Rand Paul’s Jalopy Putters Along

More Republican dollars are flowing into Kentucky to help GOP candidates in the four special House elections on March 8. [H-L]

President Barack Obama has said that a college degree “has never been more valuable.” But if you borrow to finance your degree, the immediate returns are the lowest they’ve been in at least a generation, new data show. [HuffPo]

Local governments in Kentucky can increase the minimum wage, but a federal judge ruled Wednesday that they can’t ban labor unions from requiring employees to join them. [C-J/AKN]

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign has reportedly raised $3 million since Monday night’s Iowa caucuses. [The Hill]

Marlow Cook may forever be remembered by Louisvillians as the Jefferson County Executive who purchased the Belle of Louisville, but I remember him not only as my first boss, but also as someone who directly and significantly shaped my life and the lives of so many in public life [John Yarmuth]

Global equity markets rose on Thursday as diminished expectations of U.S. interest rate hikes this year pushed the dollar lower, which in turned boosted the prices of commodities. [Reuters]

The more we learn about Jamie Comer’s hemp-related shenanigans, the more disappointed we all become. Here’s hoping his nonsense doesn’t impact the overall industry. [Page One]

In internal memos, groups opposing tighter state campaign finance rules coach their local supporters on how to battle disclosure of political donors. [ProPublica]

A new study shows that Kentucky and Arkansas had the sharpest decline in the percentage of adult residents without health insurance from 2013 to 2015. [Business First]

Rand Paul was hustling to a TV hit on Fox News when security officials on hand stopped him. You’ll love the delusional reaction from Doug Stafford. [Politico]

Efforts by the Harlan County School District to replace Wallins elementary with a new facility received a boost when the board of education submitted plans that put that project at the top of its list of needs. [Harlan Daily Enterprise]

There’s still a long way to go until November’s US presidential election. But it’s not too early to look at the possible presidential administrations of some of the leading candidates. [BBC]

Cheers, Kentucky: Bourbon and American whiskey sales in the United States were up 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion in 2015, according to figures released Tuesday morning by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Looking at exports, sales of American whiskey were up 4 percent by volume, although the value fell 2.7 percent to about $1 billion, putting total sales of American whiskey at just less than $4 billion for 2015. [H-L]

Not all polluters are created equal. Just five percent of industrial polluters account for 90 percent of toxic emissions in the United States, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters last week. [HuffPo]

Can Rand Make It Til The KY Caucus?

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Kentucky junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) returned to the prime-time Republican debate stage Thursday to make his closing argument to voters. [H-L]

Republicans are determined to push on with their investigation of Planned Parenthood, even after a Texas grand jury cleared the organization of wrongdoing on Monday and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who targeted the family planning provider in a series of undercover videos. [HuffPo]

Kentucky’s main funding stream for public schools escaped cutbacks in Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal Tuesday, but if approved by the legislature, colleges and universities would face reductions and a new effort to tie funding to performance. [C-J/AKN]

What is being done to fight heroin and prescription drug abuse in hard-hit states like New Hampshire? What can Congress do to help? Lawmakers tackle the issue. [NPR]

At least one new face will be added to the Russell City Council after all but one council member filed for re-election in the upcoming nonpartisan municipal race. [Ashland Independent]

Decades before Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm. As the first black woman to run for president for a major political party she was years ahead of her time. So why don’t more people know about her? [BBC]

Metcalfe County magistrates adopted on second reading an ordinance Tuesday morning adding a $35 annual membership charge/subscriber fee to county residents’ property tax bills. The fee is being levied in order to provide fire protection services for the county. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Donald Trump has caused Republican leaders to shudder at the impact the bombastic New Yorker could have on down-ticket races. Democrats, however, see only potential for election wins. [Politico]

Here’s yet another take on Jim Gray. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a Democrat, on Tuesday announced he will run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Rand Paul. [Ronnie Ellis]

A U.S. appeals court heard arguments on Wednesday over whether a high school in Virginia should be ordered to allow a transgendered student to use the boys’ bathroom, even though he was born a biological female. [Reuters]

Reminder: This is one of the guys Bevin trusts to cut 9% from the budget at his discretion. [Page One]

The White House on Wednesday said it has “concerns” with many of the provisions in a wide-ranging energy bill being debated in the Senate. [The Hill]

The homeless count was completed in Louisville and let’s just cut to the chase: this is hugely disappointing. Compassionate City needs a bit more compassion. [The ‘Ville Voice]

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama promised to unite Washington and the nation behind progressive change. Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton mocked him. [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. For worriers: no, you don’t get identified to us if you use our link… so please consider letting us know if you do! [Ting]

Is The Budget Hype Dying Down Yet?

The summer playground at Lake Cumberland took a major hit from winter over the weekend, with the weight of ice and snow from Friday’s storm damaging or destroying covers over hundreds of boat slips, according to marina operators. [H-L]

Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped at a chance to talk about mental health care during a presidential town hall event in Iowa hosted by CNN on Monday. [HuffPo]

Every year, hundreds of volunteers bundle up and head to hotels, emergency shelters, camps and soup kitchens, determined to answer two questions: how many people are homeless in the Louisville area and who are they? [C-J/AKN]

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued “an urgent call to action” Tuesday to overhaul the nation’s federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade. [NPR]

Wanna read/watch one of the dumbest things out of Jim Waters and the Bluegrass Circlejerk yet? Here he is spewing misinformation about Kentucky’s broadband initiative. Leave it to the rich, fat, white Republicans to keep the Commonwealth in the dark ages. Spoiler alert: municipal broadband works. [WAVE3]

Trent Lott and Tom Daschle make an unlikely pair. Trent is gregarious, talkative and loud. Tom is retiring, mild-mannered and quiet. Interview them together and their differences are pronounced. But what makes them almost unheard of as a couple is that Lott is a Republican and Daschle is a Democrat. Specifically they are both former leaders of their respective parties in the US Senate. [BBC]

With the new year comes the continued challenge for area nonprofits to serve as many families and residents in need as possible. To energize those efforts, employees of Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company are lending a hand. Coupled with financial support from the LG&E and KU Foundation, the utilities’ voluntary employee-giving campaign, Power of One, raised more than $1.7 million in contributions. [Richmond Register]

A Nebraska lawmaker wants his state to join the movement to tear down one of the most harmful components of the conservative welfare reforms passed into law in the mid-1990s. [ThinkProgress]

The Russell Area Technology Center is ready for a new generation of vocational students with completion of a $1.2 million renovation. [Ashland Independent]

Cuba’s tourism industry is under unprecedented strain and struggling to meet demand with record numbers of visitors arriving a year after detente with the United States renewed interest in the Caribbean island. [Reuters]

Newly elected Gov. Matt Bevin delivered a “sober” budget message to a joint session of the General Assembly, telling them he will cut $650 million from the current budget. [Ronnie Ellis]

The religious loonies are racist as hell, apparently. Donald Trump’s support among white evangelicals stands at 37 percent, rising 5 points in one week, according to an NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll released early Tuesday. [The Hill]

As snow piled up outside, Kelly Gibson was thrilled to see a Fayette County sheriff’s deputy waiting for her at the end of her nursing shift Friday afternoon at Shriners Hospital for Children. [H-L]

Noam Chomsky, the noted radical and MIT professor emeritus, said the Republican Party has become so extreme in its rhetoric and policies that it poses a “serious danger to human survival.” [HuffPo]

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]

Let The Budget Freakout Fun Begin!

Matt Bevin spoke at a Republican presidential forum in New Hampshire Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after declaring a state of emergency and activating the Kentucky National Guard to help residents stranded by a massive snowstorm. [H-L]

The people of Michigan hired themselves a GOP businessman to be governor in 2011. And what they got was children poisoned by public water in Flint. That is, what they got was a government run based on GOP business values. [HuffPo]

The man recently appointed as director of resorts for the Kentucky Department of Parks despite a past violation of the state government ethics code has resigned. [C-J/AKN]

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering a third-party bid for president, telling allies he could spend at least $1 billion to mount the uphill climb. [The Hill]

Kentucky’s new education commissioner announced plans Thursday to broaden math and English standards and acknowledged that the system of assessing student achievement remains “a work in progress.” [Richmond Register]

Is it true that rare Italian goats were airlifted to Afghanistan? Did Defense Department employees go to carpet tradeshows in Europe? How about on jewelry-related trips to India? [ProPublica]

A local folk artist’s work is featured in the book “Mommy Goose: Rhymes from the Mountains,” published by the University Press of Kentucky and set to be released Feb. 5. Minnie Adkins of Isonville carved more than 100 pieces for the book by Kentucky native Mike Norris. [Ashland Independent]

On September 9, 2002, as the George W. Bush administration was launching its campaign to invade Iraq, a classified report landed on the desk of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It came from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and it carried an ominous note. [Politico]

Barren County Detention Center inmates Damien Hurt, left, and Scott Szabo move a desk into an office at the new location of the Barren County county attorney’s office at 220 W. Main St. on Thursday. The county just recently completed the purchase of the building, which had been the home of Bailey and Grissom, a real estate company, for the offices. The former county attorney building approximately two blocks away had issues with bats, bat droppings and other concerns. [Glasgow Daily Times]

From the Department of Things Ken Ham Wouldn’t Understand… Archaeologists say they have unearthed the earliest evidence of warfare between hunter-gatherers, at a site in northern Kenya. The 10,000-year-old remains of 27 people found at a remote site west of Lake Turkana show that they met violent deaths. [BBC]

Guess some folks in Morehead finally realized Walter Junior’s just been coasting and out of it. A few Rowan County officials told Judge-Executive Walter Blevins that it’s time for him to assume control of his office during Tuesday’s Fiscal Court meeting. [The Morehead News]

At first blush, the FBI’s national crime numbers for the first half of 2015 seem like bad news: Violent crime is up 1.7 percent over the same period last year. [NPR]

The head of the state Education and Workforce Development Cabinet wants a group of elected officials to rebid an up to $11.4 million workforce training grant awarded to the Bluegrass Area Development District in early January. [H-L]

Flint was a failure of government — but it didn’t have to be so. And government wasn’t the root of the problem. It was about the people, and ideas they advocate, who have taken control of governments across the country. [HuffPo]

Health Care Reality Will Hit Bevin Hard

The Kentucky Housing Corp. is looking for volunteers to help count Kentucky’s homeless population. The count will begin at sunrise on Jan. 27 and continue for 24 hours. The point-in-time count is known as the K-Count. [H-L]

From the Department of Things Ken Ham Wouldn’t Understand… Witnesses of the first-ever unveiling of what just might be the world’s largest dinosaur have struggled to find an adjective to aptly capture the sheer enormity of the prehistoric creature. [HuffPo]

Matt Bevin’s about to find out just how poor and unhealthy Eastern Kentucky is and it’s going to harm him politically. [C-J/AKN]

President Obama on Saturday unveiled an unemployment insurance plan that he says will provide stability and opportunity to workers in a rapidly changing economy. [The Hill]

The state Department of Insurance is selling assets of the failed Kentucky Health Cooperative to satisfy its debts. [Richmond Register]

Here’s a selection of what has changed since Mr Obama gave his first address to Congress in 2009. [BBC]

Kesley Janes stood on the counter where the coffee pots and a slushy machine sit at the Caver’s Camp Store at Mammoth Cave National Park. [Glasgow Daily Times]

A top surrogate for Hillary Clinton is prepping a new attack in an intensifying and increasingly personal war against rival Bernie Sanders — calling on the 74-year-old to release his medical records before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1. [Politico]

At the end of 2015, Kentucky saw a rise in the reported cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, throughout the state. [The Morehead News]

Advisers to Hillary Clinton, including former President Bill Clinton, believe that her campaign made serious miscalculations by forgoing early attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and failing to undercut his archliberal message before it grew into a political movement that has now put him within striking distance of beating her in Iowa and New Hampshire. [NY Times]

For Ginny Ramsey and the volunteers at God’s Net in Lexington, the winter is just getting started. [WKYT]

Certain economic sanctions will be lifted in Iran, but there are critics of the nuclear deal in surrounding countries and in the U.S. NPR’s Rachel Martin speaks with NPR’s Peter Kenyon about their reaction. [NPR]

Tim Morton was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment dozens of times over 36 years, often involuntary and in police handcuffs, because he did not recognize that he had schizophrenia. He refused treatment unless he was confined. When Morton wasn’t held inside Eastern State Hospital, he spent his days walking aimlessly around downtown Lexington. [John Cheves]

Republican presidential candidates are more full of it than you imagined. [HuffPo]