New Republicanism Means Harming Refugees

More than 25,000 acres of forest in Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia will be preserved in coming years thanks to a nearly $5 million federal conservation grant, federal officials announced Friday. [H-L]

An increasing number of new laws across the United States make it a crime to be homeless. But these laws don’t actually manage to get people off the streets ― they just perpetuate the cycle of homelessness, experts say. [HuffPo]

More than 200 hours of intercepted phone call recordings have been submitted as evidence in a federal investigation into a pay-for-play scheme involving Louisville basketball recruits, according to court documents. [C-J/AKN]

The U.S. State Department has told refugee agencies it will sharply pare back the number of offices across the country authorized to resettle people in 2018 as Donald Trump cuts the number of refugees allowed into the United States. [Reuters]

Matt Bevin conceded Thursday that it is “logistically” impossible to hold a special session before the end of the year to tackle pension reform. [Ronnie Ellis]

The rate of life-threatening complications for new mothers in the U.S. has more than doubled in two decades due to pre-existing conditions, medical errors and unequal access to care. [ProPublica]

When Dominic and Rico Castle pushed their shopping cart through the Walmart lobby Wednesday, with the promise of $400 to fill it with Christmas plunder, one would assume the brothers would take the shortest route to the toy department. [Ashland Independent]

The United Nations Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday that significantly choke off new fuel supplies and order North Koreans working overseas to return home within two years, in what may prove the last test of whether any amount of economic pressure can force it to reverse course on its nuclear program. [NY Times]

Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General believes the state’s opioid epidemic is the “single greatest challenge facing Kentucky” and claims the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin is hampering his efforts to combat the scourge. [Ronnie Ellis]

US life expectancy fell last year for a second year running for the first time in more than half a century, reportedly driven by the worsening opioid crisis. Life expectancy in 2016 fell 0.1 years to 78.6, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. [BBC]

When discussing Glasgow Independent Schools’ Comprehensive District Improvement Plan with the GIS Board of Education, GIS Instructional Supervisor Michelle Tinsley and GIS Superintendent Keith Hale said everyone has bought in to the plan. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Officials at the USDA received a detailed formal complaint earlier this year regarding Aurora Organic Dairy, one of the nation’s largest producers of organic milk. [WaPo]

A national science panel might use donations to finish a study that the Trump Administration halted on whether people face greater health risks from living near surface coal mines in Central Appalachia, including Eastern Kentucky. [H-L]

This is how insanely out-of-touch these people are. It’s so bizarre-o it’s offensive. [HuffPo]

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Burchett Finally Did Something Good

Offered a deal that could have created 3,500 good jobs but ruined the beloved rural character of a corner of Bourbon County, Fiscal Court members did a remarkable thing in this money-obsessed age: They said no. It helped that this courageous act was popular with their constituents: More than 150 people packed the courthouse Thursday night to make sure magistrates killed this risky deal, which had been sprung on them only a week earlier. [Tom Eblen]

These people are so intentionally corrupt that we should all be alarmed. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) slammed former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a tweet, and indicated that special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign will only be “legitimate” if Republicans like his findings. [HuffPo]

Black drivers in Louisville were nearly twice as likely to have their car searched during routine traffic stops than white drivers in 2016, according to a study from the University of Louisville. [C-J/AKN]

While Congress races to pass a massive tax overhaul by the end of the year, Republicans in state capitals across the country find themselves in a bind as they plan their own state budget requirements. [The Hill]

Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett officially withdrew his name as a candidate for re-election, Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones confirmed on Friday. [Ashland Independent]

A U.S. judge on Friday blocked Donald Trump’s administration from moving forward with new rules that undermined an Obamacare requirement for employers to provide health insurance that covers women’s birth control. [Reuters]

Dr. Steven Ralston, provost at Morehead State University, has announced his plans to retire. [The Morehead News]

Scores of Texas landowners in the shadow of the border wall say the government should pay them for their damaged property values. [ProPublica]

Barren River Lake State Resort Park will host two Sandhill Crane tours in late January, which will involve guests visiting roost sites around the lake for the birds, as well as observing some of their more popular feeding areas. [Glasgow Daily Times]

One of the top executives of a consulting firm that the Environmental Protection Agency has recently hired to help it with media affairs has spent the past year investigating agency employees who have been critical of the Trump administration, federal records show. [NY Times]

If the Federal Communications Commission follows through with plans to roll back “net neutrality rules,” Kentucky will be among the states challenging that decision in a lawsuit. [WFPL]

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget. [WaPo]

Of course this education reporter is still hyping up charter schools as if they’re a terrific thing. They’ve never done anything hard-hitting on them. The same reporter dragged their feet and ultimately bungled reporting on the Montgomery County nightmare. [H-L]

Sunnie Kahle used to think that if she promised to be good, she could go back to her old school. She’d plead with her great-grandmother to let her enroll again at Timberlake Christian Schools, where she had gone since she was 3 years old. Even if teachers were mean to her, even if other kids said bad things about her, she wouldn’t be mad. She just wanted her old life back. [HuffPo]

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Budget Reduction Order = Bevin Is Bad For Kentucky’s Economy Despite All Contrary Claims

A judge did not attend a Friday hearing to answer charges that he violated ethics rules when he objected to handling adoption cases involving gay parents. Neither W. Mitchell Nance, family court judge for Barren and Metcalfe counties, nor his attorneys attended a hearing of the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission in Lexington. [H-L]

Dan Johnson’s closed silver casket was at the front of the sanctuary next to his favorite Harley on Saturday, and scores of mourners lined up to wish him a final farewell, many of them sporting tattoos, black leather vests and silver skull rings. [WaPo]

Republicans say they want to reform the tax code for the greater good of corporate America, the broader economy and the middle class. Their tax legislation would also directly benefit a constituency usually omitted from GOP talking points: members of Congress themselves. [HuffPo]

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled a lawsuit by Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration that had claimed Planned Parenthood illegally provided abortions at its clinic in downtown Louisville was wrongly dismissed. The ruling on Friday sent the case back to the lower court. [C-J/AKN]

Let’s quit acting like the modern Republican Party gives a flip about the people of this country. The expected repeal of the ObamaCare mandate to buy insurance means that states will soon have to step in and decide whether to create their own mandates. [The Hill]

State Budget Director John Chilton said Gov. Matt Bevin is likely to issue a budget reduction order within the next week or so in the wake of an official revenue forecast that state receipts will fall $156.1 million short of projections this year. [Ronnie Ellis]

The American Civil Liberties Union said it filed in federal court on Friday to stop the administration of Donald Trump from preventing two more young immigrant women in federal custody from obtaining an abortion. [Reuters]

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission proposed several new deer, elk and small game hunting regulations at its quarterly meeting Dec 8. [Ashland Independent]

In this era of so-called “school choice,” a pattern has emerged: Students don’t choose their alternative schools. They’re sentenced to them. [ProPublica]

It may look like a video game, but it’s anything but that. Law enforcement never knows what they’ll encounter when in the line of duty, but it’s simulations like what the sheriff’s office participated in earlier this week in the Rowan County Fiscal Court room that helps them prepare for the unexpected. [The Morehead News]

With eight planets whirling around its sun, our solar system has held the galactic title for having the most known planets of any star system in the Milky Way. But on Thursday NASA announced the discovery of a new exoplanet orbiting a distant star some 2,500 light years away from here called Kepler 90, bringing that system’s total to eight planets as well. The new planet, known as Kepler-90i, is rocky and hot. It orbits its star about once every 14 days. [NY Times]

Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty has informed the city council that he intends to nominate D.T. Froedge as the next appointee to the Glasgow Electric Plant Board. [Glasgow Daily Times]

In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real. [WaPo]

In the last 30 days, the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office has responded to a several calls for service regarding vehicles being broken into. During the Christmas season, there is usually a slight increase in the number of reported thefts. However, the growing concern for the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office is the frequency in which these thefts are occurring and the number of firearms being stolen. [H-L]

Florida authorities released an elderly woman from jail on Thursday after police arrested her for allegedly not paying rent at the senior housing community where she had lived since 2011. Juanita Fitzgerald spent her 94th birthday on Friday in a motel room. [HuffPo]

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Bevin Harms Progress On Opioid Front

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Grant the Republican Party leaders one thing: their tactics in passing their hugely unpopular tax bill have been consistent—consistently evasive. [New Yorker]

Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general says his efforts to sue companies that make powerfully addictive opioid-based painkillers have been stymied by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration. [H-L]

They were obtained lawfully. An organization established for Donald Trump’s transition to the White House a year ago said on Saturday that the special counsel investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election had obtained tens of thousands of emails unlawfully. [HuffPo]

This backward-ass person thinks the media attacked her husband because he wasn’t liberal. This is how lunatics like Danny Ray Johnson and his now-candidate wife operate. They lie, cheat, con their way into the public eye. They excuse alleged child rape. They blame others for alleged arson. They blame everyone but themselves. Can’t wait until she, as a candidate, faces scrutiny. The hate these people have pushed is unbelievable. [C-J/AKN]

Donald Trump has insisted that he will be tougher on terrorism than his predecessor, but a new report indicates that the White House may be planning to reduce funding for key U.S. counterterrorism programs and to eliminate one program altogether. [Foreign Policy]

Three years ago, a then 8-year-old autistic girl spent 17 days in the hospital. She suffered from dehydration, malnutrition, bruises and pressure sores. Her body temperature was 10 degrees below normal. She came close to dying, prosecutors have said. [Richmond Register]

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says he is worried that President Trump has not issued an “outright condemnation” of Russia for meddling in the 2016 election. [The Hill]

Getting children into good preschool programs is a key to making them ready to learn in kindergarten, according to some local educators. [Ashland Independent]

The Trump administration put new requirements in place on Friday for the 38 countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, including that they use U.S. counterterrorism data to screen travelers, officials said. [Reuters]

Two eastern Kentuckians are in jail after police arrested them during a controlled buy in downtown Morehead on Tuesday. [The Morehead News]

As another fevered push to open the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration collapsed on the Senate floor in December 2005, Ted Stevens, then the powerful and wily Republican senator from Alaska, declared it “the saddest day of my life.” [NY Times]

Barren Metcalfe County Family Court Judge W. Mitchell Nance should know by the end of next week whether he’ll face a public reprimand from Kentucky’s Judicial Conduct Commission. [Ronnie Ellis]

The Trump administration will suspend a rule to limit methane leaks from oil and gas operations on federal land, but its true aim may be to kill the Obama-era requirement. A notice slated to be published Friday in the Federal Register by the Bureau of Land Management said the agency “has concerns regarding the statutory authority, cost, complexity, feasibility, and other implications” of the 2016 rule, which is set to go fully into effect next month. [WaPo]

That ought to end miserably. The widow of state Rep. Dan Johnson, who committed suicide Wednesday night, said she will seek to replace him in the legislature. [H-L]

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee may be looking to prematurely shutter the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a ranking Democrat warned Friday. [HuffPo]

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We’re Coming For You, Johnson, Comer, Hoover, Et Al. The Kentucky Democratic Party Doesn’t Have The Guts But Everyday Kentuckians Will Oust You.

Two years after taking office, Gov. Matt Bevin continues to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his 2015 gubernatorial campaign, often from people he has appointed to state jobs, lobbyists, and contractors doing business with the state. [John Cheves]

This time, Donald Trump’s playbook didn’t work. Republican Roy Moore faced serious accusations of sexual misconduct in his bid to become Alabama’s next senator. But instead of bowing down and backing out, he stayed in the race and went on the attack ― just like Trump did in last year’s presidential race. He accused the media and the establishment of orchestrating a conspiracy against him, and cast the race as pitting good against evil, Christians versus everyone else. [HuffPo]

Another Frankfort legislator is being asked to step down amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Dan Johnson, a preacher and Republican representative from Bullit County, was accused of sexually abusing a girl who was a member of his church, Heart of Fire, in Fern Creek. Johnson was criticized last year for posting, and later removing, racist images to his Facebook page including images of the President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as monkeys. [C-J/AKN]

Violent protests against Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke out on Sunday near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, according to multiple reports. [The Hill]

The University of Louisville has awarded the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology to Robert Sternberg, a psychology professor at Cornell. Sternberg is being recognized for his work on what he calls the “triarchic theory of intelligence.” [WFPL]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could launch a public debate about climate change as soon as January, Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Thursday, as the agency unwinds Obama-era initiatives to fight global warming. [Reuters]

This is what the Republican Party of Kentucky gets for trying to cover this nightmare up. Tres Watson and others knew about the details in this mess (they did, we talked about them a looooong time ago – just like every other scandal – that’s why they kept me close until they turned homophobic) and just twiddled their thumbs. A Republican Kentucky lawmaker known for his inflammatory social media posts comparing President Barack Obama and his wife to monkeys has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who attended his church. Both Republican and Democratic leaders on Monday called for Dan Johnson to resign. [Richmond Register]

Here’s a national look at Matt Bevin making Kentucky look bad. His excuse for blocking people on social media doesn’t hold water. [ProPublica]

Those seeking office in next year’s May 22 primary election must wait until April 7 before displaying their political campaign signs in Rowan County. [The Morehead News]

F.B.I. officials warned one of Donald Trump’s top advisers, Hope Hicks, earlier this year about repeated attempts by Russian operatives to make contact with her during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the events. [NY Times]

Pay attention to this and keep it on your radar if you’re familiar with any of my work over the past decade. Auditors found no fault with the financial records of the Cave City Convention Center when conducting an audit of the facility’s 2016-17 financial records. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises Donald Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive brand of economic populism as it moved through Washington. [WaPo]

A former Bath County attorney who served 21 months in federal prison on perjury and vote-buying charges has turned himself into Montgomery County authorities on drug and other charges. [H-L]

Another woman who has accused Donald Trump of groping her is demanding a congressional investigation into the numerous sexual misconduct allegations against him. Melinda McGillivray appeared on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” on Tuesday, breaking down in tears as she described her alleged interactions with Trump. She has accused Trump of grabbing her buttocks at Mar-a-Lago in 2003. [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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