Coal Coal Coal Coal Coal Coal Coal

The collapse in energy prices is dealing another blow to the struggling Appalachian coal industry, with estimates that two-thirds of Eastern Kentucky’s coal output is now unprofitable. [H-L]

We’ve long known that children from affluent families get a head start that can translate into a long-lasting advantage, especially when it comes to academic achievement. Now, scientists have found what may be part of the explanation: Children who grow up in higher-income families appear to have larger brains. [HuffPo]

If there’s ever a measles outbreak in Louisville, Lashawnda Starling won’t have to fret about her 4-year-old daughter. [C-J/AKN]

A group of business economists said Monday that they expect the U.S. economy to grow at a faster pace over the next two years. [The Hill]

The Berea Chamber of Commerce has submitted a proposal to the city of Berea to form a new partnership for economic development. [Richmond Register]

The largest association of U.S. pharmacists approved a measure on Monday at its annual meeting in California calling on members to avoid participating in executions, saying it violates a core value of the profession, an official said. [Reuters]

Area residents donated 1,500 non-perishable goods to Safe Harbor of Northeast Kentucky during Shop and Share Day. The annual one-day drive was Saturday with the Russell and Ashland Kroger stores and the Food City store in Louisa serving as partners. [Ashland Independent]

US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have arrived for the start of a 12-month tour of duty on the International Space Station. It will be the longest continuous stay anyone has had aboard the 400km-high (250 mile) orbiting platform. [BBC]

The Cave Region Trail Initiative Steering Committee met for the second time Monday night to continue work on a federal grant application. [Glasgow Daily Times]

In many municipalities around the country, the days of sorting your recyclables for curbside pickup are long gone, replaced by a system called “single-stream” recycling. But what happens after all those bits of plastic, paper, glass and metal trash get put in the bin? [NPR]

“Advancing Our Legacy” is the theme of the St. Claire Foundation’s 2015 Annual Fundraising Campaign, which is being launched this week. [The Morehead News]

Medicare’s spending on drugs to treat hepatitis C soared more than 15 fold from 2013 to 2014 as new breakthroughs came to the market, according to previously undisclosed federal data. The drugs cure the disease, but taxpayers are footing the bill. [ProPublica]

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Kentucky’s religious-freedom law, similar to one signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week, should be clarified to include protections for the LGBT community. [H-L]

Don’t you just love watching Steve Beshear embarrass Kentucky on the national stage again? [HuffPo]

Fayette Co Health Department Is Stepping Up On The Needle Front

The nonprofit North Limestone Community Development Corp. will get a $550,000 grant to help turn a former Greyhound bus station into a public market and local food hub focused on the surrounding neighborhood. [H-L]

The Justice Department urged a federal appeals court Monday to reverse a hold a judge placed on President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action. [HuffPo]

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says the state’s ban on gay marriage should be upheld in part because it is not discriminatory in that both gay and straight people are barred from marrying people of the same gender. [C-J/AKN]

Congress was one vote away from ending its perennial Medicare “doc fix” dilemma for good, after nearly two decades of last-minute deals to prevent a healthcare meltdown. But instead of capping a rare week of productivity on Capitol Hill with the approval of a bipartisan fix ahead of a crucial Tuesday deadline, the Senate punted on the legislation in the wee hours of Friday morning. [The Hill]

Olive Hill is asking the Kentucky Department for Local Government for $65,000 to build restrooms and upgrade its trail system. The money would cover construction of a restroom near the historic railroad depot that is the trailhead for the city’s burgeoning trail system. [Ashland Independent]

This is what happens when mouth-breathing teabaggers try to meddle in education. [WaPo]

Hundreds of middle and high school students from across the state traveled to Eastern Kentucky University on Saturday to exhibit their science experiments at the Kentucky Science and Engineering Fair. [Richmond Register]

Two people tried to run their vehicle through the National Security Agency’s gates near Washington on Monday before guards at the spy agency fatally shot one of them, said officials, who added there was no evidence of a link to terrorism. [Reuters]

The Louisville Metropolitan Service Area’s population has increased by 2.8 percent since 2010, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday. “Most of the growth is happening on the periphery,” he said. “If you were in, what we call, the city, you’re not seeing any change at all.” [WFPL]

Daniel Swann is exactly the type of person the National Security Agency (NSA) would love to have working for it. [NPR]

The director of the Fayette County health(sic) Department said a needle-exchange program for heroin addicts will reduce the risk of getting jabbed by a dirty needles. He said Fayette County health officials are ready to get it going as soon as they figure out logistics. [WKYT]

Ants carried to the International Space Station were still able to use teamwork to search new areas, despite falling off the walls of their containers for up to eight seconds at a time. [BBC]

Rand Paul likes to say that the Republican Party should follow the advice of painter Robert Henri, who said people should “paint like a man coming over a hill singing.” [H-L]

A supervisor at the Veterans Administration office in Honolulu was manipulating data to make it look like the agency was processing veterans’ benefits claims faster it actually was, according to a new report by the VA Office of Inspector General. [HuffPo]

“Boycotting” Indiana But Not Kentucky Is The Height Of Equality Hypocrisy

Jonathan Miller may be one of the biggest self-important mooches in Kentucky but he’s partially right about this discriminatory nonsense. Just a shame this guy continues to insert himself where he doesn’t belong and there are obviously better authorities to turn to. [H-L]

The National Security Agency considered abandoning its secret program to collect and store American calling records in the months before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the practice, current and former intelligence officials say, because some officials believed the costs outweighed the meager counterterrorism benefits. [HuffPo]

Anheuser-Busch Companies reported spending far more money on lobbying than any other group during the first two months of the Kentucky General Assembly. [C-J/AKN]

A light bulb made with graphene – said by its UK developers to be the first commercially viable consumer product using the super-strong carbon – is to go on sale later this year. [BBC]

Now that the amendment to ban electronic cigarettes in public places is in effect, Morehead smokers are beginning to react. [The Morehead News]

They’ve gone from being afraid of non-whites to being afraid of the gays. [NPR]

Count Delta Air Lines among those supporting changes to the board that oversees Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. [Cincinnasti.com]

Less than a month before the U.S. Supreme Court hears their historic case, lawyers for gay couples from four states with bans on same-sex marriage are close to finally resolving which of them will argue before the justices. [Reuters]

The Kentucky Office of the Attorney General has filed the prosecution’s argument against the appeal of William Chesher, who fatally shot Ronnie Hiser in 2013, offering counterpoints to each of three issues raised by the defense. [Glasgow Daily Times]

What, you thought Republicans weren’t all trying to cling to fear by appeasing anti-gay bigots? [The Hill]

African American leaders in Louisville are speaking out against Kentucky’s U.S. senators and their efforts to block the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as U.S. attorney general. [WFPL]

It’s nice that so many people are standing up for equality. But good freaking grief at the hypocrisy. Bands like Wilco are canceling shows in Indiana while still playing in Kentucky — a state that also has a bigot law. Yes, there are variations to the law from state to state but come on. [WaPo]

The weaknesses in Fayette County Public Schools’ budget and financial management processes and other issues that state Auditor Adam Edelen revealed in September “didn’t occur overnight, and they won’t be fixed overnight,” he said recently. But Edelen said he generally was satisfied with Fayette County’s response, which district staff has been detailing in monthly reports to Edelen and the school board. [H-L]

Australia announced on Sunday that it would join negotiations to establish a new a Chinese-led Asian regional bank that has emerged as a potential challenge to United States influence in a part of the world where the Obama administration has tried to forge stronger ties. [HuffPo]

Beshear Knocks Edelen On Hospitals Report, Ladies Clutch Their Pearls

We didn’t hype up Adam Edelen’s latest “audit” of rural hospitals or whatever because no one cares.

What you do care about, though, is political drama.

Like Governor Steve Beshear shooting down Edelen’s report in a big blast to the media yesterday:

Since Kentucky is seen as a national leader in the success of our health care reforms, the administration is well aware of how health care delivery changes are impacting rural hospitals, and we have partnered with those hospitals for the past several years to help them navigate the new health care economy. We’re pleased that the Auditor’s report supports our continuing work.

It’s very important to note that this audit relies on 2013 data, and does not reflect the sea changes in health care since Medicaid expansion began in 2014. As such, the report is a dated snapshot, and those conditions are no longer the same. Hospitals received more than $506 million in 2014 through new Medicaid expansion payments, while seeing significant reductions in uncompensated care costs. Those are huge changes to hospitals’ bottom lines that are not shown here.

Several years ago, we identified challenges for medical providers, and quickly took steps to help them develop new strategies for health care delivery. Thanks to a large federal grant, we have held meetings, organized summits and shared national practices with our hospital partners to design strategies for financially sound business models. That work is ongoing through five work groups of stakeholders.

We remain committed to making sure that Kentuckians have access to affordable, reliable health care, and rural hospitals are an important part of our state’s overall health.

Ruh ro.

It’s Republican Gubernatorial Primary Campaign Laugh Update Time

Do you need to laugh?

Okay. Gonna lift you up like a pair of Greg Stumbo’s cowboy boots.

Jamie Comer wants you to believe he came up with this health care “plan” (aka anti-Obama panic) released yesterday — take a look:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF

The plan to kill health care itself isn’t the best part. It’s the accompanying statement Comer gave the press:

“I have said from day one of this campaign that we will present a bold agenda to move Kentucky forward, and that is exactly what our five-point plan is.

Our healthcare plan is the culmination of the many hours spent meeting with people on the frontline of healthcare issues in Kentucky. We have done the same with the other four initiatives in our plan, and in the coming weeks we will present and discuss those initiatives in detail.

Kentuckians do not want policy plans filled with buzzwords and generic talking points. They want real solutions to real problems. I have a proven record of building bridges in the legislature to pass substantive legislation. I look forward to working with the 2016 General Assembly to pass this agenda for all Kentuckians.”

Comer, who has spent every single day since being elected traveling the state campaigning (on your dime), wants you to believe he’s had time to focus on health care.

A lot of people know first-hand what Jamie Comer has and hasn’t done. Coming up with a health care plan is not one of the things he’s done.

One of the other things he hasn’t done? He didn’t make hemp a thing. That was 100% Holly Harris, a couple people on the hemp commission, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. John Yarmuth was involved to a lesser extent. Comer was such a disaster on the hemp front that national organizations — including Rand Paul’s PAC — refused to pony up promised cash ($50,000, apparently) to the commission in order to get things done. When Harris walked away? They completely washed their hands of Comer and are waiting on Ryan Quarles to be elected in order to get back to work.

If Jamie Comer wants to continue claiming credit for these things, I’ll have to tell the backstory.

You know I have it.