Barren County Just Made Major Progress

For 50 years, the Kirwan Blanding complex — its towering twin towers looming over the south side of campus — were among the University of Kentucky’s most iconic images. But those icons can no longer provide the housing spaces that students desire, so they are being demolished. [Linda Blackford]

Narrow wins in special elections don’t typically qualify as major political events, but Tuesday night’s Senate race in Alabama, in which Democrat Doug Jones is the apparent winner, may be the exception. [HuffPo]

Oh, please, she was hand-picked. It was an open secret for months. Her lying ass needs to be dragged out of council like the rest of these good old boy shysters that have taken over. Metro Council candidate Nicole George dismissed claims that she was groomed by Louisville Democrats to replace former Councilman Dan Johnson, who was removed last month due to sexual misconduct. [C-J/AKN]

While Jared Kushner is working on a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Kushner Companies Charitable Foundation is funding a controversial West Bank settlement. [ProPublica]

The Harlan City Council discussed the new rates for the city’s contribution to state retirement funds during a meeting on Monday. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

A year ago, no one would have envisioned President Emmanuel Macron of France as the public face of Western diplomacy in the Middle East. But that is not the case anymore. [NY Times]

Barren County Fiscal Court narrowly approved Tuesday a needle exchange program for the county, moving the proposal closer to becoming reality. [BGDN]

The U.S. military is preparing to accept transgender recruits for the first time beginning in January, the Pentagon said Wednesday, the latest signal that Donald Trump’s desired ban may not materialize after all. [WaPo]

The Louisville Metro Police Department is investigating state Rep. Dan Johnson for alleged sexual abuse in his church. [WFPL]

An inmate at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is still being tortured, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer said in a statement on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Living in hiding downtown for four years, Byron “Roc” Peeler was thrust into the spotlight on Friday after challenging Mayor Greg Fischer to spend a night in his homeless camp. In a prior Courier Journal story, he took the mayor to task, saying that city leaders cannot call Louisville a “compassionate city” while pushing homeless people out. [More C-J/AKN]

The Morehead State University Board of Regents voted Thursday to sell Sunny Brook Golf Course and two other properties owned by the university. [The Morehead News]

Donald Trump called a sitting U.S. Senator a whore and no one batted an eyelash. Because it wasn’t the craziest thing to occur that morning. This is the new normal. [BBC]

The Kentucky Personnel Cabinet has requested an investigation of whether a male officer sexually harassed female employees at the prison in Elliott County. [H-L]

The number of journalists imprisoned around the globe hit a record high in 2017, with at least 262 reporters currently behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. They’re guilty of doing their jobs. [HuffPo]

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Don’t Forget Your Elders, Appalachian Millennials & Outsiders

Suicide is never the answer. But it’s disgusting for people like Jeff Hoover and Matt Bevin to praise this monster in his cowardly death. [H-L]

An already dire situation for North Atlantic right whales became even worse in 2017. This species of whale is among the most endangered animals in the world, and if significant actions to recover their populations aren’t taken soon, they could face extinction, researchers at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration said this week. [HuffPo]

Authorities say a Kentucky constable has been charged with helping a jail inmate escape from custody. [H-L]

Mmmm hmm. Investor Charles Price hosted a lucrative fundraiser for Gov. Matt Bevin a few months after the governor announced that Braidy Industries, a company at which Price is a director, would receive an unusual $15 million state investment. [C-J/AKN]

It took 16 years and more than 1,000 deaths for the Consumer Products Safety Commission to crack down on deadly portable generators. Trump’s appointees could undo that in a matter of months. [ProPublica]

Maybe it isn’t working out because no one in the area can afford to shop there? That’s apparently lost on these wealthy white folks running the show. [WFPL]

E.P.A. enforcement officials nationwide rely on provisions of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts that give them the power to order polluters to test their emissions to see if they are violating the law. Mr. Pruitt, after a request from the oil industry, has put new limits on that power. [NY Times]

On average, a new synthetic drug is identified in the U.S. every seven to 10 days. [Richmond Register]

The Environmental Protection Agency released a list of Superfund sites around the country Friday that it said regulators will target “for immediate and intense attention.” [WaPo]

Four law enforcement agencies are investigating allegations of malfeasance by County Jailer Joe Burchett at the Boyd County Detention Center, a prosecutor said Tuesday. [Ashland Independent]

Contrary to the narrative you’ll hear from DC/NYC outsiders, this is not a new movement. There have always been women fighting to improve lives in Appalachia. Until recently, there was almost always progress on that front. My mother was running prenatal clinics in Morgan and Rowan Counties 30+ years ago, working with a network of individuals focusing on radical progress. They had successes. They built what these younger folks are standing upon today. Do not forget them. [CNN]

The process is well underway now to have a family court judge in place for the 43rd Judicial Circuit relatively soon after the resignation of Mitchell Nance takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

A U.S. judge questioned on Tuesday whether the federal government properly formulated new rules that undermine an Obamacare requirement for employers to provide insurance that covers women’s birth control. [Reuters]

Bourbon County officials are considering a plan to expand Bluegrass Station at Avon by 2,500 acres to build an 8,000- to 10,000-foot runway and two two-bay hangars to accommodate C-130 military cargo planes that need to be outfitted for special operations missions, according to a report in the Bourbon County Citizen. [H-L]

Southern bigotry is real, Bernie Bros and the worthless executive director of the KDP. The sooner you own it, the sooner you eradicate it. It’s time to shut the hell up with the “stop highlighting our racism” schtick. It’s real and you have to deal with it. [HuffPo]

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Thanks To Republican-Created Nightmare, Eastern Kentucky Educators Are Planning For Impact

Midway, a town of about 1,500, is now home to a public electric vehicle charging station. [H-L]

Your tax dollars are being used to attack a private business for having a political opinion. Let that sink in. [HuffPo]

Some lawmakers now express unease about the way the deal came together, secrecy surrounding Braidy Industries’ ownership and the unprecedented size of the state’s investment. State Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, said she would’ve changed her vote had she known how the funds would be used. “Kentucky should not be investing in companies – period – as a shareholder,” said state Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville. [C-J/AKN]

The 14 nations, aside from the United States, on the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council condemned Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week. [The Hill]

The Richmond Police Department purchased new SUV cruisers that entered service this week. [Richmond Register]

Donald Trump flew to Mississippi on Saturday to attend the opening of a civil rights museum, but his visit was marred by the absence of top African-American leaders who stayed away in protest of his policies and record on race relations. [Reuters]

A report saying Kentucky is undermining public education through underfunding is right on the money, local school officials say. [Ashland Independent]

About 700 to 900 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. And for every death, dozens of women suffer life-threatening complications. But there is a stark racial disparity in these numbers. Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die than white mothers. Nevertheless, black women’s voices are often missing from public discussions about what’s behind the maternal health crisis and how to address the problems. [ProPublica]

A second building for the Maysville Community and Technical College-Rowan Campus will soon be under construction. [The Morehead News]

Around 5:30 each morning, Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day. [NY Times]

Federal-Mogul Motorparts and Lynx Labeling Inc. each received preliminary approval Thursday from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for Kentucky Business Investment Program tax incentives. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row. [WaPo]

Bourbon County officials are considering a plan to expand Bluegrass Station at Avon by 2,500 acres to build an 8,000- to 10,000-foot runway and two two-bay hangars to accommodate C-130 military cargo planes that need to be outfitted for special operations missions, according to a report in the Bourbon County Citizen. [H-L]

Trump inauguration demonstrators are facing severe felony charges that critics say threaten to chill future protests in Washington, D.C. [HuffPo]

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New Republicans: Still Choking Kentucky

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Really, Tom Eblen? Asking what state officials are going to do about pedestrian deaths in Lexington? Absolutely nothing. You already know that. Because nothing’s ever been done in Louisville. [Tom Eblen]

It was billed as radical tax reform ― reducing taxes for the middle class and closing loopholes for the rich ― but the Republicans have come under serious fire for offering the biggest breaks to companies and the wealthy. [HuffPo]

General Electric Co. will cut 12,000 jobs in its power division as alternative energy supplants demand for coal and other fossil fuels. [C-J/AKN]

A zealous band of Russian trolls flooded Twitter with hundreds of thousands of divisive posts in 2016 — accusing Democrats of satanic practices and supporting rape — in an attempt to influence the presidential election, according to a new analysis of a Twitter database by NBC News. The effort tricked thousands of users into spreading graphic racial epithets across social media, interweaving provocative content with disinformation and falsehoods. [NBC News]

As talks for pension reform continues, many state employees, especially teachers, have been looking closer at retirement. [Richmond Register]

State lawmakers often blur the line between the public’s business and their own. A recent change in Iowa’s tax code spared Mark Chelgren’s machine shop, welding company and wheelchair-parts plant from paying sales tax when buying certain supplies such as saws and cutting fluid. [Public Integrity]

It’s been three years since Sabrina Sigman last saw her son. Paul Clifton Sigman disappeared sometime in the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2014. [Ashland Independent]

Here’s a grim picture of the state of the American economy: The CEO of Dollar General explained to the Wall Street Journal why things are looking up for his company. [Vox]

An updated analysis of Kentucky’s poorly funded public pension systems by PEW Charitable Trust indicates previous reforms of the system enacted in 2013 put the systems “on track to full funding provided the state continues to stay on the course charted in 2013.” [Ronnie Ellis]

The mission that resulted in the death of eight soldiers — including four Americans — in a firefight with Islamist militants in Niger earlier this year was the result of reckless behavior by US Special Forces in Africa, according to insiders and officials with knowledge of the operation. [BuzzFeed]

Dennis Chaney, district director for the Barren River District Health Department, is on Monday’s agenda for the Glasgow City Council meeting to discuss information about syringe exchanges. [Glasgow Daily Times]

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled a trove of documents on Friday showing what he said was “irrefutable evidence” that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort violated a court gag order by ghost-writing an opinion piece designed to improve his public image. [Reuters]

The DCCC pushed Jim Gray to run for Congress for a couple reasons. It fears and wants to overlook the black man already in the race. And the woman in the race is backed by the absolute worst people in Kentucky politics. And no, Gray has no shot. [H-L]

His actions speak louder than his words. You know he’s racist and his words are empty. [HuffPo]

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Can Republicans Do Anything Right?

Former disability lawyer Eric C. Conn pleaded not guilty to escape charges Wednesday, a day after the FBI flew him back to Kentucky from Honduras, where he was captured Saturday after six months as a fugitive. [H-L]

Facing swift and stiff backlash from lawmakers and activists, the Department of Veterans Affairs has reportedly backtracked on a decision to slash funding for a successful program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans. [HuffPo]

The city of Louisville has paid more than $566,000 to nine law firms to fight Kerry Porter’s claim for compensation for the 14 years spent behind bars for a murder he did not commit. Porter was exonerated in 2011 by former Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel for the 1996 killing of truck driver Tyrone Camp. In 2012 he sued the city and 10 police officers, alleging a conspiracy to unlawfully arrest and convict him. [C-J/AKN]

The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East. [ProPublica]

Affordable housing development could be a victim of the proposed $1.5 trillion tax cut currently working its way through the United States Congress. [WFPL]

Donald Trump’s outrageous, self-aggrandizing rhetoric is the butt of so many jokes precisely because it’s so transparently false, it should be funny. When he inflates the size of his inauguration crowd to soothe his ego, bruised after he lost the popular vote to his rival, it sounds like a kid lying about who came to his birthday party. But it’s funny until the lies have deadly consequences — beyond just discouraging the American public’s trust in democracy and its own institutions. [ThinkProgress]

Despite his Nov. 5 announcement that he is stepping down as Speaker of the House in the wake of reports he signed a confidential settlement of sexual harassment claims, Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, may legally still be Speaker. [Ronnie Ellis]

White House national security adviser HR McMaster says the US is “in a race” to address the threat from North Korea. [BBC]

House Republican Communications Director Daisy Olivo filed suit Monday against the Legislative Research Commission alleging retaliation for reporting allegations that then-Speaker Jeff Hoover engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with another staff aide. [More Ronnie Ellis]

Donald Trump ran a campaign on lifting up the little guy. He was, in the words of his oldest son, “a blue-collar billionaire,” and it was his plain-spoken promise to be their warrior in Washington that helped win over voters in hollowed-out Midwestern towns. But almost a year into his presidency, evidence shows he has governed not as the populist champion he proclaimed himself to be, but instead as a president siding more often with large corporations, special interests, and the wealthiest of Americans. [Boston Globe]

The recommendation of the Barren County Fiscal Court Administrative Committee to the full fiscal court will be for the county to move forward with establishing a syringe exchange program through the health department, but the decision was not unanimous. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Charter schools are among the nation’s most segregated, an Associated Press analysis finds — an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools. [AP]

Republican members of the Kentucky House are asking Republican Gov. Matt Bevin not to call a special legislative session on pension reform before the end of the year. [H-L]

It was late morning in an artsy cafe, the smell of coffee and baked goods sweetening the air, and Ashley Bishop sat at a table, recalling a time when she was taught that most of secular American society was worthy of contempt. [HuffPo]

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All The Trumpers Are Pleading Guilty

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The Legislative Research Commission’s contract with a Louisville law firm to investigate sexual harassment in the state House of Representatives will cost Kentucky taxpayers up to $50,000. [H-L]

The U.S. Census Bureau is significantly scaling back its preparations for the 2020 census, which experts say could compromise the agency’s ability to accurately conduct its constitutionally mandated count of people. An inaccurate census could have drastic consequences, with the potential to hit minority communities the hardest. [HuffPo]

To some it seems taboo. But a nationally renowned pain doctor says a four-letter word can ease aches and anxiety without the risk of addiction: H-E-M-P. [C-J/AKN]

More than 400 U.S. Marines and their artillery are leaving Syria after helping to capture the city of Raqqa from Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the militant group said on Thursday. [Reuters]

Rowan County Fiscal Court is looking at options to help gain more revenue through the more efficient collection of occupational taxes. [The Morehead News]

For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. [ProPublica]

Local officials told state lawmakers they want more control over the way they raise money to fund their governments and they are willing to take responsibility for the “inviolable contract” guaranteeing their employees pension benefits if lawmakers allow them to split off from the state employee pension system. [Ronnie Ellis]

Carl Portman remembers watching, heartbroken, from Anchorage in 2005 as a Senate effort to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lost by two votes. Now, 17 years later, another effort to open up the reserve to oil and gas drilling is working its way through Congress. And this time, the political winds have shifted. [NY Times]

Two 27-year-old Boyd County inmates who overdosed in the jail after taking what authorities believe to be heroin now face contraband charges. [Ashland Independent]

A month after turning himself in for charges he faces connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reached a bail deal with Mueller’s team, according to court documents filed by Manafort’s lawyers Thursday. [TPM]

Matt Bevin’s just a racist bigot. Yes, he has children of color and a minority lieutenant governor. But get a damn grip – everything he says and does is racist horseshit. A plaque in the Kentucky Capitol declaring the only president of the Confederacy to be a hero and a patriot will stay until a lawyer with Republican Matt Bevin’s administration can determine if the decision to remove it was legal. [Richmond Register]

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has agreed to plead guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, marking another monumental development in the wide-ranging probe of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. [WaPo]

Jefferson Davis, the president of the slave-holding Confederate states, remains a “hero” in Kentucky’s Capitol Rotunda. A commission that oversees state-owned statues voted last month to remove a bronze plaque attached to a controversial statue of Davis that declares him a “patriot — hero — statesman,” but that plan changed Wednesday after questions were raised about the commission’s legal authority take down the plaque. [H-L]

Everything this idiot does is bigoted. Donald Trump somehow made time to mock Asian leaders, who hosted him on his recent trip, during a speech meant to promote GOP tax bills moving through Congress. [HuffPo]

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The Republicans Are Raising Your Taxes

PEE ALERT! Matt Bevin said Thursday he still intends to call a special legislative session on pension reform this calendar year. [H-L]

Republicans insist their tax cut bill will benefit workers, though the legislation has few provisions that directly benefit people with modest incomes in the long run. [HuffPo]

A Northern Kentucky lawyer who previously worked at the state Capitol says she received inappropriate text messages from one of the four House Republicans (Michael Meredith) involved in a secret sexual harassment settlement with another female staffer that cost former House Speaker Jeff Hoover his leadership job. [C-J/AKN]

One of Bigot Donald Trump’s top cabinet officials has met with a long list of lobbyists, corporate executives and wealthy people with business interests before the government, according to calendars the Trump administration fought to keep secret. The calendars for Mick Mulvaney, the former South Carolina congressman who now runs the White House Office of Management and Budget, offer a glimpse of who has access to the highest levels of the Trump administration. [ProPublica]

House Republican leaders say they are closer to an agreement on pension reform after a closed-door two and a half hour meeting Tuesday — but they still don’t have a final agreement. [Ronnie Ellis]

Meanwhile, in Canada… Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologised for historical injustices against the LGBT community. [BBC]

Barren County’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from September to October, according to a report released by the state Thursday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

As tensions between the United States and North Korea continue to simmer, Hawaii is preparing to resume a statewide test on Friday of a Cold War-era early warning system designed to inform its residents of an impending nuclear attack. [NY Times]

Donald L. Blankenship, the coal executive convicted of conspiring to violate federal safety standards tied to a deadly mine disaster, plans to run for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia next year, WCSH-TV reported Wednesday. [Ashland Independent]

America’s diplomatic professionals have issued a dire warning about the crisis facing the State Department: Scores of top diplomats, including some of our highest-ranked career Foreign Service officers, have left the agency at “a dizzying speed” over the past 10 months. [Madeleine Albright]

State Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, welcomed the Kentucky State Senate Majority Caucus Leadership Team Wednesday to his district for its annual retreat. [Richmond Register]

This is beyond insane. There’s no other way to describe it. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday said the wave of recent U.S. disasters, from multiple storms to raging wildfires, must redefine the agency’s role and that localities must be more prepared to shoulder crises. [Reuters]

Communities with strong laws against workplace smoking have lower rates of lung cancer, a new study from the University of Kentucky found. [Linda Blackford]

A visibly frustrated federal judge ordered the Trump administration to tell her — by 5 p.m. Thursday — whether an American citizen the government has detained incommunicado for months has been advised of his constitutional rights or has asked for legal representation. [HuffPo]

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