Drought rapidly intensifies
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The widest drought to grip the United States in decades is getting worse with no signs of abating, a new report warned Thursday, as state officials urged conservation and more ranchers considered selling cattle.
The drought covering two-thirds of the continental U.S. had been considered relatively shallow, the product of months without rain, rather than years. But Thursday’s report showed its intensity is rapidly increasing, w...
Drought leaves Kansas rivers dry early
HUTCHINSON (AP) — In the drought of the 1930s, Mark Rogers’ grandfather sank barrels into the dry bed of the North Fork of the Ninnescah River near K-17 in an effort to catch the river’s underflow so the family’s cattle could have water.
The river went dry again in the 1950s and then, one last time that Rogers recalls, in 1966.
But the Ninnescah started going dry north of Cheney Reservoir a few weeks ago. And as he walked the river toward the ...
Organization that helps farmers continues to grow
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A unique farm aid organization started in North Dakota six years ago by an airplane pilot has grown steadily from its humble beginnings with less than a handful of volunteers and very little money and is now expanding into its fifth state.
Farm Rescue this fall will begin harvesting crops for injured, ill or disaster-stricken farmers in Iowa. The organization supported by volunteers, donations and business sponsors for th...
Court victory comes too late
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas woman’s victory in a religious freedom case came too late for a lifesaving liver transplant.
Mary Stinemetz of Hill City is terminally ill with chronic liver disease. The 65-year-old woman is a Jehovah’s Witness, a religion that forbids blood transfusions.
She won a legal battle last year that forced the state to pay for a transplant in Nebraska that did not require a blood transfusion. She continues to receive...
Brownback tries to calm worries over income tax cuts
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas’ finances are solid enough to go forward with the massive state income tax cuts approved by legislators earlier this year, Gov. Sam Brownback said Wednesday, addressing election-season angst and worries over whether the reductions will create big budget problems in the near future.
Brownback’s comments came as he announced that the state will pay off $25 million in bonds early, debt used to help finance an ongoing renovati...
Heat wave death toll reaches five
TOPEKA (AP) — Air quality advisories remained in effect Tuesday for Kansas metropolitan areas as a heat wave that’s claimed five lives this season continues to grip the region.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said a combination of extreme heat, low wind and clear skies is raising ozone levels in urban areas. The advisories cover Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita and were first issued over the weekend.
Elevated ozone levels are of...
Natural landmark to be auctioned
ULYSSES (AP) — A working ranch in northwest Kansas that contains historically significant chalk formations that are among the Eight Wonders of Kansas, as well as 12,000 acres of mineral rights, is up for auction.
Monument Rocks, also known as the Chalk Pyramids, is part of an auction for the Pyramid Ranch in Gove County, which began last week and continues through Aug. 14, The Hutchinson News reported Tuesday.
The formations are part of ancien...
Plains ranchers sell cattle as drought spreads
WICHITA (AP) — Kansas cattleman Ken Grecian sold 20 pairs of cows and calves a few weeks after drought had sucked his pastures dry and no rain was in the forecast. He sold 20 more pairs Friday.
Grecian spent years meticulously breeding his cows to improve the genetics in each generation, but with Kansas in one of the worst droughts seen in decades, he’s struggling to find enough grazing to feed 300 cows, plus their calves. He hopes to get by w...
Kansas wheat crop grows by 43 percent
WICHITA (AP) — Kansas farmers put 396 million bushels of winter wheat in the bin during what has been the earliest Kansas harvest on record, a report released Wednesday shows.
“It is better than we thought it was going to be when harvest started,” said Bill Spiegel, spokesman for the industry group Kansas Wheat.
The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported that this harvest is 43 percent larger than last year’s drought-stricken crop. It...
Obama seeks to shift focus to taxes
WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing sagging jobs numbers, President Barack Obama sought to recast the November election as a fight over tax fairness on Monday, urging tax cut extensions for all families earning less than $250,000 but denying them to households making more than that.
The president’s pitch was aimed at painting Republican rival Mitt Romney as a protector of the rich at a time of economic unease, as Democrats intensify efforts to raise ques...
New law gives companies break on pensions
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new law will let companies contribute billions of dollars less to their workers’ pension funds, raising concerns about weakening the plans that millions of Americans count on for retirement.
But with many companies already freezing or getting rid of pension plans, many critics are reluctant to force the issue.
Some expect the changes, passed by Congress last month and signed Friday by President Barack Obama, to have little ...
Wichita gangs collaborate with rivals
WICHITA (AP) — Gangs in Wichita are changing the way they operate, occasionally collaborating, creating challenges for officers trying to investigate crimes and diffuse tensions between rivals, according to Wichita police.
Members of rival gangs are sometimes joining forces, creating what police call hybrid gangs. And groups that police thought were allies are fighting each other, The Wichita Eagle reported.
In the past, gang members would be ...
Judges lessen state costs in remap case
TOPEKA (AP) — Three federal judges who redrew political boundaries in Kansas have moved to limit the legal costs that the state will be forced to cover from a lawsuit over the Legislature’s failure to adjust the lines to ensure equal representation.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the defendants in the lawsuit, said Thursday they were pleased and encouraged by the judges’ latest order this week, which asks pa...
Jobs report looms over Obama bus trip
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — Campaigning by bus through swing state Ohio, President Barack Obama cast his re-election bid as a bet on the American worker Thursday, even as he braced for an unemployment report today that will help set battle lines for the hot summer to come.
The monthly unemployment numbers could alter or harden voters’ views of Obama’s core re-election argument that he pulled the U.S. back from recession while Republican Mitt Romney ...
Drought challenges Kansas cattle producers
LA CROSSE (AP) — Like heat waves rising in the blistering sun, bright red fingers representing an extreme drought now snake through the western third of the state.
More than two-thirds of Kansas is in the midst of a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, based in Lincoln, Neb.
Save for the extreme drought regions, it likely understates conditions — in some cases significantly so — in portions of northwest Kansas.
Already, fall ...
Congress passes loans, highway bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress emphatically approved legislation Friday preserving jobs on transportation projects from coast to coast and avoiding interest rate increases on new loans to millions of college students, giving lawmakers campaign-season bragging rights on what may be their biggest economic achievement before the November elections.
The bill sent for President Barack Obama’s signature enables just over $100 billion to be spent on high...
GOP plots strategy on health care repeal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Turned away at the Supreme Court, congressional Republicans sketched a strategy Friday to repeal the nation’s health care law in 2013 that requires a sweeping election victory carrying Mitt Romney to the presidency and the party at least to narrow control of the Senate.
Romney sought to turn the court’s decision upholding the two-year-old law into a campaign battle cry, saying the 5-4 ruling had injected “greater urgency” int...
Town unites to reopen vital store
MINNEOLA (AP) — When the owner of the local grocery decided to close, residents feared the worst.
The empty storefront — one of the cornerstones of Minneola’s Main Street — could be the first step in the plodding death of another rural community.
Yet, people in this Clark County town of 745 have a way of pulling together in times of need. The closing created a new era of community cooperation, with residents determined that Minneola’s only gro...
House votes to hold AG in contempt
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday became the first Cabinet member held in contempt of Congress, a rebuke pushed by Republicans seeking to unearth the facts behind a bungled gun-tracking operation and dismissed by most Democrats as a political stunt.
The vote was 255-67, with more than 100 Democrats boycotting.
African-American lawmakers led the walkout as members filed up the aisle and out of the chamber to protest the...
Turkey fortifies Syrian border; bomb injures three
BEIRUT (AP) — Turkey deployed anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and other weapons along its border with Syria on Thursday, a military buildup that came as world powers showed new urgency to resolve the crisis before it ignites the region.
A bomb exploded in central Damascus near a busy market and the country’s main justice complex, wounding at least three people, damaging cars in a parking lot and sending a black cloud rising above the Syri...