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Kentucky Press News Service
LEXINGTON — The Bluegrass Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host a free public forum Feb. 23 titled, “Finding real facts in an alternative fact world."
A panel of local, regional and national professionals will examine the role of the news media and provide a better public understanding of how it works. The group also hopes to facilitate an ongoing conversation about the importance of a free press in a democracy. The event will be 6:30-8 p.m. in Room A of Central Library, 140 E. Main Street, Lexington.
Panelists include Ryan Craig, owner of The Todd County Standard, a weekly newspaper in Western Kentucky, and president of the Kentucky Press Association; Tom Eblen, columnist and former managing editor of The Lexington Herald-Leader; Campbell Robertson, national correspondent for The New York Times; Kathy Stone, assistant news director at television station WLEX-18; and Jim Waters, newspaper columnist and president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a free-market think tank.
Moderating will be Ginny Whitehouse, Ph.D., a journalism professor at Eastern Kentucky University specializing in media literacy, ethics and law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised Senate passage today of his measure to overturn the “stream buffer rule,” an anti-coal regulation that President Obama filed just before leaving office.
Senator McConnell was joined by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and 28 of their colleagues in filing the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in the Senate. The House of Representatives passed the companion resolution yesterday. Now, the resolution goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.
“The Obama Administration’s Stream Buffer rule was an attack against coal miners and their families. In my home state of Kentucky, the Stream Buffer Rule would have threatened coal jobs and caused major damage to communities,” Senator McConnell said. “The legislation we passed today will help stop this disastrous rule and bring relief to coal miners and their families. I am heartened to know so many of my colleagues recognized the problems that face coal country, and I am glad that they joined with me to begin addressing them. Now with a friend of coal in the White House, the legislation will soon be signed into law. I am grateful for President Trump’s support, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to protect coal families and communities.”
Providing relief from this regulation — and the many others that have targeted coal workers -- is just one priority for which Senator McConnell has long fought, and was one of the priorities he identified in a letter to President Trump earlier this year.
Today on the Senate floor, Senator McConnell delivered the following remarks regarding the CRA resolution:
“This Republican-led Congress is committed to fulfilling our promises to the American people. That work continues now as we consider legislation to push back against harmful regulations from the Obama Administration.
“On its way out the door, the Obama Administration forced nearly 40 major — and very costly — regulations on the American people. Fortunately, we now have the opportunity to work with the new president to begin bringing relief from these burdensome regulations.
“Last night, the House sent us two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act — one of the best tools at our disposal to undo these heavy-handed regulations.
“This afternoon the Senate will have the opportunity to pass the first of these resolutions — a measure to overturn the Stream Buffer Rule.
“The resolution before us now is identical to the one I introduced earlier this week, and it aims to put a stop to the former administration’s blatant attack on coal miners.
“In my home state of Kentucky and others across the nation, the Stream Buffer Rule will cause major damage to communities and threaten coal jobs.
“One study actually estimated that this regulation would put as many as one-third of coal-related jobs at risk.
“That’s why the Kentucky Coal Association called it “a regulation in search of a problem.”
“They joined with the United Mine Workers of American and Attorneys General of 14 states on both sides of the aisle urging Congress to act.
“We should heed their call now and begin bringing relief to coal country.
“Today’s vote on this resolution represents a good step in that direction.
“Once our work is complete on this legislation, we’ll turn to another House-passed resolution that will protect American companies from being at a disadvantage when doing business overseas.
“Although the Securities and Exchange Commission may have had good intentions, the Resource Extraction Rule costs American public companies up to nearly $600 million annually and gives foreign owned business in Russia and China an advantage over American workers.
“We all want to increase transparency, but we should not raise costs on American businesses only to benefit their international competition.
“Let’s send the SEC back to the drawing board to promote transparency without the high costs or negative impacts on American businesses.
“These CRA resolutions keep the interests of American families and workers at heart. Today, we’ll continue to chip away at the regulation legacy of the Obama Administration with more CRA resolutions in the coming days as well.
“Let’s pass these two resolutions without delay so we can send them to the President’s desk and continue giving the power back to the people.”
By Dr. Glenn Mollette
The new medical insurance premium for my wife and I will be just a few dollars shy of $2,000 per month for 2017. This amounts to a total of $24,000 for the year. Should either of us have a serious illness or medical procedure then our out of pocket expense will be $11,000. Therefore we could potentially be out $35,000 in medical expenses in one year. I hope we aren't but the potential is always there. Of course, that would be better than a $100,000 medical expense or being shoved into bankruptcy because of medical bills. It is easy in today's world to rack up several hundred thousand dollars in medical expenses.
President Trump appears to be moving fast on his promises. I hope he acts fast on affordable health care because it's killing me.
I continue to hear from people who have achieved Social Security disability status. They were declared disabled by a doctor and were eventually legally approved. This not only means a nice monthly check from Social Security but it means medical care provided by the American taxpayers. Sadly, there are lots of reports of people who have obtained crooked attorneys with connections to crooked doctors who know a crooked Judge who help them get approved for disabled Social Security. I'm for anybody that is truly disabled to have this help from the American taxpayers. It's bad for America when people lie and fake an illness to get a disability check. Unfortunately when the government is writing checks multitudes line up to get their share whether they deserve it or not.
If I live a few more years I can apply for a full Social Security check and I will have Medicare. We will only have to pay for my wife's medical insurance for a little while and thus life will go on. The point is that most of us are feeling the pain of health insurance costs. Mr. President we need help fast.
Hospitals and doctors have been gouging the government and insurance companies for a long time. For years the government and insurance companies have paid it but things are changing some. Insurance companies are no longer paying for everything or paying the full price they are being charged. One doctor recently told me that he has to bill the insurance company about three times more than he would normally charge a patient to just receive close to the amount he needs for a procedure.
While our new government leadership is supposedly working on a plan to fix medical care they need to fix the rising cost of a college education. Too many college graduates are racking up $60,000 to over $100,000 in debt with horrendous interest rates being charged by some lending institutions. Colleges know they have a gravy train. Thousands of students across the country who meet the conditions can receive $5,815 in government money paid directly to their college of choice. Colleges then tack on thousands of dollars more that families or the students often have to borrow. Colleges in turn build bigger buildings and incur more debt that in turn requires more and more tuition from struggling students and families.
Many federally funded colleges pay big salaries. One college President in Kentucky made about $400,000 a year at a tiny private Christian college. That's not that huge as some Presidents today are making close to a million dollars a year. What is interesting is that his Board of Trustees promised him this same salary package upon his retirement for the rest of his life plus medical insurance, an apartment, a car and even his cell phone. Where does this money come from? The money comes from federal grants that we the taxpayers pay and from struggling students who rack up big debts so that a retired college President can receive almost $400,000 a year and additional perks for the rest of his life. Sadly, a lot of academic institutions are crumbling across this country. There are numerous cases of campuses closing and being sold to bigger institutions or closing altogether.
Average Americans can't handle what we are being handed in medical and college costs. We need help fast.
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states. Visit www.glennmollette.com
INEZ, Ky. – Stephanie Osborne, a 2014 graduate of the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) was named Employee of the Year at the Martin County Health Care facility.
A floor nurse, Osborne has worked at the facility since her graduation. The award was voted on by her peers.
“It’s an honor,” said Osborne, who resides in Van Lear. “I work with so many great people.”
When asked about the most rewarding part of her job, Osborne paused and said it was hard to pinpoint.
“Seeing [patients] smile and getting to know them is special,” she explained. “It’s holding their hand as they depart this earth. I like to advocate for my patients, especially those without a voice. Rewarding is an understatement. They become a part of your family.”
The nursing program prepared Osborne for what she has faced as a nurse.
“It’s close to home, but it’s also top quality,” she added. “The rigor of this program prepared me for my board examination and my career here.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor introducing his resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the “stream buffer rule”:
“For too long, coal communities in states like Kentucky were unfairly targeted by the Obama Administration as part of its ‘War on Coal.’
“We now have the opportunity to start providing relief to coal families whose only crime was working to support their loved ones. Easing the pain of these regulations is a priority I laid out in a letter to President Trump earlier this year. That letter was a continuation of efforts I began several years ago to push back against the previous administration’s assault on coal families.
“I am pleased that the President has already begun taking steps to provide relief from several different regulations imposed by the former administration — regulations that for too long have stifled growth and held our country back — and together we can do more, including right here in Congress through the Congressional Review Act, or CRA, process.
“One of the first regulations we’re working to address is the so-called ‘Stream Buffer Rule,’ a harmful regulation put into place by the Obama Administration at the 11th hour. One analysis estimated that it could threaten one-third of the nation’s coal mining jobs. That’s why so many across coal country have called for relief from this harmful attack.
“We’ve heard individual voices against this regulation, we’ve heard union voices in opposition like the United Mine Workers of America, and we’ve heard from groups like the Kentucky Coal Association who recently wrote to me about its negative impact: ‘The undeniable truth,’ their letter read, ‘is that… [this rule] will have a real impact on the real world. It will cause real harm to real people, who support real families in real communities.’
“This regulation is an attack on coal families. It jeopardizes jobs and transfers power away from states and local governments. Today I’m introducing a bipartisan resolution to overturn it.
“Congress will also continue acting to provide relief from other regulations that attack our economy and our constituents. In fact, the House will act on its own version of this Congressional Review Act resolution and several others this week. I urge our friends to do so quickly so we can pass them here in the Senate and start providing relief to our coal communities, to our national economy, and to our constituents.”
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2017-- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is continuing his attack against newspapers and their local-government revenue sources. The Republican on Tuesday urged lawmakers to consider proposed legislation, dubbed the "newspaper revenge bill," that "would allow municipalities to post legal notices on websites instead of newspapers. All legal notices are posted and archived online through the New Jersey Press Association," Dustin Racioppi and Bob Jordan report for The Record and the Asbury Park Press.
"Multiple sources have said that Christie's intent on getting it passed is to punish newspapers for their critical coverage of him. He hasn't taken questions from state reporters in 140 days," Racioppi and Jordan write. The legislation lacked support last year,
"Christie contends that the bill is about taxpayer relief," Racioppi and Jordan write. "He contends that the bill's passage would save taxpayers 'tens of millions' annually, but his analysis to this point falls far below the $80 million he claims newspapers statewide make on the ads. Christie said his office analyzed legal notices in The Star-Ledger, the state's largest newspaper, and determined that it was paid $16.6 million for legal ads last year. The New Jersey Press Association has said the cost of legal notices in all state newspapers is about $20 million, with less than half of that being borne by taxpayers."
Tom Donovan, regional president of the Gannett East Group and publisher of The Record, said in a statement: “With all due respect to the governor, he doesn’t get to make up the facts when it comes to what the legal ad revenues are throughout the state of New Jersey."
Racioppi and Jordan write, "The proposed law change has been dubbed by a lawmaker as a 'revenge bill' because it came after coverage of the Christie administration’s Bridgegate scandal, which resulted in three convictions or guilty pleas from Christie allies from the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closure caper."
Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 1/27/2017 10:35:00 AM
Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Major stops include Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Brooklyn.
The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7 and in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21.
Read more: http://enewsbreak.com/ringling-bros-circus-to-close-after-146-years/#ixzz4Wnv9QXGr
After initially expressing serious concerns about Donald Trump’s pro-Russia secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio sold out and fell in line with fellow Republicans on the foreign relations committee.
Rubio’s vote – which was in question until earlier today – pushed Tillerson over the top by a single vote with the committee confirming him on party lines, 11-10. All Republicans voted in favor of Tillerson, while the Democrats on the committee opposed him.
Rubio recently expressed visible frustration during Tillerson’s confirmation hearing when the former CEO would not call Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal for his country’s involvement in the Syria and interference in last year’s presidential election.
“Those are very, very serious charges to make, and I would want to have much more information before reaching that conclusion,” Tillerson told a frustrated Rubio.
“What’s happening in Aleppo is in the public domain, the pictures are there,” Rubio shot back. “It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin’s military has conducted war crimes in Aleppo.”
TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2017 -- The Appalachian Region Commission last week announced 28 awards of nearly $26 million in coal-impacted communities in five states. ARC said funds will "train more than 7,300 workers and students impacted by the changing coal economy in certificate, credentialing, and other workforce development programs. They will also create or retain more than 2,500 jobs, leverage an additional $31 million from public and private investors and create a more vibrant economic future for Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities."
The biggest award, $3.5 million, goes to Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg, Ky. Funds will "will enable three Eastern-Kentucky education institutions—Big Sandy, Hazard Community and Technical College and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College—to launch a comprehensive, employer-driven workforce development program focused on building the digital economy and strengthening digital innovation and entrepreneurship across a 16-county region in Eastern Kentucky."
ARC awarded $1.92 million to Bevill State Community College in Jasper, Ala. for the Bevill State Community College POWER 2016 Initiative. "The project will create a new Rapid Training Center at Bevill State’s Jasper campus that will serve as a regional workforce training and job placement hub in northwest Alabama—an area that has been adversely affected by the recent retirement of coal-fired power generation facilities and the closure of multiple coal mines."
$1.5 million to West Alabama Works for job training services for growing automotive and advanced manufacturing industries in Western Alabama.
$1.5 million to Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard, Ky. to construct a job training facility focused on: information technology, telemedicine and health sciences, mechatronics and eco-tourism/small business development.
$1.5 million to Marshall University Research Corporation in Huntington, W.Va. to assist businesses "return to profitability through the adoption and deployment of emerging advanced manufacturing —primarily 3D printing and additive manufacturing."
For a complete list of awards click here.
Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 1/24/2017 11:02:00 AM
MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2017 --The way Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton utilized, or failed to utilize, RFD-TV, which specializes in rural-interest programming and is available in more than 46 million homes, may have been the difference in the presdential election, Cynthia Littleton reports for Variety. Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of RFD-TV, said "in the final two weeks before Election Day, Trump’s team spent $150,000 to buy every available advertising spot on Nashville-based RFD-TV." Clinton didn't by any advertising.
Gottsch told Littleton, “You could really see it turning in the last couple of weeks. I couldn’t find a woman in rural America who was going to vote for Secretary Clinton, and I found that odd.” Gottsch said he doesn't think it even mattered which party Trump belonged to, telling Littleton, “He could have run as a Democrat and won. It was the fact that he was so independent, and the fact that he was willing to tell everyone—Democrats and Republicans—to go to hell. Every time some [Republican] refused to endorse him, people went, ‘Oh good.’ ”
Gottsch, who said his two daughters were Clinton supporters, "chalks the loss up to her lack of outreach in rural areas, in addition to general economic frustration, and the belief that the status quo is 'rigged' against the little guy," Littleton writes. "Despite Trump’s 1 percent status and New York City pedigree, he gained favor because of his image as a maverick billionaire willing to shake up business as usual in Washington."
"In Gottsch’s view, the key to overcoming prejudice on both sides of the urban-rural divide is communication and a better understanding of one another’s worlds," Littleton writes. He told her, “We are not all a bunch of ‘Hee Haw’ hicks. We cannot exist as the U.S. if there is a wall between urban and rural America. We think that our job is to do more to connect city and country again. If we just keep doing ‘Duck Dynasty’ and that kind of thing, we are never going to get to a better understanding of who we are.”
Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 1/23/2017
Posted January 22, 2017 [ Kentucky Standard ]
A Bardstown man was indicted on assault and endangerment charges Wednesday after allegedly using a frozen roll of sausage to physically assault a woman. According to an arrest complaint, Derek Kiesler, 24, is accused of striking a woman several times in the arms and face on Jan. 11. Kiesler also allegedly struck an infant in the chin before using a frozen log of sausage to hit the woman in the head.
Posted January 22, 2017 [ Lexington Herald Leader ]
As the lunch crowd began trickling into Sandy Hook's Frosty Freeze restaurant Friday, owner Judy Pennington stood in front of a television and eagerly awaited the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. “Even though he’s a billionaire — and that don’t cut no ice with me — he’s for the little people,” she said. “The veterans. The coal miners. The forgotten people.”
Posted January 22, 2017 [ Courier-Journal ]
Dr. Greg Postel was appointed interim president of the University of Louisville during the first meeting of the board of trustees meeting Saturday. Postel, who has been with U of L for 23 years, is the Vice President for Health Affairs. He came to the university from the Mayo Clinic and was later named chair of the department of radiology.
(FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2017) Trempealeau County, Wisconsin home to 29,000, is a perfect example of how Donald Trump's surprise presidential election was fueled by rural residents, Jenna Johnson reports for The Washington Post. The largely white summer tourist hub with a low unemployment rate has long voted blue—President Obama earned 56 percent of the vote in 2012 and 60 percent in 2008—but Trump won in November with 53 percent.
"The same flip happened in 50 other Midwestern counties clustered in western Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois," Johnson writes. In the village of Trempealeau, "die-hard Democrats are still trying to figure out which of their roughly 1,600 neighbors were the 482 people who voted for Trump. Several lifelong Republicans say they voted for him, often reluctantly, but they didn’t expect him to win." Residents at a local bar, who were politically divided, "agreed that it will take at least another presidential election to see if this was a fluke or a lasting shift."
Kurt Wood, who has been Trempealeau village president since 1993 and voted for Clinton, told Johnson, “I just think that people were not feeling the greatest about the direction of the country and thought: ‘Oh well, I’m just going to throw my vote to somebody that I think will change things.’ Still, with the idea: ‘Well, he wasn’t going to win.' I think, in all honesty, people already realize what a mistake they made.”
Johnson writes, "The unemployment rate in Trempealeau County was 3 percent late last year, one of the lowest rates in the state. What’s missing are the higher-paying jobs for more-skilled workers, several residents said, and many feel as if their salaries or retirement savings haven’t kept up with their expenses, especially for health care. Trempealeau County is 97 percent white, but a growing number of Latinos have moved to the area for manufacturing and agriculture jobs."
Clinton, who didn't make a single visit to Wisconsin, was not popular in Trempealeau County, leading many Democrats to avoid voting for her, Johnson writes. Republican Treig Pronschinske, a technical-college graduate who worked in construction and unseated the Democratic state Assemblyman from the area, told Johnson of the Trump victory, “You could feel it coming. The comments were a lot of: ‘I agree with what Trump says, but I don’t really like how he acts.’ I saw right through that. They weren’t saying they wouldn’t vote for him. They just didn’t want to fight about it.”
Written by Tim Mandell
Posted at 1/20/2017 10:24:00 AM
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul suggested Sunday that Kentucky and other states that expanded Medicaid under federal health reform should have to raise taxes to keep it expanded and not rely on the federal government to continue the benefit.
Paul appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" to discuss his plan for replacing the law, which he said should be replaced the same day it is repealed. "Paul's plan did not directly address the future of states that signed on for expanded Medicaid offered as part of Obamacare," Gregory Kreig reports for CNN.
"That's the big question," Paul told host Jake Tapper. "And I don't think that's going to be in the replacement aspect."
Paul said the Obama administration misled the public about the federal government's ability to pay for the expansion, "So I'd say that if you want to have more Medicaid you should say we're going to have to have higher taxes to pay for it."
Those taxes could be considerable. Under the law, federal funds covered all the expansion cost through 2016. States are now paying 5 percent, and the law calls for that will rise in annual steps to its limit of 10 percent in 2020. Kentucky's share for 2017 and the first half of 2018 is estimated at $257 million.
The expansion covers people in households with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $33,000 a year for a family of four). It added about 44,000 Kentuckians to the program and was largely responsible for cutting by more than half the percentage of Kentuckians without health insurance.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's other senator, asked to reveal McConnell's plans for the Medicaid expansion, said in an email, "Sen. McConnell will have lots more to say about this issue in the coming weeks."
Paul said his replacement plan would allow health-insurance companies to offer cheaper plans with less coverage. "We're going to legalize the sale of inexpensive insurance," he said. "That means getting rid of the Obamacare mandates on what you can buy. We are going to help people save through health savings accounts, as well as a tax credit."
"Under Paul's program, the bargaining power created by the state and federal exchanges would be replaced with a provision that allows individuals and associations like small businesses to create their own markets," Kreig reports. "He added that those negotiations with insurance companies could also be used to guarantee the availability of policies that "can't cancel you and guarantees the issue of the insurance even if you get sick."
Paul told Tapper, "Our goal is to insure the most amount of people, give access to the most amount of people, at least the amount of cost."
However, Paul is just one senator, and President-elect Donald Trump says he has his own plan. "Republicans have been at loggerheads over the timing and execution of their promise to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a cheaper alternative that will not disrupt the insurance market and leave millions of Americans without coverage," Kreig notes.
Posted by Al Cross
HAZARD, Ky. - U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) applauds the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) award of up to $11 million to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) in Hazard, Kentucky to provide training and employment services for approximately 1,450 laid off coal miners in Eastern Kentucky.
"This award will ensure that our former miners will have access to the assistance they need during a critical time in their lives," said Congressman Rogers. "EKCEP has worked diligently to help our laid off coal miners and their spouses get the training, education and certifications they need to build their resumes and find new employment that will support their families. I applaud EKCEP's commitment to compete for necessary funding to keep these important programs going."
Over the last three years alone, more than 8,000 coal miners have been laid off in Kentucky's Appalachian Region. During that same time, EKCEP assisted 3,218 dislocated coal miners and their spouses through the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (HOME) program, which was developed with a National Emergency Grant from the DOL Employment and Training Administration. This new grant will continue those services, bringing total funds for this project to nearly $22.5 million.
"The need to continue services for our laid off miners and their spouses remains high. These additional funds will enable EKCEP and our community partners to maintain services to assist these men and women enter new training, develop new skills, and enter new career paths," said Jeff Whitehead, Executive Director of EKCEP. "We are very grateful that the Department of Labor is maintaining its support for our region’s unemployed workers, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Rogers on his efforts to improve the lives of Eastern Kentucky’s residents.”
EKCEP's programs work in concert with the mission of SOAR - Shaping Our Appalachian Region, helping launch a number of economic diversity and workforce development opportunities in Eastern Kentucky. Together, they have supported new projects and high-tech businesses in the region, including Interapt, BitSource, Teleworks USA and the eKY Advanced Manufacturing Institute.
If Congress repeals the health-reform law, struggling rural hospitals, many in regions that strongly supported Donald Trump, could be in danger of shuttering, Shefali Luthra reports for Kaiser Health News. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act "threw a number of life-savers to these vital but financially troubled centers. And its full repeal, without a comparable and viable replacement, could signal their death knell."
Luthra's example is Highlands Hospital in Connellsville, a poor rural town in Southwest Pennsylvania, which has struggled with the loss of coal mining and manufacturing jobs. Trump won Fayette County with 64 percent of the vote. Without Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid, the 64-bed hospital, the town's second largest single employer, could close, costing the town hundreds of local jobs.
"In Pennsylvania, 625,000 people enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program," Luthra writes. "Close to 300,000 came from rural areas, said Andy Carter, president of the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania. As of October, about 42,700 of Fayette’s residents had Medicaid, according to state data, an increase of about 8 percent from 39,460 in June 2015. (Pennsylvania‘s Medicaid expansion took effect in January of that year.) That’s close to one-third of the county’s population."
"Rural hospitals have long operated on the edge," Luthra writes. "In the past six years, more than 70 such facilities have closed, citing financial duress. Almost 700 more have been deemed at risk of following the same path. Meanwhile, the need for reliable health care remains pressing. Conditions such as heart and lung disease are widespread in rural areas. Addiction to the prescription painkillers known as opioids is acute. Nationally, the Medicaid expansion offered a bit of stability for some rural hospitals at risk of closure. Researchers say it disproportionately benefited such facilities—particularly here and other states with large rural populations, such as Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan."
Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 1/12/2017 02:01:00 PM
A federal jury has sentenced white supremacist mass shooter Dylann Roof to death.
Roof was convicted in December of federal hate-crime, obstruction of religion, and firearms charges brought after he killed nine people at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. He's the first person to be sentenced to death in a federal hate crimes case.
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) will serve as Chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies for the 115th Congress. Rogers was tapped as the congressional international ambassador after making historic strides as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee over the last six years.
"I count it a great honor to help lead our national security, international diplomacy and work hand-in-hand with our nation's allies to fight terrorism around the world," said Chairman Rogers. "With such intense turmoil overseas, it is vitally important that the United States maintain unwavering global leadership, while working tirelessly to protect our diplomats and promote democracy across the globe."
The Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations is tasked with protecting American embassies and consulates, supporting security for U.S. allies, prioritizing life-saving health and human aid around the world, and addressing health threats overseas before they reach American soil.
The Subcommittee also funds international narcotics control and law enforcement activities, as well as antiterrorism programs and peacekeeping operations.
As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 2011 to 2016, Rogers reinvigorated regular order within the appropriations process, enhanced oversight and transparency, and restored fiscal discipline. Over the last six years, the House Appropriations Committee cut spending by $126 billion, considered 2122 amendments to appropriations bills on the House floor and conducted 650 oversight hearings. Rogers turned over the gavel to newly appointed Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen for the 115th Congress.
"Chairman Frelinghuysen and I have worked side-by-side on the Appropriations Committee for more than 20 years. He is a proven leader for fiscal responsibility and transparency, and it is with great confidence that I hand over the gavel to my friend and colleague from New Jersey," said Rogers. "Chairman Frelinghuysen has played a key role in restoring fiscal discipline to the appropriations process and will serve as a trustworthy leader at the helm of the nation's purse strings in the new Congress."
State Rep. Gerald Watkins of Paducah is again trying to make headway on a subject near-and-dear to our hearts -- illegal telemarketing.
It is a problem with many tentacles. A bill introduced by Watkins in the current legislative session would get at only a small part of it. But it's a start. The problem is out of control. Everyday citizens are fed up. It really requires a national response. But many national politicians studiously ignore the issue because of the lobbying power of the telecom industry.
Indeed there is a bow to that in Watkins' latest bill. A Paducah Sun article about Watkins' effort says he is working with AT&T, the Kentucky Telecom Association and the state attorney general's office "to make sure the bill does not hinder normal commerce." Or in English, get in the telecoms' pockets.
Watkins' bill seeks to up the fines for selling mobile phone numbers without the subscriber's permission to between $1,000 and $10,000 per violation. When he proposed like terms in a bill introduced last year, we only somewhat-jokingly suggested that he add waterboarding to the penalties.
Watkins filed last year's bill after enduring the same frustrations many of us do -- a plague of unsolicited telemarketing calls on his cellphone. Like many of us, he received the calls despite being on the increasingly irrelevant Do Not Call Registry.
Watkins' bill cleared the House unanimously last year, but expired in the Senate. We are not sure why. But we do note this year's bill includes provisions that telecom companies cannot be fined if phone numbers are stolen, and they cannot be prevented from providing numbers to affiliates, directory providers or others "for the purpose of improving service to wireless customers."
First we will note that the problem of unsolicited calls goes well beyond people illegally selling lists of private phone numbers. Many calls originate offshore, aided by "robocall" devices (sold by telecoms) that dial scores of numbers at a time. Some simply dial all of the possible phone numbers with no regard for Do Not Call lists. Some actually target numbers on those lists because they know they are valid numbers.
But we think another part of the problem is that telecoms make money on some of this illegal activity without consequence. If someone steals your bank information and siphons money from your account, the bank is on the hook. Same goes for your credit card issuer in the event of fraudulent charges. So with regard to Watkins' bill, if someone steals a phone list from a telecom, why shouldn't there be fines if customers are abused as a result?
Our own company had an experience in which an office phone line was hacked and bogus long distance charges were racked up by creating traffic on an overseas line (which the hackers probably lease and get paid for). One might think in that scenario that our long distance carrier -- a major U.S. telecom -- would have to eat the bogus charges. And one would be wrong. The carriers are immune by virtue of their lobbying prowess. The customer is on the hook. We had to pay our carrier thousands for a fraudulent transaction.
That sort of narrative is going to have to change if the burgeoning harassment of Americans by robocallers and scammers is going to be effectively combated. Telecoms don't have enough skin in the game, relative to banks and credit card companies, to be incentivized to mount the fight that is needed. Politicians need to hold their feet to the fire. They'll only do that when constituents demand it. Our sense is the moment it at hand.
By Jim Paxton
The Paducah Sun
January 6, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) applauded the work of the new Congress in its first week in operation, meeting with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, addressing veterans issues, reining in costly regulations and taking steps to protect black lung benefits.
Republican Members of the House met with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence earlier this week to discuss plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Pence reminded legislators that premiums are increasing by an average of 25% this year, while some states experienced increases as high as 116%.
As the new Congress works to overhaul the disastrous and unaffordable healthcare act, Rogers continues to advocate for a piecemeal approach to protect portions like the Byrd Amendment, making it easier for coal miners to obtain black lung benefits. In fact, on Thursday, Rogers cosponsored a resolution, H. Res. 26, to protect black lung benefits and widows' benefits in the law. Currently, if a miner has 15 years or more of experience in underground mining and can prove it has resulted in respiratory disability, the miner is automatically awarded benefits, unless the employing coal company can prove otherwise. The Byrd Amendment, named after the late Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, also protects miners' widows' black lung benefits, and Rogers hopes to keep those protections in place as Congress moves forward with new legislation.
"Black lung benefits are critical to the hard working coal miners of Eastern Kentucky, as well as their widows, and I will continue fighting to protect the benefits that they have earned," said Congressman Rogers. "We must repeal and replace Obamacare with an affordable plan that provides access to the care that Americans want and deserve. However, we must carefully review each portion of the law and work to protect sections like black lung benefits."
Also on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representative passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2017 (H.R. 26), to reform federal regulations and restore accountability. During the Obama Administration, over 550 new federal regulations were imposed on America's job creators and households, costing nearly $108 billion each year. The REINS Act requires federal agencies to submit major regulations to Congress for approval, and Congress must vote on those rules within 70 legislative days.
"Too often, regulators fail to weigh the costs and benefits of their actions, and there is no accountability in place for them." said Rogers, who cosponsored the bill. "The REINS Act removes regulatory power from unelected agency officials in Washington and ensures elected representatives in Congress have a chance to review and approve any new major rules. It's time to remove unnecessary and costly road blocks for American families and businesses."
In 2015, federal regulations burdened the American people with an estimated $1.885 trillion, which equals roughly $15,000 per household and 10.4% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, President-elect Trump offered strong support for the REINS Act.
As announced earlier this week, Rogers cosponsored his first resolution of the 115th Congress to strike down the Obama Administration's overreaching Stream Buffer Zone Rule that places further restrictions on coal mining. According to the National Mining Association, the new rule could result in the additional loss of over 77,500 coal mining jobs across the country. The Congressional resolution would allow the U.S. House and Senate to take a simple vote to reverse the controversial rule.
Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information, visit Congressman Rogers' online office at http://halrogers.house.gov or follow him on Twitter or Instagram @RepHalRogers, and on Facebook.
As recently as, let's say, a year ago, WikiLeaks proprietor Julian Assange was still generally treated by right-wing, centrist, and center-left American politicians and pundits as a cyberterrorist who puts lives at risk by exposing national security secrets. On the flip side, many leftists and libertarians believed that he'd contributed to the laudable project of exposing an illegal, encroaching surveillance state. But now Assange is doing softball interviews on Fox News, being praised by Sarah Palin and criticized by left-wing investigative journalists, and, for some reason, threatening to sue CNN. What's going on?
WASHINGTON – It’s beginning to appear that many of the folks residing within the always-stunning hills and hollows of Eastern Kentucky who voted to make Donald J. Trump the next president of these United States are beginning to feel like a crappie at the end of a hook – that worm sure looked tasty at the time, but the consequences sure proved to be hell.
And with good reason.
Eastern Kentucky fell for the New York City con man in a big way, just like the region’s turn of the 20th Century landowners relented to the slickers coming down from the big city to lease the mineral rights to their coal rich property. In Pike County, for instance, the president-elect grabbed an incredible 81 percent of the vote – outdistancing Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 15,000 votes cast.
Many supported Trump in this once reliably Democratic bastion because, to put it indelicately, they got suckered into his Houdini act – promising to return vanishing coal jobs to a troubled region with a shouted Voila! And a Presto Change-o! Those hopes already have been essentially doused by one of the grand hustler’s enablers, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Louisville, who now admits coal mining is a “private sector activity’’ that may or may not respond to federal government enticements.
So the region will have to find a way to replace those lost and gone forever coal jobs, probably with little if any help from Washington DC. And now, to place the rancid cherry on top of the melted sundae, the soon-to-be Trump administration is rubbing its small-fingered hands in anticipation of depriving Eastern Kentucky residents – and the rest of the nation, for that matter – access to health care.
There’s little doubt that the House and Senate, soon after Trump takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, will move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, bag and baggage. The move, being undertaken with great delight by the soon-to-be Shyster-in-Chief and his Republican cohorts who can’t stand the fact that President Obama achieved something that improves the lives of millions of Americans, are expected to offer nada, immediately, anyway, to take its place.
The Obamacare repeal will create a hardship from sea to shining sea but it will prove particularly acute in poor areas like Eastern Kentucky, where proper medical care has always been more of a dream than a reality. Data from the Department of Health & Human Services shows that the uninsured rate in the commonwealth has fallen by 61 percent since the law was enacted in 2010, translating into 404,000 Kentuckians gaining coverage. Those gains will be jeopardized by repeal.
Obamacare expanded Medicaid, the federal government health care plan for the underprivileged in 32 states and the District of Columbia, including Kentucky. The expansion added an estimated 151,000 to the rolls, bringing the total number of individuals covered by the program in the state to 1,220,788.
Not all of those gains occurred in Eastern Kentucky, of course, but a substantial number in the traditionally underserved area have benefitted.
Trump hasn’t proved shy about his opposition to the ACA, repeatedly asserting that his position is to “completely repeal Obamacare’’ and replace it with a program yet to be determined. He has called it “horrible’’ and insisted that it is “just blowing up.’’
And as they say on those TV ads you see in the midst of reruns of “Mr. T and Tina’’ at three o’clock in the morning, “But wait! There’s more!’’
The late and legendary Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV – yes, a Democrat – managed to slip a provision into the Affordable Care Act that made it easier for coal miners to qualify for black lung benefits.
Prior to Obamacare, miners were required to prove not only that they were disabled because of breathing problems and that they had pneumoconiosis, a restrictive lung disease caused by the inhalation of coal dust, but that their disability was caused by their years working the mines. Many obviously sick miners were repeatedly denied benefits, adding to the region’s health troubles.
The Byrd provision shifted the burden of proof from the miners to the mining companies. If a miner has spent 15 years or more underground and can prove respiratory disability, then it is presumed under Obamacare to be black lung related to mine work, unless the company can prove otherwise.
In addition, the measure makes it easier for the widow or widower of a miner to continue receiving at least a portion of his or her benefits following his or her demise.
Confidence that those (coal) jobs would somehow reappear under a Trump presidency is the very definition of false hope. Meanwhile, as a result of the election, the ailing could certainly lose their health care coverage.
That provision, which helps untold thousands of Eastern Kentucky miners, would follow Obamacare down the rabbit hole if the entire measure is repealed as expected.
All this comes on top of the failure of the Republican-controlled House and Senate to adequately address pension and health care issues related to United Mine Workers of America retirees, who face the prospect of losing those benefits because of downturns and bankruptcies within the industry.
The Senate reluctantly added a provision to the 2017 budget bill bolstering the health care program for another four months but the future of the assistance remains up in the air.
By the way, it’s Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV – yes a Democrat – leading the charge to protect those benefits. McConnell is obviously hesitant – perhaps because of past opposition from the UMWA. Trump has yet to weigh in.
Regardless, the voters of Eastern Kentucky made a bet and it appears they’re on the verge of rolling craps. They apparently decided to believe the soon to be Shyster-in-Chief when he proclaimed the coal jobs would return under his leadership, even though factors that led to the desertion – low-cost natural gas, environmental concerns, played out seams that make recovery difficult and costly – will continue regardless of who settles into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Coal jobs declined by a whopping 21.6 percent in Eastern Kentucky during the first six months of 2016 and continued to drop – but at a lesser rate – thereafter. As of July 1, fewer than 4,000 people were working the region’s mines. That compares to the second quarter of 2011 when coal employment in Eastern Kentucky averaged 13,695.
Confidence that those jobs would somehow reappear under a Trump presidency is the very definition of false hope. Meanwhile, as a result of the election, the ailing could certainly lose their health care coverage.
Not a beneficial trade-off.
Peter Thiel, who supported the con man’s candidacy and, like Trump, is a billionaire entrepreneur, perhaps summed it up best during a recent speech delivered at the National Press Club.
“I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally,’’ he said.
Apparently voters in Eastern Kentucky took Trump literally when he vowed to bring the jobs back, but not seriously when he promised to kill health care.
Christmas in Germany is a magical thing, and lit up trees play a central role in the country's famous Christmas markets.
The one-time leader of the largest domestic marijuana production ring in the U.S. was arrested near Montreal Thursday after eight years on the run. John Robert "Johnny" Boone, 70, led the creation of what came to be known as the "Cornbread Mafia" in the 1970s and had been wanted since 2008, when police found 2,400 cannabis seedlings on his farm near Springfield. He has two federal convictions and faces the possibility of life in prison without parole if convicted a third time. He served 15 years in prison as the result of a 1987 arrest.
The Cornbread Mafia "operated in nine Midwestern states on isolated farms, guarded in some instances by bears and lions, and with workers described as a 'paramilitary force,' ultimately producing $350 million in pot seized in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin, according to prosecutors," reports Andrew Wolfson of The Courier-Journal in Louisville.
Boone is the leading character and subject of the cover photo in The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate's Code Of Silence And The Biggest Marijuana Bust In American History, a book by freelance writer James Higdon, a resident of Marion County, Kentucky, where most of those arrested in connection with the ring lived. Another ringleader, Joe Keith Bickett of Marion County, recently published his own account, The Origins of the Cornbread Mafia, which reveals how the ring was established and how it got its name.
"The Cornbread Mafia considered themselves the modern-day successors to Kentucky’s moonshine runners during Prohibition, who often evaded federal agents in rows of corn stalks and barns, according Boone’s one time associate Les Berry Jr.," reports Fernando Alfonso III if the Lexington Herald-Leader. Boone was tracked by U.S. marshals and arrested by Canadian police on immigration charges. He is awaiting extradition. For the Marshals Service press release, via The Mirror, click here.
Written by Al Cross Posted at 12/23/2016 12:09:00 AM