School panel eyes two-year budgets
TOPEKA (AP) — The chairman of a Gov. Sam Brownback’s task force on school efficiency said Tuesday that Kansas legislators should consider establishing two-year budgets for school districts.
State Board of Education member Ken Willard told members of the Legislative Education Planning Committee that the idea is one of several recommendations being considered by the task force, which met throughout the fall. A final report is due to Brownback be...
Gun makers lose investors
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Investors shunned some of the nation’s largest gun makers Tuesday in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, including making plans to sell the company that manufactures the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle used in the bloody attack.
Stocks of other gun companies fell, and one sporting-goods chain said it would temporarily stop sales of military-style firearms. In Washington, some former opponents of gun control sig...
Gun control backing builds on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional gun rights supporters showed an increased willingness Tuesday to consider new legislation to control firearms in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shootings — provided it also addresses mental health issues and the impact of violent video games.
A former co-chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and 10-term House Republican Jack Kingston — a Georgia lawma...
Pupils return to their schools
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Newtown returned its students to their classrooms Tuesday for the first time since last week’s massacre and faced the agonizing task of laying others to rest, as this grieving town wrestled with the same issues gripping the country: violence, gun control and finding a way forward.
Funerals were held for two more of the tiny fallen, a 6-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. A total of 26 people were gunned down at Sandy Hook...
Man kills two police officers
TOPEKA (AP) — A man with a history of theft and weapons convictions gunned down two police officers investigating possible drug activity in a Kansas grocery parking lot, and was later killed after an armed standoff, authorities said Monday.
Kyle Smith of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation identified the man who opened fire on Topeka police Cpl. David Gogian, 50, and Officer Jeff Atherly, 29, on Sunday night as 22-year-old David Tiscareno of To...
Gun control gains backers on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Prominent gun-rights advocates in Congress are now calling for a national discussion about restrictions to curb gun violence, signaling that the horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school could be a tipping point in a debate that has been dormant for years.
“Everything should be on the table,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin declared Monday. He is a conservative Democrat, avid hunter and lifelong member of the Nation...
Obama offers concessions to avoid fiscal cliff
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has agreed to curtail future cost-of-living increases for recipients of Social Security and softened his demand for higher taxes at upper income levels as part of accelerating talks with House Speaker John Boehner to avoid a “fiscal cliff,” people familiar with the talks said Monday.
Speaking a few hours after Obama and Boehner met at the White House, these people said the president was now seeking high...
Audit questions state's computer security
TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas doesn’t do enough to secure computer systems used by its state government, making confidential information vulnerable to hackers, a legislative audit said Thursday.
Auditors said their review of practices, computer systems and employee training at nine state agencies showed significant security weaknesses. Their report, presented to legislators, said none of the agencies had done a comprehensive assessment of computer secu...
Vote means fateful choice for Egypt
Egypt vote means fateful choice for nation
CAIRO (AP) — Two days before a constitutional referendum it considered boycotting, Egypt’s secular opposition finally launched its “no” campaign Thursday with newspaper and TV ads detailing the argument against the charter drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi.
The Morsi camp has a simpler message: A “Yes” to the constitution is a yes to Islam.
The deadly violence and harsh divi...
Pope reaches million mark before first tweet
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI hit the 1 million Twitter follower mark on Wednesday as he sent his first tweet from his new account, blessing his online fans and urging them to listen to Christ.
In perhaps the most drawn out Twitter launch ever, the 85-year-old Benedict tapped the screen of a tablet brought to him at the end of his general audience after the equivalent of a papal drum roll by an announcer who intoned: “And now the pope ...
North Korea launches rocket despite warnings
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea successfully fired a long-range rocket on Wednesday, defying international warnings as the regime of Kim Jong Un took a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear missile.
While the rocket launch will enhance the credentials of young leader Kim, who took power after his father Kim Jong Il’s death a year ago, it is also likely to bring fresh sanctions against the country and further complicate relat...
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...