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by Danny Cross 12.20.2011

Morning News and Stuff

If you're one of those people who enjoys relaxing in a public park, maybe eating a sandwich and enjoying the lush greenspace Cincinnati has grown proud of, that's all well and good. (Bring a blanket and some apples; enjoy yourself.) That is, until you get a little sleepy and want to lie down on the ground or a bench — that's illegal now.

The Cincinnati Park Board yesterday approved a no-lying down rule across all of its 5,000 acres of park land, likely in response to ongoing Occupy Cincinnati lawsuits over the legality of closing the park at night. People who lie down in parks are now subject to $150 fines for the misdemeanor offense.

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by Kevin Osborne 04.18.2012
Posted In: Technology, Education, Police, Sports, War , President Obama at 08:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Morning News and Stuff

Cemeteries have officially arrived in the 21st Century. A Crawfordsville, Ind., firm is now using Quick Response barcodes on tombstones. The Allen Monument Co. says the code can connect users to an entire memorial site about a deceased person, provided by Cincinnati-based Making Everlasting Memories. The site can include photos, a biography and other information. All it takes is a simple scan from a smartphone. That's either a brilliant step forward for convenience or a sign of consumerism and technology run amok. You decide.

It looks like charter schools aren't quite the draw that many conservatives believed they would be. Cincinnati Public Schools will lose fewer students than expected next year to private schools and state-funded vouchers, a school official said Tuesday. Only 899 new students applied for new Educational Choice scholarships for the upcoming school year. That’s down from 1,078 applicants from CPS last year and it’s far below the 1,377 students that district officials had estimated to lose this spring.

A Northern Kentucky police chief charged with drunken driving wants to suppress police dashboard camera footage of the traffic stop that led to his arrest. An attorney for Wilder Police Chief Anthony Rouse made the request during a pretrial hearing this week. Rouse is suspended without pay after his March 1 arrest by Alexandria police. We wonder if the Wilder Police Department uses dashboard cams in its cruisers. (What's good for the goose, etc.)

They had better come on strong. The Bengals will be featured on the season opener of Monday Night Football on ESPN in September. The team will face off against the Ravens in Baltimore. Other highlights of the 2012 schedule, which was released Tuesday, include the Bengals playing their first regular season game in week two against the Cleveland Browns in Cincinnati, and playing divisional foes the Steelers in week 16 at Pittsburgh.

A large swarm of bees has invaded Cincinnati's Covedale neighborhood. Residents on Woodbriar Lane are concerned about thousands of active bees going from yard to yard looking for a place to make a hive. The bees have been doing it for the last couple of days, and residents say they're swarming around different locations, changing locations in as little as 30 minutes in some cases. The buzzing sounds can be heard from 20 feet away or more, they added.

In news elsewhere, friends of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney insist their pal isn't an android. Romney is a nice guy, they said, adding they are at a loss to explain his stiff demeanor and unusual syntax on the campaign trail. Maybe he's simply trying too hard, some friends told The Washington Post. Yeah, that's it, I'm sure.

Reacting to rising gasoline prices, President Obama proposed new measures this week to reduce oil market manipulation. The proposals, which observers say are unlikely to get support from a divided Congress, include increasing civil and criminal penalties on individuals and companies involved in manipulative practices involving commodities speculation.

In yet another setback for U.S.-Afghan relations, photographs of American troops gleefully posing with corpses of insurgents they've killed were given to The Los Angeles Times. The U.S. soldier who released the photos said he did so to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline. The Army has started a criminal investigation.

A shadowy conservative group that works behind-the-scenes to push laws that call for stricter voter identification requirements and “stand your ground” initiatives is disbanding its “Public Safety and Elections” task force. The task force, part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has been the prime vehicle for proposing and advancing what critics describe as voter-suppression and anti-democratic initiatives, not just restrictive voter ID laws but also plans to limit the ability of citizens to petition for referendums and constitutional changes that favor workers and communities. In recent weeks, numerous of ALEC's corporate members have left then group including Coca-Cola, Intuit and McDonald's.

Thousands of documents detailing crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review concluded. Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.
by Danny Cross 10.25.2011

Morning News and Stuff

Leave it to The Enquirer to publish a story analyzing local school district spending vs. academic success only to ignore the existence of private schools while drawing the conclusion that “a district that spends more doesn't necessarily produce higher test scores and graduation rates.” The story, titled “Big-spending districts net mixed academic grades,” doesn't include the qualifier “public school” or the possibility that local private schools spend even more per pupil than Indian Hill, Sycamore Township, Mariemont and Norwood, each of which spent $11,958 to $15,209 per student last year and earned Excellent or better ratings.

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by Jac Kern 06.23.2011
Posted In: News, Republicans, Democrats, President Obama at 10:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boehner and Kasich on Jimmy Fallon

President Obama, Joe Biden, John Boehner and John Kasich did what a lot of old dudes do on weekends and enjoyed a game of golf together Saturday. I could make a lot of jokes about the amount of tears shed, containers of sunless tanner used and conversations of how to make Ohio cooler, but I'll leave that to Jimmy Fallon, who covered this golf summit on Late Night recently.

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by Danny Cross 05.21.2012
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

City Leaders have decided that they don't need to sell Music Hall to a private organization in order for the historic building to receive tax credits toward its renovation. Mayor Mallory on Sunday told The Enquirer that selling the building was not part of any discussion he's willing to have. While city leaders hope a public-private partnership like that which has renovated Washington Park can help update the building, organizers with the Music Hall Revitalization Co. say some donors willing to contribute to the private renovation of the building will not contribute to the project while it is city owned. On Saturday, the Music Hall Revitalization Co.'s leader, Jack Rouse, resigned.

First they had a giant bridge built over their neighborhood. Now the residents of Lower Price Hill who live near the Sixth Street viaduct hope construction crews can take it down without causing too many clouds of lead paint dust to cover their homes. The viaduct is being replaced by a new structure currently under construction south of the existing one.

Ohio's second of four new casinos is set to open in Toledo next week. Cleveland's casino opened last week, while Columbus' Hollywood Casino is scheduled to open this fall with Cincinnati's Horseshoe in-line for an early 2013 unveiling.

Jury selection in the trail of former Goldman Sachs/Procter & Gamble board member Rajat Gupta began today in federal court in Manhattan. Gupta is accused of insider trading stemming from a 2008 phone call that authorities have already used to convict hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence. From the AP:

Rajaratnam has been the biggest catch so far in a wide-ranging insider-trading investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara that's resulted in more than two dozen prosecutions of white collar defendants. But based on Gupta's standing in the world of finance, his trial could draw more attention — and a potential conviction could resonate farther.

Aside from his role at Goldman Sachs, the Indian-born Gupta is the former chief of McKinsey & Co., a highly regarded global consulting firm that zealously guards its reputation for discretion and integrity.

Gupta, 63, is also a former director of the huge consumer products company Procter & Gamble Co., a pillar of American industry and one of the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones industrial average. P&G owns many well-known brands including Bounty, Tide and Pringles.

Researchers have created a national registry of wrongful conviction exonerations that has identified 873 faulty convictions during the past 23 years that have been recognized by authorities. The registry's founders say the collection is only a fraction of such convictions and that it demonstrates a serious problem with America's criminal justice system.

"What this shows is that the criminal justice system makes mistakes, and they are more common than people think," said University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, the registry's editor. "It is not the rule, but we won't learn to get better unless we pay attention to these cases."

Mitt Romney is having some trouble getting conservative donors to back his campaign. Meanwhile, Obama continues to talk about Romney's business dealings.

The John Edwards jury is still in deliberations today trying to determine whether the former Democratic presidential candidate conspired to violate election laws while hiding an extramarital affair during his campaign. Prosecutors say Edwards solicited more than $900,000 from a 101-year-old woman named Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and a Texas lawyer to hide a child from his wife, who had cancer at the time.

Protests continued in Chicago today during the final day of the NATO summit.

Apparently 25 percent of American teens have diabetes or pre-diabetes, up from 9 percent in 1999-2000.

People in Asia and the western U.S. last night got to see a solar eclipse that looked like a ring of fire.

The private rocket scheduled to launch a commercial space capsule was forced to abort its mission on Saturday but is scheduled to fly up into space on Tuesday.

by Danny Cross 06.27.2012
music hall

Morning News and Stuff

City Council is expected to vote this morning to divert the $4 million for the City Hall atrium project to jumpstart the Music Hall renovation, which has brought the city and arts supporters interested in owning and operating the historic venue closer to a compromise. Council could vote on the renegotiated deal later Wednesday, though details of the lease agreement have yet to be released. 

Council is also expected to approve a property tax increase of $10 per $100,000 in valuation to fund capital projects such as a new West Side police station and additional road paving. 

Today’s Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District meeting will include a presentation about the Brent Spence Bridge that will probably include polls.

Gov. John Kasich today will sign a human trafficking bill that makes the crime a first-degree felony rather than second-degree and includes funding to help victims.   

The ACLU will represent the Ku Klux Klan in a legal fight involving Georgia’s highway cleanup program and a pending First Amendment lawsuit.  

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will rule on President Obama’s health care law. 

Obama and Biden are still jamming Romney up on his outsourcing history. 

A Walgreens store and other pharmacies in Washington, D.C. are offering free HIV tests to make diagnosing the disease more convenient and to increase awareness. 

College football has approved a four-team playoff to determine its national championship rather than the computer-human two-team plan that has faced scrutiny over the years. The new format will start in the 2014-15 season. 

by Bill Sloat 09.17.2012
sherrod brown

Shadowy Political Handbill on the East Side

Women for Liberty delivers sneak attack on Sherrod Brown

Over the past few days, packets of anti-Democrat political literature tucked into plastic sandwich bags were tossed into East Side driveways. Don’t assume it’s litter. Nope, it’s apparently a broadside from some bag ladies with an Indian Hill address who call themselves a “grassroots, conservative group.” They are new on the scene and bent on kicking President Barack Obama out of office, along with anybody who might possibly share his views. But they might be cheating, or tools of someone who is flouting the law.

There are 16 political pieces in the plastic bags, including an ad for the anti-Obama movie You Don’t Know Him.  All but one are properly labeled with disclaimers that show who paid for each piece. For example, the Mitt Romney flier says it was paid for by the Romney campaign. The Sean Donovan for Sheriff of Hamilton County was paid for by Donovan for Sheriff. But a piece that attacks U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is a mystery — nothing identifies its source. You cannot discover who is behind it. The flier lists 10 reasons why Ohio voters should replace Democrat Brown with Republican candidate Josh Mandel. The piece concludes by saying, “This November 6, Vote for New Leadership for Ohio. Vote Josh Mandel for Senator.”

The secret source of the handbill has the earmarks of a dirty trick. Laws and rules governing electioneering make it clear printed material seeking to influence voters must disclose where it came from. The mandatory disclaimer is what a person endlessly hears on TV commercials — “I’m so and so and I paid for this ad.” Print material has the same requirement — “Paid for by Save the Seahorses” or whoever is responsible.

So whoever gave the conservative ladies the anti-Brown handbill for their plastic bags seems to have broken the law. Perhaps it was the coal mining industry, perhaps it was the Chinese government, perhaps it was Ayn Rand back from the dead. Without a disclaimer there is just no way to know who paid for the anti-Brown attack. You are left to guess.  All we know is that the writer didn’t have the guts to stand behind the attack. They preferred shadowy and sneaky over open and upright.

The Federal Election Commission publishes the rules campaigns must follow. It says, “On printed materials, the disclaimer notice must appear within a printed box set apart from the other contents in the communication.  The print must be of a sufficient type-size to be clearly readable by the recipient of the communication, and the print must have a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the printed statement.”

By the way, the group that is tossing the plastic bags into driveways calls itself Women for Liberty. There is no website for the group, although it appears to be an offshoot of another group with the same name that is based in a Washington, D.C. suburb and cites a libertarian philosophy.

by Danny Cross 07.02.2012

Morning News and Stuff

While anti-urban Cincinnatians gripe over the twice-approved $95 million streetcar project — some going so far as to attach anti-funding amendments to federal bills that will never be included in the final legislation — authorities on the other side of the river are demonstrating just how little $20 million on transportation funding can provide. The state will widen KY 237 in Boone County using elevated ramps to allow for left-hand turns, adding a freeway-style element to the residential/corridor area. The two-year project will be paid for using Federal Surface Transportation Program funds.

Starting this fall all students in Newport Independent Schools will get free breakfast and lunch because the district is participating in the Community Eligibility Option in President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

CBS News says Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the other four conservative justices but wasn’t prepared to strike down the entire health care law. Roberts wrote the court’s majority opinion, which upheld most of the legislation. 

Here’s three ways the ruling hurt Mitt Romney, according to the Boston Globe. 

The Mark Wahlberg/teddy bear film, Ted, brought in $54.1 million over the weekend. CityBeat's film dude said it was good, too. 

Scientists say they are on the verge of finding a “God particle” that could explain the creation of the universe. 

For particle physicists, finding the Higgs boson is a key to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed. …

Rosen compared the results scientists are preparing to announce Wednesday to finding the fossilized imprint of a dinosaur: “You see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don’t actually see it.”

Spain won the 2012 European Championship soccer tournament on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over Italy. The Spanish team is being considered one of the greatest ever, as it has won three straight major tournaments, including the 2010 World Cup and 2008 Euro. 

by Danny Cross 05.25.2012
josh_mandel headshot

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has returned more than $100,000 in campaign contributions in response to an FBI investigation into 21 donors who had no record of giving to federal campaigns and many appearing to have low incomes. Mandel, a Republican, is running against incombent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown. Mandel's campaign treasurer Kathryn Kessler sent a letter to donors explaining that any contributions appearing to be under investigation would be refunded.

From The Toledo Blade:

Although the campaign provided a copy of the letter to The Blade, it would not explain the timing of the decision or how long it has been aware of the federal probe.

The Blade revealed the unusual pattern of contributions in August.

The company's owner, Benjamin Suarez, and 16 of his employees (plus some of their spouses) gave about $200,000 to Mr. Mandel and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R., Wadsworth) last year. Each of those donors gave $5,000, the maximum allowable amount, to one or both candidates.

The Ohio Senate yesterday passed new fracking regulations, and the final version caused some environmental organizations to change their stance on the bill. The Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club had both been neutral on the legislation until changes were made forcing anyone suing over chemical trade secrets to show current or potential harm, according to The Enquirer. The regulations are part of Kasich's new energy bill and easily passed both the Senate and House and is expected to be signed by Kasich soon.

Cincinnati Public Schools says it will apply for the latest available federal education grants, which amount to nearly $700 million. The grants are geared toward helping schools proceed with reform and innovation.

According to a new poll, President Obama leads Mitt Romney in Ohio by six percentage points. Wonder if Obama's “cow pie of distortion” speech had anything to do with his lead.

The John Edwards trial has entered day six of deliberations.

United Nations inspectors have reportedly found uranium in Iran enriched beyond the highest levels previously reported. One diplomat said the measure could actually be a measurement error, though the reading could also mean that Iran is closer to producing bomb-grade uranium than previously thought.

Scientists might be one step closer to creating birth control for men after U.K. scientists found a gene used to enable sperm to mature.

From USA Today: “Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs.

Facebook's initial public offering didn't go entirely as expected, and some investors are getting refunds after technical problems and other issues marred the company's first week of trading.

The Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves last night, winning their sixth in a row and overtaking the St. Louis Cardinal for first place in the NL Central.

by 08.24.2010
Posted In: War , 2010 Election, President Obama at 04:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

LaBotz: Obama Not Ending War

In the words of Public Enemy, “Don't believe the hype.”

Dan LaBotz, the socialist candidate for U.S. senator on Ohio's fall ballot, is criticizing the Obama administration's claims that the combat mission in Iraq is over.

LaBotz, who opposes both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says President Obama is using a shell game to funnel additional troops into Afghanistan while relying more heavily on private security forces — or “mercenaries,” as LaBotz calls them — to continue fighting in Iraq.

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