Get Bourbon. Budget Address At 7:00.

Kentucky officials say the state’s unemployment rate increased at the end of last year. The state Office of Employment and Training said Thursday that the preliminary jobless rate in December rose to 5.3 percent from a revised 5 percent in November. [H-L]

Hillary Clinton is wrong when she says that Medicare for all is not achievable. In fact, if she and her husband had embraced the concept in 1993, we would be nearly there today. [HuffPo]

LOUISVILLE PEE ALERT! In the wake of a public fight between its former chairman and vice chairman, the Metropolitan Sewer District board has proposed adding a loyalty provision to its ethics policy. Oh, and no tweeting during board meetings. [C-J/AKN]

Fear. The simple four-letter word that works if you want to get elected. Political professionals know that playing on people’s fears – going negative – is the way to win. [BBC]

The Perry County School Board held a special meeting on the evening of Jan. 7 to hear public comments about the recently adapted district facility plan for Perry County schools. [Hazard Herald]

At home, Julián Castro’s been spending more time reading and watching television in Spanish, trying to get his speaking skills up to speed. [Politico]

Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty announced through a press release Thursday morning that he will not be making a decision regarding the discipline of Glasgow Police Department Sgt. Michael “Mike” Burton as soon as expected. [Glasgow Daily Times]

NOAA and NASA have announced that 2015 was by far the hottest year on record globally. In fact, NOAA reports that “2015 is Earth’s warmest year by widest margin on record.” [ThinkProgress]

Citing his continued desire to provide effective, experienced leadership for Eastern Kentucky, state Rep. Rocky Adkins filed for re-election last Thursday to serve the 99th House District in Elliott, Lewis and Rowan counties. [The Morehead News]

Avoid your local teevee stations this evening and watch Matt Bevin’s budget address at 7:00 P.M. Eastern on KET. You can stream it live if you don’t have cable or can’t pick it up for free over the air. Works for outsiders, too. [KET Live]

The chairman of Ashland Community and Technical College’s board of directors is one of 16 business leaders who will lobby for more postsecondary education funding in the Kentucky General Assembly. [Ashland Independent]

Donald Trump is calling for Medicare to be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices, a policy long backed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. [The Hill]

Wondering why Lexington can’t have nice things? The Lexington Urban County Council gave final approval Thursday to a five-year franchise agreement with Kentucky American Water. It will replace a 20-year agreement that expired in April. The council voted 13-0 to approve the agreement. Kentucky American Water was the sole bidder. There was no discussion before Thursday night’s vote. [H-L]

At a time when the media’s duty to vet candidates is more urgent than ever, journalism is giving Donald Trump a free pass. Trump deploys fame for fame’s sake; taps into populist expressions of fear, hatred and resentment and shows a knack for picking fights and a braggart’s focus on the horse race. All of which allow him to play into — and exploit — every media weakness and bad habit in a chase for audience and numbers. [HuffPo]

Sounds Like Fun In Madison County…

Thousands of welds might be deficient at the weapons destruction plant in Richmond. [H-L]

The grandest and most majestic first act of 2016 by the Republican majority in Congress was to take a meat clever and sever 17 million Americans from their Affordable Care Act health insurance. [HuffPo]

Congress has effectively lifted the nation’s longstanding ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs, which allow intravenous drug addicts to trade dirty syringes for clean ones in the hopes of preventing disease. [C-J/AKN]

In 10 months, Americans will go to the polls to pick the next U.S. president. When they cast their ballots, those votes will likely hinge on how they feel about the issues most important to them. But what are those issues? [NPR]

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joined the field for the Kentucky Republican presidential caucus before the Thursday deadline, bringing the total of candidates to 11. [WFPL]

US jobs growth remained solid in December as the economy added 292,000 jobs, beating expectations. [BBC]

This is what happens when people are too ignorant or dishonest to realize you can support law enforcement officers and still want accountability. [WKYT]

Young undocumented immigrants, beware: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz will unabashedly tell you to your face that if he’s president, he would deport people like you. [ThinkProgress]

Looking back on his first year of elective office, Madison Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor said he hopes the public is pleased with what the county accomplished in 2015. [Richmond Register]

For advocates of women’s reproductive rights, 2015 was the definition of “annus horribilis:” marked by tough new limits on abortion, a debilitating Planned Parenthood scandal, and a shooting at a Colorado clinic that left three people dead. [ProPublica]

Special elections in Eastern Kentucky are always tons of fun. Yes, Eastern Kentucky, not eastern Kentucky. Kinda like website and not Web site. [Ashland Independent]

The indelible imprint left by human beings on Earth has become so clear that it justifies naming a new geological epoch after mankind, experts said on Thursday. [Reuters]

A proliferation of threats at schools across the state has officials working with police to determine best responses and prevention techniques. [H-L]

Rest a little easier tonight, Earthlings: NASA has just launched a new office aimed at protecting the planet from potential doomsday asteroids. [HuffPo]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. [Ting]

Frankfort Is Already Ruining Everything

The Kentucky General Assembly began its 60-day law-making session Tuesday with a squabble over rules that could affect which party controls the state House in coming months. [H-L]

The gunmen who have occupied a federal building here for three days will resist with force any attempt to remove them, Ammon Bundy, a leader of the militants, said Sunday. But federal authorities have no immediate plans to rush in to retake the remote building. [HuffPo]

People are losing their damn minds over President Obama’s gun proposals. [C-J/AKN]

Mitch McConnell is again confirming he has no plans other than to stand in the way of President Barack Obama. Because his base of support is comprised of racist mouth-breathers who fear brown people. [Salon]

The Kentucky state legislature has gaveled in to begin work on a two-year state spending plan under a new Republican governor. [WKYT]

Military suicides among Army reservists have ticked up from last year, according to new third quarter data for 2015 released by the Pentagon on Monday. [The Hill]

Twenty-eight bottles of the most sought-after bourbon will be available to the public, after it is released from the court. [WAVE3]

Or will they? Franklin County’s sheriff says the bourbon will be destroyed. [H-L]

U.S. manufacturing contracted further in December as lower oil prices undercut spending in the energy sector while construction spending fell in November for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years, suggesting the economy ended 2015 with less momentum. [Reuters]

State lawmakers convened here Tuesday for their bi-annual, 60-day budget session to confront badly underfunded state pension systems and other issues in a politically charged atmosphere. [Ronnie Ellis]

The success or failure of a farming operation depends hugely on the vagaries of weather and climate. For a farmer, a single intense rain event or prolonged dry period can mean a year of lost crops and income. [ThinkProgress]

he final phase of a complete road upgrade to provide better access from West Liberty to Morehead is expected to begin this spring, according to House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins. [Ashland Independent]

Donald Trump is taking to the television airwaves, and his first advert prominently features his controversial call for temporarily halting the entry of all Muslim into the US and a border wall “paid for by Mexico”. [BBC]

The University of Kentucky has hired a new dean for the College of Medicine, officials announced Monday. Robert DiPaola, director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and vice chancellor for cancer programs at the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences center, is expected to start in March, pending approval from the UK Board of Trustees. [H-L]

The Obama administration on Monday defended its deportation tactics and confirmed it has begun raids on families, despite Democratic candidates and immigrant advocates saying officials could be sending mothers and children to their deaths. [HuffPo]

Watching Kentucky’s Environmental Death Speed Up At The Hands Of The Bevin Administration

NOTE: We’ll do update posts like these the next couple days but probably not much else. Just like every year in the past, this end-of-year slowness is taken advantage of. There may be a few stories here and there, so feel free to check daily. Back in full-time action in January.

’Tis the season for shopping, from the pre-dawn chaos of Black Friday to the last after-Christmas and New Year’s Day sales. The annual shopping frenzy got me to thinking about Lexington’s retail landscape and how much it has changed in just my lifetime. It makes me wonder what it will be like in another 50 or 60 years. [H-L]

The latest report on the Arctic by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds dwindling sea ice and temperatures as much as 3 Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) above average are disrupting walrus and fish populations and having major impacts on the ecosystem. [HuffPo]

Kentucky’s new top environmental regulator, recently retired from working for the coal industry, has filed a challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first rules to curb power plant pollution blamed for causing climate change. [C-J/AKN]

Middle-school students in urban areas may benefit from in-school mindfulness programs, a new study suggests. [Reuters]

Alpha Natural Resources continues to scale back its coal-mining operations. [Richmond Register]

Nursing home workers across the country are posting embarrassing and dehumanizing photos of elderly residents on social media networks such as Snapchat, violating their privacy, dignity and, sometimes, the law. [ProPublica]

The year 2015 has been one of progress, when taking into consideration the improvements that have been made in town such as street repairs, sidewalk improvements or the launch of a new industrial site, according to Cave City officials. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Seems like only yesterday Mitch McConnell was touting these plans as the savior. Despite facing mounting evidence federal officials were overpaying some Medicare health plans by tens of millions of dollars a year, the government dialed back efforts to recover as much of the money as possible, newly released records show. [NPR]

Teach For America celebrated Computer Science Education Week by having a Hour of Code at Hazard High School. [Hazard Herald]

Clifford Cain Jr., a retired electrician in Baltimore, was used to living on a tight budget, carefully apportioning his Social Security and pension benefits to cover his rent and medication for multiple sclerosis. [NY Times]

An expert marksman with a cowboy hat and remarkable intuition, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens was a fictional lawman from Harlan County known around the nation for his exploits on the award-winning TV series Justified. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

A New York University official’s response to an email from a senior at Brown University asking for a fee waiver has set off a firestorm on Twitter about low-income students’ access to higher education. [ThinkProgress]

The $1.1 trillion spending package passed by both houses of Congress on Friday includes $30 million for Kentucky’s coal producing regions to redevelop abandoned mine sites with an eye toward boosting the economy. [H-L]

White man’s alleged bomb plot against Muslims is a reminder that nobody has a monopoly on terror. The suspect had expressed support for Donald Trump, saying he’d “follow this MAN to the end of the world.” [HuffPo]

Your support is crucial if you want to see us continue. While other media outlets ignore scandals like those in Montgomery County, we’re shining the bright lights of transparency on issues that directly impact you across the Commonwealth. Love us or hate us, we’re putting in the time and effort to spend years reporting on issues from the pension crisis to government-sanctioned animal cruelty to educational corruption and we get real results. [Help Us!]

McConnell Says Something Else Privately

Your support is crucial if you want to see us continue. While other media outlets ignore scandals like those in Montgomery County, we’re shining the bright lights of transparency on issues that directly impact you across the Commonwealth. Love us or hate us, we’re putting in the time and effort to spend years reporting on issues from the pension crisis to government-sanctioned animal cruelty to educational corruption and we get real results. [Help Us!]

Kentuckians are earning more money, and state officials will soon be making plans to spend it. [H-L]

It was mentioned early on — by Kasich. The climate agreement world leaders struck Saturday in Paris didn’t get a mention during Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate on CNN. [HuffPo]

No, Greg Stumbo, Republicans aren’t trying to buy anything. They’re buying it as we speak. It means the death of Democratic good old boys for the moment. The only way Democrats will survive is if young people take over during the next couple cycles. [C-J/AKN]

The Intercept has obtained a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies. The document, thick with previously undisclosed information, also offers rare insight into the spying capabilities of federal law enforcement and local police inside the United States. [The Intercept]

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate for November 2015 was 4.9 percent, remaining unchanged from the revised 4.9 percent rate in October, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. [Press Release]

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, ending an era of prolonged economic stimulus that provoked intense criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill. [The Hill]

In a 6-0 vote, the Berea City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday affirming the city’s commitment to oppose discrimination. The measure was adopted just weeks after college citizens reported being the targets of racial slurs and harrassment. [Richmond Register]

A deal to fund the U.S. government met resistance on Wednesday from conservative Republicans concerned about spending, as well as House of Representatives Democrats who complained about corporate tax breaks and a planned end to a ban on U.S. oil exports. [Reuters]

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin clearly wanted to appoint Democratic state Rep. Tanya Pullin to an administrative law judge position for which she’d been passed over by just departed Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. [Ronnie Ellis]

As politicians and counter-terrorism officials search for lessons from the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, senior officials have called for limits on technology that sends encrypted messages. [ProPublica]

Since 2006, the Glasgow Water Co. has made $28.5 million in capital improvements to its facilities and distribution systems, but there is still plenty of work to be done, said Scott Young, GWC’s general manager. Between now and 2020, the total estimated cost of the capital improvement plan, which contains several components, is nearly $15 million. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as “a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt”. [BBC]

This may be what Mitch McConnell says publicly but it’s not what he and his people say privately. [H-L]

Oil and gas regulators in British Columbia, Canada, confirmed this week that a 4.6-magnitude earthquake earlier this year was caused by fluid injection from hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. [HuffPo]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. [Ting]

Ernest Lee Fletcher 2.0 Has Arrived

Acknowledging “a difference between campaigning and governing,” Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday challenged Kentuckians to move past partisan rancor, unite with their neighbors and sacrifice for their communities in a 33-minute inaugural address that he delivered without a prepared speech. After every other speaker but his wife was filled with hatred, homophobia, xenophobia and disconnection from reality, of course. [H-L]

The man who supplied guns to the couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, last week is connected to the shooters’ family by marriage, state documents show. [HuffPo]

Making for another possible scandal at the University of Louisville, the FBI and university police are investigating whether its top health executive and two other officials misused federal grant money for non-university purposes. [C-J/AKN]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Turtle Shell) on Tuesday criticized Donald Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from entering the country, his first outspoken criticism of the GOP presidential front-runner. [The Hill]

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, in one of his final acts as governor, appointed Tyra Redus of Louisville rather than Democratic state Rep. Tanya Pullin as an administrative law judge. [Ronnie Ellis]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation plans to sharply expand the information it gathers on violent police encounters in the United States, the Washington Post quoted a senior FBI official as saying on Tuesday. [Reuters]

Papaw Beshear responds to questions of cronyism protecting owners of failing sewage companies. The owner of a failing sewer company who polluted public water and then left the mess is trying to do it again, and now new communities are scrambling for a fix. [WDRB]

Turd Cruz’s weirdly insurrectionist take on the Second Amendment. [ThinkProgress]

Although 98 fewer Madison Countians were employed in October, compared to a year earlier, the county’s jobless rate fell to 3.4 percent from 4.3 percent. [Richmond Register]

In front-page headlines and television interviews, he is increasingly being compared to Hitler. Jeb Bush called him “unhinged.” Dick Cheney said his proposed ban on Muslim immigrants “goes against everything we stand for and believe in as a country.” [Politico]

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the rate of HIV diagnoses has declined nationally, but not among all groups of people. [WFPL]

Mass shootings and police shootings have spurred calls for authorities to take action to reduce the violence. But policymakers may be stymied by the dearth of public health research into both gun violence and deaths that involve the police. One big obstacle: congressional restrictions on funding of such research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [NPR]

While seven out of eight members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation are millionaires, none of the state’s six members of Congress or two senators comes close to matching the wealth of some of their colleagues. [H-L]

The White House on Tuesday said Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s call for the United States to ban Muslims from entering the country disqualified him from becoming president and called on Republicans to reject him immediately. [HuffPo]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. [Ting]