The US Loves It Some Mass Shootings

Rand Paul’s presidential campaign raised only about $2.5 million in the third quarter of the year, according to a published report Thursday afternoon. [H-L]

The nation was once again confronted with the horror of a deadly school shooting on Thursday, this time a massacre at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon. [HuffPo]

After a fiery confrontation with County Attorney Mike O’Connell, Jefferson District Judge Sean Delahanty promised to rule within a week about the fate of 2,300 motorists whose cases he has held hostage because of his concerns about Drive Safe Louisville, which has generated $1.3 million for O’Connell’s office. [C-J/AKN]

Californians have really stepped up water conservation due to the drought. Some cities are selling almost half as much water as they normally do. But there’s a big downside for water agencies — lost revenue. People using less water means major budget shortfalls. [NPR]

Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz says she is granting licenses to “bride and groom” couples – and claims she never stopped issuing them – but not to same-sex couples. [WKYT]

Congress is blocking legal marijuana in Washington, D.C. and maybe causing a spike in murders. [Mother Jones]

A new report details the differences in health care costs and patient usages in metro areas across the country. And Kentucky fares fairly well. [WFPL]

A woman in the US state of Georgia has been executed despite a number of last-ditch appeals, including one by the Pope, to try to block her execution. [BBC]

Democratic state Sen. Dorsey Ridley of Henderson says he’s close to jumping into the race to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Congressman Ed Whitfield. [Ronnie Ellis]

The CEO of Alpha Natural Resources is defending his coal company’s financing of harassment of climate scientists. [The Intercept]

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was met by a swarm of reporters and photographers as he walked into the federal courthouse Thursday morning for the first day of jury selection in his criminal trial. [Ashland Independent]

Pope Francis’ encounter with Kim Davis last week in Washington, which was interpreted by many as a subtle intervention in the United States’ same-sex marriage debate, was part of a series of private meetings with dozens of guests and did not amount to an endorsement of her views, the Vatican said on Friday. So Kim Davis DID fame whore it up while mischaracterizing her encounter with the pope. Imagine that. [NY Times]

The biggest spenders in Kentucky’s competitive race for governor are a pair of Louisville millionaires who want to see a Republican elected as the state’s chief executive. But it’s not what you think. [H-L]

U.S. employers slammed the brakes on hiring over the last two months and wages fell in September, raising new doubts the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates by the end of this year. [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]

Let The Jamie Comer Funtimes Begin

Of course Jamie Comer is running for Ed Whitfield’s soon-to-be-vacated congressional seat in KY-01.

Here’s Comer’s statement:

Tompkinsville, KY — Following the announcement by U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield that he will not seek re-election, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer declared his candidacy for the open seat in the state’s First Congressional District. “As a farmer, small business owner, and father of three, it is important to me that we have a conservative representative in Washington.” said Commissioner Comer.

“I appreciate the service of Congressman Whitfield and his commitment to the people of the First District. My wife T.J. and I have been overwhelmed with encouragement from supporters across the entire district. I will be an active, energetic, and accessible Congressman who will work hard everyday(sic) for the people of the First District.”

Comer, a resident of Tompkinsville, is a lifelong farmer and small business owner in Monroe County. Prior to being elected as Commissioner of Agriculture, Comer served as a Kentucky State Representative for Metcalfe, Cumberland, Green and Monroe Counties. He and his wife T.J. are both graduates of Monroe County High School and Western Kentucky University. They have three children ages 4, 8, and 11.

Won’t say I told you so… but I told you so.

Folks close to Mitch McConnell have said for a couple months that they have strong Republican candidates to run against Comer, so that should be fun.

Will also be fun (okay, not fun) to see how the shenanigans of the gubernatorial primary impact Comer now that he’s running for federal office.

Lil Randy Pretends To Be Serious Again

Ed Whitfield is retiring, which Republicans have gossiped about for months. Now Jamie Comer can do more than toy with a run. He’ll have to make a quick decision because other Republicans are ready to jump in. [Deep Thoughts]

The University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences has received a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to research injury prevention in U.S. Special Forces. [H-L]

Relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. are better than ever, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations. [HuffPo]

Most public employees in Kentucky — including those of state government and Metro Louisville — will see a bit less in their paychecks starting in 2017 when the Internal Revenue Service will begin applying Social Security and Medicare tax to the employees’ contributions to their retirement funds. [C-J/AKN]

A photographer has snapped the ancient post offices and abandoned mailboxes of the South as symbols of the once invaluable postal system’s gradual disappearance as she documents the US Postal Service’s struggle to survive in the 21st century. [Daily Mail]

State Sen. Whitney Sweaterfield (R-Gay Panicked), Republican candidate for Kentucky attorney general, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rowan County Republican Party at the public library. [The Morehead News]

Races for the top House Republican leadership spots began firming up Monday as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made official his bid for the Speakership, and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) won two key endorsements for the No. 2 GOP post. [The Hill]

Some local law enforcement officers wonder why the fund used to provide training and salary supplements has grown but the stipend they receive hasn’t for more than 10 years. [Ronnie Ellis]

Barring extraordinary events, Richard Glossip will be executed on Wednesday, despite deep uncertainty about whether he is actually guilty of the crime that led to his murder conviction. [ThinkProgress]

Philip Bianchi knew something had gone wrong. Bianchi, a second-generation funeral director and Harlan County’s elected coroner, set out last November with a team that included the Kentucky State Police to exhume the remains of a young woman found murdered in 1969. [WFPL]

Rand Paul says he is “absolutely” in the presidential race for the long haul, despite sagging poll numbers and his early debate struggles. [Politico]

As you can see, Louisville loves killing its people. Totally compassionately, of course, says Greg Fischer. [WHAS11]

Scientists think they can now tie dark streaks seen on the surface of Mars to periodic flows of liquid water. [BBC]

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority earlier [last] week approved tax incentives for companies including Georgetown’s Creform Corp., FedEx Ground Package System and Air Hydro Power. [H-L]

They lost their daughter to a mass shooter and now owe more than $200,000 her killer’s ammunition dealer. [HuffPo]

No, The Presidency Is Not Some Crown

“I’m going to move on my casino bill and ask for hearings on it during the interim. It’s part of my personal agenda,” Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said after the 2015 session ended. [H-L]

A U.S. district judge in Texas on Thursday issued a stay to halt the U.S. Labor Department from implementing a rule that would expand medical leave protections for same-sex couples, saying the move impinges on the rights of states that ban gay marriage. [HuffPo]

The most fascinating vote of the entire 2015 legislature happened a few minutes after 3 a.m. on the final morning of the session when a wide-ranging group of Democrats and Republicans banded together in the House to beat back a leadership bill. [C-J/AKN]

The state of the U.S. labor market in March will consume economists and investors in the week leading up to Easter, adding to the seesaw debate over when the Federal Reserve will spring its first interest rate hike. [Reuters]

Democrats are apparently seething over this one. A Louisville woman has been appointed to serve on the newly created National Women’s History Museum Commission. Bridget Bush, a lawyer, was appointed by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. [WLEX18]

Senators approved a budget amendment Thursday that would give married same-sex couples access to Social Security and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. [The Hill]

Everybody is freaking out… President Barack Obama will be coming to Louisville April 2. [WHAS11]

The House Ethics Committee is launching a full-scale investigation into whether Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield improperly aided his wife’s lobbying work for the Humane Society Legislative Fund. [Politico]

W. Keith Hall is apparently doing everything he can to stall the inevitable. A former Kentucky lawmaker facing a bribery charge has asked that his trial be postponed following a guilty plea by a co-defendant. [WLKY]

A man who won an auction to shoot an endangered black rhino in Namibia has been given a US permit to import the trophy if he kills one. [BBC]

The frustration of one-lane paths along U.S. 60 in Summit won’t last much beyond next weekend, although the overall project will continue for months to come. [Ashland Independent]

New rules put forward by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would have a major impact on the high-cost loan industry. But if history is any guide, lenders will quickly find some loopholes. [ProPublica]

The Cave-In-Rock Ferry is resuming operation in western Kentucky between Crittenden County, Kentucky, and Hardin County, Illinois. [H-L]

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke about his potential run for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, seeming to take a shot at the idea of another Clinton in the White House. “Let’s be honest here, the presidency is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people,” O’Malley said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” [HuffPo]

Let’s Talk About Ed Whitfield’s Corruption Again

Lawyers for the state of Kentucky are asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Christian ministry that wants to be considered for a sales tax rebate program. [H-L]

Vermont’s governor told Mitch McConnell that climate change is real and we should deal with it. Mitch McConnell ignored him, counting his mountain of coal cash. You know — the thing that comes into being after mountaintop removal demolishes actual mountains — cash. [HuffPo]

Are you excited for the beginning of the Kentucky Derby Festival? Get ready. It’s almost here. If you’re not a Louisville local, you ought to take part. [C-J/AKN]

Legislators in two states are trying to repeal laws that let authorities revoke driver’s licenses or professional licenses when people fall severely behind on their student loan payments. Yep, Kentucky is one of those states. [Bloomberg]

Wondering why Andy Beshear has been trying to insert himself into the heroin fight? Because Whitney Sweaterfield has been all over it. It’s called political jealousy. [Ronnie Ellis]

The Supreme Court appeared split Wednesday over a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever limits on mercury, arsenic and acid gases emitted by power plants, slated to take effect next month for some plants. [The Hill]

The Madison County Animal Shelter is located at 1386 Richmond Road in Berea. Go there and adopt. [Richmond Register]

A special investigative panel will probe allegations that a Kentucky lawmaker helped his wife lobby on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee said on Friday. [Reuters]

The finalization of a real estate deal involving Guntown Mountain, a Western-themed roadside attraction alongside Interstate 65 in Cave City, has been pushed back a few weeks. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer. [ProPublica]

In November 2014 the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department arrested three persons after a traffic stop for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. [The Morehead News]

A breakthrough in the development of temperature-resilient beans could help sustain a vital source of protein for millions of people around the globe. [BBC]

Will artists move in droves to Covington’s west side? Nope. Lipstick on a pig. [H-L]

“Lacee Scott?” the judge called. The 23-year-old rose from a hard black plastic chair, walked past the fireplace and stood before the table at the front of the living room. [HuffPo]