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Headlines for Thursday, September 17, 2020


Former Kansas GOP Senator Nancy Kassebaum Backs Democrat in U.S. Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Senator Nancy Kassebaum has again broken again with fellow Kansas Republicans to support Democrat Barbara Bollier for the seat Kassebaum once held. Kassebaum said in a statement that Bollier shares her belief in working with members of both parties. Kassebaum also endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 Kansas governor’s race. Republican Congressman and GOP Senate nominee Roger Marshall's campaign manager said Kassebaum's move wasn't a surprise and noted Marshall's endorsement from former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. Bollier is a Kansas City-area state senator who switched to the Democratic Party at the end of 2018. Kassebaum served in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997.


Kansas Reports More Than 50,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 586 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas health officials say the state has now recorded more than 50,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  The Department of Health and Environment reported Wednesday that the state now has 50,870 cases, including  586 deaths.  Another update on Kansas case numbers will be released online Friday afternoon.


Kansas Pauses Release of Data About Coronavirus Clusters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’s health department has suspended its reporting on individual businesses and other locations where clusters of coronavirus cases have occurred after only a week. The agency says it wants to make sure the data does not include cases that aren’t current. The Kansas City Star reports that top department administrator Dr. Lee Norman acknowledged that the data the agency began releasing Sept. 9 about coronavirus clusters could leave the impression that some outbreaks currently are more severe than they are. Norman said the department wants the data to better reflect current cases. The department said it expects to resume releasing cluster information next week.


Missouri Governor Lauds Declining Rate of Deaths from COVID-19

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The number of new cases of the coronavirus continues to be high in Missouri, but Governor Mike Parson on Wednesday cited the declining death rate as evidence that progress is being made. Parson, speaking at a news conference, noted that in the early days of the pandemic in April and May, more than 7% of all cases were fatal. That percentage has gradually dropped and so far this month, just 0.3% of Missourians infected with COVID-19 have died. Missouri reported 1,191 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 106,587. Seven more deaths also were reported. All told, 1,739 Missourians have died from the virus.


Plan Calls for More Testing of Kansans Without Virus Symptoms

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are considering spending $50 million to dramatically ramp up testing of people who aren’t showing obvious signs of the coronavirus. KCUR Radio reports that a state task force this week backed Kansas Health Secretary Lee Norman’s recommendation to use the federal stimulus money on testing at schools, workplaces and other sites. The goal is to catch coronavirus in people who haven’t even realized they’re carrying it. Some of the testing would be done at Wichita State University, where a new not-for-profit lab is gearing up to churn out hundreds of thousands of tests by the end of the year.


MU Expels 2 Students, Suspends 3 for COVID-19 Rule Violations

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri in Columbia says two students have been expelled and three others suspended for violating rules meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The disciplinary actions were announced this week.  A news release says the sanctions were necessary because of flagrant violations of rules and regulations that require students who test positive for the coronavirus to isolate themselves and comply with social distancing requirements. More than 1,300 of the university's students have been infected. All told, 470 students have been called to the university's Office of Student Conduct and Accountability for possible violations of coronavirus policies. Eleven student organizations are under investigation.


Kansas Supreme Court Weighs Guidelines for Injured Workers

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court waded into the fray over obscure medical guidelines that will determine how much money workers injured on the job can collect. Justices heard legal arguments Thursday on Zoom over which edition of the American Medical Association guide should be used for evaluating injuries in determining compensation to injured workers in Kansas. Critics argue that the Sixth Edition of the AMA guide adopted by the Legislature unfairly limits compensation to injured workers, reducing compensation by as much as 40 to 70 percent for work-related injuries. Supporters of it contend it better reflects technical advancements by replacing the outdated medical guidelines.


Auditor: Police Use of Force Appropriate in Black Woman's Arrest

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Topeka’s independent police auditor has found that two officers didn’t violate excessive force policies while arresting a Black woman in a case that angered a local Black Lives Matter group. The city announced Thursday that the auditor thoroughly reviewed officer and witness statements and seven police body camera videos before making the determination. At issue is the Aug. 23 arrest of Tamiko Mitchell, who says she was slammed to the ground, leaving her with a fractured nose and eye injuries. WIBW reports that a sergeant at the scene asked her to exit her vehicle six times before she complied and that Mitchell met the criteria of resisting arrest.


National Memorial to President Eisenhower to Be Dedicated

WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — After several delays, a national monument to President Dwight Eisenhower is set to open in Washington D.C. The memorial to Kansas' native son will open to the public Friday after a dedication ceremony Thursday. The memorial, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, commemorates Eisenhower's legacy as the country's 34th president and as Supreme Allied Commander in World War II. But it also includes a statue and information noting Eisenhower's love for Kansas. It was originally scheduled to be dedicated in May but those plans were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The memorial was funded in 1999 but construction was delayed by controversy over the original design.


Kansas City Police: 1 Woman Killed, Another Hurt in Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City say one woman has been killed and another hurt when someone fired several gunshots into a large crowd gathered on a street south of the downtown area. Police say officers were called around 11 pm Wednesday to 26th Street and Southwest Boulevard for a report of gunshots. Officers arrived to find cars leaving the area and found the two women wounded on a sidewalk. Both were taken to area hospitals, where one victim died. Police have not released their names. Initial investigation revealed that dozens — possibly hundreds — of people were gathered on the street when someone in a passing car fired several shots into the crowd.


Wichita Police Sergeant Charged with Battery

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials with the Wichita Police Department say one of its sergeants has been charged with misdemeanor battery for an incident involving a coworker. The department says in a news release that Sgt. Maurice Mitchell has been charged with a single count of battery in Wichita's municipal court. Police say the charge stems from an incident that occurred between Mitchell and a coworker during a training exercise in which no physical injuries occurred. But the department declined to give any other details of the incident. Mitchell was placed on unpaid administrative leave Tuesday pending the outcome of the criminal investigation and an internal review.


Kansas Court Hears Arguments over "Wrongful Birth" Law

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court seemed worried Wednesday about the proper roles of the Legislature and courts as it wrestled with whether a state statute that prohibits lawsuits based on “wrongful birth” claims is constitutional. Justices heard oral arguments via Zoom on whether the parents of a disabled child have a right to a trial on their malpractice claims. A lower appeals court had earlier held that the statute protects physicians from malpractice suits if they fail to provide information about fetal abnormalities that might cause the mother to get an abortion. The court took the matter under advisement after listening to arguments.


Arrowhead, Mizzou Arena to be Used as Polling Places

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two of the largest sports venues in Missouri will be used as polling places in November's upcoming election. People will be allowed to vote November 3 at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, and at Mizzou Arena on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia.  Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and safety Tyrann Mathieu and many Missouri athletes have been publicly urging people to register and vote in the general election. Anyone who lives in the Kansas City portion of Jackson County will be allowed to vote at Arrowhead. Missouri basketball Coach Cuonzo Martin said Wednesday it is vital that everyone have a chance to vote.


Johnson County Commissioner Warns of "Coming War"

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A commissioner for the most populous county in Kansas urged constituents to buy firearms and prepare for a "coming war" in a Facebook post that described a chaotic end to law and order. Johnson County commissioner Mike Brown used the hashtags "All Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter" as he described violence, "burning churches" and "looting stores" in the weekend posts. Brown, who is white, is up for re-election in November. The posts are no longer public, but Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat who is Black, retweeted images of them Monday and described the messages as "racist" and "reckless."


Lawrence Approves Protections for Immigrants in Country Illegally

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence city officials have approved an ordinance that provides protections for immigrants in the country illegally and includes policies regarding how police interact with them. This week's vote by the Lawrence City Commission came after more than a year of discussion prompted by an immigrant advocacy group. The nondiscrimination ordinance, among other things, prohibits the city from considering immigration status when providing city services. The vote approved provisions that require police to notify the public when they are aware of some federal immigration activities, and if the department changes its current policies on cooperating with federal immigration authorities on non-criminal matters.


Police Identify Teen Fatally Shot in Eastern Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police have identified a teenager killed in an early-morning shooting Wednesday on the east side of Kansas City. Police say in a news release that 16-year-old Anthony Strassle died from his injuries. Police earlier said a man drove up to a gas station around 4 am and flagged down an off-duty police officer, saying he had picked up a teen who had been shot. The teen, later identified as Strassle, was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died. Police say the shooting happened a few blocks from the gas station and that detectives have been interviewing possible witnesses. No arrests have been reported.


Wichita Man Arrested on Suspicion of First-Degree Murder

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 21-year-old man in a Wichita shooting that left one person dead and two others wounded. Jail records show that Terry Quonteze Wallace was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder in the commission of a felony.  KAKE-TV reports that the shooting happened Tuesday morning after an argument. Captain Jason Stephens said one shooting victim was located at the scene and later died. The two other victims are in stable condition. Their names have not been released. Stephens said some of those involved are gang members.


Police: Decomposing Body Found in Vacant Home Ruled Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say the discovery of a decomposing body in a vacant Kansas City home marks the city's latest homicide investigation. Officers called to the home Monday afternoon found the body of a person in a state of advanced decomposition. Police spokesman Jake Becchina said in a news release that the vacant home was being renovated when the body was found. Police say the identity of the body and how the person died are not known. Becchina said the death is “suspicious enough that homicide detectives are investigating as a homicide.” Records kept by the Kansas City Star show the death is the city's 144th homicide this year, compared with 111 homicides by this time last year.


Judge Awards Tenants $52 Million for "Horrendous" Conditions at KC Housing Complex

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has awarded $52 million in damages to people who lived in “horrendous” conditions at a Kansas City low-income housing complex. Jackson County Judge Joel Fahenestock ruled against KM-T.E.H. Realty 8 and Michael Fein in a class-action lawsuit over conditions at Ruskin Place Apartments. During testimony earlier this month, tenants said the owners never responded to complaints about mold, raw sewage, roaches and rats, and the lack of heat and air conditioning. T.E.H. and Fein ignored court orders during the case and did not appear at the trial. An arrest warrant has been issued for Fein, who is believed to be out of the country.


Kansas Republican's Senate Ad Relies on Out-of-Context Clips

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Roger Marshall uses out-of-context clips from Democrat Barbara Bollier’s ads in a television spot arguing that she’s trying to hide liberal views from Kansas voters. The move suggests that the GOP doesn’t have the race for an open U.S. Senate seat locked down yet. Bollier’s campaign and two Kansas political scientists argued Wednesday that Marshall’s ad is misleading because it uses video snippets of Bollier to attack her on abortion and gun rights when she was speaking about other topics. Marshall campaign manager Eric Pahls said the ad is not deceptive because it opens with, “How would it sound if Barbara Bollier’s ads actually matched her liberal record?"


3 Kansas City Council Members Boycott Committee Meeting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Three Kansas City Council members boycotted a committee meeting as a dispute with another council member escalated. The three council members say they refused to attend a committee meeting Wednesday because Mayor Quinton Lucas has not removed Councilwoman Teresa Loar as chairwoman of the the Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee. They are upset with comments Loar, who is white, made to Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, who is Black, in July. They contend the comments were racist and mocked Robinson's intelligence. Loar says she's apologized to Robinson three times and took implicit bias training after the confrontation.


Black Lives Matter Mural on Kansas City Street Vandalized

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One of six Black Lives Matter street murals in Kansas City has been vandalized. Now, the artists behind the mural are hoping the vandalism can be incorporated into it as part of the art. The vandalism to the mural at the intersection of Northwest Briarcliff Parkway and North Mulberry Drive was discovered Monday. The words “Black Lives Matter” painted on the road are now marred by black tire marks and white paint streaked over the words. The mural is one of six painted across Kansas City streets. The mural's lead artist, Harold Smith, tells the Kansas City Star he hopes the vandalism can be turned into part of the art, showing that “love wins over hate.”


Kansas Relays Postponed from 2021 Date Due to COVID-19

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Relays, one of the longest-running track and field events in the country, will be postponed in the spring as the University of Kansas tries to deal with a massive budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The school said in announcing its decision Wednesday that postponing the relays will save at least $300,000 from the Kansas Athletics budget, and perhaps more given the likely COVID-19 testing requirements.


KPR Collects Pledges to Celebrate this Week's 68th Birthday

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is celebrating its 68th birthday this week.  The station, which began broadcasting on September 15, 1952, started with a sole transmitter, called KANU FM 91.5.  More transmitters and translators have been added over the years.  Listeners can help us celebrate by making a pledge.  Thanks for supporting the Kansas Association of Broadcasters' Station of the Year for 2020. KPR has earned the KAB's coveted Station of the Year title a record 19 times, more than any other radio or TV station in Kansas.  


Kansas National Guard Field Artillery Unit Recognized as Best in the Nation

NEWTON, Kan. (KPR) - A Kansas National Guard unit has been recognized as the best field artillery unit in the nation.  In a news release, the Kansas National Guard announced that Battery C, 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery Regiment had received the Alexander Hamilton Award for 2019.  The annual award recognizes the most outstanding National Guard field artillery unit in America. Battery C is a subordinate unit of the 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery in Hutchinson. The battalion also has units located in Abilene, Dodge City, and Garden City.  The unit was recognized for outstanding Air Defense Artillery and Field Artillery, for exceptional achievement and for overall unit excellence.  The unit was presented with the award during a ceremony at the National Guard armory in Newton last weekend.  Units considered for the award are reviewed on physical readiness, safety, soldier care, unit strength, weapons qualification and other readiness and training achievements. The Hamilton award is named after Continental Army artilleryman Major General Alexander Hamilton, who was known for his military leadership.  


Survey: Economy Sees Improvement in Rural Parts of 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers shows the economy making some improvements but remaining weak in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The Rural Mainstreet Survey's overall index remained negative at 46.9 in September, even though it improved from August's 44.7 and marked continued improvement since March, when the index bottomed out at 35.5 as the coronavirus pandemic emerged. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy, while a score above 50 suggests a growing economy. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


Patrick Mahomes II, KC Chiefs on Top of Season's First AP Pro32 Poll

NEW YORK (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are on top of the first AP Pro32 poll of the season. Fellow AFC contender Baltimore followed at No. 2. NFC powers New Orleans, Seattle and Green Bay rounded out the top five. The Chiefs have been riding high since winning the Super Bowl in February and opened the 2020 season with a win over the Houston Texans. Baltimore began with a rout of the Cleveland Browns. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers debuted in the poll at No. 14 in Brady's first season outside New England.


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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