- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Court hearing gay marriage arguments from 4 states

CINCINNATI (AP) - A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in six gay marriage fights from four states - Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee - in the biggest such session on the issue so far.

Three judges of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will consider arguments Wednesday that pit states’ rights and traditional, conservative values against what plaintiffs’ attorneys say is a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. Large demonstrations are expected outside the courthouse by both opponents and supporters.

Michigan’s and Kentucky’s cases stem from rulings striking down each state’s gay marriage bans. Ohio’s case deals only with the state’s recognition of out-of-state gay marriages, while Tennessee’s is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

Attorneys on both sides in the Michigan and Ohio cases will go first and get a half-hour each to make their cases. Kentucky and Tennessee will follow, with 15 minutes for each side from both states.

Hundreds of gay marriage supporters rallied Tuesday at a park near Cincinnati’s riverfront on the eve of the court arguments.

The Rev. Mary Moore of Dayton, interim minister at the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church, says she has performed many services of “holy union” for same-sex couples, but they are not recognized by the state.


Senate campaigns seek votes in eastern Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s competitive U.S. Senate race shifts east this week as both campaigns fight for votes in the heart of the state’s coal country, a historically Democratic stronghold that experts say has been weakened by the unpopularity of Democratic President Barack Obama.

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican Mitch McConnell will both bring in reinforcements for their eastern Kentucky campaign swings. Former President Bill Clinton, who won Kentucky twice and is making his second trip for Grimes, will raise money for Grimes in Lexington and rally voters in Hazard on Wednesday.

McConnell, meanwhile, will be joined byHal Rogers for a 10-county bus tour on Thursday and Friday. The Republican congressman has represented eastern Kentucky for more than three decades and has partnered with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear lately on a bipartisan plan aimed at lifting the region out of poverty.

“Clearly eastern Kentucky is a battleground. Votes are up for grabs, more so than any other Democratic nominee has had to deal with up to now,” said Mike Ward, a Democratic consultant and former congressman.

Eastern Kentucky has struggled economically for generations, and now is grappling with the decline of the state’s coal industry. Kentucky is still the nation’s third-largest coal producer, but eastern Kentucky alone has lost 7,000 coal-related jobs since 2012, according to the Kentucky Coal Association.

The Grimes campaign blames McConnell, who they say has not done enough to help eastern Kentucky during his 30 year tenure. But the McConnell campaign blames Obama and his energy policies that they say have handcuffed the state’s coal industry.


Mining method listed as concern at health forum

HAZARD, Ky. (AP) - A series of health meetings in eastern Kentucky exposed a surprising concern: Some people in the coal-producing region worry about potentially damaging health effects from mountaintop-removal mining, a health official said Tuesday.

“It came out in every meeting,” said Dr. Nikki Stone, a dentist who headed the group that listened to the recent public comments. “It came out very gingerly, and it was something that people were afraid to talk about.”

Those mining-related concerns surfaced during a regional health symposium Tuesday aimed at building support for efforts to improve the grim health statistics plaguing eastern Kentucky.

Stone said her group recently put together a 10-item list of top health issues for the region, based on the public comments.

Concern about possible health effects from mountaintop removal mining was tied atop the list of the most pressing issues, along with the need for a coordinated effort in schools to promote healthy living, she said.

Stone said people at the health meetings worried about possible links between mountaintop removal and damage to water and air quality that could possibly lead to higher rates of birth defects and cancer rates.


2nd American aid worker with Ebola arrives in US

ATLANTA (AP) - An American aid worker infected with Ebola arrived Tuesday in Atlanta, joining a second patient being given an experimental treatment that has never before been tested on humans.

Nancy Writebol, 59, traveled from Monrovia, Liberia, to Emory University Hospital, just downhill from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She arrived two days after Kent Brantly, a doctor with whom she had worked in Liberia and who also contracted Ebola, showed up for treatment.

The differences were stark in how they went from the ambulance to Emory, which has a highly specialized isolation unit. While Brantly, 33, was able to walk with assistance into the hospital, Writebol - covered from head to toe in a protective suit - was wheeled in on a stretcher.

Still, the 59-year-old Writebol was described as weak but showing signs of improvement.

“A week ago we were thinking about making funeral arrangements for Nancy,” her husband, David Writebol, said in a statement read by the president of SIM USA, the aid group with which she was working in Liberia. “Now we have a real reason to be hopeful.”

Brantly and Writebol were both infected despite taking precautions as they treated Ebola patients in West Africa, where the virus has been spreading faster than governments can contain it, killing nearly 900 people so far.



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