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Headlines for Thursday, January 7, 2021

 

Kansas Congressional Delegation Condemns Storming of Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Members of the Kansas congressional delegation have condemned the storming of the U.S. Capitol by apparent supporters of President Donald Trump. They include Republicans who objected to the certification of Trump’s election loss. Republican Senator Roger Marshall called the violence in Washington “unreasonable,” and GOP Senator Jerry Moran deemed it “unpatriotic.” Republican Congressman Tracey Mann also called it unacceptable, and GOP Congressman Ron Estes said any violence is unacceptable. Republican Congressman Jake LaTurner said the violence was an “utter betrayal” of the right to assemble peacefully. The lone Democrat in the Kansas delegation is Congresswoman Sharice Davids.  She suggested Trump had encouraged “despicable behavior” and that he should immediately be removed from office.

(-Related-)

Missouri, Kansas Leaders Speak Out Against Chaos, Violence in U.S. Capitol

UNDATED, (AP/KPR) — Republican and Democratic leaders in Kansas and Missouri have been speaking out against rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Missouri's GOP Governor, Mike Parson, decried the violence in Washington, D.C., calling out angry supporters of President Trump for breaking the law and occupying the Capitol in a violent and chaotic protest.  Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley and others called for an end to the violence.  Republican and Democratic leaders from both states issued statements saying the violence is unacceptable. The Missouri House held a moment of silence, and the top Missouri Senate Democrat canceled a press conference. The top House Democrat says the upheaval is an affront to democracy. The Missouri Legislature is already in session.  The Kansas legislative session begins next week.

Lone Kansas Democrat in Congress Calls for President Trump's Removal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The lone Democrat in the Kansas congressional delegation is calling for President Donald Trump's removal from office. Rep. Sharice Davids made her comments in tweets after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday and interrupted the certification of Trump's election loss. Davids called late Wednesday on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump from office under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and make Pence acting president. Davids tweeted that Trump should be impeached over what she called the "failed insurrection" in Washington but said there wasn't enough time before he leaves office January 20.  Davids said earlier that Trump had encouraged the mob violence.

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About 200 Trump Supporters Stage Rally at Kansas Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — About 200 supporters of President Donald Trump rallied at the Kansas Statehouse to show their support for overturning President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Trump’s supporters listened Wednesday to speeches promoting Trump’s claims about election fraud and suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic has been exaggerated. They chanted “stop the steal” and “four more years."  Dozens of them later entered the building peacefully through its security checkpoint and some stayed for another hour. Capitol police reported no arrests. The permitted protest was expected and came the same day the certification of the Democratic president-elect's Electoral College victory was interrupted when protesters stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol building in Washington.

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UPDATE: Kansas Moves People 65+ up in Line for COVID-19 Vaccinations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas expects to finish giving COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents and health care workers by the end of this month and has moved people aged 65 and older into the next group to receive the shots. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday announced new details about the order in which her state’s residents will be eligible for inoculations, and making people aged 65 to 74 years an earlier priority was the biggest shift. The state’s previous plan had that age group getting their vaccines after people in “congregate” living, such as state hospitals, shelters for the homeless, and prisons.

(– earlier reporting –)

Details to Come on Who in Kansas Will Get Virus Vaccine Next

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas could finish giving COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents and health care workers by the end of this month. A draft plan that Gov. Laura Kelly planned to release Thursday shows the next phase of the vaccine rollout likely will include people 75 and older and those living in group settings such as prisons. Also included will be critical workers including firefighters, law enforcement, meatpacking employees, grocery store workers and teachers. The third phase is expected to include people 65 and older and those with severe underlying health problems. People with less serious health problems will likely fall into the fourth phase. The fifth group will include everyone else.

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Kansas Congressman Jake LaTurner Tests Positive for COVID-19

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Congressman Jake LaTurner tested positive for COVID-19 while participating in a joint session of Congress that certified President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College.  LaTurner's office tweeted early Thursday that the freshman Republican "is not experiencing any symptoms at this time."  LaTurner had voted to object to the counting of Arizona's electoral votes for Biden, but his tweet said he was following the advice of the House physician and federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines and not returning to the House floor for other votes.  LaTurner took office Sunday, representing the 2nd District of eastern Kansas.   

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COVID-19 Caseload in Kansas Exceeds 235,000; Virus-Related Deaths Top 3,000

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The Kansas Department of Health reported Wednesday that there have been 236,818 cases of COVID-19, including 3,027 deaths, since the pandemic began. That's an increase of 5,501 cases and 130 deaths since Monday. KDHE will release another update Friday.   

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Kansas City Area Doctors Urge Black Residents to Get Vaccine

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group of Kansas City area health care experts are urging Black residents to overcome their hesitations and get the COVID-19 vaccine. Kansas City's Black Health Care Coalition and and a team of Black medical professionals are working to persuade about 45,000 Blacks in the metro area that the vaccine is the best way to slow the pandemic. During an online briefing Monday, Dr. Nevada Lee, who practices in Leawood, Kansas, said many Blacks are skeptical of the vaccine. But she noted Blacks are more likely to contract COVID-19 and more likely to die from it, in part because of a lack of access to medical care.

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GOP Sees Privacy as Key as Kansas Legislature Debates Contact Tracing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Republican legislators and the GOP attorney general in Kansas say privacy is key, as lawmakers prepare to decide whether to rewrite a law that allows people exposed to COVID-19 to refuse to disclose their close contacts to health officials. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly wants legislators to rewrite the law enacted last year, arguing recently that provisions allowing people to opt out of contact tracing "served no purpose."  Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature aren't ruling out changes, but some say they want to make sure people's privacy remains protected. The law is set to expire May 1.

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Two-Fifths of Missouri COVID-19 Deaths Took Place in Last 2 Months

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Two-fifths of all of Missouri’s COVID-19 deaths were reported in the last two months of 2020. The state health department says 2,369 deaths were reported in November and December. That’s about 41% of the 5,825 deaths attributed to the virus since March. The death toll grew by 263 on Tuesday, largely because a weekly review of death certificates from around the state found 250 connected to the virus that had not previously been reported. Also Tuesday, the state reported 2,632 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 405,589 since the onset of the pandemic. Coronavirus hospitalizations remain at concerning levels.

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Police: Man Shot to Death Wednesday in South Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City say a man has been shot to death on the city's south side. The shooting happened around 10 pm Wednesday, when officers were called to 115th Street and Holmes Road. Arriving officers found a man suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken by paramedics to a hospital, where he died. Police say a second man with gunshot wounds showed up at the hospital shortly after the first victim. Officials say he was in critical condition Wednesday night. The names of those shot were not immediately released. Authorities say the death marked Kansas City's first homicide of 2021.

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2 Arrested in Double Homicide in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people have been arrested in a double homicide in Wichita. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Lt. Benjamin Blick says deputies took 34-year-old Joshua Dean Halstead and 28-year-old Jacquellyn Michelle Arthur into custody Wednesday in Wichita. They have been booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the December 29 shooting. Forty-three-year-old Bradley Michael Reece died at the scene. The other victim, 22-year-old Kayla Schmidt, was taken to a hospital, where she died on New Year's Eve.

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Kansas City Police Pay $725,000 Excessive Force Settlement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police will pay $725,000 to settle an excessive force complaint filed after a teenager was injured when a police sergeant allegedly put a knee on the back of his neck during an arrest. Court documents say the teenager was on his knees and not resisting when Sgt. Matthew Neal forced his knee on the teenager's neck. The teenager suffered bruising and broken teeth in the November 2019 confrontation. He was never charged with a crime arising from the confrontation. Neal was indicted in August on a third-degree assault charge. He has pleaded not guilty. The Kansas City Star reported the settlement amount Friday.

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Topeka Fire Officials: 2 Injured, 1 Critically, in Blaze

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Fire officials in Topeka say a woman suffered life-threatening injuries in a Wednesday house fire that also injured another person. The Topeka Fire Department says in a news release that fire crews were called to the home just after 3 am Wednesday. Arriving firefighters found heavy smoke and flames coming from the home and learned that someone was trapped inside. Firefighters found a woman unresponsive inside, carried her outside and started life-saving efforts. She was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries. A man who escaped the flames before firefighters arrived was taken to the hospital for injuries not believed to be life-threatening. Their names were not immediately released.

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Lawyer: New Kansas Lawmaker Reaches Deal to End Court Order

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney says an incoming Kansas lawmaker who faced a possible attempt to oust him once he took office has reached a legal agreement with a woman accusing him of harassment to end an anti-stalking court order against him. The order entered by a state court judge last month against Rep.-elect Aaron Coleman of Kansas City, Kansas, was a key reason for the potential attempt by fellow Democrats to expel the 20-year-old. Attorney Barry Grissom represents the woman who accused Coleman of harassing her last year and sent The Associated Press a statement Wednesday saying the two settled her civil lawsuit that led to the judge’s no-contact restraining order.

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Kansas State Considers Online Start to Semester Due to Virus

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is warning that the spring semester could begin online because the coronavirus continues to rage in the surrounding community and statewide. President Richard Myers said this week that indicators the university monitors to make decisions are “not moving in a positive direction.” Statewide, the number of cases has risen by 5,501 from Monday to 236,818, and the number of deaths jumped by 130 to 3,027. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Kansas has administered 20,110 vaccine shots, or 690 for every 100,000 residents, making it the only state to inoculate fewer than 700 residents out of every 100,000.

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Wichita Diverts COVID Grant to Police Anti-Cheating Software

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council is diverting COVID-19 grant funding intended for hiring a pandemic-control officer and is instead using it to lease software that ensures police officers don’t cheat on their training. The Wichita Eagle reports that in May the council earmarked about $250,000 to hire an emergency management coordinator to manage the police department’s response to the pandemic. Police told the council Tuesday that they were unable to fill the position and wanted to divert $165,000 of the funds to lease for three years software that will track officers’ training online. That is a capability the department has sought for years.

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Manhattan to Rename Street Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan city officials have approved a move to rename a city street Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The Mercury reports that city commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved renaming 17th Street, which runs from Fort Riley Boulevard to Claflin Road, in honor of the late iconic civil rights activist. The city estimates finalizing the street change within 90 days. City administrators will create an ordinance for commissioners to review and notify those with an address change. The change will affect approximately 43 addresses and 10 buildings on the Kansas State University campus.

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Lawrence Neighborhood Named After Slave Owner Plans to Change Name

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence neighborhood bearing the name of a slave owner plans to change the name. The Pinckney Neighborhood Association said it is taking suggestions for a new name for the neighborhood named for either Charles Pinckney or Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. They were cousins who had successful political careers in the late 1700s and early 1800s but also supported slavery. Neighborhood association president Bart Littlejohn said residents began discussing the name change after racial injustice demonstrations this summer. The neighborhood hopes to begin voting on the change this spring.

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Flood Risk Appears Lower on Missouri River at Start of 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The risk for flooding along the Missouri River appears lower than normal headed into the year because the ground remains dry across most of the region and snowpack levels are generally below average. Officials with the Corps of Engineers and National Weather Service cautioned Thursday that it is still early in the year and conditions can change. But currently it appears that 2021 will be somewhat drier and only about 90% of the normal amount of water is expected to flow down the Missouri River. That is welcome news for areas along the river where levees damaged during 2019′s flooding are still waiting to be repaired.

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Sporting KC Re-Signs Veteran Midfielder Roger Espinoza

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sporting Kansas City re-signed midfielder Roger Espinoza for a 12th season with the MLS club. The 34-year-old Espinoza has led Sporting KC to seven playoff appearances and three U.S. Open championships during one of the longest tenures in club history. He ranks third with 301 appearances over two separate stints with the club, and he is fifth in both starts with 271 and minutes with more than 24,000. He also has scored 12 goals with 41 assists.

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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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