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August 10, 2016

Midget car racer Bryan Clauson dies aged 27

Midget car racer Bryan Clauson dies aged 27

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Clausen at the 2015 Indianapolis 500 parade.
Image: SarahStierch.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

US racing driver and Carmichael, California native Bryan Clauson died Sunday night from injuries sustained after a crash during Saturday’s Belleville Midget Nationals quarter midget race in Kansas. He was 27 years old.

On lap 14 of the race, Clauson took the lead when he collided with a lapped car in turn four and hit the track’s guardrail. The contact forced his car into a roll, landing on its side, where it was struck by Ryan Greth’s car. The race was suspended under a red flag as track workers removed Clauson from his vehicle, a process that took 30 minutes to complete. He was airlifted to Bryan Medical Center West in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he was reported to be in critical condition. On Monday, Clauson’s family released a statement to United States Auto Club (USAC) officials announcing Clauson had died from his injuries. USAC CEO Kevin Miller stated, “This is truly one of the darkest days in the 60-year history of the United States Auto Club. Not only have we lost one of our greatest USAC champions, we’ve lost a true ambassador for all of motorsports.”

The race was the 116th of the year for Clauson as part of a campaign known as the Circular Insanity Tour, in which he attempted to run 200 races in 2016. Entering the Belleville Nationals, he had won 27 feature races. He was a three-time USAC National Midget and two-time USAC National Sprint Car champion with over 170 wins in USAC-sanctioned events, including a Chili Bowl Nationals win in 2014. He competed in stock car racing, driving in NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series, winning a race in the latter. He ran 26 Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) races in 2007 and 2008 for Chip Ganassi Racing, recording a best finish of fifth at Kentucky Speedway in 2008. In 2008, he attempted three Sprint Cup Series races for Ganassi, but failed to qualify for all three. Clauson also ran three Indianapolis 500 events, one of which included the 100th running in 2016, where he finished 23rd.

In the previous night’s race, Clauson crashed into Morgan Frewaldt’s car in a similar location to his accident on Saturday. Clauson’s team reported he was sore after the impact, but he tweeted his thanks to his safety equipment and chassis manufacturer for keeping him safe.

He is survived by his parents, Tim and Diana, his sister, Taylor and his fiancé, Lauren Stewart.



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May 13, 2014

Jeff Gordon wins in eleventh NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2014

Jeff Gordon wins in eleventh NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2014

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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  • 29 July 2014: Jeff Gordon wins the 2014 Brickyard 400
  • 13 May 2014: Jeff Gordon wins in eleventh NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2014
  • 30 October 2013: Jeff Gordon wins the 2013 Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500
  • 22 October 2012: Matt Kenseth wins third NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2012
  • 1 May 2011: NASCAR driver Kyle Busch wins 2011 spring race in Richmond, Virginia

Jeff Gordon in 2012
Image: NCDOTcommunications.

On Saturday, Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon won the 2014 5-hour Energy 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. Starting the race in thirteenth, Gordon claimed his 89th career win, first of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, and third at the track. The race was the first Sprint Cup Series night race held at the track.

Area thunderstorms and tornado warnings delayed the planned 7:37 p.m. EST race start by 35 minutes. About halfway through the race, a second incident occurred, when some of the lights on the track’s backstretch blacked out. Two major wrecks occurred during the race: with 116 laps remaining, Jamie McMurray‘s car had a tire go down, and hit the turn 3 wall, with both the front and back of the car catching fire; McMurray was rescued by pit crew members. With about 80 laps remaining, A. J. Allmendinger, who was attempting to pass Paul Menard, spun out and hit Justin Allgaier, who spun into David Gilliland, the latter sent airborne.

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick dominated for the majority of the race, and had placed almost a third of the 43-car field behind a lap when he performed a pit stop on lap 42; Harvick would lead on 119 laps, the most of any driver in the race. However, he was relegated to the middle of the field after the lap 42 pit stop. By lap 236, cars began making green-flag pit stops, which led to Brad Keselowski taking the lead, but was forced to make his stop with nine laps remaining. As a result, Gordon took the lead, and defeated Harvick by .112 seconds. Gordon’s teammate Kasey Kahne was third, then Joey Logano, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. Carl Edwards, Danica Patrick, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top ten.

After the race, Gordon led the points standings with 394 points, followed by Kenseth with 379. Kyle Busch with 373, Earnhardt with 368, Edwards with 367, Logano with 346, Johnson with 340, Ryan Newman with 332, Greg Biffle with 328, and Brian Vickers with 327 closed out the top ten.

Official Top-10 Race Results for the 2014 5-hour Energy 400
Position Car Number Team Driver
1 24 Hendrick Motorsports Jeff Gordon
2 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Kevin Harvick
3 5 Hendrick Motorsports Kasey Kahne
4 22 Team Penske Joey Logano
5 88 Hendrick Motorsports Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
6 99 Roush Fenway Racing Carl Edwards
7 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Danica Patrick
8 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Aric Almirola
9 48 Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson
10 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Matt Kenseth



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April 8, 2014

Western Australian school performance undisrupted by WBC

Western Australian school performance undisrupted by WBC

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) failed to follow through last week on its threats to picket a Western Australian high school’s performance of The Laramie Project.

Margaret River Senior High School was able to perform the play based on the 1998 beating and death of gay student Matthew Shepard to a sold-out audience undisrupted on last Tuesday night, April 1. The closest WBC came to picketing the school was a tweeted screenshot of a published photograph of the performance which featured a performing student carrying a sign which read “God hates fags” — the anti-gay catchphrase of the Kansas based extremist group. The school’s principle, Andrew Host, who was sceptical of the WBC’s threats to picket the school, confirmed to Wikinews the photograph was indeed a student and added “The WBC did not attend the school at anytime during the play production.”

On Thursday, the Church renewed its threats to picket the school, saying again via it’s twitter account “Is tomorrow when Westboro Baptist will picket Margaret River Senior High School? I think so!” For a second time, WBC failed to appear.

Westboro Baptist Church did not respond to Wikinews requests for comment.

The previous Wednesday, March 26, WBC announced its plans to picket the performance via Twitter, saying “WBC to preach God H8s Fags @ the Margaret River Senior High School — the land of the damned down under.” This was followed on Thursday March 27 by another tweet stating the protest would take place on April 2.



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  • “Australian school in Westboro’s sights” — Wikinews, March 29, 2014

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March 29, 2014

Australian school in Westboro\’s sights

Australian school in Westboro’s sights – Wikinews, the free news source

Australian school in Westboro’s sights

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

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Members of the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrate at the Virginia Holocaust Museum on March 2, 2010
Image: JCWilmore.

Margaret River Senior High School, in Western Australia, has become the latest target for the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). The Kansas-based extremist group announced their plans to picket the school’s upcoming play via its Twitter account on Wednesday.

The school captured the attention of WBC when the group discovered students will be performing The Laramie Project — a play about Matthew Shepard, a young gay man killed in a homophobic attack in 1998.

On Wednesday, WBC — well-known for their anti-gay stance — tweeted “WBC to preach God H8s Fags @ the Margaret River Senior High School — the land of the damned down under”. Another appeared on Thursday reading: “Westboro pickets Margaret River HS on 4/2/2014 [April 2, 2014]”.

According to the school’s arts teacher Mem McCormack, the students are excited to have attracted a response from WBC, saying, “They have had an emotional response but they feel quite empowered by it — they feel they are doing something right.”

Principal Andrew Host remained sceptical of WBC’s plan to picket the school, telling Fairfax radio, “I believe it’s highly unlikely that people would travel from the United States to disrupt a play in Margaret River, therefore I don’t think the threat is credible.”

Graeme Watson, editor of Out in Perth, a gay and lesbian magazine, also believes the group will be unsuccessful, saying that WBC’s protest “are as unwelcome here as they are anywhere else”.

WBC has previously traded their announced plan to picket an event — a memorial service for victims of the shooting that injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — for radio talk show airtime.

The Laramie Project is a set text in the school’s drama program chosen because it presents a challenge to the students, according to Mr Host.



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  • “Kansas anti-gay church leader Fred Phelps dies at 84” — Wikinews, March 20, 2014

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March 20, 2014

Kansas anti-gay church leader Fred Phelps dies at 84

Kansas anti-gay church leader Fred Phelps dies at 84

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fred Phelps preaching from his pulpit in 2002.
Image: Westboro Baptist Church.

Fred Phelps, the founder of the vehemently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, died yesterday aged 84. The church he founded in 1955 became infamous for leading pickets at the funerals of US soldiers, as well as the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man killed in a homophobic attack in 1998.

At funeral pickets and other protests, Phelps and other members of his church held brightly coloured signs with messages including ‘God Hates Fags’, ‘Thank God for 9/11‘ and ‘Thank God for Dead Soldiers’. The picketing of military funerals stems from the postion that God is punishing the United States for its acceptance of homosexuality. Military funerals have not been the only sites of Westboro’s protests: the funeral of film critic Roger Ebert and concerts by pop acts Lady Gaga and One Direction — who the church described as “crotch-grabbing little perverts” — have also been targets of Westboro’s protests. The Church has sued a great number of local authorities in the United States who attempted to block their demonstrations and the settlements from their First Amendment cases helped fund their activities. In 2011, the Church won a case at the US Supreme Court which upheld their right to demonstrate at funerals.

Other countries were not so keen: Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper were banned from entering the United Kingdom in order to take part in a planned protest against The Laramie Project, a play about the death of Matthew Shephard. The UK Border Agency stated the Phelpses were not welcome because of their actions “inciting hatred against a number of communities”. The Church has seen a number of widely-reported defections including Megan Phelps-Roper, who used to run Westboro’s social media operation before publicly leaving the congregation and publishing an apology on the Internet.

At Oberlin College in Ohio in 2000, Westboro Baptist Church’s protests caused gay students to respond with a “kiss-in”.
Image: Paul M. Walsh.

Before Phelps’s death, he was excommunicated from the Church — whose members are primarily drawn from his family. Nathan Phelps, Fred Phelps’s son, posted on Facebook last week announcing his father’s hospitalisation and illness: “I’ve learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the ‘God Hates Fags’ Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the ‘church’ back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.”

Nathan Phelps continued: “I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.”



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December 3, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs athelete commits murder-suicide

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Belcher while with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010
Image: Jeffrey Beall.

Jovan Belcher, an American football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, on Saturday shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and then later shot himself.

According to Police Captain David Lindaman, Perkins and Belcher got into an argument at their house and Belcher shot Perkins around 7:50 A.M. CT. After shooting Perkins, Belcher headed to the Chiefs training facility where he talked to Chiefs General Manger Scott Pioli and Head Coach Romeo Crennel. Belcher thanked them for their support and then proceeded to shoot himself.

Owner of the Kansas City Chiefs Clark Hunt released a statement regarding Belcher. He said “The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today’s events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy. We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted. We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization.”

Belcher, from the University of Maine, went undrafted in 2009, but was signed as a free agent after the draft.



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Kansas City Chiefs athlete commits murder-suicide

Kansas City Chiefs athlete commits murder-suicide

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Belcher while with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010
Image: Jeffrey Beall.

Jovan Belcher, an American football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, on Saturday shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and then later shot himself.

According to Police Captain David Lindaman, Perkins and Belcher got into an argument at their house and Belcher shot Perkins around 7:50 A.M. CT. After shooting Perkins, Belcher headed to the Chiefs training facility where he talked to Chiefs General Manger Scott Pioli and Head Coach Romeo Crennel. Belcher thanked them for their support and then proceeded to shoot himself.

Owner of the Kansas City Chiefs Clark Hunt released a statement regarding Belcher. He said “The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today’s events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy. We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted. We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization.”

Belcher, from the University of Maine, went undrafted in 2009, but was signed as a free agent after the draft.



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December 2, 2012

Kansas City Chief murder-suicide

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

McKinley while with the Kansas City Chief in 2010
Image: Jeffrey Beall.

Jovan Belcher, an American football player for the Kansas City Chief, shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and then later shot himself. According to Police Captain David Lindaman, Perkins and Belcher got into an argument at their house around 7:50 A.M. CT when Belcher shot Perkins. After shooting Perkins, Belcher headed to the Chiefs training facility where Belcher talked to Chiefs General Manger Scott Pioli and Head Coach Romeo Crennel. Belcher thanked them for everything they have done for him and then proceeded to shot himself.

Chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs Clark Hunt released a statement regarding Belcher via that Chief’s official website. He said “The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today’s events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy. We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted. We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization.”

Belcher from the University of Maine, went undrafted in 2009, but was signed as a free agent after the draft.



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October 22, 2012

Matt Kenseth wins third NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2012

Matt Kenseth wins third NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2012

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Monday, October 22, 2012

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Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth won his third race of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the second of the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup following the Hollywood Casino 400 in Kansas City, Kansas yesterday. The race was the first on reconfigured Kansas Speedway and had a season-high 14 cautions.

Matt Kenseth in 2009.
Image: Rick R. Duncan.

Kenseth, who started in the twelfth position, led 78 laps of the 267-lap race. Michael Waltrip Racing driver Martin Truex, Jr. finished second, while Paul Menard finished third, ahead of Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart. Clint Bowyer, Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski, and Jimmie Johnson followed in the next four positions. Jeff Gordon managed a tenth place finish. Other drivers participating in the Chase for the Sprint Cup finished farther back, such as Denny Hamlin who finished thirteenth.

Johnson, who was second behind Keselowski in the Drivers’ Championship before the event, collided into the wall halfway through the race after leading 44 laps before the caution was given for Aric Almirola‘s crash on lap 123. Johnson’s crew managed to keep Johnson on the same lap as the leaders, allowing him to gain positions. Stewart and Greg Biffle were among other drivers who had difficulties during the race, as both had violations on pit road.

After the race, Johnson stated, “I’m definitely proud of this team and the fact that we never give up, we continue to fight and we try to get every point that we can. I’m very proud but also disappointed. I crashed the car. Spun out, trying to get inside the 56. He bobbled a little in front of me, and I thought that was an opportunity to jump on the gas real hard. When I did that, my car took off and I couldn’t catch it.”

Following the race, Keselowski remains the Drivers’ Championship leader with 2,250 points. Seven points behind, Johnson is second with 2,243. In third, Hamlin is twenty points behind, but five ahead of Bowyer. Kahne and Truex, Jr. are fifth and sixth respectively with 2,220 and 2,207 points. Stewart, Gordon, Kenseth, and Harvick round out the top-ten positions for the Drivers’ Championship with four races remaining in the season.



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August 2, 2012

Drought conditions across much of US impacting fracking activity

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Drought conditions, which have affected large sections of the United States, are now impacting oil production-related activities such as fracking. News sources recently noted that petroleum energy operations throughout parts of West Texas, North Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania have been impacted. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, has grown to be a widely-used technique in the petroleum industry.

Cquote1.svg Fracking has opened up a whole new world.” Cquote2.svg

—A Texas resident

File graphic explaining the process of fracking.

Fracking requires the injecting of water and other substances into the ground, at very high pressure, to split shale and other sedimentary sources. Due to the drought, water supplies are rapidly diminishing in certain parts of the country. To access the valuable stores below the surface, each well requires anywhere from 2 million up to 12 million gallons of water. Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas, told media sources that in Kansas, most of the water used in fracking is provided by farmers. Faulkner explained that in times past, he could purchase water from farmers for US$0.35 per barrel, but in recent days, farmers there are declining offers of US$0.75. Faulkner also told reporters that roughly 11% of the wells his firm planned to frack in coming days have been delayed. He also predicted that if drought conditions remain, the number of delays will increase.

Many people have criticized fracking, citing harmful outcomes for communities and the environment, including earthquakes. One Texas man told Wikinews, “Fracking has opened up a whole new world…in oil production.”

There has even been an independent film entitled Gasland which attempted to address the issue.



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