- Associated Press - Thursday, August 28, 2014
Kentucky gets $20 million grant for energy study

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Democrats and Republicans gathered Wednesday to celebrate a $20 million federal grant designed to move Kentucky toward new forms of energy, a tricky subject in a state dominated by the coal industry.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr joined Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and state House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins to announce a federal grant that will be distributed among the state’s eight public colleges and universities. The money will pay for researchers to explore new ways to generate energy from plants and chemicals.

“As the world grows more sophisticated around us, the older ways of doing things, whether that’s powering our cars, generating fuel and energy or producing clean water are no longer good enough,” Beshear said. “Now, we in Kentucky could be unnerved by this reality or we could see it as an opportunity to do some amazing things.”

About 90 percent of Kentucky’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. And the coal industry is a major employer and economic driver in parts of eastern and western Kentucky. But a decline in demand combined with new federal emission standards have resulted in the loss of 7,000 direct coal mining jobs since January 2012.

Those job losses have become flashpoints in Kentucky politics. Coal has dominated the race for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat between McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

But both Republicans and Democrats said Wednesday’s grant announcement will complement the coal industry, not compete with it.

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Appeal for soldier convicted in ‘03 grenade attack

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A military appeal hearing was set Thursday for a U.S. soldier sentenced to death for killing two fellow service members and wounding 14 others in a grenade attack in Kuwait nearly 10 years ago.

The hearing for 43-year-old Army Sgt. Hasan K. Akbar is scheduled for Nov. 18 in Washington, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces said on its website. Akbar was sentenced to death in 2005 by a military jury.

He was convicted of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder in connection with an attack on the 101st Airborne Division at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait during the early days of the Iraq war. Prosecutors say he threw four hand grenades into tents as members of his division slept, then fired his rifle at soldiers in the ensuing chaos on March 23, 2003.

Air Force Maj. Gregory L. Stone was killed by a grenade. Army Capt. Christopher S. Seifert was fatally shot in the back. Fourteen soldiers were wounded, mostly from grenade shrapnel.

His appeal challenges the trial counsel’s. Maj. Jacob Bashore, one of Akbar’s military defense attorneys, said in a brief that the attorneys who defended Akbar during his trial should not have shown Akbar’s diary to the jury. The diary, which contained details of a conversion to radical Islam and expressed anti-government views, hurt Akbar’s case, Bashore said.

In one diary entry dated Feb. 23, 2002, Akbar wrote that he believed staying in the Army would eventually lead him to prison.

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