Headlines for Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Meteorologists: This Summer Was a Global Heat Record Breaker
GENEVA (AP) — Earth has sweltered through its hottest Northern Hemisphere summer ever measured, with a record warm August capping a season of brutal and deadly temperatures, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Last month was not only the hottest August scientists ever recorded by far with modern equipment, it was also the second hottest month measured, behind only July 2023, WMO and the European climate service Copernicus announced Wednesday. August was about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial averages. That is the threshold that the world is trying not to pass, though scientists are more concerned about rises in temperatures over decades, not merely a blip over a month's time.
The world's oceans — more than 70% of the Earth's surface — were the hottest ever recorded, nearly 21 C (69.8 F), and have set high temperature rks for three consecutive months, the WMO and Copernicus said. "The dog days of summer are not just barking, they are biting," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. "Climate breakdown has begun."
So far, 2023 is the second hottest year on record, behind 2016, according to Copernicus.
Scientists blame ever warming human-caused climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas with an extra push from a natural El Nino, which is a temporary warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide. Usually an El Nino, which started earlier this year, adds extra heat to global temperatures but more so in its second year. Climatologist Andrew Weaver said the numbers announced by WMO and Copernicus come as no surprise, bemoaning how governments have not appeared to take the issue of global warming seriously enough. He expressed concern that the public will just forget the issue when temperatures fall again.
Governor Declares Disaster Emergency Due to Wildfires in Western Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has issued a state of disaster emergency in southwest Kansas after wildfires erupted in Kearny County. Aerial fire suppression efforts are now being used in remote areas that ground crews have been unable to access due to rough terrain. The emergency declaration puts in place state assets that can be used if requested by county emergency managers. KSNW TV reports that parts of western and south-central Kansas have seen a sharp rise in wildfires, where conditions remains hot and dry.
Wichita Shelter Staff: Domestic Violence on the Rise
WICHITA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) — Kansas domestic violence shelters say the recent death of a pregnant Wichita woman coincides with a rise in domestic violence incidents. Zaiylah Bronson was 16 weeks pregnant. Her boyfriend was charged with capital murder last week. Homicide is the third-leading cause of death for pregnant Kansans. Amanda Meyers, with the Wichita Family Crisis Center, says Bronson’s death comes as the shelter sees more domestic violence survivors seeking help. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase. We have an increased capacity of three times the size of our previous facility... and we are full and bursting at the seams," she said. She urges anyone experiencing abuse to seek help.
Other Kansas shelters say they are also seeing a rise in domestic violence incidents. Andrea Quill, CEO of the Salina-based Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas, says the severity of abuse has also increased. She says the shelter is struggling to meet demand as federal pandemic money dries up. The national domestic violence hotline is (800) 799-7233.
Kansas Selects Provider to Run Alternatives to Abortion Program
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/TCJ) — State officials have selected a Kansas-based nonprofit to administer a new program that will promote alternatives to abortion. Kansas lawmakers allocated $2 million for the program this year, which will be distributed to anti-abortion counseling centers. The pro-life centers offer resources to people with unplanned pregnancies. Some have faced criticism for using what critics label "unethical tactics." The Kansas Pregnancy Care Network was the only in-state group to submit an eligible bid to run the new program. It’s affiliated with a group that runs a similar program in Texas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the newly-established Kansas Pregnancy Care Center will be led by former Kansas GOP Congressman Tim Huelskamp.
Top U.S Education Officials Take Bus Tour of Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (KMUW/KNS) — The nation’s top education leaders made several stops in Kansas Tuesday to visit schools and talk about job-training programs. U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten launched a nationwide Back to School bus tour with stops in Topeka, Lawrence and Wichita. They toured programs that give students hands-on training in manufacturing and other industries. At North High School in Wichita, Marten said federal COVID aid to Kansas schools will end next year. But schools are measuring the effect of new programs. “So that when the funding ends, what are we going to keep doing? What are we going to stop doing? And what maybe should we actually start up that we haven’t started yet because we learned something?” she said. The Back to School Bus Tour includes stops in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Federal education officials have also been talking about the importance of diversity, teacher training and career preparation. Marten said the Future Ready Center at Wichita’s North High School is a good example of a new standard that aims to help students earn manufacturing certificates to start work right after graduation.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and others visited Topeka schools and the University of Kansas. The department’s Back to School Bus Tour runs through Friday.
Kansas Legislature Considers New Retirement Plan for State Workers
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — The chair of the Kansas Senate’s tax committee wants to create a new retirement plan for state workers. It could ultimately reduce costs for the state, but would not pay a guaranteed benefit to workers like the current pension. Republican Senator Caryn Tyson plans to hold hearings on a bill that would create the new system. It would match employee contributions into a retirement plan, similar to a 401(k). Lawmakers will consider creating the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) after the legislative session starts in January. Tyson says the healthy Kansas budget makes the shift possible. “If we could start converting to the TSP system, especially with the money in the bank now, now would be the time to do it,” Tyson sad. The plan could lead to higher investment returns for workers and would save the state money in the long term. Under the change, the investment risk would be shifted to workers and they wouldn’t have a guaranteed payout at retirement. The state infused more than $1 billion in KPERS in 2022. Tyson believes that is a temporary fix and that phasing out KPERS entirely will save taxpayers money.
Kansas Newspaper's Lawyer: Police Didn't Follow Warrant in Last Month's Newsroom Raid
UNDATED (AP) — Police officers who raided a small Kansas newspaper's offices last month didn't follow the requirements of the search warrant to only seize computers that had been directly involved in suspected identity theft, according to the newspaper's lawyer.
Authorities released data to the newspaper last week showing police spent 1 hour and 20 minutes fruitlessly searching one computer for signs it was used to look up the driving record of a local restaurant owner and the status of her driver's license on the Kansas Department of Revenue's site. No evidence was found. But the Marion County Record 's attorney Bernie Rhodes said Tuesday that police seized that computer and then took all the other computers in the newsroom along with two reporters' cell phones without checking to see if any of those devices were involved.
“So it’s a complete and total sham, which is, in my view, simply more evidence that this so-called search was just a pretense to intimidate the newspaper,” Rhodes said.
The Record's publisher, Eric Meyer, whose home was also searched on August 11 along with the home of a city council member, has said he thinks the the search was motivated by the newspaper's investigation of Police Chief Gideon Cody's background with the Kansas City Police Department before he was hired in Marion earlier this year.
Cody didn't respond to email questions from The Associated Press on Tuesday. He defended the search initially, but hasn't said much publicly since the Kansas Bureau of Investigation took over the case. He said in affidavits used to obtain the search warrants that he had probable cause to believe the newspaper and City Council member Ruth Herbel, whose home was also raided, had violated state laws against identity theft or computer crimes.
Police had said in court documents that investigators believed the newspaper may have acted illegally to obtain personal information about a local restaurant owner. But a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Revenue has said the search a reporter did after they received some information from a tipster was legal.
The KBI hasn't offered updates on its investigation or when it might turn over its findings to the local prosecutor in the central Kansas town of about 1,900 people.
Video of the raid on the home of publisher Eric Meyer shows how distraught his 98-year-old mother became as officers searched through their belongings. Meyer said he believes that stress contributed to the death of his mother, Joan Meyer, a day later.
The raids have been sharply criticized nationally because of the implications for the press protections outlined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But now Rhodes said he believes there were also violations of the Fourth Amendment's restrictions on unreasonable searches.
In the search warrant, the judge directed police to “conduct a preview search of all located digital communications devices and digital storage media to exclude from seizure those which have not been involved in the identity theft.”
Rhodes said the data reviewed by his forensic expert shows that didn't happen. Rhodes is still gathering evidence for the lawsuit he plans to file on the newspaper's behalf, but one of the Record's reporters already filed her own lawsuit against police.
Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey didn't immediately respond to questions Tuesday about the search warrants. But a few days after the raids, he said, there wasn't enough evidence to justify the searches so he ordered authorities to return everything they seized.
Legal experts believe the raid on the newspaper violated a federal privacy law or a state law shielding journalists from having to identify sources or turn over unpublished material to law enforcement.
Federal Programs Help Keep Kansas Kids Out of Foster Care
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Recent programs funded with federal money are helping Kansas keep kids out of foster care. The Family First program, created in 2018, gives states money to fund prevention services that help keep families intact so kids don’t end up in foster care. That could include therapy for families. In Kansas, multiple organizations say the programs are keeping over 90% of kids out of the foster care system. Nicole McCauley works for foster care agency St. Francis Ministries. She says money historically has supported foster parents and adoption. “That’s important,” McCauley says, “but so is keeping kids out of foster care in the first place. I think it strengthens the entire child welfare system.” Two separate audits say Kansas is struggling to care for kids once in foster care and the agencies say that makes this prevention work even more important. (Read more.)
Grizzly Blamed for Fatally Mauling Kansas Woman Killed After Breaking into Montana House
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. (AP) — A grizzly bear that fatally mauled a woman on a forest trail west of Yellowstone National Park in July and also attacked a person in Idaho three years ago was killed after it broke into a house near West Yellowstone over the weekend, Montana wildlife officials said Wednesday.
Early Saturday, a homeowner reported that a bear with a cub had broken through a kitchen window and taken a container of dog food, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a statement.
Later that day agency workers captured the cub and shot the 10-year-old female grizzly with authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, because grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Through genetic analysis and other identifying factors, the bear was confirmed to have been involved in the July 22 fatal attack on Amie Adamson, 48, a former teacher from Kansas, about 8 miles from West Yellowstone. Efforts to trap the bear at that time were unsuccessful.
The bear, which had been captured in 2017 for research purposes, was also involved in an attack in Idaho that injured a person near Henrys Lake State Park in 2020. The park is 16 miles by road from West Yellowstone.
Both encounters with people were believed to have been defensive responses by the bear, officials said.
The bear's 46-pound male cub is being held at the state wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena while arrangements are made to transfer it to a zoo.
Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Questionable for Opener vs Lions with Knee Injury
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs' Travis Kelce was held out of Wednesday's final workout and listed as questionable for Thursday night's season opener against Detroit, one day after the All-Pro tight end hyperextended his knee in practice.
Kelce was the only player to carry an injury designation for the Super Bowl champions, who will be raising their latest banner before the first game of the NFL season.
That means that wide receiver Kadarius Toney and cornerback L'Jarius Sneed, both of whom have dealt with knee injuries throughout training camp, are expected to be in the lineup.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid did not discuss Kelce's injury in detail after Tuesday's practice, but a person familiar with the tests taken afterward told The Associated Press that there was no ligament damage. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the test results.
Kelce's brother and podcast partner, Eagles center Jason Kelce, told WIP on Wednesday that “he's got some swelling going on," and alluded to a bruise on the bone that could take some time to heal.
“From what we know right now,” Jason Kelce said, “his knee is fine. It's about getting that swelling down.”
The 33-year-old Kelce has not missed a game to injury since his rookie season in 2013, when he played in just one game before having a microfracture procedure to fix a cartilage problem in his knee. Kelce has twice been held out of meaningless games to end the regular season and missed a game in December 2021 when he tested positive to COVID-19.
Kelce had a career-high 110 passes for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. That was enough to be voted first-team All-Pro for the fourth time and get selected to the Pro Bowl for the eighth straight season.
“I’ve been very fortunate that we have the best training staff in the league,” Kelce said earlier in the week, before he hurt his knee on a red zone play. "There’s a lot that goes into it. You just have to be a professional, and you just have to be very fortunate.
“Actually,” he said, “there’s lot of fortune that goes into the game and staying healthy and being out there every week.”
Chiefs Begin NFL Title Defense Against Lions on Thursday Night at Arrowhead Stadium
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Just about everyone in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room has moved past their latest Super Bowl triumph by this point, turning their focus toward the Detroit Lions in Thursday night's NFL opener and the prospect of becoming the first repeat NFL champions in nearly two decades.
Keeping that focus has been hard, though.
The Chiefs spent the offseason wondering whether Chris Jones would end his holdout, and it appears that the All-Pro defensive tackle is content taking it right into the regular season. Then on Tuesday, the Chiefs watched All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce limp off the practice field with a hyperextended knee, putting his availability for the Lions in question.
Throw in the fact that Chiefs fans are still talking about their February victory over Philadelphia, their attempt to set a record for largest pregame tailgate, and a banner-raising ceremony greeting their entrance to Arrowhead Stadium and, well, there are more than enough reasons for the Chiefs to be distracted as they begin pursuit of a fourth Super Bowl trip in five years.
“Listen, right now the guys are focused on the Lions,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who has won eight consecutive openers. “All that other stuff — it's going to be an exciting environment, but right now we've got to make sure we're not looking at all that stuff and we're looking at the Lions. They get your attention when you watch the tape.”
Indeed, the Lions responded to losing six of their first seven games last season by winning eight of their last 10, and there were few offenses in the NFL that were scoring at the same clip as Jared Goff and Co. down the stretch.
The Lions could be even better on that side of the ball, too. The picked up David Montgomery in free agency, chose fellow running back Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round of the draft and selected tight end Sam LaPorta in the third round.
“The last two years we haven’t started quick,” Goff said. “There’s a little bit of an increased awareness of it, I think, making sure that we don’t dig ourselves in a hole. But the same time, we’re trying to win every game.”
So are the Chiefs, who have done a pretty good job of it.
They have won the AFC West the past seven seasons, hosted the conference title game a record five straight years, and Patrick Mahomes — the reigning league MVP — has never lost an opener in five games as the starting quarterback.
Four of those games the Chiefs won by double digits with Mahomes throwing 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions.
“Obviously the preseason is one thing," he said, "but taking that next step into the regular season will be big, and it's not always going to be perfect. But how are you going to battle the entire game to find a way to win?'
MISSING FROM ACTION
Jones has already racked up millions in fines for missing training camp and the preseason, but the Chiefs' star defensive tackle now faces the prospect of losing about $1.1 million in game checks for each week he is gone.
Jones is entering the final year of a four-year, $80 million deal, and has been holding out in the hopes of landing a more lucrative long-term deal.
The Chiefs' star tight end hyperextended his knee during Tuesday's last full workout for the Lions. The 33-year-old Kelce has not missed a game because of injury since his rookie year, when he had surgery on his knee, and he is coming off perhaps the best season of his 10-year career. He had a career-best 110 catches for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
PRIMED FOR PRIME TIME
Detroit is aiming to get off to a better start this season and hopes joint practices against the Giants and Jaguars will help.
“It was two good teams, two playoff teams, two teams with completely different styles of defense,” Goff said. “It was a really good four days of work for us and was able to kind of be a barometer for where we were at and some things to learn from.”
The Lions had a top-five offense last season in part because they finished 11th in rushing, their best showing on the ground since 1997, when future Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders had a 2,000-yard season. But they dealt D’Andre Swift to the Eagles and Jamaal Williams left for the Saints, so general manager Brad Holmes signed David Montgomery away from the Bears and drafted Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama with the No. 12 pick overall, putting them behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.
“Gibby’s kind of the speed, quick guy and David is a bit more of the stronger,” Goff said. “We plan to hand it off to both of them and throw it to both of them at some points this season and they’re both extremely explosive.”
The Lions are thrilled that Levi Onwuzurike, a backup in 16 games two years ago, is back to bolster their depth on the defensive line. He missed last season with a back injury that required a spinal-fusion surgery that could have ended his career.
“He’s been through a lot and through it all," Lions coach Dan Campbell said, "and the guy has never complained.”
Chiefs All-Pro Chris Jones in Holdout as Season Approaches: 'I Just Want a Raise'
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones says he “just wants a raise” as he threatens to take his holdout into the regular season with Kansas City scheduled to face the Detroit Lions in the NFL's opener Thursday night. Jones was back in Kansas City on Wednesday to visit with children and their families at Ronald McDonald House Charities. The All-Pro pass rusher left open the possibility he could be on the field against the Lions, and reaffirmed his hope that he can sign a long-term deal with the Chiefs. The 29-year-old Jones is entering the final year of a four-year, $80 million contract.
The Chiefs Have Won 8 Straight Season Openers but That's Still Not the Longest Streak
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have been fast starters to the NFL season. The defending-champion Chiefs head into their opener Thursday night at home against Detroit having won eight straight regular-season openers, which is tied for the fifth longest streak of the Super Bowl era. Kansas City last lost in Week 1 back in 2014 with Alex Smith at quarterback when they fell 26-10 to Tennessee in a game played before Mahomes had even made his college debut. Mahomes has thrown at least three touchdown passes in all five of his season openers. Only three QBs have more openers with at least three TD passes in their entire careers. They have a long way to go to catch the longest streak ever as the Cowboys won 17 straight openers between 1965-81. The last team to win more than eight straight was the New England Patriots, who won 10 in a row from 2004-13.
Mahomes has been particularly sharp to start the season, throwing at least three TD passes in all five season-opening starts in his career for the longest streak ever. The only QBs to have more than five career Week 1 games with at least three TD passes are Tom Brady (nine), Dan Marino (seven) and Drew Brees (six).
In fact, only nine teams other than the Chiefs have had five Week 1 games with at least three TD passes in the last 20 seasons. The Bengals have the longest drought of that kind with none since Boomer Esiason did it in 1988.
Royals Get "Balk Off" Win over White Sox After Rallying from 6-0 Deficit
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gregory Santos balked with the bases-loaded as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-6 Tuesday night. The Royals overcame a 6-0 deficit to claim the victory. It was the Royals first series win since August 1-3 against the Mets, ironically a series that included the first balk-off win in franchise history. The Royals entered the ninth trailing 6-5. Nick Loftin reached on an error and went to second on a single by Michael Massey. Maikel Garcia hit into a fielder's choice before Bobby Witt Jr. singled in the tying run. With two outs, Santos intentionally walked MJ Melendez to load the bases, bringing up Edward Olivares. Santos was called for a balk on his first pitch to Olivares.
The White Sox and Royals will play the final game of the three-game series Wednesday night.
This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Tom Parkinson and Kaye McIntyre. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. These ad-free headlines are made possible by KPR members. Become one today. You can also follow KPR News on Twitter.