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]

Go Read This From The C-J Right Now

Click this link to go to the Courier-Journal right now.

Read that editorial.

Knowing that our own words are often misinterpreted or misunderstood, we read and re-read his comments. We tried walking a mile in the shoes of an obviously frustrated FOP president. But those shoes kept getting mired in one of the key byproducts of the backside at Churchill Downs.

MAGICAL!

Wow.

The editorial crew essentially said “horse shit” and it’s stirring an urge to re-subscribe.

UPDATE

Also go read this from Phillip Bailey.

Commonwealth’s Nightmare Finally Ends

A fatal accident at a Union County coal mine last December happened because the mine operator did not have effective safeguards to keep workers from being hit by moving equipment, federal regulators have concluded. [H-L]

Lorca Henley of Bowling Green, Ohio, said her family’s dinners on different nights this week included taco salads, tuna casserole with mashed potatoes, spaghetti with meat sauce and hamburgers they fried on the stove because they were out of propane. [HuffPo]

A man says in a lawsuit that Norton Healthcare lost a piece of his brain. [C-J/AKN]

The place where you grow up doesn’t affect only your future income, as we wrote about last week. It also affects your odds of marrying, a large new data set shows. [NY Times]

In the midst of the celebration surrounding Governor Steve Beshear’s visit to Hazard on Tuesday, another, less cheerful, story was bubbling in the downtown community. This time, though, it did not have anything to do with the usual negative news suspects—drugs or poverty—but concerned the well-being and seemingly unnecessary removal of some of the only greenery on Main Street. [Hazard Herald]

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a scathing report consisting of 348 recommendations that address myriad human rights violations in the United States. [ACLU]

Remodeling projects for Foley Middle School and Silver Creek Elementary received bids from only one company, at more than $1.5 million higher than estimates for each project. [Richmond Register]

Seymour Hersh found himself in the middle of an F-5 shitstorm this week after breaking his biggest blockbuster story of the Obama Era, debunking the official heroic White House story about how Navy SEALs took out Osama Bin Laden in a daring, secret nighttime raid in the heart of Pakistan. [Click the Clicky]

The man who was with the Duct Tape Bandit when he beat up and robbed an Ashland businessman is no longer facing a robbery charge, according to a court official. [Ashland Independent]

Will this ever happen in Kentucky? Nebraska lawmakers moved legislation to repeal the state’s death penalty one step from final approval on Friday, one day after the governor, a death penalty supporter, said the state was acquiring more drugs to carry out lethal injections. [Reuters]

A number of Morehead citizens showed up at Monday’s City Council meeting to voice concerns about potential plans for about 100 acres of wooded land recently purchased near the end of Knapp Avenue. [The Morehead News]

It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter. [Politico]

A Lawrence County school bus full of students on their way to school started on fire Friday, authorities said. [H-L]

Students in Puerto Rico launched mass protests this week against the governor’s attempt to slash some $166 million from the University of Puerto Rico’s budget. That’s about one-fifth of the funding for the island’s main public university system. [HuffPo]

Another Corrupt Judge Gets Revealed

Rand Paul has hinged his fledgling presidential campaign on polls showing him ahead of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in some swing states, but the latest Bluegrass Poll suggests Paul might have a hard time beating Clinton in his own backyard. [H-L]

Pike Circuit Judge Steven D. Combs violated ethics standards in a number of instances, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission has charged. [More H-L]

Americans may largely agree on the charges filed against Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, but they remain deeply divided over the way his case, and others like it, have been covered by the media. [HuffPo]

Kentucky Kingdom amusement park could receive up to $3.75 million in tax-recovery incentives to be spread over the next decade. [C-J/AKN]

The history of the most iconic American whiskies isn’t always reflected in the names that appear on their labels. [The Atlantic]

Citing concerns for public safety and the environment, the Madison County Fiscal Court unanimously adopted a resolution expressing opposition to the proposed conversion of gas pipeline. [Richmond Register]

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office misrepresented the facts behind a key argument about the availability of certain execution drugs in its filings at the U.S. Supreme Court, BuzzFeed News has determined. [BuzzFart]

Glad to see Riggs Lewis is shopping around the information we uncovered. Yet more proof that the Comer crew is using the Marilyn Thomas incident politically. They’ve had that information about Michael Adams’ ties to Jeff Hoover since early 2014. [Ashland Independent]

A coalition of conservative groups want to make sure Congressional Republicans don’t let up on the fight to eliminate what they call D.C.’s exemption from ObamaCare. [The Hill]

A total of $300,000 is the amount the Rowan County Board of Education had to find last year to balance the budget and this year the district faces the same fiscal shortfall. [The Morehead News]

Republican Jeb Bush said on Tuesday that “mistakes were made” in the Iraq war, moving to disavow a controversial statement he made in support of the 2003 invasion ordered by his brother, then-President George W. Bush. [Reuters]

Multiple coroners in Kentucky have gone years without meeting the training standards that are set forth in Kentucky law. [WKYT]

The heart of the batting order is due up in the House Appropriations Committee beginning Wednesday: four major spending bills that will capture all the contradictions in the new Republican budget over the next month. [Politico]

The only people standing behind Jamie Comer are people like Anne “KT’s Old Fashioned” Northup, Dan “FEAR THE GAYS and Let My Daughter Illegally Run For Office” Seum, Julie “Let Me Pad My Pension” Denton and similar shysters. [H-L]

House Republicans are again attacking measures aimed at protecting U.S. troops from predatory lending practices, two weeks after a similar GOP effort failed. [HuffPo]

Big City Newspaper Inching Toward Death Rattle?

Lexington shoppers who stocked up on groceries Sunday might need to stretch them out a bit longer. Around the city, people were reporting shelves and coolers denuded of bread, lunchmeat, milk and other staples. [H-L]

A federal judge’s ruling halting the president’s executive actions on immigration did little to persuade either party in Congress to publicly back down from a budget standoff. [HuffPo]

Because there’s no such thing as transparency in Louisville! This deserves to be linked a second time. The question of whether the Metropolitan Sewer District was violating the state’s open records rules from its board members’ use of private email accounts won’t be answered by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. [C-J/AKN]

The Obama administration is touting its better-than-expected ObamaCare enrollment period as it turns to next month’s pivotal Supreme Court fight over the healthcare law. [The Hill]

The newspaper in Bowling Green has a section called “Rand Paul Watch”. [BGDN]

Tank cars from a derailed oil train were still on fire in West Virginia on Wednesday, two days after an explosive accident in which 25 cars went off the rails, a CSX Corp spokeswoman said. [Reuters]

Kentucky readers have been busy borrowing from their libraries. The state library system set the record for number of items checked out. [WHAS11]

With the Obama administration racing to negotiate the outlines of a nuclear deal with Iran by the end of March, aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have charged in recent days that they are being deliberately left in the dark about the details of the talks. [NY Times]

The elephant in the room: forcing everyone at the dying newspaper to re-apply for their jobs despite saying that wouldn’t happen. And laying Jim Carroll off because Kentucky doesn’t need to know anything about Washington, D.C., obviously. [Business First]

Four months after he was brought back to an agency that was struggling to cope with a series of embarrassing missteps, Joseph Clancy was named the permanent director of the Secret Service Wednesday. [NPR]

Paul Thomas and Jacob Ginter were sworn in last Friday as new Morehead police officers by Mayor Jim Tom Trent. [The Morehead News]

The same people who lied to you about Iraq are now in charge of Jeb Bush’s foreign policy. [Think Progress]

Fayette County Public Schools have cancelled classes for the rest of the week, according to the district’s website. [H-L]

For more than three decades, scientists have tried unsuccessfully to develop an effective vaccine for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But now researchers say they have created an experimental drug that may function as a sort of “alternative” vaccine for the virus. [HuffPo]

Woah, We Agree With Stan Lee For Once

This is the extent of the mainstream media’s coverage of the Montgomery County saga. [H-L]

The last image we have of Patrick Cagey is of his first moments as a free man. He has just walked out of a 30-day drug treatment center in Georgetown, Kentucky, dressed in gym clothes and carrying a Nike duffel bag. he moment reminds his father of Patrick’s graduation from college, and he takes a picture of his son with his cell phone. Patrick is 25. His face bright, he sticks his tongue out in embarrassment. Four days later, he will be dead from a heroin overdose. [HuffPo]

The Kentucky State Police investigation into the shredding of documents by former Legislative Research Commission Director Robert Sherman remains an open and active case 16 months after the shredding took place. [C-J/AKN]

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget would impose a one-time 14 percent tax on some $2 trillion of accumulated U.S. corporate profits earned abroad and set up a 19 percent tax on future foreign earnings, a White House official said on Sunday. [Reuters]

Kentuckians want to see their governors in the flesh and in their hometowns. And they expect him or her to be “one of us.” That’s a challenge for the stiff and stylish Louisville Democrat. [Ronnie Ellis]

The economy expanded by 2.6% in the last three months of 2014 – sharply lower than in the third quarter. [BBC]

The United Steelworkers Union (USW) announced that it is calling for a work stoppage at nine refineries in the United States, including the Marathon Refinery in Catlettsburg. [Ashland Independent]

You may soon be able to donate your personal data to science. There are plans afoot to find 1 million Americans to volunteer for a new Precision Medicine Initiative that would anonymously link medical records, genetic readouts, details about an individual’s gut bacteria, lifestyle information and maybe even data from your Fitbit. [NPR]

“It was my understanding that NCSL was supposed to take a look at [sexual harassment], but nary a word of it in that report,” said Lexington Republican Rep. Stan Lee, the new minority caucus chair in the Kentucky House. [WFPL]

Mitt Romney’s decision to forgo a third try at the White House has settled the question of whether the 2016 GOP presidential field has a front-runner — bestowing a coveted status on former Florida governor Jeb Bush that also raises new challenges and perils. [WaPo]

The National Conference of Firemen and Oilers SEIU union officially filed an appeal Jan. 28 to the National Labor Relations Board regarding alleged discrepancies during last week’s vote of Aramark employees at MSU. [The Morehead News]

Presumptive presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R) has a long history of opposing LGBT equality, and he proved Sunday morning that his basic understanding of what it means to be gay has not evolved. [ThinkProgress]

The Kentucky General Assembly is under pressure to confront some worsening problems that it previously has avoided when it returns to Frankfort on Tuesday for the 26 remaining work days in this shorter, odd-year legislative session. [John Cheves]

President Barack Obama has taken on some pretty ambitious projects, from overhauling health care to slowing global warming. As he comes to the end of his time in office, he’s trying for one more — although very few people in Washington seem to have noticed, and the most important steps will probably take place after he’s left the White House. [HuffPo]