- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015
Searchers find boys alive in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge area

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Two young cousins alone and lost in the Appalachian woods ate sticks and slept on the ground during a 20-hour ordeal that ended when searchers found them unharmed Friday in the rugged terrain in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky, the mother of one boy said.

The boys, ages 5 and 7, were found about a mile from the family’s campsite in the popular recreation area, Kentucky State Police Trooper Joe Veeneman said. Their disappearance Thursday evening from the campsite set off a massive search in the wooded, ravine-filled area.

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The boys came away from the adventure with only a few bumps and scrapes, the trooper said.

“No more scrapes than they would normally get on a hike,” said Julia Esposito, the mother of one of the boys.

“They’re in great shape, good spirits,” she added. “They don’t want to leave the campout.”

One boy was identified as 5-year-old Michael Esposito of Batavia, Ohio. His cousin, 7-year-old Adrian Ross, is from Bloomington, Indiana.


Health insurer to stop offering plans on Kentucky exchange

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky nonprofit that emerged as one of the largest insurance providers on the state’s health exchange has given notice that it won’t offer plans for 2016, a decision affecting tens of thousands of customers ahead of the next enrollment period starting in a few weeks.

The decision by Kentucky Health Cooperative, which operates in all 120 Kentucky counties, set off another round of political bickering over the federal health care overhaul and its impact on the state as Kentuckians prepare to elect a new governor on Nov. 3.

State health officials said Friday that current policyholders with Kentucky Health Cooperative will continue being covered through their existing policies, most of which expire Dec. 31, 2015. The company currently serves about 51,000 members.

But the cooperative notified state health officials that it will not offer plans when the 2016 open enrollment period begins Nov. 1 to purchase private health plans on kynect, the state’s health exchange. The enrollment period runs through next Jan. 31.

Kentucky Health Cooperative’s interim CEO, Glenn Jennings, said the nonprofit “came up short” of where it needed to be.

The company had received federal loans to help it stay afloat. Jennings said the decision to stop offering plans resulted from the company not receiving federal funding on which it had relied. The cooperative’s losses reached about $50 million in 2014 but had been whittled to $4 million by 2015, it said.


Appeals court puts hold on regulation protecting waterways

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court on Friday blocked an Obama administration rule that attempts to clarify which small streams, wetlands and other waterways the government can shield from pollution and development.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati put the regulations on hold nationwide until the court decides whether it has jurisdiction to consider lawsuits against them. More than half the states have filed legal challenges, continuing a debate over federal water protection authority that two Supreme Court cases and extensive rulemaking efforts over the past 14 years have failed to resolve.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued their latest regulations in May, drawing fierce criticism from landowner groups and conservative lawmakers who described them as costly, confusing and a government power grab. Environmentalists and other supporters said they would safeguard drinking water for 117 million Americans while preserving wetlands that filter out pollutants, control floods and provide crucial wildlife habitat.

The EPA and the Corps said in a joint statement that they respected the court’s decision and looked forward to defending the rule, which they said “represents the agencies’ continuing commitment to protecting and restoring the nation’s water resources that are vital for our health, environment, and economy.”

Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the court ruling was “a victory for all states, local governments, farmers, ranchers and landowners” and urged Congress to approve legislation that would force the agencies to rewrite the rule. The House has done so, while similar measure has cleared a Senate committee. The White House has threatened a veto.

House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, also lauded the ruling in a news release: “I am encouraged that the judicial branch has blocked implementation of an egregious regulatory scheme that dooms landowners, small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers to a regulatory and economic hell.”


Charges dropped against Ron Paul’s former campaign manager

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A federal judge dismissed charges Friday against Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign manager, leaving two other campaign operatives to stand trial on charges alleging they secretly paid an influential Iowa politician for his endorsement.

Prosecutors say the three men broke several federal campaign laws when they concealed payments of $73,000 to former Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson after he jumped from the Michele Bachmann campaign to the Paul campaign a few days before the Jan. 3, 2012, Iowa caucuses. They’re also accused of lying to cover up the payments.

U.S. District Judge John Jarvey dismissed John Tate from the federal case, saying the charges against him were based on information the government obtained during FBI interviews last year. Tate consented to the interviews but only after signing a document known as a proffer agreement, in which prosecutors agreed that if charges were brought they would not offer in evidence any statements made by him “except in a prosecution for false statements, obstruction of justice in the current investigation, or perjury …”

During the interviews Tate, a longtime aide to the former Texas congressman, said he was unaware of any payments to Sorenson and stated there were no payments from the Paul campaign. Tate claimed the government breached the agreement by charging him with conspiracy, causing false records, causing false campaign expenditure reports and a false statements scheme, using his statements in the FBI interview as evidence before the grand jury which indicted him.

Tate’s attorney did not immediately reply to a message.

Indictments remain standing against Jesse Benton and Dimitri Kesari. Both have pleaded not guilty. The government plans to present evidence of email correspondence prosecutors say shows the men recruited Sorenson, offering payment then hid the payments by recording them as campaign “audio/visual expenses,” from a film production company.

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