Crews preserve old steam engine
CARONA (AP) — Exposed to rain, snow, ice and sun for 58 years, the only surviving Kansas City Southern steam locomotive came close to turning into a pile of rust.
Engine 1023, once a fixture at Schlanger Park in Pittsburg, is now undergoing preservation efforts at the Heart of the Heartlands Railroad Museum in Carona. It was moved there Sept. 8 after Pittsburg city commissioners voted unanimously one year ago to turn it over to the museum. Its...
Feds allow Kansas Medicaid overhaul
TOPEKA (AP) — Federal officials have granted Kansas permission to overhaul Medicaid, allowing the state to turn the $2.9 billion-a-year program for the needy over to three private insurance companies next year as planned, Gov. Sam Brownback announced Friday.
The state already has awarded three-year contracts to Kansas subsidiaries of three multibillion-dollar, out-of-state companies and assigned each Medicaid participant to one of them so that...
Killer cites obesity in fight against execution
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — At about 450 pounds, Ohio death row inmate Ronald Post is so fat that his executioners won’t be able to find veins in his arms or legs for the lethal injection, and he might even break the death chamber gurney, his lawyers say.
If the state is forced to use a backup method that involves injecting the drugs directly into muscle, the process could require multiple doses over several hours or even days and result in a grueli...
Panel says NASA lacks goals, direction
WASHINGTON (AP) — NASA, the agency that epitomized the “Right Stuff,” seems lost in space and doesn’t have a clear sense of where it is going, an independent panel of science and engineering experts said in a stinging report Wednesday.
The one place the White House wants to send astronauts — an asteroid — doesn’t seem to be getting the engines firing at NASA, they said.
“More than two years after the president announced the interim goal of sen...
Poll finds support for raising taxes on rich
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans prefer letting tax cuts expire for the country’s top earners, as President Barack Obama insists, while support has declined for cutting government services to curb budget deficits, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows. Fewer than half the Republicans polled favor continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.
There’s also a reluctance to trim Social Security, Medicare or defense programs, three of the biggest drive...
Obama warns GOP against debt ceiling fight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hewing to a hard line, President Barack Obama warned congressional Republicans on Wednesday not to inject the threat of a government default into complex fiscal cliff negotiations aimed at avoiding year-end tax increases and spending cuts that could harm the economy.
“It’s not a game I will play,” declared Obama as Republicans struggled to find their footing in talks with a recently re-elected president and unified congressio...
Obama’s second inauguration seems like afterthought
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four years ago, Barack Obama’s swearing-in drew a record crowd to the National Mall. There were 1.8 million people eager to witness history: the country’s first black president taking the oath of office.
Now, as Obama prepares for his second-term kickoff, the capital is pre-occupied with a looming economic crisis, exit from war and a reshuffling in Congress. Ticket demand is lower. Hotels are far from booked. And from Capitol...
Court to rule on school case
TOPEKA (AP) — The presiding judge in a Kansas school finance lawsuit has told attorneys in the case not to expect a ruling until around the first of the year.
Shawnee County District Court Judge Franklin Theis has sent a letter to attorneys representing school districts and a Wichita attorney defending the state to update them on his timetable for a decision.
The judge said it was initially thought a decision could...
Egyptians protest against president
CAIRO (AP) — More than 100,000 Egyptians protested outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Tuesday, fueling tensions over Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi’s seizure of nearly unrestricted powers and the adoption by his allies of a controversial draft constitution.
The outpouring of anger across the Egyptian capital, the Mediterranean port of Alexandria and a string of other cities pointed to a prolonged standoff between the president and a n...
Fiscal deal builds despite tough talk
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bluster and hot rhetoric aside, the White House and House Republicans have identified areas of significant overlap that could form the basis for a final agreement after “fiscal cliff” posturing gives way to hard bargaining.
Both sides now concede that tax revenue and reductions in entitlement spending are essential elements of any deal. If the talks succeed, it probably will be because House Speaker John Boehner yields on rai...
GOP elects state Senate president
TOPEKA (AP) — Republicans on Monday elected Susan Wagle to be the new president of the Kansas Senate, the first woman to hold court over either chamber of the Legislature.
Wagle, a veteran Republican from Wichita, defeated Steve Abrams of Arkansas City, 23-9.
“I don’t think I was elected because I am a woman. My colleagues elected me because I’m a qualified leader,” she said.
In the House, Stilwell Republican Ray Merrick defeated Arlen Siegfre...
Donor pays for stolen food at school
INDEPENDENCE (AP) — Independence kids right at the age to decide whether or not they believe in Santa Claus may revise their decision after an anonymous benefactor gave $400 to make up for a recent theft of donated food at Jefferson School.
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” Jefferson School instructor Melinda Miller said, quoting the famous 1897 editorial in The New York Sun.
An unknown man walked into the Independence Police Department...
Climate talks focus on fossil fuel subsidies
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Hassan al-Kubaisi considers it a gift from above that drivers in oil- and gas-rich Qatar only have to pay $1 per gallon at the pump.
“Thank God that our country is an oil producer and the price of gasoline is one of the lowest,” al-Kubaisi said, filling up his Toyota Land Cruiser at a gas station in Doha. “God has given us a blessing.”
To those looking for a global response to climate change, it’s more like a curse.
Qatar — ...
Obama honors Letterman, Zeppelin
WASHINGTON (AP) — David Letterman’s “stupid human tricks” and Top 10 lists vaulted into the ranks of cultural acclaim Sunday night as the late-night comedian received this year’s Kennedy Center Honors with rock band Led Zeppelin, an actor, a ballerina and a bluesman.
Stars from New York, Hollywood and the music world joined President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday night to salute the honorees, whose ranks also include actor Dustin H...
Egypt’s president faces rising pressure
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s political crisis is widening, with plans for a huge march and a general strike today to protest the hurried drafting of a new constitution and decrees by President Mohammed Morsi that gave him nearly unrestricted powers.
Morsi also faces the prospect of wider civil disobedience as media, the tourism industry and law professors pondered moves that would build on a strike by the nation’s judges.
The planned strikes and march...
U.S. considers military options if Syria uses WMD
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and its allies are weighing military options to secure Syria’s chemical and biological weapons, after U.S. intelligence reports show the Syrian regime may be readying those weapons and may be desperate enough to use them, U.S. officials said Monday.
President Barack Obama, in a speech at the National Defense University on Monday, pointedly warned Syrian President Bashar Assad not to use the weapons.
“Today I w...
Tax revenue exceeds expectations
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas collected slightly more in taxes than anticipated in November, but the state is still facing a self-inflicted budget shortfall that could force it to trim spending.
The state Department of Revenue’s report Friday pleased Gov. Sam Brownback and officials in his administration, who see it as part of a growing body of evidence that the state’s economy is not only stronger than it was a year ago but continuing to improve. Brow...
Agency works on sex-trafficking bill
TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas Department of Children and Families is working with law enforcement officials on legislation that would increase penalties for those who engage in sex trafficking of children, while also providing help for the victims, an agency official said Wednesday.
The department is working with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office, law enforcement agencies and judges, Anna Pilato, DCF’s deputy secretary for strategic de...
Feds want answers from abortion opponent
WICHITA (AP) — The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to order a Kansas abortion opponent to answer the government’s questions about her relationship with the man convicted in the murder of abortion provider George Tiller, including compelling her to admit to statements she made to The Associated Press in which she said she admired the then-accused killer.
The request comes amid legal wrangling in a civil lawsuit the Justice Departme...
Senators ask Obama to protect Mississippi River
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A group of U.S. senators will ask President Barack Obama for an emergency declaration in an effort to keep barges moving on the drought-riddled Mississippi River, a spokesman for Sen. Claire McCaskill told The Associated Press Tuesday.
Senators from Mississippi River states are seeking an emergency directive that would increase the flow of water from an upper Missouri River dam and expedite removal of rock formations in the mi...