Kansas crops that missed rain showing stress

WICHITA, Kansas (AP) – The latest government snapshot says dryland crops in Kansas that missed the recent rain are showing signs of stress.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that precipitation over the past week was limited to the northern half of the state, with totals of less than a half-inch in most areas.

About 15 percent of the Kansas corn crop is rated in poor to very poor condition, with about 30 percent rated fair, 42 percent rated good and 13 percent in excellent condition.

The state's sorghum crop is rated as 12 percent poor to very poor, 33 percent fair, 46 percent good and 9 percent excellent.

Soybean condition was rated 10 percent poor to very poor, 37 percent fair, 44 percent good and 9 percent excellent.

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State: Accuracy of Heavy Capacity Scales Improving

ASSOCIATED PRESS - State agriculture officials say new leadership, more money and increased scrutiny has improved the accuracy of heavy capacity scales.

The scales are used to weigh millions of dollars of goods every year in Kansas, including truckloads of scrap metal, recyclables and agricultural products.

In early 2013, state inspectors approved just 26 percent of the large scales they tested.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports almost 50 percent of the scales tested did not weigh accurately enough and others did not meet state specifications.

In the first half of fiscal year 2014, inspectors approved 45 percent of the scales they checked and only 27 percent were found to not be weighing accurately enough.

Kansas Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chad Bontrager noted the improvement but says he wants the progress to continue.

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Roberts: Drug cartels behind US border crisis

ASSOCIATED PRESS - U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts says drug cartels are enticing Central American immigrants to come to the United States to work for their operations here.

The Kansas Republican made the claim Monday at the annual convention of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association.

He says the cartels spread false information that President Barack Obama's 2-year-old directive granting work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as youths would also allow Central American children to stay in the country.

Many of the 66,000 Central American immigrants currently arriving in the country are between the ages of 16 and 22. Roberts says those immigrants become drug "mules" to expand the cartels' drug operation in the United States.

He estimates the number will grow to 100,000 if the U.S. doesn't respond.

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Governor Discusses Efforts to Fight Federal Laws

ASSOCIATED PRESS - Gov. Sam Brownback is campaigning on his administration's efforts to fight against what he calls federal government overreach.

The Republican governor found a friendly audience for his re-election pitch Monday at the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association convention.

Brownback recounted steps the state is taking to fight the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. He says the bird's population numbers are up 20 percent in Kansas.

He also talked about efforts to counter an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to expand the definition of waters of the United States, which he claims would encompass ponds and puddles.

Brownback says water is inherently a state issue, and he wants the federal government to withdraw its proposed rule.

Another area of contention is federal pollution rules over coal.

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Brownback: Friends not a shoo-in for court vacancy

Caleb Stegall is now among three finalists for the Supreme Court forwarded to Brownback earlier this month.

ASSOCIATED PRESS - Gov. Sam Brownback says that his friend and former aide is not his obvious choice to fill a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kansas Court of Appeals Judge Caleb Stegall was Brownback's chief counsel until the governor appointed him to the state's second-highest court in January of this year.

Stegall is now among three finalists for the Supreme Court forwarded to Brownback earlier this month by a special nominating committee. The other candidates are Court of Appeals Judge Karen Arnold-Burger and Merlin G. Wheeler, chief judge of the 5th Judicial Circuit.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Brownback said interviews with the three candidates will begin soon.

One of them will fill the vacancy created when Justice Nancy Moritz left to join the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.






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Independent candidate joins Senate race in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Greg Orman is now officially on the November ballot as an independent candidate in the U.S. Senate race.

WIBW reports the Kansas Secretary of State's office said Friday it has certified enough signatures on Orman's campaign petition to qualify him for the general election.

Orman is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, who is seeking a fourth, six-year term.

The Democratic nominee is Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor.

Orman is an Olathe businessman and the co-founder of a business capital and management services firm.

He says in a news release that his candidacy offers voters a choice between partisan politics of the past and an independent approach that focuses on practical problem-solving.

Orman is on an eight-day, 18-stop bus tour around the state.

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Deere to lay off 600 employees in Midwest, including Kansas

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) - Agricultural equipment maker Deere is announcing it will indefinitely lay off more than 600 employees at four of its factories in the Midwest as demand slumps.

The affected sites are in the cities of East Moline and Moline in Illinois, as well as Ankeny, Iowa, and Coffeyville, Kansas.

Deere & Co. said in a news release Friday that "to remain globally competitive, the company must align the size of its manufacturing workforce with market demands for products."

Deere is the world's biggest farm equipment supplier.

The company said it is also implementing seasonal and inventory adjustment shutdowns and temporary layoffs at the four affected factories as well as one in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Earlier this week, the company announced that its third-quarter profit dropped 15 percent as sales weakened.

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Supreme Court Upholds Conviction In Baby's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the felony murder conviction of a southwest Kansas man in the 2009 death of his girlfriend's baby daughter.

The justices on Friday rejected all arguments raised by Gabriel De La Torre on appeal.

At his first trial, a jury convicted the Dodge City man of abusing 11-month-old Joselyn Hernandez but deadlocked on the murder charge. A jury at a second trial convicted him of felony murder.

Authorities said the baby had more than 40 bruises on her body when De La Torre brought her to a hospital on Sept. 6, 2009, because she had stopped breathing. Her mother was at work at the time.

De La Torre testified the girl was injured when he tripped while carrying her and fell on top of her.

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