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Noonletter, Dec. 6, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

Farm filming

Nearly two decades ago, Kansas became the first state to outlaw the unauthorized filming of farms, animal research labs or meatpacking plants.

The law came from a push by ag groups trying to fend off guerilla documentaries by groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals collecting gritty footage of all it takes to make a steer into hamburger.

Now, reports Nomin Ujiyediin, a collection of animal rights groups has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Kansas law (one that other states have aped). Those suing the state say the law gives unreasonable cover for what they see as cruelty endemic to the meat industry.

“Investigations in neighboring states have shown absolutely horrific treatment,” said attorney Kelsey Eberley, who represents the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “That is of utmost concern to the public and to people who eat meat.”

Supporters of the filming ban see undercover videos as a propaganda tool used to cast slaughterhouses and such in unfair and unflattering ways.

Race matters

Skin color continues to rank high as a factor for whether a child in Kansas is rich or poor, attends a good school and gets decent health care.

Ujiyediin looked at a fresh study from Kids Count, a group that advocates for more government services for children and their families. The report notes, for example, that 90 percent of white and Asian students in Kansas graduate high school in four years while only 73 percent of black students hit the same mark. Native American, Latino and African-American children are much more likely to be on food stamps, compared to white and Asian children.

Kansas Action for Children, which helped analyze the data, says more early childhood education and access to paid family leave could close those gaps.

Can’t get along

The top administrator in Sedgwick County government, County Manager Michael Scholes, stepped down from his job on Wednesday in a deal reflecting the latest turmoil in the Wichita area.

In a settlement with his bosses on the county commission, Scholes gets north of $200,000 — or about what it cost to pay his salary and benefits for nine months. Nady Faulx reports the deal included a promise from Scholes not to sue his now-former employer.

The county commission and its administrative brass have been fighting a civil war for several months over personnel disputes.

Scholes started in the job in 2015. His resignation took effect Nov. 30. The county reached a similar settlement with its lead attorney, Eric Yost, last month.

It’s about time

Fort Leavenworth has finally dedicated the only monument to honor the one black Women's Army Corps unit that deployed overseas during World War II.

There 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion included 855 soldiers who hand-processed millions of letters and packages for the military. That included, reports Carla Eckels, 7,500 pieces of mail addressed to men with the same name or no address.

“There was a backlog of two to three years of mail that the servicemen hadn’t gotten,” said Lena King of Las Vegas. Her name is on the monument. “I realized, being in the service myself, how important it is to your morale to know what’s going on at home and vice versa.”


And, dude, there was like this snake ...

Gotta wonder what the plan was. Great Bend police say they got a report that a local resident was bitten by a venomous snake on Tuesday.

When they showed up at the home of 25-year-old Ari Hooley, police said, they found a decapitated coral cobra (possession of which, the Great Bend Tribune says, is a violation of a violation of city Ordinance 6.08.170) and a sizable stash of hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana (also not cool, law-wise).

Police said the snake had bitten Hooley the day before and that he got medical attention.

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org or 816-235-8023.
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