KCUR

Registered nurse Pascaline Muhindura has spent the last eight months treating COVID-19 patients at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

But when she returns home to her small town of Spring Hill, Kansas, she's often stunned by what she sees, like on a recent stop for carryout.

Rural people often write off cities as rotten, crime-ridden places where rioters run the streets and tax dollars go to die.

Urban core residents can think of the countryside as a vast unknown land where gun-toting racists patrol dirt roads.

“The animosity is horrible,” said Bobbie Spiezio, who lives near Bentonville, Arkansas. “We need to just quit fighting with each other, come together as one nation, like our pledge of allegiance says, and fight together and be Americans.”

When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, she will be the first woman, first South Asian and first African American to fill the role.

But she won't be the first person of color.

That title belongs to a Kansan — Charles Curtis, member of the Kaw Nation and President Herbert Hoover's vice president.

Curtis was born in 1860 in Topeka while Kansas was still a territory, and he spent his early years living in both white and Native American communities.

A federal judge has ruled in favor of two veterans who sued the government for medical malpractice after claiming they were subjected to unnecessary genital exams while they were patients at the Leavenworth VA.

In separate decisions Monday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled that VA personnel should have “fairly foreseen” the wrongful conduct by physician assistant Mark Wisner but failed to do so.

Multiple patients had complained to the VA about Wisner’s conduct over the years he treated both veterans.

Local civil rights groups are gathering together in support of a new trial for a former University of Kansas student they say was wrongly convicted of rape in 2019.

Albert Wilson was a 20-year-old student at KU when he was accused of rape by a then 17-year-old girl in Lawrence.

According to the Douglas County District Attorney’s office, the teenager met Wilson at the Jayhawk Cafe, a local bar, on Sept. 10, 2016. The victim said Wilson led her away from her cousin at the bar and then home where he raped her.

More than a quarter of the 29,000 provisional ballots in Kansas were rejected in the 2018 general election because of various errors, leaving 7,692 voters out of the democratic process.

Provisional ballots are supposed to be a fail-safe, protecting voters from disenfranchisement due to an administrative error or other problems.

KU Med Resumes Clinical Trials For COVID-19 Vaccine

Oct 30, 2020

The University of Kansas Medical Center has resumed Phase III clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine that was halted last month after an enrollee in the United Kingdom developed an adverse reaction.

“We literally just got released by the FDA on Friday and then yesterday we got released from the IRB [Institutional Review Board], so we couldn’t start actually enrolling until today,” said Dr. Mario Castro, vice chair for clinical and translational research at KU Med and a co-principal investigator for the local trials.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are near all-time highs in the Kansas City area, and local hospital leaders say admissions are being pushed over the top by patients coming from rural areas.

Official data from Missouri shows that hospitals still have plenty of room, but doctors and nurses say their facilities have been reaching capacity, forcing hospitals to turn patients away in some cases.

Health officials say the availability of health care for people in the Kansas City area is now being threatened by this influx of patient from communities that lack mask mandates.

Members of KC Tenants chained themselves to the doors of the Jackson County Courthouse Thursday in an effort to stop eviction cases from proceeding.

The housing advocacy group managed to shut down all four Jackson County eviction dockets by chaining the court's doors shut and disrupting virtual meetings.

“People's lives are way more important than landlords’ profits. The only prescription for this pandemic is to stay at home and wash your hands. And how can you stay at home with no home?” said Tiana Caldwell, one of the organizers who faced eviction just a few months ago.

For the first time in the history of Kansas, the three finalists for a vacancy on the state's Supreme Court are all women.

The court on Monday announced that the three nominees for the opening created by the Sept. 18 retirement of Justice Carol Beier are Judge Kim Cudney, Judge Melissa Taylor Standridge and Kristen Wheeler.

Lisa Taylor, a spokeswoman for the court, said she’d reviewed the court’s news releases going back several decades. Typically, she said, the finalists included no more than one woman.

The University of Kansas Medical Center will take part in a nationwide clinical trial of different treatments for patients suffering mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization.

The first treatment will involve the use of monoclonal antibodies that target the spike proteins of COVID-19. The drug was made by Eli Lilly.

Monoclonal antibodies are engineered versions of the same virus-fighting antibodies that the body naturally produces.

For decades, people struggling with illnesses of all kinds have sought help in online support groups, and during 2020, such groups have been especially important for many COVID-19 patients who often must recover in isolation.

The fear and uncertainty regarding the coronavirus have made online groups targets for the spread of false information, however, and in an effort to help fellow patients, some of these groups are making a mission of stamping out misinformation.

ENGLEWOOD, Kansas — Lesser prairie chickens don’t really bother Mike McCarty. He likes them just fine, but doesn’t think people understand how hard it is to balance wildlife conservation and being a rancher and farmer in southwest Kansas.

“Yes, we need to protect our wildlife and everything,” he says, “but we also need to protect our people, our agriculture.”

Some rural Johnson County families are complaining that stray bullets and reckless shootings are damaging their property and threatening their children.

People began demanding action after a bullet this year nearly hit an 11-year-old girl riding in a vehicle. In another incident, four bullets from high-powered rifles hit a house, including a children’s computer room.

The family of an 11-year-old girl who they say was the target of a racially-motivated attack is calling for an honest conversation about race.

The family’s attorney, La Ronna Lassiter Saunders, held a press conference Thursday.

“We are not here to make speculations. We’ve seen a problem, and we’re here to give solutions and ask the community to come together to address this problem,” Saunders said.

HUMBOLDT, Kansas — It might not be growing in population, but Humboldt in Allen County is one Kansas town that has defied the odds in other ways.

Drive around town and there is a coffee shop, a frame shop, a working 19th-century cabinet shop that makes high-end furniture, a shaved ice shop, a candy shop and four restaurants. As 2020 dawned, a family restaurant with a microbrewery and a new grocery store was in the offing, along with more building and construction, more businesses coming to town.

A 17-year-old female who was fired as a Boy Scout staff member after just 12 days is suing the Kansas City chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, saying she experienced rampant sexual harassment and discrimination.

The lawsuit against the Heart of America Council, Boy Scouts of America, includes graphic descriptions of Boy Scout staff members engaged in drunken party activities, describing the size of their penises and barging in on women as they changed their clothes at Boy Scout camp.

Fifty years after his death, former Negro Leagues baseball pitcher John Donaldson will be the talk of the town next month in Glasgow, a small town that sits on the Missouri River in the central part of the state.

By honoring Donaldson the weekend of Sept. 4, the town’s residents will salute a native son and demonstrate the progress the passing decades have brought in race relations.

An investigation by the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica found that despite years of warnings about the possibility of a pandemic, meatpackers didn’t heed guidance on how to prepare.

The report says infectious disease experts and emergency planners had modeled what might happen with the arrival of a highly contagious virus, including how an outbreak might create food shortages and plant closures.

And those experts repeatedly urged companies and government agencies to prepare.

The government deliberately withheld medical records showing that Wesley Ira Purkey was incompetent to be executed before rushing ahead with his execution last month, Purkey’s lawyers contend in a legal filing in federal court in Washington, D.C.

The document, titled “Plaintiff Wesley Purkey’s Motion To Dismiss on the Ground of Mootness,” says that while Purkey’s claims “have become legally moot, the facts surrounding the circumstances of Mr. Purkey’s execution cannot and must not be similarly extinguished.”

The Kansas City Council offered a lesson in racial sensitivity Thursday which resulted in Mayor Quinton Lucas ordering Councilwoman Teresa Loar to undergo implicit bias training in the next seven days for mocking a Black colleague during a public meeting.

“I do hope that even though the world is tense ... that we will treat each other with respect and understand when we fall short, that it’s necessary and essential that we do better and that we try to make it right, however we can,” Lucas said.

The operator of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, is terminating 70 workers after the prime contractor lost its contract to run the facility.

In a WARN Act notice filed last week, XPO Logistics Supply Chain Inc. said the terminations will take effect beginning September 30 and extend over two weeks.

The plant, one of the biggest employers in Independence, makes small-caliber ammunition for the U.S. military.

Joe Checkler, a spokesman for XPO, said at least some of the workers will likely be hired by the new contractor.

Another settlement has been reached over the illicit recordings of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

The settlement calls for the private operator of the prison, CoreCivic Inc., and the operator of its phone system, Securus Technologies Inc., to pay $3.7 million to resolve a class action lawsuit brought four years ago by attorneys whose conversations with their clients were recorded.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Steven Bough gave preliminary approval to the deal, which covers the claims of roughly 750 attorneys.

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This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca will be tested locally as part of a clinical trial seeking to enroll 30,000 participants nationwide.

The University of Kansas Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital will lead the local effort, which calls for the recruitment of 1,500 participants in Kansas and Missouri.

Wesley Ira Purkey was put to death this morning for the murder of a Kansas City teenager in 1998 after the Supreme Court lifted two stays blocking his execution.

Purkey was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 8:19 a.m. EDT.

His execution came after a flurry of legal moves seeking to halt the procedure. On Wednesday morning, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., granted Purkey a preliminary injunction after his lawyers said he was incompetent to be executed, citing his dementia, mental illness and a history of being abused as a child.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Kansas has been added to the state’s travel advisory, along with Oklahoma, Delaware and 16 other states previously on their list.

Anyone traveling to New York from Kansas must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday striking down a Louisiana abortion restriction means similar provisions in Missouri and Kansas are no longer enforceable.

In a 5-4 decision, the court found unconstitutional a Louisiana law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Had the court upheld the Louisiana law, the state would have been left with just one abortion clinic.

Fifty-two University of Kansas department chairs have signed a letter challenging the school’s requirement that most classes this fall be offered in person. The faculty members insist they should have the option of teaching online.

The letter, addressed to Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer, was sent after Chancellor Douglas Girod announced last week that KU would hold in-person classes starting on Aug. 24 as part of a shortened semester ending before Thanksgiving. Students will be encouraged to leave the campus after the holiday to minimize the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Two men convicted of the rape and murder of Kansas children more than two decades ago are among four men scheduled to be put to death in the first federal executions scheduled to take place in 17 years.

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