Beshear Robbing EKY Of Coal Severance Funds

University of Kentucky HealthCare improved its patient mortality rankings in the last 10 months, moving up to 11th-best out of 100 peer institutions, according to new numbers from the University HealthSystem Consortium. Yes, UK is working hard to spread positive stories throughout the press this week. [H-L]

The Senate’s top Republican said Tuesday that the Gang of Eight immigration bill contains “serious flaws” — marking his toughest words yet on the wide-reaching legislation that is set to officially begin debate on Tuesday. [Politico]

The charter service whose bus crashed Tuesday, injuring dozen of Waggener High students, had no history of recent accidents, according to federal records. [C-J/AKN]

Pope Francis admitted the existence of a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican’s secretive and often criticized administration, the Curia, the AFP noted Tuesday. The comment was originally reported by a Latin American Catholic website. [TPM]

Bardstown Police Officers are still mourning Officer Jason Ellis after the nightime ambush slaying along a Nelson County interstate. Now, they all have the added stress of additional threats. [WKYT]

A bipartisan group of legislators is supporting a bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) [yesterday], aimed at shedding light on secret court opinions that define controversial government surveillance programs. [Think Progress]

Here’s yet another article from Greg Stumbo that he did not write. It’s a real shame legislators can’t care more about their constituents and do things like write their own letters. [Floyd County Times]

Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration is taking $2.5 million from shrinking coal severance tax funds and giving it to Lexington to help pay for the planning and design of Rupp Arena’s renovation. That’s just cold theft from Appalachia. [John Cheves]

U.S. intelligence operatives covertly sabotaged a prominent al-Qaeda online magazine last month in an apparent attempt to sow confusion among the group’s followers, according to officials. [WaPo]

They may have come to contest adoption of new science learning standards for Kentucky public school children, but they didn’t really get the chance. That will come later. [Ronnie Ellis]

In the rush to defend the surveillance programs, however, government officials have changed their stories and misstated key facts of the Zazi plot. And they’ve left out one important detail: The email that disrupted the plan could easily have been intercepted without PRISM. [HuffPo]

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says he is once again taking steps that could reduce gas prices in Louisville. He told WDRB News that he is again urging the federal government to step in. [WDRB]

Wondering why prominent families like the Wilsons and the Browns are backing an Independent instead of a Democrat in a special election? This could have something to do with it. Along with the tired good old boy system of anointment, of course. [Page One]

Unethical Cover-Ups Par For Course In Frankfort

On the day before his body was found, Lexington’s latest homicide victim was released from jail where he was being held for alcohol intoxication, according to court records. [H-L]

Steve Beshear’s hyped this report up yesterday that claims Kentucky’s high school graduation rate was the most improved in the nation. [Education Week]

Steve Beshear and legislative leaders could set a date for a special session within the next week to resolve the lingering issue of redistricting. [WKYT]

A mile up a tree-covered trail on Pine Mountain, the Bad Branch stream plummets 60 feet into a crystal clear pool before meandering down a rocky ravine. [C-J/AKN]

Normal, back then, meant an economy adding a million or more jobs each year, enough to keep up with the growth in the working-age population. Normal meant an unemployment rate not much above 5 percent, except for brief recessions. And while there was always some unemployment, normal meant very few people out of work for extended periods. [NY Times]

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling by a Madison Circuit Court judge that hinged on whether a person can be charged with alcohol intoxication in a public place if he or she is a passenger in a private vehicle. [Richmond Register]

Obama administration officials held 22 separate briefings or meetings for members of Congress on the law that has been used to justify the National Security Agency’s controversial email monitoring program, according to data provided by a senior administration official. [HuffPo]

The son of a Winchester resident is the newest recipient of the Kentucky Medal of Freedom, thanks to a recent change in Kentucky law. Sgt. James Hunter was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2010. [H-L]

Last week saw revelations that the FBI and the National Security Agency have been collecting Americans’ phone records en masse and that the agencies have access to data from nine tech companies. But secrecy around the programs has meant even basic questions are still unanswered. [ProPublica]

If you missed it yesterday, we revealed that the Beshear Administration has been working hard to cover up a serious matter of ethics. And it’s not your typical good old boy mess. This time it involves KASPER and the Board of Dentistry. [Page One]

A contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked details of top-secret U.S. surveillance programs dropped out of sight in Hong Kong on Monday, ahead of a likely push by the U.S. government to have him sent back to the United States to face charges. [Reuters]

The Planned Parenthood organizations of Kentucky and Indiana are merging — the groups say their goal is to “strengthen services in both states and ensure reproductive health care remains accessible and affordable.” [WDRB]

The state will have to show at a hearing in the next two months why it removed information from social worker case files about children who have been killed or nearly killed as a result of abuse and neglect. [Even More H-L]

Beshear Finally Caved On The Hemp Industry

As summer travel season kicks into high gear, Kentucky’s new tourism secretary wants you to think about staying close to home. [H-L]

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday suggested that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has lost his credibility in fighting global terrorism. [HuffPo]

Kentucky Democrats who were hoping for word on whether Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will take on Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014 went home from Thursday’s Wendell Ford Dinner here without any news. [Ronnie Ellis]

Back in January, President Obama signed an executive order directing the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to start studying “the causes of gun violence.” The idea was to restart federal research into the topic after a longtime freeze. [WaPo]

A regional ethics panel has decided to hold a hearing on an accusation against an Eastern Kentucky sheriff. Then the sheriff arrested one of the people filing the complaint! [C-J/AKN]

Mass surveillance in America: a timeline of loosening laws and practices. [ProPublica]

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell and Chief District Judge Ann Bailey Smith are set to square off tonight in a battle that could determine the fate of O’Connell’s new traffic school — and other programs like it around the state. [C-J/AKN]

Build America Bonds helped issuers of all sizes save on financing projects, but sequestration could squeeze the budgets of those that dedicated the subsidy to debt service like Kentucky’s McCracken County School District. [The Bond Buyer]

I heard something this past week which struck me as extraordinary and also emblematic of Kentucky’s penchant to hold onto its past regardless of the cost. [More Ronnie Ellis]

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has carved out a role as the chief antagonist to Barack Obama and Harry Reid, lampooning the president’s unpopularity in Kentucky and regularly attacking the majority leader’s stewardship of the Senate. But McConnell’s 2014 campaign is a far different story: It’s a spitting image of the tactics both Obama and Reid used to pull off difficult reelection victories in the face of sagging approval ratings. [Politico]

In a shift toward embracing a potential new agricultural industry, Gov. Steve Beshear has written a letter to President Barack Obama asking for help with hemp. [H-L]

Washington is due to nominate the head of finance of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, Matthew Barzun, as the new US ambassador to London, according to diplomatic sources. [The Guardian]

Another Central Kentucky city could take the first step toward adopting a fairness ordinance today. City leaders in Frankfort are set to debate the anti-discrimination law during today’s work session. [WKYT]

Jesus Probably Ziplined With The Dineysores

Former Kentucky lawmaker Steve Nunn, the son of a governor, is at once contrite and indignant about how he landed in prison. Uh, really? This pockmark on humanity – a murderer – thinks having a bad attorney is going to save him? There is no “explaining” necessary for why he killed Amanda because nothing can justify that. [H-L]

U.S. President Barack Obama confronted Chinese President Xi Jinping over allegations of cyber theft on Saturday but they agreed at a shirtsleeves summit in the California desert on reining in North Korea. [HuffPo]

Baptisms fell 5 percent in 2012 and membership also declined in the Southern Baptist Convention — numbers reflecting “heartbreaking” trends, according to a lead researcher in the nation’s largest Protestant body. Maybe it’s because of the rank bigotry, sexism and general craziness that have nothing to do with Christianity and faith. [C-J/AKN]

Under pressure from the oil industry, Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell has extended the comment period on a controversial final “fracking” regulation by 60 days, promising two more months of maneuvering over a rule that, in its earlier incarnations, drew more than 177,000 public comments. The bulk of those appeared to be the product of letter-writing campaigns by environmental groups, according to analysis of comments on Sunlight’s Docket Wrench and conversations with agency officials. [Sunlight Foundation]

John Yarmuth said Mitch McConnell sucks and Alison Grimes is back to her pointy hand gestures and voice raising. [WHAS11]

Turns out Republicans aren’t willing to cut defense down to sequestration levels after all. Hal Rogers wants to spend even more money. [WaPo]

Gov. Steve Beshear plans to meet with the legislature’s top two leaders next week to discuss a possible special session to re-draw state legislative maps. [Ronnie Ellis]

Well, thank heavens, we finally have some balance in this crazy old world! After all these stories about transgender prom queens and adorable sodomite “cutest couples,” our long national nightmare of progressive nice-time is finally over. [Wonkette]

Curtis Morrison’s friends say he’s a passionate political operative willing to give up his freedom for his heart-felt belief that Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell is bad for the people he has represented for the past 28 years. [C-J/AKN]

The government’s broad programs to collect U.S. phone records and Internet traffic helped disrupt a 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subways, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. But the assertion raises as many questions as it answers because court testimony indicated the subway plot investigation began with an email. [HuffPo]

The Creation Museum is adding some zip to what is one of Northern Kentucky’s leading tourist attractions. Did Jesus zipline with the dineysores? [Enquirer]

Jury selection begins on Monday in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 and then famously walked free for 44 days, triggering nationwide protests and calls for his arrest. [Reuters]

Jack Is Still Hung Up On Losing 3 Years Ago

The Pike County coroner said several open alcohol containers were found on scene and he thinks Jessica Hall was lying unconscious in the road before being struck by a vehicle. [H-L]

Why are people just now beginning to freak out about this? Hasn’t this been going on for at least a decade? [HuffPo]

A well known member of the hacker activist group “Anonymous” reveals his identity to ABC36. Anonymous aims to make governments more transparent. He deserves a medal, not an indictment. Stepping up against rapists and those who would otherwise cover it up is noble. No, this is nothing like what Curtis Morrison did. [WTVQ]

How are you enjoying your daily dose of fun surveillance? America, eff yeah! Right??? [Wonkette]

The AP neglected to mention it but last night Jack Conway cracked a joke about the DSCC not keeping its promises to him. Because he still refuses to take responsibility for losing to Rand Paul. Fun fact: The DSCC kept its promises to Conway – he just refused to take the right advice and refused to run at Rand. And after he lost, he started going after everyone who criticized him. [BGDN]

The debate over whether the government is violating citizens’ privacy rights while trying to protect them from terrorism escalated dramatically on Thursday amid reports that authorities have collected data on millions of phone users and tapped into servers at nine internet companies. [Reuters]

So… maybe Chad Aull isn’t ready for prime time as a campaign manager. If that’s the only response he can come up with – that actual facts are not true – he’s got a rough road ahead of him in politics. And he should probably tread lightly when complaining about negative politics because, uh, hello? Is he brain dead? He’s been directly involved in some of the nastiest attacks one can imagine. [Bluegrass Politics]

Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights. [NY Times]

If that’s the rate in San Francisco, imagine the rate in the Commonwealth. Each year, one out of every three gay or lesbian students in the San Francisco Unified School District reportedly attempts suicide. For transgender students, that number jumps to nearly one in two. [HuffPo]

Again, Alison Lundergan Grimes has made her decision about a run for the U.S. Senate. She’s just refusing to tell the public what that decision is at the moment. Which really does not serve the best interest of the public in any way. [WFPL]

The U.S. government isn’t allowed to wiretap American citizens without a warrant from a judge. But there are plenty of legal ways for law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI to the Internal Revenue Service, to snoop on the digital trails you create every day. Authorities can often obtain your emails and texts by going to Google or AT&T with a simple subpoena. Usually you won’t even be notified. [ProPublica]

The company behind the Air Evac Lifeteam air medical helicopter service has confirmed that three men have died after a helicopter crashed near Manchester, in Clay County. [WKYT]

Casey County Is Making Kentucky Really Proud

It’s the final round-up of the year. We’ll be back to normal on Wednesday.

What’s that? A racist twit in Casey County? Surely not! A Casey County man says the life-sized mannequin in his front yard of President Obama holding a slice of watermelon was meant as a joke and not a racist display. The best part of the story is seeing his racist daughter defend his racist behavior. [WLEX18]

Remember Todd Eklof? He’s performing his first marriage since 2003! [Salon]

Greg Stumbo has taken a break from, wait, no he hasn’t. He’s back on the NRA train blaming video games for gun massacres. [WKYT]

ABC News stops the presses! Obama has a friend who did sex to a hooker. [Wonkette]

Legislative leaders are at odds on whether to postpone the divisive issue of redistricting for another year to avoid gumming up an upcoming session already chock-full of hefty issues, including how to fix a $30 billion shortfall in a pension system for government retirees. [H-L]

Lori, a 39-year-old mother in New Jersey, would like to save for the usual things: college, retirement, vacations. But those goals are far down her wish list. [Reuters]

Despite roughly $27 million in net assets, a $7 million cash reserve and an AA- credit rating, the city of Hopkinsville, Ky., could be broke in less than two years — at least on paper. [C-J/AKN]

Even the Democrats have funtimes with that fancy dark money. In the waning days of Montana’s hotly contested Senate race, a small outfit called Montana Hunters and Anglers, launched by liberal activists, tried something drastic. [ProPublica]

Several counties are in need of volunteers to review child foster care records for state courts. The Kentucky Court of Justice says in a news release that volunteers are needed in Fayette, Jessamine, Madison, Bracken, Campbell, Kenton and Mason counties. [H-L]

Here’s a question: What do Republican strategist Karl Rove and civil rights icon Rosa Parks have in common? The answer: a landmark Supreme Court ruling from 1958 protecting the First Amendment rights of dissident groups. [NPR]

As we end this year, go read this column from Ronnie Ellis. This is the week for looking back at the passing year or ahead to the new one. But because of a delightful Christmas gift, I’m in mind of something as old as I am. [Ashland Independent]

President Barack Obama has signed into law a five-year extension of the U.S. government’s authority to monitor the overseas activity of suspected foreign spies and terrorists. [HuffPo]

A man who pleaded guilty in the 1994 slaying of a University of Kentucky football player has been seriously injured in an auto accident. Shane Ragland was hurt Saturday afternoon in an accident that shut down part of the Snyder Freeway. [WLKY]

We’re closer and closer to hitting our goal and launching our new project. Consider helping make that happen because it’s so close we can taste it. [Support Our New Project!]

Remember Wiretapping? It’s Still A Thing In The US

We’re closer and closer to hitting our goal and launching our new project. Consider helping make that happen. [Support Our New Project!]

Kentucky Family Values, the super PAC supporting campaigns of Democrats running for the General Assembly, got more huge contributions from labor, teachers and lawyers in recent weeks. $150,000 from the NEA and $50,000 from the Kentucky Justice Association to run fearmongering ads claiming Chris Hightower is a satanist. Along with cash from Jack Conway and his daddy. Oh, and an interesting contribution from a company that owns a for-profit college. [C-J/AKN]

President Barack Obama has extended his narrow lead over Republican challenger Mittens Romney among likely voters in a race that remains statistically tied nine days before the election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll released on Sunday. [Reuters]

Lawwwd, you can’t even go to the pharmacy in Danville these days without getting run over in the parking lot. [H-L]

A few months after Congress passed a landmark law directing the federal government to dismantle segregation in the nation’s housing, President Nixon’s housing chief began plotting a stealth campaign. [ProPublica]

Surely you’ll want to see this videurtape of Paul Ryan’s fancy wife bravely stop herself from tearing this unemployed guy’s throat out with her teeth. [Wonkette]

The Eastern seaboard may have yet to experience the full wrath of Hurricane Sandy, but one right-wing Christian preacher is already pointing the finger at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. [HuffPo]

Way to go, Eastern Kentucky, with your pill problem. You can thank your hapless legislators for not saving you from addiction. [WYMT]

At the Supreme Court on Monday, as Hurricane Sandy approached, Chief Justice John Roberts kept the Court open to hear Clapper v. Amnesty International, the most important wiretapping case of the term. Judging from his reception during the oral arguments, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli may have wished that the storm had closed the Court a day early. [TNR]

Of COURSE Mittens Romney “rented” the Mormon church’s tax exempt status to defer taxes. In 1997, Congress cracked down on a popular tax shelter that allowed rich people to take advantage of the exempt status of charities without actually giving away much money. [Bloomberg]

Around midday Wednesday, Eastern Kentucky University expects to release records related to the June departure of Debra Hoskins, former EKU Center for the Arts director, according to Judy Spain, the university’s counsel. [Richmond Register]

Why can’t Kentucky have nice things? Because of editorial endorsements like this that only occur because there’s no opposition: Rogers’ three decades in Congress have been better for the courthouse crowds and his cronies than the region. But maybe he’ll improve with age. Voters really have little choice in this election. [H-L]

Here’s a list of ways to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Be thankful you’re one of the people who does not need assistance. [HuffPo]