Vote may lower boat property tax
WICHITA (AP) — A constitutional amendment on the November ballot will let Kansas residents decide whether to reduce property taxes on boat owners, bringing the state’s rates in line with others in the Midwest.
Amendment proponents say the current tax rate on boats is 30 percent of value multiplied by the county’s tax mill levy. In some instances, that’s eight times higher than adjoining states, prompting some Kansas boat owners to register the...
Kansas Court upholds damage limits in lawsuits
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas will continue to limit compensation for pain and suffering to $250,000 in personal injury lawsuits following a state Supreme Court ruling Friday in the case of a woman whose doctor removed the wrong ovary from her in 2002.
Amy Miller, a hospital records worker from the northeast Kansas town of Eudora, had challenged the cap in her appeal of a Douglas County district judge’s ruling in her medical malpractice lawsuit against...
France looks to cut school hours
PARIS (AP) — French children go to school four days a week. They have about two hours each day for lunch. And they have more vacation than their counterparts almost anywhere in the West.
It may sound a bit like the famously leisurely work pace enjoyed by their parents, most of whom work 35 hours per week as dictated by law.
But the nation’s new government says elementary school kids risk classroom burnout, and is moving to help them cope. The ...
Warplanes hit rebel stronghold
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian warplanes and artillery pounded the central city of Homs on Friday, subjecting the rebel stronghold to its heaviest bombardment in months, activists said.
The reported tank and mortar shelling as well as airstrikes come alongside a push by government force on another front, the embattled northern city of Aleppo.
The stepped-up pace of government attacks on Syrian cities suggests that the Damascus regime’s forces have not b...
Papal butler faces Vatican tribunal
VATICAN CITY (AP) — He had the trust of Pope Benedict XVI and the cardinals, monsignors and priests who run the Roman Catholic Church. And because of his privileged position as papal butler, he had access to their deepest secrets: confidential letters, memos, financial reports.
From under Benedict’s nose, Paolo Gabriele used the photocopier in the small office he shared with the two papal secretaries that adjoined the pope’s library, studio an...
U.S. service firms grow at fastest pace in six months
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies grew in September at the fastest pace in six months, helped by a sharp increase in customer demand.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 55.1, up from 53.7 in August. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.
The report measures growth at businesses that employ roughly 90 percent of the U.S. work force, ...
Shooting kills border agent
NACO, Ariz. (AP) — Investigators were scouring a rugged area near the U.S.-Mexico line looking for evidence in the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent.
Nicholas Ivie and a colleague were on patrol in the desert near Naco, about 100 miles from Tucson, when gunfire broke out shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Border Patrol.
Ivie, 30, was killed. The other agent, whose name hasn’t been released, was released from the hospital aft...
Iran’s currency plummets in value
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian authorities used aggressive measures Wednesday in an attempt to halt the nosedive of the country’s currency, making arrests, vowing to stamp out sidewalk money changers and warning merchants against fueling the mounting public anger over the economy.
There were unconfirmed reports of sporadic violence. Associated Press photos showed riot police blocking a street with the charred hulks of a garbage can and a motorcyc...
Audio tours of civil rights sites begin in Topeka
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Historic sites in Topeka are working together to offer audio tours of attractions ranging from a Statehouse mural of fiery abolitionist John Brown to an all-black school that played a key role in the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case.
Through the audio tours, history buffs can call a phone number (785-338-4041) and listen to information about more than a dozen historic places in the city. Brochures are expe...
Justices open big term with rights case
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court plunged into its new term Monday with a high-stakes dispute between businesses and human rights groups over accountability for foreign atrocities. The next nine months hold the prospect for major rulings on affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights.
The term that concluded in June set a high bar for drama and significance, and the new one holds considerable potential as well. Cases involving some of...
Big tax increase looms at year-end ‘fiscal cliff’
WASHINGTON (AP) — A typical middle-income family making $40,000 to $64,000 a year could see its taxes go up by $2,000 next year if lawmakers fail to renew a lengthy roster of tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, according to a new report Monday.
Taxpayers across the income spectrum would be hit with large tax hikes, the Tax Policy Center said in its study, with households in the top 1 percent income range seeing an average tax increa...
Bernanke makes case for Fed’s rate policy decisions
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chairman Ben Bernanke offered a wide-ranging defense Monday of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive policies to stimulate the still-weak economy.
The Fed needs to drive down long-term borrowing rates because the economy isn’t growing fast enough to reduce high unemployment, Bernanke said in a speech to the Economic Club of Indiana. The unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.
Low rates could also help shrink the federal budget deficit b...
Jury finds no fault in hot fuel case
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal court jury has ruled that selling gasoline that has not been adjusted for its temperature does not violate the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.
The jury returned the verdict Monday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. At issue is whether customers are shortchanged when buying gasoline that is over 60 degrees. The volume of gasoline expands and consumers argue they are getting less than a gallon of fuel ...
Obama urges world leaders to reject extremism
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Confronting global tumult and Muslim anger, President Barack Obama exhorted world leaders Tuesday to stand fast against violence and extremism, arguing that protecting religious rights and free speech must be a universal responsibility and not just an American obligation.
“The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained,” Obama warned the U.N. General...
Party seems over for Somali pirates
HOBYO, Somalia (AP) — The empty whiskey bottles and overturned, sand-filled skiffs littering this once-bustling shoreline are signs the heyday of Somali piracy may be over. Most of the prostitutes are gone and the luxury cars repossessed. Pirates while away their hours playing cards or catching lobsters.
"There's nothing to do here these days," said Hassan Abdi, a high school graduate who taught English in a private school before turning to p...
Kansas jails struggle to meet needs of mentally ill
WICHITA (AP) — Scarce mental health resources in Kansas are boosting county jail populations with inmates who might be better served in a psychiatric ward than behind bars.
Some counties such as Johnson and Shawnee have created pods at their jails where prisoners suffering from mental illnesses are segregated from the general population.
But in Sedgwick County, the state’s second most-populous county, Sheriff Robert Hinshaw has tried and faile...
U.S. attorney seeks help to curb Rx abuse
WICHITA (AP) — The top federal prosecutor in Kansas urged residents Monday to join the fight against prescription drug abuse, saying more people in the United States now die from drug overdoses than from auto accidents each year.
At the news conference held to kick off "The Medicine Abuse Project," U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom cited statistics showing every 19 minutes one person dies from a drug overdose — with the death toll from prescription ...
Regents approve request for bigger higher ed budget
TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents approved a request Thursday to seek an additional $47.1 million in funding for higher education in 2013.
The vote comes as Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is telling state agencies to prepare for tight budgets in the coming year, including requesting information on how state government would implement a 10 percent cut in spending. The increase would be on top of the $763 million in state...
Woman lives among homeless in Wichita
WICHITA (AP) — Not long ago, Lorenza Andrade Smith called Los Angeles’ Skid Row home. Her neighbor — a friend, she said — was a local gang leader, a drug dealer, a parolee. But that’s life, she said, in the downtown region, which is home to thousands of the city’s homeless people.
Smith is an ordained elder for the United Methodist Church. But since last summer she’s lived among the homeless in San Antonio and other cities, dodging knife fight...