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by German Lopez 12.30.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, 2014 election, Governor at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
cover-kasich-2

Governor’s “Ohio Miracle” Falling Far Short of Promises

Ohio was one of two states to see economy worsen in three-month index

Despite Gov. John Kasich’s claims to the contrary, the only miracle in Ohio’s economy might be how bad the state is doing compared to the rest of the nation.

The proof: Ohio’s economy was among just two states in the nation that actually worsened during September through November compared to August through October, according to the research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Beyond Ohio’s borders, Alaska also worsened, two states remained stable and the rest of the nation moved in a generally positive direction.

In other words, while 46 states’ economies moved in a generally positive direction, Ohio actually got worse.

The measures come from the State Coincident Index issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia every month. The index combines several economic indicators to gauge the condition of each state’s economy. The research department then gauges whether the index improved or worsened after the latest month’s data is taken into account.

With the gubernatorial election now less than one year away, the sorry state of Ohio’s economy could prove a bad sign for Gov. Kasich’s re-election.

Kasich, a Republican, came into office as Ohio’s economy began dashing out of the Great Recession stronger than most of the nation — a trend Kasich took to calling the “Ohio miracle.”

Ed FitzGerald, Kasich’s likely Democratic challenger, has criticized the claim in the past few months as Ohio’s economy showed more signs of worsening despite Kasich’s promises that his policies would keep the state in the right direction.

One of those policies was privatizing Ohio’s development agency and effectively turning it into JobsOhio. In less than three years, the agency has been riddled in multiple scandals following accusations from Democrats that the JobsOhio board hosts various conflicts of interests and lacks transparency when recommending who should get state tax credits.

Kasich also pushed and approved an across-the-board income tax cut earlier in 2013 through the two-year state budget. But because the income tax cut came with a sales tax hike, left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio found Kasich’s tax cut heavily favors the wealthy, which calls into question whether the tax cut will actually help Ohio’s middle class or economy.

For FitzGerald and other Democrats, the challenge is advocating a progressive agenda that stands in contrast to Kasich’s policies. Although they have plenty of criticisms, it remains unclear what Democrats could do if — as looks almost certain — Republicans continue to hold Ohio’s legislative chambers.

Then there’s the question of whether state policies matter much, if at all. Economists generally agree that state officials tend to dramatize the economic impact of their policies when much bigger factors are at play, particularly as globalization reshapes the national and global economies.

For now, one thing is clear: Kasich’s policies haven’t been enough to turn around Ohio’s sinking economy throughout the past three months.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.13.2012
Posted In: Taxes, Public Policy, Poverty, Economy, Family at 03:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
eitc

Group Pushes for Ohio Tax Change

Think tank: EITC would help working families

A nonpartisan think tank that advocates for poor and working class families is urging that Ohio adopt its own version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

 

The group, Policy Matters Ohio, said a state version of the federal tax credit, set at 10 percent, would divert just $210 million from Ohio’s coffers but would benefit 949,000 low-income working families across the state. Such a credit would provide families with an average of $221 each, which Policy Matters Ohio described as “modest but helpful.”

 

Currently 24 states and the District of Columbia have Earned Income Tax Credits, ranging from 3.5 percent to 50 percent of the federal credit.

 

“A state EITC program enables families to work and build assets while reducing the impact of regressive income tax changes,” said a statement released by Policy Matters Ohio.

 

“A state EITC makes sense because recent changes to the personal income tax have provided greater tax reductions for higher-income earners than they have for lower- and middle-income families,” the statement continued.

 

The federal EITC is a refundable tax credit for low- and medium-income individuals and couples, and is considered the nation’s largest poverty relief program. When the credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who qualify and claim the credit.

 

To qualify for the EITC, a recipient must have earned income of $49,000 or less. The credit is worth significantly more for families with children and is refundable, which means families receive cash refunds above their tax liability.

 

Created in 1975, the federal EITC is aimed at helping lift families with children about the poverty level, along with offsetting the burden of Social Security taxes and maintaining an incentive for people to work.

 

In Ohio, 949,692 people currently claim the federal EITC. The credit generates $2.1 billion for state residents, and the average refund is $2,211.

 

Founded in 2000, Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research organization that seeks to create “a more prosperous, equitable, sustainable and inclusive Ohio,” through research and policy advocacy.

 

Based in Cleveland and Columbus, the organization is funded primarily through grants from groups like the Ford Foundation, the Sisters of Charity Foundation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Corp. for Enterprise Development and others.

 
 
by German Lopez 12.17.2012
Posted In: Gun Violence, News, 2013 Election, Mayor, Budget, Economy at 09:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
dawn hochsprung

Morning News and Stuff

More on Newtown massacre, City Council passes budget, Dillingham to run for council

By now, most of you have heard there was another horrible mass shooting, this time in Newtown, Conn., that resulted in the death of 20 children and six adults. While everyone is hoping this is the last time the nation has to deal with an event of unspeakable horror, it is only a possibility if we agree to do something about it. That means remembering the heroes who risked their lives and, in some cases, died that day. That means not letting the media and public drop the issue, as has been the case in the past. That means looking at more than just gun control, including mental health services. The Washington Post analyzed what “meaningful” action on gun control would look like, and the newspaper also disproved the idea Switzerland and Israel are “gun-toting utopias.” President Barack Obama also spoke on the issue at a vigil Sunday, calling for the nation to do more to protect people, particularly children, from violence. The full speech can be watched here.

City Council approved its 2013 budget plan Friday. The budget relies on the privatization of city parking assets to help plug a $34 million deficit and avoid 344 layoffs. The budget also nixed the elimination of a tax reciprocity for people who lived in Cincinnati but worked elsewhere and paid income tax in both cities, and it continued funding the police department’s mounted unit. As a separate issue, City Council voted to increase the property tax by about 24 percent, reversing a move from conservatives in 2011. CityBeat wrote about budgets at all levels of government and how they affect jobs here.

Michelle Dillingham, who was an aide to former city councilman David Crowley, will seek Democratic support in a run for City Council. Dillingham promises to tackle “industry issues of mutual interest" to business and labor and “transportation funding, family-supporting wages and workforce development.”

At a recent public hearing, mayoral candidate John Cranley proposed a “very easy” plan for the city budget. Only problem: His plan doesn’t work. In an email, Cranley said he stands by his ideas, but he added he was working with limited information and his statements were part of a two-minute speech, which “requires brevity.” He also claimed there are cost-cutting measures that can be sought out without privatizing the city’s parking assets and gave modified versions of his ideas regarding casino and parking meter revenue.

Judge Robert Lyons, the Butler County judge who sealed the Miami rape flyer case, is standing by his decision.

The Greater Cincinnati area is near the top for private-sector growth. 

Jedson Engineering is moving from Clermont County to downtown Cincinnati, thanks in part to an incentive package from City Council that includes a 45 percent tax credit based on employees earnings taxes over the next five years and a $300,000 grant for capital improvements. The company was a Business Courier Fast 55 finalist in 2008 and 2009 due to its high revenue growth.

Gov. John Kasich’s Ohio Turnpike plan is getting some support from Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, but others are weary. They fear the plan, which leverages the turnpike through bonds for state infrastructure projects, will move turnpike revenues out of northern Ohio. But Kasich vows to keep more than 90 percent of projects in northern Ohio.

Gas prices are still falling in Ohio.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is making some concessions in fiscal talks. In his latest budget, he proposed raising taxes on those who make more than $1 million a year.

One beagle can diagnose diseases by sniffing stool samples.

 
 
by German Lopez 02.12.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Development at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
qualls

Qualls Urges HUD to Stop Sale of Housing Units

More than 700 units being sold to New York company

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls is asking the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to stop the sale of 748 housing units to a New York company — potentially preventing a repeat of a similar sale back to 2007 that led to dropping property values in the area.

In a press release Tuesday, Qualls argued that locals should be given the opportunity to purchase the project-based Section 8 housing in Walnut Hills, Avondale and Millvale. Currently, HUD is bypassing local communities with plans to sell the housing to a corporation controlled by the Puretz family of Brooklyn, N.Y.

“Cincinnati’s residents are still recovering from the massive disinvestment that was allowed to occur with an eerily similar situation in 2010,” Qualls said in the release, referring to a similar sale that culminated in a huge drop in property values between 2007 and 2010.

In 2007, HUD sold 618 subsidized housing units to NY Group OH 1 LLC, a company with no previous housing experience in Cincinnati, according to Qualls’ release. As the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession pulled down the global economy, property values dropped all around the nation, but things went particularly south in NY Group’s Cincinnati buildings. The owner eventually defaulted on the housing units, and Fannie Mae foreclosed in 2010.

Property values went from $21.5 million to $7 million between 2007 and 2010, when the units were sold in a sheriff’s sale. In that time period, the buildings blighted, with residents complaining about deteriorating structures, broken lighting, bed bugs, cockroaches and mold. In one case, an apartment’s restroom ceiling reportedly collapsed.

Qualls is focused on preventing more blighted buildings: “Preservation of the housing in good condition is vital to the improvement of our neighborhoods. Our neighborhoods cannot afford to have more blight brought on by an absentee owner. Because these properties are supported by government funding, it is vitally important that HUD get public input from the City of Cincinnati and Avondale, Walnut Hills and Millvale residents and stakeholders about this proposed new transfer of HUD funded properties before making any further decisions.”

Qualls has invited the local HUD field office director to the Feb. 26 Livable Communities Committee meeting to discuss the sale. She has also written to other HUD officials, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Steve Chabot to prevent the sale.

 
 
by German Lopez 12.16.2013
Posted In: News, Economy, Congress at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
capitol hill

More Than 36,000 Ohioans Could Lose Unemployment Benefits

Congress will not extend emergency benefits through budget deal

Despite lingering signs of a weakened economy, a bipartisan budget deal working through U.S. Congress will not extend emergency benefits for the nation’s long-term unemployed past Dec. 28.

If the emergency benefits are allowed to expire, the cut will hit more than 36,000 Ohioans in December and 128,600 through 2014, according to left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio.

Without the extension, Ohioans can tap into just 26 weeks of state-provided jobless aid. Federally funded emergency benefits give the unemployed another 37 weeks to find work before losing government assistance.

The emergency benefits were originally adopted by Congress to help Americans hit hardest by the Great Recession. The economy has improved since then, but some question whether it’s improved enough.

“There are 4.1 million workers who have been unemployed for more than six months, which is well over three times the number of long-term unemployed in 2007, before the Great Recession began,” write Lawrence Mishel and Heidi Shierholz of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Supporters claim the benefits boost the economy by allowing the long-term unemployed to continue buying goods and services that effectively support jobs. EPI estimates the benefits would sustain 310,000 nationwide jobs in 2014.

But at $25.2 billion a year, the emergency benefits come at a hefty price tag for conservatives who are trying to rein in federal spending.

EPI claims the “sticker price” overestimates the net cost of the benefits.

“The 310,000 jobs created or saved by the economic activity this spending generates will in turn generate greater federal revenues from the taxes paid on the wages earned by those who otherwise would not have jobs,” write Mishel and Shierholz. “They will also save the government money on safety net spending related to unemployment (for example, Medicaid and food stamps).”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, last week joined 31 other Democratic senators in support of extending the benefits.

“We must do everything we can to support those who are still struggling following the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Brown said in a statement. “These are hardworking Americans — many with children — who have fallen on tough times.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Thursday the administration “absolutely expects” Congress to extend emergency benefits, but the extension could come after Congress reconvenes from a winter recess in January.

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bipartisan budget deal without an extension for the long-term unemployed. The Senate expects to take up the same budget bill sometime this week.

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.03.2012
 
 
news_chris_seelbach

Morning News and Stuff

City Council on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a measure that will offer benefits to domestic partners of city employees. The measure was introduced by Councilman Chris Seelbach and passed 8-1, the lone “no” vote coming from Charlie Winburn. Seelbach told The Enquirer that domestic partner benefits not only affect same-sex couples, but are also applicable to non-married partners, which is an added attraction to lure talented employees to the city. Covington officials passed a similar measure Tuesday.

If you owe the city of Cincinnati any parking fines, now would be a good time to pay them. Cincinnati police are going to start hearing descriptions of vehicles with multiple outstanding tickets during roll call and then head out to find them during patrols.

Eric Deters wants to be a real lawyer again. The attorney/radio personality/cage fighter says his current predicament — Kentucky law license suspension — is mostly because someone making the rulings “hates him” and is not due to the “ethical lapses” that caused his original 61-day suspension. If Deters can't get the Kentucky Supreme Court to help him out he'll have to go in front of a Character and Fitness Committee and explain all the crazy stuff he's done.

Gov. John Kasich is making changes to the state's Medicaid program, which he and its officials say will save money, though it will cause disruptions in the form of some recipients needing to find new providers, many of which have less access to medical advice and financial help. A similar program implemented in Kentucky last year resulted in complaints that patients couldn't get services authorized and providers didn't get paid on time, according to The Enquirer.

New Osama bin Laden documents published online by the U.S. Government show concern over Muslim distrust of his organization before he was killed last May, and much of which was due to the high numbers of civilians it was responsible for killing.

It's not very fun to be John Edwards these days. Already charged with using $1 million in campaign money to hide a pregnant mistress, testimony in his case for violating campaign finance laws has revealed that his mistress had a better idea in response to the National Enquirer's report on the affair: She wanted to say she was abducted by aliens.

Jobless-benefits claims were down last week, and the reduction was the greatest in three months. And U.S. stock futures rose in accordance.

Target is done selling Kindles, and although it didn't give a reason analysts suspect it is in response to Amazon's attempts to get retailers who see the products in a store to then purchase them online. Amazone last holiday season indroduced a Price Check app that offered in-store price comparisons and up to a $15 discount online.

Retired NFL linebacker Junior Seau was found dead at his home yesterday in an apparent suicide. Seau, who played in the NFL for parts of 20 seasons, was found shot to death. He was 43.

 
 
by Andy Brownfield 09.26.2012
Posted In: City Council, Economy, Government, Mayor, News, Streetcar at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
streetcar

Council Approves Measures Shifting $29 Million for Streetcar

Measures front Duke $15 million, add utility responsibility to move lines to city code

Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved a set of measures to alter funding of the $110 million streetcar project in order avoid further delaying its 2015 opening.

The three measures set up $15 million to front to Duke Energy to move utility lines out of the proposed path; changes the source of funding to repay some $25 million in bonds used to pay for the streetcar; sells $14 million in bonds for streetcar improvements; and changes the municipal code to clarify that it is the responsibility of a utility to relocate its structures.

The $15 million comes from the $37 million sale of city-owned land near the former Blue Ash Airport.

Council voted 6-3 to approve the front money, improvement bonds and bond repayment, a vote that largely mirrored a Monday Budget and Finance Committee vote. Councilman Chris Smitherman was the sole “no” vote on the ordinance to change the municipal code.

Councilmembers Cecil Thomas, Wendell Young, Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson voted to pass funding, while Councilmembers Smitherman, P.G. Sittenfeld and Charles Winburn voted against.

“My concern with all of these votes … in particular the Blue Ash Airport dollars, these were promises that you made to the neighborhoods and I don’t have the confidence that the legal battle against Duke Energy is going to yield a 100 percent win for the city of Cincinnati, so there’s no assurance that these dollars are going to come back,” said Councilman Chris Smitherman, one of the most vocal opponents of the streetcar. 

“I want to be clear that it’s something that I don’t support.”

The $15 million would be fronted to Duke to move its lines while the city and utility work out who is responsible for funding the move. 

Duke estimates the full cost at $18 million and argues that the lines would not have to be moved if the streetcar wasn’t being built. The city maintains that it has always been the responsibility of utilities to move or upgrade their structures — which the third measure clarified in the municipal code. If the city loses a legal battle against Duke, it will not recoup the $15 million.

The second proposal switches the source of funding for streetcar bonds from money coming into city coffers from southern downtown and the riverfront area to a 1995 fund set up to collect service payments from the Westin/Star, Hyatt and Saks. The measure wouldn't use any additional new money for the streetcar.

That downtown area wasn’t bringing in as much cash as expected but the city hopes to repay the other fund once the downtown district — which includes the Banks and the casino —  rebounds.

 
 
by Andy Brownfield 11.02.2012
 
 
piglet

Morning News and Stuff

Only four days left to early-vote in person. Find out where to do that here.

U.S. employers hired 171,000 people in October and revised job growth over the previous two months, finding it had been stronger than previously thought. However, unemployment inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September, due to more out-of-work people looking for work. People are only considered unemployed if they’re actively searching for work. More people entering the workforce and increased job growth had the stock market jumping, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures up 30 points within minutes of the opening bell.

COAST has been keeping busy this week. The anti-tax group filed two lawsuits, one trying to block the sale of some land near the former Blue Ash Airport to prevent the cash from being used for the streetcar, and the other against Cincinnati Public Schools over allegations that staff used school emails to promote voter registration drives and offering to volunteer and contribute to the campaign supporting the CPS school levy (issue 42).

A firm specializing in storm damage forecasting estimates that superstorm Sandy could cause $30 billion to $50 billion in damage, making it the most second-most expensive storm the U.S. has ever seen, right behind Hurricane Katrina.

The U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has been expensive, no doubt. But what has all that money gone to? An analysis by The Enquirer shows that the nearly $30 million spent by both campaigns on the race has gone from everything from pollsters to Cincinnati Reds tickets to a used Jeep Cherokee. The largest expenditure for Brown’s campaign was $1.7 million for staff salaries, while the largest of Mandel’s expenditures was $1.7 million on TV ads.

People thinking about entering law school next year, rejoice. Despite a dire job market for new graduates, both campaigns have mobilized armies of lawyers in preparations to sue for votes in battleground states. If the next election is this close, you might have a job in four years. Assuming the Mayans were wrong about the apocalypse and everything.

A joint committee of Cincinnati City Council met Thursday to discuss allegations that workers at the University Square development in Clifton aren’t being paid enough. They didn’t take any action, other than asking the city to investigate, but agreed that there needs to be better oversight to make sure workers on taxpayer-funded projects are paid what they’re supposed to earn.

If you are accused of a crime in Ohio and police take your DNA, they get to keep it on file, even if you’re acquitted. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that DNA samples are like fingerprints and can be kept even if a suspect is acquitted of a crime.

A federal judge on Thursday refused to change an Ohio law that could prevent some prisoners from voting.

A bunch of dirty hippies “light warriors” buried hundreds of muffin-crystal-thingies in at Serpent Mound to help realign the energy of the ancient Native American burial mound. They were caught because they made a YouTube video of their alleged desecration.

 
 
by German Lopez 03.26.2013
Posted In: News, Economy at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Local Unemployment Rate Plummets

February jobs report shows dramatic drop in joblessness

Cincinnati, Hamilton County and Greater Cincinnati experienced dramatic drops in the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate between January and February, according to new data released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

In Cincinnati, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent in February, down from 8.6 percent in January. The civilian labor force, which measures the amount of people working and seeking jobs, also dropped from 139,400 to 138,900, which means less people were looking for work. The amount of people employed rose from 127,400 to 128,600 and the amount of people unemployed dropped from 12,000 to 10,300.

At the county level, the civilian labor force remained steady, while the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent in January to 7.1 percent in February. Across all of Greater Cincinnati, the unemployment rate dropped from 8 percent to 7.4 percent, even as the civilian labor force grew by 1,300 — a sign that more people in the region are looking for work.

Michael Jones, research director at the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, says the report was encouraging and consistent with the past few years trends: “We’ve seen a lot of activity in the Cincinnati area. We know a few companies have been actively growing their businesses.”

The gains were also improvements in a year-over-year comparison. In February 2012, Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 8.4 percent, Hamilton County’s rate was 7.8 percent and Greater Cincinnati’s rate was 8.2 percent. The civilian labor force was also larger in Cincinnati, Hamilton County and Greater Cincinnati in February 2012, but less people were employed across-the-board.

Jones says looking at employment numbers is a much better way to gauge economic health than looking at the size of the civilian labor force. While employment purely measures job growth, the civilian labor force can be driven by demographic changes — including an aging, retiring population — and people going back to school full-time, according to Jones.

In February, Ohio’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 7.6 percent, and the U.S. seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 8.1 percent.

Jones says Cincinnati and Ohio are poised to continue strong growth: “We have a strong health care sector. As health care continues to be an important component of our economy, … Cincinnati is very well positioned to capture that growth.”

State and federal numbers are typically adjusted to account for seasonal employment patterns, while local numbers are not.

Unemployment numbers are calculated through a household survey. The unemployment rate gauges the amount of unemployed people looking for work in contrast to the total civilian labor force. Since the numbers are derived from surveys, they are often revised in later months.

Update (3:54 p.m.): This story was updated with comments from Michael Jones, research director at the University of Cincinnati Economics Center.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.04.2012
 
 
gay t-shirt

Morning News and Stuff

In desperate need to bolster his low popularity numbers, Gov. John Kasich visited Cincinnati Tuesday to praise a deal that allows a local company to expand downtown and add jobs. Dunnhumby USA, a retail branding firm, will move from Third Street to a long vacant site at Fifth and Race streets, where it will build a new complex and add 550 jobs. Dunnhumby is getting the maximum 15 years of state Job Creation tax credits to help with the move.

The head of faculty at Xavier University is questioning the college president's abrupt, unilateral decision to stop offering birth control coverage in insurance for faculty and staff. Shannon Byrne, faculty committee chair, says President Michael J. Graham’s announcement Monday might violate XU's own rules about how such decisions can be made. She is scheduling a meeting April 12 so faculty can discuss the situation and decide how to respond.

ARTIMIS signs are supposed to alert motorists to traffic congestion and missing persons, but area residents have said they've noticed a lot of them don't work. As a result, transportation officials say 29 malfunctioning ARTIMIS signs will be replaced as part of upcoming construction projects on Interstates 471 and 275. All of the upgrades will be completed by July.

A Waynesville High School student is suing the school district for preventing him from wearing a T-shirt to class that depicted a pro-gay message. Maverick Couch wants to wear the shirt, which states “Jesus is not a homophobe,” to school on April 20 to show support for the Day of Silence, a national event that draws attention to the silencing of gay and lesbian students through bullying. School officials, however, initially told Couch the shirt was disruptive and later that it was too religious. Now they allege it violates rules prohibiting clothing that is “sexual in nature,” which Couch's attorney said is “absurd.”

Yahoo! Sports has released the rankings of Major League teams with the most players claimed in fantasy baseball leagues, and some Reds are among the sought-after stars. The Yankees and Rangers tied for the top spot as most popular on Yahoo!. Both teams have 13 players owned in at least 50 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. But the Reds also make a good showing, with seven players owned in at least 50 percent of the fantasy leagues.

In news elsewhere, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney left his rival, Rick Santorum, in the dust Tuesday. Romney won all three primaries that were held — in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia — and emerged with substantial gains in delegates.

Despite widespread opinion to the contrary, a private investigator alleges in a new book that O.J. Simpson didn't murder his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, in 1994. Instead, William C. Dear said his inquiry revealed that O.J. was covering up for the real culprit: Jason Simpson, O.J.'s son from his first marriage. Dear said he discovered a knife in a storage unit that was rented by Jason that he believes is the murder weapon, along with a forged time card from the night of the killings. Dear alleges that Jason Simpson was working as a chef in a Beverly Hills restaurant that day and had put together a special meal for the family. Brown didn't attend, however, angering him. The P.I. said Jason was on probation for assaulting his previous employer with a knife and has spent time in a psychiatric unit.

If you're an evangelical Christian, you might want to skip this next item. A new medical study finds that older adults who say they've had a life-changing religious experience — in other words, are “born again” —  are more likely to have a greater decrease in size of the part of the brain critical to learning and memory. Researchers asked 268 people, ages 58 to 84, about their religious affiliation, spiritual practices and life-changing religious experiences. Over the course of two to eight years, changes to the hippocampus were monitored using MRI scans. The researchers suggested that stress over holding religious beliefs that fall outside of the mainstream may help explain the findings. Or they're just stupid.

A major Chinese analyst said the senior leadership of the Chinese government increasingly views the competition between the United States and China as a zero-sum game, and believes the United States is a declining power that is trying to disrupt China's economic and military growth. Wang Jisi revealed his findings in a monograph published this week by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Hafiz Saeed, the leader of a Pakistan-based group blamed for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, has demanded proof after the United States announced a $10 million bounty on his head. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Saeed said the U.S. action was prompted by his organizing rallies against the reopening of military supply lines through Pakistan to NATO forces in Afghanistan.
 
 

 

 

 
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