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by Danny Cross 10.06.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

The internet is buzzing with kind words for Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer. Jobs is best-known for his involvement in the transition of Xerox's graphical user interface into the first Macintosh computer and his forward-thinking leadership of the company. Jobs in 1986 purchased Lucasfilm's computer graphics division, which later became Pixar and helped Disney lead the animated film industry much in the same way Apple has defined how humans interact with technology. Jobs since 2004 had left Apple during brief periods of time for treatment of pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

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by Danny Cross 10.25.2011
 
 
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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 Danny Cross 05.04.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Sen. Rob Portman is sitting on more cash than nearly all of his GOP colleagues in the Senate, despite the fact that he’s not up for re-election until 2016. There has been widespread speculation that Portman is a Republican vice presidential candidate, and only three Senators have more money on-hand than his Promoting Our Republican Team PAC (PORTPAC) leadership committee.

Companies upstream from Cincinnati have been dumping pollutants into the Ohio River since the 1940s, and federal authorities have reached a $5.5 million settlement to start cleaning it all up. Eighteen companies and several federal agencies will collectively contribute to restoring the Ashtabula River and Harbor in northeast Ohio. Here's the latest from Dredging Today (the authoritative voice of underwater excavation activity and other earth-altering digs).

Locals who have recently “pimped their rides” might want to read up on a bill passed by Ohio lawmakers yesterday that bans hidden compartments in vehicles. Police don’t want to have to open those fancy compartments to check whether there are drugs inside or just a 10th tiny TV. Hear that, Colerain?

Here’s what Obama and his advisers do on Sundays (after the prez’s round of golf, of course): size up Mitt Romney.

More insights from the letters and notes released on Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point: “Bin Laden worried about legacy and sought to kill Obama.

U.S. job growth was down in April, adding only 115,000 positions after seeing 154,000 added in March. The unemployment rate dropped .1 percentage point to 8.1 percent, largely due to workers leaving the labor force. Republicans have some thoughts on the matter (Obama’s fault).

Ted Nugent is not looking so hot these days. He’s also thoroughly offended at the notion of not being a moderate. The following are comments he made today on CBS This Morning:

"If you examine how I conduct myself," Nugent said, "I don't think a day goes by in my life for many, many years now that we don't do charity work for children. ... Call me when you sit down across from someone who has more families with dying little boys and girls who get a call to take them on their last fishing trip in life.

"Call me," Nugent continued in a raised, irritated voice, "when you meet someone who does that more than I do. Because that's really moderate. In fact, you know what that is? That's extreme. ... I'm an extremely loving, passionate man, and people who investigate me honestly, without the baggage of political correctness, ascertain the conclusion that I'm a damned nice guy. ... And if you can find a screening process more powerful than that, I'll [expletive]. Or [expletive]. How's that sound?"

Headline: “Tech world is out for blood.” Apparently Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s decision to start a patent war was not such a good idea.

New York Yankees future Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera tore his ACL during pregame batting practice yesterday, putting the 42-year-old’s career in jeopardy. There had already been speculation that Rivera would retire after this season, and recovery from ACL surgery usually takes more than nine months.

 
 
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 Kevin Osborne 03.12.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Here's some good news to help CityBeat readers start their week: Not only have city officials reached a settlement with Occupy Cincinnati protestors to drop all trespassing charges against them, but the deal also designates a portion of Piatt Park as a public space that's open 24 hours a day for one year. The settlement, which will be filed in court today, is believed to be one of the first in the nation resolving both a federal civil rights lawsuit against a city and local criminal charges against people connected to the international Occupy Wall Street movement. Protestors were arrested in November after camping overnight in Piatt Park for about 10 days.

Former Reds player Aaron Boone has been selected to be the grand marshal of the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. The parade, which will begin at 1 p.m. April 5, will wind through Over-the-Rhine and downtown before the Reds' season opener against the Miami Marlins. Boone played for the Reds from 1997-2003, mostly as a third baseman, before ending his Major League career with the Houston Astros in 2009. He is now an announcer for ESPN.

Staffers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are trying to explain why Ohio's request to be declared a federal disaster area was rejected last week. "We look at the total amount of impact versus the state. How much of what was insured? What other programs are available? It doesn’t talk about loss of life of homes destroyed. It refers to the impact to the state," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told WLWT-TV (Channel 5).

One man is dead and another is injured after what sheriff's deputies call a "domestic dispute" occurred at a Green Township condominium complex early Sunday morning. David Franks, 45, allegedly shot and killed his elderly father-in-law around 3:30 a.m. James Schobert, 76, died from his gunshot injuries before the Green Township Life Squad arrived on the scene.

The ongoing legal battle over a contested 2010 election for a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judgeship could cost taxpayers $1.4 million, or almost as much as the $1.57 million cost for the county’s entire November 2010 general election. The dispute hinges on whether 286 provisional ballots should be counted in the race between Democrat Tracie Hunter and Republican John Williams.

In news elsewhere, a U.S. staff sergeant has been arrested in Afghanistan after allegedly going on a shooting rampage and killing 16 civilians. Some Afghanis say more than one soldier was involved, and military officials are investigating. The deaths have prompted Taliban fighters to declare they will seek revenge.

The rampage is likely to increase the push to withdraw troops from Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 target date. About 60 percent of Americans now see the war as not worth it and 54 percent favor a U.S. withdrawal even if the Afghan army has not been adequately trained, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday.

Alabama and Mississippi will hold primary elections on Tuesday, but national polling companies have found a near toss-up among the GOP's three leading presidential candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Political analysts said the results show the Republican Party's Deep South base isn't as predictable as it once was and might be fracturing.

A “right to die” case filed by a 58-year-old British man can proceed to a court hearing, a U.K. judge has ruled. Tony Nicklinson has "locked-in syndrome" following a stroke in 2005 and is unable to carry out his own suicide, the BBC reports. The syndrome leaves people with paralyzed bodies but fully-functioning minds.

Many people in Appalachia, which includes southeastern Ohio, are counting on new investments from energy companies seeking to extract natural gas from underground pockets as the way to offset job losses suffered in the Great Recession. During the recession, Appalachia lost all the jobs it gained from 2000-08, and personal and small business income is roughly 25 percent lower than the rest of the United States. With such a bleak outlook, many in the region are willing to overlook potential hazards involved with some extraction processes like fracking.
 
 
by Danny Cross 07.03.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Someone really smart in Todd Portune’s office warned his or her superiors that the monthly first-Wednesday siren test might scare the living hell out of tens of thousands of foreign people visiting Cincinnati for the World Choir Games, so there will be no siren test this month. 

River Downs applied for some slot machines, the second racetrack in the state to do so.

Here’s the latest person to write about how screwed Mitt Romney is due to the constitutional health care mandate or, more importantly, the similar one he passed in Massachusetts. MSNBC says the Bain attacks are hurting Romney. And Mother Jones says this: “Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show.”

And Obama is “feeling the pain” of campaign fundraising. Whatever that means. 

Here’s all you need to know about torture in Syria. Thanks, Human Rights Watch. 

Anderson Cooper publicly announced that he’s gay after a discussion with friend and journalist Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast regarding celebrities coming out. Cooper emailed Sullivan about the matter and gave him permission to print it. 

“I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.

“The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”

Chrysler’s sales are up 20 percent, but the company hasn’t specifically thanked JLo for boosting the Fiat marketshare.

Scientists are saying that recent heat waves, wild fires and other seemingly random natural disasters are due to global warming. And we thought it was only going to be our kids’ problem. :(

Meanwhile, European physicists hope to find the God particle by the end of the year, explaining the creation of the world. Here’s video of a British guy trying to explain what the particle is using a plastic tray and ping pong balls.

The NFL is going to back off some of its local blackout rules. Teams now must only hit 85 percent of their ticket sales goal rather than 100 percent to avoid making local markets watch crappy regional games instead of their favorite teams.  That means more Bengals games, less crappy Browns broadcasts.

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.22.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman was arrested early Monday morning for driving with a suspended license in Grove City, outside of Columbus. Chapman, who has previously purchased vanity plates that read MPH102 and 101MPH based on his ability to throw a baseball way faster than you're allowed to drive, was caught doing 93 on I-71.

The Music Hall Revitalization Co. will meet Thursday to consider its next move after the city of Cincinnati decided not to sell the historic building to the nonprofit organization, prompting the resignation of the Revitalization Co.'s leader. The resident arts organizations issued a joint statement yesterday offering to work with the city and private donors to revive the project in some form. Some arts supporters contend that local philanthropic leaders will not donate to the project while it is city owned.

In the wake of last season's Crosstown Shootout melee, officials from UC and Xavier have decided to play the annual game at U.S. Bank Arena for the next two seasons. The behavior of players and fans will reportedly be evaluated after that time. The game was scheduled to be played at UC's Fifth Third Arena this year.

The commercial space vehicle today finally launched after shutting down its first attempt to fly to the International Space Station without the government's help. Exploration Technologies Corp.'s SpaceX rocket is scheduled to touch down on May 25 and could help jumpstart the privatization of space station servicing.

Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, but he's not quite ready to do it again.

Facebook shares went down a little bit after analysts revised their outlooks.

Fuel economy is more important to consumers than overall car quality, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports.

Is Brad Pitt's new film Killing Them Softly an anti-capitalist screed? Pretty much.

Everything you need to know about (writer-director Andrew) Dominik's worldview came with a moment in the news conference in which the Australian said that in his experience America is largely about making money, and that that went double for Hollywood.

Or, as the film's touchstone piece of dialogue has it: "America isn't a country -- it's a business.”

Ever wonder what would happen if the NBA rookie of the year dressed up like an old man and played ball with dudes at some random courts, with at least some of the players not knowing what's going on? Wonder no more:

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.06.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Duke Energy lost its appeal Thursday that sought to get more money from its customers to reimburse the firm for damages it sustained to equipment in the September 2008 windstorm. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) involving the restoration of electrical service after the storm that was caused by Hurricane Ike. In January 2011, PUCO ruled to allow Duke to recover about $14.1 million of the $30 million it had requested. With revenues of $14.53 billion for 2011, we're confident Duke can absorb the loss. Besides, isn't that the sort of thing that qualifies as “the cost of doing business?” Buck up, James Rogers.

The Reds emerged victorious Thursday in its season opener against the Marlins, winning 4-0. Reds Manager Dusty Baker credited pitcher Aroldis Chapman's performance for helping put the team over the top. It was the team's first Opening Day shut-out since 1980. Players might have been buoyed on by the 42,956 people watching them play – the second-largest attendance at Great American Ball Park, surpassed only by a playoff loss to Philadelphia in 2010.

As might be surmised from the above figures, the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade before the game also had one of its largest crowds ever. Organizers credited the turnout to sunny weather, a later start time and optimism about the Reds' prospects this season.

Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig is asking Avondale residents to help patrol the neighborhood as part of efforts to stop an uptick in shootings there. At least five people were shot Sunday night a few blocks from the Avondale Pride Center, police said. Officers have increased their presence in the neighborhood, but residents said they know the solution must involve a network of community members working with police.

A series of meetings will be held this month to give the public a chance to offer input on various plans for updating or replacing the Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River. The first meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 11 at Covington City Hall, with later sessions planned for April 24 at Longworth Hall and April 25 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

In news elsewhere, the U.S. economy added a relatively weak 120,000 jobs in March, compared with 240,000 in February, but the unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent, the Labor Department reported today. Analysts had forecast a 205,000 gain in non-farm payrolls, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Some critics are alleging the Republican National Committee was actively helping Mitt Romney win the GOP's presidential nomination, instead of serving as an impartial arbiter of the process. The list of grievances ranges from “issues the party acknowledges are legitimate, to those that they dismiss as desperate fixations from Romney’s flailing rivals,” Politico reports. The committee agrees that some states that went for Romney jumped the line in the primary schedule, a violation of party rules. But it shrugs off other complaints, like that it undermined rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich by formatting a delegate tracking list to pad Romney’s tally.

An Iraqi defector whose lies helped spark the United States' decision to invade Iraq, starting a nine-year war that cost more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, confessed to making up his tale to get U.S. leaders to act. In his first British TV interview this week, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi – known as “Curveball' in intelligence circles – admitted that he knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, as he had alleged.

A Florida woman was arrested after allegedly offering to have sex in exchange for two hamburgers off of McDonald's dollar menu. Christine Baker, 47, was walking on a Southwest Florida street last Friday when she was approached by a detective working in the Manatee County Sheriff Office’s special investigations division, according to a sheriff’s office report. After the undercover detective invited Baker into his car and the talk turned to sex, she said her fee would be two double cheeseburgers.

A British infant that essentially was born without any blood is being hailed by doctors as a miracle baby by her doctors for surviving her ordeal. Olivia Norton, who is now six months old, was born completely white because she had such a low count of hemoglobin – the chemical which carries oxygen in red blood cells – that it could not officially be classified as “blood.” She was nicknamed "ghost baby" and given less than two hours to live, but survived thanks to emergency transfusions.
 
 
by Danny Cross 10.28.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Streetcar proponents have spent considerably more on their campaign than the anti-streetcar people, probably because Issue 48 is so wide-reaching it has brought out people concerned with things way more important than the streetcar such as regional planning, commuter rail and making Cincinnati not look like it totally sucks.

Also being outspent are the SB 5 supporters, who have seen support decline dramatically in recent weeks as people look around their neighborhoods and see a bunch of regular people whose rights would be taken away. And Building a Better Ohio does unethical things like this, which makes people think they are meanies.

Here's a blog about City Council candidate Chris Smitherman arguing against all the legal experts who say Issue 48 will block all rail construction through 2020.

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by Danny Cross 11.28.2011
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Headline: "Stadium tax rebate favors wealthy." Analysis: "No shit." Owners of the county's most-expensive homes reportedly receive more savings from the property tax rollback than they pay in the sales tax increase that was supposed to pay for the sports stadiums. An Enquirer analysis of last year's property tax payout found that the half-cent sales tax increase amounts to a maximum of $192 annually, while some high-value homeowners received tax rebates of $1,175 or more.

• Million-dollar homes account for less than 1 percent of households, yet they received nearly 5 percent of the total rebates — or one out of every $20 paid out.

• One out of four homeowners - those with a home worth $200,000 or more - got $8.8 million in rebates - more than half the total rollback.

• The median Hamilton County homeowner with a property worth $106,700 is eligible to get a $50.15 rebate under the rollback.

• The 132 Hamilton County homeowners with houses worth $2.5 million or more get at least $1,175 apiece.

• Property owners with homes worth $150,000 or less account for nearly six out of 10 households, but collectively they received less than 23 percent of the benefits.

County commissioners have four days to tell the auditor to go ahead and tax homeowners at the previous rate, but Chris Monzel and Todd Portune are up for reelection this year and won't dare change take it away from the powerful rich people.

[Correction: Monzel is not up for reelection.]

Said former commissioner David Pepper:"At its core, the property tax rollback creates a reverse-Robin Hood scheme, where middle-class homeowners and renters are not only the ones paying for the stadium, but also footing the bill for a tax break for high-value property owners. Those high-end property owners are not paying for the stadium at all."

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