Military Officers Talk to Public About Afghanistan Efforts

Military officers who served in Afghanistan will address Louisville-area residents this Wednesday on the challenges faced while fighting in the past few years.

Major Ryan O’Connell, Major Tim Payment and Lt. Colonel Ryan Janovic all served in Afghanistan at various times between 2009 and 2011. The U.S. is scheduled to withdraw troops in 2014, but critics are wary of whether the war’s damage will be repaired. Continue reading “Military Officers Talk to Public About Afghanistan Efforts”

Alltech Announces Prize for Best Eastern Kentucky Economic Development Plan

Eastern Kentucky, like much of Appalachia, is beset by high poverty and high unemployment, and the limited investment in the area from the state hasn’t changed the situation.

But a new contest offers an award to the university that can create a plan to redesign economic development in Appalachia. The contest is sponsored by Alltech, a Lexington-based global health and animal nutrition company. It was announced by Alltech president Pearse Lyons last week. Starting in November, teams from the business schools at the Universities of Kentucky, Louisville and Pikeville will compete for a $20,000 prize.

Their task will be to design the best economic development plan to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky. University of Pikeville president and former governor Paul Patton says the idea is to tap young talent, in hopes they’ll think of a new solution for the area. Continue reading “Alltech Announces Prize for Best Eastern Kentucky Economic Development Plan”

Strange and Beautiful Ghosts: Tania James’ ‘Aerogrammes’

Two Indian wrestling champions become business and political pawns in “Lion and Panther in London.” A young man looks for hints about his father’s death in handwriting samples in “The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor.” A woman applies to be matched with a dead man in “Girl Marries Ghost.”

Author Tania James’ new short story collection “Aerogrammes: And Other Stories” is full of strange and beautiful ghosts—absent parents, a grandfather with dementia, paralyzed limbs, an orphaned chimpanzee. James will read from and sign copies of “Aerogrammes” Wednesday at Carmichael’s Bookstore.

Born in Chicago to immigrant parents from Kerala, a state in southern India, James grew up in Louisville’s East End and attended the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. Many of the characters in “Aerogrammes” are immigrants or second-generation Indians struggling with generational and cultural divides.

Continue reading “Strange and Beautiful Ghosts: Tania James’ ‘Aerogrammes’”

Courier-Journal Publisher Discusses New Online Paywall and Content Strategy

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Courier-Journal publisher Wesley Jackson is in an odd position. He’s essentially the connection between a local institution (the paper) and a giant national corporation (C-J parent company Gannett) during an emotional and dramatic time for both.

With revenue waning and on orders from Gannett, the Courier will soon start charging visitors to its website who read more than a certain number of articles each month (likely 10-20, according to Jackson). Paper subscribers will get unlimited access for free, but anyone who doesn’t get the Courier on their doorstep will have to pay $13 a month to read over the free limit.

“We will see overall traffic on the core website itself, I think, during the initial phase of this, will drop about 10 or 15 percent,” says Jackson. “But based on other Gannett markets that have launched this program – and there are hundreds of newspapers now that are charging for their digital content as well – you see a recovery period that brings that traffic back.”

There will also be changes to content in the paper, with a split focus on watchdog journalism and what Jackson calls Information. Essentially, this content will be lifestyle stories on personal finance (“improving your economic IQ” is the phraseology Jackson uses) and health.

“There are some hard news items around there where we do some investigative journalism. But much of that information is utility-focused. It really helps you with the fundamental questions that you have in your life,” says Jackson.

The new Courier/Gannett strategy is meant to tap into readers’ interests and their digital habits. Apps for iOS and Android devices are forthcoming, says Jackson.

These changes and new offerings come after years of employee furloughs, layoffs and early-retirement buyouts. Once the paywall goes up, the Courier will essentially be asking people to pay for less than they used to get for free.

“We still have more journalists covering local news and information than any other institution in the state of Kentucky,” says Jackson.

He continues:

The overall content that people have access to, in some ways, has grown significantly via the website, despite some of the challenges we’ve had in terms of our overall scale of reporting base. The hard fact for us is that we have to begin to reorganize our business, which had begun before I got here.

With that reorganization, as we start looking at how we transform to share more information than we can in print, to take advantage of those opportunities for our subscribers, and focus our resources on stories, information and content that is local, relevant and high-impact.

The combination of those two items, I think, can still bring a very compelling product to the marketplace for the price we charge for it.

Lugar Not Campaigning for Mourdock

After a brutal primary contest, U.S. Sen Dick Lugar, R-In., told CBS News he doesn’t plan on helping Republican Richard Mourdock in the general election.

“For the time being, I don’t plan an active campaign,” Lugar said Sunday.

From Face The Nation:

Mourdock faces Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly in the fall.

Influx of Insects Could Cause Problems for Tulip Poplars This Summer

An old pest is causing new problems in the Ohio River Valley. The tulip scale insect has always preyed on tulip poplar trees, but the past two years of mild winters mean there’s a much higher population than usual.

The tulip scale insect attaches to twigs on tulip poplar trees, sucks sap out of the bark and releases a clear, sticky sugary substance that’s commonly called “honeydew.” The honeydew is annoying—it falls onto lawns and cars—but the real danger is to the trees.

Phil Marshall is the director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology. He says the scale insects are native to the region, and they’ve co-existed with tulip poplars in the past. But the past two years of mild winters mean the insects are out of control.

“Those cold temperatures can help to kill off the population and bring it back down to the normal background level where we always have a few around, they just don’t do that much damage to the tree at all,” he said. Continue reading “Influx of Insects Could Cause Problems for Tulip Poplars This Summer”

Kentucky State Parks Begins Energy Retrofit of Nine Western Kentucky Parks

Kentucky’s state parks system is two months into a major energy savings project at nine of its parks. The project is part of Governor Steve Beshear’s Initiative for Smart Government, which is designed to reduce government waste.

Kentucky  State Parks began its energy savings initiative by focusing on energy consumption in nine of the resort parks in Western Kentucky. Commissioner Elaine Walker says the improvements run the gamut, from replacing inefficient light bulbs to installing low-flow toilets and showers to using solar panel to heat swimming pools.

“So it’s a broad scope of a project, but we’re very excited about it because not only will it reduce our energy footprint, but ultimately it will save the parks and the taxpayers money,” she said. Continue reading “Kentucky State Parks Begins Energy Retrofit of Nine Western Kentucky Parks”

21C, Flyover Film Festival to Screen Documentary on Performance Artist Abramovic

When filmmaker Jeff Dupre met legendary performance artist Marina Abramovic at a dinner party a year before her groundbreaking career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, he had a vague idea of who she was (the artist who once walked the Great Wall of China) and a healthy dose of skepticism about performance art. By the end of the night, Dupre says he was smitten with the legendary artist known for pushing the boundaries of her body as the subject, object and medium of her work.

“It was one of those serendipitous moments you hope for as a filmmaker,” says Dupre, a Louisville native who now lives in New York.

A fascinating character and an unprecedented, high-stakes retrospective of performance art at one of the world’s most prestigious museums – Dupre knows when a great documentary is sitting right in front of him. Continue reading “21C, Flyover Film Festival to Screen Documentary on Performance Artist Abramovic”

Blackwell Says Southwest Regional Library Bond Makes Sense in Latest Budget

City lawmakers from southwest Louisville are praising Mayor Greg Fischer’s decision to fund construction of the Southwest Regional Library in his latest city budget proposal.

The $9.5 million bond for the library is the largest expenditure in the mayor’s capital budget and the only proposed bond. It follow’s up a $500,000 allocation the mayor made last year to begin the design phase of the long-planned project.

The library foundation will also give the city $3.5 million for the facility.

“Some other mayors that weren’t quite as committed to what’s going on in the Southwest may have made the decision to cut this for this year, push it off to next year, put it off a couple years,” says Councilman Rick Blackwell, D-25, after noting that Fischer has long talked about a need to cut city spending and bring expenditures in line with revenues. “I think it’s a bold move for the mayor and it’s one the residents in Southwest Louisville certainly appreciate.”

The bond will take 20 years to pay off, but with the city currently renting space, Blackwell says it makes sense to bond the project. Continue reading “Blackwell Says Southwest Regional Library Bond Makes Sense in Latest Budget”

U of L Researchers Using Grant To Develop Spinal Cord Treatment

Researchers at the University of Louisville say a $6.3 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust will allow them to develop new technology toward the goal of helping paralyzed people walk again.

U of L Professor of Neurological Surgery Dr. Susan Harkema’s team and researchers elsewhere are getting promising results using electrical stimulation on the lower spinal cords of patients.

But Harkema says the current technology has limitations and can only be used in a laboratory setting.

“We’re still working on that project. Nobody’s walking from epidural stimulation, but we have individuals who can stand for minutes at a time and can actually move toes, ankles, knees and legs).

Harkema says the Helmsley grant announced last week will help researchers develop a better electrical stimulator that can be used in a patient’s home.