Campaign Craziness Kicks Into Gear

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Even while fighting blindness in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere this week, Republican presidential contender Rand Paul intensified political attacks against rivals in both parties, vowing to continue pressing billionaire businessman Donald Trump in particular as the Kentucky senator embraces the role as the GOP’s leading pit bull. [H-L]

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said Tuesday that the government should have broad surveillance powers of Americans and private technology firms should cooperate better with intelligence agencies to help combat “evildoers.” [HuffPo]

In a high-profile report issued in 2010, then-state Auditor Crit Luallen rebuked Passport Health Plan for wasteful spending of Medicaid funds on things like lobbying, travel, public relations, donations and sponsorships. But in May of this year, Passport made a $25,000 contribution to the Democratic Governors Association, an organization which already this year has given $600,000 to a Democratic super PAC supporting the election of Attorney General Jack Conway as governor. [C-J/AKN]

Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff counsel with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said courts have not yet settled the question of how specific or broad email search warrants should be, and this case is one of the most prominent illustrations of how users can fight back. [Mother Jones]

Seems like only yesterday Jack Conway and his people were touting a study indicating that testing welfare recipients was a waste of time and resources. Attorney General Jack Conway says he supports drug testing some welfare recipients in Kentucky, echoing the position of his Republican opponent. [WFPL]

Amid the horrors of war in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, it’s become easy to overlook Afghanistan. Remember Afghanistan? Back in the mid-2000s, it was known as the “forgotten war,” eclipsed by the bloodshed in Iraq. Now it’s overshadowed all over again. But there’s plenty of reason to pay attention. [NPR]

Two same-sex couples in this small eastern Kentucky county got everything they wanted in a ruling from a federal judge Monday, except for one sentence. [Ashland Independent]

Climate change is increasing the risk of severe ‘food shocks’ where crops fail and prices of staples rise rapidly around the world. [BBC]

Of course the racist rednecks are coming out of the woodwork at the state fair. [WAVE3]

Donald Trump’s immigration plan is huge in every aspect — including its price tag. Think $166 billion. And that’s on the low end. [Politico]

Just weeks after a Kentucky man gained national attention for shooting down a drone in his backyard, a state lawmaker is proposing new legislation. [WDRB]

As concerns rise about a security menace posed by rogue drone flights, U.S. government agencies are working with state and local police forces to develop high-tech systems to protect vulnerable sites, according to sources familiar with the matter. [Reuters]

Lyman T. Johnson was a grandson of slaves who grew up in the deeply segregated community of Columbia, Tenn. One day, his father, the principal of the segregated black school, sent him on an errand to the white school, where Johnson saw for the first time the truth of Jim Crow laws that created separate and unequal facilities. [H-L]

A year ago, after 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, police responded to even peaceful daytime protests in the St. Louis suburb by deploying attack dogs and tactical vehicles, pointing sniper rifles at peaceful protesters, arresting people for simply standing still on public sidewalks, flooding demonstrators with tear gas — often without warning — and shooting them with bean bags, wooden pellets and balls filled with pepper spray. [HuffPo]

Even The Muslins Love The Environment

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A federal judge on Wednesday set an Aug. 31 deadline for his delay in ordering Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to resume issuing marriage licenses. [H-L]

More than $1 billion in U.S. military equipment quietly began flowing to the Lebanese military over the last year. [HuffPo]

The operators of the massive, troubled and stinky landfill near Ashland, Ky., announced Tuesday that they will phase out all rail deliveries of out-of-state trash by the end of next year. [C-J/AKN]

The month before he killed 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting rampage, Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales bloodied the nose of an Afghan truck driver in an assault that was not reported to his camp commanders, according to a report released on Tuesday. [Reuters]

During a visit with education leaders in Louisville on Tuesday, the Republican nominee for Kentucky governor talked about preschool, teacher pensions and charter schools. Matt Bevin met with the group of about 20 educators and community officials at the Jefferson County Public Schools Van Hoose Education Center for over an hour, outlining some of his goals for education in the state. [WDRB]

Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment, but Donald Trump and other candidates are keeping alive the idea that some Americans should not have equal rights at birth. [The Nation]

The members of the Kentucky Coal Association want a private audience with the two major-party gubernatorial candidates, and it looks like they will get it. [Hopkinsville New Era]

Islamic leaders issued a Climate Change Declaration calling for world governments to adopt a new international climate agreement that would phase out fossil fuels and limit global warming to 1.5°C to 2°C. The collective statement of the leaders from 20 countries lays out a deadline for wealthy and oil-producing nations to phase out all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. [International Business Times]

Kentucky’s preliminary July unemployment rate rose slightly to a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent from a revised 5.1 percent in June 2015, and remained below the national rate, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. [Press Release]

New disclosures about the National Security Agency’s partnership with AT&T could reignite constitutional challenges to the spy agency’s efforts to wiretap the Internet. [ProPublica]

The hardest thing Phillip R. Patton has had to do in his 14-year tenure as a circuit court judge, he said, was “probably sentencing 16-year-old youthful offenders to live in the penitentiary.” And he’s had to do that several times with youths that were tried as adults, he said. [Glasgow Daily Times]

For the first time this presidential election cycle, six Republican candidates will be forced to talk about education — an issue that has taken a backseat to others for the last few election cycles. [Politico]

Rand Paul is ratcheting up pressure on Kentucky Republicans who will vote Saturday on whether to hold a presidential preference caucus next year. [H-L]

Scientists at Ohio State University say they’ve grown the first near-complete human brain in a lab. [HuffPo]

College Boards = Democratic Patronage

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The boards at Kentucky’s largest public universities have more Democrats than they are supposed to, according to a published report. [H-L]

A wave of attacks on the Afghan army and police and U.S. special forces in Kabul killed at least 50 people and wounded hundreds, dimming hopes that the Taliban might be weakened by a leadership struggle after their longtime leader’s death. [HuffPo]

The attorneys for the three women who claimed they were victims of harassment and retaliation of legislators got the lion’s share of the $400,000 settlement paid by taxpayers. [C-J/AKN]

A U.S. Senate panel that conducted a two-year investigation into a scandal over the targeting of conservative political groups by the Internal Revenue Service issued a report on Wednesday with several bipartisan recommendations. [Reuters]

The Richmond Board of Adjustments has refused to allow erection of a “monument type” sign at the entrance of a Richmond Centre outparcel. [Richmond Register]

More than 30 years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a revolutionary computer system in a bomb shelter two floors beneath the cafeteria of its national academy. Dubbed the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP, it was a database designed to help catch the nation’s most violent offenders by linking together unsolved crimes. A serial rapist wielding a favorite knife in one attack might be identified when he used the same knife elsewhere. The system was rooted in the belief that some criminals’ methods were unique enough to serve as a kind of behavioral DNA — allowing identification based on how a person acted, rather than their genetic make-up. [ProPublica]

Rowan County clerk Kim Davis’s religious beliefs do not shield her from the obligation to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, because she would be doing so in her official capacity, the American Civil Liberties Union argued in court documents filed Thursday. [Ashland Independent]

Israeli archaeologists say they are trying to decode ancient inscriptions written in Hebrew script discovered at a dig in Jerusalem. [BBC]

The city of Glasgow has filed a brief with the Kentucky Court of Appeals to argue in favor of overturning a local judge’s ruling that a firefighter’s employment should not have been terminated. [Glasgow Daily Times]

A recent poll of Republican presidential primary voters in the early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina finds an unexpected result for the 17 candidates campaigning there. Most of these voters support regulating carbon pollution — even using President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). [ThinkProgress]

It’s a two-year-old case of a murdered police officer and investigators hope yearly events will help solve the crime. [WDRB]

Mike Brown should be alive today. He should be home from his first year at college, visiting friends and enjoying summer as he prepares to return to campus. [The Guardian]

A Transportation Cabinet official says travelers passing a new bridge on the Mountain Parkway are seeing progress in an expansion project that started six months ago. [H-L]

Fireworks flew at Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) went toe-to-toe with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the proper role of government surveillance. [HuffPo]

Not Much Of A Change At Top Of KDE

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Rand Paul’s summer just went from bad to worse. After a series of missteps and frequent bad press, the Kentucky senator already was limping into the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle. [H-L]

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit against an offshore payday lender on Tuesday. The bureau alleges that NDG Enterprise illegally collected loan payments that consumers did not have to pay — violating the Dodd-Frank Act, which Congress passed in 2010 to reform the country’s financial system. [HuffPo]

With less than four weeks to go before state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday retires, the Kentucky Board of Education has named Kevin Brown to be the interim commissioner as the board continues to search for a permanent replacement. [C-J/AKN]

The Obama administration has drafted an executive order forcing any company that contracts with the federal government to issue paid leave to employees who are sick, are seeking medical attention or need to care for a sick relative. [NY Times]

The Boyd County Fiscal Court will only seek closure of Big Run Landfill by eliminating the remaining total capacity of trash at the site. [Ashland Independent]

A long-simmering dispute between automakers and U.S. regulators over policies to promote electric vehicles spilled into the open on Tuesday, in the high stakes struggle over the future of automotive technology. [Reuters]

Morehead’s status as the third Kentucky Trail Town has been recertified for another year, it was announced Monday. [The Morehead News]

A century’s worth of data. That’s how much researchers looked at for a new study — which showed that the world’s glaciers are melting faster than scientists think they ever have before, and that even if global warming stopped today, they would continue to melt. [ThinkProgress]

The 19-year-old Cave City woman accused of being involved in the setting of a fire at the Happy Valley Learning Center in late January was in Barren Circuit Court on Monday for her final sentencing in that and another case. [Glasgow Daily Times]

In the early morning hours of June 30, 1995, a fire sparked to life in Kristine Bunch’s mobile home. It fanned out across the floor and climbed up the walls, then formed an impassable barrier across the middle of the trailer. Bunch, 21, snapped awake in the living room. Her three-year-old son, Tony, shrieked for her on the other side of the flames. [Mother Jones]

For the first time in more than 40 years, not a single one of the Kentucky governor’s appointees to the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees is black. The urban university’s board is also the only one among the state’s public universities without a single governor-appointed racial minority since Gov. Steve Beshear’s most recent appointments in June. [WFPL]

It started so well. When Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the United States swiftly cobbled together a broad coalition, unleashed a stunning new generation of air power and waged a lightning ground offensive that lasted all of four days. Iraqi troops were so desperate to quit that some surrendered to Western journalists armed only with notebooks. [NPR]

A controversial statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis will remain in the Kentucky Capitol rotunda. [H-L]

The United Nations said on Wednesday that an increasing number of women and children were getting hurt or killed in Afghanistan’s war against the Taliban and other insurgents. [HuffPo]

Matt Bevin Gets More Lost By The Day

New TV ads in Kentucky’s race for governor focus not on the candidates but on Democratic President Barack Obama. [H-L]

A bill that critics say would make any significant new regulation all but impossible easily passed the House Tuesday. [HuffPo]

Matt Bevin has no idea who his opponent is. His campaign staff is so incompetent they aren’t even aware of the most basic opposition research. [C-J/AKN]

Civil libertarians are worried about an increasingly common form of domestic surveillance that has nothing to do with listening to your phone calls or reading your emails; it has to do with looking through your garbage. [The Intercept]

When a festival benefits the humane society, you can presume pets are welcome. [Richmond Register]

For seven years, a Wisconsin telecom consultant has waged an unsuccessful legal fight against AT&T, alleging that the company long defrauded a federal program by overcharging the nation’s schools and libraries for Internet and telephone services. Now an appeals court in the District of Columbia has given new life to his case. [ProPublica]

It’s not just Kentucky’s Legislative Research Commission that will pay to settle a sexual harassment suit brought by three LRC staffers. [Ronnie Ellis]

Rather than being an effective manifesto of all the arguments against recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages, it serves as a guide for just how weak this already-lost case is, and why continued fights — including the ongoing struggle over using “religious liberty” to justify anti-gay discrimination — will likely not prevail either. Some extremists in Frankfort have been talking about this book. [ThinkProgress]

Cave City Council met in closed session Monday during a special-called meeting to discuss real estate. Upon returning to open session, a motion was made to purchase “the real estate in question,” but the council voted 3-2 not to buy the land. [Glasgow Daily Times]

On the campaign trail, Jeb Bush has repeatedly emphasized his record overseeing Florida’s boom economy as the state’s governor. He says it’s an example of an economy that created a huge number of jobs and benefited the middle class — an example of what he could do as president. “I know how to do this,” he said in Maitland, Fla., on Monday. But according to interviews with economists and a review of data, Florida owed a substantial portion of its growth under Bush not to any state policies but to a massive and unsustainable housing bubble — one that ultimately benefited rich investors at the expense of middle-class families. [WaPo]

A grand jury has indicted Shepherdsville Mayor Scott Ellis on a misdemeanor criminal charge of solicitation to prostitution on July 28. [WHAS11]

A new study of veterans from the Vietnam War has troubling implications for troops who fought much more recently — in Afghanistan and Iraq. [NPR]

Courthouse Plaza Wednesday flared in the midday heat and fiery chants of a crowd that assembled in downtown Lexington to oppose Planned Parenthood and abortion. [H-L]

Russian government-backed hackers who penetrated high-profile U.S. government and defense industry computers this year used a method combining Twitter with data hidden in seemingly benign photographs, according to experts studying the campaign. [HuffPo]

It’s All Puppies & Rainbows This A.M.

Berea College received a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town award of $100,000 to help revitalize rural areas of Eastern Kentucky. [H-L]

The European Union approved the Iran nuclear deal with world powers on Monday, a first step towards lifting Europe’s economic sanctions against Tehran that the bloc hopes will send a signal that the U.S. Congress will follow. [HuffPo]

For so long, he searched for the word. To describe what he felt but dare not say aloud. To rationalize the thoughts that consumed his days. To understand why being Jennifer, despite his most fervent attempts, just didn’t feel right. [C-J/AKN]

Anthony Cruz leaned in over the low plastic table between us, his bony knees knocking its edges, his eyes wide and full of a happy urgency that felt out of place against the dull cement block walls of the jail visiting room. [The Intercept]

“Faces of Big Run” were scattered throughout the conference room at the Holiday Inn Express on Wednesday, telling stories of Big Run Landfill employees who appear to want to protect the site against negative public perception. [Ashland Independent]

Just like in Kentucky, where it’s good for the Beshear Family’s wealthy donors and not so great for everyone else. The global economy is improving. Just don’t tell many of the people who live and work in it. [CBS News]

Runoff from heavy rains in the Cumberland River Basin is pushing the level of Lake Cumberland upward to the highest point since the seven-year rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam was completed. [Richmond Register]

Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others. [LA Times]

A former member of Glasgow Independent Schools’ board of education and former Barren County judge-executive has sued the school board over its handling of a property donation that resulted in a school’s name change. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Polar bears are the kings of the ice surface covering the top of the globe, but the ongoing loss of the Arctic sea ice on which they hunt seals is causing summer food deprivation that threatens these imposing white-furred predators. [Reuters]

At its regular meeting (last) Monday, Morehead City Council followed through on its agreement to amend the current fiscal year budget and restore $39,000 to the Rowan County Ambulance Service. [The Morehead News]

The military built another multimillion-dollar building in Afghanistan that no one used. In its latest report, the inspector general found that the U.S. military continued to build a $14.7 million warehouse after it knew it wasn’t needed, echoing an earlier investigation into an unused $25 million HQ. [ProPublica]

The power washer was spraying away another year’s worth of grime this week as residents of Fancy Farm prepared for the annual picnic at St. Jerome’s Parish, where Kentucky’s politicos flock on the first Saturday of August each year. [H-L]

A NATO airstrike hit two Afghan military checkpoints on Monday in a restive province east of the capital, Kabul, killing seven Afghan troops in what an Afghan official describes as an accident due to bad coordination. [HuffPo]

Remember Iraq? Still A Horrible Mess

About 550 engineers in the state Transportation Cabinet got raises averaging 20 percent last month in hopes of curbing high turnover and costly contracts for private engineers. [H-L]

Iraqi Shi’ite fighters and army troops made gains north of Falluja on Sunday but their efforts to seal off Islamic State militants in the city met heavy resistance, including suicide bomb attacks, army sources and militia fighters said. [HuffPo]

Aetna’s acquisition of Humana appears to be part of a merger frenzy as the five biggest U.S. health insurers look to get bigger. But any acquisition or merger of this proportion must overcome potential hurdles. [C-J/AKN]

Republican 2016 presidential hopefuls Scott Walker and Rick Santorum are suggesting a potentially controversial way to boost Americans’ job prospects: admit fewer legal immigrants into the United States. [Reuters]

The News-Enterprise has finally stopped discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. [News-Enterprise]

When the official watchdog overseeing U.S. spending on Afghanistan asked the U.S. Agency for International Development recently for details about the 641 health clinics it funds there, the agency readily provided a list of geospatial coordinates for them. But when the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) went looking for the $210 million worth of clinics, the majority of them weren’t there. [The Intercept]

Mitch McConnell didn’t offer a Commerce Lexington lunch crowd many surprises or much real news, but he offered a couple of insights into his own political thinking Thursday. [Ronnie Ellis]

New data on payments from drug and device companies to doctors show that many doctors received payments on 100 or more days last year. Some received payments on more days than they didn’t. [ProPublica]

Par for the course in the Beshear Administration but Democrats don’t want to talk about that. The hiring of a Kentucky cabinet official’s husband has been questioned by critics who say the hiring represents a conflict of interest and a misuse of funds that could be better spent on helping overworked and underpaid social workers. [WKYT]

Mitch McConnell is still an obstructionist but that’s something Republicans don’t want to talk about. [Politico]

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul has fashioned himself as one of the fledgling legal marijuana industry’s greatest advocates on Capitol Hill. That’s why he’s in a prime position to ask cannabis business leaders for campaign donations. Last week, he did just that. [WFPL]

Bipartisan legislation that would make changes to No Child Left Behind will be up for debate in Congress this week. [ThinkProgress]

Let the racist bigots fly their flags. Makes it easier to identify people to cut out of your life. [H-L]

Hillary Clinton had an incredible response for a gay child who expressed fears about what his future might hold. [HuffPo]