We've all heard of a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate a new building, but have you ever seen a crew of construction workers hoisting what looks like a Christmas tree to the highest beam of a completed structure? Well, I assure you: it's a thing! Commonly referred to as "topping out," this age-old ceremony has a fascinating history that spans the globe.

Kansas City Federal Reserve

As the Omaha World Herald reports, with corn prices at around $3.50 per bushel, grain farmers in Nebraska are increasingly exhausting their cash supplies and taking out loans.

Brad Bauer, a senior vice president at Pinnacle Bank, told the Herald that the demand for operating loans for farmers in Nebraska has increased because many producers have exhausted their cash reserves.

Michael Jones / The Texas Tribune

The open enrollment period to buy health insurance through the federal government ends Dec. 15. With the enrollment window cut in half and Trump administration limitations on the budget, more Texans could go uninsured.

From The Texas Tribune:

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A new motion picture is drawing nationwide attention to Amarillo, including an overview in the online news site Vice. The movie, Bomb City, was directed by Amarillo native Jameson Brooks.

The film explores the 1997 murder of Brian Deneke, a member of the Amarillo punk rock scene, by Dustin Camp, a so-called jock. Deneke’s death beneath the wheels of Camp’s car set off a firestorm in Amarillo that eventually made its way onto national news programs and into The New York Times.

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According to a new study, Oklahoma has shown some improvements in smoking rates and obesity rates.

But, as The Tulsa World reports, the state still ranks last in percentage of uninsured residents. The figures come courtesy of the annual America’s Health Rankings report by the United Health Foundation.

For the third straight year, Kansans can expect a higher than average danger for wildland fire. 

The retail economy in rural America has been rough for decades. But where thousands of stores have closed in recent years, Dollar General is thriving, sometimes at the expense of local shops. Dollar Generals are discount stores that sell goods from hand tools to hot dogs. They're reshaping the retail landscape in small towns. And making lots of friends — and enemies — in the process.

Members of a legislative task force charged with fixing problems in the Kansas foster care system resumed their discussion of possible solutions on Tuesday.

ADAM SHRIMPLIN / REUTERS

On Monday, New York Magazine published a 9-page article about last October’s thwarted plot to bomb that targeted members of Garden City's Somali community.

The article paints portraits of the three Southwest Kansas men, Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright, who are accused of planning to bomb a Somali mosque and apartment complex. It describes the men's affiliation with a militia group and the men’s motivation for planning the attack.

Filing Period Comes To Calm Close After Chaotic 30 Days

Dec 12, 2017
Bob Daemmerich / The Texas Tribune

A hectic candidate filing period came to a relatively calm close Monday evening, with few major surprises as the field was set for the 2018 primaries in Texas. Yet it's been tumultuous few weeks across the state's political landscape.

From The Texas Tribune:

A hectic candidate filing period came to a relatively calm close Monday evening, with few major surprises as the field was set for the 2018 primaries in Texas.

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NPR Headlines

VIDEO: For LSD, What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

56 minutes ago

Psychedelic drugs are getting a makeover, with scientists exploring their potential in treating debilitating conditions like cluster headaches, addiction or anxiety, with promising results.

That's despite the fact that very few researchers are legally allowed to study psychedelics, largely because of LSD's decades-old reputation as a counterculture drug that sparked bad trips.

Five years ago, on Dec. 16, 2012, Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapist intern living in New Delhi, was headed home after watching the movie Life of Pi with a male friend. They got on a bus. Six men were on board, including the driver.

In the moving bus, all six of the men assaulted the couple. Singh was gang-raped and her friend beaten severely.

Singh sustained severe damage to her abdomen and intestines. She was airlifted to a hospital in Singapore for treatment but died from her injuries nearly two weeks later.

PHOTOS: Animals That Could Disappear Because Of Us

56 minutes ago

Earth is facing an extinction crisis – and humans shoulder the blame.

Wildlife poaching and illegal trade. Climate change. Urbanization. Mining. These are some of the myriad things we do that endanger animals and, in the process, damage our own well-being.

Hello and welcome to another roundup of the top education stories. It's been a long week and a lot has happened. Here's our recap.

The FCC votes to repeal net neutrality regulations

The Republican majority on the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to repeal Obama-era rules that restrict the power of Internet service providers to favor specific websites and apps. This dramatic reversal in favor of providers has propelled the once-wonky issue of net neutrality into the mainstream, turning it into an increasingly political matter.

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