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Gov. Colyer issues disaster declaration for wildfire

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 16:45

STEVENS COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer issued a Declaration of Disaster Emergency at 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

The declaration was issued to the Wildland Fire in Stevens County in southwest Kansas.

Additional counties may be added to the declaration as response operations continue.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka Saturday at an enhanced steady state due to very high and extreme fire weather conditions across the state.

At this time, the SEOC is staffed with personnel from KDEM, Kansas National Guard, Office of the State Fire Marshal and Kansas Forest Service.

Much of the state is currently under a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service for strong winds and dry conditions. KDEM officials encourage citizens to practice fire safety and to stay diligent in preventing wildfires.

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Kansas Senate committee scheduled to vote on gun measure

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 16:38

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas legislative committee is preparing to vote on a bill designed to ensure that fugitives and domestic abusers who illegally have guns are prosecuted.

The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee is scheduled to take up the bill Monday. The measure passed the House last month.

The bill would make it illegal under state law for fugitives or people who’ve been convicted of domestic violence within the past five years to possess a gun.

The ban also would apply to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and people who are subject to a court restraining order to prevent them from harassing or stalking others.

Supporters say the change will allow authorities to prosecute cases in state courts rather than federal courts that sometimes are too busy to handle them.

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No. 10 Cincinnati outlasts No. 11 Wichita State 62-61

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 13:48

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Jacob Evans scored 19 points to lead No. 10 Cincinnati to a 62-61 victory over No. 11 Wichita State on Sunday, giving the Bearcats the American Athletic Conference title.

Cincinnati (27-4, 16-2) survived a slugfest of a second half as the teams combined for just two baskets in the final five minutes.

Wichita State (24-6, 14-4) needed a victory to share the conference title and would have earned the top seed in the AAC tournament after having defeated Cincinnati earlier this season.

Jarron Cumberland and Kyle Washington each scored 11 points for the Bearcats, and Gary Clark added 10.

Landry Shamet and Shaquille Morris each scored 16 points for Wichita State.

Clark had a layup with four minutes remaining and two free throws with 3:27 to play, giving Cincinnati a 62-58 lead it didn’t relinquish.

Conner Frankamp hit a 17-foot jumper, Wichita State’s first basket in almost five minutes, to pull the Shockers within 62-61 with 47.2 seconds remaining.

The Shockers had three shots in the final 15 seconds to win but could not score.


Cincinnati: The Bearcats get a tough road victory that raises their profile and answers some questions about their schedule.

Wichita State: With six seniors playing their final game, the Shockers could not muster enough offense to win.


Cincinnati: The Bearcats will play Friday in the American Athletic Conference tournament.

Wichita State: The Shockers will play Friday in the American Athletic Conference tournament.

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Photo of toddler staring at portrait of Michelle Obama goes viral

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 13:42

A photo of a toddler who was awestruck by the portrait of a former first lady went viral this week.

It was snapped at the National Portrait Gallery by a visitor from North Carolina who posted it on his Facebook page.

It shows two-year-old Parker Curry staring at the towering portrait of Michelle Obama that was painted by Amy Sherald.

Parker’s mother said the little girl was so amazed, she wouldn’t even turn around for a picture.

Mom also say that Parker believes Michelle Obama is a queen and Parker wants to be a queen as well.

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RCPD working to recover body of man who drowned in lake

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 13:06

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Multiple agencies are working to recover the body of a man who drowned in Tuttle Creek Lake.

The Riley County Police Department said officers were called to the lake on Saturday around 3:00 p.m. on a report of an apparent drowning.

RCPD said the body of Anthony Berg, 21, of Stillwell, has not yet been recovered.

Recovery efforts will resume on Sunday.

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Johnson County jail inmate found unresponsive in cell, dies

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 12:43

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) – Officials say a prisoner has died after being found unresponsive in her cell at the Johnson County Detention Center in Olathe.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says in a news release that 59-year-old Wanda Denise Kendrick was found unconscious in her cell Friday morning while jail staff were conducting a welfare check. Staff attempted to resuscitate her, and she was taken to a nearby hospital. She was declared dead later that afternoon.

Officials say Kendrick was alone in the cell. She had been jailed since Feb. 23 on two counts of misdemeanor theft and one count of obstructing legal process.

Officials say they don’t know how she died, and an investigation is being conducted.

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Kansas lawmakers consider bill to protect speech on campus

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 12:41

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Legislation aimed at protecting free speech on Kansas college campuses is facing mixed reviews.

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson, of Andover, introduced the bill and says it will prevent students on one side of the political spectrum from silencing those on the other. He says that’s a growing problem on campuses around the country.

The Kansas National Education Association says the bill goes too far.

Spokesman Mark Desetti says the bill will take away the ability of universities to create safe campuses for students.

The bill would loosen university speech codes, eliminate free-speech zones and prevent universities from disinviting guest speakers that might be offensive. The bill has been approved by a Senate committee and awaits a vote in the full Senate.

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Jayhawks aplenty on 2017-18 All-Big 12 teams

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 12:14

IRVING, Texas (KU ATHLETICS) – Highlighted by Big 12 Player of the Year Devonte’ Graham, conference regular-season champion Kansas is well represented on the men’s basketball 2017-18 All-Big 12 Team selected by the conference coaches, the league announced Sunday.

Graham was the unanimous selection for Big 12 Player of the Year, while redshirt sophomore Malik Newman is the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Bill Self the co-Big 12 Coach of the Year, along with Chris Beard of Texas Tech. Graham is an All-Big 12 First Team selection, while senior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a second team honoree. Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike is third team and junior Lagerald Vick honorable mention. Newman was also named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.

Historically, Graham is the 12th Jayhawk to be named his conference’s player of the year. This is the ninth time a Kansas student-athlete has earned the distinction in the 22-year history of the Big 12 Conference. With Frank Mason III winning the 2017 honor, this is the seventh time in league history a school has been named the Big 12 player of the year in consecutive seasons with Kansas holding four of those occasions.


“I am so happy for Devonte’, it’s well deserved,” Self said. “He’s played as big a role on this team I believe as any player that we’ve had since we’ve been here, on any team. Everyone inside the program knows it goes far past statistics. We’re really happy for him. It’s well deserved.”

Graham was joined on the All-Big 12 Frist Team by Javon Carter (West Virginia), Dean Wade (Kansas State), Keenan Evans (Texas Tech) and Trae Young (Oklahoma) with Graham, Evans, Carter and Young being unanimous selections by the league coaches.

“To be selected for this by the conference coaches is an honor,” Graham said. “It’s good to see my fellow starters on the all-conference teams as well, as these awards are a total team effort.”

A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Graham is a three-time all-conference selection earning second team honors in 2017 and honorable mention in 2016. A two-time Big 12 Player of the Week this season, Graham is scoring 17.6 in all games, which is second in the Big 12. Graham is second in assists (7.2), is second the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7), ninth in free throw percentage (83.0), fourth in 3-point field goals made (3.0), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (42.3) and fifth in steals (1.6).

Newman, from Jackson, Mississippi, is the ninth Jayhawk to be named his conferences’ newcomer of the year and the first in the Big 12 era. A transfer from Mississippi State, Newman is averaging 12.2 points for the season, which ranks 25th in the Big 12. He is third on the team with a 4.9 rebound average and 55 3-point field goals made.

Mykhailiuk, Azubuike and Vick are appearing on the All-Big 12 Team for the first time in their career. Mykhailiuk is second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (45.1) and third in 3-point field goals made (3.1) as he is the only player in the conference to rank that high in both 3-point stats. From Cherkasy, Ukraine, Mykhailiuk is averaging 15.3 points per game, which is 10th in the Big 12.

Azubuike leads the country in field goal percentage at 77.4 percent. The Delta, Nigeria, center has five double-doubles on the season, two in Big 12 play, and ranks tied for 14th in the league in scoring at 13.7 points per game. Azubuike’s 7.1 rebound average is seventh in the conference. Vick, from Memphis, is averaging 12.2 points per game, which is 23rd in the conference. He pulls down 5.0 rebounds per game and has made 46 3-pointers this season.

“I think Svi (Mykhailiuk) deserved his second-team honors, he’s had a tremendous senior year,” Self said. “Doke (Azubuike) being recognized on the third team is nice by other coaches. I was hopeful that he may sneak on the second team but certainly understand with the depth and quality of players in our league. It was nice to see Malik as the newcomer of the year and on the all-newcomer team and Lagerald to receive votes for honorable mention.”

Self guided the Jayhawks (24-7, 13-5) to their 14th-straight Big 12 regular-season title in 2018, establishing an NCAA record for most consecutive conference crowns in college basketball history. He captured the 2018 regular-season championship by two games en route to earning his eighth Big 12 and ninth overall conference coach of the year honor: 2000 (WAC), 2006 (Big 12), 2009 (Big 12), 2011 (Big 12), 2012 (co-Big 12), 2015 (Big 12 by AP), 2016 (Big 12 by AP), 2017 (Big 12) and 2018 (Big 12).

In the 22-year history of the conference, Kansas lays claim to a league-best 116 All-Big 12 selections which includes first-, second-, third-, honorable mention, all-defensive and all-newcomer team honorees. Texas is second with 88. Graham gives Kansas a first-team selection for the 18th-consecutive season and the 20th time in the history of the league. Kansas has 21 KU All-Big 12 First Team choices in the 15 seasons under Self.

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After Parkland, even idle school threats get tough response

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 11:48

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Fifteen students in one Florida school district are facing felony charges and prison time for making alleged threats since the Margery Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Meanwhile, an autistic Minnesota high school student whose alleged threat led to a six-hour lockdown is in juvenile court and has received an outpouring of sympathy.

The Feb. 14 killings of 17 people in Parkland, Florida, have ignited a wave of copycat threats, as happens after nearly every high-profile school shooting. Most prove unfounded, but cause big disruptions to schools while tying up police for hours or even days.

Experts say authorities’ swift responses are underscoring a climate in which even idle threats will result in serious consequences.

“Kids make bad decisions and I think that in decades past those decisions would have been addressed behind closed doors with the principal and parents,” said Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based consulting company. “Now they’re being addressed behind closed doors in the police station and the courtroom.”

The Volusia County Schools system in east-central Florida isn’t taking chances. Sheriff Michael Chitwood made it clear he had a zero-tolerance policy as threats began after Parkland. On Thursday, he went further, saying students or their families would have to pay the costs of the investigations — at least $1,000 and sometimes much more.

District spokeswoman Nancy Wait said the message is clear: We’re not joking around.

“Unfortunately that word didn’t get to the students and we started seeing more students making threats in the classroom, and that was frightening to their classmates,” she said. “Most of the time these students didn’t have access to weapons, but they were still making threats to shoot up their schools.”

Don Bridges, president of the National Association of School Resource Officers and a veteran of 16 years on duty at Franklin High School in suburban Baltimore, said the number of threats goes down when districts send a strong message that they won’t be tolerated.

The Educator’s School Safety Network, which tracks reports of school threats and violent incidents across the country, has documented a spike since Parkland. The Ohio group counted 797 as of Sunday. Most (743) were for threats of various kinds, including gun and bomb threats. The threats were made mostly via social media (331) and verbally (119).

That amounts to about a sevenfold increase in the usual rate, director of programs Amy Klinger said.

“The mentality has shifted in a very short period of time from kids being kids to this is very serious stuff,” she said. She expects consequences of post-Parkland threats to be harsher than before.

“They almost have to be,” she said. “Do we want to do this for the rest of the school year? Do we want to have this constant chaos and fear, and people being upset? How much learning is going on?”

Tom Clark, a defense attorney in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represents a 14-year-old boy whose threat preceded Parkland but who faced tough consequences.

Clark said the boy had been having a bad day and wrote a list of people he wanted to shoot. After someone found the list in November, the boy, who had never been in trouble before, was jailed, facing hefty charges and a lifetime expulsion. He eventually was sentenced to probation.

“After the initial harsh reaction, at least the district attorney stepped back and the superintendent of schools stepped back and looked at it in a more compassionate light,” Clark said.

Probation officers worked with the boy to find an alternative program where he could attend school at night.

“No one wants to be the judge or the police officer or the security guard who doesn’t take action and something awful happens,” Clark said. “So the initial reactions are swift and harsh and then ultimately people are able to get a better handle on what’s going on with these children individually.”

It’s not clear yet what the consequences will be for an autistic boy whose social media threat to shoot up Orono High School in suburban Minneapolis prompted a lockdown Feb. 21 that kept students confined to classrooms for nearly six hours. Prosecutors won’t say what the charges are because it’s a juvenile case.

The community’s reaction was unusually sympathetic. Another student’s mother set up a GoFundMe campaign with the boy’s family’s permission that by Sunday was near its $40,000 goal to help cover the family’s legal and treatment expenses. Claire Wnuk Berrett wrote on the fundraising page that some kids on the autism spectrum don’t have the language or social skills to adequately express their needs.

“When verbal or written threats are made, they are usually an attempt to express the severity of the adolescent’s distress,” Berrett wrote. “It is not necessarily a true indication of a desire to hurt themselves or others. They do not have the social awareness to recognize this is the wrong thing to say.”

Principal David Benson said the outpouring shows, “We have a caring and supportive community for sure.”


Associated Press reporter Amy Forliti contributed to this story from Minneapolis. AP researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed from New York.

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Michigan man cleared of murder now fights for compensation

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 11:47

DETROIT (AP) — David Gavitt spent 26 years in prison for the deaths of his wife and two daughters before a prosecutor agreed that the evidence behind his arson conviction was no longer credible. The case helped inspire a Michigan law aimed at compensating the wrongfully convicted.

Yet the state now is vigorously resisting Gavitt’s request for money, going so far as to question whether he’s really innocent. He would qualify for more than $1 million.

“My reaction? I don’t know how to put this — anger,” said Gavitt, 59, who works the midnight shift at a tub manufacturer. “It’s like a slap in the face. … I thought we lived in America where the accused doesn’t have to prove innocence. They’re judging me all over again.”

Gavitt’s claim under Michigan’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act — $50,000 for each year in prison — would seem like a slam dunk. The evidence used to convict him was thoroughly discredited through major advances in fire science, and Ionia County prosecutor Ron Schafer in 2012 declined a second trial.

But Schafer’s successor and the Michigan attorney general’s office aren’t convinced he should be paid.

“Although Mr. Gavitt is no longer guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime initially charged, there certainly is circumstantial evidence that supports he is not innocent of wrongdoing,” prosecutor Kyle Butler said in a letter to Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Michigan is among 32 states and the District of Columbia that provide money to people who are rebuilding their lives after being wrongly convicted. Perjury, bad evidence, sloppy police work — all have led to reversals, sometimes after decades in prison.

Gavitt was convicted of arson and murder in 1986 in a tragedy that stunned the small town of Ionia, 130 miles northwest of Detroit. His wife, Angie, and their daughters, ages 3 and 11, died. Wearing only jeans, Gavitt was rushed to a hospital where he spent weeks recovering from severe burns.

He insisted the fire in the living room was an accident. Gavitt and his wife were smokers, and an ashtray was in the room. Angie also collected lamps that burned oil.

But experts testified that burn patterns in the living room were typical of an intentional fire and that traces of gasoline were detected.

Gavitt’s appeals failed until the Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school took his case in 2010. By then, the science of fire investigations had dramatically changed. Different experts examined the evidence from the 1985 blaze and refuted the arson theory presented at trial.

In agreeing to drop the convictions and life sentence, Schafer said an intentional fire caused by gasoline could no longer be verified. But at the same time he also noted there still were a “great deal of questions” about what Gavitt did during that chaotic night.

Butler, who has been Ionia’s prosecutor since 2016, also apparently has doubts. He didn’t respond to an interview request but expressed concerns in his letter to the attorney general.

Judge Michael Talbot, who is overseeing Gavitt’s claim for payment, so far is siding with the state. In a Jan. 8 decision, he said Gavitt still “must present clear and convincing evidence” that he didn’t kill his family.

Gavitt’s attorney, J. Paul Janes, said the judge’s ruling is a “complete 180-degree shift of the burden of proof.” Imran Syed, a law professor who helped win Gavitt’s release, believes Talbot is misinterpreting the compensation law.

“Everything they used against David to say this fire was intentionally set was determined to be junk science. When junk science disappears, that’s it,” Syed said.

The big irony is that Gavitt’s case was often raised when the Michigan Legislature voted to pay people who were wrongly convicted. The law started in 2017.

“The general public would never believe a man out for six years still hasn’t gotten a penny from anybody,” Syed said. “He’s working hard just to make ends meet. After all he’s been through, a lot of people wouldn’t have their sanity.”


Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

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On guns, companies are getting out ahead of the politicians

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 11:46

NEW YORK (AP) — In 1960, black students staged sit-ins that forced Woolworth’s to desegregate its lunch counters, and other stores and restaurants followed suit. In 1986, General Motors, Coca-Cola and dozens of other U.S. corporations pulled out of apartheid-era South Africa after years of pressure from activists, college students and investors.

This week, four major retailers slapped restrictions on gun sales that are stronger than federal law.

Those are all rare examples of American companies getting out ahead of the politicians and the law on socially explosive issues. Such decisions are almost always made reluctantly, under huge pressure and with an eye toward minimizing the effect on the bottom line.

The Feb. 14 massacre of 17 students and teachers at a Florida high school has set off a response from U.S. businesses unlike any previous mass shooting.

Major corporations, including MetLife, Hertz and Delta Air Lines, have cut ties to the National Rifle Association. Walmart, Kroger, L.L. Bean and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21. Dick’s also banned the sale of assault-style rifles, a step Walmart took in 2015. And Dick’s CEO went even further by calling for tougher gun laws.

Those actions amounted to an act of defiance against the NRA and its allies in Washington who have vehemently opposed any ban on AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons or a higher age limit for gun purchases.

“What we are seeing is a real shift,” said Mimi Chakravorti, executive director of strategy at the brand consulting firm Landor. “I think right now, companies are acting ahead of the government because they are seeing that the changes are too slow.”

Still, business leaders are not exactly leading the charge for the stricter guns laws. Their actions came in response to protests by the students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to growing calls by consumers for boycotts against companies that do business with the NRA or gun manufacturers.

And their decisions didn’t represent much of a sacrifice from a strictly business point of view. Most of Dick’s business, for instance, is in other types of sporting goods, such as sneakers and basketballs. Guns and ammunition are estimated to account for only 8 percent of sales.

Walmart has not said how much of its business comes from guns, but when the company stopped offering AR-15s in 2015, it cited declining sales.

The actions of those retailers will have very little practical effect on the availability of guns.

Roger Beahm, a professor of marketing at Wake Forest University School of Business, said smaller retailers will probably capitalize on the situation by selling the weapons the major chains will no longer handle.

It remains to be seen what effect the corporate reaction will have on the wider gun debate.

Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA who has written extensively about gun policy, said the NRA is unlikely to budge, but politicians might.

“I don’t think the NRA is going to bow down or buckle to pressure,” Winkler said. “However, the gun debate may change to the extent that this is being driven by companies’ sense of what consumers want. That might affect elected officials on Election Day. Today, they are consumers. On Election Day, they are voters.”

It is rare for a company to drop products out of social concern. When it happens, the calculation is that any loss of revenue will be offset by increased customer loyalty in the long term, Beahm said.

He cited the example of CVS Health, which stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in 2014, a decision that cost $2 billion in revenue but was well received by its customers.

That move was a rare example of a company taking a socially conscious step under no public pressure. Most of the time, corporations act when it becomes untenable for them to ignore the pressure, as in the case of Woolworth and the corporations that left South Africa.

In the case of guns, the calculation of whether to jump into the debate or sit on the sidelines is tricky because the country is so divided on the issue.

Delta Air Lines, for example, faced swift retribution for cutting ties to the NRA. Georgia’s Republican state lawmakers voted Thursday to kill a proposed tax break on jet fuel that would have saved the airline millions.

While polls show the country is split on the broad issue of gun controls, there is widespread support for some measures opposed by the NRA, such as universal background checks.

“The business leaders who make these decisions are betting on the future as opposed to a distorted view of the past,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at Yale School of Management.

The debate over whether it is the business of corporations to weigh in on social issues goes back decades. In 1962, the celebrated economist Milton Friedman, in his book “Capitalism and Freedom,” argued that the only social responsibility of business was to increase profits and play by the rules.

But in recent years, U.S. companies have found it increasingly difficult to avoid being drawn into America’s culture wars.

That was dramatically illustrated when Indiana and North Carolina faced a backlash from businesses that threatened to boycott the states over laws that were deemed discriminatory toward gay and transgender people. Bank of America, American Airlines and IBM were among dozens of companies that spoke out.

A big difference from decades past is the strengthening voice of consumers, who now have a plethora of choices for where to spend their money and social media platforms for making their views heard, Chakravorti said.

That new landscape can make it impossible for businesses leaders to stay out of controversy. That was the case when Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier dropped out of one of President Donald Trump’s advisory councils over the president’s remarks about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Other chief executives followed suit, some reluctantly, and the business councils fell apart.

“Either you stay on the sidelines and get dragged into the debate — and if you do that, you don’t own the conversation around your brand — or you step up and own the conversation around your brand,” Chakravorti said.

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White House: No exemptions from steel, aluminum tariffs

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 11:41

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s administration appears unbowed by broad domestic and international criticism of his planned import tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying Sunday that the president is not planning on exempting any countries from the stiff duties.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said: “At this point in time there’s no country exclusions.”

Trump’s announcement Thursday that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on imported steel and aluminum, roiled markets, rankled allies and raised prospects for a trade war. While his rhetoric has been focused on China, the duties will also cover significant imports from Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan and the European Union.

The Pentagon had recommended that Trump only pursue targeted tariffs, so as not to upset American partners abroad. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Sunday that was not the direction the president would take.

“He’s talking about a fairly broad brush,” Ross said on ABC’s “This Week.” He rejected threats of retaliation from American allies as “pretty trivial.”

Few issues could blur the lines of partisanship in Trump-era Washington. Trade is one of them.

Labor unions and liberal Democrats are in the unusual position of applauding Trump’s approach, while Republicans and an array of business groups are warning of dire economic and political consequences if he goes ahead with the tariffs.

Trade politics often cut along regional, rather than ideological, lines, as politicians reflect the interests of the hometown industries and workers. But rarely does a debate open so wide a rift between a president and his party — leaving him almost exclusively with support from his ideological opposites.

“Good, finally,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and progressive as he cheered Trump’s move. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a Democrat who has called for Trump to resign, agreed.

“I urge the administration to follow through and to take aggressive measures to ensure our workers can compete on a level playing field,” Casey tweeted.

This moment of unusual alliance was long expected. As a candidate, Trump made his populist and protectionist positions on trade quite clear, at times hitting the same themes as one of the Democratic presidential candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally our middle class,” Trump told voters in the hard-hit steel town of Monessen, Pennsylvania, during one of his campaign stops. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Trump’s criticism of trade agreements and China’s trade policies found support with white working-class Americans whose wages had stagnated over the years. Victories in big steel-producing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana demonstrated that his tough trade talk had a receptive audience.

Both candidates in a March 13 House election in Pennsylvania have embraced the president’s plans for tariffs. They addressed the topic Saturday in a debate that aired on WTAE in Pittsburgh.

“For too long, China has been making cheap steel and they’ve been flooding the market with it. It’s not fair and it’s not right. So I actually think this is long overdue,” said Democratic candidate Conor Lamb.

“Unfortunately, many of our competitors around the world have slanted the playing field, and their thumb has been on the scale, and I think President Trump is trying to even that scale back out,” said Republican candidate Rick Saccone.

But Trump’s GOP allies on Capitol Hill have little use for the tariff approach. They argue that other industries that rely on steel and aluminum products will suffer. The cost of new appliances, cars and buildings will rise if the president follows through, they warn, and other nations could retaliate. The end result could erode the president’s base of support with rural America and even the blue-collar workers the president says he trying to help.

“There is always retaliation, and typically a lot of these countries single out agriculture when they do that. So, we’re very concerned,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., asked the administration to reconsider its stance. He said American companies could move their operations abroad and not face retaliatory tariffs.

“This scenario would lead to the exact opposite outcome of the administration’s stated objective, which is to protect American jobs,” Walker said.

The Business Roundtable’s Josh Bolten, a chief of staff for President George W. Bush, called on Trump to have “the courage” to step back from his campaign rhetoric on trade.

“Sometimes a president needs to, you need to stick to your principles but you also need to recognize in cases where stuff you said in the campaign isn’t right and ought to be drawn back,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”The president needs to have the courage to do that.”

Tim Phillips, president of the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, noted that Trump narrowly won in Iowa and Wisconsin, two heavily rural states that could suffer if countries impose retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural goods.

“It hurts the administration politically because trade wars, protectionism, they lead to higher prices for individual Americans,” Phillips said. “It’s basically a tax increase.”

The president wasn’t backing down, at least on Twitter, where he posted this message: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.”


Reach Kevin Freking on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APkfreking

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Residents hold candlelight vigil, other events in Wichita for Lucas Hernandez

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 22:54

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It has now been two weeks since missing five-year-old Lucas Hernandez disappeared from his east Wichita home.

Saturday dozens of community members gathered to hold several events for the boy.

One resident described it as a day for Lucas. Residents say their goal is to continue the conversation about him.

Motorcycles made their way out of Boston Park Saturday. Residents said it’s just one way they wanted to make Lucas’ voice heard throughout the community.

“This was very short notice we only started two days ago and got a pretty good turn out,” said Chris Stewart, Wichita.

People from outside the city came to show their support of him and the search.

“I would hope that if anything would happen to our kids the community would get together like they have for Lucas,” said Joy Buckner, Sedgwick.

The riders went by Lucas’ home and Chisholm Creek Park, two places Wichita Police and others have searched for him.

And residents say they aren’t giving up.

“We all have kids we all want him to come home just as much as his parents or anybody so this is just all about him today,” said Melissa Ortiz, Haysville.

The day ended with a candlelight vigil for Lucas. Residents wore Lucas shirts, released balloons, and sang songs to pray for Lucas’ safe return together.

“Feel the love within the community of everybody that came out tonight that was a really powerful, powerful thing for me,” said Bob Johnson, Wichita.

People at the day’s events said they will keep holding events for Lucas and make sure his voice continues to be heard.

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Multiple officers block roads in west Wichita

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 22:44

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – There is a heavy police presence in west Wichita tonight following a traffic stop.

Multiple streets in the area of Lincoln and Main have been closed as WPD investigates.

Officers tell us there was a traffic stop in that area that led to the heavy presence, but would not say what happened.

KSN has a crew at the scene and will bring you the latest information as it’s released.

Categories: Local KSN News

Officer pinned in car

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 21:36

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Officials say one officer is pinned inside of a car following a wreck in northwest Wichita.

Sedgwick County dispatchers say it happened in the area of 29th Street and Maize Road.

KSN has a crew on the way to the scene. We will have the latest information in our KSN at 10 Newscast.

Categories: Local KSN News

DCF altered documents that family believes, could have saved a life

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 21:18

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The family of Evan Brewer is speaking out after learning that DCF altered documents pertaining to his death. Friday the Department for Families and Children released more that 280 pages of documents to KSN. This came one day after releasing them to Carlo Brewer, Evan’s dad. The documents detail how DCF responded to allegations of abuse and neglect; more than a year before Evan’s body was found encased in a concrete structure.  Saturday, the Brewer family and their lawyer spoke with KSN about a closed door meeting they had with DCF, this week.

“I did appreciate the fact that they were courageous enough to initiate the contact and personal conference,” said lawyer, Shayla Johnston.

However, Johnston says thoughts and prayers are no longer needed, what he and the family wants now is change.

“He was prevented from saving Evan’s life,” she explained. “DCF assisted in that prevention; they were part of the systematic block that was put on us, from saving Evan.”

Carlo Brewer made multiple calls to law enforcement and DCF, concerned for his sons safety. No action was taken.

“We think DCF needs to be focused on  helping parents keep their kids safe,” said Johnston. “There’s nothing more central to the purpose of that agency than putting families first and helping families keep kids safe and healthy. We don’t think DCF is doing that and the fact that they won’t give us records on Evan’s death, shows that they are missing the point. they are still protecting themselves rather than doing their job.”

The documents released to KSN have a number of names blacked out; these were the same redacted documents given to the family. There was a report made to DCF on May 16. 2017,  stating concern for the 3-year-old. The report lists a number of concerns including reference to the mother’s boyfriend, choking Evan and having to do CPR to bring him back. It also says that the mother refused police welfare checks and did nothing to protect her son. This report was made in May but those details were not proper;y documented to a supervisor.

“Their own internal investigation revealed that that information did not make it from intake to the DCF investigator and her supervisor,” explained Johnston.

The documents also state that there were changes made to the original report, after an internal review was ordered. Johnston believes that if this information was shared, it could have helped save Evan’s life.

“Somebody was covering up the fact that they knew Evan was about to die and did not follow through with a request for a warrant  or procedures with police or missing exploited children unit,” explained Johnston.

Johnston says that DCF told Carlo Brewer, they want to learn from their mistakes and asked Carlo to come and speak to their employees about his experience.

“They acknowledged that and they want to work with Carlo and get his personal experiences and find out how he thinks this should be done and Carlo thought it was a positive meeting and that’s important.”

KSN reached out to DCF for comment and was sent this statement Saturday evening.

“Given the family’s stated desire to move to litigation, we will not be in a position to further comment or clarify.  We sincerely appreciate the family meeting with us, and as the Secretary vowed when she was appointed in December 2017, and during the conversation with this family, we will make needed changes.”

The Brewer family has started a GoFundMe page to help families that find themselves in similar situations.


Categories: Local KSN News

Hunt for missing Malaysian plane likely to end in June

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 19:39

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 by a U.S. company will likely end in June, a Malaysian official said, as families of passengers marked the fourth anniversary of the plane’s disappearance with renewed hope that the world’s biggest aviation mystery will be solved.

Malaysia inked a “no cure, no fee” deal with Houston, Texas-based Ocean Infinity in January to resume the hunt for the plane, a year after the official search in the southern Indian Ocean by Malaysia, Australia and China was called off.

Ocean Infinity started the search on Jan. 22 and has 90 search days to look for the plane. Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said the 90-day term will spread over a few months because the search vessel has to refuel in Australia and bad weather could be a factor.

Azharuddin said Saturday the search is going smoothly and is expected to end by mid-June.

“The whole world, including the next of kin, have (new) hope to find the plane for closure,” he told reporters at a remembrance event at a shopping mall near Kuala Lumpur. “For the aviation world, we want to know what exactly happened to the plane.”

Officials have said there was an 85 percent chance of finding the debris in a new 25,000-square-kilometer (9,650-square-mile) search area — roughly the size of Vermont — identified by experts.

If the mission is successful within three months, payment will be made based on the size of the area searched. Malaysia says it will pay Ocean Infinity $20 million for 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles) of a successful search, $30 million for 15,000 square kilometers (5,790 square miles), $50 million for 25,000 square kilometers (9,653 square miles) and $70 million if the plane or flight recorders are found beyond the identified area.

The plane vanished March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The official search was extremely difficult because no transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight. Systems designed to automatically transmit the flight’s position failed to work after this point, according to a final report issued in January 2017 by the Australian Transport Safety Board.

Family members lit candles on a stage Saturday and observed a moment of silence during the three-hour event. Most are split over whether the search will be fruitful.

“It doesn’t renew (any hope) because I also have to be realistic. It has been four years,” said Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband was a flight attendant on the plane. She was pregnant when the plane disappeared and attended the event with her now 4-year-old son.

Jiang Hui of China, whose mother was on board the plane, said that he was grateful for Ocean Infinity’s courage to mount the search, but that he hopes it will not be the end if the mission fails. He proposed for a public fund to be set up to continue the search.

“Without a search, there will be no truth,” Jiang said.

Categories: Local KSN News

‘He’s touched our hearts and souls’: Bikers ride for Lucas Hernandez as the search continues

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 18:49

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Both WPD and civilians have searched multiple areas across Wichita to find Lucas Hernandez after he went missing two weeks ago today from his east Wichita home.

Community efforts to find Lucas continued Saturday morning.

About 35 people searched Pawnee Prairie Park, which is near Maize Rd. and Kellogg.

The group used horses and a drone while looking for items that could lead police to the little boy. They marked everything they found with red flags to notify police in hopes of finding answers.

“I think everybody is just waiting for word. If an official says ‘show up here tomorrow and help us look through this area,’ I guarantee you half the city’s going to be there,” said Sheila Medlam.

The search organizer says they hope to join the Texas EquuSearch group that arrived in Wichita Saturday. The founder says they were contacted by detectives to help in the case. Right now, they are mapping the area before they begin their official search Sunday.

The group has chapters from several states and the group that will be here has ground searchers, ATVs, a drone and other equipment to help find Lucas.

Today, the community gathered in Boston Park for a motorcycle ride and vigil for the five-year-old boy.

Dozens of bikers wore green ribbons as they rode from the park. The rides took a trip through Lucas’ neighborhood before driving by Chisholm Creek Park.

“He’s touched our hearts and souls I mean he’s out there he’s missing you know we all have kids we all want him to come home just as much as his parents and anybody. This is just all about him today,” said Melissa Ortiz, of Haysville.

The community will have a vigil for the missing boy Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.


Categories: Local KSN News

Kansas voting rights trial has national implications

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 18:37

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A legal challenge to a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote is set to go on trial in a case with national implications for voting rights.

At issue in the trial that begins Tuesday is the fate of a Kansas law championed by Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach. That law requires people to provide citizenship documents such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport at the time they register to vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the case is about national standards for voter registration and the false narrative of noncitizens participating in elections.

Kobach has argued in court filings that the law is necessary to prevent voter fraud. To win, he will need to show there’s a substantial problem of noncitizens voting.

Categories: Local KSN News

Vulnerable lawmakers answer a noisy gun debate with silence

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 18:30

NEW YORK (AP) — They crowded around the White House conference table this past week, lawmakers from California, Connecticut, Texas and Florida, eager to share their state’s painful experience with gun violence.

One key state was not represented. No one from Nevada, home to the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history just five months ago, attended the televised discussion with the president.

But in the politics of gun control, even those who say the least have considerable sway. Despite a clamor for action in the wake of the Florida school shooting, a powerful group of vulnerable lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — have pointedly avoided the national conversation about guns.

They often choose strategic silence rather than get crosswise with the National Rifle Association’s die-hard supporters on the right or the growing movement of passionate gun control advocates on the left.

The office of Nevada’s senior senator, Republican Dean Heller, would not say why did he did not attend the White House meeting. Heller, who is facing a tough re-election fight, has avoided the spotlight in the subsequent days as well, declining to address specifics about his positions on gun legislation.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment about whether Heller was invited to the event. The state’s Democratic senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, and its three Democratic representatives also did not attend.

Heller spokeswoman Megan Taylor declined to say whether the senator supported universal background checks, raising the age for gun purchases to 21, or provisions to ban high-capacity magazines and assault rifles, all ideas tossed out by lawmakers or President Donald Trump in recent days.

“He looks forward to continuing discussions with his colleagues as Congress explores ways to enhance compliance with existing law and keep our communities safe,” Taylor said.

Heller has signed on to legislation known as “Fix NICS,” a modest measure supported by the NRA and intended to encourage better participation in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It was one of the few gun bills to find bipartisan support and appeared poised to move ahead, only to be sidelined.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has said little about the gun debate in recent days, said Thursday that no gun-related legislation would be heard in the coming week.

Without this silent majority’s support, there is little chance for significant gun control legislation to become federal law, no matter how loud the outcry from high school students and others who are pushing for action.

The stalemate infuriates Ryan Works, a 40-year-old father of two, who hid under a table at an October concert in Las Vegas as a gunman shot and killed 58 and wounded more than 800. A Republican, Works offered an emotional message to Heller and elected officials in both parties who are reluctant to take on gun violence.

“Step up and do something,” he said in an interview, almost shouting as he described shopping for bullet-proof backpacks for his 5- and 8-year-old children. “Show us that you care and you’re going to protect us.”

Heller’s muted response at an extraordinary moment highlights the weight of his political predicament.

Running for re-election in a state Trump lost, he must win over a significant number of independents and moderate Democrats in November’s general election to earn a second term. But first, he must survive a primary challenge from a conservative firebrand in a state where GOP primary voters value gun rights above almost all else.

The challenge is easy to see in recent polls. Two out of three adults in the United States want stricter gun laws, CBS found in a poll conducted a week after the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida. But among Republicans, 54 percent want gun laws left alone or made less strict.

That’s likely why the most politically vulnerable elected officials have kept their heads down, leaving the heavy lifting to elected officials facing less political risk this fall.

On the Senate floor this week, blue-state senators such as Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts’ Ed Markey and New Jersey’s Cory Booker offered fiery speeches about gun violence. Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, a swing-state Republican whose current term ends in 2022, re-emerged as the face of the push for universal background checks. Arizona Sen. Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who is retiring at the end of this year, was partnering with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on legislation to move the age to buy long guns to 21.

Those Democrats running in Republican-leaning states this fall were far less conspicuous.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, both Democrats running for re-election in states Trump won handily, have said nothing about gun violence from the Senate floor in recent days, but made statements honoring constituents who had recently passed away.

Heitkamp supports the “Fix NICS” plan and co-sponsored a bill that would prevent those on the terrorist watch list from buying guns, her spokeswoman said. The senator has previously opposed so-called bump stocks, which the Las Vegas shooter used to increase the firing speed of his semi-automatic rifle. But the spokeswoman did not clarify whether she would support universal background checks, higher age limits, or provisions to ban high-capacity magazines and assault rifles.

In a statement, Heitkamp decried “horrific mass shootings” and called for “a bipartisan conversation in Congress about long-term solutions to gun violence.”

Similarly, Donnelly, who previously voted for universal background checks and backs “Fix NICS,” said little more about the issue when pressed for specifics.

“I believe that Congress should take steps to reduce gun violence, while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said in a statement.

At the White House meeting, the Democratic Party’s most vulnerable 2018 class was represented only by Sen. Joe Manchin, a former West Virginia governor, who encouraged the president to help promote the so-called Toomey-Manchin plan for universal background checks.

Trump seemed to embrace the proposal during the Wednesday meeting, but he hasn’t mentioned it since a Thursday night meeting with the NRA, which opposes the plan.

Don’t expect Heller to mention it either.

Should he win his primary, he will likely face Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who isn’t shy about her support for virtually every gun control measure on the table. She was quick to note Heller’s low profile in the debate.

“His silence speaks volumes,” Rosen said. “How can you have tragedy in your own state, like the massive one we had here, and not have it forever change you, and not speak out, and not respond to these families?”


Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.

Categories: Local KSN News