KCTV 5 Popular Stories

Police: 'Fender bender' led to triple shooting and two deaths in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Kansas City police say a triple-shooting that left two dead stemmed from a fender bender that escalated to an argument.

Two men are dead and another is in critical condition following a shooting in the 5000 block of Agnes.

The shooting happened around 8:50 p.m. on Saturday evening.

Several gunshots were fired in the area, according to Kansas City Police Department spokesperson Jake Becchina.

No one has been arrested for the shooting.

Full comments from police below:

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2 people killed in triple shooting in KCMO

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Two people were shot and killed Saturday in the 5000 block of Agnes in KCMO and another was injured.

The shooting happened shortly before 8:50 p.m. on Saturday evening.

The condition of the third victim is unknown at this point.

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Remains of Emil Kapaun, long-lost Army Chaplain from Kansas, identified 70 years after death

Remains of Emil Kapaun, long-lost Army Chaplain from Kansas, identified 70 years after death

Father Kapaun was regarded as a hero during the war, helping his fellow soldiers physically, emotionally and spiritually.

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FORECAST: Great weather to begin the week, but a chance for rain later

FORECAST: Great weather to begin the week, but a chance for rain later

The start of the week will be dry and warmer than normal before a much more active pattern kicks in by the second half.

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Protestors gather outside Jackson County Prosecutor's home; one arrest made for property damage to vehicle

Protestors gather outside Jackson County Prosecutor's home; one arrest made for property damage to vehicle

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Some residents in Kansas City joined friends and family members of Donnie Sanders Saturday to protest the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office's recent decision to not prosecute a Kansas City police officer who shot him.

Sanders was shot on March 12, 2020 and this week, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said there wasn't enough evidence to support charges against the police officer.

On Saturday, protestors gathered on the street outside of her home.

Community members join friends and family members of Donnie Sanders along Ward Parkway to protest the Jackson Co Prosecutor’s recent decision not to prosecute the KCPD officer who shot him. Donnie was shot and killed one year ago this month. <a href="https://t.co/URMqZbHl2f">pic.twitter.com/URMqZbHl2f</a>&mdash; Leslie Aguilar (@LeslieKCTV5) <a href="https://twitter.com/LeslieKCTV5/status/1368318287336116225?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 6, 2021</a>

A crowd of about 60 people gathered at a small park on Ward Parkway and marched down the street all the way to Baker's home.

The crowd stood there for about an hour calling for justice.

Protestors asked that neighbors of the prosecutor join them in calling for justice and many neighbors did exit their homes to listen to the protestors.

Reshonda Sanders, Donnie's sister, said it wasn't the family's idea to do the protest in the neighborhood.

"I’m not quite sure who made this decision," she said. "But seeing that we’re here just trying to get some type of justice for my brother. I’m just agreeing to walk. I don’t know who chose this. I don’t know about Miss Baker or where she lives and none of that. I just know she’s the Jackson County prosecutor and I’m here at this walk."

After they left the neighborhood, they walked back towards Ward Parkway and blocked the road for a few minutes.

There were some confrontations with drivers, including one that got volatile with protestors banging on the vehicle.

Protestors now blocking southbound side of Ward Parkway and having confrontations with some drivers. Police came earlier during one confrontation and quickly left. <a href="https://t.co/GamaUIMLdA">pic.twitter.com/GamaUIMLdA</a>&mdash; Leslie Aguilar (@LeslieKCTV5) <a href="https://twitter.com/LeslieKCTV5/status/1368337497391005699?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 6, 2021</a>

A male party was taken into custody following one confrontation with a driver, Kansas City police said.

In a series of tweets, Baker said she supports protesting, even those who participated in front of her home.

"I fully support the right to peacefully protest," she said. "That includes the protest that occurred at my home today. I do question those few people who decided to carry and display rifles at a peaceful protest, to block traffic, and to vandalize a car, which also occurred today."

I fully support the right to peacefully protest. That includes the protest that occurred at my home today. I do question those few people who decided to carry and display rifles at a peaceful protest, to block traffic, and to vandalize a car, which also occurred today. 1/2&mdash; Jean Peters Baker (@jeanpetersbaker) <a href="https://twitter.com/jeanpetersbaker/status/1368348519459872771?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 6, 2021</a>

2/2 For the full report detailing the evidence and applicable law that governed my decision on the Donnie Sanders case, I would direct you to my office’s website. I want to again convey my condolences to the family of Donnie Sanders.&mdash; Jean Peters Baker (@jeanpetersbaker) <a href="https://twitter.com/jeanpetersbaker/status/1368348604352626692?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 6, 2021</a>

Sanders was killed at 52nd and Wabash Avenue. Police say he was pulled over for a traffic stop around midnight when he got out of the car and ran away.

“In this case, I took additional steps in the review to ensure all evidence was collected, analyzed and reported,” the prosecutor’s office said in a letter to the family of Sanders and the KCPD. “We attempted to enhance the audio recordings from the night of the shooting. We repeatedly canvassed the scene of the shooting for more witnesses, as recently as last week. I sought outside reviews by two other district attorney offices that have highly developed use of force teams. We shared the investigation with them and asked for their independent review. Both offices determined no charges should be filed in this matter.”

You can read <a href="https://www.kctv5.com/a-copy-of-the-letter-to-police-and-to-donnie-sanders-family-documenting-the-office/pdf_d5517978-7ae8-11eb-9351-4f3ddf1c7b57.html" target="_blank">Baker's letter to police and Sanders' family here</a>.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to KCTV5 News for more.

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Calls for Miles, Long to be fired from KU

Calls for Miles, Long to be fired from KU

KU's football head coach is on administrative leave following the release of a new report at LSU.

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Residents, family members of Donnie Sanders protest Jackson County Prosecutor's Office

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Some residents in Kansas City joined friends and family members of Donnie Sanders Saturday to protest the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office's recent decision to not prosecute a Kansas City police officer who shot him.

Sanders was shot on March 12, 2020 and this week, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said there wasn't enough evidence to support charges against the police officer.

“In this case, I took additional steps in the review to ensure all evidence was collected, analyzed and reported,” the prosecutor’s office said. “We attempted to enhance the audio recordings from the night of the shooting. We repeatedly canvassed the scene of the shooting for more witnesses, as recently as last week. I sought outside reviews by two other district attorney offices that have highly developed use of force teams. We shared the investigation with them and asked for their independent review. Both offices determined no charges should be filed in this matter.”

On Saturday, protestors gathered on the street outside of her home.

Community members join friends and family members of Donnie Sanders along Ward Parkway to protest the Jackson Co Prosecutor’s recent decision not to prosecute the KCPD officer who shot him. Donnie was shot and killed one year ago this month. <a href="https://t.co/URMqZbHl2f">pic.twitter.com/URMqZbHl2f</a>&mdash; Leslie Aguilar (@LeslieKCTV5) <a href="https://twitter.com/LeslieKCTV5/status/1368318287336116225?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 6, 2021</a>

Sanders was killed at 52nd and Wabash Avenue.

Police say he was pulled over for a traffic stop around midnight when he got out of the car and ran away.

In an interview with KCTV5 News last year, Sanders' sister claimed he was unarmed.

You can read <a href="https://www.kctv5.com/a-copy-of-the-letter-to-police-and-to-donnie-sanders-family-documenting-the-office/pdf_d5517978-7ae8-11eb-9351-4f3ddf1c7b57.html" target="_blank">Baker's letter to police and Sanders' family here</a>.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to KCTV5 News for more.

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Biden, Dems prevail as Senate OKs $1.9T virus relief bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — An exhausted Senate narrowly approved a <a target="&mdash;blank" href="https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-personal-taxes-legislation-coronavirus-pandemic-local-governments-e828c92fbdd7f4fa1e35d9ab95fe705e">$1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill</a> Saturday as President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies notched a victory they called crucial for hoisting the country out of the pandemic and economic doldrums.

After laboring all night on a mountain of amendments — nearly all from Republicans and rejected — bleary-eyed senators approved the sprawling package on a 50-49 party-line vote. That sets up final congressional approval by the House next week so lawmakers can whisk it to Biden for his signature.

The huge measure — its cost is nearly one-tenth the size of the entire U.S. economy — is Biden’s biggest early priority. It stands as his formula for addressing the deadly virus and a limping economy, twin crises that have afflicted the country for a year.

“This nation has suffered too much for much too long,” Biden told reporters at the White House after the vote. “And everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation, and put us in a better position to prevail.”

Saturday's vote was also a crucial political moment for Biden and Democrats, who need nothing short of party unanimity in a 50-50 Senate they run with Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. They hold a slim 10-vote House edge.

Not one Republican backed the bill in the Senate or when it initially passed the House, underscoring the barbed partisan environment that's characterized the early days of Biden's presidency.

A small but pivotal band of moderate Democrats leveraged changes in the legislation that incensed progressives, hardly helping Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., guide the measure through the House. But rejection of their first, signature bill was not an option for Democrats, who face two years of running Congress with virtually no room for error.

In a significant sign, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, representing around 100 House liberals, called the Senate's weakening of some provisions “bad policy and bad politics” but “relatively minor concessions.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said the bill retained its “core bold, progressive elements.”

“They feel like we do, we have to get this done,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the House. He added, “It's not going to be everything everyone wants. No bill is.”

In a written statement, Pelosi invited Republicans "to join us in recognition of the devastating reality of this vicious virus and economic crisis and of the need for decisive action.”

The bill provides direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans and extended emergency unemployment benefits. There are vast piles of spending for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, states and cities, schools and ailing industries, along with tax breaks to help lower-earning people, families with children and consumers buying health insurance.

Republicans call the measure a wasteful spending spree for Democrats’ liberal allies that ignores recent indications that the pandemic and economy was turning the corner.

“The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. He said Democrats' “top priority wasn't pandemic relief. It was their Washington wish list.”

The Senate commenced a dreaded “vote-a-rama” — a continuous series of votes on amendments — shortly before midnight Friday, and by its end around noon dispensed with about three dozen. The Senate had been in session since 9 a.m. EST Friday.

Overnight, the chamber looked like an experiment in sleep deprivation. Several lawmakers appeared to rest their eyes or doze at their desks, often burying their faces in their hands. At one point, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, at 48 one of the younger senators, trotted into the chamber and did a prolonged stretch.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, missed the votes to attend his father-in-law’s funeral.

The measure follows five earlier ones totaling about $4 trillion enacted since last spring and comes amid signs of a potential turnaround.

Vaccine supplies are growing, deaths and caseloads have eased but remain frighteningly high, and hiring was surprisingly strong last month, though the economy remains 10 million jobs smaller than pre-pandemic levels.

The Senate package was delayed repeatedly as Democrats made eleventh-hour changes aimed at balancing demands by their competing moderate and progressive factions.

Work on the bill ground to a halt Friday after an agreement among Democrats on extending emergency jobless benefits seemed to collapse. Nearly 12 hours later, top Democrats and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, perhaps the chamber's most conservative Democrat, said they had a deal, and the Senate approved it on a party-line 50-49 vote.

Under their compromise, $300 weekly emergency unemployment checks — on top of regular state benefits — would be renewed, with a final payment Sept. 6. There would also be tax breaks on some of that aid, helping people the pandemic abruptly tossed out of jobs and risked tax penalties on the benefits.

The House relief bill, largely similar to the Senate's, provided $400 weekly benefits through August. The current $300 per week payments expire March 14, and Democrats want the bill on Biden's desk by then to avert a lapse.

Manchin and Republicans have asserted that higher jobless benefits discourage people from returning to work, a rationale most Democrats and many economists reject.

The agreement on jobless benefits wasn't the only move that showed moderates' sway.

The Senate voted Friday to eject a House-approved boost in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, a major defeat for progressives. Eight Democrats opposed the increase, suggesting that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other liberals pledging to continue the effort will face a difficult fight.

Party leaders also agreed to restrict eligibility for the $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans. That amount would be gradually reduced until, under the Senate bill, it reaches zero for people earning $80,000 and couples making $160,000. Those ceilings were higher in the House version.

Many of the rejected GOP amendments were either attempts to force Democrats to cast politically awkward votes or for Republicans to demonstrate their zeal for issues that appeal to their voters.

These included defeated efforts to bar funds from going to schools that don't reopen their doors or let transgender students born male participate in female sports. One amendment would have blocked aid to so-called sanctuary cities, where local authorities don't help federal officials round up immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

———

Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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USDA relocations to Kansas City curtail ag research, farmer confidence

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — More than a year after two U.S. Department of Agriculture research agencies were moved from the nation's capital to Kansas City, Missouri, forcing a mass exodus of employees who couldn't or didn't want to move halfway across the country, they remain critically understaffed and some farmers are less confident in the work they produce.

The decision to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in September 2019 was pitched as putting them closer to farmers in the nation's breadbasket, though much of their work involves advising members of Congress back in Washington. After the relocation was announced, President Donald Trump's chief of staff at the time, Mick Mulvaney, joked that moving the jobs to Kansas City was also <a href="https://apnews.com/article/9f3b4c70d47e4bdf92816c5f170b29f6" target="&mdash;blank">“a wonderful way to streamline government.”</a>

Tom Vilsack inherited a demoralized workforce at the two agencies when he took over as secretary of agriculture under President Joe Biden. With 235 vacancies between them, the agencies continued to hire during the pandemic and administration change, but they are putting out work that is smaller in scope and less frequent, causing some farmers to look elsewhere for data they rely on to run their operations.

Among them is Vance Ehmke, who said that since the USDA relocations occurred, he has been paying a lot more attention to private market analysis and what private grain companies are doing. The information feeds his decisions on everything from whether to buy more land or a new tractor to whether to build more grain bins.

“Here, when we need really good, hard information, you are really starting to question groups like USDA, which before that had a sterling reputation,” Ehmke said recently. “But out in the country, people are worried about how good the information is now because those groups are operating at half capacity.”

The relocation hollowed out years of specialized experience and delayed or scuttled some of the agencies' research and other work. Hiring at the Kansas City site remains well below the roughly 550 <a href="https://apnews.com/article/4f29da28ecd746169ded179859c02eca" target="&mdash;blank">high-paying jobs</a> local leaders had anticipated.

Farmers rely on the research to make decisions on a wide range of topics, from rural community planning to farming with climate change and volatile weather conditions, said Aaron Lehman, a farmer who is president of the Iowa Farmers Union.

The ERS examines issues including the rural economy, international trade, food safety and programs that provide food assistance to poor Americans. NIFA, meanwhile, provides grants for agricultural research and other farm services.

“It has gone in the wrong direction in general in terms of accuracy now," said Adrian Polansky, a farmer and former executive director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency office in Kansas during the Obama administration. "Whether that was for sure based on that transition or whether it was the leadership in the department in terms of what the political goals may have been, I am not exactly sure. But it seems like there was less reliability.”

Polansky said he looks to commercial sources of agricultural information to corroborate USDA data more often now than he did in the past. He said that even after the agencies fill their openings, it will take time to “become fully impactful” because research is a long-term endeavor.

"When you lose significant staff and significant institutional knowledge, there is just not a way that can't impact the product and information from USDA," he said.

Dan O’Brien, a grain market specialist at Kansas State University Research and Extension, acknowledged that farmers have increasingly been questioning the reliability of the government’s agricultural data over the past few years. However, he said those frustrations have dealt more with reports published by other USDA agencies, and that some farmers may be confusing them.

Laura Dodson, the union representative for ERS employees, said the relocation will affect the agency for another five years. It hasn't affected the accuracy of its reports, but it has reduced their scope and frequency.

Dozens of ERS reports have either come out late or not at all, including reports on the organic food sector, antibiotic use in animal production, and hired farm workers and labor markets, among others, Dodson said. For example, a two-year research project on pollinators such as honeybees was shelved because the entire team working on it left the agency rather than move to Kansas City.

ERS published 37 reports in 2018, compared to 11 last year, Dodson said. Those figures don't include its monthly crop price and analysis reports, which have remained fairly steady despite the relocation and the pandemic. Agency employees also published 100 articles in academic journals related to their fields of study in 2018, but just 64 in 2020.

“We help make sure that food is produced safely, timely and responds to changes in the marketplace and changes to environmental sector,” she said. "And so if those become less effective because they are not being informed by good data and research, that will translate directly to how Americans receive their food.”

Matt Herrick, a USDA spokesman, said in an email that he couldn't speak to the volume and variety of ERS reports and research under the Trump administration. “However, when you lose more than half of your expert workforce, there is bound to be a noticeable effect,” he added, noting that the USDA is focused on restoring employee confidence and morale.

When former <a href="https://apnews.com/article/5d5c86204a4d4d6c84431488b19c5fea" target="&mdash;blank">Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue</a> toured the new Kansas City headquarters in November 2019, he predicted the agencies would be fully staffed by the first quarter of 2020. That didn't happen.

In October 2016 — before Trump's first year in office — ERS had 318 permanent employees, according to USDA data. By October 2019 — just a month after the move — its workforce had shrunk to 164. As of late January 2021, it had 219 employees, including 67 still based in Washington.

The same trend played out at NIFA, which had 320 employees in October 2016. In October 2019, it was down to 112 workers, though it rebounded somewhat to 218 by late January, including 16 based in Washington.

“Best I can tell, they were putting out information that Trump really did not like hearing, like global climate change and things like that,” Ehmke said. “And here in the United States, what we do with groups like that — we can’t send them to Siberia, so we send them to Kansas City.”

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Life threatening collision on Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – A woman has been transported to the hospital with life threating injuries after a one vehicle accident around 7 a.m. Saturday.

A black Chevrolet Impala was traveling south on Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The car then drove off the road and struck a tree in the grass median.

The driver and female passenger were trapped inside of the car until KCFD freed them. The female passenger was then taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries. The condition of the driver is unknown at this time.

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Trump wants top Republican fundraising organizations to stop using his likeness

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump sent out cease-and-desist letters Friday to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee for using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise, a Trump adviser tells CNN.

The three entities are the largest fundraising organizations within the GOP that are focused on electing Republicans to office.

<a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/03/06/scoop-trump-sends-legal-notice-to-gop-to-stop-using-his-name-492021" target="_blank">Politico</a> first reported on the letter.

CNN has reached out to Trump's office, as well as the RNC, the NRCC and the NRSC for a copy of the letter.

<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2021/02/27/politics/trump-fundraising-super-pac/index.html" target="_blank">CNN reported last week</a> that Trump is weighing the creation of a super PAC as he seeks to assert his authority over the Republican Party and expand his post-presidential political operation.

Creating a super PAC would allow Trump to raise unlimited amounts of money from virtually any source and faces no limits on spending. The former President also made several changes last week to his growing fundraising apparatus.

In filings with the Federal Election Commission, he converted both his presidential campaign committee, Donald J. Trump for President, and his leadership PAC, Save America, into two political action committees that can support other candidates for office. Trump's campaign committee has become the Make America Great Again PAC -- or MAGA PAC.

"There's only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect America First Republican conservatives, and in turn to make America great again, and that's through Save America PAC and DonaldJTrump.com," Trump said during his remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference last week.

"So, go out there and do whatever you can, because we're going to help a lot of great people, we know the right people to help. We need your help to win, and to fight big tech and the radical left and the DC establishment," he had said.

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Senate passes Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan after all-night votes

(CNN) -- The Senate passed <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2021/03/04/politics/stimulus-senate-democrats-proposal/index.html" target="_blank">President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan </a>on Saturday, after an all-night "vote-a-rama" and a 12-hour struggle to get one Democrat to support the party's plan on a critical issue.

The legislation is now expected to go back to the House for a final vote before Biden signs it into law.

Democrats have faced fierce pressure to stay united to pass the administration's top legislative priority before March 14, when jobless benefits are set to expire for millions of Americans. But West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin's unexpected opposition on Friday to a Democratic deal boosting unemployment benefits ground the Senate to a halt, prompting a furious lobbying effort between the two parties.

Democrats kept a Senate roll call vote open for 11 hours and 50 minutes, the longest in recent history, as Manchin signaled he would accept the Republicans' less generous proposal.

The dispute was a sign of the centrist Democrat's power in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats control the narrowest possible majority, and an example of how a single senator can derail the President's agenda.

But after a long negotiation, and with a flurry of other amendments to consider, Manchin finally agreed to extend $300 weekly unemployment benefits through September 6, about a month earlier than what Democrats had envisioned. The West Virginia Democrat also limited a provision to make the first $10,200 in benefits nontaxable apply only to households making less than $150,000.

"We have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits from being hit with unexpected tax bills next year," said Manchin in a statement.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday evening that Biden "supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the Senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome."

The nearly $2 trillion package includes up to $1,400 stimulus checks to many Americans, and billions of dollars for states and municipalities, schools, small businesses and vaccine distribution.

It also extends a <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/04/politics/stimulus-senate-democrats-proposal/index.html" target="_blank">15% increase in food stamp benefits </a>from June to September, helps low-income households cover rent, makes <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/09/politics/aca-subsidies-stimulus-house-democrats/index.html" target="_blank">federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies </a>more generous and gives $8.5 billion for struggling rural hospitals and health care providers.

The Senate passed the bill after a <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/04/politics/vote-a-rama-covid-19-relief/index.html" target="_blank">vote-a-rama</a>, a Senate tradition that the minority party uses to put members of the majority on the record on controversial issues in an effort to make changes to a bill that they oppose.

Senate Republicans introduced a number of amendments overnight that were narrowly defeated by the Democratic majority. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine pushed to replace Biden's bill with a $650 billion version. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wanted to tie school funding to reopening requirements. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina advocated for greater transparency for state nursing home investigations following <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/05/politics/andrew-cuomo-nursing-homes-report/index.html" target="_blank">the scandal in New York</a>. And Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah proposed cutting billions of dollars from the bill to states that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/01/business/covid-state-tax-revenue.html" target="_blank">had better-than-expected revenues </a>despite the pandemic, noting that California actually ran a big surplus last year.

But the vast majority of the GOP amendments failed, along with one by Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester to require Biden to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which the President blocked in January by executive order.

Only a few amendments were adopted, including Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden's compromise with Manchin on unemployment benefits, New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan's measure incentivizing schools to reopen in-person learning and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran's effort to strike a bipartisan deal protecting veterans' educational benefits for legitimate institutions.

The first, extraordinarily long amendment vote -- on a measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 a hour, introduced by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- was an early test of Democratic party unity.

Eight senators in the Democratic conference -- Manchin, Tester, Hassan, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Angus King of Maine, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Chris Coons and Tom Carper of Delaware -- opposed the minimum wage amendment, along with every Republican senator.

Democrats then rejected a Republican motion to adjourn late Friday, banking that Republicans will grow weary and won't offer as many amendments.

Early Saturday, the Senate adopted Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman's plan to extend weekly jobless benefits at $300 through July 18. Manchin also voted for the GOP proposal, but the Democrats' alternative plan, which was adopted early Saturday morning, will superseded the Portman amendment.

The Senate's effort to pass the $1.9 trillion legislation kicked into high gear Thursday when Democratic senators and Vice President Kamala Harris voted to open debate. Republicans then forced the 628-page bill to be read aloud.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, criticized Republican tactics to slow down the process and on Friday thanked the Senate floor staff for the nearly 11 hours of reading the bill, calling them "the unsung heroes of this place."

The Democratic-controlled House passed the legislation at the end of last month, along with an increase in the minimum wage to $15 a hour. But the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the wage hike could not be included in the Senate's version of the bill under reconciliation. That change and others, including the alterations to jobless benefits, will force the House to vote again on the legislation, which is expected to happen next week.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Saturday.

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California OKs reopening of ball parks, Disneyland

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has cleared a path for fans to hit the stands at opening-day baseball games and return to Disneyland nearly a year after coronavirus restrictions shuttered major entertainment spots.

The state on Friday relaxed guidelines for reopening outdoor venues as a fall and winter surge seemed to be ending, with COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths plummeting and vaccination rates rising.

New public health rules would allow live concerts at stadiums and sports arenas to reopen with limited attendance April 1. Amusement parks also will be permitted to reopen in counties that have fallen from the state's purple tier — the most restrictive — to the red tier.

In all cases, park capacities will be limited, and COVID-19 safety rules such as mask-wearing requirements will apply.

The move followed a week of milestones, with California ramping up vaccinations for the poorest neighborhoods, counties reopening more businesses and Gov. Gavin Newsom passing a measure aimed at encouraging schools that have restricted students to online learning to reopen classrooms this month.

“Steady opening is consistent with the data. As cases decline, we want to return to work and school,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, clinical professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California. “Outdoor activities in particular have always been low risk. Opening these sites makes sense.”

The reopening can't come too soon for Kenny King Jr., a resident of Pleasant Hill in the San Francisco Bay Area who became an annual Disneyland passholder a decade ago. He typically takes his family to the Southern California park five times a year, but the last visit was just over a year ago for his birthday.

King, 38, said he's excited to return with his 8-year-old daughter, who had just started enjoying rides such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, and to take his 2-year-old son, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds when he visited last year.

“That’s something that we just made our family thing — Disney trips,” King said. “We’ll sit there at the house sometimes and we’ll be like ‘man, I just miss Disneyland.' ”

Also applauding were the thousands of workers who were laid off by Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott's Berry Farm and other big locations. Ten thousand lost their jobs alone at Disneyland and its related attractions in Orange County, not to mention the knock-on effect to nearby restaurants and hotels.

Andrea Zinder, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents Disney workers, said employees are “excited to go back to work and provide Californians with a bit more magic in their lives.”

Most of the major theme parks are in Southern California, which is still in the purple category. However, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties were expecting to reopen within the next few weeks as their COVID-19 numbers fall.

Only 16 of 58 counties currently are in the red tier, and two small counties are in the orange tier. None are yet in the yellow tier, the lowest and least restrictive.

Theme parks in the red tier will be limited to 15% capacity.

Outdoor sports will be limited to 100 people in the purple tier but will increase up to 67% in the yellow tier.

The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics all announced they will have fans in the stands for opening day April 1. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants both start their seasons on the road and said they would announce their plans later.

Teams and event organizers can only sell tickets regionally in the purple tier. In the other tiers, teams and organizers can sell tickets to anyone living in California. No concessions will be allowed in the purple tier, while in others, concession sales will only be available at seats.

Richard Haick of San Pablo, California, already bought ticket vouchers for the Oakland A’s return and hopes to take his 10-year-old son to a game soon. His son plays Little League baseball and is very excited to attend games.

“It’s nice to have, even in a reduced capacity, some sense of normal,” said Haick, a 45-year-old photographer.

The quicker pace of reopening is tied to a new plan to vaccinate California’s most vulnerable residents. Once 2 million people across 400 ZIP codes in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods receive at least one vaccine dose, it will be easier for counties to exit the state’s most restrictive tier. Once 4 million people in those neighborhoods are vaccinated, counties will be able to open up even more.

It all puts California in a drastically different position than a year ago, when Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed the statewide stay-at-home order that restricted travel, shuttered businesses and forced millions of people onto unemployment. California still has among the most severe restrictions of any state and continues to discourage out-of-state visitors.

The state is pinning its hopes of a full reopening on inoculating enough of its 40 million residents to halt widespread COVID-19 infections.

More than 10 million doses had been given only three months since the first shot was given, the Department of Public Health said.

Just over 3 million people have been fully vaccinated, or about 10% of the population 16 and older.

There are hopeful signs. This week, the seven-day average rate of positive results from tests dropped this week to 2.2%, a record low.

Although pressure has been building to reopen the economy, health officials said the changes in guidelines were a cautious and measured rather than a wholesale approach.

“We will .... keep our foot on the brake, not the gas, our eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and navigate based on data and science,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency.

———

Associated Press writer Janie Har in San Francisco contributed to this story.

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FORECAST: Perfect weather alert

FORECAST: Perfect weather alert

We'll warm up thru the 30s, 40s and 50s this morning on our way to an afternoon high temperature near 65 under mostly sunny skies.

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KCPD are looking for missing endangered person last seen near 35th & Emanuel Cleaver Blvd.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – KCPD are looking for missing endangered person, Donald Gappa.

Gappa has grey hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing dark colored clothing near E. 35th st. and Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd.

Gappa has a medical condition that requires medication which he currently does not have.

If you see him or know any information on his location, contact KCMO Police Missing Persons Unit at 816-234-5136.

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LOCATED: KCMO Police looking for endangered missing person

UPDATE: Samantha has been located and is safe.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – KCMO Police are looking for endangered missing person, Samantha Bonen.

She was last seen on March 5th near the 3400 block of College Ave on foot wearing the clothing pictured.

Bonen is 28 years old, 5 ft, 120 lbs, blonde hair and blue eyes and has medical conditions that require medications.

If you see her or know any information on her location, contact KCMO Police Missing Persons Unit at 816-234-5136.

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KCMO Police looking for endangered missing person

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – KCMO Police are looking for endangered missing person, Samantha Bonen.

She was last seen on March 5th near the 3400 block of College Ave on foot wearing the clothing pictured.

Bonen is 28 years old, 5 ft, 120 lbs, blonde hair and blue eyes and has medical conditions that require medications.

If you see her or know any information on her location, contact KCMO Police Missing Persons Unit at 816-234-5136.

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Still sign up for vaccine appointment even if they're full

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- There will be a vaccine event at Swope Health Services On March 6. It will be from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Here is the link to register for an appointment.

The website says all appointments are filled, but you should still sign up for one. This will put you on a waiting list, in case the clinic gets more vaccines than it plans for.

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Spring break could be a perfect storm for spreading coronavirus variants. Don't let that happen

(CNN) -- Highly contagious variants will soon have a ridiculously easy chance to spread rapidly across the US.

Spring break starts for hundreds of universities this month. And typical spring break revelry could lead to countless more Americans getting infected as coronavirus variants threaten to outpace vaccinations.

"It's the perfect storm," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

"You've got the B.1.1.7 variant accelerating in Florida. You've got all these 20-year-old kids. None of them are going to have masks. They're all going to be drinking. They're having pretty close, intimate contact. And then, after that's all done, they're going to go back to their home states and spread the B.1.1.7 variant."

Some universities -- like <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/13/us/ohio-state-spring-break-2021/index.html" target="_blank">Ohio State</a> and <a href="https://www.suny.edu/suny-news/press-releases/11-20/11-8-20/spring-semester-guidance.html#:~:text=SUNY%20Implements%20Comprehensive%20COVID%2D19,1st%2C%20and%20No%20Spring%20Break&amp;text=The%20cancellation%20of%20spring%20break%20in%202021." target="_blank">State University of New York</a> -- have canceled spring break to try to minimize new infections.

And the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently had a blunt message for all Americans: "Don't travel," <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/18/health/us-coronavirus-thursday/index.html" target="_blank">Dr. Rochelle Walensky said</a>. "We really, really would advocate for not traveling right now."

So college students who have a week of freedom can help make or break the next chapter in this pandemic. Here's what to know before going to a party or traveling to a spring break hot spot:

The B.1.1.7 strain is really, really contagious

Scientists are worried about <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/28/health/variants-coronavirus-new-popping/index.html" target="_blank">several new variants circulating in the US</a>. But Hotez is most worried about the B.1.1.7 strain, which was first detected in the UK but has already spread to at least 44 US states.

Research shows that in the US, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-vaccine-updates-03-03-21/h_c1ecc41266ab71b95b1f8df368549c0c" target="_blank">the variant is 59% to 74% more transmissible</a> than the original novel coronavirus.

"Florida has the highest percentage of the B.1.1.7 UK variant," Hotez said. "Spring break in Florida could spell disaster for the country."

Other states with popular beaches could also become launching pads for new outbreaks -- especially <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/02/us/texas-governor-mask-mandate/index.html" target="_blank">Texas and Mississippi</a>, where governors lifted a mask mandate or will soon.

"A lot of (students) are going to go to South Texas as well, and that's also a concern," said Hotez, who lives in Houston.

Hotez said the ditching of a mask mandate in his state will have a ripple effect across the country.

"It's going to accelerate Covid-19 nationally," he said.

You can't count on a negative test result to be safe

Testing can lead to false-negative results, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/16/health/thanksgiving-family-covid-testing-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">especially if you get tested too soon or late</a> and don't strictly quarantine before and after your test.

And yes, you could be contagious even <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/16/health/thanksgiving-family-covid-testing-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">with no symptoms and a negative test result</a>.

Young people definitely aren't immune

While young people may be more likely to be asymptomatic when infected, that also means they can easily spread the virus to friends and family without realizing it.

But even young, previously healthy adults have suffered long-lasting Covid-19 complications.

In one survey, 35% of Covid-19 survivors still had symptoms two to three weeks after their tests, according to a CDC study.

In the <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/24/health/covid-19-symptoms-last-long-term-study-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">18-to-34 age group</a>, 26% said they still had symptoms weeks later.

Some young people have struggled with complications months after infection, such as <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/18/health/long-term-effects-young-people-covid-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, brain fog, long-term fever</a>, coughing, memory loss and the inability to taste or smell.

Alcohol plus parties often equal zero protection

Attempts to physically distance and wear masks typically go out the window at parties where alcohol is involved.

It's not just that drinking makes people take off their masks (if they're wearing one at all). Alcohol can cause people to get closer to one another than usual, Hotez said.

That's especially dangerous this spring break, when revelers at popular hot spots may not just be exposed to students from across the country -- they could also be exposed to variants or outbreaks from those parts of the country as well.

"So this is not the time to have a superspreader event for that UK variant, which is what spring break in Florida would look like," Hotez said.

"This is not the time to be sending a bunch of 20-year-olds to Florida, then sending them back, disseminating it across the country."

Pandemic fatigue is real -- but totally defeatable

Not celebrating spring break the way you want to this year may seem devastating. But there will be plenty more chances to party after everyone gets vaccinated.

"The best thing to do right now is to avoid big travel unless you've been vaccinated or unless you've been recently infected," Hotez said. "Just try to keep a lid on everything we can until we can fully vaccinate."

Unfortunately, the vast majority of college students haven't been vaccinated against Covid-19. But there's some great news on the horizon:

-- If enough people get vaccinated, this will likely be the last year of major Covid-19 disruptions.

-- The current vaccines "work really well" against the troubling B.1.1.7 variant, Hotez said.

-- President Joe Biden recently said an increase in supply means there could be <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/02/politics/biden-merck-johnson--johnson-vaccine/index.html" target="_blank">enough vaccine for all American adults by the end of May</a>.

-- The faster we vaccinate and get Covid-19 under control, the faster we can return to normal life.

"I know it's frustrating," Hotez said. "But try to maximize social distancing and masks, and this may be the last spring break that you have to give up."

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La Niña could supercharge this year's tornado season, just like it did to deadly effect in 2011

(CNN) -- A massive cold air outbreak over the central US in early February set hundreds of cold temperature records, stretching the power grid in Texas and <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/02/18/state-energy-winter-protections-lacking-reports-have-suggested/4490501001/" target="_blank">leaving millions without power</a>.

Sound familiar?

The year was 2011, when a moderate La Niña weather pattern and an active jet stream generated the scenario that's almost identical to <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/21/weather/texas-winter-storm-timeline/index.html" target="_blank">what we've experienced so far in 2021</a>.

The weather events that followed 2011's extreme cold snap now have meteorologists concerned that the US could be in for above-normal <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/02/weather/april-was-historic-month-for-tornadoes-in-us/index.html" target="_blank">tornado activity this spring</a>.

The past few months have seen the strongest La Niña signal since the winter of 2010-2011. So, the question is whether this spring continues to mirror that year, which ended up the costliest on record for tornadoes and the deadliest in nearly 100 years.

"Severe weather season is really a collection of several short weather events, and anticipating individual events at long lead times is usually tricky," Sam Lillo, atmospheric researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder, told CNN.

"What we can say instead is whether the probability of the ingredients coming together for these events is higher or lower than normal: This year, it is higher than normal."

The deadliest tornado season in modern history

The remarkable tornado season of 2011 was the deadliest in modern times, with over 550 fatalities -- second only to 1925's total of 794 tornado deaths.

Almost all the deaths in 2011 occurred during the extremely active months of April and May. That April alone <a href="https://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/online/monthly/2011_annual_summary.html" target="_blank">saw 875 confirmed tornadoes</a>, more than any month on record. The Super Outbreak on April 27 recorded 226 tornadoes, the most tornadoes ever observed on a single day, including destructive twisters in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Just a few weeks later, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2016/05/22/us/joplin-tornado-anniversary" target="_blank">Joplin, Missouri was hit</a> with a top-scale EF5 tornado that killed more than 160 people. It was the deadliest tornado in over 60 years, as well as the <a href="https://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/damage$.htm" target="_blank">costliest tornado on record</a>, with nearly $3 billion in direct damages.

"Looking back on 2011, it was the sheer magnitude of the number of events, the fact that so many hit populated areas and, of course, the incredibly high toll in terms of deaths, injuries and dollar damage," said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations for the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC).

While localized and small-scale weather features played roles in setting up both of these tragic days, the overall large-scale weather patterns that fed into the historic 2011 tornado season are worth looking at to determine the risk for similar days this year.

"Every year has some potential (of tornado outbreaks); it's just a matter of trying to accurately predict, with as much lead time as possible, where that area is likely to be and then making sure that people are prepared and have a plan," Bunting said.

Active forecast for this spring

To paint a picture of what the coming weeks' to months' weather may look like, forecasters look to <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/15/weather/2020-winter-forecast-noaa-outlook/index.html" target="_blank">La Niña</a> and other global climate and weather patterns, such as the <a href="https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-variability-arctic-oscillation" target="_blank">Arctic Oscillation</a> (which is different than the <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/weather/polar-vortex-shifts-arctic-air-south/index.html" target="_blank">polar vortex</a>), to craft what are called subseasonal forecasts.

Lillo runs one of these models that "focuses on the slow, predictable parts of the atmosphere" to create forecasts several weeks in advance. Prediction models like it are important for things like <a href="https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=3" target="_blank">seasonal forecasts of temperatures</a>, which are used in energy trading markets, and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/06/weather/noaa-2020-hurricane-forecast-revision/index.html" target="_blank">hurricane season forecasts</a> released each year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Lillo's model recently predicted -- with a month of lead time -- the Arctic outbreak that gripped the central US this February. Now, the focus shifts to what these long-term patterns could reveal as we head into the spring severe storm season.

"In general, the forecasts are showing ridging with above-normal temperatures in the South, cooler to the north, and that temperature gradient enhancing the jet stream across the center of the US," Lillo said. (The jet stream is <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/weather/polar-vortex-shifts-arctic-air-south/index.html" target="_blank">the main storm track across the middle latitudes</a> of the Northern Hemisphere and divides colder air to the north and warmer air to the south.)

During La Niña, stronger temperature differences tend to develop between hot and humid air in the southern US and cooler, drier air to the north. This sets up a faster jet stream that can drive severe weather outbreaks.

"The faster jet stream holds all the potential for stronger storm systems and severe weather," Lillo said.

In March, the southern US is historically the area where severe storms, including tornadoes, are more likely. Then, as the Northern Hemisphere begins to warm, the bull's-eye for tornadoes will shift west into the central US and eventually north into the northern Plains, come summer.

"The jet stream pattern is not unfavorable for severe weather as we get a little bit later into March and certainly beyond," Bunting said. "If that pattern holds, very strong wind fields down across the Gulf Coast in proximity to warm, moist air suggest that the Gulf Coast in the near-term may be an area to watch closely."

How La Niña relates to tornadoes

Similar to this year, a moderate La Niña was the main feature in 2011. La Niña, and its counterpart, El Niño, can play a significant role in the position of the jet stream, temperature and precipitation patterns over the US, which all play a role in the formation of severe weather.

The El Niño or La Niña conditions in winter months can be used to help pinpoint the tornado frequency during the peak of severe storm season in the spring, <a href="https://www.climate.gov/news-features/featured-images/el-ni%C3%B1o-and-la-ni%C3%B1a-affect-spring-tornadoes-and-hailstorms" target="_blank">recent studies</a> have found.

"The flow of warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico increases in strength during springs that follow La Niña, which produces the fuel needed to form storms," Jason Furtado, assistant professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, said.

"The stronger flow increases the low-level wind shear that also favors the formation of tornadoes and hailstorms."

The past several months have featured the strongest La Niña since 2011, and this pattern is expected to continue to impact weather over the <a href="https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.shtml" target="_blank">next several months</a>, through the heart of severe weather season, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The time to prepare is now

While severe storms occur year-round in the US, the peak time for severe storm outbreaks is during meteorological spring, which includes March, April and May.

So far this year, <a href="https://www.spc.noaa.gov/wcm/" target="_blank">there have only been 27 tornado reports</a>, which is well below normal. Over the last 15 years, the US has averaged around 130 tornado reports through the first few days of March.

But it's not just tornado reports that are down. Hail and damaging wind reports are also below average so far this year.

"There have been many seasons that have started out quiet and did just the opposite," Bunting said.

2011 also started below average for both tornado and hail reports through much of March, according to <a href="https://www.spc.noaa.gov/wcm/" target="_blank">data compiled by the SPC</a>, before rapidly accelerating through the remainder of the spring.

The upcoming forecast relies on where the jet stream will end up in the coming weeks.

Now is the time to review your severe weather plans. Know where to find your <a href="https://www.cnn.com/weather" target="_blank">daily local forecast</a>. Have multiple ways of getting severe storm and tornado watches and warnings: via <a href="https://www.weather.gov/wrn/wea" target="_blank">Wireless Emergency Alerts</a>, <a href="https://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a>, local news stations and more. And know where to shelter at home, work or school if a tornado strikes.

Advised Bunting: "This is the time of year where we need to start thinking a bit more about the potential for severe storms and developing that pre-event planning."

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