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Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Kansas Regulators OK Merger Of Westar And Great Plains, State’s Two Largest Electric Utilities

Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light Co., won approval from state regulators Thursday to merge as equals. That clears the way for a combined company worth $14 billion serving more than 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri.

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Jen Houston got word back in January that Kansas City International airport was announcing its first-ever nonstop transatlantic flight.

"While I didn't know where it would be going, I knew that I would be on it. So when the announcement was made January 9, I booked my ticket," Houston says.

Kansas universities had about 800 more students enrolled this spring than they did last year, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

That’s about a half percent more — essentially flat. But flat is better than the national figure, which saw enrollment across the United States drop about 1.3 percent, or about 231,000 fewer students.

The Sedgwick County Election Office is expecting a busy week as candidates rush to get on the ballot before this Friday’s filing deadline.

Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman says by this time during the 2014 midterm, more than 400 candidates had filed to run in the fall elections. As of Friday, there were only about 220.

Stephan Bisaha / Kansas News Service

Tyler Barriss, already facing state and federal charges in Kansas related to a fatal swatting incident in Wichita, is facing more charges in Washington, D.C.

Barriss, 25, was indicted this week in federal court in Washington, D.C., for allegedly phoning in bomb threats to the Federal Communications Commission and the headquarters of the FBI. The call to the FCC came on Dec. 14, the indictment says, and the call to the FBI on Dec. 22.

Top Democrats in the Kansas House and Senate will request investigations into the use of no-bid state contracts, but the proposals will need the approval of some Republican lawmakers to advance.

The Kansas Department of Revenue used a no-bid process, called prior authorization, to award a multi-million dollar contract that outsourced some information technology services earlier this spring. 

Tex Texin / flickr Creative Commons

This story was updated at 3:19 p.m: 

The Sedgwick County Coroner’s Office has identified the body of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez.

His identity was confirmed through an autopsy and dental records.

Lucas has been missing since Feb. 17. His disappearance led to numerous searches by police and community volunteers.

“No one likes to see a child disappear,” Ramsay said during a news briefing Friday. “As [Lucas’ disappearance] captured the community’s concerns and tugged at their heartstrings, it has tugged at ours and our staff’s as well.”

Thomanication / Flickr Creative Commons

AAA's annual travel forecast shows millions of people are expected to take a trip this Memorial Day weekend.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light Co., won approval from state regulators Thursday to merge as equals.

That clears the way for a combined company worth $14 billion serving more than 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri.

Kansas Republican Rep. Roger Marshall says that despite the Farm Bill failing to pass in the House last week, he still expects it to pass.

No Democrats voted for the bill, and the Freedom Caucus, a small group of conservative Republicans, also withdrew their support until after immigration is discussed.

Marshall is on the House Agriculture committee. He says there are no plans to win over Democrats by backtracking on stricter work requirements for federal food aid.

Employers can force workers to settle disputes outside of court, the U.S. Supreme Court said this week, which could negatively affect agricultural workers and employees who earn low wages.



Movie Review: 'Fahrenheit 451'

It used to be that we didn’t expect that much from our TV movies. For a long time, there was a good reason a movie would head to television instead of the theater.

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KMUW Music

Monday, May 28

The final Monday of every month, we present our special concert series, Global Village at the Savannah Music Festival, featuring world music artists and groups who have appeared at the prestigious annual festival that takes place every spring in Savannah, Georgia. This time, in conjunction with our May Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month feature, it’s the Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain with banjoist Bela Fleck and bassist Edgar Meyer. The three critically acclaimed, award-winning musicians are known both for the virtuosity and their versatility, moving effortlessly between jazz, classical and a variety of world styles. They bring all of those influences to bear in this performance on Global Village at the Savannah Music Festival.

Tuesday, May 29

Global Village showcases classical guitar releases that draw on music not only of Spain, but also of the Americas and Turkey. Plus folkloric guitarists Beppe Gambetta and Tony McManus teamed up on a world music-inspired project, and new tango music from Pablo Ziegler featuring guitarist Quique Sinesi.

Wednesday, May 30

Global Village marks the birthday of Cuban-born percussionist Armando Peraza with music he did with Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin, John Lee Hooker, Cal Tjader and as a solo artist. Plus more music for the May Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month – this time from L.A. based Japanese artist Osamu Kitajima, the Pacific Islands band Te Vaka, music from one of the Japanese concept albums of Jade Warrior, and some fascinating music from the Korean neofolk group, E-do, who revived an invented instrument from the ‘40s, an ‘iron string zither,’ that combines elements of guitar and traditional Korean zither.

Thursday, May 31

Global Village wraps up the May Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month feature with a visit to Japan. Among the highlights: a composition from Japan’s “Beethoven of the Koto” that is considered akin to the national melody of the country, traditional music from the internationally acclaimed composer and multi-instrumentalist Joji Hirota, ‘70s fusions from Stomu Yamashata’s Red Buddha Theater and Osamu Kitajima,  traditional and contemporary Okinawan music from the Rinken Band, Shoukichi Kina, and the Surf Champlers (with a wild version of the James Bond Theme), and a project from Kengo Saito that brings together music of Japan and Afghanistan.

Friday, June 1

It’s New Month/New Music time in the Global Village. Each month, Global Village devotes an entire show to the best of recently released and forthcoming world music albums.  Among the highlights this time:

African Scream Contest 2, bringing together more classic sounds from Benin

Nordic Notes’ new compilation of folk music from Estonia

A Rough Guide compilation marking the 25th anniversary of the world music label

Another impressive set from Tuareg guitarist Bombino

And Italian group Brigan’s exploration of music from Galician Spain


Sunday, May 27

Saturday, May 26

It’s guitarist and singer/songwriter Tommy Emmanuel at his best - before a live audience.  We recorded him at the Orpheum Theater.

Album Cover Art

Wednesday, May 23

Sparkle Hard is the first album of new material from Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks since 2014. We’ll hear selections from the album on this episode of the show plus music from Ike Reilly’s latest, Crooked Love.

Thursday, May 24

We celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday with selections from The Band, John Martyn, Steve Wynn, Gregg Allman and, of course, Dylan himself.

Friday, May 25

Released in 2003 as the soundtrack to a documentary of the same name, Bodysong by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is being reissued for the first time on vinyl. We’ll hear music from that release plus material from Japanese Breakfast’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet.

Saturday, May 26

Tomorrow’s Daughter is the latest release from Matthew Sweet, we’ll hear music from it on this episode plus selections from If I Were A Carpenter, the 1994 tribute to The Carpenters featuring selections from Buffalo Tom, The Cranberries, Babes In Toyland and others.

Monday, May 28

Life Is Good On The Open Road is the latest release from Trampled By Turtles. Listen for selections from it as well as music from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.

Tuesday, May 29

 Musician Wesley Stace has long performed under the name John Wesley Harding and does so on his new disc, Greatest Other People’s Hits, which finds him covering Roky Erickson, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and more.

Wednesday, May 30

Leeds is the new project from Spacehog’s Royston Langdon. We’ll hear selections from the Leeds LP, Everything’s Dandy plus music from Spacehog’s 1995 effort Resident Alien.

Thursday, May 31

Released in 1992, Grave Dancers Union became Soul Asylum’s breakthrough album, selling more than three million copies and spawning the single “Runaway Train.” For many fans, it marked a sea change in the band’s career and style. We’ll hear music from that release on this episode plus music from Sister Sweetly, the 1993 album from Big Head Todd & The Monsters.

KMUW Music is teaming up to celebrate the birthday of Bob Dylan on Thursday, May 24. Tune in to Global Village, Strange Currency and Night Train from 7:00 p.m. to midnight for five hours of Dylan and Dylan-inspired music.


Are Billions Needed For A Cross-State Canal To Save Western Kansas?

Flying east to west over Kansas, the land transforms from lush green to desert brown. Rectangular farm plots fill in with emerald circles, the work of center-pivot irrigation. Outside Garden City, in the middle of one of those circles, Dwane Roth scoops up soil to reveal an inconspicuous PVC pipe. It’s a soil moisture probe that tells Roth exactly how much water his crops need. The device is one of many new technologies designed to help farmers make the most of every drop. “All that you have to do is open up your app,” said Roth. “It’s going to tell you, you don’t need to irrigate or you’re going to need to apply an inch within six days.”

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