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KSN Threat Tracker for Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 06:07

6:30AM Temps should start off in the mid 60s and climb into the upper 70s by lunchtime. Highs in Wichita will top out in the lower 80s and with light winds that’s going to feel great! A few late afternoon showers/storms are possible in W KS.

5:30AM Tracking a few showers near the Kansas Colorado state line this morning, but they are moving north and should not be an issue for our area. Check out our live radar at ksn.com/weather

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Mental health and teens: Know the signs

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 22:55

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Most parents will tell you raising kids is tough, regardless of their age, but as children grow into teens and young adults, parents are often faced with new concerns. Is their child acting like a typical teen or is there something deeper, and are they potentially showing signs of mental illness?

One in five teens battle mental health issues, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and almost half showed the first signs by the time they turned 14. Early detection can eliminate years of pain and suffering. But how do parents know when it’s time to get help? During Mental Health Awareness Month, we went to the experts to find out.

A Personal Story Jeanni Strait

Jeanni Strait has spent almost three decades helping her children in their fight with mental illness. She’s speaking openly to bring awareness to the issue and help eliminate the stigma her family’s faced in society.

The Mental Health Association (MHA) of South Central Kansas is a comfortable place for Jeanni and her two adopted sons.

“Without the MHA, I do not know where we’d be,” she admitted.

Her relationship with the MHA dates back to the early nineties when her oldest son, William, first started showing signs that something was wrong.

“Everybody tells you oh it’s a boy, he’s just a boy, he’s just being a boy,” she recalled, “but he was violent, he was very violent.”

He was just six at the time, and Jeanni admits it would be years before they took a more aggressive approach to William’s treatment. The reason? She felt like she was failing as a parent.

“There was a time when I felt extremely guilt ridden.”

Doctors eventually diagnosed William with severe ADHD, conduct disorder and schizophrenia. Even with medication and treatment, he’s never been able to escape their impact. At one point, he spent two years in prison for a violent offense.

“Between 16 and I want to say 25, he had a really hard time kind of adjusting into adulthood,” she said. “He felt like there was no place for him.”

The Bigger Picture

William’s severe and persistent mental illness represents an extreme case. The problem is that age range creates new challenges for most young adults.

“It’s a first for everything,” psychologist Molly Allen told us.

Dr. Allen says that’s what makes this tough both for parents and therapists. Teens’ bodies are changing, the world around them is changing and they’re trying to manage a new set of responsibilities while still dealing with their parents’ guidelines.

“By nature, they’re wired to be emotional, so it feels like you’re on an amusement park ride with them every day.”

But what constitutes a red flag?

She tells parents not to look for a specific incident, but rather a pattern of behavior that lasts weeks, not days.

“Not showering, eating, not coming out of their room, given up activities they used to enjoy,” she suggested. “If that’s going on, it might be time to take a look at depression.”

And be persistent. Kids will typically dismiss their parents’ initial concerns. They may be embarrassed to admit they’re feeling depressed, anxious or confused.

The MHA

“When they start having that gut feeling that something’s not right, you’re pretty on target,” said Miquetta White, a therapist and case manager with the Mental Health Association.

She says parents almost always have to take the lead when it comes to getting their kids help, but that also means getting beyond their own reservations.

“I’m not here to make reports on you, although those things happen; that’s not our goal,” she assured us. “Our goal is to help you and your kids be successful.”

“Sometimes your kids are going to go kicking and screaming, but you’re their parent,” Jeanni told us. “Sometimes they don’t want to eat their vegetables, but you make them do that, too.”

That’s her experience talking.

She adopted William’s two sons, and when both showed their own warning signs, she immediately sought help. They’re already learning coping skills to better manage their emotions, and Jeanni’s learned to treat mental health the same way we treat physical well-being.

“Without these tools, it’s like trying to live through diabetes without insulin,” she said.

The Takeaways

“If it really is a serious mental illness, the sooner you start treatment,” Dr. Allen said, “perhaps the more impact you can have on having a better outcome.”

Sometimes, Dr. Allen can reassure parents their kids are just behaving like average teens. An impartial therapist may simply provide that peace of mind. But other times, it’s the first step in improving their mental health and providing a better path for the future.

“If it is teenage angst, you have nothing to lose,” Jeanni said, “but if it is something deeper, you have everything to gain.”

RELATED LINKS VIDEO | NAMI: 10 Common Warning Signs

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Hutchinson officer ‘hoops’ with area kids

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 22:39

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Some Hutchinson kids said a game of basketball with a local police officer made them feel important.

“Just like a nice feeling,” said Isaias Gonzalez.

“It made me feel good about myself and important,” said Isidro Gonzalez.

Isidro and Isaias are 12-year-old twins. The pair were playing basketball with some family members and friends outside their south Hutchinson home on Saturday when two police officers made a stop on their street.

“We pulled up and we saw a bunch of kids having a good time out in the street, playing some basketball,” said Hutchinson Police Officer Scott Finster.

Officer Finster said he was called to the neighborhood on Saturday after someone complained about kids playing in the street. Instead of punishing the youngsters, Finster and his partner briefed them on street safety and then played them in a game of pig.

“It’s really good to come out and be able to do that with kids and be able to interact with the community, especially as a new officer,” Finster said. “We love to have kids have a purpose and being able to come out here and do that and spend some time with them and make them feel like they are important, it’s a great thing.”

“Oh man, it gave me so much hope,” said the twins’ mom, Amanda Gonzalez. “It gave me what I needed for my kids, that there is good in everything, in every situation, there is a positive, you just have to look for it.”

KSN asked Finster who won the game of basketball.

“We are going to leave that off the record for now, just for the safety of everyone here,” Finster said.

Gonzalez posted a video to Facebook of the kids playing basketball with the officer. It had more than 10,000 views on Monday afternoon.

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Parents of killed Starkey resident brace for suspect’s trial

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 22:30

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The trial for Bret Blevins, the man accused of killing two Starkey clients last year, is underway.

Court documents say Blevins was drinking and driving right before the crash happened.

A blood test found his blood alcohol content was more than the legal limit.

He also tested positive for meth.

It’s been a year since the accident that killed two Starkey residents.

Not a day has gone by where both Kay and Phil Atterbery don’t think of their son, Dusty.

They’re hoping justice is served at end of this trial.

“You don’t get past it. You get through it,” said Kay.

Taken from this earth too soon, Dusty Atterbery died at just 25.  The emotions from that tragic day are still too raw for his parents.

“What we had a year ago is gone, we can’t get that back,” explained Phil.

In fact, the pain was too much for the one year anniversary of the crash. This weekend, the two escaped for a few days, to get rid of the reality.

Now, that they’re back in town, they’re looking for closure.

“I’ve been looking forward to seeing justice done for Dusty, but at the same time, I’m looking to start over,” answered Kay.

With Blevins’ trial starting on Tuesday, the Atterbery’s are hoping the outcome will allow them to move on, and focus on keeping their son’s memory alive.

“I hope that after the trial I’ll be able to feel more peace,” stated Kay.

“It’ll make the new normal, however you want to put it, bearable. I think,” said Phil.

The Atterbery’s have now become advocates with the Kansas DUI Impact Center to educate others on the harmful effects of drunk driving.

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One person dead, one injured in crash in SW Sedgwick County

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 22:22

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – One person has been killed and another suffered serious injuries in a crash in southwest Sedgwick County. The incident occurred around 9 p.m. Thursday near W. 119th Street South and W. 55th Street South. That intersection is east of K42 Highway and north of Clearwater.

Sedgwick County emergency dispatchers confirm one person died at the scene, while the other person was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.

We’ll provide updates to this story online at KSN.com.

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Voters to decide future of Andover school bonds

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 19:23

ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) – Parents and residents in the Andover district will vote on two bond proposals that would bring state-of-the-art changes to the schools, according to district officials.

The bonds are broken up into two separate proposals that total up to around $190 million.

“Honestly, I think it’s a great idea for the community,” says Evan Voth. “I always believe we should invest in our kids.”

But what exactly would residents pay for?

“If there were a tornado that were to come through, you know, I would want to make that they had a safe place to go,” says Celeste Sant, parent.

Between the two bonds, USD 385 is hoping to put Andover residents’ money toward things district officials say are important to children and their safety.

The first proposal costs a little over $168 million. In that bond proposal, six schools that don’t currently have storm shelters will get FEMA rated storm shelters. Eight schools will be renovated and will also receive brand new security entrances at the door. Under that proposal, there’s no rise in property taxes. Residents would continue to pay the current mill levy.

Proposal one:

Another proposal is worth more than $19 million. Under this bond proposal, the district would build a pool and would consider opening it up to the public. For the value of a $100,000 home residents would pay an extra $26 per year.

Proposal two:

There is also the possibility of another scenario. If neither of the school bonds pass, then parents and residents would save some money. For a $100,000 dollar home residents would save about $270 per year.

“You know I don’t think that it is really necessary that they have a pool,” said Celeste Sant. “However, them having a storm shelter I think a lot of parents would find peace of mind with that.”

“As far as installing a major city-wide pool is concerned, we have a YMCA so I don’t necessarily know if we need that as well,” said the parent of future USD 385 student, Evan Voth. “But to be quite honest, I don’t mind a raise in taxes if it means it will be going directly toward education and bettering our school system in town here.”

School officials aim to get both bonds passed. If the second proposal is the only one that is passed officials say they would consider coming up with a fresh set of proposals.

Polls open Tuesday between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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Downtown grocery store opening pushed back

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 19:23

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Last month, KSN told you there was a grocery store coming to downtown Wichita. On Monday, KSN visited the proposed site. The owners say they they had to push back the opening date by a month.

“We have everything in order. We’ve even started looking into food for our shelves,” explained Phil Hermanson, opening downtown grocery store. “We just decided that we wanted to do all the manual labor as a family so, our new projected open date is July 15.”

Getting dirty and getting it done is how Phil and his wife Michele explain the process of turning the abandoned space, in downtown’s Century Plaza, into a grocery store. The project also includes a coffee bar, convenience store, and a wedding venue.

“Downtown just doesn’t have enough options,” said Steve Anthimides, the building owner. “I could not think of a better location, then Main and Douglas for this project.”

Over the last few weeks they have made quite the turn around.

“Everything in this facility had 25 years of dust, dirt and grime,” explained Michele. “What you see right now is a completely clear space. We’re ready for the next phase.”

Right now, the entire space is not only cleared out but cleaned up as well. The Hermanson’s tell me they have purchased the necessary hardware, with the exception of a few things, to get the coffee shop and the grocery store off the ground by this summer.

“Now comes the fun part,” said Phil Hermanson. “We had financing secured through Kansas City and then I caught a little flack for using Kansas City investors for a downtown Wichita project. So, we made the switch to Wichita investors, and so far, it’s been great for us.”

The site currently has five investors including Heartland Credit Union.

“We live on site to make sure our investors know how serious we are about getting this up and running by summer 2017,” said Phil. “Honestly, we are lucky to have such great support like, Jason Hoffman over at Heartland.”

The owner of the building tells us the grocery store will have regular everyday groceries to fit the needs of families all over Wichita but they will also be ordering specialty foods.

“We will have the best feta cheeses and even olive oil from Crete,” said Steve, who is from Greece. “When I first came here, I only have $150 so, it’s important to me that Mediterranean culture be included in this process.

The Hermanson’s are interested in hearing from people about what they would like to see in the store.

“This is a store for the people that will be shopping here so, we of course want to know what people like,” said Phil.

If you are interested in giving suggestions about the store you can reach Phil Hermanson at 316-516-2324

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Judge reinstates bond for WaKeeney police chief

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 18:55

ELLIS COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – WaKeeney Police Chief Terry Eberle had his bond violation hearing today. This comes after Eberle was arrested for the second time last week — accused of violating his bond conditions.

Judge Blake Bittel reinstated Eberle’s bond under new conditions.

“You will not have any contact in any form or manner, even through third-parties, with law enforcement or any other witness, other than your son,” said Bittel.

At a hearing on May 3, a judge told Eberle he was not allowed to contact witnesses, with the exception of family members, unless it was for official police business.

However, WaKeeney Assistant Police Chief Ashley Garza testified in court Monday that Eberle came into the office on May 4, a day after he was arrested and released, to work on scheduling.

“I advised him that I had already started the schedule. He asked me who gave me that authority. I advised him that the Mayor Kenneth Roy had put me as acting chief,” Garza said. “He was visibly upset by that.”

Garza went on to say that Eberle began to discuss the case with her, saying her name was all over the affidavit for his arrest.

“He stated he felt like he was stabbed in the back,” she said. “That we were supposed to be running this department together, and then he stated he would speak to me more when he had his attorney present.”

The judge also ordered Eberle to not go in or around the WaKeeney Police Department.

“You’re not going to be conducting any police business until this case is resolved,” said Bittel.

Eberle will also be supervised by court services. Currently, Eberle is on paid administrative leave, pending the investigation.

The WaKeeney mayor said the city council, city attorney and county attorney will be meeting tonight for a special meeting to discuss Eberle’s employment.

KSN’s Amanda Aguilar will have more on that on KSN News at 10.

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Arkansas City woman arrested in connection with hit-and-run crash

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 18:44

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – An Arkansas City woman has been arrested in connection with a hit-and-run crash that injured a person this past Saturday.

Chief Daniel Ward said in a news release 31-year-old Jamie Lee Gaskill was arrested on suspicion of felony aggravated battery. She was booked into the Cowley County Jail on Saturday. Gaskill has since posted bail.

Ward said police were dispatched to the 400 block of South Eighth Street shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday to a report of a pedestrian who was struck by a car. A witness reported seeing a vehicle back out of a driveway and onto the street as the victim crossed in front of the vehicle.

The vehicle then accelerated and struck the man, causing him to go over the hood and front left fender. He fell to the ground and the vehicle sped off. He was,able to walk to the house, Ward said.

Police interviewed the victim, who reported nothing had occurred and said he was fine.

Ward said further investigation determined that Gaskill was the driver of the vehicle. She was contacted later.

Gaskill’s vehicle was examined and evidence consistent with a person having been struck by the vehicle was found. She subsequently was taken into custody in connection with the incident.

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Pair sentenced for 2014 kidnapping and murder case

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:45

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) -– A man and a woman from Manhattan were sentenced Monday to 28 years in federal prison for their part in the kidnapping of a Junction City woman who was killed during the abduction.

Larry L. Anderson, 28, Manhattan, Kansas pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping resulting in death. His girlfriend, Marryssa M. Middleton, 26, Fort Riley, Kansas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping resulting in death.

Amanda Clemons (Photo Courtesy: KSNT)

The body of Amanda Clemons, 24, of Junction City, was found in February 2014 in Geary County, Kansas. In their pleas, Anderson and Middleton admitted that on Feb. 7, 2014, they and their co-defendants met the victim at a hotel in Junction City and kidnapped her. The defendants beat Clemons in retribution for comments the victim had made on social media about having a sexual relationship with Anderson. During the beating, the defendants demanded that Clemons pay them $300. They then took her to another hotel room in an unsuccessful attempt to get the money, after which they took her to a residence on Fort Riley.

While there, the defendants allowed Clemons to call her mother who realized she was in danger and called Junction City Police. When police called Clemons to check on her, the defendants listened to the call on speaker phone. Fearing arrest, they then took her to a bridge in a remote part of Geary County where they resumed the beating and attacked her with a knife. Clemons broke free and jumped off the bridge, breaking her ankle. Some of the defendants found her in the snow and resumed the assault during which they cut her throat and killed her.

Co-defendants include:

  • Drexel Woody, 26, who lived on Fort Riley at the time of the crime, is set for sentencing June 26.
  • Shantrell D. Woody, 27, Fort Riley, Kan., formerly an active duty service member, is set for sentencing May 30.
  • Christopher Pugh, 33, Junction City, Kan., is set for sentencing June 26.

Beall commended the Junction City Police Department, the Grandview Plaza Police Department, the Geary County Sheriff’s Office, the Riley County Police Department, the Fort Riley Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag and Geary County Attorney Steven Opat for their work on the case.

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Effects of snow, freezes on Kansas wheat being assessed

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:24

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – The government’s latest weekly snapshot of Kansas crops says the effects of recent snow storms and freezing temperatures are still being assessed.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 27 percent of the winter wheat in Kansas is in poor to very poor condition. About 30 percent is in fair condition while 37 percent is in good and 6 percent in excellent condition.

About 59 percent of the winter wheat crop has now headed in the state.

The agency says 45 percent of the corn crop has been planted in the state so far this spring. Soybean planting is at 4 percent and sorghum planting is at 1 percent.

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City could authorize settlement in John Paul Quintero’s death

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:20

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council will vote Tuesday whether to authorize a settlement in a lawsuit from a 2015 deadly officer-involved shooting.

On Jan. 3, 2015, Wichita police were called to domestic disturbance which left John Paul Quintero dead. He was fatally shot by a Wichita police officer. Last April, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett ruled the officer acted within the law.

It would authorize the payment of $285,000 as a full settlement of the lawsuit and all other claims arising out of the incident.

The distribution of the final settlement between the plaintiffs must be approved by the court.

Funding for the settlement is available from the city’s self insurance fund.

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Caught on camera: Kangaroo attacks girl at wildlife park

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 16:44

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – A 9-year-old girl is recovering after being bitten on the head by a kangaroo while visiting Harmony Park Safari in Huntsville, Alabama.

Jennifer White happened to be recording her 9-year-old daughter Cheyenne’s interaction with the animal when the attack happened Saturday.

The video shows spaces in the fence large enough for the kangaroos to poke their heads and arms through. They’re also large enough for children to do the same.

The video shows the animal grab Cheyenne by the hair as she’s bent over and bitten her on the ear. The White family left the park immediately to seek medical attention. Cheyenne ended up with 14 stitches in her head.

Ms. White believes the park owners should do more to protect visitors, including providing a tighter fence with a physical barrier. Pointing to a sign simply isn’t enough.

“It’s real thin. It’s right here. You can clearly see it or pet it or it could touch you, which makes you feel more, like, safe. And I think children not being able to access the animal by reach or the animal to the children would help a whole lot.”

A park employee asked about the incident said the owners didn’t want to comment about what happened, but did point to a state law posted that says people take some of their own risks when visiting an agri-tourism business.

 

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Governor signs disaster declaration for late winter storm

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 16:21

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Gov. Sam Brownback signed a State of Disaster Emergency Proclamation for 29 Kansas counties affected by a severe winter storm, heavy rain and flooding April 28 and continuing.

Counties named in the declaration are Bourbon, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Crawford, Decatur, Finney, Gove, Grant, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Kearny, Labette, Lane, Logan, Marshall, Morton, Neosho, Norton, Rawlins, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Wallace, and Wichita.

The winter storm generated blizzard-like conditions with strong winds and heavy snowfall in the western third of the state, averaging from one to 14 inches. The highest accumulations ranged from 24 to 30 inches with drifts up to 10 feet. All main highways in the western third of the state were closed and other travel was nearly impossible. The storm brought down numerous power lines and caused other utility damages, leaving thousands of Kansans without power.

In addition to the winter storm, heavy rain caused flooding and flash flooding in the eastern portion of the state. A widespread area received approximately two to four inches of rainfall, causing flooding in many rural areas that damaged homes and made travel difficult.

Joint federal and state preliminary damage assessments are expected to begin this week to determine if there are sufficient damages to warrant a request for a federal disaster declaration.

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Seizure of student newspapers shone light on dispute

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 16:13

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – The temporary seizure of newspapers at a Kansas community college last week shone a media spotlight on a long-running dispute between administrators and student journalists.

Hutchinson Community College’s board of trustees is expected Tuesday to wade into the controversy.

That is when suspended journalism professor Alan Montgomery plans to talk to trustees about the administration’s treatment of the student journalists and its alleged use of disciplinary procedures to punish them for news stories.

The administration earlier this month suspended him and cancelled his classes before the end of the semester.

Montgomery calls it an absolute planned conspiracy to deny these students their First Amendment rights.

HCC President Carter File defended the college’s actions, saying he doesn’t care what is in the paper.

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Girl passes away after being found submerged in Topeka pool

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 16:03

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A 7-year-old girl has passed away after she was found submerged at a Topeka hotel Saturday.

Police said Keniya Jones passed away Sunday evening after she was rushed to a local hospital after being pulled from an indoor pool at the Ramada Inn off 6th & Fairlawn Road.

According to police, patrons of the pool began life-saving measures. Emergency responders performed CPR on the girl after arriving.

The hotel tells KSNT News the young girl was dropped off at the pool, and her family was not staying at the hotel.

The preliminary investigation suggests the incident to be accidental.

Police said the family is asking for privacy during this tragic incident.

In May 2013, 12-year-old Dalton Register, of Fort Riley, died after he was pulled from the same pool.

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Near record amount of April showers drench US last month

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 15:02

WASHINGTON (AP) — That whole April showers thing went a bit overboard last month in the United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday it was the second wettest April on record, averaging 3.43 inches for the nation, nearly an inch above the 20th century average. Only 1957 had more April rain.

Records go back to 1895.

Only 5 percent of the U.S. is in drought, the lowest drought footprint the 17-year-old U.S. Drought Monitor has recorded. NOAA calculates that 0.75 percent of the Lower 48 states are considered “very dry.”

NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch said many storms kept chugging over the U.S. in April from the Pacific.

Crouch said April fits global warming patterns of increasing heavy downpours interspersed with drought.

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Nabisco introduces Firework Oreo cookies

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 15:02

Oreo has created a new limited-edition flavor just in time for the Fourth of July. It’s called Firework Oreo.

The creme inside the cookie contains red and blue specks of popping candies like fireworks in your mouth. They’re available nationwide beginning today.

Meanwhile, Oreo is asking fans to choose its next flavor for a chance to win a half million dollar prize.

You can enter your dream Oreo idea using the hashtags #myoreocreation and #contest.

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North Korea claims plot reveals US state-sponsored terrorism

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 14:51

TOKYO (AP) — After arresting two American university instructors and laying out what it says was an elaborate, CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un, North Korea is claiming to be the victim of state-sponsored terrorism — from the White House.

The assertion comes as the U.S. is considering putting the North back on its list of terror sponsors. But the vitriolic outrage over the alleged plan to assassinate Kim last month is also being doled out with an unusually big dollop of retaliation threats, raising a familiar question: What on Earth is going on in Pyongyang?

North Korea’s state-run media announced Sunday that an ethnic Korean man with U.S. citizenship was “intercepted” two days ago by authorities for unspecified hostile acts against the country. He was identified as Kim Hak Song, an employee of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

That came just days after the North announced the detention of an accounting instructor at the same university, Kim Sang Dok, also a U.S. citizen, for “acts of hostility aimed to overturn” the country. PUST is North Korea’s only privately funded university and has a large number of foreign teachers, including Americans.

What, if anything, the arrests have to the alleged plot is unknown. But they bring to four the number of U.S. citizens now known to be in custody in the North.

“Obviously this is concerning,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday. “We are well-aware of it, and we are going to work through the embassy of Sweden … through our State Department to seek the release of the individuals there.”

Sweden handles U.S. consular affairs in North Korea, including those of American detainees.

The others are Otto Warmbier, serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts — he allegedly tried to steal a propaganda banner at his tourist hotel — and Kim Dong Chul, serving a 10-year term with hard labor for alleged espionage.

The reported arrest of another “Mr. Kim” — the North Korean man allegedly at the center of the assassination plot — is more ominous.

According to state media reports that began Friday, he is a Pyongyang resident who was “ideologically corrupted and bribed” by the CIA and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service while working in the timber industry in Siberia in 2014. The Russian far east is one of the main places where North Korean laborers are allowed to work abroad.

The reports say Kim — his full name has not been provided — was converted into a “terrorist full of repugnance and revenge against the supreme leadership” of North Korea and collaborated in an elaborate plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un at a series of events, including a major military parade, that were held last month.

They allege Kim was in frequent contact through satellite communications with the “murderous demons” of the NIS and CIA, who instructed him to use a biochemical substance that is the “know-how of the CIA” and that the hardware, supplies and funds would be borne by the South Korean side.

Kim Jong Un attended the military parade on April 15 and made several other appearances around that time to mark the anniversary of his late grandfather’s birthday.

The initial reports of the plot concluded with a vow by the Ministry of State Security to “ferret out to the last one” the organizers, conspirators and followers of the plot, which it called “state-sponsored terrorism.”

The North Korean reports also said a “Korean-style anti-terrorist attack” would begin immediately. Follow-up stories on the plot have focused on outraged North Koreans demanding revenge.

It’s anyone’s guess what a “Korean-style” attack might entail.

North Korea is known for its loud and belligerent rhetoric in the face of what it deems to be threats to its leadership, and the reference to ferreting out anyone involved in the plot could suggest not only action abroad but possible purges or crackdowns at home.

“I wonder if Kim Jong Un has become paranoid about the influence Americans are having on North Koreans, and about the possibility of U.S. action against him,” said Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst and North Korea expert at the RAND Corporation. “Will Kim increase his internal purges of North Korean elites? Will he focus on North Korean defectors, people who the regime would like to silence? Or will he do both?”

Tensions between North Korea and its chief adversaries — the U.S. and South Korea — have been rising over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that include training for a possible “decapitation strike” to kill the North’s senior leaders.

Bennett noted that such training has been included and expanded upon in annual wargames hosted by South Korea, which were bigger than ever this year.

The wargames, called Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, just finished, without any signs of North Korean retaliation.

But the current rhetoric from Pyongyang has a somewhat familiar ring to it. Case in point: the movie “The Interview” in 2014.

In June that year, the North denounced the Seth Rogen comedy, which portrays the assassination of Kim Jong Un for the CIA by two American journalists, as “a most wanton act of terror and act of war.” A few months later, hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment computers and released thousands of emails, documents, Social Security numbers and other personal information in an attempt to derail the movie’s release.

The U.S. government blamed North Korea for the attack. Pyongyang denies involvement, but has praised the hackers.

The North’s claims of a plot to kill Kim Jong Un with a biochemical agent also have an eerie similarity to the assassination of his estranged half brother, Kim Jong Nam, at an airport lobby in Malaysia in February.

In that attack, seen by many as orchestrated by the North, two young women who were allegedly tricked into thinking they were taking part in a television game show, rubbed the deadly VX nerve agent onto the face of the unsuspecting victim, who died soon after.

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Talmadge is the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter @EricTalmadge and Instagram at erictalmadge.

Categories: Ther'es nothing like

Lawyer to United: ‘This case is about more than 1 rabbit’

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 14:06

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — United Airlines hasn’t explained why a giant rabbit died after being flown from London to Chicago or why it had the animal cremated within hours of his death, a lawyer for the rabbit’s buyers said Monday, announcing possible legal action.

Des Moines Attorney Guy Cook, representing an Iowa group that bought the continental giant rabbit named Simon, said his clients want details about Simon’s death and an explanation of why he was cremated before a necropsy, or post-mortem examination, could be conducted.

Cook said he sent a letter to United on May 4 but hasn’t received a reply, other than a confirmation that the matter had been referred to the airline’s lawyers.

“United has taken no action to rectify this,” Cook said, raising larger questions about how the airline treats the animals it transports. “This case is about more than one rabbit.”

Simon flew from London’s Heathrow Airport to Chicago on April 20 and was supposed to fly an onward leg to Kansas City, Missouri, but he died after landing at O’Hare International Airport.

United spokesman Charles Hobart said the company had reached “a satisfactory resolution” with the rabbit’s breeder, Annette Edwards, in Worcestershire in the United Kingdom. Asked about the letter from the animal’s buyers, the cremation or other issues, he said only that Edwards was United’s customer and that she had turned down an offer of a post-mortem examination. He declined to answer other questions.

News of the rabbit’s death came as the airline was struggling to repair its image following the videotaped removal of a passenger from a United plane at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Images of the passenger, who was battered as he was dragged from the plane, circulated widely on social media and prompted condemnation and threats of a lawsuit. The passenger quickly reached a settlement with United for an undisclosed sum.

Earlier, the airline was criticized after two young girls weren’t allowed on a flight because they wore leggings.

Speaking in front of a large video monitor displaying a photo of the dead rabbit on its side in a large crate, Cook said the group of Des Moines area businessmen who bought Simon had intended to display him at this summer’s Iowa State fair. After winning a prize for the largest rabbit, the men intended to take Simon to other events and raise money for the fair, an iconic Iowa event that stretches over 11 days in August, Cook said.

The owners are seeking the costs of buying and transporting the rabbit — estimated at $2,300 — and future earnings.

When he died April 20, Simon was about 3½ feet long and weighed 20 pounds. Cook said he could have grown to weigh 40 pounds, likely making him larger than Simon’s father and the world’s biggest rabbit.

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Associated Press writer Nelson Lampe contributed to this story.

Categories: Ther'es nothing like

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