Barren County Just Made Major Progress

For 50 years, the Kirwan Blanding complex — its towering twin towers looming over the south side of campus — were among the University of Kentucky’s most iconic images. But those icons can no longer provide the housing spaces that students desire, so they are being demolished. [Linda Blackford]

Narrow wins in special elections don’t typically qualify as major political events, but Tuesday night’s Senate race in Alabama, in which Democrat Doug Jones is the apparent winner, may be the exception. [HuffPo]

Oh, please, she was hand-picked. It was an open secret for months. Her lying ass needs to be dragged out of council like the rest of these good old boy shysters that have taken over. Metro Council candidate Nicole George dismissed claims that she was groomed by Louisville Democrats to replace former Councilman Dan Johnson, who was removed last month due to sexual misconduct. [C-J/AKN]

While Jared Kushner is working on a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Kushner Companies Charitable Foundation is funding a controversial West Bank settlement. [ProPublica]

The Harlan City Council discussed the new rates for the city’s contribution to state retirement funds during a meeting on Monday. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

A year ago, no one would have envisioned President Emmanuel Macron of France as the public face of Western diplomacy in the Middle East. But that is not the case anymore. [NY Times]

Barren County Fiscal Court narrowly approved Tuesday a needle exchange program for the county, moving the proposal closer to becoming reality. [BGDN]

The U.S. military is preparing to accept transgender recruits for the first time beginning in January, the Pentagon said Wednesday, the latest signal that Donald Trump’s desired ban may not materialize after all. [WaPo]

The Louisville Metro Police Department is investigating state Rep. Dan Johnson for alleged sexual abuse in his church. [WFPL]

An inmate at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is still being tortured, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer said in a statement on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Living in hiding downtown for four years, Byron “Roc” Peeler was thrust into the spotlight on Friday after challenging Mayor Greg Fischer to spend a night in his homeless camp. In a prior Courier Journal story, he took the mayor to task, saying that city leaders cannot call Louisville a “compassionate city” while pushing homeless people out. [More C-J/AKN]

The Morehead State University Board of Regents voted Thursday to sell Sunny Brook Golf Course and two other properties owned by the university. [The Morehead News]

Donald Trump called a sitting U.S. Senator a whore and no one batted an eyelash. Because it wasn’t the craziest thing to occur that morning. This is the new normal. [BBC]

The Kentucky Personnel Cabinet has requested an investigation of whether a male officer sexually harassed female employees at the prison in Elliott County. [H-L]

The number of journalists imprisoned around the globe hit a record high in 2017, with at least 262 reporters currently behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. They’re guilty of doing their jobs. [HuffPo]

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Don’t Forget Your Elders, Appalachian Millennials & Outsiders

Suicide is never the answer. But it’s disgusting for people like Jeff Hoover and Matt Bevin to praise this monster in his cowardly death. [H-L]

An already dire situation for North Atlantic right whales became even worse in 2017. This species of whale is among the most endangered animals in the world, and if significant actions to recover their populations aren’t taken soon, they could face extinction, researchers at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration said this week. [HuffPo]

Authorities say a Kentucky constable has been charged with helping a jail inmate escape from custody. [H-L]

Mmmm hmm. Investor Charles Price hosted a lucrative fundraiser for Gov. Matt Bevin a few months after the governor announced that Braidy Industries, a company at which Price is a director, would receive an unusual $15 million state investment. [C-J/AKN]

It took 16 years and more than 1,000 deaths for the Consumer Products Safety Commission to crack down on deadly portable generators. Trump’s appointees could undo that in a matter of months. [ProPublica]

Maybe it isn’t working out because no one in the area can afford to shop there? That’s apparently lost on these wealthy white folks running the show. [WFPL]

E.P.A. enforcement officials nationwide rely on provisions of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts that give them the power to order polluters to test their emissions to see if they are violating the law. Mr. Pruitt, after a request from the oil industry, has put new limits on that power. [NY Times]

On average, a new synthetic drug is identified in the U.S. every seven to 10 days. [Richmond Register]

The Environmental Protection Agency released a list of Superfund sites around the country Friday that it said regulators will target “for immediate and intense attention.” [WaPo]

Four law enforcement agencies are investigating allegations of malfeasance by County Jailer Joe Burchett at the Boyd County Detention Center, a prosecutor said Tuesday. [Ashland Independent]

Contrary to the narrative you’ll hear from DC/NYC outsiders, this is not a new movement. There have always been women fighting to improve lives in Appalachia. Until recently, there was almost always progress on that front. My mother was running prenatal clinics in Morgan and Rowan Counties 30+ years ago, working with a network of individuals focusing on radical progress. They had successes. They built what these younger folks are standing upon today. Do not forget them. [CNN]

The process is well underway now to have a family court judge in place for the 43rd Judicial Circuit relatively soon after the resignation of Mitchell Nance takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

A U.S. judge questioned on Tuesday whether the federal government properly formulated new rules that undermine an Obamacare requirement for employers to provide insurance that covers women’s birth control. [Reuters]

Bourbon County officials are considering a plan to expand Bluegrass Station at Avon by 2,500 acres to build an 8,000- to 10,000-foot runway and two two-bay hangars to accommodate C-130 military cargo planes that need to be outfitted for special operations missions, according to a report in the Bourbon County Citizen. [H-L]

Southern bigotry is real, Bernie Bros and the worthless executive director of the KDP. The sooner you own it, the sooner you eradicate it. It’s time to shut the hell up with the “stop highlighting our racism” schtick. It’s real and you have to deal with it. [HuffPo]

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We’re Coming For You, Johnson, Comer, Hoover, Et Al. The Kentucky Democratic Party Doesn’t Have The Guts But Everyday Kentuckians Will Oust You.

Two years after taking office, Gov. Matt Bevin continues to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his 2015 gubernatorial campaign, often from people he has appointed to state jobs, lobbyists, and contractors doing business with the state. [John Cheves]

This time, Donald Trump’s playbook didn’t work. Republican Roy Moore faced serious accusations of sexual misconduct in his bid to become Alabama’s next senator. But instead of bowing down and backing out, he stayed in the race and went on the attack ― just like Trump did in last year’s presidential race. He accused the media and the establishment of orchestrating a conspiracy against him, and cast the race as pitting good against evil, Christians versus everyone else. [HuffPo]

Another Frankfort legislator is being asked to step down amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Dan Johnson, a preacher and Republican representative from Bullit County, was accused of sexually abusing a girl who was a member of his church, Heart of Fire, in Fern Creek. Johnson was criticized last year for posting, and later removing, racist images to his Facebook page including images of the President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as monkeys. [C-J/AKN]

Violent protests against Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke out on Sunday near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, according to multiple reports. [The Hill]

The University of Louisville has awarded the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology to Robert Sternberg, a psychology professor at Cornell. Sternberg is being recognized for his work on what he calls the “triarchic theory of intelligence.” [WFPL]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could launch a public debate about climate change as soon as January, Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Thursday, as the agency unwinds Obama-era initiatives to fight global warming. [Reuters]

This is what the Republican Party of Kentucky gets for trying to cover this nightmare up. Tres Watson and others knew about the details in this mess (they did, we talked about them a looooong time ago – just like every other scandal – that’s why they kept me close until they turned homophobic) and just twiddled their thumbs. A Republican Kentucky lawmaker known for his inflammatory social media posts comparing President Barack Obama and his wife to monkeys has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who attended his church. Both Republican and Democratic leaders on Monday called for Dan Johnson to resign. [Richmond Register]

Here’s a national look at Matt Bevin making Kentucky look bad. His excuse for blocking people on social media doesn’t hold water. [ProPublica]

Those seeking office in next year’s May 22 primary election must wait until April 7 before displaying their political campaign signs in Rowan County. [The Morehead News]

F.B.I. officials warned one of Donald Trump’s top advisers, Hope Hicks, earlier this year about repeated attempts by Russian operatives to make contact with her during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the events. [NY Times]

Pay attention to this and keep it on your radar if you’re familiar with any of my work over the past decade. Auditors found no fault with the financial records of the Cave City Convention Center when conducting an audit of the facility’s 2016-17 financial records. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises Donald Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive brand of economic populism as it moved through Washington. [WaPo]

A former Bath County attorney who served 21 months in federal prison on perjury and vote-buying charges has turned himself into Montgomery County authorities on drug and other charges. [H-L]

Another woman who has accused Donald Trump of groping her is demanding a congressional investigation into the numerous sexual misconduct allegations against him. Melinda McGillivray appeared on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” on Tuesday, breaking down in tears as she described her alleged interactions with Trump. She has accused Trump of grabbing her buttocks at Mar-a-Lago in 2003. [HuffPo]

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Thanks To Republican-Created Nightmare, Eastern Kentucky Educators Are Planning For Impact

Midway, a town of about 1,500, is now home to a public electric vehicle charging station. [H-L]

Your tax dollars are being used to attack a private business for having a political opinion. Let that sink in. [HuffPo]

Some lawmakers now express unease about the way the deal came together, secrecy surrounding Braidy Industries’ ownership and the unprecedented size of the state’s investment. State Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, said she would’ve changed her vote had she known how the funds would be used. “Kentucky should not be investing in companies – period – as a shareholder,” said state Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville. [C-J/AKN]

The 14 nations, aside from the United States, on the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council condemned Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week. [The Hill]

The Richmond Police Department purchased new SUV cruisers that entered service this week. [Richmond Register]

Donald Trump flew to Mississippi on Saturday to attend the opening of a civil rights museum, but his visit was marred by the absence of top African-American leaders who stayed away in protest of his policies and record on race relations. [Reuters]

A report saying Kentucky is undermining public education through underfunding is right on the money, local school officials say. [Ashland Independent]

About 700 to 900 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. And for every death, dozens of women suffer life-threatening complications. But there is a stark racial disparity in these numbers. Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die than white mothers. Nevertheless, black women’s voices are often missing from public discussions about what’s behind the maternal health crisis and how to address the problems. [ProPublica]

A second building for the Maysville Community and Technical College-Rowan Campus will soon be under construction. [The Morehead News]

Around 5:30 each morning, Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day. [NY Times]

Federal-Mogul Motorparts and Lynx Labeling Inc. each received preliminary approval Thursday from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for Kentucky Business Investment Program tax incentives. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row. [WaPo]

Bourbon County officials are considering a plan to expand Bluegrass Station at Avon by 2,500 acres to build an 8,000- to 10,000-foot runway and two two-bay hangars to accommodate C-130 military cargo planes that need to be outfitted for special operations missions, according to a report in the Bourbon County Citizen. [H-L]

Trump inauguration demonstrators are facing severe felony charges that critics say threaten to chill future protests in Washington, D.C. [HuffPo]

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New Republicans: Still Choking Kentucky

***Care about the future of Kentucky? Help us cover FOIA and open records request fees relating to Matt Bevin and Jamie Comer.*** [CLICK HERE]

Really, Tom Eblen? Asking what state officials are going to do about pedestrian deaths in Lexington? Absolutely nothing. You already know that. Because nothing’s ever been done in Louisville. [Tom Eblen]

It was billed as radical tax reform ― reducing taxes for the middle class and closing loopholes for the rich ― but the Republicans have come under serious fire for offering the biggest breaks to companies and the wealthy. [HuffPo]

General Electric Co. will cut 12,000 jobs in its power division as alternative energy supplants demand for coal and other fossil fuels. [C-J/AKN]

A zealous band of Russian trolls flooded Twitter with hundreds of thousands of divisive posts in 2016 — accusing Democrats of satanic practices and supporting rape — in an attempt to influence the presidential election, according to a new analysis of a Twitter database by NBC News. The effort tricked thousands of users into spreading graphic racial epithets across social media, interweaving provocative content with disinformation and falsehoods. [NBC News]

As talks for pension reform continues, many state employees, especially teachers, have been looking closer at retirement. [Richmond Register]

State lawmakers often blur the line between the public’s business and their own. A recent change in Iowa’s tax code spared Mark Chelgren’s machine shop, welding company and wheelchair-parts plant from paying sales tax when buying certain supplies such as saws and cutting fluid. [Public Integrity]

It’s been three years since Sabrina Sigman last saw her son. Paul Clifton Sigman disappeared sometime in the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2014. [Ashland Independent]

Here’s a grim picture of the state of the American economy: The CEO of Dollar General explained to the Wall Street Journal why things are looking up for his company. [Vox]

An updated analysis of Kentucky’s poorly funded public pension systems by PEW Charitable Trust indicates previous reforms of the system enacted in 2013 put the systems “on track to full funding provided the state continues to stay on the course charted in 2013.” [Ronnie Ellis]

The mission that resulted in the death of eight soldiers — including four Americans — in a firefight with Islamist militants in Niger earlier this year was the result of reckless behavior by US Special Forces in Africa, according to insiders and officials with knowledge of the operation. [BuzzFeed]

Dennis Chaney, district director for the Barren River District Health Department, is on Monday’s agenda for the Glasgow City Council meeting to discuss information about syringe exchanges. [Glasgow Daily Times]

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled a trove of documents on Friday showing what he said was “irrefutable evidence” that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort violated a court gag order by ghost-writing an opinion piece designed to improve his public image. [Reuters]

The DCCC pushed Jim Gray to run for Congress for a couple reasons. It fears and wants to overlook the black man already in the race. And the woman in the race is backed by the absolute worst people in Kentucky politics. And no, Gray has no shot. [H-L]

His actions speak louder than his words. You know he’s racist and his words are empty. [HuffPo]

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Can Republicans Do Anything Right?

Former disability lawyer Eric C. Conn pleaded not guilty to escape charges Wednesday, a day after the FBI flew him back to Kentucky from Honduras, where he was captured Saturday after six months as a fugitive. [H-L]

Facing swift and stiff backlash from lawmakers and activists, the Department of Veterans Affairs has reportedly backtracked on a decision to slash funding for a successful program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans. [HuffPo]

The city of Louisville has paid more than $566,000 to nine law firms to fight Kerry Porter’s claim for compensation for the 14 years spent behind bars for a murder he did not commit. Porter was exonerated in 2011 by former Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel for the 1996 killing of truck driver Tyrone Camp. In 2012 he sued the city and 10 police officers, alleging a conspiracy to unlawfully arrest and convict him. [C-J/AKN]

The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East. [ProPublica]

Affordable housing development could be a victim of the proposed $1.5 trillion tax cut currently working its way through the United States Congress. [WFPL]

Donald Trump’s outrageous, self-aggrandizing rhetoric is the butt of so many jokes precisely because it’s so transparently false, it should be funny. When he inflates the size of his inauguration crowd to soothe his ego, bruised after he lost the popular vote to his rival, it sounds like a kid lying about who came to his birthday party. But it’s funny until the lies have deadly consequences — beyond just discouraging the American public’s trust in democracy and its own institutions. [ThinkProgress]

Despite his Nov. 5 announcement that he is stepping down as Speaker of the House in the wake of reports he signed a confidential settlement of sexual harassment claims, Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, may legally still be Speaker. [Ronnie Ellis]

White House national security adviser HR McMaster says the US is “in a race” to address the threat from North Korea. [BBC]

House Republican Communications Director Daisy Olivo filed suit Monday against the Legislative Research Commission alleging retaliation for reporting allegations that then-Speaker Jeff Hoover engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with another staff aide. [More Ronnie Ellis]

Donald Trump ran a campaign on lifting up the little guy. He was, in the words of his oldest son, “a blue-collar billionaire,” and it was his plain-spoken promise to be their warrior in Washington that helped win over voters in hollowed-out Midwestern towns. But almost a year into his presidency, evidence shows he has governed not as the populist champion he proclaimed himself to be, but instead as a president siding more often with large corporations, special interests, and the wealthiest of Americans. [Boston Globe]

The recommendation of the Barren County Fiscal Court Administrative Committee to the full fiscal court will be for the county to move forward with establishing a syringe exchange program through the health department, but the decision was not unanimous. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Charter schools are among the nation’s most segregated, an Associated Press analysis finds — an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools. [AP]

Republican members of the Kentucky House are asking Republican Gov. Matt Bevin not to call a special legislative session on pension reform before the end of the year. [H-L]

It was late morning in an artsy cafe, the smell of coffee and baked goods sweetening the air, and Ashley Bishop sat at a table, recalling a time when she was taught that most of secular American society was worthy of contempt. [HuffPo]

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A Good Thing Happened In Boyd Co

Humanitarian and University of Kentucky graduate Ashley Judd spoke “from the heart” during a lecture Friday in Lexington about how she’s using her voice in the fight against abuse and sexual misconduct in Hollywood and around the world. [H-L]

With Michael Flynn’s guilty plea bringing fresh attention to what Vice President Mike Pence knew about possible Russian collusion and when he knew it, Pence’s office has a ready answer: Not much and really late. So far Pence has remained at the periphery of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. [HuffPo]

If you’re gonna hit Greg Fischer… maybe make sure it involves something he can actually control? And maybe make sure your campaign spokesperson isn’t someone with a history of idiocy because she certainly won’t be able to communicate your half-baked non-plans. [C-J/AKN]

Earlier this fall, a leader of the busiest hospital for organ transplants in New York state — where livers are particularly scarce — pleaded for fairer treatment for ailing New Yorkers. [ProPublica]

A groundbreaking ceremony on Friday celebrated the future home of the Boyd County Animal Shelter. [Ashland Independent]

The new tax bill passed by Senate Republicans does away with crucial support for public schools while adding a provision beneficial to their private counterparts. That move would help wealthy parents pay for private schools, including religious schools, while hurting lower-income families. A similar provision is in the House version of the tax bill. [ThinkProgress]

Dan Ellnor walks through a metal door into a gigantic walk-in refrigerator at the Jefferson County Public Schools Nutrition Service Center. People in hairnets, gloves and light winter jackets are filtering in-and-out, carrying boxes of fresh produce. [WFPL]

A major decision on the way the U.S. government collects information about race and ethnicity through the census and other surveys was expected to be announced this week by the Trump administration. But the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which sets standards for this type of data for all federal agencies, was silent on Friday, which OMB had said was the deadline for an announcement. [NPR]

It’s called perjury. An email sent during the transition by President Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, appears to contradict the testimony she gave to Congress over the summer about contacts between the Russian ambassador and Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. [NY Times]

A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign. Russia, he wrote, was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” and would attempt to use the N.R.A.’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., to make “‘first contact.’” [More NY Times]

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank to share data on accounts held by U.S. President Donald Trump and his family, a person close to the matter said on Tuesday. [Reuters]

Why is a presidential advisory panel on elections operating in such secrecy? This guy is on Trump’s voter fraud commission and he’s forced to sue it to find out what it’s doing. [WaPo]

Why is it always churches and church leaders that are the worst people? Those in leadership at a Lexington church that is being sued over allegations of misconduct by its pastor said in a Facebook post Friday that the discord in the church is being led by a small group of “agitators” who are trying to “cloud minds and breed dissension.” [H-L]

Republican senators have just voted for their version of the Trump tax scam legislation, a huge giveaway to the super-wealthy. By doing so, they have brought their overlords — the billionaire donor class — one step closer to their longstanding goal of dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. [HuffPo]

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