France, Britain say they have confirmed use of sarin in Syria
PARIS (AP) — France said Tuesday it has confirmed that the nerve gas sarin was used “multiple times and in a localized way” in Syria, including at least once by the regime. It was the most specific claim by any Western power about chemical weapons attacks in the 27-month-old conflict.
Britain later said that tests it conducted on samples taken from Syria also were positive for sarin.
The back-to-back announcements left many questions unanswere...
More details of IRS extravagance emerge
WASHINGTON (AP) — Already heavily criticized for targeting conservative groups, the Internal Revenue Service absorbed another blow Tuesday as new details emerged about senior officials enjoying luxury hotel rooms, free drinks and free food at a $4.1 million training conference. It was one of many expensive gatherings the agency held for employees over a three-year period.
One top official stayed five nights in a room that regularly goes for $3...
Fire kills 119 at poultry plant
BEIJING (AP) — A swift-moving fire trapped panicked workers inside a poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern China that had only a single open exit, killing at least 119 people in one of the country’s worst industrial disasters in years.
Survivors described workers, mostly women, struggling through smoke and flames to reach doors that turned out to be locked or blocked.
One worker, 39-year-old Guo Yan, said the emergency exit at her workstation...
Court rules for DNA collection
WASHINGTON (AP) — A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for police to take a DNA swab from anyone they arrest for a serious crime, endorsing a practice now followed by more than half the states as well as the federal government.
The justices differed strikingly on how big a step that was.
“Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure t...
Prosecutors present case in WikiLeaks trial
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Pfc. Bradley Manning put U.S. military secrets into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself, prosecutors said Monday as the Army intelligence analyst went on trial over the biggest leak of classified material in American history.
Manning’s lawyers countered by arguing that he was a “young, naive but good-intentioned” soldier whose struggle to fit in as a gay man in the military made him feel he “needed to do something to ma...
Prosecutor says domestic violence law is laudable
WICHITA (AP) — Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says a new Kansas domestic violence law is laudable.
But Bennett also said Thursday that what works in urban areas doesn’t always work in sparsely populated rural counties, where treatment options are fewer.
The law requires prosecutors to identify all crimes that have a domestic violence component and mandates treatment for domestic violence offenders.
The law took effect for co...
Nebraska passes wind energy bill
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A bill that would use sales tax exemptions to attract wind farms to Nebraska won final approval Wednesday from lawmakers.
Senators passed the measure in an effort to increase wind-energy production in Nebraska, which is trailing Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas. Nebraska ranks among the top states nationally in its potential to generate wind power, but 26th in what it can produce right now.
Sen. Ken Haar of...
Sprint says panel clears proposed sale to Softbank
OVERLAND PARK (AP) — Sprint and Japan’s Softbank said Wednesday that regulators haven’t found any unresolved national security issues related to Softbank’s proposed $20.1 billion deal for control of the No. 3 cell carrier.
The clearance from the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States comes amid concerns by some officials that Softbank’s use of Chinese networking equipment could open up U.S. networks to snoop...
Lawmakers’ work stalls on tax issues
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas legislators Wednesday suspended work on tax and spending issues so House leaders could survey fellow Republicans about adjusting the state’s sales tax to stabilize the budget.
The House and Senate met only briefly on the 96th day of lawmakers’ annual session, guaranteeing it will last at least a week past the time specified by the state constitution. The two chambers’ negotiators on tax issues had no meetings scheduled, an...
Some states begin to push back against school standards
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Some states are pushing back against a set of uniform benchmarks for reading, writing and math that have been fully adopted in most states and are being widely put in place this school year.
The new Common Core standards replace a hodgepodge of educational goals that had varied greatly from state to state. The federal government was not involved in the state-led effort to develop them but has encouraged the project.
Tornadoes touch down in NE Kansas
MARYSVILLE (AP) — At least four tornadoes hit different counties in northeast Kansas Monday night, causing the most damage in the town of Marysville but no fatalities or serious injuries, according to preliminary reports from emergency management officials.
The most significant damage was reported in and around Marysville, where a tornado touched down about 9:50 p.m., said Bill Schwindamann, Marshall County emergency management director. A Joh...
Widow leads effort to start parade
TOPEKA (AP) — A Topeka widow was surprised to learn her hometown didn’t have a regular Veterans Day parade, so she’s organizing one.
“I went to downtown Topeka to see what parades were in town,” Melissa Jarboe told The Topeka Capital-Journal. She learned about the St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Fiesta Mexicana parades. “I asked why there wasn’t a Veterans Day parade, and I was told no one wants to do it.”
Jarboe’s husband, Jamie, an Army ser...
School ditches text books
HUMBOLDT (AP) — A small, Southeast Kansas school district whose superintendent became a true believer after visiting an Illinois school is doing away with textbooks and paper tests in favor of all-digital instruction.
When classes resume this fall in USD 258 in Humboldt, students in grades four through 12 will be given HP Ultrabook laptops, fully loaded with digital curriculum and available for taking home overnight.
In kindergarten through th...
Boy Scouts to accept openly gay boys
GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America threw open its ranks Thursday to gay Scouts but not gay Scout leaders — a fiercely contested compromise that some warned could fracture the organization and lead to mass defections of members and donors.
Of the roughly 1,400 voting members of the BSA’s National Council who cast ballots, 61 percent supported the proposal drafted by the governing Executive Committee. The policy change takes effec...
Negotiations on state budget stall
TOPEKA (AP) — Negotiations among Kansas legislators over the next state budget halted abruptly Friday, preventing an agreement on higher education spending, stalling discussions on tax legislation and delaying the end of an annual session that’s already lasted longer than predicted.
Three senators and three House members canceled talks on the final version of a state budget of roughly $14.5 billion for each of the next two fiscal years. The ta...
GOP nears agreement on tax plan
TOPEKA (AP) — Top Republicans in the Kansas Senate insisted Thursday that they’re not far from a deal with their House counterparts on income tax cuts, but negotiations were temporarily on hold to focus on budget issues.
Republicans in both GOP-dominated chambers held a joint meeting to discuss fiscal issues a day after House Republicans outlined a new compromise tax plan that would reduce personal income taxes but stabilize the budget by canc...
Prison officials charge doctor’s killer
WICHITA (AP) — The man convicted of killing one of the nation’s few late-term abortion providers is now accused of trying to intimidate the woman who reopened his shuttered clinic, prison officials said.
The Kansas Department of Corrections said Tuesday it filed an administrative charge against inmate Scott Roeder under a prison regulation which prohibits threatening or intimidating anyone. The 55-year-old abortion opponent is serving a life s...
Senate approves bonds for new lab
TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas Senate approved an additional $202 million in bonds for construction of the new federal biodefense lab in Manhattan on Wednesday, despite concerns by conservative Republicans about whether the state could afford it.
Gov. Sam Brownback maintains that the bonds will complete the state’s financial obligation to the federal government to build the $1 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State Universit...
House outlines plan for tax cuts
TOPEKA (AP) — Republicans in the Kansas House have drafted a new plan for cutting income taxes in hopes of breaking stalemate on tax issues.
The proposal presented during negotiations Wednesday would stabilize the budget by canceling part of a sales tax decrease scheduled for July by law.
The 6.3 percent sales tax would drop to 6 percent under the new plan. Under current law, it would decline to 5.7 percent.
The Senate backed Republican Gov. S...
Use of racial slur brings criticism
TOPEKA (AP) — Several black leaders in Topeka said Tuesday that a Kansas State Board of Education member’s use of a racial slur during a meeting last month was unnecessary and inappropriate.
Carolyn Campbell, the only black member of the board, and other black community leaders criticized board member Steve Roberts for using the slur at April’s board meeting. Campbell said she had received several calls from constituents asking for Roberts to ...