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Kevin Cook

Sept. 3, 2009, was a date that was 14 years in the making for Air Force veteran Kevin Cook.

He first entered a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for help treating his depression and alcohol and drug use in 1995.

“I would come into treatment, I would get all of this help and everything and then I would leave back out the door thinking that I can do this on my own,” Cook says. “And it never dawned on me that this is ... a lifetime change and this is something that you have to stay engaged in.”

FILE PHOTO/KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, is responding to a letter demanding he take action to end the Trump administration's policy of breaking up immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Nearly 60 elected officials from Johnson County have called on Yoder to prevent immigrant children seeking asylum in the U.S. with their families from being separated from their parents at the border. Yoder is chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

Joe Gratz / CREATIVE COMMONS-FLICKR

A Kansas law prohibiting lawsuits based on “wrongful birth” claims is constitutional, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The measure, which Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law in 2013, protects physicians from malpractice suits if they withhold or fail to provide information about fetal abnormalities that might lead the mother to get an abortion.

Libby Hanssen / KCUR 89.3

When you see a stranger on public transit, what's your usual reaction? Do you make eye contact, even small talk, or studiously ignore them and play Pokémon Go on your phone?

Traveling with Megan Karson's The Stranger on the Train, reactions are a little different. When The Stranger trundles onto the #801 at the Kansas City Streetcar stop at Union Station, passengers stare, then laugh, at the surprising addition to their ride.

Boulevardia

We’re all special, right? But some of us are extra special. There I said it.

And the weekend is going to back me up with events driven by special people – both living and dead – whose cultural contributions qualify as outright genius or at least border on brilliance.

Stick with the smarties. Not only will they put a smile on your face, but they’ll give you something to aspire to. Genius!

1. ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

SUZANNE HOGAN/KCUR

The 2018 World Cup begins Thursday in Moscow, Russia, with a match between the host nation and Saudi Arabia, and Kansas City soccer fans may be feeling a bit shut out. 

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Johnny Duker speaks soccer.

“Soccer is, I guess, a language that most of us anywhere in the world, people can relate and speake to,” says Duker, who moved to Lee Summit from Ghana when he was 12.

He says soccer helped him make friends in a new country.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Missouri on Friday suspended Medicaid reimbursement payments to Planned Parenthood, a move that will affect thousands of its low-income patients.

The organization’s affiliates got the news in a letter the same day from Dale Carr, director of Missouri Medicaid Audit & Compliance, who said it was required by a provision in the 2018 budget cutting off funds for abortion providers and abortion counselors.

Smallcakes

Kansas City will be the first to get a taste of a new concept from Smallcakes founder Jeff Martin: Southern Charm Gelato.

A trip to Italy less than two years ago inspired the idea, the founder of Overland Park-based franchising company Sweet Brands told the Kansas City Business Journal.

Mid-Continent Public Library’s $113 Million Upgrade Underway

Jun 13, 2018
Blue Springs South branch
Google Maps

The Mid-Continent Public Library system was designed at a time when a gallon of gas cost less than 90 cents, the Beatles disbanded and the Vietnam War ended.

MCPL Director Steve Potter described the 1970s conceptualization of a library as a “warehouse full of books.” So the current buildings don’t have enough electrical outlets, meeting rooms and programming space, he said.

Brian Collins

Kansas City's annual summer ritual, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, is upon us. This year's production is the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing.” 

This also means it's time for another annual ritual at KCUR: tracking down Geraldo U. Sousa, a professor of English at the University of Kansas, who has written several books on Shakespeare.

Southwest Kansas has a new accent due to the rapidly growing Latino population in the area.

New research from Kansas State University and its Kansas Speaks Project, which documents language shifts in Kansas, shows younger people in the region have started to take on the characteristics of Spanish speakers, even if they don’t speak Spanish themselves.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri regulation governing medication abortions, although she found that the restriction “has virtually no benefit.”

Ruling in a case brought by the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Kansas City and St. Louis, U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips said the plaintiffs had not shown that the regulation “is a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion.”

Tristan Bowersox / Creative Commons-Flickr

The University of Kansas last year reached a $200,000 settlement with a former student who alleged he was sexually assaulted by a theater professor. 

The details of the settlement came to light after The Lawrence Journal-World made an open-records request from KU. Records released by the university show the student agreed to drop a federal lawsuit as part of the settlement. 

file photo / KMUW

A state panel ruled Monday that Ron Estes, the Wichita area congressman, will appear as “Rep. Ron Estes” on the primary ballot where he faces a challenger also named Ron Estes.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office had previously decided to add the title, but a Democrat also running for the 4th Congressional District seat objected. Laura Lombard said state law bars including titles on the ballot.

“You really should not be able to use your title on the ballot,” Lombard said. “It’s an unfair advantage for the incumbent.”

2017 KANSAS AND MISSOURI CONSUMER HEALTH ACCESS SURVEY

A quarter of Kansas working-age adults and a third of the state’s children live in households dealing with medical debt.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new report commissioned by five Kansas and Missouri health foundations, believed to be the largest survey to date of health consumers in the two states.

In Kansas, about 2,600 adults and minors were included. The survey answers point to problems with access to dental and mental health care, among other services.

Fidencio Fifield-Perez

As a second grader growing up in North Carolina, Fidencio Fifield-Perez was the school cartoonist. He won a few awards and certificates, and a local newspaper wrote an article about him. He’d newly immigrated to the United States from Mexico.

Years later, when he needed proof that he’d grown up in the United States in order to gain DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, his early art skills came in handy because those awards and the newspaper story provided documentation of his childhood.

Amanda Meltzer / StoryCorps

Every Friday during Morning Edition on KCUR 89.3, listeners get to hear intimate conversations between everyday people through StoryCorps — and soon Kansas Citians will get a chance to tell their own stories when the StoryCorps MobileBooth Airstream comes into town this summer.

At KCUR's RadioActive Friday, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay formally announced the MobileBooth tour stop.

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Blue Valley Hospital, an Overland Park facility specializing in bariatric surgery, has lost its bid to retain its Medicare certification, throwing its future in doubt.

A federal judge last week ruled she did not have jurisdiction to hear the hospital’s legal challenge and dismissed Blue Valley’s lawsuit.

The hospital promptly appealed her decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which it hopes will take up the case on an expedited basis.

“We’re still hoping for some rather quick relief,” said Curtis Tideman, an attorney for the hospital.

A new Missouri law orders the state to create guidelines for testing, processing and storing rape kits, which collect DNA evidence from victims of sexual violence.

The three top Democratic candidates for governor debated in Wichita on Friday evening.

Laura Kelly, Carl Brewer and Josh Svaty participated at the event held in The Lux apartment building and venue space in downtown Wichita.

The candidates spent much of the debate agreeing on issues, from expanding Medicaid to supporting legalizing marijuana in Kansas.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane attributes her three decade career in education to a frog.

Lane went to college to be a clinical psychologist but a required biology class asked her to insert a needle into a frog’s brain.

“It was a live animal that we were going to do an experiment on to see reactions,” Lane says. “I could not do that. So I left class, went down the hall and said, ‘I need to change my major.’”

Pirate's Bone / Facebook

Vegetarian options pop up on a lot of Kansas City menus, from high-end restaurants to brand-new coffee shops … and yes, even at barbecue joints.

“Now, it’s just part of everybody’s diet. You don’t have to ask for something vegetarian. It’s just a dish without meat or fish or whatever,” KCUR food critic Mary Bloch told host Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

Updated on June 15

Why did Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census, approve adding a hotly contested citizenship question to 2020 census forms?

Wikipedia / CC

It's official: There are not enough workers for all of the new jobs in the United States. The number of job openings exceeds the number of job seekers for the first time on record, the U.S. Labor department said this week.

In Missouri, employers struggle not with the quantity of workers but how qualified they are, says Jeff Pinkerton, senior researcher with the Mid-America Regional Council.

Kansas is on its way to becoming a majority-minority state, with white residents expected to make up less than half of the population by 2066.

A new report from the Kansas Health Institute shows that the state is quickly becoming older, more urban and more diverse.

file photo / KCUR 89.3 FM

The Kansas Court of Appeals said Friday that a grand jury investigation of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office should go forward. The request was brought by a Lawrence man running for the Kansas House, Steven Davis.

He followed a rarely used Kansas law that allows citizens to call grand juries by collecting signatures.

Davis wants to know whether Kobach’s office mishandled voter registrations and whether any crimes were committed.

The University of Kansas Health System

It’s been a busy few months for The University of Kansas Health System, formerly known as The University of Kansas Hospital.

Its new $100 million hospital at 107th Street and Nall Avenue in Overland Park opens Monday following two years of construction.

That comes on the heels of its acquisition of the Environmental Protection Agency building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

And that came shortly after it purchased St. Francis Health in Topeka as part of a joint venture with Ardent Health Services.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Kansas affiliate have filed suit against the Montgomery County Attorney, alleging he failed to follow state law in the use of diversion programs.

The suit was filed Friday with the Kansas Supreme Court, according to a news release from the ACLU. It requests that Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle be required to create written diversion policies and guidelines; provide written notice of diversion programs to defendants charged in Montgomery County, and hold diversion conferences for defendants offered diversion.

courtesy: Susan Emshwiller

Is Robert Altman’s 1996 film “Kansas City” responsible for the preservation of the 18th & Vine jazz district?

Jazz historian and KCUR Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix says the answer is yes.

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