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by Kevin Osborne 03.12.2012

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 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 Danny Cross 10.06.2011

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 05.04.2012
rob portman

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 Danny Cross 09.16.2011
Posted In: Sports, Science, Media Criticism, News at 08:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

The game of Cornhole has apparently spread from its modest beginnings in some West Sider's backyard all the way to the Northeast, thanks largely to a Fox News anchor who in 2005 took a set from his hometown back to New York and started teaching other people how to throw the beanbags at a hole in a piece of wood. The New York Times checks in with this report on the unfortunately named game. Now a bunch of mopes in Brooklyn are playing it, and it will probably be featured in a Kings of Leon video soon.

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by Danny Cross 05.22.2012

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 Danny Cross 10.28.2011

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 07.03.2012

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 11.28.2011

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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by Danny Cross 05.24.2012
rob portman

Morning News and Stuff

Mitt Romney's campaign has reportedly entered an “audition phase” in its search for a vice presidential candidate, and local boy Rob Portman is on the AP's speculative list. With three months to go before the Republican National Convention, Romney's people will soon be asking intensely personal questions of potential VPs, such as whether they've ever had marital problems, affairs or mental health counseling. In preparation, many Republicans are already speaking out against President Obama with hopes of sounding like a guy that can help Romney win in November.

The AP included in its rundown of the more high-profile candidates the strengths and potential weaknesses of each:

"The Republicans who are informally auditioning would each bring different strengths — and drawbacks — to the presidential ticket.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman supported Romney early, has a solid rapport with the candidate and hails from Ohio, a critical battleground state that could decide the election. But he wouldn't necessarily appeal directly to Hispanic or women voters.

(Louisiana Gov. Bobby) Jindal, the Louisiana governor, could help Romney turn out the religious right and would add diversity to the ticket as an Indian-American, but he struggled during a national debut rebutting the 2010 State of the Union address.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell appeals to social conservatives but signed a controversial state law that requires Virginia women to have ultrasounds before having an abortion.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who's campaigned frequently with Romney, could help with female voters and in her swing state of New Hampshire. But she's from New England, the same region of the country as Romney, while (New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie, a conservative favorite who can work a crowd, is from New Jersey.

(Florida Sen. Marco) Rubio could bring Florida, always a deciding factor in a general election, and appeal to Hispanics, a fast-growing voting bloc, but he's run into some trouble over a foreclosed home and possible misuse of an official credit card. And Ryan is a serious, leading policy mind with a bright future — and a brand name that's directly tied to a controversial budget that would make major changes to Medicare."

Meanwhile, Romney says Obama doesn't even understand free enterprise.

A Columbus tavern owner has lost his freedom isn't free battle in the Ohio Supreme Court, which yesterday unanimously ruled that the state's smoking ban is constitutional. The owner of Zeno's Victorian Village had racked up thousands of dollars in fines after 10 citations for violating the ban from July 2007 and September 2009. The state has reportedly threatened to seize the bar if the fines are not paid.

Meteorologists say after this weekend's heat wave this spring could be the hottest on record.

The Reds defeated the Atlanta Braves last night on a Todd Frazier walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was the Reds' fifth straight win, and they're currently a half game behind St. Louis for first place in the division.

The Pakistan conviction of the Osama bin Laden doctor who helped the CIA find him is not going over well with the U.S. government. Pakistani authorities sentenced Shakeel Afridi to 33 years in prison for treason, and Afridi was not entitled to representation, though he has a right to appeal. The U.S. has threatened to cut aid to the country, arguing that informants work against al-Qaeda and not Pakistan.

Britain's recession is worse than expected, as the country's economy shrunk by .3 percent during the first quarter.

The SpaceX shuttle passed some tests necessary to move forward with its landing on the International Space Station Friday morning. President Obama called the company's CEO to congratulate him and he answered despite thinking it might be a telemarketer.

John Malkovich is in the latest Apple advertisement for Siri, during which Malkovich gets some life advice. The ads follow those released starring Hollywood actors Zooey Deschanel and Samuel Jackson last month.