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Headlines for Thursday, July 26, 2018

ACLU Attacks May Help Kobach Win GOP Nod for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attacks on Kris Kobach by the American Civil Liberties Union in the Kansas governor's race are giving the in-your-face conservative a message to hammer home in the Republican primary. Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state and has made the ACLU a political foil for years in championing some of the toughest state voter identification policies in the nation. And in response to a $200,000 campaign against him ahead of the state's August 7 primary, Kobach portrays the ACLU as having endorsed Republican Governor Jeff Colyer. The group has become more visible in election campaigns nationally but has said it's not endorsing a candidate. Colyer's campaign sees desperation in Kobach's tactics. But Kobach's campaign is using the ACLU's attacks to rouse its supporters.

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3 Suburban Kansas City Officers Resign over Ticket Inquiry

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say three suburban Kansas City police officers have resigned and more than 200 traffic tickets dismissed after an internal investigation into false seat belt citations.  The Kansas City Star reports that Overland Park, Kansas, police Chief Frank Donchez Jr. says the officers overlooked traffic violations like speeding and instead cited motorists for not wearing seat belts when they'd actually been buckled up. He says he doesn't know what motivated the officers, suggesting that perhaps they were "cutting someone a break."  He says the officers turned off their dash camera audio, possibly to hide their actions.  Not all of the 200 citations were false. But Donchez says all of the seat belt tickets by those officers have been dismissed. Some $4,000 has been refunded to motorists who had already paid.

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Trump, European Union Leaders Pull Back from Trade War

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and European leaders pulled back from the brink of a trade war over autos Wednesday and agreed to open talks to tear down trade barriers between the United States and the European Union.  But the agreement was vague, the coming negotiations with Europe are sure to be contentious and the United States remains embroiled in major trade disputes with China and other trading partners.  In a hastily called Rose Garden appearance with Trump, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.S. and the EU have agreed to hold off on new tariffs, suggesting that the United States will suspend plans to start taxing European auto imports — a move that would have marked a major escalation in trade tensions between the allies.  Trump also said the EU had agreed to buy "a lot of soybeans" and increase its imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. And the two agreed to resolve a dispute over U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump has also imposed tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports — a figure he has threatened to raise to $500 billion — in a dispute over Beijing's aggressive drive to supplant U.S. technological dominance.  China has counterpunched with tariffs on American products, including soybeans and pork — a shot at Trump supporters in the U.S. heartland.  The EU is stepping in to ease some of U.S. farmers' pain. Juncker said the EU "can import more soybeans from the U.S., and it will be done."
Mary Lovely, a Syracuse University economist who studies trade, said, "The Chinese are not going to be buying our soybeans, so almost by musical chairs our soybeans are going to Europe." The trouble is, China last year imported $12.3 billion in U.S. soybeans, the EU just $1.6 billion.

Trump's announcement stunned lawmakers who arrived at the White House ready to unload concerns over the administration's trade policies only to be quickly ushered into Rose Garden for what the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee called "quite a startling" development.  "I think everybody sort of changed what they were going to say," said Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts.

Lawmakers said they still needed to see details of the agreement with the EU as well as progress on the other deals. But they said the breakthrough announcement was a step in the right direction.

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Kansas Congressional Candidate's Dad Commits $400,000 for Ads

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The political action committee operated by the father of congressional candidate Steve Watkins will spend $400,000 on ads for his campaign as the August primary approaches.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kansans Can Do Anything PAC was formed by Steven Watkins, who is a Topeka physician.  Federal records released Wednesday show the super PAC, which isn't limited by campaign contribution limits, has reported total contributions of $587,000 and expenditures of $469,000.  The younger Watkins is one of seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 2nd District seat.  Other GOP candidates in the 2nd District are Sen. Caryn Tyson, of Parker; former Rep. Doug Mays, of Topeka; Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, of Leavenworth; Rep. Kevin Jones, of Wellsville; Sen. Dennis Pyle, of Hiawatha; and Vernon Fields, a member of the Basehor City Council.

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Affidavit:  Toddlers Playing with Gun Led to Fatal Shooting

 LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A newly released police affidavit says two Lawrence toddlers were briefly left alone before one of them was fatally shot.  One-year-old Autumn Grace Smith was killed in September 2017 at her family's home in Lawrence. Her father, 32-year-old Chance Smith, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated endangerment of a child.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Autumn and a 2-year-old were at the home. According to the affidavit, Smith told police he left the toddlers watching TV for 5 to 10 minutes to let his dogs out and smoke a cigarette. When he returned, he found the boy crying and Autumn in his bedroom injured. He said he usually kept the gun in the closet but the night before had placed it under his bed's mattress.  
    
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No Charges in Fatal Wichita Crash During Funeral Procession

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Pizza Hut driver in a fatal accident involving a woman waiting for a funeral procession will in Wichita will not face felony charges. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says his office found insufficient evidence to file charges in the February crash that killed 59-year-old Karen Capps and injured her 86-year-old mother.  The Wichita Eagle reports the driver, 31-year-old Courtney Clodfelter, could still face traffic-related charges. Police say Karen Capps and her mother, Jaunita Capps, had just left Resthaven cemetery and were stopped on the side of a road waiting for a funeral procession to pass when they were hit by a Pizza Hut minivan driven by Clodfelter.  The impact pushed the women's vehicle into an electric pole, killing Karen Capps at the site. 

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Arkansas Man Convicted in Kansas Man's Death in Missouri

SIKESTON, Mo. (AP) — An Arkansas man has been convicted of participating in the killing of a Kansas man in Missouri.
Ronnie Carl Robinson Sr., of Little Rock, Arkansas, was found guilty this week of second-degree murder in the death of Larry Weaver, of Pittsburg.  The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports Weaver's body was found July 2, 2016, in a field about seven miles from a hotel where he was staying in Sikeston, Missouri.  Surveillance video shows three suspects driving away that night with Weaver's Harley Davidson motorcycle. Investigators said Weaver came out of the hotel room and jumped onto the truck's trailer to try and prevent the theft. Witnesses said Weaver and Robinson later fought and Weaver was left in the field.  Larenzle Coleman and his wife, Elsie Coleman-Hamilton, are awaiting trial on murder charges.

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Court Overturns "Stand Your Ground" Defense in Wichita Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals says a Wichita man should not have been allowed to use a "Stand Your Ground" defense to avoid trial in the stabbing death of a Wichita woman.  The court overturned a decision by a district judge who dismissed second-degree murder and other charges against 38-year-old Seth Collins. In its ruling Friday, the court said a jury, not a judge, should decide whether Collins' actions were justified in the April 2016 confrontation.  The Wichita Eagle reports Collins acknowledged stabbing 22-year-old Kayla Brown to death and injuring another woman during a fight that began over a parking spot at a Wichita apartment complex.  The law allows attack victims to use deadly force if they reasonably believe it's necessary to protect themselves from death or great bodily harm.

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Kansas Ordered to Turn over Materials About Adidas, Recruit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Newly released records show that a federal grand jury ordered the University of Kansas this year to turn over communications between its men's basketball coaches and at least one prospective student-athlete.  The grand jury also demanded copies of any agreements with apparel manufacturer Adidas and communications between the coaches and Adidas representatives.  Its two subpoenas were part of a nationwide investigation of alleged bribes and kickbacks in recruiting that has entangled multiple schools.  University of Kansas spokesman Andy Hyland said Wednesday that the subpoenas do not suggest wrongdoing by Kansas and it is cooperating.  The university released redacted copies Tuesday of a New York grand subpoena from January and another from March.  Each subpoena covers documents "regarding the recruitment and an enrollment" of a person whose name is redacted.

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Kansas City Doctors Donate $11,000 to Patient Medical Debt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group of Kansas City-area doctors have donated about $11,000 to help pay off medical bills for hundreds of patients in Missouri and Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Midwest Direct Primary Care Alliance's donation announced Monday will buy $1.47 million worth of medical debt on behalf of 784 patients in the two states. The alliance is comprised of 21 medical clinics where doctors don't take health insurance and instead charge patients a monthly membership fee.  Allison Edwards owns Kansas City Direct Primary Care in Kansas City, Kansas. She says 19 doctors and nurse practitioners donated the money to RIP Medical Debt, a New York-based nonprofit that buys bundles of unpaid bills from collection agencies and medical providers.  The charity buys the debt for pennies on the dollar.

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Program Gives Healthy Options to Kansas City's Food Insecure

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A food program is making a big difference to low-income families seeking healthy options in the Kansas City area.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Double Up Food Program matches Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars spent on local produce at Kansas and Missouri farmers markets and grocery stores. Participants receive up to $25 a day in matching Double Up Food Bucks dollars for more local fruits and vegetables.  The program did a trial run in 2015 at five Balls Food Price Choppers in the Kansas City area. Double Up Bucks now functions at 14 Price Choppers and 26 farmers markets.  Participants earned $385,000 Double Up Food Bucks last year and redeemed more than $295,000. Organizers said Tuesday that more needy families are benefiting from the program.

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Wichita Search Group to Launch Texas EquuSearch Charter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A group of volunteers who helped search for a 5-year-old Wichita boy who was later found dead plans to start a charter of a nationally known Texas-based search organization.  Sheila Medlam and Julie La Force spent countless hours leading searches for Lucas Hernandez, who was missing more than three months before his body was found in May.  The Texas EquuSearch group came to Wichita to help with the search. It is a mounted search and recovery team with more than 1,000 members available to search worldwide for missing persons.  EquuSearch founder Tim Miller says he was impressed with the Kansas volunteers helping to search for Lucas.  KAKE-TV reports La Force, Medlam and others will go to Houston on October 13th to receive their EquuSearch training.

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Vehicle Crashes into Topeka Cafe, Injuring Customer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a woman was injured when a sport-utility vehicle slammed into a cafe. Shawnee County Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Frey says the woman, 80-year-old Joyce Kasson, was a customer at Banjo's Cafe early Thursday when the vehicle hit the business. The sheriff's office says 82-year-old Peggy Turner was pulling into a parking space in front of the cafe when her vehicle went over a parking curb and into the restaurant. Investigators say a preliminary investigation indicates Turner hit the gas, rather than the brake, while parking. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the vehicle struck several tables, including one where Kasson was sitting. Kasson was taken in an ambulance to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.

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Dog Named Lucifer Saves Man from Burning Kansas Home

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A dog named Lucifer has saved a Kansas man from an early morning house fire. The Hutchinson News reports that Larry Moore was asleep in his Hutchinson home when his dog woke him about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday. Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Unruh says Moore, Lucifer and another dog, named Angel, made it out safely. But Unruh says Moore returned at least twice to the home to retrieve items and had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Moore's neighbor, Clarissa Swenson, described Lucifer, whose nickname is Lucy, as an "old mutt" who Moore and his late wife have owned for many years. Swenson says, "Lucy awoke him from a dead sleep." She described Moore as, "so fortunate." The cause of the fire was ruled as electrical, with "multiple improper extensions cords."

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Someone Stole 5-Foot Mighty Mouse Sculpture in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Mighty Mouse is missing in Wichita.  Christopher Gulick says someone managed to steal a 200-pound, brightly colored log sculpture of Mighty Mouse from his backyard Tuesday night. The sculpture, which was a gift from another artist, is about 5 feet tall and painted bright yellow, blue, red and black.  The Wichita Eagle reports Gulick estimates the sculpture has been on his back porch for about 25 years. It's one of many sculptures that Gulick, known locally for his kinetic mobile sculptures, has in his backyard.  Gulick says he would probably be mad about the theft if it wasn't so stupid and funny at the same time. He says he suspects the thieves are suffering from a severe hangover.  Anyone with information about Mighty Mouse is asked to call Wichita police.

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Kansas Woman Sentenced for Selling Fake Designer Brands

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City woman who sold thousands of dollars' worth of counterfeit designer merchandise has been sentenced to a year of probation. The Kansas City Star reports 64-year-old So Wun Pak, owner of Sue's Accessories in Mission, was sentenced Thursday. She pleaded no contest in May to counterfeiting merchandise worth from $1,000 to $25,000. Officers removed and will destroy more than 3,300 items taken from the store. Fake brands sold at the store included Burberry, Chanel, Coach and Ralph Lauren. Pak will face five months in prison if she violates probation.

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