- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014
McCarthy makes pitch for GOP-run Senate

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - The congressional logjam blocking action on problems holding back stronger economic growth would be broken if Republicans win control of the Senate in November, the new U.S. House majority leader said Saturday during a visit to assist Kentucky GOP candidates.

Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California blamed Senate Democrats for congressional inaction. McCarthy said Senate and House Republicans would work effectively if the GOP consolidates its congressional power by gaining majority status in the Senate.

“I think given the opportunity, we’ll get things done,” he told reporters before headlining a fundraiser to assist state GOP House candidates.

In Kentucky, the GOP is making a strong push this year to end Democrats’ historic control of the state House.

Kentucky Democrats countered that McCarthy is part of the reason for the gridlock in Washington.

“This link between Kentucky Republicans and their counterparts in Washington, D.C., is disconcerting and bad for Kentucky,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon. “Kentuckians are sick of the games, and will reject Republican efforts to take the House in November.”

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Kentucky town opens filling station to the public

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) - Somerset’s city hall ventured into the retail gas business Saturday, opening a municipal-run filling station that supporters call a benefit for motorists and critics denounce as a taxpayer-supported swipe at the free market.

The Somerset Fuel Center opened to the public selling regular unleaded gas for $3.36 a gallon, a bit lower than some nearby competitors. In the first three hours, about 75 customers fueled up at the no-frills stations, where there are no snacks, no repairs and only regular unleaded gas.

The mayor says the station was created in response to years of grumbling by townspeople about stubbornly high gas prices in Somerset, a city of about 11,000 near Lake Cumberland, a popular fishing and boating haven.

The venture got a thumbs-up from customers who let their vehicles reach near-empty in anticipation of the city-run station’s opening.

“I’m tickled to death that they’re trying to do something,” Ed Bullock said as he filled up his car. “I’m glad they made the investment.”

The venture unnerved local filling station and convenience store operators suddenly competing with the city in this Republican stronghold. Critics said the government has no business imposing itself into the private sector, and one store owner branded it as socialism.

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Long-time inmate hopes for parole after 54 years

LA GRANGE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s longest-serving prison inmate has two black-and-white photographs hanging on his nursing room wall at the Kentucky State Reformatory showing the world’s biggest movie star the last time he was free. Picture: Marilyn Monroe.

Now, Willie Gaines Smith, 76, is hoping to qualify for parole after 54 years behind bars. Kentucky lawmakers approved a program to let out some infirmed inmates provided they meet certain criteria, such as not being a sex offender or on death row and is a low risk.

The project would save money for the state, which pays millions each year taking care of aging prisoners, by granting some inmates medical parole to private nursing homes where the federal government would pay most of the bills through Medicaid. For inmates like Smith, it costs $182 a day for care.

Kentucky Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson makes the ultimate ruling on which inmates will be paroled; the parole board must follow the decision.

Lisa Lamb, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman, told WDRB-TV in Louisville (http://bit.ly/1m8xQuo) that Smith is among a list of inmates who have qualified for the pilot project. Thompson is reviewing his case.

The problem, officials say, is even if Smith or others are granted medical parole, it will be extremely difficult to find a nursing home to take in an inmate, given the liability. Smith says he didn’t want to go to a nursing home.

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Experts: Social media can feed Munchausen by proxy

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - Experts say the case of a mother accused of poisoning her 5-year-old son to death with salt appears be an example of how social media feeds into Munchausen by proxy, a disorder in which caretakers purposely harm children and then bask in the attention and sympathy.

Lacey Spears, of Scottsville, Kentucky, has pleaded not guilty to charges of depraved murder and manslaughter in the January death of her son, Garnett-Paul Spears, whose sodium levels rose to an extremely dangerous level with no medical explanation.

As Spears moved around the country - Alabama, Florida and eventually New York - she kept friends updated on her son’s frequent hospitalizations with photos and musings on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and a blog.

“My sweet angel is in the hospital for the 23rd time,” she tweeted in 2009. A series of reports on the case by The Journal News, which covers the New York suburbs, found she kept it up right through her son’s death, with 28 posts in the last 11 days of Garnett’s life, including, “Garnett the great journeyed onward today at 10:20 a.m.”

Dr. Marc Feldman, a psychiatrist and forensic consultant in Birmingham, Alabama, who wrote the book “Playing Sick,” said he believes the Internet has contributed to the number of Munchausen by proxy cases, estimated from one study to be more than 600 a year in the U.S.

In a case exposed in 2011 in Great Britain, a childless 21-year-old woman joined an Internet forum for parents, claiming to have five children and chronicling her nonexistent baby’s battle with celiac disease and bacterial meningitis. Doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital found three cases of mothers who falsely blogged that their children were near death and were rewarded with support.

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