TIME Diet/Nutrition

Farmers Are Researching How to Grow Gluten-Free Wheat

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Farmers in Kansas are in the early stages of research

Kansas farmers are funding research to learn how to grow gluten-free wheat.

The Kansas Wheat Commission is putting $200,000 towards two years of research to understand all the parts of wheat’s DNA that cause problems for people with gluten sensitivities, the Associated Press reports. Researchers are focusing on various proteins in wheat—as well as exploring past varieties of wheat—that may have fallen out of favor in recent years, but may be tolerable for wider population.

Gluten is a substance in wheat that gives dough elasticity. For people with celiac disease, consuming gluten can result in intestinal problems. While a small percentage of people in the United States have celiac disease, the gluten-free diet has become widely adopted.

The research, still in the very early stages, began in July at the Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan, Kansas, the AP reports.

Read more at the Associated Press

TIME toxins

How Ice Cream Gets Contaminated—and Sometimes Kills

What could have caused 3 deaths in Kansas

Three people in Kansas have died after eating contaminated Blue Bell Creameries brand ice cream products. A total of five people were infected, and the ice cream has been recalled. But how does ice cream get tainted in the first place?

The bacteria that contaminated the ice cream is called Listeria monocytogenes, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,600 Americans get sick from Listeria every year. It’s the third leading cause of death from food poisoning. It’s the same bacteria that contaminated caramel apples from California in January, causing 35 people in 12 states to get sick, and killing seven.

The bacteria grows very well at refrigerator temperatures, even as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the longer ready-to-eat refrigerated foods are stored in the fridge, the more opportunity the bacteria has to grow.

“It’s why it’s a problem for cooler foods like ice cream and cheese,” says Bill Marler, a food safety lawyer in Washington state.

MORE: 3 Kansas Patients Die From Tainted Ice Cream

The FDA was able to confirm that three strains of the bacteria came from a single Blue Bell production line at one facility in Brenham, Texas, though the agency has not disclosed a precise point of contact. Blue Bell says one of its machines produced the problem.

“Likely what happened is the piece of machinery was contaminated. The liquid form of the ice cream goes through the machine when it’s not yet frozen, but around 40 degrees, and it’s a great place for [listeria] to grow,” says Marler.

It’s not the first time contaminated ice cream has sickened Americans. In December 2014, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, Inc. issued a voluntary recall of several of its ice cream, gelato, custard and sorbet products when they tested positive Listeria, and sickened two people. In 1994, 200,000 people became ill from eating Schwan’s ice cream that had been transported by a distribution truck that had previously transported non-pasteurized liquid eggs contaminated with Salmonella.

Other recent dairy outbreaks include a 2014 outbreak of Listeria in cheese and dairy products produced by Oasis Brands, Inc. Five people became ill and one died. A year earlier, six people were infected with Listeria in Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company cheese products—one person died.

TIME Infectious Disease

3 Kansas Patients Die From Tainted Ice Cream

A total of five people were infected

Three people in Kansas have died after eating contaminated Blue Bell Creameries brand ice cream products, health officials said.

A total of five people in the state were infected with life-threatening listeriosis, which is caused by exposure to the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Four of the ill individuals told health authorities they drank milkshakes made with a Blue Bell brand ice cream product called “Scoops” in the last month.

MORE: Here’s What Foods Are Most Likely To Have E. Coli or Salmonella

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says all of the individuals were being treated in the same hospital for unrelated conditions, suggesting they acquired the infections at the hospital.

The tainted products came from one Blue Bell production facility in Brenham, Texas, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement. The agency found three strains of the bacteria in Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Country Cookies, Great Divide Bars, Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, Cotton Candy Bars, Scoops, Vanilla Stick Slices, Almond Bars and No Sugar Added Moo Bars.

The CDC says Blue Bell has removed potentially contaminated products from the market, buy but that “contaminated ice cream products may still be in the freezers of consumers, institutions, and retailers.”

“One of our machines produced a limited amount of frozen snacks with a potential listeria problem,” Blue Bell said in a statement that noted it was the company’s first product recall in over a century. “When this was detected all products produced by this machine were withdrawn. Our Blue Bell team members recovered all involved products in stores and storage. This withdrawal in no way includes our half gallons, quarts, pints, cups, three gallon ice cream or the majority of take-home frozen snack novelties.”

TIME weather

Expect More Bad Weather in the Southern U.S. and Rockies on Monday

An Oklahoma Department of Transportation sand truck rest on it's top in the median of US 412 west of Enid, Okla. Sunday, after it was involved in an accident with another vehicle on Feb. 22, 2015
Billy Hefton—AP An Oklahoma Department of Transportation sand truck rest on it's top in the median of US 412 west of Enid, Okla. Sunday, after it was involved in an accident with another vehicle on Feb. 22, 2015

Motorists should prepare for hazardous travel conditions

The Rocky Mountains and Southern Plains are in for snowy and icy conditions Monday as a winter storm continues to move across the region.

Multiple accidents have already been attributed to the storm, with injuries being reported in Utah and Kansas, according to the Weather Channel. Motorists should continue to take utmost caution.

Those planning on catching a flight may want to double-check the status of their bookings. Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport canceled about half of the flights scheduled for Monday after already grounding around 160 flights on Sunday. Denver International canceled more than 330 flights over weekend, according to Denver’s Channel 7 News.

Meanwhile, schools in Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Mexico and Alabama have announced cancellations or delays of classes due to weather concerns.

Read next: 7 Reasons to Love This Freezing Weather

TIME Kansas

Kansas Gov. Rescinds Protections for LGBT State Workers

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speaks at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Jan. 2015.
Orlin Wagner—AP Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speaks at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Jan. 2015.

It reverses a 2007 order that barred employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback on Tuesday rescinded protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state workers.

The protections had been instituted by then-Govenor and former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat whose 2007 order established “protected class rights” that prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Brownback, a Republican, made the move by executive order, and he signed a second executive order reaffirming the state’s commitment to bar employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age.”

“This Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did,” Brownback said in a statement. “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.”

Democrats spoke out against the new order’s reversal on LGBT rights, while state Republicans had mixed reactions. Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, told the Kansas City Star that the move was “an outrage.”

“Gay, lesbian, and transgender state employees across Kansas have trusted they would be safe from discrimination and harassment in their workplace,” he said, “but Sam Brownback has, by erasing their job protections, declared ‘open season’ on every one of them.”

TIME Healthcare

Nonprofit Hospitals Seize Low-Income Patients’ Wages

An investigation reveals the ongoing struggles of people too poor to afford health insurance but no poor enough to qualify for Medicaid

Many hospitals in the U.S. receive tax breaks in exchange for the community service of providing care to those who cannot afford to pay. But hospitals in at least five states employ aggressive debt collectors to garnish the wages of low-income patients with unpaid debts, a ProPublica/NPR investigation revealed Friday.

Hospitals in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama and Missouri pass debts along to for-profit collection agencies. People affected tend to be those who earn too much to qualify for assistance in states that rejected the Medicaid expansion in President Barack Obama’s health care law, but not enough to purchase health care on their own. The cost of health care services for the uninsured tend to be significantly higher than for people with health insurance.

Read more at ProPublica

TIME Accident

Kansas Airport Plane Crash Kills 4

Wichita Airport-Crash
Brian Corn—AP Firefighters try to put out a fire at Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kan. on Oct. 30, 2014 shortly after a small plane crashed into the building killing several people including the pilot.

Approximately 100 people were in flight safety center when airplane plowed into it

A small airplane plowed into the top of a flight safety center at an airport in Kansas after losing engine power on takeoff Thursday, killing at least four people, injuring five and leaving four others missing, officials said.

The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air reported trouble after taking off from Mid-Content Airport in Wichita around 10 a.m. ET. It hit a two-story FlightSafety International building while trying to return to the runway, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The crash sent up thick plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles.

“There wasn’t a loud bang, there wasn’t a loud…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME celebrity

That Time Cam and Mitch from Modern Family Crashed a Frat Party

It went down at 2:30 a.m. at Eric Stonestreet's alma mater, Kansas State University

Last night on Conan, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Mitch on Modern Family, had a fun little anecdote to share. He and co-star Eric Stonestreet (who plays Mitch’s husband, Cam) took a trip to Kansas State University (Stonestreet’s alma mater) to host a panel discussion and answer questions about their work in the TV industry. After the event, the actors did some bar hopping and eventually, around 2:30 a.m., Stonestreet decided it would be a good idea for them to stop by his old fraternity house. You know, because most things seem like a good idea at 2:30 a.m.

The actors took photos with some of the college students they encountered (a few of whom were, uh, not properly clothed). See? This proves that even when they’re not on set, all kinds of shenanigans ensue when Mitch and Cam get together.

WATCH: Conan Weighs In On iPhone 6 ‘Bendgate’

WATCH: Conan Shows Us What the Minecraft Creator’s Really Doing with Newfound Billions

TIME States

Kansas Will Be Prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse

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Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty People dressed as zombies take part in the Zombie Walk event on Sept. 13, 2014, in the eastern French city of Strasbourg

Or any other disaster, for that matter

If the zombie apocalypse arrives, one U.S. state will be ahead of the game.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a “proclamation” naming October the state’s “Zombie Preparedness Month.”

The announcement, to be signed Sept. 26 in the governor’s ceremonial office in the Kansas statehouse, urges state residents to prepare an emergency plan and survival supplies that can last at least three days.

Of course, gathering up water, nonperishables and batteries to wait out a zombie siege sounds an awful lot like how a Kansas resident might prepare for a range of natural disasters — which, officials say, is exactly the point.

“We came up with the idea of Zombie Preparedness Month because it is an engaging way to get people on board with emergency preparedness,” the governor’s office says. “If you’re equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces.”

It added: “If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything.”

TIME 2014 Election

Surprise Twist in Kansas Scrambles Senate Fight

Greg Orman Kansas Senate
Mark Reinstein—Corbis Independent U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman poses with his wife Sybil at the Clint Bowyers Community Center in the west end of Emporia, Kans.,

A Democrat drops out of the Senate race, paving the way for an independent to take on vulnerable Republican incumbent Pat Roberts

Updated 4:20 p.m. E.T. on Sept. 4

The battle for the Senate could come down to Kansas, where a surprise contest in one of the country’s most conservative states has the potential to stymie the Republican bid to retake control of the chamber.

That unlikely outcome became a distinct possibility on Wednesday night, when Democratic candidate Chad Taylor withdrew from the race, paving the way for an independent challenger to take on GOP Sen. Pat Roberts. In a recent poll conducted before Taylor’s exit, Greg Orman, the independent, ran 10 points ahead of the embattled incumbent in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. The race also features a long-shot libertarian candidate, who could muddle the math even further.

Just a month ago, Kansas wasn’t on the radar for observers surveying the Senate map. Its voters haven’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since the Great Depression. Suddenly, a deep-red state in the Koch brothers’ backyard is shaping up as a potential political firewall for Democrats as they fight to stave off a GOP takeover.

So what’s the matter with Kansas?

Part of the problem is Roberts, 78, a three-term senator whose appeal to Kansans has worn thin. Normally a mainstream Republican, he has tacked to the right to head off a primary challenge, even voting against the farm bill in an agricultural stronghold. During a bruising campaign against Tea Partyer Milton Wolf, the New York Times reported that Roberts doesn’t maintain a home of his own in the state. He emerged from the primary battered, with a 27% approval rating that is six points lower than even Barack Obama’s in the state.

These weaknesses created an opportunity for Orman, a wealthy businessman running as a moderate reformer. Orman, who has never held elected office, has donated to both Democrats and Republicans. He advocates tax reform and reducing the regulatory burden on business owners. He talks about beefing up border security, but also supports immigration reform and a path to citizenship. He is a gun owner who wants to expand background checks to cover private sales. He supports abortion rights, but has spent much of his campaign extolling a brand of fiscal conservatism that plays well on the right.

His unexpectedly strong campaign has also benefited from broad disillusionment with the state’s political status quo. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback took office in 2011 and launched what he once dubbed a “real, live experiment” in Tea Party governance. He cut taxes, pruned the welfare rolls, slashed spending and forced the legislature into lockstep with his vision. But the state’s finances are a mess, the economy has sputtered and the moves have sparked a surprising backlash. (A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Brownback trailing his Democratic counterpart, state House Minority Leader Paul Davis, by a few points.)

The lurch to the right has frustrated some conservatives, but Roberts was still running ahead of Taylor and Orman in a multi-way contest. Taylor’s surprise exit—which some Republicans believe was orchestrated by Democrats—frees up space for Orman to campaign as a fiscally conservative centrist. The independent possesses some crossover appeal, with the potential to stitch together both left-leaning voters and center-right Republicans who are fed up with the Tea Party. Orman has collected endorsements from more than 70 former Republican lawmakers in the state.

As for Roberts, he has been slow to recover his position after emerging from the primary. “Roberts has not been actively campaigning for about a month now,” wrote the Rothenberg Political Report‘s Nathan Gonzales. “The lack of a strong campaign infrastructure is one of the fundamental reasons why Roberts is in severe danger. He can’t count on the the traditionally red hue of Kansas in federal races to bail him out.”

Roberts got an unexpected boost Thursday when Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced that Taylor’s name would stay on the ballot because his withdrawal letter lacked a mandatory declaration that he was incapable of serving if elected. “The law is the law,” said Kobach, a Republican. In a tight race, the decision could siphon decisive votes from Orman.

Plus, the state’s hue certainly helps the Republican. Kansas remains as crimson as they come: Obama lost there by 22 points. Roberts has a massive fundraising advantage—his $1.4 million on hand dwarfs Orman’s $362,000—and his party is swinging into action to save his seat, dispatching top national strategists from Washington to oversee the stretch drive. But the race has emerged as a major September surprise.

If the GOP’s bid to retake the Senate withers and dies on the prairie, it would be one of the cruelest ironies imaginable.

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