Local KSN News
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — At Facebook, mere “sharing” is getting old. Finding deeper meaning in online communities is the next big thing.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg is no longer satisfied with just connecting the world so that people can pass around baby pictures and live video — or fake news and hate symbols. So the Facebook founder wants to bring more meaning to its nearly 2 billion users by shepherding them into online groups that bring together people with common passions, problems and ambitions.
Much like the creation of Facebook itself — arguably the largest social-engineering project in history — that shift could have broad and unanticipated consequences. Facebook will apply the same powerful computer algorithms that make its service so compelling to the task of nudging people to consider groups they’ll find equally appealing.
If successful, that would also encourage people to spend more time on Facebook, which could boost the company’s profits. While Facebook doesn’t currently place ads in its groups, it said it “can’t speak to future plans.” Advertising is virtually Facebook’s only source of revenue ; it brought in almost $27 billion dollars in 2016, 57 percent more than the previous year.
THE SEARCH FOR MEANING
The shift comes as Facebook continues to grapple with the darker side of connecting the world, from terrorist recruitment to videos of murder and suicides to propaganda intended to disrupt elections around the world. For Zuckerberg, using his social network to “build community” and “bring the world closer together” — two phrases from Facebook’s newly updated mission statement — is a big part of the answer.
“When you think of the social structure of the world, we are probably one of the larger institutions that can help empower people to build communities,” Zuckerberg said in a recent interview at the company’s offices in Menlo Park, California. “There, I think we have a real opportunity to help make a difference.”
Zuckerberg outlined his latest vision at a “communities summit” held Thursday in Chicago. It’s the company’s first gathering for the people who run millions of groups on Facebook, a feature the company rolled out years ago to little fanfare. Facebook is also rolling out new administrative tools intended to simplify the task of screening members and managing communities in hopes that will encourage people to create and cultivate more groups.
Facebook groups are ad hoc collections of people united by a single interest; they offer ways to chat and organize events. Originally conceived as a way for friends and family to communicate privately, groups have evolved to encompass hobbies, medical conditions, military service, pets, parenthood and just about anything else you could think of.
To Zuckerberg, now 33, the effort to foster meaningful communities reflects his recent interest in ways Facebook can make the world a less divisive place, one that emerged following the fractious 2016 presidential election.
He has previously talked about the need to bring people together in both a lengthy manifesto published earlier this year and during his commencement address at Harvard University last month.
“MEANING,” FACEBOOK STYLE
That’s the theory. Practice is something else.
Data-driven to its core, Facebook has quantified “meaning” so it can be sure people are getting more of it. And what Facebook aims to maximize is the time people spend in its online groups. Whenever someone spends at least 30 minutes a week in a group, Facebook classifies it as “meaningful.” The company estimates that 130 million of its users are in such groups; it wants that number to exceed a billion people within five years.
Facebook has already been tweaking its algorithms to recommend more groups to users. Those changes have boosted the number of people in “meaningful” groups by 50 percent over the past six months, Zuckerberg said — a testament to the power of algorithms on human behavior.
Of course, anything that keeps people coming back to Facebook also gives it more opportunities to learn about their interests and other personal details that help it sell advertising, according to analysts.
“It’s really simple economics: If users are spending time on Facebook, they’re seeing more ads,” says eMarketer analyst Debra Williamson. “Increasing user engagement is a necessity for Facebook.”
Virtual communities “can fill a fundamental need we have for a sense of belonging, much like eating or sleeping,” said Anita Blanchard, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who’s studied them for 20 years.
Her research has also shown that online communities can make people less intolerant of opposing viewpoints. “They get you out of your own clothes and make connections across the U.S., making you realize you can get along with people with different beliefs,” she said.
For Sarah Giberman, an artist and parent who lives in Arlington, Texas, a meaningful group is one “that serves a need in your life, that fills some space that would otherwise feel vacant.”
“I spend a lot more time on Facebook because of the groups than I would otherwise,” she said. “Especially with the current sociopolitical climate, I’m not comfortable being very open in my regular newsfeed.”
AP technology reporter Tali Arbel contributed to this article from New York.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger says plans to renovate Memorial Stadium and build an indoor training facility are moving forward and will cost around $300 million.
The Kansas City Star reports that Zenger made the announcement Wednesday night at a meet-and-greet event for the football team at a Kansas City, Missouri, bar. He says architectural drawings are in the works and will be released to the public in September.
Zenger offered few details, saying he will speak more in the coming months after the designs are shown to fans.
Kansas football coach David Beaty says fans “deserve a really, really nice stadium.” He’s trying to turn around a program that ended with a 2-10 record last season.
University officials have considered a stadium overhaul for more than a decade.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — From an educator to a rapper, one local school teacher has found a unique way to teach middle school boys how to better respect themselves and better respect the learning environment.
Juanita Ridge joined KSN News at Noon Thursday to talk about her rap song “Boy Pull Your Pants Up”.
“As an educator, I had observed the trend of middle school students sagging in school, how it had become very disruptive to the learning environment, and how ill prepared many of the staff members were in responding to young men sagging their pants,” said Ridge.
See our full interview with Juanita Ridge in the video.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he “did not make” and doesn’t have any recordings of his private conversations with James Comey — his fired FBI director.
Trump also tweets that he has “no idea” whether other “tapes” or recordings exist.
Trump has disputed Comey’s assertion that Trump asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty during a dinner meeting they had.
When news of Comey’s account broke, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Under a post-Watergate law, presidential recordings belong to the people and eventually can be made public. Destroying them would be a crime.
The House committee investigating Russian meddling in the election set a Friday deadline for the White House to hand over any tapes.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The only tremors from a reported major earthquake off the California coast came on the internet.
Seismologists said Wednesday’s automatically generated report of a magnitude 6.8 quake in the Pacific Ocean 10 miles west of Santa Barbara was a false alarm based on a quake that happened in the same area nearly a century ago.
“The quake did happen, but it happened in 1925,” said Rafael Abreu, a geophysicist from the US Geological Survey.
The report caused huge ripples on Twitter, where dozens of automated tweets were generated, and concerned citizens were hoping the people of California were OK.
But suspiciously there were no tweets or posts from anyone having felt the temblor, which usually precede the official alerts and come in big numbers. A quake of that size would have been felt by millions.
It turns out that researchers from the California Institute of Technology had been using new information to relocate the epicenter of a 1925 earthquake in the Santa Barbara Channel, which leveled several buildings and killed 13 people.
Somehow this process set off the automated alert that went out to email accounts.
The fake quake never appeared on the USGS website.
A USGS statement said the research “was misinterpreted by software as a current event. We are working to resolve the issue.”
The report also set newsrooms around the country on edge. Reporters and editors often use the automated emails from the USGS to begin their coverage, though the reports themselves warn that they contain automated information that has not been reviewed by a seismologist.
The Los Angeles Times was put in an especially bad spot. The newspaper sent out a robotic story that it quickly had to retract.
“We have an algorithm (Quakebot) that automatically writes stories about earthquakes based on USGS alerts,” the Times said in a tweet. “The USGS alert was incorrect.”
False alarms through the service are fairly common, but they rarely report quakes so big or in such populated areas.
Often when there is a large earthquake in some part of the world, it sets off reports of minor quakes in distant areas. The USGS usually retracts these quickly.
Oddly, while the quake was from the distant past, the report itself put it in the near future. It listed the date as June 29, the same date as the 1925 quake. But the report said the quake happened in the year 2025.
That degree of advance prediction would truly be a miracle.
Video courtesy YouTube/HBO “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
NEW YORK (AP) — Coal company Murray Energy has sued HBO and its Sunday-night host, John Oliver, for what it says was a “false and malicious broadcast” last Sunday evening. It’s seeking financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the segment’s “defamatory statements.”
Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” coal segment criticized the Trump administration’s effort to revive the industry, saying coal jobs have dropped for decades and other energy alternatives are driving the industry’s decline.
He ribbed Murray Energy’s CEO Robert Murray, who blames regulatory efforts by the Obama administration for damaging the coal industry. He said the 77-year-old looked like a “geriatric Dr. Evil” and noted that the company had fought against coal safety regulations.
The Ohio company sued the comedian Wednesday afternoon in circuit court in West Virginia, saying that he tried to embarrass Murray by making fun of his age and appearance and made false statements about a 2007 collapse of a Utah mine, when nine miners died. The company said Oliver ignored information it sent the show that it says showed an earthquake caused the mine’s collapse and that the show made no mention of “the efforts Mr. Murray personally made to save the trapped miners.”
An HBO spokesman says the show didn’t violate Murray Energy’s rights or those of Murray. Oliver noted on the show that Murray Energy has a litigious past, and last month sued the New York Times for libel.
Murray Energy employs about 5,400 people, about half of those in West Virginia.
Click to read full text of bill.
Video provided by NBC News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans released their long-awaited bill Thursday to dismantle much of Barack Obama’s health care law, proposing to cut Medicaid for low-income Americans and erase tax boosts that Obama imposed on high-earners and medical companies to finance his expansion of coverage.
The bill would provide tax credits to help people buy insurance. It would also let states get waivers to ignore some coverage standards that “Obamacare” requires of insurers.
The measure represents the Senate GOP’s effort to achieve a top tier priority for President Donald Trump and virtually all Republican members of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hopes to push it through his chamber next week.
Yet it faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.
At least a half-dozen GOP senators — conservatives as well as moderates — have complained about the proposal, the secrecy with which McConnell drafted it and the speed with which he’d like to whisk it to passage. Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, the bill would fail if just three of the Senate’s 52 GOP senators oppose it.
The measure would provide $50 billion over the next four years that states could use in an effort to shore up insurance markets around the country.
For the next two years, it would also provide money that insurers use to help lower out-of-pocket costs for millions of lower income people. Trump has been threatening to discontinue those payments, and some insurance companies have cited uncertainty over those funds as reasons why they are abandoning some markets and boosting premiums.
The House approved its version of the bill last month. Though he lauded its passage in a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump last week privately called the House measure “mean” and called on senators to make their version more “generous.”
Democrats say GOP characterizations of Obama’s law as failing are wrong and say the Republican plan would boot millions off coverage and leave others facing higher out-of-pocket costs.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would cause 23 million people to lose coverage by 2026. The budget office’s analysis of the Senate measure is expected in the next few days.
MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – A famous shelter dog in Manhattan has been adopted two months after almost being put to sleep. The city of Manhattan released “Buck the Dog” to the German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue of New Jersey on June 12. Now, the rescue confirms that the famous pooch has been adopted.
“We had a volunteer pick him up at shelter and he was taken to his adoptive home. Not in Kansas so as to comply with the town rules in accordance with our agreement,” said Rayna Regenthal, President of the GSP Rescue of NJ in a statement to KSNT News.
The rescue entered into an agreement with the city of Manhattan in order to take possession of Buck. KSNT News was sent the documents after filing an open records request.
The agreement reads that the rescue “shall have sole discretion to determine to disposition of Buck; provided that, the Rescue agrees not to release or adopt Buck to an entity or an individual located in the State of Kansas.”
Regenthal confirmed that Buck was adopted by someone outside the state of Kansas, but didn’t say where because the family wishes to remain anonymous. She said her rescue served as a sort of broker for other rescues.
“The other rescues that expressed an interest in saving him didn’t have the proper insurance that the town required to do so. That’s why we stepped in to help,” said Regenthal.
Buck gained fame in Northeast Kansas after being sent to the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter in April. Buck had bit a two-year-old girl and the shelter planned to put him to sleep. Public pressure caused the city to reconsider.
A Manhattan man, Chris Soupene, had expressed interest in adopting Buck and helped organize some of the movement to save him. In the end, he said he’s happy that Buck has found a good home.
Related stories about Buck the Dog from KSNT:
- Buck the Dog sent to New Jersey, not allowed back in Kansas
- Buck transferred to animal rescue
- City of Manhattan ready to transfer Buck the Dog to rescue
- Manhattan working to find rescue placement for Buck the dog
- “Buck the dog” allowed outside, but still no decision on adoption
- Still no decision on Manhattan dog’s future after quarantine
- People advocate for dog’s life at Manhattan City Commission
- New controversy surrounds fate of shelter dog in Manhattan
- Manhattan man fighting to keep shelter dog from being put to sleep
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Until this week, anyone carrying a firearm had to either leave it at home or store it in their car before conducting business at the Sedwick County Courthouse.
Now, there is an option to store handguns in the courthouse lobby.
The new gun lockers add an extra layer of security for people outside, said Jim Howell, a Sedgwick Counity commissioner.
“It’s not about what happens inside the facility,” he said. “The gun lockers themselves don’t provide any actual safety. It actually enables, it provides people an opportunity to protect themselves when they’re out in the community, when they’re away from this building; when they need to come to this building and do their business.”
In October when the lockers were still up for debate, several commissioners argued they were unnecessary and a poor use for county funds.
For Howell, the gun lockers are all about creating a safe place for transition in a public environment.
The total cost of the new lockers is $73,644.56 but that amount can be broken down into several smaller costs.
The gun lockers alone equate to $4,148.68; the keys cost $44.00; the key box cost $113.99 and the design and build of the gun locker infrastructure came out to $69,337.89.
8:00AM Another day of strong storms possible in W Kansas… Much like the past couple of days afternoon storms could bring large hail, strong winds and heavy rain into Western Kansas.
6:00AM Another mild morning with a beautiful sunrise!!
5:00AM Our repetitive weather pattern continues today… We are starting off the morning with very comfortably mild temps. The skies are generally clear and winds a little breezy out of the south. Although it will be another hot afternoon we are not expecting extreme heat and the heat will break as we head into Friday and the weekend.
ANTHONY, Kan. (KSNW) – Anthony police and the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating a string of car fires in the town of Anthony.
“It’s calm. It’s peaceful,” said Anthony resident Myra Thomas.
Myra Thomas has lived in Anthony for a few years. She describes it as a quaint, little town.
“You can leave your door unlocked and that’s probably where we made our mistakes, you know,” said Thomas.
Thomas said the real mistake she made was thinking she and her family were safe living in their Redden’s Village Apartment.
“A lot of them are scared. They won’t even stay here, a lot of the young girls,” Thomas said.
Anthony police said three cars, including one of Thomas’s cars, went up in flames in the parking lot outside the complex on Sunday. Each of the cars were destroyed.
“To me, when I came out and look at it, it looked like somebody dropped a bomb on it,” Thomas said.
“They were in flames, smoking,” said Thomas’s son Clifford Schmidt. “It looks sort of like a war zone.”
Investigators said another car caught fire near the apartment complex on Tuesday, but the car was not damaged. Anthony police and the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the fires as suspicious. They told KSN they have not ruled out arson.
Thomas said she’s concerned for she and her family’s safety.
“When’s it going to be my house?” she said. “It makes you fearful to live here. Do I open my door? Do I go outside? Do I walk my dog, you know, what are they going to do next?”
Officials said it’s still unclear if the fires are connected.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita was briefly under consideration as a place for the San Antonio Missions to relocate. However, the Double-A Affiliate to the San Diego Padres is now opting to stay a little closer to home.
Instead of making the move to Wichita, the Missions are heading to Amarillo, Texas.
Timing and location seems to be the two factors that led to Wichita, the biggest city without a Minor League Affiliated team, to be passed over for the opportunity.
Kyle Smith, owner of Little Busters Sports Bar, is a big baseball fan. He said he supports the Wichita Wingnuts, but the chance to get a team affiliated with a big league club would have been an upgrade.
“To know we had this opportunity and did pass us up, it is a little bit discouraging,” said Smith.
Bob Hanson, President and CEO of the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission said Amarillo simply had a leg up on Wichita.
“They actually did their planning and started to talk about this in 2008 and then they’ve been working on it since 2015, they’re ahead of us,” explained Hanson. “I think location is important also, because Amarillo is a lot closer to San Antonio than Wichita.”
While the door has shut on this opportunity, city officials are positive there will be others. In May, the Wichita City Council unanimously approved forming a STAR bond district which would help with the $40 million cost to renovate Lawrence Dumont or possibly build a new stadium.
“Baseball teams want a venue that is inviting, a new place to call home” said Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell. “We’re going to provide that.”
“With the rebuild of the stadium and everything like that, I think next time this opportunity does come up, we might be looked at stronger,” added Smith.
Mayor Longwell says they are seeking requests for proposals for architects to handle the renovation or rebuild of the 83-year-old Lawrence Dumont Stadium. The hope is to begin construction in 2018 and have it completed by 2020.
RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Patsy Terrell’s replacement was selected after a vote Wednesday.
Communication and Digital Director of the Kansas Democratic Party, Heather Scanlon, confirmed that Jason Probst has been elected by Reno County Democrats to fill Terrell’s seat.
There were nine votes cast in the election and Probst won six votes to three.
Patsy Terrell passed away of natural causes in Topeka June 7.
Terrell’s two-year term ends in January 2019 but Probst could run for a full term next year.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sex trafficking has become a growing epidemic across the state including, right here in Sedgwick County.
The number of cases have continued to rise, and just last year there were more than 60 confirmed juvenile victims in Wichita.
“It’s steadily grown through the years,” said Lt. Travis Rakestraw, Wichita Police Department.
Rakestraw says that might be due to public awareness.
“We have a society now that’s more willing to come forward and make reports which is always encouraging,” explained Lt. Rakestraw.
According to WPD, in 2015 there were 55 juvenile victims in Wichita. Last year, 2016, there were 61 cases and so far this year, Wichita police has seen 24 confirmed cases.
The average age of the victims they see are girls ages 15 to 17.
“Maybe running away from home they’ve met either someone online or they meet someone while they run away, somebody who’s offering them some attention maybe they haven’t been receiving at home,” stated Rakestraw.
Rakestraw warns parents keep a watchful eye on your child.
“Being involved in their social media their activities things like that in some fashion it may just be making sure they understand the dangers out there having those conversations with them,” said Rakestraw.
“There’s really no barriers to where we can see human trafficking being involved,” stated Dianna Schunn, Executive Director, Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County.
Schunn agrees, there are several mediums to lure people into the illegal practice, and warns people to be wary of responding to ads or signs that promise cash for a job that seems too good to be true.
“I would say those kinds of advertisements should be something people should look at with sincere caution and really question what the validity of that is,” said Schunn.
Shunn hopes more people will become aware of the growing problem that plagues the city.
“It is definitely happening and whether we choose to open our eyes and see that and recognize what the risk factors are or we try to turn a blind eye and pretend that it doesn’t exist, either way it exists,” stated Schunn.
Officials say if you see any suspicious activity involving a juvenile and an adult, and you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, call local law enforcement immediately.
Below is a link with resources if you ever find yourself or a loved one in a sex trafficking situation.
ULYSSES, Kan. (KSNW) – A storm Tuesday night that swept through southwest Kansas caused extensive hail damage in the Ulysses area, particularly in the north part of town.
One family is dealing with a demolished greenhouse and shattered windows on their rental units. The water that came in from those broken windows also damaged some renovations that had been finished just hours earlier.
“The trailer house had just put a new floor in,” said Gregory Reese, the property owner of the damaged greenhouse. “I mean I just finished it up earlier before the storm hit.”
Unfortunately this is familiar territory for the Reese family. They said they had only recently finished cleaning up after the late April snow storm and now they have to start over again.
The Reese’s estimate about $30,000 in damages, but they are optimistic that insurance will cover most of it.
Neighbors of the Reese’s said they are also experiencing similar levels of damage.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The Kansas City Zoo says a 31-year-old male chimpanzee died in an accidental fall from a tree.
The zoo said Wednesday the chimp, called Bahati, climbed a tree while interacting with other chimps. He fell to the ground after grabbing a dead branch and died from injuries from the fall.
Zookeepers estimate Bahati fell 30 to 40 feet.
The zoo says its chimp area includes natural trees, which are monitored by staff and professionally trimmed annually.
Bahati was born at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita in 1986. He came to Kansas City in February this year from Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
The Kansas City Zoo now has 12 chimpanzees.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Make Music Day is a global celebration of making music on the longest day of the year, June 21.
Senseney Music joined the celebration with a variety of hands-on activities. The day of free events featured live musical performances, opportunities to make music and other musical events and also took place around the world on the first day of summer.
Wichita is one of over 750 cities worldwide that recognized Make Music Day this year and the celebration was originally inspired by France’s Fete de la Musique.
This year marks Senseney Music’s first time participating in the global initiative.
“We started one here at Senseney Music this year,” said Lori Supinie, the owner of Senseney Music. “It’s all about introducing people to the joy of music, whether they are already a musician or not a musician.”
Wednesday’s activities included the following:
- Ukulele Circle
- Kindermusik Trial Lesson
- Guitar Strum
- Kindermusik Trial Lesson
- Frozen Sing-along
- Build Your Own Instrument
- Instrument Petting Zoo
Although the events for Wednesday’s celebration have come and gone, those interested in participating will have another opportunity on Saturday with the following events:
- Instrument Petting Zoo – Children and adults are invited to try various wind and string instruments. – Lower Level – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- Build Your Own Instrument – Bring your child for a “hands-on” experience and build your own musical instrument. – Lower Level – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- Frozen Sing-along – Who doesn’t love the movie Frozen and all its wonderful music? Join in for a fun afternoon of watching the movie and singing along. Children (and adults) of all ages are welcome. For even more fun, come dressed up as your favorite Frozen character! – Lower Level – 3:00 p.m.
- Drum Off – The Drum Off will be led by Senseney Music staff and local musicians. Take a lesson on the trap set, play a duet or challenge one of the leaders to a “Drum Off” right on the spot! – Outside on the grounds of Senseney Music – 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. – Ages 10 and up
- Try a Violin – Have you ever wanted to play the violin? Try a free lesson with Senseney Music string teachers. – Lower Level – 10:00 a.m. – Ages five and up
Senseney Music is located at 2300 E. Lincoln Street in Wichita.
HESSTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Hesston’s Excel Industries is informing employees about a reorganization that includes a workforce reduction at its manufacturing facility.
The company will issue a formal statement regarding the restructuring Thursday after impacted employees have been officially notified.
Back in 2016, Excel was the site of a workplace shooting. Four people died and 14 others were wounded when a gunman opened fire.
KSN’s Carly Willis is in Hesston where employees are being informed about the reorganization. KSN News will have more coming up at 5 and 6 p.m.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Authorities say a suspect has been arrested in the killing of a man behind a Topeka gas station.
KSNT-TV reports that 41-year-old Jason Hottman was booked into the Shawnee County Jail early Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 34-year-old Jason Baker. Police found the Topeka man bleeding and unresponsive earlier this month behind the gas station in the western part of the city.
The investigation is ongoing. Police are urging anyone with information to come forward.