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by Kevin Osborne 03.16.2012
 
 
scrap-metal-theft

Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati’s new law for selling scrap metal, which was scheduled to take effect today, has been put on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by two local dealers. The law, approved by City Council last month, would require people who sell scrap metal within the city to get a license and make businesses that buy the metal pay dealers by check with a two-day hold, among other changes. The law was designed to cut down on metal theft in Cincinnati, but Cohen Brothers in the East End and American Compressed Steel in Carthage argued it would adversely impact their livelihood. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Winkler issued a preliminary injunction Thursday afternoon.

In related news, the Ohio Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that requires scrap metal dealers to photograph anyone who sells them scrap. Dealers would be prohibited from buying metal from anyone who refuses to be photographed. Also, dealers must keep the photos on file for 60 days. The Ohio House will now consider the bill.

Last week we learned that Aaron Boone would be the grand marshal of the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, and now we know who will throw out the first pitch at the opener against the Miami Marlins. Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr., who will retire later this year after a 41-year career in public service, has been selected for the honor. Just how far the 77-year-old Leis will be able to throw the ball remains to be seen, but we're betting he will do a better job than Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory did a few years ago.

Clermont County residents who suffered property damage in the tornado two weeks ago will be able to apply for Small Business Administration loans beginning this morning. The Disaster Loan Outreach Center is now open at the Washington Township Hall, located at 2238 Highway 756. Renters could receive up to $40,000 in loans while homeowners could receive up to $200,000 in loans to rebuild their home or replace furniture, said disaster relief officials.

Kroger, the Cincinnati-based grocery chain, is among the retailers that use so-called “pink slime” in some of its ground beef products. U.S. consumers generally have reacted with disgust after learning that many fast food restaurants and grocers use ground beef that contains “finely textured lean beef,” the product made from beef trimmings after all the choice cuts of beef are removed. About 70 percent of the ground beef sold at supermarkets contains the meat filler, according to reports.

In news elsewhere, a United Nations official this week formally accused the U.S. government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment toward Bradley Manning, the American soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source. Juan Mendez has completed a 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning since the soldier's arrest at a U.S. military base in May 2010. He concludes that the U.S. military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture, London's Guardian reports. American media, however, seem curiously quiet on this news.

Although President Obama reiterated his intention this week to stick to a timeline that calls for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014, pressure is mounting to quicken the schedule. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is demanding that NATO withdraw its forces from the small, rural outposts around the nation and confine its soldiers to military bases. The demand is the latest fallout after the burning of Korans by U.S. service members last month and the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians Sunday, allegedly by an Army staff sergeant who went on a rampage.

The Columbia Journalism Review looks at what The Gannett Co., the owner of The Enquirer, could've bought with the $37.1 million compensation package it gave recently departed CEO Craig Dubow. CJR's findings include that the money would've paid for the starting salaries of 1,474 staffers at The Indianapolis Star or 310,720 annual subscriptions to The Tallahassee Democrat's website. “In October, four months after handing 700 employees pink slips, Gannett gave Dubow a $37.1 million package, also accumulated over decades. He earned a mere $9.4 million in 2010, some of which padded his retirement package. A few weeks later, the company announced it would force employees to take their fifth unpaid furlough in three years,” the magazine reports.

Much attention has been paid to a column published Wednesday by The New York Times, in which Greg Smith explained why he was resigning after 12 years at Goldman Sachs due to what he said was the unethical and corrupt culture at the investment firm. But lesser known is this letter to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission by an unidentified whistleblower at JPMorgan Chase. The writer describes similar reckless practices at that firm, adding, “I am now under the opinion that we are actually putting hard-working Americans – unaware of what lays ahead – at extreme market risk.”
 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.12.2012
 
 
occupy_022

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 02.24.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, President Obama, Science, Sports, Police at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
art23269widea

Morning News and Stuff

The Enquirer today looks into an issue CityBeat investigated back in May of last year — the ongoing debate weighing the danger police pursuits pose to innocent bystanders and the police officers themselves. Our story referenced the March 16, 2011 deaths of a downtown taxi driver and his passenger when a fleeing suspect broadsided the taxi. In that case, the Cincinnati Police Department determined that police had followed the department’s pursuit policy. The Enquirer’s story suggests that Cincinnati Police routinely fail to follow the pursuit policy and that crashes and injuries during police chases occur more here than the national average.

President Obama dropped $90 mil on a couple of local non-profit development companies. Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) and the Uptown Consortium were awarded $50 million and $40 million tax credits, respectively, by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as part of a program aimed at spurring retail and residential growth. 3CDC says it plans to create a rock climbing wall/juice bar/light-free techno dance hall in order to draw more YPs to the area. (Just kidding.)

P&G plans to cut 5,700 jobs next year (and we just had our resumes all cleaned up to prove we could write the best stories about how Tide makes clothing — and life — better for everyone…).

A 15-year-old Milford High School freshman named Eben Christian Franckewitz has advanced to next Thursday’s live episode of American Idol. Franckewitz is reportedly the first area reside to become one of the 24 Idol semifinalists. Pick it up, area talented people!

The New York Police Department is defending its recent practice of spying on mosques using tactics it normally reserves for criminal organizations. The AP got a hold of documents that showed police "collecting the license plates of worshipers, monitoring them on surveillance cameras and cataloging sermons through a network of informants."

The new documents, prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, show how the NYPD's roster of paid informants monitored conversations and sermons inside mosques. The records offer the first glimpse of what those informants, known informally as "mosque crawlers," gleaned from inside the houses of worship.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says his police would never spy on Muslims.

Officials in Australia have opened another investigation into the 1980 death of a 9-week-old baby whose parents say was taken away by a dingo. The mother was convicted of murder and later cleared of the charge.

Seven Marines were killed in a training crash near the California-Arizona border Wednesday night, one of the deadliest training crashes ever. Officials say it will take weeks to determine why the two helicopters crashed in midair during a routine exercise.

JC Penny lost $87 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. CEO Ron Johnson says it’s cool, though, because the company was getting a makeover and those are expensive.

On the other side of the fence dividing companies that lose money and companies that make mass of it, Apple is so flush its CEO says the company has too much cash. Tim Cook is reportedly “wondering what to do with the company's $97.6 billion.

More drivers than ever are about to be paying $5 per galling for gas, although if we vote Newt Gingrich for president he’ll make it $2.50.

A new study says that global warming could shrink the human race. Wait, what?!? It’s true: NEW GLOBAL WARMING THREAT: HUMAN RACE MAY SHRINK. Great ... just great.

Oh, and the UC basketball team beat No. 17 Louisville last night, a big step toward playing in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Nice, one-handed jam, Dion!

 
 
by Danny Cross 12.20.2011
 
 
couple-on-picnic

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.

Read More

 
 
by Danny Cross 12.05.2011
 
 
occupy-dc-protesters-sit--007

Morning News and Stuff

Occupy D.C. protesters built some type of structure in a park Saturday night, and police on Sunday notified them that they didn't have a permit and took it down, arresting dozens in the process. It was a pretty nice structure, though.

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by Danny Cross 12.01.2011
Posted In: News, Sports, Spending, County Commission at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
drake-photo

Morning News and Stuff

More details are coming out about Chris Monzel and Todd Portune working a behind-the-scenes deal to sell Drake Hospital for way less than it was worth in order to save rich people money on their property taxes for one year. Critics have called it a “fire sale” and questioned the legality of selling a public asset without competitive bidding, outside studies or input from county lawyers. From The Enquirer:

"The 2-1 vote ends 87 years of county ownership of the Hartwell rehabilitation hospital. UC Health will buy it for $15 million – a price negotiated in secret by one commissioner and approved with no outside studies, no input from county lawyers or the county administration, and little public discussion.

The money from the sale will bail out the stadium fund for one year, avoiding a $14.2 million deficit for next year. It also allows the county to restore a property tax rollback promised to voters in 1996 when they approved a new sales to build and maintain the stadiums – a rollback largely scrapped this year to pay for the stadiums."

Cincinnati City Council today will lose its longtime excuse that there are too many old conservatives involved to get anything done, as three of its new members are young, optimistic and representative of the community who aren't old guys or mean rich ladies. The Enquirer discusses Council's influx of YP energy here, including a nice photo of Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and P.G. Sittenfeld with the caption: “Before...” that seems rather ominous.

Ohio has reportedly offered Sears $400 million to relocate from Chicago to Columbus. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the offer is about four times what Illinois has offered.

President Obama was in Scranton, Pa., yesterday to promise that he's trying to extend a payroll tax cut for workers.

Headline: “Amid Questions, Cain Stays Defiant.” Sounds like Karl Rove. Also, Cain would like to see the cell phone records of the woman accusing him of having an extramarital affair.

Dentists are having a tough time as people skip their visits due to the economic downturn. Now they're looking to marketing and social media to help. At least your teeths cleaned everybody!

An eastern Kentucky church voted to ban interracial marriages.

Wild donkeys are messing up Texas' ecology.

Michigan is about to allow the carrying of stun guns.

And horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in the U.S.

Isn't there any good news? The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are apparently giving the iPad a run for its money? The NFL hearing Detroit Lions player Ndamukong Suh's appeal over a two-game suspension for stomping on somebody's arm?

Eh, whatever. Just watch this Kenny Powers K-Swiss video and forget about the real world.

 
 
by Danny Cross 11.30.2011
 
 
little-girl-drinking-orange-juice

Morning News and Stuff

A new study has found high levels of arsenic in fruit juices that millions of kids are drinking because there's pictures of actual food on the label. Too bad government regulation is just a big waste of money that hurts the economy.

A full 10 percent of the juices tested by the magazine had arsenic levels higher than what is allowed in water by the Food and Drug Administration.

“What we’re talking about here is not acute affects,” Urvashi Rangan, director of safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports, told TODAY. “We’re talking about chronic effects. We’re talking about cancer risk. And so, the fact that 10 percent of our samples exceeded the drinking water standard underscores the need for a standard to be set in juices.”

Consumer Reports tested 88 samples of apple and grape juices sold around the country. Included among those tested were popular juices like Minute Maid, Welch’s and Tropicana.

Read More

 
 
by Danny Cross 11.28.2011
 
 
indian_hills_house

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 11.23.2011
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Sports, Social Justice, Science at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
baby2

Morning News and Stuff

Some Ohio anti-abortion groups apparently didn't learn their lesson from Gov. John Kasich's SB 5 failure, as at least one has broken away from Ohio Right to Life for refusing to endorse HB 125, the “heartbeat bill.” Ohio Right to Life believes HB 125 won't withstand a challenge under Roe v. Wade, but Warren County Right to Life wants to spend a lot of time and resources pursuing it anyway. Ohio Right to Life says a successful legal challenge could strengthen the women's choice side, but other groups are expected to join Warren County Right to Life anyway.

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by Danny Cross 11.17.2011
 
 
pizzaschool1

Morning News and Stuff

Guess there's a reason why Congress doesn't care much for the 99-percent movement: Eleven percent of Congress is part of the 1 percent. Fifty-eight members of Congress have $9 million or more in net worth, including Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell and John Yarmuth. Congress also includes 250 millionaires, so maybe they'll listen.

Occupy Wall Street celebrated its two-month mark by organizing a “day of action,” beginning with a march to the New York Stock Exchange.

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