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U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

Renee speaks with U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, who represents Kentucky's 5th Congressional District. They discuss new developments in combating the opioid epidemic, gun legislation, coal company bankruptcies and miners' black lung and pension benefits, as well as Rogers' efforts to reduce robocalls.
Season 15 Episode 1 Length 28:14 Premiere: 09/01/19

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers on the SOAR Summit, Kentucky’s Coal Economy, and More

This week citizens from across central Appalachia will converge on Pikeville for the 2019 SOAR Summit. More than 90 business and organizations are scheduled to participate in the event as proof that collaboration and innovation are starting to revitalize the economy of eastern Kentucky.

Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5) and former Gov. Steve Beshear launched SOAR, or Shaping Our Appalachian Region, in 2013 to economically transform a part of the state that was devastated by the decline in the coal industry.

“It’s an exciting thing,” says Rogers, “One of the most exciting things I’ve been involved in over the years… and it’s beginning to pay off.”

The Congressman appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss the work of SOAR and other economic and social issues facing his southeastern Kentucky district.

Rebuilding the Appalachian Economy 
Rogers sees SOAR as a matter of necessity.

For years, federal government agencies and programs have tried to revitalize Appalachia, all with varying degrees of success. Finally, Rogers says, it was time for local citizens, businesses, and organizations to come together to address the region’s challenges.

“It’s a chance for us to write our own future, the people of eastern Kentucky,” he says. “SOAR was an effort to get ourselves involved with our own ideas, our own energy, investment and the like to recreate a profitable environment for business.”

SOAR focuses on seven different tracks of opportunity – from workforce and small business development to tourism, health care, agriculture and industry. One of the most visible efforts of the organization is to bring affordable broadband internet access to every home in the region. That project evolved into a public-private partnership called KentuckyWired, which will bring high-speed internet access to the entire state.

But the five-year old project is significantly behind schedule and over budget. A recent state audit shows KentuckyWired could cost taxpayers some $1.5 billion over the next 30 years.

“It was sluggish, but we’ve never done this before anywhere in the country,” says the Congressman. “We will be the only state that’s ever done this, so we had to see our way through the fog to make it happen.”

So far, contractors have connected the broadband backbone around Louisville, Lexington, and northern Kentucky, along with a spur to Somerset that will eventually be used to help wire the counties in Rogers’ district.

But the Congressman says some Kentuckians are already getting a glimpse of their connected futures. Using federal grants and loans, the Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative in Jackson County has already launched high-speed internet service with gigabit connectivity for its customers.

With this new access, some 250 local residents are now working from their homes, according to Rogers. He says high-speed broadband connections can help prevent the out-migration and brain-drain that has plagued these small towns for generations.

“We’ve exported so much talent from our Appalachian region, but with this cable system, we’ll be able to work from our home here,” Rogers says. “I think it’s the economic salvation of our region.”

Infrastructure Needs
Another important revitalization effort for the 5th Congressional district is the expansion of the Mountain Parkway. The construction project will eventually connect Prestonsburg to I-64 near Winchester by a four-lane highway.

Rogers sees the expansion as a vital economic development tool, allowing people, goods, and services to more easily traverse the region.

“That will open up a lot of new territory,” says the Congressman.

But other infrastructure issues still remain for the region, including deteriorating roads and bridges as well as aging water and sewer systems.

“Everyone agrees that we’ve got a problem and need to fix it, but we can’t agree on where to find the money,” says Rogers. “The problem nationally is finding the money for it and the political capability to pass a bill through a very divided Congress.”

As if Kentucky’s coal miners haven’t faced enough hardships and job losses in recent news, now two other challenges await many of them.

First is the threat to miners’ pension fund, which is at risk due to investment losses during the recession, declining coal markets, and coal company bankruptcies. Officials with the United Mine Workers of America estimate that some 100,000 retired and working miners could lose their retirement and health care benefits unless the federal government intervenes to shore up the pension fund.

For four years, some coal-state lawmakers have proposed shifting money from the abandoned mine lands reclamation fund to the pension plan.

Rogers says miners have a right to be concerned.

“We’re going to try to find a way to fix it, and that’s got to be a fix that the Senate will agree to with the House and the president,” the Congressman says. “So far that’s been very difficult.”

Meanwhile, some coal miners can’t get paid for work they’ve already done. West Virginia-based coal producer Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy protection in July, but not before laying off its employees and failing to pay them for coal they had already mined.

Those unpaid miners gained national attention in recent weeks for blocking a train loaded with $1 million worth of coal from leaving one of the company’s former mine sites in eastern Kentucky.

“Coal has had some severe problems and likely won’t get much better in terms of jobs,” says Rogers, “so we’re going to have to find jobs to replace those in this new modern world.”

Drugs and Guns
There is good news on one front: Drug overdose deaths in the commonwealth dropped from 1,477 in 2017 to 1,247 in 2018, according to the state Office of Drug Control Policy. Rogers attributes the reduction to a combination local, state, federal, and private efforts to address opioid abuse.

But now Rogers says those still fighting an addiction are switching to heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, which can be especially deadly.

Earlier this year the National Institutes of Health gave an $87 million grant to the University of Kentucky to work on reducing overdose deaths in 16 counties by 40 percent over the next four years. That’s the largest grant ever awarded to the school.

“UK was only one of four [institutions] nationwide that got the grants,” says Rogers. “Dr. Francis Collins at NIH told me that the UK application far succeeded over the others.”

The Congressman started his career in public life in 1969 as a Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pulaski and Rockcastle Counties. He says the drug of choice then was marijuana, and Rogers still has concerns about its use, despite a number of states now legalizing cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes.

“I know there’s people who say that medical marijuana is a good thing,” he says. “But physicians and people who know tell me that marijuana is the main introduction to opioids and other drugs.”

In the wake of recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, gun control advocates have renewed their calls for universal background checks for gun purchases and other legislation that could limit access to weapons.

Rogers says he sees two main contributors to the problem of mass shootings. He says both must be addressed without impinging on the constitutional rights of legitimate gun owners.

“We’re not keeping guns away from criminals or mentally defective people, thus they go on these rampages,” he says.

Rogers has signed on to legislation that would explore if a threat assessment model used by the U.S. Secret Service could be more widely adopted. He says  state and local law enforcement could use the screening technique to keep guns out of the hands of people who could pose a danger.

The second factor, according to Rogers, is violent video games and movies. He argues they are corrupting the minds of young people, which then can lead them to become violent.

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Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the set behind her and the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.

Season 15 Episodes

UK College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig

S15 E24 Length 26:41 Premiere Date 03/22/20

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball/McLeod's Coffee House

S15 E23 Length 27:27 Premiere Date 03/15/20

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon

S15 E22 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 02/23/20

Georgetown College President William Jones

S15 E21 Length 27:02 Premiere Date 02/16/20

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

S15 E20 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 02/09/20

Kentucky House Minority Whip Angie Hatton

S15 E19 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 02/02/20

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron

S15 E18 Length 28:17 Premiere Date 01/26/20

Secretary of State Michael Adams

S15 E17 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 01/19/20

Kentucky House Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins

S15 E16 Length 22:01 Premiere Date 01/12/20

Ashli Watts - Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

S15 E15 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 01/05/20

U.S. Attorney Robert Duncan

S15 E14 Length 27:18 Premiere Date 12/15/19

Inclusivity in Fashion - Frankie Lewis; RaeShanda Johnson

S15 E13 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 11/24/19

Dayna Seelig

S15 E12 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 11/17/19

Rachael Denhollander

S15 E11 Length 26:42 Premiere Date 11/10/19

Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland

S15 E10 Length 26:55 Premiere Date 11/03/19

Alice Allison Dunnigan - Pioneering Journalist

S15 E9 Length 26:37 Premiere Date 10/27/19

Sharon Price and Damon Cobble

S15 E7 Length 27:07 Premiere Date 10/13/19

Terry Brooks - Kentucky Youth Advocates

S15 E6 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 10/06/19

Aaron Thompson - Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

S15 E5 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 09/29/19

Opioid Addiction Response and Research

S15 E3 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 09/15/19

Pastor Edward Palmer

S15 E2 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 09/08/19

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

S15 E1 Length 28:14 Premiere Date 09/01/19

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Phil Wilkins

Premiered On: 08/19/2016

Renee's guest is businessman and entrepreneur Phil Wilkins, who owns Dream Big Restaurants LLC. He discusses his approach to entrepreneurship and how self-confidence is at the core of his success as a businessman.

  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf

Premiered On: 09/09/2016

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Mitzi Sinnott

Premiered On: 09/16/2016

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David Thompson

Premiered On: 11/11/2016

Renee speaks with David Thompson, vice president of public policy for the National Council of Nonprofits. They discuss how a new administration will affect nonprofit organizations.

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Premiered On: 11/17/2019

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  • Saturday December 3, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel

Premiered On: 06/06/2021

Renee Shaw talks with restaurateur and culinary artist Ouita Michel about her first cookbook, Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places, which features some favorite recipes of her restaurant patrons.

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Cory Jewell Jensen

Premiered On: 01/13/2017

Renee speaks with Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S., who directs the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, Oregon. She has spent nearly 30 years working with and interviewing sex offenders. Jensen is using those candid conversations with child molesters to train law enforcement, child abuse prevention groups, and others.

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Patricia Peacock

Premiered On: 04/28/2017

Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men say they experienced sexual trauma while in the military. Renee speaks with Dr. Patricia Peacock, military sexual trauma coordinator at the Lexington VA Medical Center and a licensed clinical social worker, about programs that are helping veterans with military sexual trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge

Premiered On: 06/23/2017

What does it take to be a good leader? Renee speaks with Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams, the creators of the High Impact Leadership Project that helps people build their leadership prowess. Then, life coach Colene Elridge discusses her workplace trainings on communication, generational understanding, empowering women in leadership roles, and self-care.

  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Walter Gilliam

Premiered On: 07/07/2017

Renee's guest is Pikeville, Kentucky native Walter Gilliam, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and associate professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Gilliam has done extensive research in early childhood education and intervention policy analysis and talks about his research on implicit bias among preschool educators. He was a keynote speaker at Kentucky's 2017 Early Childhood Institute conference in Louisville.

  • Thursday December 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kayla Rae Whitaker

Premiered On: 07/14/2017

Renee's guest is Mt. Sterling native and author Kayla Rae Whitaker, one of the writers featured at the 2017 Kentucky Women Writers Conference at the University of Kentucky. Whitaker's debut novel, "The Animators", explores the complexities of female friendships, self-identity, and success in the male-dominated field of animation.

  • Friday December 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Connections

  • Sunday December 11, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

Premiered On: 08/04/2017

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, talks about Governor Bevin's plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid program, how the cabinet is responding to the opioid addiction crisis, and recruiting and retaining social workers.

  • Monday December 12, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Jeff Hawkins and Robert Brown

Premiered On: 08/11/2017

The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) serves 21 school districts in southeast Kentucky. Renee speaks with Jeff Hawkins, executive director, and Robert Brown, professional learning lead, of KVEC.

  • Tuesday December 13, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Carol Peachee

Premiered On: 08/18/2017

Photographer Carol Peachee discusses her books, including "The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries" that captures lost distilleries and those undergoing renewal. Peachee is also a pioneer in the integrative health field with decades of clinical experience in counseling, mindfulness practices, and internal arts. She is the founder of the Center for Mindful Living Practices.

  • Wednesday December 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Sam Quinones

Premiered On: 09/01/2017

Renee speaks with journalist Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic and other books. A reporter for almost 30 years, Quinones lived and worked as a freelance writer in Mexico and is a former reporter for the LA Times.

  • Thursday December 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kristin Ashford - Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Premiered On: 09/08/2017

Renee speaks with Kristin Ashford, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Kentucky College of Nursing whose research focuses on prenatal care and interventions aimed at preventing/ending tobacco use and illicit drugs. The program features a young woman who's participating in "Get Fit and Quit" recovery/smoking cessation program that is a partnership between the UK College of Nursing, Chrysalis House (a treatment center for women), and the YMCA. Part of KET's on-going initiative "Smoking and Health" funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

  • Friday December 16, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Connections

  • Sunday December 18, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

Premiered On: 09/22/2017

Renee sits down with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for a wide-ranging, one-on-one interview. Filmed at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, Chao discusses the U.S. Department of Transportation's involvement in emergency response and rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, plans to address the nation's transportation infrastructure, and other issues.

  • Monday December 19, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Steve Beshear

Premiered On: 09/29/2017

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear discusses his new book, "People Over Politics", that covers the tests and triumphs of his administration from 2007-2015. He talks about embracing the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid in Kentucky, his philosophical evolution on same-sex marriage, his unsuccessful struggle with advancing expanded gambling, the persistent plight of funding public employee pensions, among other issues.

  • Tuesday December 20, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Gordon Hamlin

Premiered On: 10/13/2017

Renee's guest Gordon Hamlin, president of Pro Bono Public Pensions and a retired attorney, offers ideas about how to fix Kentucky's ailing public pension systems. Hamlin recommends that Kentucky transition to a shared risk pension plan: longer working careers, elimination of cost of living adjustments, and transition to career average formula.

  • Wednesday December 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Premiered On: 10/20/2017

Renee Shaw discusses youth suicide prevention with Julie Cerel, a professor, licensed clinical psychologist, and president of the American Association of Suicidology. She also talks with Courtney Parr, who shares her powerful and inspiring journey to better mental health.

  • Thursday December 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Health Issues - Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Addia Wuchner

Premiered On: 11/03/2017

State Sen. Julie Raque Adams and State Rep. Addia Wuchner, chairs of the Senate Health and Welfare and House Health and Family Services committees, respectively, discuss upcoming health care issues that will be addressed during the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly.

  • Friday December 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help change the story of a child who has suffered abuse and neglect. Renee Shaw talks with the executive director of CASA of Lexington, Melynda Jamison, about what CASAs do, the training they need, and why their work is so vital.

  • Sunday December 25, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Good Samaritans - Surgery on Sunday; Bluegrass Families First and One Parent Scholar House

Premiered On: 11/17/2017

Lexington plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Moore talks about Surgery on Sunday, providing outpatient essential surgical services at no cost to income-eligible, uninsured or underinsured individuals. Then, Kelly Duffy talks about Bluegrass Families First (BFF), a non-profit that provides opportunities for early childhood development, adult education, and other services helping Lexington families move toward self-sufficiency. BFF supports three organizations: The Family Care Center; The Nest Center for Women, Children, and Families; and One Parent Scholar House. Mirsada Simic talks about One Parent Scholar House and its Child Development Center with a 5-star curriculum program.

  • Monday December 26, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Sexual Harassment Issues - Consultant Rus Funk

Premiered On: 12/15/2017

Renee's guest is Rus Funk, a consultant on gender equity, anti-racism, and violence prevention. He serves on the board of the National Center on Sexual and Domestic Violence. Funk talks about the spate of sexual harassment charges that have dominated news headlines and offers advice on helping men learn how to modify their behavior to create a professional and respectful work environment.

  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Silas House

Premiered On: 01/12/2018

Novelist, activist, and educator Silas House discusses his book to be released later this year that focuses on parenthood, his work as an advocate for environmental and gender equity causes, and other topics.

  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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DV8 Kitchen

Premiered On: 01/19/2018

Renee visits DV8 Kitchen, a restaurant and bakery in Lexington that provides second chance employment opportunities for people in substance recovery who are trying to redirect their lives. She speaks with Rob and Diane Perez about their vision for the restaurant and its support from the community. Renee also talks with employees at the eatery to hear their stories of recovery and how DV8 Kitchen helps them.

  • Thursday December 29, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Gerald Smith

Premiered On: 02/09/2018

Dr. Gerald Smith, a history professor at the University of Kentucky and co-editor of "The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia", joins Renee to discuss race relations in honor of Black History Month. Topics include activism around removing Confederate statues, the status of black leadership in Kentucky, and Dr. Smith's thoughts on the needed response from the faith-based community in eradicating racism.

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

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Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

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Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

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Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

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Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

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Crystal Wilkinson - S11 E26

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Criminal Justice Reform - Cherise Fanno Burdeen - S13 E34

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Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes - S11 E25

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Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention - S11 E24

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A Tribute to Georgia Davis Powers - S11 E18

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Andrew Brennen - S11 E17

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Breast Cancer - S18 E8

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Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams - S18 E7

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Anthony Smith - S11 E16

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