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Headlines for Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Most of Central, Eastern Kansas Under Flood Watches

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Several Kansas communities are closing roads as rain-swollen creeks and rivers begin to overflow their banks. The National Weather Service says up to 8 inches of rain has fallen since Friday and up to 3 inches more are possible through Wednesday morning. Flood watches have been issued for most of central and eastern Kansas as forecasts call for several rivers and creeks to crest above flood stage Tuesday and Wednesday. Water is expected to inundate farmland near Wichita and some homes in the Hutchinson area. Roads also are closing in the Salina and Emporia area. Greenwood County director of emergency management Levi Vinson says low-lying land is flooding and a 10-foot long section of road slid into a creek overnight Monday after a retaining wall gave way.

Visit the National Weather Service in Topeka for more detailed information.

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Kansas GOP Congressman's Ad Takes Softer Tone on Immigration

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Representative Kevin Yoder launched a new television ad Tuesday with a testimonial from the widow of an Indian engineer murdered in a Kansas City-area bar about the Republican's efforts to help her remain in the U.S. afterward. The 30-second spot featuring Sunayana Dumala praising Yoder comes with the four-term congressman locked in a tough race against Democrat Sharice Davids. Yoder, chairman of a House subcommittee on homeland security, received President Donald Trump's full endorsement in July, after the GOP unveiled a plan that included $5 billion that could help build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border. Yoder's new ad began three days after Trump had a campaign rally in Topeka in a neighboring district that Yoder didn't attend.

The new ad also highlights how immigration is a tricky issue in the Kansas City-area 3rd District, which Trump narrowly lost. Bob Beatty, a Washburn University of Topeka political scientist, said many anti-Trump voters view the president as "anti-immigrant," and the ad allows Yoder to "put some distance" between them.

"In a way, an ad like this has to come out after the Trump visit," Beatty said. "This ad is for a relatively small group of moderate Republicans that are thinking of voting Democratic this time."

Yoder is one of 25 GOP incumbents seeking re-election in a district Trump lost in 2016. Davids has received national attention for her unusual profile as an LGBT and Native American lawyer who has fought mixed martial arts bouts.

Dumala's husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was an Indian immigrant working for GPS Device-maker Garmin. He was shot to death in February 2017 at a bar in the suburb of Olathe and witnesses said the man convicted of the killing yelled "Get out of my country!" before opening fire.

With her husband's death, Dumala's own visa expired, and Yoder helped her get one allowing her to stay in the U.S. She's since formed a group advocating tolerance, and in the ad, she calls Yoder a friend. Yoder also is working on legislation aimed at clearing a backlog in the processing of work visas, and he's faced some criticism on the right over immigration issues.

"This is a positive story that shows how effective Kevin has been for this community as a legislator and how important constituent services are to him, but more importantly it shows how much he cares about the people of this community," Yoder spokesman C.J. Grover said in an email.

Kelly Arnold, the Kansas GOP's chairman, said the spot is an effective one because it reminds voters of Yoder's work for his constituents, "especially when it's making sure justice is being done."

But Davids spokeswoman Allison Teixeira Sulier said Yoder "continues to hide his dangerous voting record behind political grandstanding."

"He's in Trump's pocket," said Christ Reeves, a Democratic National Committee member from Kansas. "So he's trying to get away from it by using one example and saying, 'See, but I'm not always this way.'"

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Kansas Senate Recommends Medicaid Inspector General

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative committee recommended that the full state Senate confirm a new inspector general for the state's Medicaid program. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that if Sarah Fertig is confirmed, it would end four years without independent oversight of the state's $3 billion program, which serves 400,000 people. Attorney General Derek Schmidt nominated Fertig in January after the 2017 Legislature moved the inspector general's position from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to the attorney general's office. Former Governor Sam Brownback's refused to fill the inspector general position at the health department or use agency resources to examine Medicaid delivery. Fertig, of Lawrence, has been an assistant attorney general for seven years. The Senate committee's vote Tuesday allows Fertig to begin working pending a final vote by the Senate in 2019.

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Five Shot in Kansas City, Suspect Charged

RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) — A man is facing a total of 18 charges including murder after a series of shootings in the Kansas City area left three people dead and two wounded.  The charges filed Monday against 35-year-old Isaac Fisher include three counts of second-degree murder. Fisher is being held on $1 million bond.  Police say the shootings occurred Sunday within a little more than an hour of each other in three separate locations. The only victim identified Monday was 34-year-old Angenette Hollins. Jackson County court records show Fisher and Hollins were the parents of a son who died in infancy.  Police haven't released the identities of any victims besides Hollins.  Police say Fisher was taken into custody Sunday night following a manhunt.

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Authorities Arrest Olathe Suspect After Daylong Search

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Police say a manhunt that caused some Olathe schools and daycare centers to be locked down has ended.  Olathe police spokesman Sgt. Logan Bonney says a suspect who eluded police for about five hours Monday was arrested about 4 pm without incident in a wooded area. He says at least one weapon was recovered.  Officers stopped a vehicle earlier Monday as part of an investigation. One man inside the vehicle was arrested but the other man fled.  Bonney says shots were fired but no officers were hurt.  Olathe police said four convenience stores in the city were robbed early Monday.  The suspect who fled matched the description of one of the robbery suspects but Bonney said police could not confirm whether he was involved in the armed robberies.

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Kansas Infant Death Rate from Asphyxia Doubled in 3 Years

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows that the rate of Kansas infants dying from a lack of oxygen has more than doubled in just three years.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas State Child Death Review Board's analysis of 2016 child deaths found that 20 children died from unintentional asphyxia, such as suffocation, strangulation or choking. The finding is a small fraction of the state's 394 child deaths in 2016, but the rate of death from asphyxia has grown steadily since 2013.  Sixteen of the 20 Kansas asphyxia deaths involved a child less than 1 year old, while 17 of the deaths were sleep-related.  State figures show the majority of sleep-related deaths occurred when a child wasn't sleeping in a crib or bassinet, but instead sharing a sleeping surface with another person.

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Aide: Kansas Democrat Paul Davis Would Oppose Kavanaugh Impeachment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokeswoman says Kansas Democratic congressional candidate Paul Davis will not support an effort to impeach new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  Davis spokeswoman Kelsi Browning said Monday that Kavanaugh was "rightfully" sworn in as a justice and Davis is running to return bipartisanship and civility to Congress.  Some liberal groups and some Democratic members of Congress have floated the idea of impeaching Kavanaugh.  Steve Watkins, the Republican running against Davis, seized on the impeachment talk and publicly raised the issue of whether Davis would support such an effort.  Watkins and Davis are running for the 2nd District seat in eastern Kansas held by retiring Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins. Democrats hope to flip the seat even though President Donald Trump easily carried the district in 2016.

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Missouri Senator Says She Would Never Consider Impeaching Kavanaugh

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill opposed Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, but she says she would "never consider'' impeaching him.  Some liberal groups and some Democratic members of Congress have floated the idea of impeaching Kavanaugh, who was confirmed after a bitter partisan fight over accusations of sexual misconduct three decades ago. The Kansas City Star reports McCaskill said she would oppose any such efforts and no one in the Senate is discussing it.  Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, the Republican running against McCaskill and a Kavanaugh supporter, seized on the impeachment talk in a fundraising email and in a teleconference with reporters Monday.   Hawley said any politician who stood up to an impeachment move would be threatened with removal and McCaskill would go along with the effort.

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Kris Kobach Legacy on Voter ID Laws at Issue in Other Kansas Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Democrat running to replace Kris Kobach as Kansas secretary of state is trying to get voters to repudiate Kobach's political legacy of tough voter identification laws as Kobach runs for governor.  Brian McClendon is a former Google and Uber executive who would break with Kobach's policies if elected secretary of state.  And some change is in store. GOP nominee and state Rep. Scott Schwab is another conservative who backed the voter ID policies championed by Kobach but is promising to be less in the spotlight than Kobach if he is elected.  Kobach expanded his national profile in the secretary of state's office and served as vice chairman of President Trump's now-disbanded commission on election fraud.  Yet as high-profile as Kobach is, the race to replace him remains low-key.

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Lawrence District, Teachers Union to Meet with Mediator

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A mediator will meet Wednesday with negotiators for the Lawrence school district and its teachers union to try and reach a teaching contract for this school year. The Lawrence Journal-World report s negotiations between the district and teachers broke down Aug. 29. The sticking points are salary differences and the union requests for compensation for overtime work, staffing and teacher input on student discipline. The union has asked for a $2,200 increase to the base salary paid for new teachers with no experience. The district has countered with a base increase offer of $500. If mediation fails, the district and union can ask a fact finder to research the dispute and recommend a solution. The union and the Lawrence school board will have to approve a mediated solution or a recommendation from a fact finder. 

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Debate in Kansas' 4th House District Race Turns Heated

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger for Kansas' 4th Congressional House District exchanged barbs and attacked the character of the other in their first debate of the general election.  The Wichita Eagle , which sponsored the debate with television station KPTS, reports that Congressman Ron Estes started Friday by pointing to a 2001 incident in which challenger James Thompson pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct for punching a bar patron while working as a bouncer. Thompson said the man hit him first.  Thompson fired back, criticizing Estes for accepting donations from political action committees. Thompson said he doesn't accept PAC money.  Thompson painted Estes as part of a "do-nothing Congress." Estes said Thompson wants a "big government with higher taxes."

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3 Coloradans Arrested in Death of Man Found in Kansas Field

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Authorities in northern Colorado have arrested three people in the death of a man whose body was found in a field in Kansas.  The Coloradoan reports 26-year-old Emilio Nunez-Bahena, 24-year-old Veronica Nunez and 45-year-old Emilio Nunez-Torrez were arrested in Fort Collins early Saturday on suspicion of first-degree murder.  A farmer in southwest Kansas contacted local police after finding a body in a field October 1. The victim, 21-year-old Bayron Diaz-Bautista, of Fort Collins, had been shot multiple times.  Melissa Underwood, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, says the three suspects knew Diaz-Bautista and were living in Fort Collins when they were arrested. They are expected to be extradited to Kansas.  Jail documents do not indicate if the three have hired attorneys.

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Suit Blames Kansas Foster Agency in Killing of Girl by Dogs
 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The mother of a 2-year-old girl who was fatally mauled by dogs at her father's home is suing Kansas welfare workers.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the lawsuit filed last month says the Kansas Department for Children and Families and foster care contractors put the girl back into the same unsafe Topeka home from which she had been removed. The suit says officials should have known that two vicious pit bulls with a history of attacks also lived there.  The girl - identified in the lawsuit as P.N.D. - was killed in September 2016 when she was "repeatedly attacked" by one or two of the dogs while her father was sleeping.  Spokeswomen for DCF and the contractor said Friday that they can't comment because of the pending lawsuit.

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Lawrence to Discuss Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence city commissioners will consider a proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana possession. Currently, first-time offenders face a fine between $200 and $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail. Those who are granted a diversion must pay for mandatory drug-abuse evaluation and could be required to receive drug-abuse education, counseling or treatment. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the city prosecutor is recommending penalties for first-time marijuana possession of $200, a substance abuse evaluation and classes or treatment, 90 day jail sentences that would be suspended if another violation doesn't occur, and six months of unsupervised probation. A second offense would increase the penalties to a $300 fine and a year of probation. The city's health department submitted a statement to the commission opposing reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

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Missouri Man Charged with Making Swatting Call to Kansas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A 46-year-old Missouri man is charged with making a hoax emergency call in Overland Park, Kansas. Johnson County charged Morayonla Olubori Sholaja, of Grandview, Missouri, with one count of giving a false alarm. He is accused of calling 911 with a false claim of an "active shooter" in Overland Park. The Kansas City Star reports Sholaja is accused for calling 911 dispatchers Nov. 7 and saying an armed man was threatening people. More than a dozen officers with weapons drawn responded and several schools were locked down until police decided the call was a hoax. A warrant for Sholaja in April. He was arrested last week in Missouri and brought to Johnson County Monday after waiving his right to fight extradition. He is being held on a bond of $50,000.

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Man, Woman Killed in Derby Shooting Believed to be Related

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man and woman have been found shot to death in southern Kansas.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the shooting happened around 5:20 pm Saturday in Derby. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Cpt. Brad Hoch says authorities think the man and woman are related. He didn't say what led to the shooting. The man and woman were in separate vehicles before the shooting. They are believed to have driven to where the shooting happened after an altercation.  Hoch says the man and woman seem to be the only two people involved and that there are no suspects.

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About 6 Percent of KU Faculty in Lawrence Take Buyout

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — More than 60 of the University of Kansas' tenured or tenure-track faculty on the Lawrence campus are taking an early retirement buyout.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that's about 6 percent of the 1,000 faculty members in Lawrence. They will leave between May 31, 2019, and May 31, 2020.  Interim provost and executive vice chancellor Carl Lejuez says the buyout program is designed to help the university with $20 million in budget cuts. The deadline to sign up was October 5.  The faculty members will receive their annual base salary for a year. Lejuez estimated those retiring were earning an average of about $100,000. They will not receive their standard benefits package.  Lejuez says some of those retiring are associate professors, but some faculty in leadership positions are also taking the buyout.

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Wednesday is Voter Registration Deadline in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missourians wanting to vote in the Nov. 6 election must be registered by Wednesday.  Residents must submit a completed voter registration application to local election authorities by 5 pm on October 10. The applications may be submitted in person or by mail.  Registration also may be done online through the Missouri Secretary of State's website. Other places to register include at a driver's license office when applying for or renewing a driver's license, a library or any state agency where an applicant is obtaining a service.  Applicants are required to present a form of personal identification, such as a driver's license.

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President Trump to Allow Year-Round Sales of High-Ethanol Gasoline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to allow year-round sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol, a boon for Iowa and other farm states that have pushed for greater sales of the corn-based fuel.  President Donald Trump is expected to announce he is lifting a federal ban on summer sales of high-ethanol blends during a trip to Iowa on Tuesday.  The long-expected announcement is something of a reward to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman led a contentious but successful fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The veteran Republican lawmaker is the Senate's leading ethanol proponent and has pushed for year-round sales of the high-ethanol blend.  A senior administration official confirmed the change Monday on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump's announcement.

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Amtrak Plans to Keep Southwest Chief Train Route Running

DENVER (AP) — Amtrak says the Southwest Chief train route connecting Chicago to Los Angeles with stops in Colorado will stay in operation as is for at least another year.  The Colorado Sun reports the national rail carrier had considered suspending rail service between Dodge City, Kansas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and replacing it with buses next year.  Amtrak's proposal stemmed from repairs needed to a 219-mile (352-kilometer) section of track between Trinidad, Colorado, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  A bipartisan group of U.S. senators from states along the route have been fighting Amtrak against implementing the busing option.  Scot Naparstek, Amtrak's executive vice president and chief operating officer, told a Senate committee last week that it is committed to keeping the train going at least through September 2019.

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Museum Volunteer Sentenced for Stealing War Artifacts
 

SEDALIA, Mo. (AP) - A former volunteer at a small Missouri museum has been sentenced to five years of probation for stealing Civil War and World War I artifacts and then rearranging display cases to conceal the thefts.   The Sedalia Democrat reports that 39-year-old Terry Cockrell was a 2010 Sedalia mayoral candidate who volunteered at the Pettis County Museum for years before moving to Coffeyville, Kansas.   He pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of felony stealing $750 or more. Prosecutors agreed to drop a second charge of stealing as part of a plea agreement. He is required to pay almost $3,000 in restitution and court costs.   He confessed in April to stealing and selling six artifacts, mostly firearms. The whereabouts of three artifacts, including a Civil War era surgical kit, remain unknown.

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Wichita School Warns Students About 'Happy Crack'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita middle school is asking parents to be sure their children aren't bringing a candy known a "happy crack" to school. Truesdell Middle School officials sent an email to families Monday saying the school's teachers are seeing more students bringing in powder candy in plastic bags. The Wichita Eagle reports the candy is Kool-Aid mixed with sugar or crushed smarties. The email said the candy has caused disruptions at the school several times. Wichita school district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said she hadn't heard about other schools having problems with "happy crack." . The powdered candy isn't new. In 2011, officials at a Maize elementary school asked parents to discuss drugs with their children after some fifth-graders reportedly sold baggies of Kool-Aid and sugar to classmates on the bus.

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Former Kansas City Doctor Sentenced for Child Pornography

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City physician was sentenced to 7.5 years without parole for distributing child pornography. Federal prosecutors say 42-year-old Jeffrey Hassenflug was also sentenced Tuesday to 10 years of supervised release after incarceration. Hassenflug also has paid $15,000 in restitution to his victims. Hassenflug was a doctor in Kansas City until moving to Texas in 2016, where he was an emergency room physician. Hassenflug admitted that he downloaded and shared child pornography over the internet. Investigators found 3,047 images of child pornography and 131 videos of child pornography on Hassenflug's electronic devices. He was arrested after a member of the FBI Kansas City Child Exploitation Task Force downloaded numerous files of child pornography from Hassenflug's computer, including images and videos depicting babies and toddlers being sexually abused.

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US to Open Gold Cup Title Defense at New St. Paul Stadium; Games Also Scheduled for KCK 

MIAMI (AP) — The United States will open the defense of its CONCACAF Gold Cup title on June 18 at new Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Americans will play their second match four days later in Cleveland and close Group D play on June 26 at Kansas City, Kansas, the governing soccer body of North and Central America and the Caribbean said Tuesday. Opponents will be announced next spring after the 16-nation field of the expanded tournament is completed. Allianz Field, the home of Minnesota United, is scheduled to open in March. Schedules were announced for the four seeded nations. Mexico has Group A games at Pasadena, California (June 15), Denver (June 19) and Charlotte, North Carolina (June 23). Costa Rica has Group B matches at a non-U.S. venue to be announced (June 16), Frisco, Texas (June 20) and Harrison, New Jersey (June 24). Group C is headed by Honduras, which plays at a non-U.S. venue to be announced (June 17), Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium (June 21) and Banc of America Stadium in Los Angeles (June 25). A quarterfinal doubleheader that includes the Group A and Group C winners will be in Houston's NRG Stadium on June 29, and the other quarterfinals will be in Philadelphia the following day. The Houston winners meet in a semifinal at Glendale, Arizona, on July 2, and the Philadelphia winners play the following day at Nashville, Tennessee. CONCACAF announced last month that the final will be at Chicago's Soldier Field on July 7 — the same day as the Women's World Cup final in Lyon, France, and the Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro. Soldier Field also was site of the Gold Cup final in 2007 and 2013. Panama and Trinidad and Tobago also have qualified for the Gold Cup because they were among the final six nations in regional qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Remaining Gold Cup qualifiers are scheduled for this month, November and March.
 

 

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