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“Need vs. Notoriety” is the conflict at the center of Cheri Lawson’s NPR piece on the Ark Encounter theme park proposed for northern Kentucky.

The story covers Governor Steve Beshear’s defense of the park (which represents a literal interpretation of the story of Genesis) on financial grounds and the ridicule the project has received. It goes further, too, talking with scientists and scholars about science education and the Constitution.

 

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Attorney General Jack Conway is the latest Kentucky official to ask Florida Governor Rick Scott not to cut a not-yet-implemented prescription pill tracking system.

The program is similar to the KASPER system in Kentucky, which Conway and others say has helped stop pill mills from distributing prescription drugs in the commonwealth. It’s believed that many of the prescriptions abused in Kentucky come from Florida. Governor Steve Beshear, Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo, Congressman Hal Rogers and U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske have all encouraged Scott to reconsider cutting the program. In his latest monthly column, Conway joined the call:

The bottom line is that we need to stop illicit prescription pills at their source; states like Florida and Georgia that do not have prescription drug monitoring programs in place. Programs like Kentucky’s KASPER system are needed, warranted and must be implemented in all 50 states. Until that happens, prescription drug abuse will continue to ravage our families and our kids.

Governor Steve Beshear is the latest Kentucky official to ask Florida Governor Rick Scott to rethink his plans to cut a prescription drug tracking system.

It’s estimated that many of the prescription pills that are abused in eastern Kentucky come from Florida. In 2009, that state’s legislature approved a system to track prescriptions and reduce the number of so-called pill mills.

As part of his plan to cut spending, Governor Scott has proposed cutting the program. That first prompted a response from Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who asked his fellow Republican Scott to reconsider, saying that Kentuckians and Floridians alike are dying of prescription drug overdoses.

In a letter released Tuesday, Beshear echoed those sentiments. Kentucky has a prescription tracking system, and Beshear credits it for pushing pill mills out of the commonwealth.

A Greenup County sheriff has also reportedly taken issue with Scott’s plans to cancel the tracking program.

It’s been one week since a group of protesters ended their sit-in at Governor Steve Beshear’s office. A group of 14 protesters spent the weekend in Beshear’s office protesting the surface mining technique commonly called Mountaintop Removal. The sit-in ended with the annual I Love Mountains Day rally in Frankfort on the 14th.

Kentucky author Silas House was among the 14. An essay about the experience and mountaintop removal was published in Saturday’s New York Times.

From House’s op-ed:

The news media and the rest of the country typically think of mountaintop removal as an environmental problem. But it’s a human crisis as well, scraping away not just coal but also the freedoms of Appalachian residents, people who have always been told they are of less value than the resources they live above.

A few days after the rally, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a spending bill that weakens the federal government’s ability to regulate mountaintop removal, though the bill may not pass the Senate.

The House debate over EPA spending overlapped with the state Senate’s Natural Resource and Energy Committee vote to declare Kentucky a “sanctuary state” that’s exempt from EPA regulation. That legislation also faces an uncertain future.

by Graham Shelby

Fourteen protesters will be spending the weekend in the office of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.

They belong to an environmental group called Kentucky Rising that gathered in the governor’s office this morning to demand a meeting with the governor. Beshear met with the demonstrators, who voiced their objection to mountaintop removal mining and their concerns about the environmental damaged caused by coal mining in eastern Kentucky.

In his State of the Commonwealth speech last week, Beshear called for the EPA to get off the backs of the state and the coal industry. One of the protesters, Jason Howard, objected to that.

“It’s not the EPA and the federal government that needs to get off your back. It’s the coal industry and your administration that needs to get off our backs,” said Howard.

Beshear didn’t offer to change his positions. The group decided to continue their protest in the governor’s office. They were prepared to be arrested at the end of the day on Friday.

Instead, the governor told them they can stay as long as they like. The group plans to stay through Monday when other environmental activists will gather in Frankfort for a rally called I Love Mountains Day.

by Tony McVeigh

A citizens group protesting mountaintop removal has met with Governor Steve Beshear.

Around 20 members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth began a sit-in protest this morning in the lobby of the governor’s office. They said they wouldn’t leave unless they got an audience with Governor Beshear. Beshear initially said his schedule wouldn’t permit it, but finally emerged and fielded questions for about 30 minutes. The group wants an end to surface mining in Kentucky, but Beshear says he cannot support that.

“I understand where you’re coming from. I do think we can surface mine in a responsible way and reclaim the land and protect the water,” he said, eliciting laughter from the demonstrators. “I didn’t laugh at you when y’all were talking, so I would appreciate it if you would give me the same respect,” replied Beshear.

Among the protesters, who remained even after the governor went back to work, are author/poet Wendell Berry and novelist Silas House.

“I don’t think that we’re anywhere near the conversation that we’re going to have to have before we’re satisfied.  We represent a side, and it’s an authentic side, with substantive issues that need to be dealt with,” said Berry.

by Graham Shelby

Author Wendell Berry is one of a group of protesters staging a sit-in in the office of Governor Beshear at this hour. The group is demanding a meeting with the governor to discuss ending the practice of mountaintop removal mining and creating a new economic model for Kentucky.

The group of twenty calls itself Kentucky Rising and says Beshear has refused previous meeting requests. They say they plan to stay in the governor’s office until he meets with them or orders them removed from the building.

In addition to Berry, the protest group includes Kentucky authors Silas House and Erik Reece as well as activists and retired coal miners.

Beshear’s office tells WFPL the governor is willing to meet the group, but will not have time today.

Demonstrator Jason Howard is tweeting from the sit-in.

We’ll have more on this as it develops.

Changes could be made to the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer are touting a proposed set of changes to the project. The changes would shrink the ORBP, but two new bridges and a revamped Spaghetti Junction would still be in the plan.

The leaders have proposed keeping Spaghetti Junction in its current location, making the east end bridge four lanes instead of six and cutting bike lanes from the proposed downtown bridge in favor of the pedestrian-only Big Four Bridge. The proposed changes could cut half a billion dollars from the project.

Both states and the bi-state Bridges Authority will host a conference next month to find other ways to cut costs. Mayor Fischer says that may satisfy those citizens who have said the $4.1 billion project is too expensive.

“The project is costly as it is right now,” he says. “But some preliminary things have identified at least a half billion dollars or so and I would certainly hope as we pull the best minds in the world together on this thing that we can save more money than that as well.”

Fischer also says tolls should not be placed on the Sherman Minton or Clark Memorial Bridges. The group Say No To Bridge Tolls has called the proposed changes a victory.  Members further hope no tolls will be placed on the Kennedy Bridge and that the project will be built in phases. The Bridges Authority previously opposed that suggestion.

Georgetown College professor Dr. Robert Bevins has sent a letter to Governor Steve Beshear regarding the planned Ark Encounter creationist theme park and the state tax incentives Beshear says the park will receive.

From the Teaching Sapiens blog:

It was with great sadness that I learned of the severe injury done to the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s reputation. It is a sad day when Kansans can look down on Kentucky, that at least Kansas is not trying to attract an amusement park catering to the unscientific concept of young earth creationism.

Worse still, Kentucky is offering tax incentives to attract further development by Answers in Genesis, a group that can only further decrease our reputation as a state that values higher learning.

[edit]

It wouldn’t be a slap in the face to all of my fellow alumni of the University of Kentucky, devaluing the doctoral diploma that I proudly display in my office and  denigrating the verifiable and evidence based science taught in our land grant universities and private colleges if Kentucky wasn’t looking to help fund an ethically bankrupt amusement park. The presence of the Creation “Museum” is embarrassment enough, but to know that my tax dollars may help to fund its expansion, when researchers at UK and University of Louisville face tight budgets while performing ground breaking scientific research, it is simply too much.

Today, you helped to tarnish my hard won degree with the scorn of the academic community. In an instant, my years of scholarship became worth a tiny little bit less. I will have to defend my state as I once did as a child. “Yes, we wear shoes,” becomes, “No, we aren’t all stuck in a scientific stone age.”

[edit]

Ignorance is bliss to Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, ignorance and fear of a wrathful and genocidal god. I wonder, shall the amusement park include a wave pool filled with the simulated bobbing bodies of the dead, as the Museum cheerfully displays the Genesis account of the Great Flood via computer animation and artistic dioramas of the wholesale slaughter of the world?Having been to this “Museum”, I can say that no depth is too low to subject young minds to in order to scare them away from inquiry and learning.

What shall I expect next from the government of our fair Commonwealth? Should UK and the University of Louisville begin to offer degrees in astrology? Will the UK medical school offer coursework in homeopathy? Perhaps you could establish a Department of Divination to direct the government’s future goals and to offer you a morning horoscope? Or should I expect some other discipline of magical thinking to be given the stamp of approval of the state?

Why did you choose to encourage what can only harm our state’s reputation? Was it a promise of 30 pieces of silver (a temporary increase in construction jobs) to betray our good name?

You can read the whole letter here.

(h/t to B&P)

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