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Headlines for Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Trump Tapping $12 Billion to Help Farmers Affected by Tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government announced a $12 billion plan Tuesday to assist farmers who have been hurt by President Donald Trump's trade disputes with China and other trading partners. The plan focuses on Midwest soybean producers and others targeted by retaliatory measures. The Agriculture Department said the proposal would include direct assistance for farmers, purchases of excess crops and trade promotion activities aimed at building new export markets. Officials said the plan would not require congressional approval and would come through the Commodity Credit Corporation, a wing of the department that addresses agricultural prices. "This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration the time to work on long-term trade deals," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Officials said the direct payments could help producers of soybeans, which have been hit hard by the Trump tariffs, along with sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and farmers raising hogs.

In Kansas City, meanwhile, Trump told a veterans convention that he was trying to renegotiate trade agreements that he said have hurt American workers, and he asked for patience ahead of key talks. "We're making tremendous progress. They're all coming. They don't want to have those tariffs put on them," Trump told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention.

Trump declared earlier Tuesday that "Tariffs are the greatest!" and threatened to impose additional penalties on U.S. trading partners as he prepared for negotiations with European officials at the White House. Tariffs are taxes on imports. They are meant to protect domestic businesses and put foreign competitors at a disadvantage. But the taxes also exact a toll on U.S. businesses and consumers, which pay more for imported products. The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing's high-tech industrial policies. China has retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork, affecting Midwest farmers in a region of the country that supported the president in his 2016 campaign. Trump has threatened to place penalty taxes on up to $500 billion in products imported from China, a move that would dramatically ratchet up the stakes in the trade dispute involving the globe's biggest economies.


Ag Sector Bounces on Word of US Tariff Aid for Farmers

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is flooding into the agricultural sector on reports that the Trump administration is preparing a plan that would send billions in aid to U.S. farmers hurt by tariffs. CF Industries Holding and Mosaic Company both traded up more than 3 percent, while Deere & Co. shot up more than 4 percent after news of the aid package was leaked to The Associated Press by two people briefed on the plan. Shares in Archer-Daniels-Midland and FMC Corp. also rose. The Agriculture Department is expected to announce details later Tuesday. The plan would attempt to give relief to farmers who have faced retaliation from U.S. trade partners with duties on products like soybeans and pork. President Donald Trump is in Kansas City Tuesday, the heart of the nation's farm country.


Woman Convicted of Murder, Arson in KC Firefighters' Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A nail salon manager has been convicted of setting a fire that killed two firefighters in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Kansas City Star reports that a Jackson County circuit judge on Monday found 46-year-old Thu Hong Nguyen guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, second-degree arson and second-degree assault.  Her sentencing is scheduled for September 14. She could be facing to up to 30 years in prison for each murder charge.  Forty-three-year-old Larry Leggio and 39-year-old John Mesh were killed when a brick wall fell on them as they fought a fire at a three story building containing Nguyen's nail salon in October 2015.  Two other firefighters were seriously injured.  Authorities say Nguyen lit a fire in the salon's storeroom and that she was the last person seen leaving.


3 Men Arrested in Double Homicide in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say three men have been arrested in a double homicide in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a 19- and 31-year-old were booked into the Shawnee County Jail on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and aggravated burglary. The third suspect, who is 40, was booked on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. They were each being held on $1 million bond. Police spokesman Lt. Andrew Beightel said Tuesday morning that the victims had been stabbed and beaten to death. They were pronounced dead Monday at a residence in city's Hi-Crest neighborhood after paramedics arrived. One of the victims has been identified as 28-year-old Lisa Sportsman. The other victim was 17-year-old Jesse Polinskey. Police say one of the suspects is Sportsman's estranged husband.


Wichita Policeman Charged with Felony in Traffic Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say Wichita Police Officer Samuel Dugo has been charged with felony aggravated battery for a two-vehicle accident while responding to a 911 call.  Police said in a news release Monday that an investigation by the Kansas Highway Patrol determined Dugo was not using his emergency lights and sirens when traveling 79 miles per hour in a posted 30-miles-per hour zone.  His defense attorney, Jess Hoeme, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.  Police say Dugo was driving the department's Chevy Tahoe while responding on March 16 to a report of a burglary in progress when he collided at an intersection with a motorist driving a Ford Ranger pickup. The motorist was ejected from his vehicle and severely injured.  Dugo has been on unpaid leave since June.


Vigil Held for Family Among Boat Sinking Victims

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — A prayer vigil is being held in an Indianapolis church for members of a family that lost nine of its members when a sightseeing boat on a Missouri lake capsized, killing 17 people.  Hundreds of people gathered at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church to show their support for the Coleman family.  The Rev. Carl Liggins Sr. says the vigil is being held to be source of encouragement and support for Tia Coleman. Coleman survived the duck boat's sinking at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri. Her husband and three of her children were among her family members who died.  During the vigil, Liggins noted a 13-year-old nephew of Tia Coleman survived and said "we need to praise God for him." An investigation will look at whether operators of the boat violated Coast Guard-issued limitations by venturing into the water Thursday as thunderstorms threatened and struck the region.


Trump's Endorsements Signal More Involvement in GOP Politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — When it comes to Republican politics, President Donald Trump is getting more involved in elections by endorsing candidates.  The latest example is Tuesday's Republican runoff for governor of Georgia. Trump tweeted his support last week for Georgia's secretary of state, Brian Kemp, over his opponent, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, surprising Kemp himself.  Such political maneuvering puts the president at risk of being on the losing side of a Republican race. That's where he ended up last year in Alabama's Senate race after he initially endorsed Luther Strange and then the Republican who won the GOP nomination, Roy Moore. A Democrat, Doug Jones, defeated Moore, creating a double loss for Trump.  In recent months, Trump has stitched together a winning streak in Republican races that could benefit him in November's voting.


Orman Launches TV Ad in Independent Bid for Kansas Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Independent candidate Greg Orman has launched a television advertising campaign in the Kansas governor's race even before securing a spot on the November ballot.  Orman's campaign announced Monday that it has started airing the 30-second spot attacking the two-party system on broadcast and cable stations across the state.  The Kansas City-area businessman potentially is the most serious independent candidate for governor since the 1930s. His unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2014 received national attention.  Orman's campaign has until Aug. 6 to submit petitions with the signatures of 5,000 registered Kansas voters to get on the November ballot.  His ad portrays a supermarket where consumers are offered only a red and a blue alternative for each product.  Orman argues in the spot that the two-party system is broken.


Judge: Department of Defense Improperly Redacted Documents

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has found the U.S. Department of Defense improperly redacted several unclassified documents sought by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt related to surveying potential sites for housing terror suspects now held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  U.S. District Judge Donald Crabtree in his ruling Monday also found that the Department of Defense properly withheld some information in one document.  The ruling partially granted the department's motion for summary judgment and denied it in part.  Kansas filed the federal lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act in 2016 seeking documents related to the Obama administration's plan to move detainees.  Crabtree says his order seems to resolve all disputed issues, but he scheduled an August 9 hearing to confer with the parties and plan for any future proceedings.


Report: Much of Kansas Corn Crop in Poor Shape

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report says much of the Kansas corn crop is in poor shape.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that 21 percent of the corn grown in Kansas was in very poor to poor condition. About 29 percent was rated as fair while 43 percent was in good and 7 percent in excellent condition.  About 34 percent of the corn crop in the state is now in the dough stage, well ahead of the 14 percent average for this time of year.  Other spring-planted crops are faring slightly better.  The agency rated 18 percent of soybeans in Kansas in poor or very poor condition. Just 6 percent of the state's sorghum crops was also rated as poor or very poor.


Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sues Colyer over Fund Transfer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas insurance commissioner seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination is trying to prevent Governor Jeff Colyer from taking $8 million this year from a state insurance fund.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Ken Selzer has filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to block Colyer from transferring money from an insurance-specific fund into a general fund that pays for the state government's overall operation. Selzer is the commissioner of the Kansas Insurance Department.  The lawsuit says "consumers will be harmed" by the $8 million transfer because the Insurance Department would have to collect additional fees on insurance companies to make up lost revenue.  Colyer's office says Selzer agreed to the transfer during former Gov. Sam Brownback's administration in 2016.  Selzer said Friday the lawsuit is unrelated to the gubernatorial campaign.


GOP Candidate Picked to Fill Vacancy in Kansas House Seat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican candidate who survived a legal challenge to his right to run for the Kansas House has been appointed to fill a short-term vacancy in the same seat.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Republican activists in the 85th District on Saturday chose businessman Michael Capps to replace former state Representative Chuck Weber. The appointment runs until January, the end of the two-year term Weber won in 2016.  Weber left the Legislature earlier this month to become executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.  Capps is the only Republican seeking the seat. The lone Democrat is Monica Marks.  Democrats have alleged that Capps does not live at the address he listed in filing to run for the House seat but the all-Republican State Objections Board rejected their challenge in June.


FBI Investigates Kansas Woman's Death as Possible Hate Crime

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — The FBI has opened a hate crime investigation into the stabbing death of a Kansas woman whose relatives allege the suspect is a white supremacist. Ronald Lee Kidwell, 47, is charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of 43-year-old MeShon Cooper, who was missing for a week until her body was found July 14 at Kidwell's home in Shawnee. Kidwell's estranged daughter and a cousin told The Kansas City Star that Cooper's death was likely a hate crime because Kidwell was an avowed white supremacist. Cooper was black. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton confirmed Tuesday that the agency was investigating whether Cooper's death was a hate crime. According to a police affidavit, Kidwell told police Cooper attacked him at his home and threatened to tell everyone that he is HIV positive. He said he "flipped out" when Cooper hit him in the hand with a knife, which he grabbed before stabbing and killing her. A joint investigation by Shawnee, Lenexa and Kansas City police led officers to Kidwell's home after phone records showed that Cooper visited Kidwell's house July 6, the last day she was seen alive, the affidavit said. A search warrant was requested after police found "an overwhelming smell of bleach" at the home. Kidwell at first denied knowing where Cooper was but eventually told police that Cooper's body was wrapped in trash bags and inside of a trashcan in his garage, according to the affidavit. Kidwell's estranged daughter Carolyn Foster told The Star that Kidwell was a "monster" white supremacist who enjoyed targeting and assaulting black people. She said he often showed off his swastika tattoo and bragged about belonging to the Ku Klux Klan. Forster said he pretended to befriend minorities and then harmed them. "He's been a monster his whole life," she said. "He's the true definition of evil." His cousin, Shana Turner, said most of Kidwell's family had disowned him because of his racist views. "Whenever I was around him, he'd talk about white power," she said. When she heard about the murder allegation, "it didn't surprise me that she (the victim) was black." Kidwell has spent 15 years in prison on various assault charges. In 2011, Kidwell was convicted of second-degree assault in Clay County after attacking and sexually assaulting a black woman. He did so without a condom, he told detectives at the time, despite knowing he was HIV positive. Kidwell is jailed on $1 million bail.


Topeka Man Sentenced for Driving Getaway Car in Robbery

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for driving a getaway car in an armed robbery. A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced 30-year-old Jermaine Tyrell Patton for participating in a November 2016 robbery at an Oakmark Convenience Store. The U.S. Attorney's General office says when Patton pleaded guilty in September, he admitted he drove the car when Christopher Harris robbed the store. The two men fled after the robbery. Harris and Topeka police detective Brian Hill eventually exchanged gunfire and both were wounded. Harris is serving a life sentence for attempted capital murder and other charges.


Wichita Community Gathers on Slain Child's 3rd Birthday

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Community members in a Wichita neighborhood attended a candlelight vigil this week on the birthday of a 2-year-old child who was beaten to death this spring. The Wichita Eagle reports that Anthony Bunn would have turned 3 on Monday, the day about 150 people gathered in Riverside to remember the child. His mother Elizabeth Woolheater and her boyfriend Lucas Diel have been charged with murder in Anthony's May 4 death. Zak Woolheater is the child's maternal grandfather. He says it's important to gather on Anthony's birthday to remind the community of what he calls the country's child abuse epidemic. The Wichita area has seen several child abuse homicides and a disappearance within the past year. The Kansas Department of Children and Families says it's working to improve child welfare programs.


Guatemalan Boy Reunites with Father After Weeks in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Before 14-year-old Guatemalan Samuel Cazun left a Kansas nonprofit to be reunited with his father, he gave staff members the sketches of their faces he had drawn to help them remember him. Of the dozens of migrant children housed at The Villages in Topeka under a contract with the federal government, Samuel was among as many as nine there who were separated from family members at the southern border under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.

It has been more than a month since immigration agents took Samuel away from his father after the two waded across the Rio Grande into Texas following about 15 days traveling by bus from Guatemala. On Monday afternoon, Samuel and his father, Edvin Cazun, tearfully embraced at the Cincinnati airport, reunited once again. Samuel was all smiles when he caught sight of his father as he rode up on the elevator at the airport, waving to family members. A young cousin ran up to hug him. Edvin Cazun then briefly buried his head on his son's shoulders and embraced him before wiping away his own tears. While still at the airport, Samuel had a video chat with his mother in Guatemala on a relative's cell phone.

Samuel told The Associated Press in Spanish that the separation was "very hard" and that it made him sad. He worried when he was in Kansas that his father would be deported and that he would never see him again. Edvin Cazun said he initially tried to come into this country legally by paying for a worker visa, but he was instead ripped off by the people selling them. When he tried to get his money back, they threatened to kill him. So he fled with Samuel to the United States, leaving behind his wife and his four other children, ages 9 to 18, and is now seeking asylum in the hopes of giving Samuel a chance at a better life.

"What I want now that we are together is for him to get ahead in life. I want to be responsible for him. I want him to study in this country. That is the best future for him, no? That is my desire as his father," Edvin Cazun said in Spanish.

Samuel said in a Tuesday phone interview that he wants to study in the United States and become a professional artist. The Trump administration said in a court filing Monday that there have been 1,187 children reunified with their parents or "other appropriate discharges," which include guardians and sponsors. It added that some 463 parents may not be in the United States, saying those findings are based on case notes and are under review. Immigration attorney Clare Murphy Shaw is Samuel's attorney and said Tuesday that of the seven immigrant children in Kansas she represents in immigration court, five of them have already left The Villages. The two remaining separated children are scheduled to leave either Tuesday or Wednesday. In what is the first public glimpse at life for migrant children at The Villages in Topeka, Samuel recounted how he was among 13 male teenagers housed in one of the group homes at the facility. He had his own bed and shared a room with another teenager. The food was good and the children could talk with their parents several times a week. They would also go to classes from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day, studying English, mathematics, science, technology and other subjects. There were a lot of rules to follow, such as not hugging other children, although a handshake was ok. No opening the windows. Don't go into someone else's room.

It was a lot nicer than facility the Samuel was kept in while in Texas. His first day he was kept in a cage that he compared to one used to contain animals. He slept on a mat on the floor. He thinks he probably spent five days at a second Texas facility but wasn't sure because there were no windows, the lights were on all the time and he couldn't tell whether it was even day or night. But the hardest part was being separated from his father. Samuel said he prayed to God while at the Kansas shelter that they would soon be together.

"Now I am no longer sad," Samuel said.

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