Fiery balloon accident kills 19 tourists in Egypt
LUXOR, Egypt (AP) — The terror lasted less than two minutes: Smoke poured from a hot air balloon carrying sightseers on a sunrise flight over the ancient city of Luxor, it burst in a flash of flame and then plummeted about 1,000 feet to earth. A farmer watched helplessly as tourists trying to escape the blazing gondola leaped to their deaths.
Nineteen people were killed Tuesday in what appeared to be the deadliest hot air ballooning accident o...
Benedict to become ‘emeritus pope’
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Two pontiffs, each wearing white and each called “pope” living a few yards (meters) apart, with the same archbishop serving both.
The Vatican’s announcement Tuesday that Pope Benedict XVI will be known as “emeritus pope” in his retirement, called “Your Holiness” as an honorific and continue to wear the white cassock associated with the papacy fueled renewed questions about potential conflicts arising from the peculiar reali...
Rodman goes to North Korea
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills and flamboyant style — tattoos, nose studs and all — on Tuesday to a country with possibly the world’s strictest dress code: North Korea.
Arriving in Pyongyang, the American athlete and showman known as “The Worm” became an unlikely ambassador for sports diplomacy at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Or maybe not so unlikely:...
White House warns cuts will affect security
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday said looming automatic spending cuts are already affecting the economy, while a top administration official warned that the nation’s borders would be less secure if billions of dollars are yanked from the budget Friday.
“The uncertainty is already having an effect,” Obama said. “Companies are preparing layoff notices. Families are preparing to cut back on expenses. The longer these cuts are in...
GOP governors take pragmatic turn
WASHINGTON (AP) — Many Republican governors who worked to thwart much of President Barack Obama’s first-term agenda are shifting gears and softening their rhetoric now that his run was extended for four more years and they’re facing their own re-election.
These state leaders are offering greater cooperation on health care and skipping the tough talk on immigration, taking a cue from voters who in last November’s election expressed their opposi...
High-stakes trial begins over Gulf oil spill
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP put profits ahead of safety and bears most of the blame for the disastrous 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a U.S. Justice Department attorney charged Monday at the opening of a trial that could result in the oil company and its partners being forced to pay tens of billions of dollars more in damages.
The London-based oil giant acknowledged it made “errors in judgment” before the deadly blowout, but it also cast blame on...
Turkeys roam Hutchinson
HUTCHINSON (AP) — The young males like to strut their stuff near Virginia Heymoss’ Hutchinson home.
Ironically, they started showing up on Thanksgiving Day and have come by periodically over the winter. They soon became comfortable with the surroundings, even climbing on her roof on occasion.
And, the last time she saw them, about two weeks ago, two of them were on the verge of sparring.
So, Heymoss’ daughter Jackie Long made a phone call in h...
U.S., NATO mull troop strength in Afghanistan
BRUSSELS (AP) С Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his NATO counterparts are considering leaving 8,000 to 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, but a dispute arose Friday between the U.S. and German defense officials over whether that contingent would be an international force or an American one.
The conflicting accounts came as NATO defense ministers gathered here to discuss the endgame of the 11-year-old war in Afghanistan. President Bara...
K.C.-area burglar uses pet doors
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man accused of burglarizing several Kansas City-area homes was linked to the break-ins after he used pet doors to get into some of the homes, police said.
Authorities in Kansas City and its Kansas suburbs began working together after linking about 13 common burglaries since mid-January. Often, the burglaries occurred while the homeowners were nearby, police said, and the suspect tended to use a series of stolen vehicl...
Investigation of K.C. blast will last several days
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The investigation into a deadly natural gas explosion that leveled a popular restaurant could take up to 10 days, the Kansas City Fire Department said Thursday.
James Garrett, spokesman for the Fire Department, said the investigation will include assistance from federal agencies and the Kansas City Police Department.
The explosion and fire at JJ’s restaurant near a busy outdoor shopping area occurred Tuesday evening aft...
Flu vaccine fails to protect older people
ATLANTA (AP) — It turns out this year’s flu shot is doing a startlingly dismal job of protecting older people, the most vulnerable age group.
The vaccine is proving only 9 percent effective in those 65 and older against the harsh strain of the flu that is predominant this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Health officials are baffled as to why this is so. But the findings help explain why so many older peopl...
Gun rights backers pack meeting room
TOPEKA (AP) — Gun rights advocates are pushing Kansas state lawmakers to counter potential moves by the federal government to restrict access to firearms.
Dozens of people packed one of the Statehouse’s largest meeting rooms Tuesday to show their support for gun rights as the House Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony in favor of a measure declaring that the federal government has no power to regulate firearms, ammunition or gun...
Panel OKs school amendment to state constitution
TOPEKA (AP) — A Senate committee on Tuesday endorsed a proposal to amend the Kansas Constitution to give the Legislature sole authority to determine funding for public schools, thereby cutting out the courts.
The proposal comes after a Shawnee County District Court ruled in January that the state’s school finance system was unconstitutional and ordered legislators to increase spending by more than $440 million for the next school year.
Beechcraft emerges from bankruptcy
WICHITA (AP) — Kansas plane maker Beechcraft, formerly Hawker Beechcraft, emerged Tuesday from bankruptcy protection freed from much of its debt and its unprofitable business jet operations.
It’s now focused on its turboprop and piston aircraft and its military work — but the country faces potentially massive defense cutbacks.
The prospect of the government’s defense retrenchment comes at a crucial time for the Wichita, Kan., company, as it co...
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...