Beshear's summit no big help for laid-off miners
It's really amazing that Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers would come to Hazard for a ceremonial appearance about jobs in Eastern Kentucky.
And it's ironic that hundreds of coal miners on the same day went to Washington to protest the loss of thousands of mining jobs, brought on by President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
If this is the way Beshear looks out for the interests of Kentucky citizens, then he is really no better for Kentucky than Obama is.
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I am sure the 6,000 coal miners who have lost their jobs are feeling better now that Beshear is calling for a public forum in Pikeville, even though he has presided over this massive loss of jobs in the coalfields for six years.
And now we find that Kentuckians have signed up 26,000 people for Obamacare, with over 82 percent of those people signed up for expanded Medicaid.
Here is hoping that thousands of these laid-off coal miners show up and ask Beshear how they are now supposed to support their families while new jobs are being developed in the region.
That is no less foolish than Obama thinking that Americans would switch over to electric cars before he leaves office.
Don't be surprised if Beshear has a job in Obama's administration after he leaves office.
One more thing to consider in next year's Senate race: A vote for Alison Lundergan Grimes will be another rubber-stamp vote for Obama and do even more damage to Kentucky.
What became of BEAM?
I read the article about SOAR, a summit to create jobs in Eastern Kentucky, with interest.
The last effort similar to this was called BEAM and I believe that Lexington and Louisville spent over $250,000 on hiring the Brookings Institute to develop a strategy to help grow business in the Interstate 64 corridor.
As it has been almost two years since this effort was launched, what were the actionable results? What has been the impact?
If there were none, what lessons learned can be applied to SOAR to increase the odds of success?
A Herald-Leader editorial pointed out some concerns about the formation of the steering team.
I suggest you look at including people who have actually built successful businesses, not just business people from service organizations that sell services to other businesses and are not scalable.
And, finally, can we do better from this summit than just policy recommendations?
Food stamp cuts hurt
Since Friday, 875,000 people in Kentucky now have less money to feed their families. They are part of the 47 million Americans who saw their SNAP (food stamp) benefits cut on Nov. 1 due to the end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed four years ago.
With 8.4 percent of the Kentucky labor force unemployed in August and 24 percent of children living below the poverty line, it is clear that the economic recovery has not yet reached all. Over three-fifths of those who receive SNAP benefits in Kentucky are children or adults living with children.
The cut means that a family of four will lose $36 a month from their maximum monthly benefit. For families that must choose between paying for food or utilities — as 34 percent of food bank clients in Kentucky have to do — such a cut presents serious hardship.
We expect the cuts will result in an increased need for food assistance at food pantries and soup kitchens, already stretched trying to meet sustained high need in wake of the recession.
Also, in September, the U.S. House passed legislation cutting $40 billion in SNAP over the next 10 years. Together with last week's cuts, the pending legislation will result in a loss of nearly 3.4 billion meals for low-income Americans in 2014 alone.
Call your Congress members and tell them not to cut SNAP. We need a strong charitable system and a strong federal safety net. Visit kafb.org to learn more.
Kentucky Association of Food Banks
Court Days disturbing
Oct. 19, I attended the much-lauded Court Days event in Mount Sterling, but was disturbed to find a wide selection of guns and ammunition being sold by individuals to anyone who had the cash.
As I walked side-by-side with other patrons who were armed with handguns, rifles and even assault weapons, I felt insecure and, frankly, scared.
Even more disturbing was the large number of juveniles carrying guns around the event.
Just last month, a pre-teen boy killed his teacher in Nevada and wounded two classmates, before turning the gun on himself. Authorities believe he took the gun from home. Parents should ask themselves if children of that age are mature enough to possess guns in large crowds of people. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
Congress should enact gun laws to close dangerous loopholes that allow the transfer of guns between individuals without background checks, and to keep guns out of the hands of our children.
Owning a gun is our right as Americans, but it comes with a great responsibility. Passing a background check is the least we can do to keep guns out of the wrong hands. And parents should be held accountable when they allow their children to have easy access to guns. It's just common sense.
Speak up, Obama
I've been waiting for President Barack Obama's comments on the murder of Colleen Ritzer, the Massachusetts schoolteacher reportedly killed by a student.
After all, he gave us insight on how the Cambridge, Mass., police acted "stupidly" in the arrest of his friend Henry Louis Gates.
Also he stated that if he had a son he'd look like Trayvon Martin.
Well, he's got another son sitting in a Danvers, Mass., jail. The alleged killer, Philip Chism, looks just like him.
United Way wrong
I have suspended my contributions to the United Way in response to its suspension of funding to the Boy Scouts of America for the organization's refusal to normalize the homosexual lifestyle.
This is the second time I have had to do this.
I previously re-directed my contributions to the American Red Cross, due to the Central Kentucky Blood Center's punishment of Hands-On Originals for having the same moral convictions. Thanks, Herald-Leader, for keeping me informed.
Boy Scouts wrong
Simple message here: Shame on those Central Kentucky Boy Scout sponsors who dropped their charters because of the Scouts letting in gay boys.
Lynn Fish Blacketer
Stop police buildup
America is the world's largest jailer in the world. The buildup of police armies and the militarization of the police have been happening since the mid-1960s.
Today America is a police state with no more right to private conversations or privacy in your home.
Thanks to the Orwellian Patriot Act your home can be searched without a warrant and you don't have to be told, your phone calls can be listened to, your mail can be read, you can be tortured and thrown into a prison without a lawyer.
This also includes large amounts of spending.
Our mayor and council had a $7 million surplus and guess who got a lot of it? The police.
We could have had a new park, more parking downtown, perhaps a new museum. Instead, the money was thrown into the never-ending pit of law enforcement.
The police budget now reads like a 9-year-old's Christmas list to Santa: "I want ponies and puppies and helicopters and new cars."
"Sure thing," says Mayor Jim Gray.
Even police animals are now called "officers" and the law treats them as people.
When Emperor Caligula appointed his horse to the Senate people thought he was insane, but when our police take people to jail for making barking noises at a police dog or bumping a horse it is considered sane.
Help the homeless
A number of downtown residents have wondered how our city was able to find housing for our homeless during the Alltech-FEI World Equestrian Games.
If our community was able to solve this tragic problem for the week of the event, it demonstrates our community's ability to at least greatly lessen this human tragedy all year round.
However, what it really demonstrates is if they truly wanted to, they can solve the problem of homelessness in our city.
So what's taking so long?
Native American slur
As an American Indian and member of the Cherokee Nation, I find the team name of the Washington Redskins to be offensive and a racial slur.
Can you imagine the outcry if the team were named the Slant Eyes, the Wetbacks or (God forbid) the Spear-chuckers?
During the 1800s, the U.S. government's policy was to slaughter women and children and commit genocide on an entire society.
Then the survivors were herded like animals onto land that no one wanted. The only thing we have to show for this now is that in our nation's capital, we are still known as the Redskins.
A lot of show
Officially, the Kentucky men's basketball team plays two pre-season exhibition games.
In reality, virtually all of the first 10 home games are exhibitions.
CELEBRATE THE ARTS
Boost for Lexington
The magnificent performance of the Verdi Requiem deserves special recognition.
The soloists, the fantastic near-professional UK Orchestra under the baton of John Nardolillo and the always superb UK Chorale and Lexington Singers molded to perfection by Jeff Johnson performed with incredible skill and musical taste.
What also needs recognition was the packed Singletary Concert Hall, young and old and in-between Lexingtonians.
So proud of Lexington's quality of life opportunities that this attendance and this concert represent.
Verdi's Requiem, more than an opera in disguise, is a musical oxymoron, which is precisely what the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra (John Nardolillo) with the UK Chorale, Lexington Singers (Jefferson Johnson) and soloists Cynthia Lawrence (soprano), Alissa Anderson (mezzo), Jeremy Cady (tenor) and Patrick Blackwell (bass), conveyed in its second performance of the season.
The contradicting melodics, tempos and dynamics within the seven movements were unevenly smooth, cacophonously tonal, and disturbingly calm as the darkest of all requiems grabbed the audience by the shoulders, rattling brains and stirring spiritual innards.
Not until the last trumpet had sounded did the music release its divinely hellish hold.
The "Dies irae" (day of wrath) created a maelstrom of angelically demonic voices raining hell fire and brimstone on the judged. And like bolts of lightning, it continued to strike throughout the piece at any attempt of prayer or redemption.
The soprano's soulful lead into the "Lux aeterna" and the prayerful chant at the beginning of "Libera me" were both hit by the returning ominous, gut-splitting force of "Dies irae." The pleas for everlasting light and deliverance from eternal death seemed futile as the timpani's thundering heartbeats repeatedly drummed up images of the horses of the apocalypse.
The beauty and horror of Verdi's mass could have never been transmuted into a work of promise and hope without the unifying elements that all these musicians brought to the stage. Nothing confirmed their success more loudly than the deafening silence that followed the final note.
Lexington Kudos to the paper
It is difficult to have a vibrant arts community without someone spreading the news. People can't enjoy the arts if they don't know what's on offer.
Luckily, the Herald-Leader editors and excellent staff writers make sure the word gets out.
Arts and cultural events generate substantial revenue for area businesses and make Lexington a more interesting place to live.
Hats off to Tom Eblen and Rich Copley, et al, and their bosses, for making arts reporting a vital part of the newspaper.
As Copley said in his column praising Eblen's recent Governor's Award in the Arts, this is something that is disappearing from many newspapers.
We are fortunate that this newspaper understands and embraces its role to keep the creative economy humming.
UK Opera top-notch
I saw the UK Opera production of Les Miserables and must say I hope the basketball teams will be as good.
Just a few years ago there was no awareness at all of UK Opera and much credit must go to its head Everett McCorvey.
Under his leadership students are coming to the program from many states and countries.
It's very beneficial to our downtown when it plays at the Opera House as well as to the community and surrounding areas since we get to see productions of this quality locally.
I hope UK will do what's necessary to retain this great asset.
Paul F. Guthrie