CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority, Senate report says

A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn’t constitute torture.

House passes Ryan budget with big cuts

House Republicans rallied behind a slashing budget blueprint on Thursday, passing a non-binding but politically imposing measure that promises a balanced federal ledger in 10 years with sweeping budget cuts and termination of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Extra taxing authority won’t offset cutbacks for Johnson County schools

The Kansas Legislature’s response to a court order on school funding at first seemed like a backdoor victory for Johnson County’s relatively wealthy schools. Districts in richer areas are promised new powers to raise their property taxes. Yet early analysis of the legislation awaiting Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature or veto — and not still fully understood in state education circles — suggests any funding boon may be fleeting.

Doctors can reap millions of dollars from Medicare

About 2 percent of clinicians accounted for one-fourth of the payments. In the Kansas City area, six physicians were paid more than $1 million by Medicare in 2012, according to newly released data. They were two eye specialists, two kidney specialists and two rheumatologists, specialists who treat arthritis and other painful conditions of joints or muscles.

Comic Bill Maher, who performs Sunday at the Midland, is known for making waves

Bill Maher, the comedian, satirist and host of the HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher,” is no stranger to controversy. The most recent came in the wake of comments he made about the movie “Noah,” when Maher said God is a “psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it.” Maher was nonplussed about the reaction and surprised his comments aroused much anger.

Democrats turn up the pressure for pay equity

President Barack Obama signed executive actions barring federal contractors from retaliating against workers for comparing salaries and requiring those employers to report compensation data to the government by gender and race. That came as Democratic lawmakers blasted congressional Republicans for opposing legislation to expand measures aimed at preventing gender-based pay discrimination.

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approve all five ballot questions

Kansas City will be able to replace about 28 miles of water mains each year for the next decade and make other crucial water facility improvements after voters agreed to authorize up to $500 million in additional water bonds. Question 1 was among five ballot questions that city voters considered in a low-turnout election. All five were approved by comfortable margins.

Hickman Mills elects school board members despite smear campaign

Voters went to the polls to settle money issues in several school districts and elect board members around the area, including in Hickman Mills, where a last-minute mailing turned things nasty. In Hickman Mills, the winners were incumbents Dan Osman and Bonnaye Mims and newcomer Karry Palmer.

Voters favor many ballot issues in Missouri

Lee’s Summit will get a new highway interchange, and Excelsior Springs was on its way to approving a community center. Peculiar will seek a recount after falling just short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a fuel tax.

'Cuban Twitter' _overtly political, poking Castros

Draft messages produced for a Twitter-like network that the U.S. government secretly built in Cuba were overtly political and poked fun at the Castro brothers, documents obtained by The Associated Press show. The messages conflict with claims by the Obama administration that the program had no U.S.-generated political content and was never intended to stir unrest on the island.

Bipartisan critics slam Kerry on foreign policy

Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back Tuesday against withering criticism by Republicans and some fellow Democrats, defending the Obama administration's response to an emboldened Russia, nuclear talks with Iran and the Syrian civil war.

Ex-President Carter: US 'dormant' on inequality

Former President Jimmy Carter on Tuesday night lamented continuing inequalities between black and white Americans during a 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act in Texas that will feature four of the five living U.S. presidents this week.

Obama signs actions taking aim at gender pay gap

In a concerted election-year push to draw attention to women's wages, President Barack Obama signed directives Tuesday to make it easier for workers of federal contractors to get information about workplace compensation. He seasoned his move with a sharp rebuke of Republicans whom he accused of "gumming up the works" on workplace fairness.

Unemployment benefits bill headed to House

Election-year legislation to resume long-term jobless benefits is headed to the House, where a small band of dissident Republicans is leaning on Speaker John Boehner to permit a vote on resuming aid to more than 2 million victims of the Great Recession.

Kansas lawmakers pass school finance bill merging funding equity with education reforms

Kansas lawmakers late Sunday narrowly passed a school finance bill that ties reforms championed by conservatives to fixing a spending gap between rich and poor schools. The House and Senate passed a bill that spends $126 million to bridge wealth-based disparities in the school funding formula, strips teachers of due process rights and promotes school choice. The bill now goes to the governor to sign.

With funds restored, Kansas City’s film office will roll again

Kansas City government quit funding a film office more than a decade ago, but the new budget provides money to reopen that office, in partnership with the Convention and Visitors Association. Film advocates say it’s a welcome and crucial move to give Kansas City a foot in the door for all sorts of film opportunities.