Deborah Highland, The Daily News, Bowling Green

As U.S. Sen. Rand Paul objects to legislation that seeks to ban synthetic drugs on the grounds that drug laws should be state and local issues and federal sentencing guidelines are too harsh, he also cites in a letter to two other senators the proliferation of Islam in the prison system among his arguments against federal measures to ban the substances. In a four-page Dec. 14 letter to U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, obtained recently by the Daily News, Paul explains that one of the reasons he objects to three Senate bills dealing with synthetic drugs is that sending people to prison could lead to more people turning to the Islamic faith.

It’s an alarm law enforcement has been sounding for years – prescription drug abuse is a growing trend and is claiming lives as the problem sweeps across the state from the east to the west. Statewide, 82 people a month die from drug overdoses. Kentucky is attempting to address the issue during this legislative session as eight bills have been introduced to deal with different aspects of prescription drug diversion, abuse and regulations.

The body count from prescription drug overdoses has risen in Kentucky, and narcotics officers face a daily dilemma in trying to find time to investigate prescription drug trafficking while also being ready to dismantle a methamphetamine lab on a moment's notice. From 2009 to 2010 in Kentucky, prescription drug overdose deaths climbed from 78 a month to 82. While this year's statewide overdose death numbers won't be available until the middle of 2012, the drug task force in Warren County has seen a 30 percent increase in prescription drug trafficking cases in 2011.

Fewer people died on Kentucky highways this year than through the same time period in 2010. As of Wednesday, the Kentucky State Police recorded 701 fatalities in 2011, compared to 750 through the same date in 2010. There were 771 in 2009, 797 in 2008 and 845 in 2007. "Kentucky over the last several years has experienced fewer deaths on our highways than in previous years, and 2011 is no different," Kentucky State Police spokesman David Jude said.

State lawmakers plan to propose enhancements to Kentucky’s human trafficking laws during the upcoming legislative session. State Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, who sponsored human trafficking legislation in the House in 2007, is prepared to tackle the issue again in 2012, she said. Westrom and state Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, would like to see Kentucky become a safe harbor state. “I think we can enhance our criminal code to better attack this problem and make a real difference and maybe save some lives,” said Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Interstate 65 is one of the major corridors modern-day slave traders use to shuttle victims from one location to another. In a national report card released today, Kentucky’s laws relating to child sex trafficking received a D on a scale of A to F, with A being the highest grade and F being the lowest. The study found that Kentucky takes a tough stance on human traffickers, but the penalties levied against people who pay for sex acts with minors are low, and “significant gaps” exist in laws that provide protective provisions for victims.

Oh, deer! As bucks leap out of the woods in search of doe during mating season, motorists should use extra caution. “Doe are moving. The bucks are following the doe,” Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Mark Marraccini said. “It’s just a peak time of the year for deer movement.” In addition to mating, it is also deer hunting season, which drives many deer out of the wild and onto the highways. “Last year, we had 3,084 deer-related collisions in Kentucky, with four of those being a fatal collision,” Kentucky State Police spokesman Lt. David Jude said. Nearly half of all vehicle collisions with deer occur during this time of year.

Pete Rodman/The Daily News

Drug investigators Monday afternoon collected about 800 pounds of methamphetamine lab waste - the largest such site ever found in Warren County - from a rugged stretch of land near Richardsville. A Division of Forestry staff member walked the land Monday marking trees that needed to be cut down when forestry officials found a meth cook site on the private property, Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force director Tommy Loving said. Forestry officials called Kentucky State Police, who in turn called the drug task force.

Alex Slitz / The Daily News

Eric Tipton of Morgantown breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday afternoon when Jim Elliott pulled his white Ford F-350 highway safety truck behind Tipton’s broken-down Nissan at mile marker 5 on the southbound William H. Natcher Parkway. Tipton wasn’t sure if his car had run out of gas or if he had a fuel line problem. Elliott grabbed one of his two gas cans out of the back of his truck and poured a half-gallon of gas into Tipton’s gas tank. The car didn’t start, but at least Tipton figured out the problem. “It’s a good feeling really,” Tipton said about Elliott showing up. “Just knowing if you’re out of fuel or need immediate help to know somebody is there for you.”

One day late last week, a teenage girl and a young woman were adrift on a boating tube at the opening of one of the busiest channels on Barren River Lake. The craft that had been towing them was a mile away. “This is one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen in 16 years,” said Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Sgt. Brett Zalla. He then turned his patrol boat and asked the young women to board and point out the boat that had been towing them. Once he caught up to the boat’s driver, he explained that the girls were floating and helpless if a boat had coming zipping around the corner. A boater might not have seen them drifting on top of the water.

Still fairly new to his job, Simpson County Jailer Eric Vaughn, who took office Jan. 3, hopes to learn from his veteran counterparts across the state at the 29th annual Jail Improvement Conference that the Kentucky Jailers’ Association is holding this week at Bowling Green's Sloan Convention Center. “I’m learning a lot from veteran jailers,” Vaughn said during a break between classes. He looks forward to talking to other jailers about practices and ideas that could help his facility run more efficiently. Barren County Jailer Matt Mutter, elected last year, agrees that the conference is a great place for networking with other, more experienced jailers.

Photo by Joe Imel / Daily News, Bowling Green

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., plans to ask for Senate hearings to find out how two Iraqi refugees living in Bowling Green and recently charged with terrorism were able to gain entry into the country. In a news conference today, Paul complimented the FBI for its “good work” in apprehending the two men. Alwan is accused of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals living abroad. Alwan and Hammadi are accused of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaida in Iraq.

Two Iraqi refugees facing federal terrorism charges are scheduled to be back in federal court in Bowling Green at 11:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday for a detention hearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge E. Robert Goebel. Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, are in custody facing terrorism charges after a federal grand jury in Bowling Green returned a 23-count indictment against the men May 25. They were arrested here May 26. Both entered the country legally as refugees seeking asylum.

Two Iraqi refugees who are accused of supporting efforts to kill American troops in Iraq slipped through the vetting process that allowed both of them political asylum in the United States. Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, are facing terrorism charges after a federal grand jury in Bowling Green returned a 23-count indictment against the men Thursday. FBI agents arrested the men here May 25 while the federal agency had a mobile command center set up behind the Bowling Green Police Department. Agents could be seen going in and out of the BGPD headquarters, where someone in an attempt to throw off suspicion had posted a sign that indicated police training was in progress.

When two female Greenwood High School students decided to take their war of words to the next level and throw punches, the fight landed a Bowling Green woman in jail and the two girls in juvenile court. The fight was captured on video and uploaded to the website YouTube, where the adult can be seen smiling as she turned and looked at the camera, according to court records.