Spending cuts bring no urgency
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten days before a new deadline for broad, automatic government spending cuts, the sense of urgency that surrounded other recent fiscal crises is absent. Government agencies are preparing to absorb an $85 billion hit to their budgets, and politicians, at least for now, seem willing to accept the consequences.
President Barack Obama, back from a Florida golfing weekend, warned Tuesday that “people will lose their jobs” if Congr...
Funeral protest ban clears committee
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislation that would expand a ban on protesting, picketing and other disturbances at all funerals, memorial services and burials in Florida, rather than just those involving military honor details, is on a fast track after final committee approval Tuesday.
Florida’s existing law, a federal statute and similar legislation in other states are largely a response to military funeral protests by a church based in Topeka, ...
Warming brings more blizzards, less snow
WASHINGTON (AP) — With scant snowfall and barren ski slopes in parts of the Midwest and Northeast the past couple of years, some scientists have pointed to global warming as the culprit.
Then when a whopper of a blizzard smacked the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow in some places earlier this month, some of the same people again blamed global warming.
How can that be? It’s been a joke among skeptics, pointing to what seems to be a braze...
Brownback’s figures bring scrutiny
WICHITA (AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s recent public presentations about some aspects of the state’s finances are apparently at odds with other state figures, according to a newspaper report.
Brownback has recently blamed the administration of former Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson for a $2 billion spending hike that didn’t happen and has also taken credit for spending cuts that he didn’t make, The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday.
High school students help at public cafe
TOPEKA (AP) — A new cafe operated by Topeka USD 501 is allowing students to get a feel for what it takes to run a successful business while allowing area residents to get breakfast and lunch for a reasonable price.
Kanza Cafe, which opened Jan. 22, is located in a building owned by USD 501 that formerly served as the cafeteria for the Topeka State Hospital, which closed in 1997.
Jake Taylor, food service manager for Kanza Cafe, said much work ...
Police officer poses as senior at high school
CONCORDIA (AP) — Some students at a northern Kansas high school might be feeling a little paranoid after a 22-year-old police officer spent nearly a month posing as a senior and gathering information about drug trafficking.
Concordia High School Principal Quentin Breese declined to release the names of any students who might be in trouble, but said there would be consequences for some involved in drugs, both on the school campus and within 1,0...
Ailing Chavez returns to Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela early Monday after more than two months of treatment in Cuba following cancer surgery, his government said, triggering street celebrations by supporters who welcomed him home while he remained out of sight at Caracas’ military hospital.
Chavez’s return was announced in a series of three messages on his Twitter account, the first of them reading: “We’ve arrived once again in ...
Singer Mindy McCready dies
HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — Mindy McCready, who hit the top of the country charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, died Sunday in Arkansas in an apparent suicide. She was 37.
The Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that McCready was found dead at a residence in Heber Springs from what appears to be a single, self-inflicted gunshot to the head. An autopsy is pending.
It wasn’t the first suicide attempt for the...
High court to hear arguments in soybean seed fight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vernon Hugh Bowman seems comfortable with the old way of doing things, right down to the rotary-dial telephone he said he was using in a conference call with reporters.
But the 75-year-old Indiana farmer figured out a way to benefit from a high-technology product, soybeans that are resistant to weed-killers, without always paying the high price that such genetically engineered seeds typically bring. In so doing, he ignited a ...
Bill addresses Open Meetings Act, dinners at governor’s home
TOPEKA (AP) — A bill inspired by a controversy last year over lawmakers’ dinners at the governor’s mansion is intended to clarify the circumstances under which government officials can discuss specific ideas without notifying the public, its sponsor said.
Critics of the bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby, and 20 other House Republicans contend that it could make it legal for social gatherings to become places for discussions that are c...
Space rocks hours apart point to danger
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A space rock even bigger than the meteor that exploded like an atom bomb over Russia could drop out of the sky unannounced at any time and wreak havoc on a city. And Hollywood to the contrary, there isn’t much the world’s scientists and generals can do about it.
But some former astronauts want to give the world a fighting chance.
They’re hopeful Friday’s cosmic coincidence — Earth’s close brush with a 150-foot aster...
Meteor injures about 1,100 people
MOSCOW (AP) — A meteor streaked across the sky and exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb Friday, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring about 1,100 people.
The spectacle deeply frightened many Russians, with some elderly women declaring that the world was coming to an end. Many of the injured were cut by flying glass as they flocked to windows, curious about what had produced such a blinding...
Celebs, environmentalists protest pipeline
WASHINGTON (AP) — Celebrities and environmental activists, including lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and civil rights leader Julian Bond, were arrested Wednesday after tying themselves to the White House gate to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune also was arrested — the first time in the group’s 120-year history that a club leader was arrested in an act of civil disobedience. The club’s ...
Carjacking victim says fugitive ex-cop was calm
BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. (AP) — A driver whose truck was taken by a carjacker believed to be a fugitive ex-Los Angeles cop said Wednesday the man appeared calm and didn’t want to hurt him.
Rick Heltebrake said he instantly recognized Christopher Dorner, who had an assault rifle pointed at him Tuesday on a Southern California mountain road.
Heltebrake said the carjacker took the truck, and seconds later gunfire broke out.
The carjacker then ran in...
Hearing airs concerns over at-risk funding
TOPEKA (AP) — School officials voiced opposition Tuesday to a Senate bill that would change the way Kansas has distributed funds for at-risk students for more than 20 years.
Administrators and education lobbyists told the Senate Education Committee that the state’s current definition for at-risk students works because it involves income. They said students from low-income families traditionally struggle academically because they come to school...
Kansas parents enjoy watching son play bass on TV
WESKAN (AP) — It’s unlikely anyone could have torn Ed and Cindy Harold away from the television Sunday night.
That’s when son Nate was on stage, playing the bass guitar for the band fun., which walked away with two Grammy awards, including song of the year and best new artist.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Ed Harold said.
“It is just surreal. We’re just proud as punch.”
The Harolds, from Weskan, have been closely following their son’s successful care...
Committee endorses plan to cut deduction for mortgage interest
TOPEKA (AP) — Most of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for further overhauling Kansas’ tax system cleared a state Senate committee Tuesday, but its members jettisoned one revenue-raising proposal that helps balance the budget and deferred debate on other potentially unpopular provisions.
The GOP-dominated Assessment and Taxation Committee spent less than 10 minutes discussing a bill containing the governor’s plan, which aims to position th...
Towns resurrect Main Street organization
GARDEN CITY (AP) — Representatives of 25 downtown development programs are working to resurrect the Kansas Main Street organization, which provided funds and training for downtown revitalization and small business development before it was shut down by the state last year.
Directors of the programs met in Garden City last week to sign articles of incorporation and plan to meet again next week to finalize bylaws and relationships with other gro...
Northeast commuters struggle
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The workweek opened with a white-knuckle ride Monday in the snow-clobbered Northeast as drivers encountered unplowed streets, two-lane roads reduced to a single channel and snowbanks so high it was impossible see around corners.
Schools remained closed across much of New England and New York, more than 130,000 homes and businesses were still waiting for the electricity to come back on after the epic storm swept through o...
Police search for ex-cop
IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Police blocked off a street and stood guard in front of a home in a typically quiet Southern California suburb Sunday, protecting a man they believe has been targeted by a fugitive ex-police officer suspected of killing three people and setting the region on edge by eluding authorities in a sprawling manhunt that has lasted days.
Irvine residents, meanwhile, were left to adjust to life in the midst of a heavy police prese...