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Senate leaders scramble to save health bill amid defections

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 11:19

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders scrambled Tuesday to rescue their health care bill, in deepening jeopardy as opposition from rebellious Republicans intensified. The defections proliferated after Congress’ nonpartisan budget referee said the measure would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than President Barack Obama’s law.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was hoping to staunch his party’s rebellion, a day after the Congressional Budget Office released its report. He’s been aiming to win Senate passage this week, before a weeklong July 4 recess that leaders worry opponents will use to weaken support for the legislation.

The CBO analysis suggested some ammunition GOP leaders could use, saying the Senate bill would cut federal deficits by $202 billion more over the coming decade than the version the House approved in May. Senate leaders could use some of those additional savings to attract moderate votes by making Medicaid and other provisions more generous, though conservatives would rather use that money to reduce red ink.

“I would not bet against Mitch McConnell,” his House counterpart, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Ohio, told reporters. But the Senate was convening later than usual Tuesday with no sign that debate on the health care measure would begin as leaders had hoped, underscoring McConnell’s need to focus on closed-door deal-making to rescue the bill.

The projected boost in uninsured people fed concerns by moderate Republican lawmakers that the Senate measure, annulling parts of Obama’s 2010 overhaul, was too drastic. Yet conservatives were unhappy that it didn’t do enough to dismantle Obama’s law and lower premiums by repealing coverage requirements, leaving McConnell with little margin for error — the bill fails if three of the 52 GOP senators vote no.

The 22 million extra Americans were just 1 million fewer than the number the budget office estimated would become uninsured under the House version. President Donald Trump has called the House bill “mean” and prodded senators to produce a package with more “heart.”

Minutes after the report’s release, three GOP senators threatened to oppose a procedural vote to begin debate expected Wednesday — enough to derail the legislation.

Moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she would vote no. She tweeted that she favors a bipartisan effort to fix Obama’s statute but added, “CBO analysis shows Senate bill won’t do it.”

Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he would oppose that motion unless the bill was changed. And fellow conservative Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said he had “a hard time believing” he’d have enough information to back that motion this week.

Moderate Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., on Friday said he’d oppose the procedural motion without alterations.

Those rebels were just part of McConnell’s problem. Two other conservatives — Texas’ Ted Cruz and Utah’s Mike Lee — have also said they’d vote no without revisions, and several other moderates have expressed worries about the bill’s Medicaid cuts and reductions in people with coverage.

The budget office report said the Senate bill’s coverage losses would especially affect people between ages 50 and 64, before they qualify for Medicare, and with incomes below 200 percent of poverty level, or around $30,300 for an individual.

In one example, the report says that in 2026 under Obama’s law, a 64-year-old earning $26,500 would pay premiums amounting to $1,700 a year, after subsidies. Under the Senate bill, that person would pay $6,500, partly because insurers would be able to charge older adults more.

The Senate plan would end the tax penalty that law imposes on people who don’t buy insurance, in effect erasing Obama’s so-called individual mandate, and on larger businesses that don’t offer coverage to workers.

It would let states ease Obama’s requirements that insurers cover certain specified services like substance abuse treatments, and eliminate $700 billion worth of taxes over a decade, CBO said, largely on wealthier people and medical companies that Obama’s law used to expand coverage.

It would cut Medicaid, which provides health insurance to over 70 million poor and disabled people, by $772 billion through 2026 by capping its overall spending and phasing out Obama’s expansion of the program. Of the 22 million people losing health coverage, 15 million would be Medicaid recipients.

CBO said that under the bill, most insurance markets around the country would be stable before 2020. It said that similar to the House bill, average premiums around the country would be higher over the next two years — including about 20 percent higher in 2018 than under Obama’s statute — but lower beginning in 2020.

But the office said that overall, the Senate legislation would increase out of pocket costs for deductibles and copayments. That’s because standard policies would be skimpier than currently offered under Obama’s law, covering a smaller share of expected medical costs.

In another troublesome finding for the legislation, the budget office warned that in some rural areas, either no insurer would be willing participate in the individual market or the policies offered would be prohibitively expensive. Rural America was a stronghold for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Vice President Mike Pence invited four GOP senators to dinner Tuesday to discuss the bill, his office said: Lee and Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

___

Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ken Thomas and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

Categories: Local KSN News

Google fined a record 2.4 billion euros in EU antitrust case

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 11:18

BRUSSELS (AP) — After a seven-year legal battle, European authorities came down hard on Google on Tuesday for taking advantage of its dominance in online searches to direct customers to its own businesses, fining the tech giant a record 2.42 billion euros ($2.72 billion) and raising the prospect of more.

A years-long analysis of Google’s online search results showed that the company lists links to its own online shopping services above those of rivals, European regulators said. On average, Google lists search results to its biggest rivals in online shopping only on page 4 — and smaller rivals even lower. That’s a huge advantage for Google when 90 percent of use-clicks are on page one.

The ruling that Google is taking advantage of its market dominance in online searches paves the way for a broader crackdown by the EU, which is investigating several other Google businesses, like its online images and travel businesses.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters.

To avoid more pain in Europe, Google will have to change the way it does business in the region. It has 90 days to stop favoring its own links to online shopping or face more fines of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide revenue of parent company Alphabet.

Google says it is considering an appeal and maintains it’s just trying to package its search results in a way that makes it easier for consumers to find what they want.

“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily. And advertisers want to promote those same products. That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both,” Kent Walker, senior vice president at Google, said in a statement.

“We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” he said.

The fine is the highest ever imposed in Europe for anti-competitive behavior, exceeding a 1.06 billion euros penalty on Silicon Valley chip maker Intel in 2009.

The penalty itself is unlikely to leave a dent in Google’s finances. Alphabet has more than $92 billion (82 billion euros) in cash, including nearly $56 billion (50 billion euros) in accounts outside of Europe.

But it could affect Google’s way of doing business in the longer-term. U.S. interest groups were quick to latch onto the European ruling to argue that a similar approach be taken in the United States.

“Some may object to the EU moving so aggressively against U.S.-based companies, but these authorities are at least trying to deal with some of the new competitive challenges facing our economy,” said the News Media Alliance. “U.S. lawmakers and regulatory authorities, by contrast, have been ‘asleep at the switch’ for far too long.”

“We will monitor Google’s compliance closely,” Vestager said.

She noted that that any company or person who has suffered damages due to the company’s practices can make claims to national courts.

More broadly, Vestager said, the probe has established that Google is dominant in general internet search in all 31 countries of the European economic area. This will affect other cases the Commission might build against the internet giant’s various businesses, like Google Images.

She also noted that regulators are making “good progress” in its other Google probes into Android and search advertising, and that the “preliminary conclusion” is that they breach EU anti-trust rules.

The Commission has come under fire in the United States for a perceived bias against U.S. companies.

Vestager said she has examined statistics concerning anti-trust, merger control and state aid decisions and that “I can find no facts to support any kind of bias.”

Categories: Local KSN News

Facebook now deleting 66K posts a week in anti-hate campaign

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 11:17

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is deleting about 66,000 posts a week as the social media giant cracks down on what it considers to be hate speech.

The company says in a blog post Tuesday that deleting posts can “feel like censorship,” but that it is working on explaining its process better.

Facebook says it defines hate speech as attacks on people based on their race, sexual orientation and other “protected characteristics.” The Menlo Park, California, company says it mostly relies on its nearly two billion users to report any hateful posts they see. Workers then review the posts and decide whether to delete it.

Facebook Inc. says it has 4,500 workers reviewing posts and plans to hire 3,000 more in the next year.

The deleted posts went up over the last two months.

Categories: Local KSN News

U2 bassist thanks band for helping him through addiction

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 11:16

NEW YORK (AP) — In a frank and heartfelt speech, U2 bassist Adam Clayton thanked his bandmates of four decades for their support during his treatment and recovery for alcohol abuse years ago, and then joined them for a rollicking rendition of a few hits.

“We have a pact with each other,” said Clayton, 57, who was receiving an award from MusiCares, the charity arm of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. “In our band, no one will be a casualty. We all come home, or none of us come home. No one will be left behind. Thank you for honoring that promise, and letting me be in your band.”

He ended by quoting lyrics that Bono, U2’s frontman, had written when the band was starting out: “If you walk away, walk away, I will follow.” At that, his bandmates came out to join him, performing “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” ”Vertigo” and, fittingly, “I Will Follow.”

The evening at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square also featured performances by rapper Michael Franti, Jack Garratt, reggae singer Chronixx, Macy Gray, and The Lumineers, who are currently appearing with U2 on their “Joshua Tree” tour.

Clayton was introduced by British record producer Chris Blackwell as someone who “lived through addiction and came out the other side, and has been courageous enough to admit it.”

Taking the stage, the bassist quipped: “I’m not used to achieving anything on my own.”

Turning serious, he said: “I’m an alcoholic, addict, but in some ways that devastating disease is what drove me towards this wonderful life I now have. It’s just that I couldn’t take my friend alcohol. At some point I had to leave it behind and claim my full potential.”

He said part of the reason he had a hard time quitting drinking was that, “I didn’t think you could be in a band and not drink. It is so much a part of our culture.”

It was Eric Clapton, he said, who finally told him he needed help.

“He didn’t sugarcoat it. He told me that I needed to change my life and that I wouldn’t regret it,” Clayton said. He credited another friend, The Who’s Pete Townshend, for visiting him in rehab, where he “put steel on my back.”

As for his bandmates, Clayton said, “I was lucky because I had three friends who could see what was going on and who loved me enough to take up the slack of my failing. Bono, The Edge, and Larry (Mullen) truly supported me before and after I entered recovery, and I am unreservedly grateful for their friendship, understanding and support.”

Clayton received the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his support of the MusiCares MAP Fund, which offers musicians access to addiction recovery treatment.

Arriving at the theater earlier, he told reporters the fund was especially important given the current epidemic of opioid addiction. “MusiCares … really provides funding for a lot of people to look into those things and find help,” he said.

He added that his bandmates had been supporting him for 40 years.

“You know, I guess they loved me before I knew how to love myself,” he said. “So it’s really important that they share this with me.”

___

John Carucci in New York contributed to this report.

Categories: Local KSN News

Girl Scouts will offer cybersecurity badges

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 07:37

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Girls Scouts nationwide will get the opportunity to explore more opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Girl Scouts of the USA announced that girl scouts in grades K-12 can earn cybersecurity badges.

Badges are the insignia of Girl Scouts, proudly displayed on vests and sashes. It’s a way for the girls to explore their interests and learn new skills.

“Those girls are learning lifelong skills that they’re going to take with them beyond Girl Scouts and into the world,” said Darcy Gray, communications director for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland.

Starting in September 2018, the Girl Scouts will get to develop their problem-solving and leadership skills with the new cybersecurity badges.

“I can’t believe they’re going to give the girls a chance to go into the field,” said Girl Scout Senior Jordan Plowman. “Most girls we’re like ‘No. No, I don’t think I can do that.'”

According to the director of engineering technology at Wichita State University, women represent about 10% in the cybersecurity industry.

“There is a feel that this is more of the guy’s job. It’s more of a nerdy job,” said Deepak Gupta. “Therefore they do not want to go in this area.”

However, for local girls, it’s an area they want to master.

“In the future, LifeLock won’t be the only people for helping people who got hacked,” said Kaley Mulligan, a Girl Scout Cadette.

With the growing number of attacks, Gupta said the industry needs more workers.

“It’s really important in terms of the economy, in terms of the well-being, even there could be life threats,” he said.

Gupta added the new cybersecurity badges are a step in the right direction.

“They have taken an initiative that is going to help, not only the women, but the entire industry here in the US,” said Gupta.

Girl Scouts will be able to focus on topics such as data privacy, cyberbulling, becoming an ethical hacker, and learning how to code.

Categories: Local KSN News

Report ranks Kansas last in salaries paid to teachers in rural school districts

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 00:31

PEABODY, Kan. (KSNW) –  A new national report shows that Kansas ranks dead last in average salaries, paid to teachers in rural districts.

The report was conducted by Rural School and Community Trust.

It shows that Kansas, on average, pays teachers in rural school districts $40,900 a year.

That is last among the 50 states.

In comparison, first on the list was Alaska, which pays teachers in rural districts $87, 805 a year.

Ron Traxson is the Superintendent for USD 398, which oversees the Peabody-Burns school district.

He says he wears many hats.

“I’ve taken over as the Elementary Principal, as well as Superintendent, that goes along with Transportation Director, Food Service Director,” said Traxson.

Part of the reason he has taken on so many roles, Traxson says, was to be able to pay his teachers more.

“Our base pay is $32,200 and that’s only after a raise for the first time in nine years,” said Traxson.

That is up 700-hundred dollars from where the starting pay once was.

The report shows that Kansas is about $17,000 below the average paid to teachers in rural districts.

On average, the report showed teachers in rural districts in the United States make $57,800.

“The overall lack of some increase in some salaries is the reason the market is not there, we don’t have people going into education,” said Traxson.

It has caused superintendents in small districts, like Traxson, to have to be creative in finding qualified teachers.

“The fact there is not a lot of teachers out there, you’re seeing things like teachers in transition, from the regular work force and they say hey, I’d like to do some teaching, transition into the educational setting,” said Traxson.

So KSN asked Traxson, how can he attract teachers to come work in his district?

“Hopefully it is by what we offer with the personnel they get to work with and maybe some benefits of being in a small school versus a large,” said Traxson.

Traxson says another issue revolving around teacher pay has to do with the pending legislation from both the state and federal government

He says the state is slated to pump $200 million into schools next year.

However, Kansas schools could also lose $46 million if the U.S. Senate writes legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Categories: Local KSN News

Wichita Wingnuts cruise past Texas 10-2

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 23:45

The Wichita Wingnuts got the scoring started nice and early against Texas in their series opener, racing out to an eight-run lead before winning comfortably 10-2.

With the victory, the Wingnuts have taken over sole possession of first place in the American Association. Game two of the series between the Wingnuts and the Airhogs is tomorrow night at approximately 7:05 p.m. The Wingnuts will be going for their fourth straight win.

Categories: Local KSN News

WSU in final preparations for July 1 gun law changes

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 22:50

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State University (WSU) will allow guns on campus starting July 1, 2017.

Signs saying ‘open carrying of firearms is prohibited’ have been posted on nearly every WSU building door in preparation for the law change.

“It’s a little scary because personally I don’t like people having guns and knowing people can secretly carry guns and I don’t have to ask them about it or anything. It’s kind of scary just a little bit,” said WSU student Tien Bach.

“I know that a lot of people are responsible, so it’s kind of scary to think about the ones that aren’t responsible and what could happen to you in class if they aren’t,” said WSU student Brandi Lewis.

While many Wichita State students have voiced safety concerns about the new law which allows concealed carry weapons on campus, University officials told KSN they don’t expect much to change when the new policy takes effect on July 1.

“We really don’t think there will be that much change in people’s lives. Of course, there is going to be some awareness issues, some heightened concern,” said Wichita State General Counsel David Moses.

Wichita State has put on and will continue to hold educational forums to help ease people’s concerns about the law. Officials have also put in several safety measures including adequate security at campus events with more than 5,000 people.

The University said it is also warning people on campus to fully conceal their guns and make sure they are in the carrier’s control at all times. The weapon can be put in a secure storage device, however WSU will not have storage devices publicly available on campus.

“We are not going to be providing those. The law and the policies are all driven by, it’s your gun and its your responsibility to understand the rules and to make plans to handle it responsibly,” Moses said.

Moses added people lawfully possessing a handgun in residence halls or on-campus apartments must acquire their own approved handgun storage device. If a student does not feel comfortable living with a person who has a weapon, they can contact Housing and Residence Life Director Scott Jensen to make arrangements to move to another room.

Moses said the University is prepared to field calls about the new law.

“We are confident there are going to be people who are going to be reporting that there’s someone who is in violation of the carry conceal policy. It is not unusual when you have new laws that you have heightened awareness,” Moses said.

Anyone can report a firearm violation to University police by phone at 316-978-3450 or email at police@wichita.edu.

Click here for more information about the WSU concealed carry policy.

 

Categories: Local KSN News

New Snapchat update causing privacy concerns

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 22:30

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A new update to the popular social networking app, Snapchat is causing some privacy concerns.

Snap Map now enables people to track your exact location, and if you’re not careful, anyone can see your every move.

Officials warn parents and really anyone who uses Snapchat to stay aware of this new update. Snapchat users can switch off the location-sharing feature at any time, but experts encourage to put careful consideration into when you choose to share your location.

“It’s just dangerous, I don’t like it,” answered Wichitan Annie Anderson.

Snap Map has only been around for a few days, and some parents are not crazy about it.

“You don’t ever really know who could be tracking them,” said Anderson.

Anderson says her grandchildren are constantly using Snapchat but, now that anyone can potentially track their every move, it makes her very nervous.

“It could be somebody that don’t like them and find out where they’re at, and they wouldn’t know nothing, so I’m going to beg them to take it off,” Anderson explained.

“I think with this new app, it’s going to be harder for some people to stay safe,” said Wichitan Kristen McCune.

McCune is an avid runner and likes to turn on her location settings while she’s out for a jog, but this Snapchat update doesn’t appeal to her.

“I like to turn on certain apps and keep track of my miles to go running, and it’s just something I wouldn’t want to keep on at all,” stated McCune.

“There’s dangers that come with sharing,” said Sgt. Dan Oliver, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, EMCU.

Sgt. Oliver says there are legitimate dangers that can come from any social media app that allows location sharing.

“If you’re sharing publicly, you’re not only telling people where you are, but where you’re not. So you might be advertising that your home is vacant or at least that you’re not at home at that point,” said Sgt. Oliver.

The app does give you options allowing you to choose who can see where you are.

Sgt. Oliver just advises to be smart on who you pick.

“My suggestion is to utilize the safety and security measures inside the application. Only share it with close friends and family members,” explained Sgt. Oliver.

Law enforcement also tells KSN this Snap Map could be used in a positive way for parents to check in on their kids to make sure they are where they say they are.

Categories: Local KSN News

Strong winds cause tree damage in Salina, Butler County

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 21:48

SALINA, Kan. (KSAL/KSN) – An isolated storm that developed, and quickly intensified near Salina caused some damage in a portion of east of the city early Monday evening.

The storm generated a tornado warning for eastern Saline County for a brief period of time. The warning was generated by a public report of strong winds in the area of County Club and Simpson Roads.

The storm did cause damage in the Country Club area. Numerous branches, trees, and even some power lines were down.

On Interstate 70 near the Ohio Street exit, a semi was blown into a ditch, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. No one was injured and there was little damage to the semi.

In addition, official information into the KSN Storm Tracker 3 Weather Center include reports of downed power lines and tree damage one mile north of Augusta on Ohio St.

Other storm damage was reported at a campground at Santa Fe Lake north of Augusta where a camper was blown over and trees were downed.

 

Categories: Local KSN News

Park City Police concerned about CO levels in patrol vehicle

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 19:14

PARK CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — The Park City Police Department has parked one of its patrol vehicles, over concerns about carbon monoxide levels in the vehicle.

Sgt. Keith Goodall, Park City Police, first had concerns with his Ford Explorer Police Interceptor about a year ago, when he started smelling strange odors in his cruiser.

“As you come to a cruising speed it’s almost somehow the exhaust is coming back into the vehicle,” said Goodall.

After taking it into the local shop, mechanics found higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide. After multiple attempts to figure out what’s causing the problem, the department decided to park it.

“We have been without this car I would say off and on for about a month now,” said Goodall

Goodall took KSN along for a ride in the vehicle, with a carbon monoxide detector the department bought for the vehicle. About 5 minutes into the drive, the monitor went off, indicating the CO levels were rising.

“So we are at 27, 28 and still climbing, parts per million on this monitor. And there is your CO detector going off. We are at 30 parts per million right now, and that is in the from cabin,” said Goodall.

After Sgt. Goodall parked the vehicle and opened the windows the levels started to drop.

The Wichita Fire Marshal tells us any level over 35 parts per million is unsafe. That’s the advice that the Park City Police Department received that has prompted them to park the vehicle until further notice.

“Our chief has said no one is driving the car unless we figure out what is wrong with it and we make sure it is safe for people to operate. So we are down a car,” said Goodall.

The department has taken it into the shop six times and no fix yet.

“It is kind of a catch 22. We have to find out what is causing the problem to get it fixed,” said Police Chief Phil Bostian, Park City Police Dept.

The Chief has filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and has reached out to Ford. Both sent him a list of things to check as possible reasons for the problem.

Ford Exhaust Odor in Vehicle Service Bulletin 

The department continues to look into options that could fix the problem and says the local shop has been helpful in trying to figure it out, but until the department is sure it is safe to be driven, it will remain parked.

“So we are really in a holding pattern right now. We can’t drive the vehicle, we can’t do anything with it it is just parked,” said Bostian.

KSN reached out to Ford to get its response to the concerns.

“We take the safety of our customers very seriously,” said Elizabeth Weigandt, a Safety Communications Manager for Ford, in a statement to KSN. “In rare circumstances, there have been instances where customers detected an exhaust odor in Explorers and Police Interceptor Utilities. We have thoroughly investigated reports of exhaust odor and do not believe this odor condition poses a safety risk. If customers have a concern with their vehicles, they are encouraged to contact their local Ford dealership. In the case of Police Interceptors, odors can be caused by non-Ford modifications or repairs that were not properly sealed.” 

“If the root cause of an issue is discovered inside the terms of the vehicle’s warranty then the repair work will be covered by the existing warranty,” said Weigandt in an emailed response. “If the root cause of an issue is caused by modifications to the vehicle, then Ford warranty coverage does not apply. Customers who have any questions on this should contact their dealer or call Ford Customer Service at 1-800-392-3673.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has logged 154 complaints on the issue of exhaust leaking into the cabin and has an open investigation into the issue.

Categories: Local KSN News

Rose Hill PD investigates multiple vehicle break-ins

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 19:10

ROSE HILL, Kan. (KSNW) – The Rose Hill Police Department is investigating a series of vehicle break-ins that occurred between late Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Chief Nelson Mosley said in a news release an 18-year-old suspect was booked into the Butler County Jail on June 26 in connection with these break-ins after a Rose Hill police officer spotted the person acting suspiciously.  He has been booked for Burglary on burglary to autos and theft.

Mosley said up to 14 vehicles at 11 locations in Rose Hill had been broken into. He said the common theme among the vehicles is that they were unlocked at the time of the burglaries.

The department is looking at other possible suspects, including whether the Rose Hill break-ins are tied to similar crimes in other communities.

Mosley said other reports of vehicle break-ins in Rose Hill were still being received as late as Monday afternoon.

He cautioned citizens to lock their vehicles and not leave belongings inside of them when they’re unoccupied.

Categories: Local KSN News

Not quite warp speed: Speeding man had alien doll passenger

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:40

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (AP) — Police say a motorcycle officer who stopped a driver for speeding on a suburban highway north of Atlanta had an ‘extraterrestrial encounter’ — sort of.

George Gordon, a spokesman for police in Alpharetta, says that when the officer pulled the man over Sunday, a life-sized doll of a big-eyed, large-skulled alien was riding in the front passenger seat.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the encounter, saying the driver was clocked at 84 mph (135 kph). Not quite warp speed, and Gordon later told The Associated Press: “He did not mention as to ‘why’ he had an out of this world passenger.”

The driver got off with a verbal warning — and some laughs from the officer — who took photographs of the safety-belted alien police later posted on social media.

Categories: Local KSN News

PD: Dillons employee pepper sprayed in face for saying hello

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:26

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Hutchinson Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the man and woman who pepper sprayed a Dillons employee Tuesday. The police department released surveillance footage of the suspects, in hopes someone may recognize them.

“We are looking for a man and woman, both white,” said Hutchinson detective, Curtis Black. “We have multiple images posted on our Facebook.”

Monday, I spoke to customers of that Dillons and they say they are shocked this happened in Hutch.

“As for these people spraying this poor kid — that’s ridiculous I mean, what’s he doing? He’s only working and he’s trying to do a good job to help the people,” Jan Nance, Dillons customer.

The suspects were pushing a cart out of Dillons with $700 worth of merchandise in it when the employee, who has cerebral palsy, approached them to say hi.

“The guy was only trying to say hi,” explained detective Black. “The employee, unbeknownst to him, was walking up to them just to say hi and as he makes contact, the male takes out a can of pepper spray and shoots him in the face with it.”

The employee is described as friendly and those that shop at Dillons say if they see him, he always says hello. However, that upbeat attitude towards other turned ugly when police say the suspects may have thought he was trying to stop them from leaving the store with stolen merchandise. To help solve this case, Hutchinson Police are hoping teh public can help track them down.

“There’s very good video of the incident as well as the pictures,” explained detective Black. “The images are pretty clear and there’s identifying marks on the white male, including tattoos. They’re also driving a white SUV.”

If you have any information about the suspects you are asked to call crime stopper at (620) 694 – 2666.

Categories: Local KSN News

Garden City cold case heats up

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 18:22

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Garden City police have arrested a man they believe is connected to the 1983 killing of Ignacio Vasquez.

More than three decades ago, police found Vasquez’s body outside what once was a club known as “The Gambler.”

Frank Rosas was arrested on suspicion of second degree murder. In 1984, a witness initially identified his brother Toby Rosas as having stabbed Vasquez, but the case was quickly dismissed.

Police Chief Michael Utz said investigators have been following the case for decades but had some luck in the last few months.

“Witnesses cooperated a lot more freely and cooperated in the investigation in helping us put the case together so that we could submit it to the county attorney’s office for prosecution,” said Utz.

Utz says in this particular case, the length of time that passed may have helped the investigation.

“People sometimes mature over 30 years and see the light that it’s time to be cooperative.”)

While police continue to check in with cold cases, it’s not very common to get a break in a decades-old investigation.

“I think if it was usual, you’d hear about it a lot more often and there wouldn’t be tv shows about it,” said Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier, “but in our county, this is the first one I know of to happen in a long time.”

Meanwhile, Vasquez’s family now lives in Nebraska, but they’ve been kept up to date with the progress of the case.

“Once we made the arrest, the family was notified,” said Utz. “They’re very elated.”

A court document lists more than 100 witnesses. Rosas’s next scheduled court appearance is July 17th.

Categories: Local KSN News

Wichita man pleads guilty to using stolen identities to get car loans

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 17:52

WICHITA, KAN. – A Wichita man pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of using stolen identities to obtain car loans, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Reu Charles Chamberlain, 30, Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud. In his plea, he admitted he used a stolen identity at Eddy’s Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Wichita to qualify for a $48,902 loan to buy a 2016 Dodge Challenger. At Midway Motors in Wichita, he used a stolen identity to qualify for a $44,746 loan to buy a 2015 Dodge Challenger.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 11. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each count, a fine up to $250,000 and restitution. Beall commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Metzger for their work on the case.

Categories: Local KSN News

Social Services program “optimistic” it can find funding

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 17:44

Wichita, Kan (KSNW) – Breakthrough Club is a unique organization. On any given day, you will find dozens of people who live with mental illness, navigating their day with staff and other clients.

“I lost hundreds of pounds,” says Victoria, a client at the Breakthrough Club in Wichita. “They got me started on their exercise equipment. Just a couple of minutes at a time. Whatever I could do.”

Victoria says the progress was slow. But she got encouragement. And she lost weight. A lot.

Next, she started learning job skills and social skills.

“That’s what we do here,” says Barb Andres, Executive Director of Episcopal Social Services and Venture House and Breakthrough Club. “People come in really broken and we help them to understand that even thought you have metal illness, you still have a life. The second hardest thing is to get the community to understand that.”

Andres says the Governor’s veto of their state funding is a blow. But, she’s already over it.

“Oh…  I’ve had a sense of frustration on all the vetos and yeah, you do work really hard and you’re excited when it looks like it’s (funding) going to go through and then you’re disappointed when things don’t go through,” says Andres. “So we’ve had sad tears around here and we’ve had happy tears, but there is always hope.”

Lawmakers put together a funding mechanism together so that proceeds from lottery scratch ticket vending machines could pay up to $4 Million a year, for two years, for mental health services.

But the Governor did a line item veto on the final budget that stopped the funding.

That’s where Andres says her optimism takes hold, once again.

“The Governor has asked KDADS (Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services) to work with us and to take a close look at our program,” says Andres. “I think once they get a good look at our program and see what we do, they will find the funding. I really believe that.”

The optimism of what the program does accomplish is backed up by clients. We talked with about a dozen, and they all share a common theme.

“This place has helped me get a job,” says Janet, one of the Breakthrough Club clients. ” I’m rolling silver wear… at Carrabba’s. It’s not real physical, so I can do it. It’s really important. I probably wouldn’t be working at all if I would have never become a member here. I probably would not be working. I would be a couch potato or something.”

Victoria shares that thought.

“I can do an actual job now where I get paid,” says Victoria. “Slower-paced job, and I have a job coach for vocational rehabilitation. I’m not sleeping 12 to 16 hours a day like I used to.”

Andres says the work they do on supporting and coaching people who deal with mental illness is too important not to fund.

“I’m a non-profit executive and I’m a non-profit worker and you have to live on hope and you go year by year,” says Andres. “You can only get by on grant writing and reserve funding for so long. But, once the (KDADS) department gets a good look at us, they will want to find the money.”

Breakthrough offers social skills, rehabilitation skills, daily life skills and offers clients a chance to interact with both staff and other clients who have been through the program.

Some of the clients have been coming back to Breakthrough since 1994.

Breakthrough of Sedgwick County served 357 members last year.

The Governor said in his veto, that he wants funding to be found. Just not from the state general fund.

“I have directed KDADS to work with the Community Mental Health Centers to establish a pilot with Clubhouse Model Program providers in the fiscal year 2018 in order to expand the scope of this program,” wrote Sam Brownback about his line item veto of funding for the programs.

“I think we remain optimistic,” says Andres. “What we do is too important, not to find funding.”

Categories: Local KSN News

Arkansas inmate on lam for 32 years visiting mom when caught

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 17:14

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The mother of an Arkansas prison escapee who had been on the run for more than three decades said she has been in contact with her son since soon after his escape and that he was visiting her when he was arrested.

Steven Dishman, 60, was arrested Sunday at a home in Springdale in northwest Arkansas by local law enforcement and state troopers, according to the state Department of Correction.

Shirley Jones told The Associated Press on Monday that her son has been living in southern Arkansas, but would not say exactly where Dishman had been been living or for how long.

Jones said she came into contact with her son about six months after he escaped from prison. Dishman is not married and has no children, according to Jones.

Jones said her son has not been in trouble since his escape and that “he’s a good person,” and “very creative.”

State police Lt. Liz Chapman said a person who had met Dishman five years after his escape told officers about Dishman’s whereabouts over the weekend, and he was arrested without incident.

Authorities would not say who provided Dishman’s location, whether that person has stayed in touch with Dishman since they first met or why the person decided to go to police with the information.

Chapman said people who may have known Dishman by a different name are being questioned.

State police spokesman Bill Sadler said there is an ongoing criminal investigation of Dishman’s escape and anything that may have happened subsequent to it.

Dishman was serving a seven-year sentence for theft of property and burglary convictions in Washington County when he escaped from the department’s Benton Unit in central Arkansas on May 28, 1985.

Dishman was sentenced in December 1984 and would have been eligible for parole in December 1987, according to the department. His original release date was scheduled for June 1991.

There are currently four escapees still on the run from various Arkansas prisons. Their offenses include fleeing, possession of a controlled substance, theft of property and theft by receiving.

Categories: Local KSN News

Audit says Senate bill would leave 22m uninsured

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 16:45

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Republican health care bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured in 2026 than under President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday, in a blow to GOP leaders’ hopes of pushing the plan through the chamber this week.

The CBO coverage estimates pose yet another problem for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who unveiled the legislation last Thursday. By Friday afternoon, he was facing public statements of opposition from five GOP senators — three more defections than he can afford and still win approval for the legislation over united Democratic opposition. Others have expressed concerns.

The 22 million additional people without coverage under the Senate proposal is just a hair better than the 23 million who’d be left without insurance under the measure the House approved last month, the budget office has estimated. President Donald Trump has called the House version “mean” and called on Senate Republicans to approve legislation with more “heart.”

Of the 22 million, 15 million of them would have no insurance next year, the nonpartisan budget office said. That could be a particular concern to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces perhaps the toughest 2018 re-election race of any Senate Republican and who’s said he can’t support a health care package that cuts Medicaid like the GOP plan and takes coverage from “tens of millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Nevadans.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and several other moderate GOP senators have also expressed concerns about the measure’s impact on coverage. On the other hand, four conservatives have said they oppose the current version of the bill for not doing enough to reduce premiums.

The budget office report said it believes the Senate bill “would increase the number of uninsured people substantially. The increase would be disproportionately larger among older people with lower income” — especially those between 50 and 64 and with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level, or around $30,300 for a single person. Those ages are just shy of when people begin qualifying for Medicare coverage.

Earlier Monday, Republican leaders added a penalty to their bill for people who’ve had at least a 63-day gap in coverage during the past year. Under that proposal, if they then buy insurance, they would face a six-month delay before it takes effect. The budget office said its estimate included the impact of that addition.

The change was aimed at helping insurance companies and the insurance market by discouraging healthy people from waiting to buy a policy until they get sick. Insurers need healthy customers who are inexpensive to cover to help pay the costs of people with medical conditions that are costly to treat.

The Senate bill would roll back much of Obama’s health care overhaul. His statute pressures people to buy insurance by imposing a tax penalty on those who don’t, but the Republican legislation would repeal that penalty, effectively erasing Obama’s so-called individual mandate.

The House approved its legislation in May. It would require insurers to boost premiums by 30 percent for those whose coverage lapsed.

Categories: Local KSN News

Hundreds of strangers show up to 2-year-old’s birthday party

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 16:37

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Sunday was a rainy day in Manhattan, but that didn’t stop people from all over Kansas from coming to support a little boy.

The little boy, SawyerLee Baldwin, loves motorcycles. He celebrated his 2nd birthday on Thursday, but Sunday was his birthday party.

“I invited like 10 kids and his daycare and was like let’s just go to the splash park and have fun,” said SawyerLee’s mother, Ashley Baldwin.

SawyerLee is an incredible little boy full of life, laughter and joy. However, the road hasn’t been easy for him.

“Sawyer demonstrates delays in his expressive language, which is his speech and his social skills,” Baldwin said.

She said that he shows red flags for autism, but said it’s too early to diagnose.

She posted an ad on Facebook, hoping that a few riders would stop by SawyerLee’s then, very small birthday party.

“One simple request can turn into something so much bigger,” she said.

What started out as a few riders quickly turned into nearly 300 riders coming from all over Kansas.

“It built on itself and went really quick and it just kinda leaped into what it is, what all of this is that you saw here today,” said Roy Bowman, member of the CVMA Kansas Chapter 21-1.

Baldwin, an avid motorcycle rider herself, thinks her love for bikes has turned into her son’s love for bikes.

“I think that’s another reason why he likes the deep rumble because he was in my belly on my bike and we rode together,” said Baldwin.

She said she is amazed by all of the support for her little guy.

“Our community is coming together to make happiness of a child,” she said.

Baldwin said she wants people to know just how much it means to her and SawyerLee.

“A good day,” said Baldwin. “Just a very good day.”

Categories: Local KSN News

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