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Updated: 2 hours 26 min ago

Two-alarm fire destroys homes in south Wichita

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:07

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Two homes were destroyed in a fire near 30th and Seneca Tuesday night.

Herb Smith III sent KSN this video of the fire. When fire crews arrived, they found heavy fire showing with two homes involved.

The Red Cross is helping three adults who were displaced by the fire.

No word yet on what caused the fire.

Two houses on fire near 30th St S and Seneca. Additional units requested to the scene. #ictfire #icttraffic

— WichitaFireDept (@WichitaFireDept) December 13, 2017

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Man charged in dragging death of 86-year-old man

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:29

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – A man has been charged with dragging an 86-year-old man to death in Kansas City, Kansas, as he tried to stop his pickup truck from being stolen.

Thirty-one-year-old Dominic McGee was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and theft in the Nov. 29 death of Frank Davila. Bond is set at $500,000. McGee is jailed in Jackson County, Missouri.

Police say Davila was dragged when he confronted someone trying to steal his truck. He died at a hospital.

The carjacker fled in the truck, which was later found unoccupied across the state line in Kansas City, Missouri.

A prosecutor’s office spokesman didn’t immediately return an email asking whether McGee had an attorney.

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Anonymous donor pays off layaway items for 200 families

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:27

EVERETT, Pa. (WJAC) – An anonymous donor has paid for all of the items on layaway at an Everett, Pennsylvania Walmart for the second year in a row, giving 200 families an easier Christmas.

Barbara Karns has worked at the Everett Walmart for 20 years, and has never seen generosity and humility like this.

“In this area you don’t hear a lot, I mean you hear small things where somebody pays somebody’s grocery bill or things like that but this was pretty big,” Karns said.

Nobody knows who the secret donor is, not even the Walmart staff. They just call him “Santa B” and this year, Santa B donated a total of about $40,000.

The Walmart staff has been making calls to families with the news, letting them know their Christmas gifts are paid off.

Kristen Martin said she asked directly if someone had paid for the gifts.

“I couldn’t wait to get to Walmart. I was like driving and shaking. Look at me, I’m shaking. It’s crazy,” she said.

Categories: Local KSN News

3 found dead in burning Kansas City, Kansas, home

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:18

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Fire officials say a third body has been found after a house fire at a Kansas City, Kansas, home.

The blaze was reported early Tuesday. Firefighters searching the single-story home found two bodies at that time. A third body was found later in the day as firefighters sifted through the house.

Kansas City, Kansas, police spokesman Tom Tomasic said evidence found at the home was leading investigators to believe the deaths were suspicious but they had not been ruled homicides.

KCTV5 reports Tomasic says the fire department will look for accelerants and an autopsy will be performed to determine how the people died.

No other details were immediately released.

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Democrat Jones wins stunning red-state Alabama Senate upset

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:49

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special Senate election, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations.

It was the first Democratic Senate victory in a quarter-century in Alabama, one of the reddest of red states, and proved anew that party loyalty is anything but certain in the age of Trump. Tuesday’s Republican loss was a major political embarrassment for the president and a fresh wound for the nation’s already divided GOP.

“We have shown not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way — that we can be unified,” Jones declared as supporters in a Birmingham ballroom cheered, danced and cried tears of joy. Still in shock, the Democrat struggled for words: “I think that I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don’t know what the hell to say.”

Moore, meanwhile, refused to concede and raised the possibility of a recount during a brief appearance at a somber campaign party in Montgomery.

“It’s not over,” Moore said. He added, “We know that God is still in control.”

From the White House, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones “on a hard-fought victory” — but added pointedly that “the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”

Jones takes over the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The term expires in January of 2021.

On Wednesday, Trump reminded his Twitter followers that he had originally supported Sen. Luther Strange, Moore’s GOP primary opponent.

“The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”

The victory by Jones, a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for Birmingham’s infamous 1963 church bombing, narrows the GOP advantage in the U.S. Senate to 51-49. That imperils already-uncertain Republican tax, budget and health proposals and injects tremendous energy into the Democratic Party’s early push to reclaim House and Senate majorities in 2018.

Still, many Washington Republicans viewed the defeat of Moore as perhaps the best outcome for the party nationally despite the short-term sting. The fiery Christian conservative’s positions have alienated women, racial minorities, gays and Muslims — in addition to the multiple allegations that he was guilty of sexual misconduct with teens, one only 14, when he was in his 30s.

“Short-term pain, long-term gain,” former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, tweeted. “Roy Moore and Steve Bannon losing tonight is big win for the GOP. … Moore would have buried GOP in 2018.”

A number of Republicans declined to support Moore, including Alabama’s long-serving Sen. Richard Shelby. But Trump lent his name and the national GOP’s resources to Moore’s campaign in recent days.

Had Moore won, the GOP would have been saddled with a colleague accused of sordid conduct as Republicans nationwide struggle with Trump’s historically low popularity. Senate leaders had promised that Moore would have faced an immediate ethics investigation.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to wrap up their work by Dec. 22, but lawmakers are still struggling to devise a compromise tax bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated the new Alabama senator would be sworn in the first week in January, when Congress returns from its break.

The Republican loss also gives Democrats a clearer path to a Senate majority in 2018 — albeit a narrow one — in an election cycle where Democrats are far more optimistic about seizing control of the House of Representatives.

Ultimately, Tuesday’s contest came down to which side better motivated its supporters to vote. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said turnout likely would not exceed 25 percent of registered voters.

Jones successfully fought to cobble together an unlikely coalition of African-Americans, liberal whites and moderate Republicans.

He had his strongest support across Alabama’s “black belt,” named for the color of its soil, and in the larger urban areas, including Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. Turnout in those areas, which features a large African-American population, also ran higher than in some of the more heavily Republican parts of the state.

At his election night headquarters, stunned supporters erupted in celebration as news of his victory was announced. Many danced to the song “Happy.” Some cried.

“I honestly did not know that this was even an option. I didn’t think that we could elect a Democrat,” said 26-year-old campaign volunteer Jess Eddington, her eyes red from tears of joy. “I am so proud we did.”

Moore, who largely avoided public events in the final weeks of the race and spent far less money on advertising than his opponent, bet big — and lost — on the state’s traditional Republican leanings and the strength of his passionate evangelical Christian supporters.

He sidestepped questions about sexual misconduct as he arrived at his polling place on horseback earlier in the day.

Alabama state law calls for a recount if the margin of victory is less than one-half of one percentage point. With all precincts reporting, Jones led by 1.5 points — three times that margin.

If the secretary of state determines there were more write-in votes than the difference between Jones and Moore, the state’s counties would be required to tally those votes. It’s not clear how that would help Moore, who ended the night trailing Jones by more than 20,000 votes.

Democrats were not supposed to have a chance in Alabama, one of the most Republican-leaning states in the nation. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton here by nearly 28 points just 13 months ago. Yet Moore had political baggage that repelled some moderate Republicans even before allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

Virtually the entire Republican establishment supported Strange in September. Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was one of the only early high-profile Moore backers.

Moore was once removed from his position as state Supreme Court chief justice after he refused to remove a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument at the state court building. A second time, he was permanently suspended for urging state probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez: “The people of Alabama sent a loud and clear message to Donald Trump and the Republican Party: You can’t call yourself the party of family values as long as you’re willing to accept vile men like Roy Moore as members.”

___

Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jay Reeves and Emily Wagster Pettus in Birmingham, Alabama, Bill Barrow in Montgomery and Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

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Rollover accident causes sink hole in downtown Wichita

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:21

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A late night rollover accident took a turn for the worse when the car hit a fire hydrant, flooding the street which caused a sinkhole to form.

The crash happened Tuesday around 10:30 p.m. at the intersection of 2nd and Emporia.

The driver of the car suffered only minor issues.

The sinkhole shutdown traffic to 2nd street and northbound lanes of Emporia as crews work to repair it.

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Wrong-way driver causes multi-car crash

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:40

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A wrong-way driver on Kellogg caused an early morning multi-car crash injuring multiple people.

Dispatch said it happened just before 1:20 a.m. Wednesday,

Wichita Police Sgt. Robert Reichenberger said a pickup truck was seen driving the wrong way on eastbound Kellogg near Washington. A car then tried to avoid the truck near the Seneca exit, but ended up colliding with one other vehicle. Four people were injured in the collision and one of them was in critical condition.

The driver of the truck continued to drive the wrong way.

According to Reichenberger, officers used stop sticks at Kellogg and Tyler. The driver was eventually stopped.

Dispatch tells KSN the driver was taken into custody.

Reichenberger said the driver is suspected of driving under the influence.

Eastbound Kellogg traffic was shut down at Seneca and Tyler for a period of time.

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Leon’s Breakfast Blog:

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:25

Well it “ISN’T” starting to look a lot like Christmas my friends!! The weird and warm and dry December weather pattern continues!! That stubborn ridge of high pressure over the W US absolutely refuses to move!!

So…. Guess what!?!?!?! Today we start off chilly again but we start to warm up pretty fast… W to NW winds will kick in by the second half of the morning and we will rip our way through the 40s and into the 50s by lunchtime and end up in the 60s for highs!!

I know I sound like a broken record talking about the continued fire danger statewide, but take a look at the wind kicking in today!! And check our the NW! 20-40 mph winds are pretty sporty, even by Kansas standards…

Blustery and much cooler weather will return tomorrow bringing us back to a quick dose of December reality. But heading into the weekend the temps start to moderate just a bit and we’re back to mild afternoons before you know it… And still, no decent chance of moisture…

Categories: Local KSN News

CPR training now a graduation requirement for Kansas high school students

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 01:07

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – High schoolers across the state will have a new subject to study next year.

The Kansas Board of Education voted Tuesday, making Kansas the 38th state to require CPR training in schools.

The American Heart Association estimates about 350-thousand people experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital ever year in the United States

About 90-percent of those victims end up dying.

For 18-year old Emma Baker, the issue hits close to home.

When Emma was 13 years old she was competing in a spelling bee in Buhler, when her life took an unexpected turn.

“There was a mom in the audience and the principal of the middle school knew CPR, they recognized she was in medical distress and started CPR right away,” said Cate Baker, Emma’s mom.

Cate says her daughter went into sudden cardiac arrest.

“Emma received CPR for 45 minutes from three sets of people,” said Cate Baker.

That is why the Baker family have been advocates for training and teaching people CPR.

So far this year, they say they’ve helped train about a thousand people.

Back in June, Emma spoke to the state board of education, pitching the idea of getting CPR adopted as part of the curriculum in Kansas high schools.

“I think it is important for people to see like CPR literally saved my life, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” said Emma Baker.

On Tuesday, Emma’s idea came to fruition.

“So, high school seniors or before graduation, they will be trained in CPR, so we are training the next generation of lifesavers, as a high school graduation requirement,” said Angela Breer, Communications Director for the American Heart Association.

Breer says the AHA put forward 25-thousand dollars to get kits placed statewide in the state’s seven regional service centers for schools to use.

“There are 10 mannequins in a kit and there is a thing to inflate them, the idea is they can be used time and time again,” said Breer.

Both Breer and the Baker family agree, the impact will be felt.

“I think that is really going to affect the lives of their families, especially because they can teach their families and then obviously more people learn CPR and it just saves more and more lives,” said Emma Baker.

It is estimated that nearly 33-thousand students will be trained in CPR across the state.

CPR is expected to be a part of the Kansas high school curriculum, beginning next school year.

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Wichitan out $200 because of fake tickets to upcoming basketball game

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 23:58

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Here in Wichita, a man is now out 200 dollars and four tickets to a much anticipated men’s basketball game this weekend. He says he fell for a scam and, is sharing his experience tonight to warn others.

Wichita Police are aware of it and they among others, say to always shop for tickets with caution.

George Spies says, it didn’t take long.

“Fifteen minutes later my phone rang,” said George Spies, Wichita.

For him to score four tickets off Craigslist to this Saturday’s sold out Wichita State versus Oklahoma basketball game. The seller met him in person and George handed over 200 bucks and got his tickets.

The seller assured him, they were legit.

“How do I know these ain’t copies, or scams and he said no they’re the real deal, and I wouldn’t do that for you on Christmas,” said George Spies, Wichita.

This is where the story gets even stranger, George says several hours later, his same seats popped up on Facebook Marketplace. They were being sold by the same guy, who just sold George the exact same tickets.

George knew he’d been scammed.

“I was like his number one sucker, that I was the first one to call him about the tickets,” said Spies.

Counterfeit tickets seem to pop up during big sporting events, something experts say to watch out for when March Madness hits Wichita.

“It’s very unfortunate, and it always happens where there’s more demand for the ticket too, and we’ve had really good demand for these tickets and the same thing was true of the NCAA tournament in March,” said Bob Hanson, Wichita Sports Commission.

Intrust Bank Arena officials say to make sure you get the real deal tickets should be purchased from its box office or its online website.

“We always recommend Select A Seat is the official ticketing provider for Intrust Bank Arena and all of our events that we host,” said AJ Boleski, GM, Intrust Bank Arena.

George broke the bad news to his family that they won’t be be seeing the Shockers and Sooners on Saturday, a real bummer.

“I’ve been kind of caught up in this all day, kinda been frustrated with this whole situation I’ve been taken advantage of,” said Spies.

Wichita Police also say if you ever come across an ad online when purchasing tickets that seems suspicious, always contact them before buying.

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Wichita police: Beware of where you place your Christmas tree

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 23:02

WICHITA Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police are warning homeowners to be careful where they position their Christmas trees this holiday season.

For many Wichitans the holidays are a time of celebration.

“Presents, happiness and family,” said 11-year-old Mireya Ortiz.

“It’s a really special time of the year for us, especially with a big family,” said Mireya’s mom Judith Ortiz.

With the holiday season often comes decorations, particularly Christmas trees. Wichita police told KSN that homeowners should keep their trees away from their front windows for safety reasons.

“What happens is during the holiday season those 55 inch televisions you see from the street are now being replaced with Christmas trees with lights and presents that are around them,” said Wichita Police Captain Lem Moore. “If you’re walking down the sidewalk some people are just able to look in and if someone has an ill intent to do some kind of crime, simply walking up into the yard and gazing in to see if there is a valuable or something that’s worth breaking into that home is a possibility.”

Moore said it’s important to note police are not asking homeowners to remove their trees.

“We’re not saying take down the Christmas trees, leave those Christmas trees up because they are beautiful. However, maybe remove those gifts from underneath of them until later on when they are supposed to be brought out for the kids or they are put out on Christmas Eve,” Moore said.

Wichita mom Judith Ortiz said she learned her lesson about tree placement several years ago.

“We just try to hide it because we used to put it up by the window or where we can see it from the outside, but we got broken into,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz said thieves rummaged through her home two weeks before Christmas. She said they took a majority of her two young girls’ presents.

“We worked so hard to try to get our families what we need and for someone just to break in and take our stuff, it was sad,” she said.

Ortiz is hoping other homeowners will learn from her mistake and listen to the police department’s advice.

“Try to set it away from the windows,” she said.

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Law enforcement cracking down on panhandling

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 19:25

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Tuesday city council members voted 7-0 to raise the fines for panhandling and for local organizations who solicit money in the roadways. Law enforcement said there are a few reasons for this change but the main concern is safety. Two ordinances passed Tuesday, the first prohibits pedestrians from soliciting money or rides from cars passing by. The other prohibits people from giving money to those in the roadways.

“When you put people in medians and roadways and their going in and out of traffic to exchange any item, that’s not safe for the pedestrian and it’s not safe for the drivers,” said Deputy Chief, Troy Livingston.

To make this point clear the consequences are much higher for both those asking for and giving money. Instead of the previous fine of $20 + court fees, you could pay a fine of up to $500, spend up to 30 days in jail and have a misdemeanor on  your record. So, when you decide to reach into your pocket, roll down your window and give money; think twice.

“The pedestrian that walked out into traffic if they initiated that they could be cited. If the drivers initiated that they could potentially be cited as well,” explained Livingston.

KSN spoke with a man holding a sign at the bottom of a Wichita freeway exit who says, the donations he receives are critical.

“People are really good to me here, he said. “Every day of my life I can sit here and be taken care of, whether it be food or whatever. I get a lot of home cooked meals out here.”

With this new law, locations for panhandling will be limited. It’s no longer allowed where the speed limit is 40 mph or higher. There may be some concern about the negative impact that this can have on the homeless population but experts stress that this is not the case.

“We were citing individuals who were panhandling. We documented 30 names. Out of those 30 names I went through and analyzed them to see who was actually homeless and only 2 of them out of the 30 were homeless,” said homeless policing officer, Nate Schwiethale.

Law enforcement says they want people to know that this change is in effect but they do plan to take the first year to educate people on the rules. However, they also say that if they do see any panhandlers getting aggressive, they will take action.

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Operation Holiday makes final push for donations

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:36

Wichita, Kan. (KSNW) – Every little bit helps.

“When I was young, we were on that fixed income, and this is where my mom came to shop,” says Rhonda Hicks, who stopped by to donate food she collected at Wichita State. “And I tell everyone this is where I got my first doll, I got my first toys… I would get a hat, scarf, coat.”

Hicks is one of hundreds coming into the old Sears entrance at Towne West Square, to donate to Operation Holiday.

Volunteers say the donations have been strong. But, more is needed.

“What do I do out here? I’m right now…  Getting all the people in the community that are interested in helping us out, actually get out here,” says Alex Reazin. ” I just think it’s a collection of a lot of people who want to do good for their community and it shows.”

Alex and others are taking donations through Thursday. Operation Holiday begins its distribution on Thursday to those in need for the holidays.

 

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Laura’s Look: Wind and fire weather concerns tomorrow

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:28

The unusually warm temperatures finally backed off for some today, it was still fairly mild with highs in the 50s and even the 60s in western Kansas.

Temperature Change

For tonight, light winds remain in place and cold temperatures (it is December after all). We’ll start off Wednesday with temperatures in the 20s and 30s. Then it’s off to the races…

Kansas Tonight

Warming up into the 60s but the warm weather will be difficult to enjoy with strong northwest winds whipping us around. With the high winds, this elevates the fire danger once again. No outdoor burning and make sure to properly dispose your cigarettes if you smoke.

Kansas Tomorrow

We’re looking for another drop in our temperatures this week, I’ll show you when and if the cold weather will linger into the weekend coming up on KSN News at 5,6, and 10. – Laura Bannon

Categories: Local KSN News

Police release composite of possible college rapist

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:36

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – The Riley County Police Department has released a composite of a man related to multiple rapes in both Manhattan and Lawrence.

On July 27, the Riley County Police Department and the Lawrence Police Department said they were working together to find the person involved in the rapes since 2000 that appear to be connected.

RCPD said during the first investigation at 2215 College Avenue in Manhattan, an individual said a white male was seen in the area shortly before the incident. This male was described as being 5’10” to 6’ in height, with a medium athletic build and medium-length sandy blonde hair. It was unknown whether this subject was connected to the incident, but the Riley County Police Department wanted to talk with him to determine if he could provide any information related to the case.

Detectives then completed a composite sketch of this male at the time and distributed it in the area of the incident, but there have been no additional leads.

The Riley County Police Department and the Lawrence Police Department have released the composite again in the hopes that anyone living or visiting in the Manhattan area or attending Kansas State University at the time may recognize the man.

RCPD said it is important to remember that this sketch represents the person’s appearance in October of 2000, and it’s expected for his appearance to have changed since then.

Anyone who may recognize this subject is asked to call Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers.

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Sessions: terror attacks show immigration a security issue

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:59

BALTIMORE (AP) — A botched suicide mission on the New York City subway system showed in the “starkest terms” that the failures of the U.S. immigration system are a national security issue, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday during a stop in Baltimore with the new Homeland Security chief.

Speaking at a news conference at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Baltimore, Sessions said two terrorist incidents in New York in the last two months were each carried out by men who were in the U.S. “as a result of failed immigration policies.”

A 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant is in custody after Monday’s rush hour attack in New York. Authorities said Akayed Ullah came to the U.S. in 2011 on a visa available to certain relatives of U.S. citizens. An earlier truck attack Oct. 31 on a bike path near the World Trade Center, authorities said, was carried out by an Uzbek immigrant.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the former deputy White House chief of staff confirmed last week by the Senate, said “while we are not aware of any specific credible threats today we are taking additional security precautions and assessing what other security enhancements” could be put in place.

Sessions called anew on Congress to strengthen immigration laws and said President Donald Trump’s administration was moving to more strictly enforce immigration law and reduce an immigration caseload that has tripled since fiscal 2009. Already, he said, the administration has hired 50 immigration judges since January and plans to hire 60 more in coming months to reduce a case backlog that has “overwhelmed” the immigration system.

He also said border crossings by undocumented immigrants are now at their lowest level in 45 years, vowing “that number can be zero.” And he signaled gangs such as the MS-13 with deep ties to Central America remain a prime Trump administration target amid its broader immigration crackdown.

Nielsen said law enforcement is redoubling efforts to sweep up members of MS-13, adding their violence will not be tolerated in U.S. communities. She described MS-13 as a “threat to our homeland security” and said members are “raping, killing and torturing Americans.”

“These savage criminals are in our communities and they are a deadly consequence of our unsecured borders and our failed immigration policies,” Nielsen said.

MS-13 members are suspected of particularly grisly slayings in Maryland, Virginia and New York — at least one of those attacks just miles (kilometers) from the nation’s capital. A hallmark of the gang is repeated slashes to a victim’s body.

In October, Sessions designated the gang as a “priority” for the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. That designation directs prosecutors to pursue all legal avenues to target the gang and lets local police agencies tap into federal money to help pay for gang-related investigations.

While federal authorities say the threat from MS-13 has been increasing in the U.S., some experts who study gangs are skeptical.

Robert Brenneman, a sociologist at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont who has researched gangs in Central America, believes the threat posed by MS-13 in the U.S. has been exaggerated.

“Clearly, the MS-13 represents an opportunity for this administration to publicly herald his view of Central American undocumented youth as a menacing threat to the U.S.,” Brenneman said in an email.

MS-13, or the Mara Salvatrucha, is believed by federal prosecutors to have thousands of members nationwide, primarily immigrants from Central America. It emerged in the 1980s from a stronghold in Los Angeles. But its true rise began after members were deported back to El Salvador in the 1990s.

Sessions afterward told reporters he cast an absentee ballot in Tuesday’s special U.S. Senate election in Alabama but declined to specify who he voted for, citing “the sanctity of the ballot.” The winner takes the seat Sessions held before becoming attorney general.

“The people of Alabama are good and decent and wonderful people I’ve been proud to serve for 20 years in the Senate, and they’ll make the right decision, I’m sure,” Sessions said.

Republican Roy Moore, 70 — a twice ousted Alabama Supreme Court chief justice — is seeking a political resurrection amid accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. His Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, 63, is a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen who killed four black girls in a 1963 church bombing.

Asked if he stood by comments last month to the House Judiciary Committee that he had “no reason to doubt” Moore’s female accusers, Sessions said: “I answered the question as I knew it at the time.”

Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 Senate majority. Alabama, a state where Trump remains popular, hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992.

Categories: Local KSN News

Tax package would ease hit to residents of high-tax states

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:56

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans on Tuesday were speeding toward an agreement on a massive tax package that would ease the hit on Americans living in high-tax states and appease corporations that could have lost precious tax breaks.

Negotiators were working to expand a deduction for state and local taxes to allow individuals to deduct income taxes as well as property taxes, said two congressional aides. Negotiators were also working to eliminate the alternative minimum tax for corporations.

Negotiators agreed to let homeowners deduct interest on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage, down from the current limit of $1 million, the aides said.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations.

Negotiators were still working Tuesday on how to pay for the expanded tax breaks, though Republican lawmakers were optimistic that a deal was eminent. The total amount of tax breaks cannot exceed $1.5 trillion over the next decade, under budget rules adopted by both the House and Senate.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said a deal could come as soon as Tuesday. “I think it could and I hope it is,” he said.

Lawmakers said workers could start seeing changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks early next year. However, taxpayers won’t file their 2018 tax returns until the following year.

Both the House and Senate bills would scale back the deduction for state and local taxes, limiting it to $10,000 in property taxes. The issue is important to lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

California Republicans are pushing to amend the bill to enable individuals to deduct state and local income taxes as well as property taxes. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said there is an agreement on how to address the issue, though he wasn’t specific.

“It’s a huge issue in districts and there’s an agreement about how they are going to approach it and I just want to see that issue taken care of,” said Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee. “Once again, we’re in negotiation, and sometimes when you negotiate you have to decide what you’re willing to fight for and we need to fight for that.”

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., warned that nothing is final until the whole package is worked out. But, he said, he believes negotiators have found a way to include income taxes in the deduction for state and local taxes.

“I’m sure income tax is something, obviously addressing that concern is a big concern for many members, so I think there’s a solution there,” Reed said.

Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, one of 13 House Republicans who voted against the tax bill in protest of the reduced deduction, said Tuesday he was awaiting details from leaders of a new agreement affecting income or property taxes. Doubling the limit to $20,000, he said, would help a number of homeowners in his high-tax Long Island district.

“Somebody might be a loser under $10,000 and become a winner above $10,000,” Zeldin said.

The House bill would limit the mortgage interest deduction to the first $500,000 of a new mortgage, while the Senate bill would keep the current limit of $1 million. Two congressional aides said negotiators have agreed to split the difference.

The provision would not affect current mortgages.

The housing industry lobbied hard against changes to the deduction, arguing it would hurt home values.

For corporations, the House-passed bill would eliminate the alternative minimum tax but the Senate bill would retain it. The tax was meant to ensure that corporations pay at least some tax.

Republican lawmakers from both the House and Senate said retaining the tax would limit the ability of corporations to take advantage of popular tax credits, including one for research and development.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has come out in favor of repealing the corporate AMT, giving the proposal momentum.

Both the House and Senate bills would cut the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Republican lawmakers said they were resisting efforts to set the tax rate at 22 percent as a way to pay for other tax breaks. Business and conservative groups have been lobbying hard for the 20 percent rate.

“We’re obviously trying to drive as low as possible in the House and the Senate, so we’ll see where it lands,” Reed said.

House and Senate negotiators were rushing Tuesday to finalize the tax package so both chambers could vote on it next week, handing a major legislative achievement to President Donald Trump before Christmas.

Trump will try on Wednesday to sell the American people on a GOP tax overhaul that is unpopular with many. His pitch: the plan will lift all economic boats, bringing a brighter future for taxpayers and their families, according to spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

The tax massive tax package includes steep tax cuts for corporations and more modest tax cuts for families and individuals.

Both the House and Senate bills would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade while adding billions to the deficit. They would bring the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax system in 30 years, pushing into every corner of the U.S. economy and society. They would double the standard deduction used by most Americans to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples.

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Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter at http://twitter.com/stephenatap

Categories: Local KSN News

Barton County sheriff says $7,500 in marijuana confiscated in mail

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:46

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – The Barton County Sheriff’s Department seized $7,500 worth of marijuana in the mail on Monday.

The sheriff’s office along with the Ellsworth County Sheriff’s Office K9 and the United States Postal Service executed a pair of search warrants in the city of Great Bend.

The marijuana was confiscated that was being sent through the mail.

One person was arrested, and officers expect to make further arrests. Right now, the case is still under investigation.

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Categories: Local KSN News

Barton County sheriff pleads not guilty to mistreatment

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:35

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) – A central Kansas sheriff who’s accused of striking a handcuffed man has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor.

The Great Bend Tribune reports that Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir entered the plea last week through his attorney to the charge of mistreatment of a confined person.

The charge, which was filed last month by a special prosecutor, alleges that Bellendir spoke in a “vulgar, rude and/or angry manner” to a man after he was booked into jail in August on a probation violation charge. Bellendir also is accused of striking the man on the side of the head.

The sheriff was issued a summons in October after an investigation by Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents. Bellendir later issued a statement noting he was still on the job.

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Categories: Local KSN News

American Red Cross honors heroes at breakfast

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:29

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The American Red Cross honored everyday heroes at a breakfast event Tuesday morning.

Six people were honored including a teen who saved a friend from a drowning, a police officer who risked his life to save others.

The recipient of the Lifetime Hero Award is Wichita Fire Captain Chris Fleming.

“Anytime you get honored for doing your job and for helping your own people, again it’s very humbling, and it’s really an honor,” said Capt. Fleming.

The categories include the gift of life, Good Samaritan, call to action, commitment to community, and disaster relief.

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Categories: Local KSN News

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