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City is making masks mandatory inside businesses and other places that are open to the public amid a growing number of confirmed coronavirus cases. Mayor Quinton Lucas said yesterday (FRI) that starting Monday, visitors and employees must wear masks when 6 feet of separation isn’t feasible. The requirement will remain in place until at least July 12th. The Kansas City Star reports that the KC metro area is reporting more than 200 new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row.  Missouri reported that the state had 19,914 confirmed cases as of Friday, up 16% from a week ago. The state also reported 990 deaths, an increase of 4% from last week.

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Kansas State Athletes, Officials Decry Student's Tweet

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University President Richard Myers says the school is considering its options after a student posted a tweet mocking the death of George Floyd. The tweet posted Thursday by sophomore Jaden McNeil drew the ire of several football players, including two who said they wouldn't play for Kansas State unless McNeil is removed from the university. McNeil is the founder of the conservative group America First Students and has been criticized for his past comments on Black Lives Matter. Myers said Friday that McNeil's divisive comments do not represent Kansas State's values.

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Prosecutors File More Charges against KU Professor

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A revised indictment accuses a Kansas researcher of defrauding the University of Kansas and the U.S. government by concealing work he was doing for China. The new indictment filed Thursday charges Feng “Franklin” Tao of Lawrence  with seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements. His defense attorney, Peter Zeidenbert, says Tao isn't guilty of the charges against him. The indictment alleges the purpose of the scheme was to benefit China by participating in its “talent plan,” which prosecutors say is designed to encourage the transfer of original ideas and intellectual property from U.S. university to Chinese government institutions.

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Protests Spark Move to Rename Iconic KC Fountain

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Protests in Kansas City over the death of George Floyd may lead the city to rename one of its most iconic sites, the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain near the Country Club Plaza. Nichols was a developer who transformed the Kansas City area in the early 1900s by building the upscale Plaza and thousands of homes in well-maintained subdivisions. But he used deed restrictions to keep Blacks, Jews and other minorities from buying his homes, helping create a racially separated city that remains to this day. In response to that history, the Kansas City Parks Commission is considering removing Nichols' name from the fountain and an adjacent parkway.

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Kansas Congressman Marshall Faces Attacks in GOP Senate Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas congressman running for the Senate has come under attack over a 12-year-old misdemeanor criminal case and for missing votes while treating coronavirus patients. The criticism of Representative Roger Marshall came during a Wednesday night debate in Wichita. Marshall sought to portray GOP primary rival Kris Kobach as an iffy prospect for the November general election. Kobach cited a 2008 criminal case in which the son of a Marshall business partner helped him get the charge changed from misdemeanor reckless driving to a lesser traffic infraction. When Kobach also criticized Marshall for missing votes, he said it was "about as low as you can get.”

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KU Leaders Challenge In-class Mandate

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Many department chairs at the University of Kansas are pushing back against the school’s plan to have classroom instruction in the fall, saying they should have the option to teach online. On Monday, a letter signed by 38 department signed heads was emailed to Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer after Chancellor Douglas Girod announced last week that the school would hold in-class sessions starting August 24th. KCUR-FM reported Thursday that another 14 have signed since then. Instructors can ask for an exemption from the requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which department heads call “impossibly unwieldy, discriminatory and perhaps illegal.”

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