Happy Friday! Everything Probably Sucks

Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway enjoys a sizable cash advantage over Republican Matt Bevin as the two men head down the home stretch of the governors race. [H-L]

Syria’s chief-of-staff on Thursday declared a wide-ranging ground offensive by government forces, a day after Russian airstrikes and cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea backed Damascus’ multipronged advance into two Syrian provinces. [HuffPo]

Former Louisville basketball recruit JaQuan Lyle, in an interview with the NCAA this week, confirmed “the gist of allegations” against U of L in a new book. [C-J/AKN]

When David Martine arrived at the redbrick federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, in the summer of 2011, he was three years past his retirement and had not participated in an interrogation since 2007, when he was one of the CIA’s top inquisitors. On this day, however, he was not going to be asking questions. He was going to be answering them. [Newsweek]

There were some frightening moments at a southern Kentucky elementary school on Wednesday. [WKYT]

The Obama administration has formally threatened a veto on a House bill that would lift the federal ban on crude oil exports. [The Hill]

The Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Executive Board has given the green light for communities in the region to apply for grants up to $250,000 for job creation and broadband expansion via the Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development (KARD) fund. [State Journal]

A U.S. jury on Wednesday awarded a cancer patient $1.6 million after finding DuPont was liable for leaking a toxic chemical used to make Teflon into drinking water near one of its plants. [Reuters]

Following a report this summer showing Floyd County led the state last year in the per capita number of drug-overdose deaths, House Speaker Greg Stumbo is gathering state and local leaders in Prestonsburg on Friday morning to discuss solutions. The public and community partners are invited to attend. [Floyd County Times]

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition began bombing Yemen in an attempt to support the embattled regime and counter the advances of the Houthi rebels. This coalition, supported by logistics and intelligence provided by the United States, has now been accused of war crimes in a recent report by a prominent international rights group. [ThinkProgress]

Some prominent Northern Kentucky Republicans have told the Enquirer they support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway. The bitterness among many Republicans against the tea party, which has challenged many in leadership recent years, might catch up to Republican candidate Matt Bevin, often seen as an outsider candidate who has heavy tea party support. [Cincinnasti.com]

The death penalty reared its head again at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday. It was the first time the court publicly considered a death case since last term, when a constitutional challenge to lethal injection procedures erupted into a rare, nasty and vituperative debate among the justices. This time, the issues were far more technical but still a matter of life and death. [NPR]

The University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy will train pharmacists across the state to distribute naloxone, a medication used to prevent overdoses from heroin and other opioids. [H-L]

From the Department of Things Ken Ham Wouldn’t Understand… If you’ve ever wanted to experience space from the perspective of an astronaut, here’s your chance. [HuffPo]

That KSP Situation Is Absolutely Fascinating

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s inauguration fund has paid a $510 fine for filing financial records 46 days late. [H-L]

President Barack Obama apologized to Doctors Without Borders on Wednesday for the American air attack that killed at least 22 people at its hospital in Afghanistan, and said the U.S. would examine military procedures to look for better ways to prevent such incidents. [HuffPo]

A lawsuit filed by a woman exonerated of a murder after serving eight years behind bars offers new details about how she alleges an overzealous Kentucky State Police detective framed her. [C-J/AKN]

Top House Democrats are accusing the chairman of the House Oversight Committee of refusing to share the unedited footage from the recent undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood. [The Hill]

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, is predicting low voter turnout for March’s Republican presidential caucus next year. Yarmuth expects turnout will be “pretty pathetic” because voters in the state have no history with caucuses. [WFPL]

U.S. stocks ended stronger after a volatile session on Wednesday, led by a rebound in biotechnology companies that pushed the S&P 500 to its highest level in three weeks. [Reuters]

An attorney for former Glasgow Fire Department Sgt. Roger Hampton has filed documents with the Kentucky Court of Appeals that attempt to get the case regarding his firing dismissed. [Glasgow Daily Times]

A new study published last month in Sociological Forum has found two important connections that demonstrate how discrimination has a negative impact on the health and well-being of transgender people. [ThinkProgress]

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis says his office is now issuing marriage licenses. [WKYT]

Verizon is merging its cellphone tracking supercookie with AOL’s ad tracking network to match users’ online habits with their offline details. [ProPublica]

When best-selling author Neil Gaiman was asked to give advice to aspiring authors at Western Kentucky University’s latest installment of the 2015-16 Cultural Enhancement Series on Tuesday night, his first piece of advice was only one word. [BGDN]

After years of drug addiction, Jayne Fuentes feels she’s close to getting her life back on track, as long as she doesn’t get arrested again — but not for using drugs. She fears it will be because she still owes court fines and fees, including hundreds of dollars for her public defender. [NPR]

With platoons of Republicans running for president, the Democratic National Committee has had too much on its plate to spend much time commenting on Kentucky’s gubernatorial race. [H-L]

The Affordable Care Act’s chief aim is to extend coverage to people without health insurance. One of the 2010 law’s primary means to achieve that goal is expanding Medicaid eligibility to more people near the poverty level. But a crucial court ruling in 2012 granted states the power to reject the Medicaid expansion. [HuffPo]

The KY State Police Need Your Help

Danny Ray Burden fell asleep in mid-sentence as he was booked into the Grant County jail, toppling over on the bench where he sat. Prodded awake, he coughed, shook and pleaded for emergency medical attention. [H-L]

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took a shot this week at President Barack Obama’s immigration strategy from his first years in office, saying it wouldn’t work with today’s GOP. [HuffPo]

A self-proclaimed prostitute says she was told that University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino knew she and other escorts were being paid to have sex with players and recruits. [C-J/AKN]

Hillary Clinton holds double-digit leads nationally over all her Democratic challengers, including a dream team of contenders that remain on the sidelines, according to a new poll. [The Hill]

A few Kentucky counties are searching for poll workers for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election but not Rowan County. [The Morehead News]

The “Resolution Condemning Judicial Tyranny And Petitioning God’s Mercy” asks the state to join rural Blount County in fighting against the ruling and to “protect Natural Marriage from lawless court opinions and the financial schemes of the enemies of righteousness.” [Reuters]

Stephen l. Pruitt today officially became Kentucky’s sixth Commissioner of Education since passage of the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990 that created the position. [Ronnie Ellis]

It’s hard to deny that the NRA has won the gun debate over the past 20 years. Despite mass shootings — and despite some 80 to 90 percent of Americans saying they are in favor of background checks — no legislation expanding on the 1993 Brady Bill has passed Congress. [NPR]

This will make your eyes roll back in your head. The Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission described state Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore, as having demonstrated “the highest level of ethical standards.” [Ashland Independent]

The Justice Department is set to release about 6,000 inmates early from prison — the largest one-time release of federal prisoners — in an effort to reduce overcrowding and provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past three decades. [WaPo]

Habitat for Humanity of Madison and Clark Counties collected more than $58,200 in pledges for the coming five years during its annual Building Hope Community Breakfast. [Richmond Register]

Hillary Rodham Clinton, as she offered up a sheaf of new health care proposals, said she was “building on the Affordable Care Act.” But lurking in those proposals was a veiled criticism of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement: For many families, the Affordable Care Act has not made health care affordable. [NY Times]

Kentucky State Police are asking for help from the public as they search for a Knott County woman who has been missing since May. Natasha Fugate Jones was last seen by family on May 7, and state police began searching for her on June 7, according to a news release by Kentucky State Police. [H-L]

Three top officials with Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign claim political motivations are behind charges alleging they violated federal financial disclosure laws by secretly paying an influential Iowa politician for his endorsement. Paul, a former Republican congressman from Texas, will be called as a prosecution witness at the trial, set for next Tuesday in Des Moines. [AP]

The Next Governor Will Likely Ignore It

Kentucky’s next governor will inherit about $30 billion in public pension debt from departing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear — more than twice what the state government spends in a year, and up 40 percent since voters re-elected Beshear in 2011. [John Cheves]

The real problem is too many young people still can’t afford a college education. [HuffPo]

Maybe next time he’ll try city council instead of big dogging in the race for goober. Independent Drew Curtis said he would vote for Donald Trump, which frankly seemed like an odd choice for the progressive, populist candidate from Lexington. By Friday, he was walking that back in a tweet. [C-J/AKN]

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has won the endorsement of the National Education Association (NEA), the teachers union said in a statement Saturday. [The Hill]

Anyone who spends time in the alternate universe that is Kentucky politics hears some version of this line over and over: “This is the strangest governor’s race I’ve ever seen.” [Ronnie Ellis]

President Barack Obama said on Friday that he has asked his team to look for new ways to enforce existing regulations to keep guns away from criminals in the wake of the mass shooting in Oregon. [Reuters]

Shipping containers can travel all over the world. Now, one has landed in a Kentucky woman’s yard, and it is being turned into her new home. [WDRB]

In Alabama, a positive drug test can have dire repercussions for pregnant women and new mothers. Their newborns can be taken from them. They can lose custody of their other children. They can face lengthy sentences in the most notorious women’s prison in the United States and thousands of dollars in fees and fines. Yet the hospitals that administer those drug tests — and turn the results over to authorities — are exceedingly reluctant to disclose their policies to the public. [ProPublica]

It’s the type of decline Southcentral Kentucky counties are thrilled to incur. Barren, Allen, Metcalfe, Monroe, Edmonson and Hart counties have enjoyed a drop of more than 1 percent in jobless rates over the last year, a study released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in September showed. [Glasgow Daily Times]

From the Department of Things Ken Ham Wouldn’t Understand… A great swathe of Pluto that features a strange rippling terrain is perhaps the highlight of the latest image release from the New Horizons mission. [BBC]

The report cards are in — not for students, but districts and schools across the state. Scores recorded by the Kentucky Department of Education in the Unbridled Learning College and Career-Readiness report released Thursday morning show that the Madison County Schools district “outperformed all seven surrounding county school districts as well as Berea Independent Schools,” an online release from MCS noted. [Richmond Register]

As Governor of the USA’s worst state, Florida, Jeb Bush embraced his inner Veto Corleone. His 2,549 line-item vetoes cut millions of dollars from social programs, health centers and projects backed by people who crossed him. [Mother Jones]

It’s almost funny watching education reporters act surprised that school districts pretend to improve with self-evaluations. It’s like no one believes school district administrations can be more corrupt than Frankfort. Along with hard work, more favorable self-evaluations played a role in Fayette County Public Schools’ improved performance in Kentucky’s accountability system in 2014-15, acting senior director of academic services Marlene Helm. [H-L]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doubled down on his support for tighter gun control legislation on Thursday in the wake of the mass shooting at an Oregon community college. [HuffPo]

Your Morning Dept Of Awful Things

Jack Conway stuck to the script and Matt Bevin continued his seemingly spontaneous campaign during an hour-long debate before the rabid fans of Big Blue Nation on the state’s most popular sports talk radio show. [H-L]

U.S. airstrikes hit Taliban positions overnight around a key northern city seized by insurgents this week as Afghan troops massed on the ground Wednesday ahead of what is likely to be a protracted battle to retake Kunduz. [HuffPo]

It wasn’t a miscommunication until they were called on the carpet. People trying to communicate with the Kentucky Division of Water on new water quality standards using email were told this week to buy a stamp and send their comments via snail mail. [C-J/AKN]

A bipartisan group of senators on the Judiciary Committee is preparing to unveil a criminal justice overhaul proposal as early as Thursday. [NPR]

Jack Conway, Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General who is running for governor, and Greg Stumbo, Kentucky’s Speaker of the House, are in the same party and are on the same side when it comes to coal, which they both defend. But they don’t always agree. [Ronnie Ellis]

Pope Francis met privately in Washington last week with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a Vatican spokesman confirmed on Wendesday. [NY Times]

Last week, I was proud to join with the father of Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder and other legislators as we stood together to advocate for additional safety measures for law enforcement. [Greg Stumbo]

LaserLock Technologies, a firm that sells anti-counterfeiting products, won a powerful congressional ally on Capitol Hill after recruiting a Kentucky congressman’s wife. Representative Ed Whitfield, a senior Republican lawmaker from western Kentucky, personally submitted company documents on behalf of LaserLock to the congressional record in support of legislation crucial to the firm’s business. [Lee Fang]

The former chairman of the Republican National Committee is upset he was quoted in a television ad for Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway. Duncan – who is from Inez, Ky., and now heads the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity – told WYMT his comments were taken out of context. “The comments that I made were as the chief executive officer of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. It had nothing to do with the Republican National Committee,” Duncan said Tuesday night in a phone interview. [WYMT]

U.S. bombs somehow keep falling in the places where President Barack Obama “ended two wars.” [The Intercept]

Laurel County is back to being the worst place on earth. A woman has been arrested after sheriff’s deputies say they found a man’s body inside a freezer at her Laurel County home. [WKYT]

It could have been Hillary Clinton’s tweet that did it. Just after the US government had given the go-ahead for Shell to restart its exploration in Alaska, the Democratic presidential candidate took to the social media site. [BBC]

Every community in Kentucky should be serving alcohol and selling it by the package because it’s not the dark ages. Berea voters on Tuesday approved the sale of alcohol by the drink in certain restaurants. [H-L]

After enduring a marathon House hearing on Tuesday during which GOP representatives frequently interrupted her, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards accused them of political grandstanding and using the hearing to demonstrate how “they are obsessed with ending access to reproductive health care for women in America.” [HuffPo]

Matt Bevin Is Trying To Lose The Race

Attorney General Jack Conway maintains a nominal five-point lead over Republican Matt Bevin with just more than a month to go in Kentucky’s race for governor, according to a new Bluegrass Poll. [H-L]

Is Matt Bevin trying to lose the race for governor? Yes. But so is Jack Conway. [More H-L]

The U.S. plans to increase the number of refugees it takes from 70,000 to 100,000 over the next two years. New York, Los Angeles and 16 other cities have urged President Barack Obama to accept even more refugees from Syria. [HuffPo]

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet agreed this month to keep secret a proposed settlement of its lawsuit against an Eastern Kentucky oil company that had been repeatedly cited for contaminating the North Fork of the Kentucky River. [C-J/AKN]

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a final version of updated rules intended to keep farmworkers from being poisoned by pesticides. [NPR]

The Glasgow City Council passed a new city ordinance regarding the humane treatment of animals following a second reading at Monday’s meeting, setting limits to how long dogs may be tethered to a single point and specifying the equipment to be used and the manner in which tethering can legally occur within city limits. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Royal Dutch Shell has stopped Arctic oil and gas exploration off the coast of Alaska after “disappointing” results from a key well in the Chukchi Sea. [BBC]

Steam rolled off a large tray of sorghum juice as it simmered at 235 degrees, filling the Old Mill Park with a smell unique to the cane plant. Last weekend marked the 45th annual Sorghum Festival. Despite the gloomy weather, a large crowd walked though downtown West Liberty enjoying the local craft bazaar, parade, homemade snacks, fair food and of course — freshly made sorghum. [Ashland Independent]

Earlier this month, the Brookings Institution, a centrist think tank, published a provocatively titled paper that posited, “Do we already have universal preschool?” Revitalizing the fierce debate over early childhood education, the paper concluded that 70 percent of children already have an option for pre-K, infuriating many who have been making pushes for public funding of universal pre-K. [ThinkProgress]

James Comer said he plans to start a business and return home to Monroe County once his term is over in December. What he didn’t mention is toying with a run for congress. [WHAS11]

Immigrants and their descendants will drive U.S. population growth over the next half century, transforming the country into one where no racial or ethnic group is a majority, a Pew Research Center report released on Monday said. [Reuters]

Whether this hilarious take from organized labor about Matt Bevin’s running mate is true or not? You already know she’s a piece of work. [AFL-CIO]

One of the three super PACs supporting Rand Paul’s presidential campaign has stopped raising money, dealing a damaging blow to an already cash-starved campaign. And the guy running his campaign into the ground? His name is Doug Stafford. [Politico]

Freedom of religion isn’t reason enough to deny any American their constitutional rights, President Barack Obama said Sunday as he addressed members of the LGBT community, one of his major sources of political and financial support. [H-L]

Ivo Caers confirmed for us Table 21 was never reported to the FDA. … We know now what’s behind the tables: The little girls with the lactating breasts … and the little boys even under ten who have gynecomastia. My word. [HuffPo]