News

Naveen Vaidya, a math professor at UMKC, woke up in the middle of the night from a phone call from one of his relatives in the U.S. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake had hit his home country of Nepal, where his mother and sisters live.

"That's really one of the biggest moments in my life," said Vaidya. "I tried to call Nepal continuously for two or three days but it was really hard to get in touch with them."

He made occasional contact online but phone and internet have been unreliable. On Monday morning he was finally able to see his family's faces via Skype. 

Jim Howard / St. Louis Public Radio

This week on Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s political podcast, reporters Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies use the magic of radio to interview U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver from his Washington, D.C. office.

The Democratic congressman represents portions of Kansas City as well as several rural counties in mid-Missouri. For many years, Cleaver was a pastor at the St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City which probably explains why he’s one of Missouri politics’ most celebrated orators.

Matt Rahner

Kansas City's new east side police station and crime lab on Prospect and 27th Street is still under construction — the campus is slated to open next year. Meanwhile, the city is still facing litigation over how the four-block area was selected for the campus, and how the people who lived there were moved to make way for the new construction.

Starting in the fall of 2012, photographer Matt Rahner documented the residents of the Wendell-Phillips neighborhood between Prospect and Brooklyn avenues and 26th and 27th streets. He wanted to capture the final months before the demolition of their homes.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Once a regular dining option, a mix of cultural and economic factors pushed lamb off the American dinner table. To put the meat back on the menu, ranchers and retailers are being encouraged to reach out to a more diverse set of consumers, specifically American Muslims and Latinos.

Sheep ranchers, feedlot owners, and processors in states like Colorado, Nebraska and Illinois are banking on America becoming a more diverse place. Without more Muslim and Latino communities embracing local lamb, the industry fears this niche meat could slip even further off the dinner plate, or be completely usurped by foreign producers like Australia or New Zealand.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The Kansas City No Violence Alliance kicked off a two-year long effort Saturday to reduce violent crime around Prospect Avenue.

NoVA partners will work with Kansas City, Missouri police on the area from 39th Street to 25th Street going north-south and Paseo to Indiana going west-east. 

Detective Maurice Oatis is one of four officers who will be embedded in the area.

"The biggest problem is actually the blight," Oatis said. "The vacant areas, the trash left out in the area: people not really caring about their community is the main issue that people are worried about right now."

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

There are a lot of small, rural hospitals in Kansas. Without them, many Kansans would have to travel long distances for care. What’s more, in many small towns, the hospital is one of the largest employers — making it vital to the local economy.

But declining populations, combined with changes in the way hospitals are paid for their services, are making it more difficult for many small hospitals to survive.

There is at least one hospital in 96 of the state’s 105 counties, according to Melissa Hungerford, senior vice president for health care leadership at the Kansas Hospital Association and chief executive officer of the Kansas Hospital Education and Research Foundation.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Norma Cantu is a professor of Latina/Latino Studies and English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. One of her projects is a collection she's working on called "Elemental Odes.”

"It's a play on Pablo Neruda's collection of Odas Elementales. I took it more literally," she says. "I'm taking the periodic table of the elements, and writing poems for each element."  Here are three of those.

The Native American tribe that gave Kansas its name will dance in the state for the first time in 142 years.   

The Kaw or Kanza tribe once occupied most of what became Nebraska, and nearly half of modern day Kansas. Tribal spokesman Ken Bellmard says bad treaties and European diseases decimated the tribe.

The departure of Bishop Robert Finn won’t stall the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese’s plan to open a new high school in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, next fall.

St. Michael the Archangel High School is expected to open in fall 2016 with about 360 students, mostly students from St. Mary's in Independence, Missouri, which closed last year, and Archbishop O'Hara High School, which will close when the new school opens.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Joseph Tomelleri is trying to discover a new species of trout. That's why he was just in Mexico, and that's why he'll be returning again soon.

Working as a scientist and an artist rolled into one, he's created upwards of 1,100 hyper-realistic colored-pencil illustrations depicting fish species for scientific books and magazines. He goes on research expeditions, documenting the distinguishing characteristics of each species, in some cases more faithfully than even a photograph could capture. 

Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new plan this week that offers incentives to farmers who volunteer to take steps that would help cut agriculture’s contribution to climate change.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking to an audience at Michigan State University, said the proposal will give farmers, ranchers, and foresters the technical support and financial incentive to implement more conservation measures on their land and in their operations.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Between teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, writing for the Kansas City Star, and hosting Up To Date, you might think KCUR’s Steve Kraske doesn’t have time to spend reading. But you'd be wrong.

The voracious non-fiction reader has brought some titles from his bookshelf to share. He spoke with the authors of three of his picks on Up To Date.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Theater insiders will call someone who acts, writes, and directs a triple threat. Kyle Hatley, Kansas City Repertory Theatre's resident director, is such a person. Following his acclaimed performance in An Iliad earlier this year, he's now at the helm of Sticky Traps, the theater's third play by Kansas City's own Nathan Louis Jackson.

In this month's installment of Director's Cuts, Hatley talks about his history with Jackson, a playwright-in-residence at the Rep, and what it means to rehearse a show with the playwright in the room.

Why Do Farmers Burn Their Fields?

Apr 24, 2015
Jacob Grace / Harvest Public Media

Farmers burn their fields to remove plants that are already growing and to help the plants that are about to come up. These burns are often called “prescribed burns” because they are used to improve the health of the field.

What tools do farmers need for a burn?

To keep the fire contained, farmers need to clear away burnable matter around the edges of the field, which usually requires a lawn mower or larger machinery. The burn itself can be managed with some simple, specific tools.

Kansas City and Uber have come to terms on regulations for the ride-hiring network and its drivers. 

The compromise ordinance was unveiled at the council business session Thursday and passed shortly after 5 p.m. It replaces one passed two weeks ago that prompted Uber to say it was being forced out of Kansas City.

The city agreed to drop the permit fee for individual drivers for companies willing to pay a $45,000 annual blanket fee. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas City Council has approved a $15 million agreement with San Francisco based Cisco Systems Inc., to turn a two mile stretch of the streetcar line into a "Smart City" network. 

The project calls for the creation of interactive digital kiosks that share information about events and city services with pedestrians.

Data about infrastructure and traffic will be detected by sensors and sent back to the city in real time.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Updated, 9:30 a.m. Friday: Johnson County law enforcement officials arrested one of two people they were seeking in a fraudulent driver's license ring Thursday night.

Earlier Thursday, District Attorney Stephen Howe asked for the public's help in locating Monica Hernandez-Gonzalez, 44. He described Hernandez-Gonzalez as a "fixer" who helped connect undocumented workers with a former driver's licenses examiner making false documents.

So far, 40 people have been arrested in the scheme.

The original post continues below.

Charvex / Wikimedia -- CC

Every Kansas Citian has a list of out-of-towner attractions — barbecue, the Nelson-Atkins, a stroll through the Plaza. But we have been wondering: what should Kansas Citians be putting on our own to-do list? What hidden gems are right next to us that we need to see (or do) at least once?

We asked you to give us your suggestions, and we got a ton of them!

Here we present the incomplete "Kansas Citian bucket list" — a list of things every person in Kansas City should do at least once. Feel free to add additional items in the comments.

unknown / Wikimedia -- CC

Get ready to witness big change this weekend.

The transforming power of music-idol memories, all-natural body builders, souped-up collector cars and even moonlighting movie stars are among your options to shake up the norm.

Might you be forever altered by the experience? Wow, that got heavy in a hurry. See how quickly things can change?

1. Neil Diamond

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

Graduating seniors — more than a hundred of them — from the Kansas City Art Institute have crammed every usable floor, wall, hallway and corner of the H&R Block Artspace for the 2015 Annual B.F.A. Exhibition. Their work radiates the exuberance of accomplishment, the energy of youth about to break free into the world beyond school.

The stakes for Kansas to expand Medicaid have been raised.

The state received notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week that if it doesn’t expand its Medicaid program, it would lose federal funding for uncompensated health care, according to officials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The federal government provides money for the state’s uncompensated care pool to reimburse health care providers who serve the uninsured.

Keith Allison / Flickr--CC

After five decades of hostility, President Obama is moving to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. There’s a place in Kansas City, though, where the two countries already seem very close: Kauffman Stadium.

Kendrys Morales, the Royals’ new hitting star is from Cuba, and across Major League Baseball the number of Cuban players is on the rise. But those players reached the U.S. as refugees, and some worry that warming relations with Cuba may actually crimp the supply of baseball talent from Cuba.

C.J. Janovy

Kansas City author Christine Taylor-Butler is an advocate for more diversity in children’s and young adult literature. She has written more than 70 books, most of them for Scholastic, the massive publisher of books and educational materials for kids. Taylor-Butler spoke with me about her newest book,  The Lost Tribes, and how she quit her management job to be a full-time writer.

KU Libraries Exhibits / University of Kansas

As a teenager, Laird Wilcox was fascinated by extremists, radicals and fringe movements, regardless of their views and objectives. He started collecting materials and attending political events, collecting leaflets, fliers, and newsletters from as many causes as he could.

www.FBI.gov

Many Kansas Citians have heard of the Union Station Massacre or the River Quay explosion — two of the more infamous episodes in KC's mobster history. But what about the lesser-known mob landmarks?

Gary Jenkins, a retired KCMO police officer, created a new app that reveals the history behind all of those spots. He talked to Central Standard's Gina Kaufmann about Kansas City Mob Tour.

Christina Lieffring

Earth Day, founded in 1970 by the fledgling environmentalism movement, is Wednesday. At its inception, the movement aimed to bring attention to issues of pollution, waste and the depletion of natural resources.

Now, 45 years later, our nation is in an ongoing conversation about climate change and conservation, but for many Earth Day comes and goes with little notice. In the Kansas City area, we asked people if they knew Earth Day was this week, and asked them if they were planning on recognizing the holiday.

Here is a sampling of their responses:

Cody Newill / KCUR

For years, pinball and classic video games like Pac-Man held a special spot in American culture. But by the early 2000s, it was hard to find many arcades still open for business.

But that's changing with the rise of the arcade bar, a craze that Kansas City is just now getting in on.

At the opening night of the Up-Down, the newest arcade bar in Kansas City's Crossroads district, Brian Yates pumped token after token into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

By midday Tuesday, there were still many among the flock of Catholics in Kansas City who didn’t yet know that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of their Bishop — Robert William Finn.

Finn has been at the center of controversy for years. He became the highest ranking official of the church to be convicted of a crime when he was found guilty of failing to report allegations of child abuse in 2012.

Kansas City-area Catholics reacting to the news revealed a wide range of opinions.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Paintings conservator Mary Schafer and registrar Jill Kohler hunched over a painting on a rolling cart beneath Thomas Hart Benton’s "Persephone" Tuesday morning in the Enid and Crosby Kemper Rotunda at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Using a flashlight and an iPad, the two were busy meticulously documenting the condition of Benton’s “Utah Highlands” before museum staff installed it on the wall of the gallery.

HDR, City of Kansas City

In just over two months, Kansas Citians will take to the polls to elect 12 council members that will lead the city for the next four years.

Due to term-limits, half of the seats held by incumbents will be wide open, which means that if Mayor Sly James is re-elected, which looks likely, he will have a council very different from the one he enjoyed his first four years.

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