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File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A former employee of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office said Monday in federal court that she was fired in part for not attending church, which left her confused and depressed.

Courtney Canfield argues her firing amounts to religious discrimination.

Unless the last-minute requests for a reprieve are granted, a Missouri death-row inmate will be put to death Tuesday evening.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Star reporters are being given new assignments as part of parent company McClatchy Inc.’s “reinvention” of newsrooms across the newspaper chain.

The health beat has been transformed into the “bad medicine” beat, the education beat into “raising Kansas City” and the crime beat into “courts uncovered,” to cite three examples.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Kansas Democratic House Leader Jim Ward is finally jumping into the race for governor.

Ward ended months of speculation with his announcement Saturday at a Wichita union hall.

“I wanna move Kansas forward," he told the crowd. "I love Kansas. There’s no other place I would rather call home.”

Ward says he wants to bring strong jobs and good public schools back to Kansas, but he says his first priority as governor would be repairing the state’s economy. If elected, Ward says he wants to conduct top-to-bottom reviews of all state government agencies.

Courtesy of Romeo Durscher / NASA

It is indeed dark during the day as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to Missouri to South Carolina. Eleven states are in the path of total darkness. Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

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Courtesy Zachary Stevenson

Outside a Small Circle of Friends,” by Phil Ochs, is not a typical protest song.

The song tells the biting, sardonic tale of all-too-normal people walking away from tragedies without helping — because, after all, “outside a small circle of friends,” who would care? The message is simple: just help.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 with governor's office declining comment — A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday’s scheduled execution on hold.

The Midwest Innocence Project said new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn’t kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.

courtesy: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

This Monday, August 21, the moon will cover the sun in a rare total solar eclipse across a 70-mile path of the United States.

The eclipse starts at 11:40 a.m. and reaches totality around 1:06 p.m. in parts of Kansas and Missouri. 

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

News of White House strategist Steve Bannon’s resignation broke Friday afternoon during U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s town hall meeting in Topeka.

The second-term Republican was fielding questions about President Donald Trump’s fitness for office when a man in the back of the American Legion hall reading the news on his cell phone shouted that Bannon was out

Jack Hummel, Western Music Association

On a sunny summer afternoon, a group of cowboys took to the outdoor stage in front of the Raphael Hotel on the Plaza and started singing in four-part harmonies.

That band, 3 Trails West, is one of the only practitioners of cowboy music in Kansas City — and has been named the band of the year by the Academy of Western Artists and the Western Music Association.

But what exactly is cowboy music? It isn’t country music. Or country-western.

Netflix

Who else is watching "Ozark"?

The Netflix show set in Missouri provoked lively conversation on a recent edition of KCUR’s Central Standard, where host Gina Kaufmann’s guests included one of the program’s showrunners, Chris Mundy, along with Lake of the Ozarks native Michael Duggan and myself.

We were interested in how the show represents Missouri — and the larger urban-rural divide in the Midwest.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced immediate pay increases for corrections officers during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the state prison in El Dorado. 

Brownback said all officers will receive an immediate 5 percent salary increase, and starting pay will be increased across the corrections system. The hourly pay rate for entry-level corrections officers will climb from $13.95 to $14.66.

At El Dorado, where the staff vacancy rate is 47 percent, the hiring hourly rate will go from $13.95 to $15.75, he said.

Courtesy Jim Wilson

Out with the same game this weekend.

Among varied delights, sample an international array of food flavors, get into idiosyncratic country music, bow to the full force of female-fueled classic rock or simply take part in a rare public expression of gourd gratitude – yes, it’s a thing.

Whatever you choose, may the miscellaneous be with you!

1. Ethnic Enrichment Festival

jasonesbain / Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge has given the go-ahead to a lawsuit filed by the parents of an autistic teenager who was shot multiple times with a Taser after he stopped to tie his shoe on the lawn of a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan this week denied dismissal motions filed by the five law enforcement officials named as defendants in the case by the parents of Christopher Kramer.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders came up short in their initial efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says they’re still working to engineer its failure.

In a recent interview, Sebelius, who spearheaded implementation of the ACA, said she knows that the law isn’t perfect. But she said it would be working better if Republicans would stop undermining it.

“The notion that this law is imploding is just not accurate,” Sebelius said.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Democratic Party and the Democrat leader in the Kansas Senate, Anthony Hensley, called out top Republican officials Wednesday for not condemning the white nationalist march and violence in Charlottesville, Va.

The weekend events left one person dead and dozens injured. Two officers also died when a state police helicopter monitoring the rally crashed. 

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Residents of the Flint Hills on Wednesday took a fight against an oil company to Kansas energy regulators as part of their broader battle to stem wastewater disposal in the area.

They fear that a request from Quail Oil and Gas to jettison up to 5,000 barrels a day of brine near Strong City and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve brings a risk for earthquakes or contamination of local groundwater — claims that the company disputes. 

Courtesy Zach Krumme

The path of totality marked by next week's historic total eclipse of the sun arcs across much of Kansas City and its surrounding areas.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas officials have cleared an initial hurdle in their effort to regain federal certification for Osawatomie State Hospital.

Problems that federal inspectors cited in May have been fixed, making the state’s largest mental health hospital eligible for a full recertification inspection, according to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

That inspection must take place within the next 120 days, according to KDADS Secretary Tim Keck.

Courtesy Soul Revival

Soul Revival is a Kansas City group that performs a sophisticated form of contemporary R&B. Desmond Mason, an accomplished keyboardist, composes and orchestrates their music, while Derick Jolliff-Cunigan is the primary vocalist.

After a series of performances at out-of-the-way venues, Soul Revival graduates to the prestigious RecordBar on Saturday, where, in addition to performing original compositions, they'll cover hits by the likes of Musiq Soulchild and Luther Vandross.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Paul Davis kicked off his campaign for Kansas’ 2nd District seat in Congress by calling Washington broken and criticizing a culture there that quashes bipartisanship.

“No matter what party you affiliate with, no matter who you voted for in the 2016 presidential election, Washington is not working for you,” said Davis, who served as the top Democrat in the Kansas House and narrowly lost a bid to unseat Gov. Sam Brownback in the 2014 election.

Neal Herbert / NPS

By this point, you've surely heard that there's going to be a total solar eclipse across the United States on Aug. 21. If not, here are some links to help you get up to speed.

Courtesy of Avila University

Officials at Avila University say they are investigating a swastika drawn on an academic building on the south Kansas City campus. 

University officials say the swastika was written in chalk and was discovered on the outside of Dallavis Hall Monday. An Avila spokesman says the swastika was quickly removed after being found.  

An email alerting faculty and students to the incident called it a “hate crime.”

"This incident is a hate crime. Avila takes incidents like this very seriously and the incident is being investigated," the email read. 

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

A decade after Kansas unveiled plans to migrate its driver’s license records from an aged mainframe to modern information technology infrastructure, the effort remains incomplete and, auditors say, troubled.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Craig Slawson knows a lot about oil exploration, a business his family has been in for 60 years.

In that industry, when you find a "play," you’ve identified a geological region where conditions are ripe for discovering oil fields, lots of them.

Now that he’s expanded into real estate, the Denver-based founder of Epoch Developments believes he’s located a promising new "play" for that business in the River Market.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Amid its ultramodern lecture halls, the University of Kansas Medical Center's new health education building is also a showcase for several Kansas City artists.

Francis Bourgouin / Flickr -- CC

What sets a truly great happy hour apart?

Well, delicious food and drinks, for one. There’s also the vibe of the place.

“The social aspect of this cannot be discounted, even in the discounted world of happy hour,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Plus, she added, it’s just good way to get to familiarize yourself with a new cuisine or try a restaurant that might normally be out of your price range.

Jon Blumb / Courtesy of Richard Klocke

His paintings have been called “exuberantly cheerless.”

Artist Mike Hartung loves that description.

The 73-year-old painter, who lives in Lindsborg, Kansas, has made around 700 paintings over his career.

His first exhibit, “Gas Stations, Laundromats and the Spaces Between,” opens this month in three venues across Kansas.

Hartung has also been described as a recluse, which he disputes, pointing to his recent exhibit openings in Salina and Lindsborg.

Sven-Sebastian Sajak / Wikimedia Commons

Recognition. Many seek it, some achieve it.

A popular path to being obviously appreciated is the award route – and this weekend’s entertainment lineup delivers plenty of champs.

It’s also a chance to perhaps reflect on your own accomplishments. Although you might want to leave that bowling trophy at home where it belongs. We believe you!

1. Green Day

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