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Weekend Headlines for March 24th & 25th, 2018

Kansas Gets Past Duke in OT Classic to Reach NCAA Men's Tournament Final Four

Malik Newman scored all 13 of Kansas's points in overtime, and the top-seeded Jayhawks are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2012 after beating No. 2 seed Duke 85-81 in overtime in the Midwest Region final. The Jayhawks had failed to get out of the Elite Eight as a No. 1 seed each of the last two years. This time the Jayhawks broke through thanks to a huge performance from Newman, who scored a career-high 32 points. Kansas will play top-seeded East Region champion Villanova in the second national semifinal next Saturday in San Antonio. Duke was trying to get to the Final Four for the first time since it won the national championship in 2015. Newman made two free throws to tie the game, then gave the Jayhawks the lead for good at with 1:49 left. Newman scored 10 points in the first five minutes of the second half as the Jayhawks quickly erased a 36-33 halftime deficit. Trevon Duval scored 20 points to lead Duke. Marvin Bagley III scored 16 in what probably was his last college game.

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Testimony Begins Monday in Kansas Bomb Plot Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Testimony begins Monday in the trial of three militia members accused of targeting Somali immigrants in Kansas. Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction to detonate bombs at mosque and apartment complex housing Somalis in the meatpacking town of Garden City. Stein also faces weapons-related charges and Wright has an additional charge of lying to the FBI. They have pleaded not guilty. The first week of the federal trial unfolding in U.S. District Court in Wichita was consumed by jury selection and opening statements by a prosecutor and defense attorneys. The government will begin presenting their evidence Monday in a federal case that is expected to take six weeks.

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"March for Our Lives" Rallies Draw Huge Crowds

WASHINGTON (AP) — High school students led thousands of protesters on Saturday, part of a nation-wide youth movement demanding tighter gun regulation in the wake of a Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead. Students held signs reading "Not One More" and chanted "Right now, right here, we refuse to live in fear." Teachers protested President Donald Trump's proposal to arm some of them in order to protect students from potential attackers. Much of the protest was directed at the National Rifle Association. "I want to know that they care more about lives than profit, the NRA," said Naa'Rai Taison, a 19-year-old student at Cornish College of the Arts. "We can still hold on to our traditions without having to lose lives." Similar "March for Our Lives" events were held in many cities across the country Saturday by demonstrators spurred to action in the wake of school shootings and other gun violence.

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Indictment Issued in Waterslide Death 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A grand jury indictment says officials who designed, built and operated a giant waterslide at a Kansas water park knew it was "a deadly weapon" when they allowed a 10-year-old boy to get into a raft that later went airborne and decapitated him. The Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas, and a former official at the park were indicted Friday on involuntary manslaughter and several other charges in the August 2016 death of Caleb Schwab.

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Kansas Considers Regulating Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill that would require nursing facilities to get written permission from residents or their guardians before administering antipsychotic drugs faced stiff opposition from groups representing doctors, hospitals and skilled nursing homes during debate in the Kansas Legislature. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that antipsychotics increase the risk of falls, stroke and other potentially fatal side effects for people suffering from dementia. Since the federal government started tracking off-label use of such medications in nursing homes in 2011, Kansas has been at or near the top in percentage of medicated residents, The Kansas City Star reported . Rachel Monger, a lobbyist for LeadingAge Kansas, told legislators recently that the law "would be by far the broadest and most restrictive law on antipsychotics in the country" and would penalize nursing homes for funding and staffing shortages they can't control. "What this will really do is offer more penalties and lawsuits," said Monger, whose group represents faith-based and nonprofit nursing facilities. "That's what providers are scared of." The federal government recently enacted similar informed consent rules that will help reduce improper antipsychotic use, Monger said. The regulations won't impose penalties for 18 months. Mitzi McFatrich, the executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, said her group doesn't think the federal regulations are adequate and wants state laws to protect nursing home residents. "We have people who are currently in harm's way," McFatrich said. Monger said the industry is hampered by cuts to Medicaid and problems with Kansas' Medicaid eligibility determination system. Medicaid covers about half of Kansas residents who are in nursing homes. "The drivers behind anti-psychotic use are funding, workforce and training," Monger said. "We've done the training... (but) we don't have a lot of control over the funding and the workforce, and it is a serious problem." Kansas also leads the nation in the percentage of skilled nursing facilities cited by the federal government for several medication-related violations, some of which relate to antipsychotics. The state was highlighted in a Human Rights Watch report last month. The Kansas Hospital Association and the Kansas Medical Society, which represents doctors, also oppose the bill. Rachelle Columbo, a lobbyist for the medical society, said the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes is a "complex problem" that would be better addressed with conversations that include nursing homes' physician medical directors, rather than new regulations and penalties. The law includes and exemption for use of antipsychotics in emergency situations.

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Kansas Passes Controversial Poultry Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has signed into law a measure aimed at luring large-scale poultry processors to set up shop in Kansas. Colyer signed the bill on Tuesday. It passed in the Senate last month and in the House March 12, the Lawrence Journal-World reported . It greatly expands the number of chickens growers can house in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) before they would be required to obtain a state environmental permit. The Kansas Department of Agriculture and other agribusiness groups strongly supported the bill, arguing it would enable Kansas farmers to produce more "value-added" meat products for consumers. But the bill came in the wake of a recent controversy in northeast Kansas where Tyson Foods proposed building a large-scale slaughter and processing plant in Tonganoxie, sparking widespread public opposition. Tyson would rely on large-scale CAFOs such as those provided for in the bill to supply its chicken plant. Those facilities are owned by individual growers who buy and raise chickens on contract with Tyson. Growers using what's known as a dry manure processing system could house up to a third of a million birds at one location before being required to obtain a permit from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, according to the bill. Such a permit would impose several requirements, including minimum set-back distances between the barns housing the chickens and other inhabitable buildings or property lines.

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Kansas Candidates' Debate on Schools Touches Taxes, Marijuana

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — If Democrat Carl Brewer were Kansas governor, lawmakers might be discussing legalizing marijuana to raise extra money for public schools as they struggle to agree on a plan for satisfying a state Supreme Court mandate on education funding. Some major candidates for governor, like Brewer, believe the state must boost its annual spending on schools by several hundred million dollars, phasing in such an increase in spending. Several aren't outlining specific proposals, and conservative Republican Kris Kobach said this week that the court's demand for more money is "unwarranted." The Supreme Court ruled in October that the more than $4 billion a year that the state spends on aid to its 286 local school districts isn't sufficient under the state constitution. The court didn't set a specific spending target but hinted in its decision that it might have to rise by $650 million a year. Republican leaders commissioned a cost study by two out-of-state consultants, only to be stunned when it said improving public schools might cost as much as $2 billion more a year. Donors, interest groups and political activists are watching the nine major hopefuls ahead of the June 1 candidate filing deadline. Education funding is the biggest financial issue facing the state before the Aug. 7 primary election. The major Republican candidates are Gov. Jeff Colyer, Kobach, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Sen. Jim Barnett, a Topeka physician. The major Democratic candidates are Brewer, the former Wichita mayor; state Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka; former state Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty; and Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward, of Wichita. Kansas City-area businessman Greg Orman has launched potentially the most serious independent campaign for governor in more than 80 years. He said the next governor would face "a different set of challenges" and Orman expects the Legislature to "do its job" by satisfying the Supreme Court. Colyer, elevated from lieutenant governor when former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback resigned to take an ambassador's post, told lawmakers soon after he took office that their plan must end education funding lawsuits and should avoid increasing taxes. Spokesman Kendall Marr pointed to those comments when asked about Colyer's proposals now. Selzer's campaign said he would respond to school funding questions next week. Brewer and Barnett were the only major candidates to suggest specific revenue-raising measures in statements or interviews with The Associated Press. Barnett pointed to a proposal before lawmakers to impose the state's sales tax on internet purchases, which by one estimate would raise $93 million a year. He said a roughly $600 million increase could be phased in over three years. Brewer said the recent GOP-commissioned study makes a funding increase of roughly $600 million appear "reasonable." "We need to look at all avenues in increasing the state's revenue, including legalizing marijuana for medical and recreation use and reducing tax exemptions," Brewer said in an email statement. Kelly said increasing education funding by between $100 million and $200 million each of the next three years could satisfy the court. Svaty suggested phasing in an increase of "several hundred million dollars." Ward said with state revenues exceeding expectations for the past eight months, it's premature to talk about raising taxes. Kelly also hopes revenue growth can supply extra dollars for schools for at least several years. Svaty said if lawmakers need to discuss raising revenues later, they should take a broad look at the entire tax system first.

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Kansas Chemist Facing Deportation Says US Is His Home

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A man who is fighting deportation from Kansas to his native Bangladesh acknowledges he made mistakes years ago while trying to stay in the U.S. and hopes immigration officials will let him remain in the country he calls home. Syed Ahmed Jamal entered the U.S. legally in 1987 on a student visa. He said his troubles began in 2006, when he tried to switch from a work visa at Children's Mercy Hospital, where his research had been discontinued, to a student visa he needed to pursue a doctorate at the University of Kansas. The wait between visas created what he called "a gap" in his status, which proved to be critical in deportation proceedings that began in 2011. Even just a few months between visas "can be held against you forever," he said Wednesday while attending a party with neighbors, who were celebrating his release from a Missouri jail two months after he was arrested by immigration officials at his Lawrence home, The Kansas City Star reported . Immigration officials allowed Jamal to stay if he reported regularly to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which he did up to the week he was arrested in January at his home. After his arrest for overstaying his visa, his family, friends, neighbors and attorneys launched a legal and media campaign to keep Jamal in the country. He was being flown back to Bangladesh last month when an immigration panel granted a temporary stay, requiring immigration officials to remove him from the plane when it stopped to refuel in Honolulu. He eventually was returned to the jail in Platte County, Missouri, and was released to his family on Tuesday pending a review of his case. One of the neighbors hosting Wednesday's celebration, Marci Leuschen, said Ahmed's release "gives me hope." "If you speak up for what you believe, good things can happen," she said. Jamal still faces deportation. The Board of Immigration Appeals is reviewing his case and will issue a judgment, which could take several weeks or months. If the board reopens his case, it would give hope to other "non-criminal visitors" who are facing deportation, said his Jamal's younger brother, Syed H. Jamal. "We're lucky this occurred in a small town where there's a community of friends who have the resources to mobilize. So many others (being deported) don't have that network," said Syed H. Jamal. "People everywhere are paying attention to the fact that this is happening to their neighbors, not just strangers." Even some supporters wonder how Shyed Ahmed Jamal, a Bihari ethnic minority, had not gained citizenship since 1987. Five of his siblings living in North America obtained that status. In 2008, a citizen brother in Texas filed a "siblings petition," which would allow Jamal to pursue citizenship. But even when a close relative sponsors a non-citizen, the wait can take 15 to 20 years. Jamal, who has worked as an adjunct professor and researcher at Kansas City-area colleges, also filed a petition seeking permanent residency based on his contributions to education and community, but that request was rejected. In 2012, Jamal chose not to return to Bangladesh under an immigration judge's order of removal. He gambled that Canada would accept him and his family, but Canada denied his residency application. Even then, Jamal believed he could continue working and raising his family in Kansas if he complied with supervision orders, he said Wednesday. Jamal said he appreciated all the support, including from Kansas Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins and Missouri Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who are working on legislation that would protect him and his wife, who is also Bangladeshi, from deportation. "To me, this is home," he said of Kansas and Missouri. "Home sweet home."

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Kansas Prosecutor Creates Women-Only Diversion Program

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new diversion program in Kansas is working to keep women with addictions out of jail by helping them get clean. The Douglas County Women's Substance Use Disorder Prosecutor-Led Diversion and Treatment Program started this month, the Lawrence Journal-World reported . The program is only for women who live in the county, have at least one prior offense on their records, have a diagnosed substance abuse disorder and agree to participate in a treatment plan for at least a year. The program is meant for women with nonviolent misdemeanor charges, but felony or violent charges will be considered based on individual cases. "Their crimes are usually felonies but of a nonviolent nature," said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson. "Because of the nature of the crime, often they are released on bond and reoffend, or fail on bond before their original court case is concluded." The program includes a collection of wraparound services, such as detox, inpatient or intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, housing assistance and child care. "The goal of this program is to divert the participant from the jail to a treatment-based diversion program that will offer a chance for recovery and support," Branson said. "The ultimate goal is to stop the revolving door of incarceration." There are no applications or fees for participants. Instead, re-entry case managers will propose potential participants to the prosecutor's office, which reviews the cases and notifies eligible women's attorneys to invite them to participate. The program will accept up to 12 participants a year.

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Man Charged with Murder in Death of 2-Year-Old Kansas Girl

HOISINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in central Kansas. Barton County authorities say 25-year-old Chaz Stephens was also charged Friday with child abuse, possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia. He remains jailed on $1 million bond. The body of Iviona Lewis was found Wednesday morning northwest of Hoisington. The child was last seen Sunday night at her home in Hosington but was not reported missing until Tuesday afternoon. Hoisington Police Chief Kenton Doze said the girl's mother was visiting her brother in Great Bend, and the delay in reporting Iviona's disappearance was caused by confusion over who was supposed to be caring for her. Stephens's next court appearance was scheduled for April 5.

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Kansas Woman Gains Popularity with Rainbow Hairstyles

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A small-town Kansas woman is gaining national attention for her rainbow hair art. Ursula Goff has more than 102,000 followers on Instagram who get to see photos of hairstyles she made that include dyed polka dots, mosaic designs and painted eyes. She was recently featured on the Rachael Ray Show with a segment about her hairstyles, the Wichita Eagle reported . "The rainbow hair trend has been flooding our social media feeds for quite some time now — but one extremely popular hairstylist from Kansas named Ursula Goff ... has truly taken the phenomenon to another level," Cristina Corvino wrote for the show. Goff has been styling hair for more than a dozen years, but didn't start gaining social media attention until about three years ago. She the reactions to her art weren't always positive in rural Kansas. "As time goes by, I get more positive feedback than anything," Goff said. "There's always people who don't like it or it's not their thing, but they aren't my market, so it's no big deal." She finds her inspiration from "almost everything," and embraces what some consider weird or crazy. "It's fun and lucrative," Goff said. "I get almost complete creative control, it's just challenging enough, and it's given me fantastic travel, exposure and income opportunities. Obviously that not only benefits me and my career, but my family also, and they are ultimately who I answer to and who motivates me." Despite the national attention, Goff said she has no plans to leave the small town of Wellington anytime soon.
 

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