CityBeat Blogs - Occupy Wall Street http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-34-169.html <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> If you come from a large family, you might remember when older siblings would always get new clothes when you were a child and you'd get their hand-me downs. That's also been the situation at Paul Brown Stadium in the past, but Hamilton County commissioners are putting a stop to it. Because the county's Riverfront Parking Operations needs two new trucks, the plan had been to move two trucks from Paul Brown to parking services and buy new ones for the stadium. Commissioners balked at the plan Tuesday, saying the new trucks should be bought for Parking Operations. Commissioner Todd Portune estimates the county will save up to $20,000 because Parking Operations doesn't require the same kind of heavy-duty trucks the stadium uses.

Cincinnati City Council is considering restoring $250,000 to the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV). Council had cut the money from CIRV's budget in late 2010, but statistics show that the number of shootings increased in the city afterward. When CIRV was in full effect, the percentage of shootings linked to gang activity fell from nearly 70 percent in 2007 to around 50 percent in 2008 and 2009, but has bounced up to 60 percent in 2011 and so far this year. Part of the cash allocated to CIRV would pay for a statistical analysis by researchers at the University of Cincinnati, to determine if there is a verifiable link.

Federal prosecutors want the jury in the upcoming insider trading trial of former Procter & Gamble Co. board member Rajat Gupta to hear secretly recorded telephone conversations with another man as evidence of the alleged conspiracy between them. The government said in a pre-trial filing that the conversations showed Gupta, also a former Goldman Sachs director, leaked Goldman board secrets at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded the calls.

The Reds postponed Tuesday's game against the Chicago Cubs due to high water on the field at Great American Ball Park. Heavy rains on Tuesday afternoon and evening saturated the area, and the stadium was no exception. A makeup date hasn't been announced. The action marks only the sixth time that the Reds have postponed a game since Great American opened in 2003.

Cincinnati Public Schools will make energy-saving renovations at 28 schools using a nearly $27 million low-interest loan. The school board approved the plan Monday, despite some board members' concerns about moving ahead with the projects while the district cuts jobs and faces an estimated $43 million deficit.

In news elsewhere, the rumors were true: Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng was hiding at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing since escaping house arrest last month. Chen's presence was revealed today when he left the diplomatic compound to seek medical treatment after receiving assurances from China’s government that he would be treated humanely. Chinese leaders agreed that Chen would be reunited with his family, moved to a safe place and allowed to enroll in a university, U.S. officials said. (Well, that's one international crisis averted, and only about 50 more to go.)

One of Willard Mitt Romney's top campaign spokesmen is leaving his job less than two weeks after his appointment. Richard Grenell, Romney's national security spokesman, resigned after some hardcore conservatives complained about the hiring of the openly gay man. Others, however, say it also was because Grenell was coming under fire “for numerous sexist and impolitic statements he had made about prominent women and members of the media.” After the complaints, he scrubbed over 800 tweets from his Twitter feed and deleted his personal website. Some reporters who dealt with Grenell while he was a spokesman for the United Nations years ago called him the "most dishonest and deceptive press person" they had ever encountered.

An eyewitness to the 1968 assassination of U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy says she heard two guns firing during the shooting and authorities altered her account of the crime. Nina Rhodes-Hughes, who is now 78, is coming forward as a federal court prepares to rule on a challenge to Sirhan Sirhan's conviction in the assassination. Sirhan, who is now 68, wants to be released, retried or granted a hearing on new evidence.

President Obama made a surprise visit Tuesday to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, just before today's first anniversary of the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Willard Mitt Romney has been criticizing the president's recent comments about bin Laden's death, but the Obama campaign questions whether Romney would've made the same decision, given his past statements. While in Afghanistan, Obama signed a security pact that means the United States will maintain a military presence there through 2024 – despite supposedly ending combat operations at the end of 2014. (For those keeping track, the deal means the United States will stay in Afghanistan for 23 years; let's just end the suspense and declare it our 51st state.)

Tuesday was May Day, which traditionally is a day to celebrate workers' rights around the globe — or protest the lack of same. The Occupy Wall Street movement and its various off-shoots held demonstrations in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and elsewhere across the United States to commemorate the occasion.
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<![CDATA[ReOccupy Starts Tonight]]>

One week after a landmark settlement was signed, members of Occupy Cincinnati will gather this evening in downtown’s Piatt Park to listen to music and discuss free speech issues.

The event, known as ReOccupy Free Speech Day, begins with a general assembly meeting at the park at 6 p.m. It will be followed by comments from various speakers at 8 p.m., and then a performance by “riot-folk” musician Ryan Harvey.

At 10 p.m., a soapbox session will be held for anyone to speak about issues that are important to him or her. Protestors are planning to stay in Piatt until 6 a.m. Tuesday.

If rain develops, the general assembly and other events will be moved to Occupy Cincinnati’s community warehouse, located at 2023 Dunlap St. in Over-the-Rhine.

After months of negotiations, Occupy Cincinnati and attorneys with the City Solicitor’s Office reached a deal drop all criminal trespassing charges against Occupy members in return for the withdrawal of a federal lawsuit filed by five protesters.

As part of the deal, about 100 square feet of Piatt Park as a 24-hour public space. The area is located on the park’s far eastern edge, near the statue of President James Garfield, adjacent to Vine Street.

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<![CDATA[Occupy Settlement Grants 24-Hour Public Space, Keeps Rules]]>

The city of Cincinnati and Occupy protesters have reached a legal settlement that will erase criminal charges against protesters and designate part of Piatt Park a 24-hour public space for one year. The open space will still be subject to park rules, which include the “prohibition or restriction on noise, encampments, open flames, tents, and common law nuisance principles.”

The Enquirer reported today that the settlement was expected to be filed in court this morning. The settlement will end protesters’ federal lawsuit against the city, which was based on the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. The far eastern section of the park, which is where Occupy Cincinnati set up its encampment starting in October and where many of the arrests occurred, will reportedly be designated a 12-hour public space for one year beginning 10 p.m. March 19.

Should the city refuse to extend the Open Period, Occupy protesters are allowed to institute a new lawsuit challenging the park rules.

The city has agreed to install new signage at the park noting its modified closing time and will install signage or placards at least 14 days prior to the open time’s scheduled expiration at 11:59 p.m. March 18, 2013.

The city retains the right to terminate the Open Period should park rules not be followed. According to the lawsuit:

Consistent and persistent violations of Park Board Rules and/or generally applicable laws which constitute a public nuisance under Chapter 3767 of the Ohio Revised Code, including without limitation any conduct in violation of prohibitions or restrictions on noise, encampments, open flames, or tents, shall constitute a breach of this Agreement. As a remedy for such breach, the City may terminate the Open Period prior to the expiration date set forth in Section 3 above by obtaining an order from a court of competent jurisdiction enjoining any such nuisance and finding that termination of the Open Period is necessary to abate any such nuisance.

City Hall will appoint an individual to function as the liaison of the Park Board and schedule a public meeting within 60 days and another within 180 days to accept public input.

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<![CDATA[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.---

P&G will not be hiring any new employees for the next six months because it already reached its hiring goals and everyone loves it there too much to leave.

GE Aviation received an order for $900 million worth of whatever it makes. The press release subject line simply read: “BOOM!”

Ohio electric bills have reportedly risen 33 percent over the last five years, which energy companies attribute to higher coal costs and [expletive] environmental regulation.

Poll: Americans don't like what they see in 2012 race. Ha.

Mitt Romney says Newt Gingrich blew it on two key issues.

House Republicans are being their normally difficult selves while President Obama tries to extend a payroll tax cut.

Apparently melting permafrost is releasing greenhouse gases, and scientists are getting pretty scared about it.

The San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers tried to play a football game last night, but the power kept going out in Candlestick Park and scaring everyone. The 49ers ended up winning the game 20-3 after two delays.

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<![CDATA[Occupy Group is Recharging ]]>

After two days of testimony, the criminal trespassing trial of some Occupy Cincinnati protestors has been continued until Jan. 30 while attorneys on both sides continue to negotiate a possible resolution.

Meanwhile, the Occupy Cincinnati group isn't resting; it will stage an event called “Recharge Weekend” on Saturday and Sunday, designed to boost the morale of participants and devise a more precise, clear agenda for moving forward.---

Occupy protestors camped overnight for 10 days in November at downtown's Piatt Park, before Cincinnati police arrested them and removed their tents and signs from the plaza. About 45 people were arrested on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespassing.

The protestors were arrested for violating park rules that state people must leave by 10 p.m.

Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Dwane Mallory, brother of Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, presided over the initial trespassing cases Tuesday and today.

Another judge involved in the matter, Municipal Court Judge David Stockdale, stated in a letter to his colleagues and municipal prosecutors last month that the city’s charter lacks a section that codifies the breaking of park rules into a misdemeanor criminal violation. Further, he believes the city’s Park Board lacks the legislative authority to make the violations a criminal offense.

This weekend's events kick off Saturday with a rally and march for human rights around Over-the-Rhine and downtown. The rally begins at 1 p.m. at Piatt Park, with the march starting at 2 p.m.

During the rally, the Food Not Bombs organization will be sharing free free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry. Food Not Bombs works toward nonviolent social change through “the celebration and nurturing of life” by distributing free food.

The Recharge Weekend event will be held from 3 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday, and again from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Off the Avenue Studios in Northside. It's located at 1546 Knowlton St., near Jacob Hoffner Park.

“We’ll be recharging ourselves and rebooting our occupation, sorting through the biggest obstacles to being a cohesive and effective organization,” event organizers said. “As we speak, we are developing an agenda and entertainment and allowing ourselves to share some time together, just like we did before we were so rudely interrupted from our encampment.”

On Sunday a general assembly meeting will be held at 3 p.m. to try to reach consensus on a number of proposals being mulled by the group, including details of a winter occupation protest.

“We are reaching out to any and all interested folks for this powerful assembly, but we especially reach out to the many Occupiers that became disillusioned when our encampment was taken from us and those whose enthusiasm was squashed due to organizational and communication issues,” organizers said.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Despite the economic troubles affecting the state, Ohioans are smoking more than ever, according to a study that found the highest percentage point increase of any state. An official with the Ohio Department of Health attributes the increase to the stress people are under, though the Ohio General Assembly also cut funding to the state's smoking cessation help line, so there's that. Ohio ranked as the 36th healthiest state in 2011, down from 33 rd in 2010, while Indiana came in at 38th and Kentucky 43rd.---

Most Hamilton County residents will pay considerably more for water and sewers next year when a 7.5 percent rate increase goes into effect. The increase will be $73 per year, slightly more than the property tax rollback savings for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Covington leaders are looking for development ideas for the city's property between the Roebling Suspension Bridge and Madison Avenue. They say they're open to private and/or public development, so long as it is pedestrian friendly with some greenspace.

Most people dislike the cold rain Ohio has been receiving for the past few days, few more than Ohio's deer hunters who in addition to getting really wet and cold came back with the lowest harvest of dead deer in years.

At lest we're not in New Mexico, which is getting blasted with snow and coldness.

The Ohio ACLU is asking Franklin County to reconsider its jail fees. One option: develop programs that keep people out of jail such as job counseling and mental health treatment.

Newt Gingrich leads the very important South Carolina primary, among others.

Apple, publishers named in EU e-book antitrust probe”: Uh, oh. Apparently the EU's antitrust group “is investigating whether Apple and major publishing houses are guilty of colluding to cut back competition in the e-book market.”

Plus, the Kindle Fire is grubbing on the iPad's market.

Why is people dancing to Christmas music so funny?

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<![CDATA[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.---

City Council will begin discussing City Manager Milton Dohoney's 2012 budget today, and it's expected to be fairly smooth since there are no proposed layoffs, or closings of health clinics, rec centers or school nurses.

State officials are trying to get construction companies to pay for the roads they mess up with their giant equipment. After that they can try to figure out what to do about the state's pending loss of jobless benefits in the new year.

Reds executives head out to baseball's Winter Meetings today. Here's their shopping list.


"One please!"

The leaders of Germany and France are pushing a new treaty that could save the Euro. Some see it as a long shot, though.

Carbon dioxide emissions jumped by the largest amount ever last year. Coal combustion was responsible for half the growth.

A group of luxury car enthusiasts in Japan crashed a bunch of expensive cars in a freeway pileup. Involved were eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and two Mercedes. Safety first, people!

Madonna will perform at this year's Super Bowl halftime show.

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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.---

Details of the Southgate House's pending close are coming out, with a sibling court battle at the center of the controversy. Then Enquirer spoke to Armina Lee, who is the sister of Ross Raleigh, the man who had run the club for three decades. Lee and her husband reportedly bought Raleigh out of the building and plan to renovate and sell it. Raleigh has said he plans to find a new club and continue booking music. It is unclear which party will own the rights to the Southgate House name.

Meanwhile, over in Cincinnati, Mayor Mallory says he doesn't know why Chiquita chose North Carolina after Cincinnati offered it “$40 billion to stay.” The mayor is funny.

Kroger is pumped about some new Delta flights out of CVG. Still waiting to get that nonstop service to Paris back, though.

Convicts entering the Franklin County jail better come correct with $40. Sheriff Zach Scott proposed the new fee in response to commissioners asking him to generate revenue.

Los Angeles Police raided the city's Occupy camp, arresting 200 people. Fifty more protesters were arrested in Philadelphia.

Herman Cain's latest accuser — this one regarding extramarital affair rather than sexual harassment — says the affair was casual and that Herman still wouldn't be a good president .

U.S. companies added more than 200,000 new jobs in November. “Things are getting better for the economy,” said Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact & Opinion Economics in New York. “It means the news we have on Christmas shopping and on an increase in consumer confidence may have some validity.”

And frequent soccer-ball headers could cause brain damage in frequent amateur players, starting with the good ones who score on headers a lot.

Google Maps is about to go streetview inside some stores and airports, although most people already know what a Macy's, Ikea or airport looks like on the inside.

Did a nude yoga class really cause Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries to breakup? Relationships are difficult.

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<![CDATA[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."---

Those excited about an opportunity to live in a brand-new neighborhood constructed between a river, a freeway and two sports stadiums will soon have plenty of opportunities to do so, as The Banks is well ahead of the new schedule developers made after it was delayed for 10 years.

Ohio's 2012 construction budget is expected to be tight, with a focus on repairs little funding for new local projects. Real cool, Kasich!

Los Angeles Police have reopened the streets around City Hall after removing the thousands of people who are so angry about corporate influence over politics that they've been camping out on the lawn for months.

Newt Gingrich says he's a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney. Congratulations, Newt!

China is “not optimistic” about the most recent round of climate talks. Must be some skeptics over there, too.

There is “hope” for this holiday season yet, as Black Friday sales hit a record level.

Former Florida football coach Urban Meyer has reportedly agreed to be Ohio State's new coach just a year after leaving Florida. UF's player's are OK with it, though. Over in Clifton, other schools are looking at UC's coach, Butch Jones.

Syracuse University has fired longtime assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, who has been accused of sexual abuse, after a 10-year-old voice recording of his wife acknowledged some of the accusations. The firing is less than a month after Penn State University fired longtime head coach Joe Paterno over a sexual abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach. 

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> The Hamilton County Commissioners' stadium funding failures have caused County Auditor Dusty Rhodes to describe a “dream world” where politicians think their inaction doesn't affect anybody. Today's news that the stadium fund will be bankrupt by March without additional funding has not deterred Republican Chris Monzel and Democrat Todd Portune from giving property owners the tax credit that convinced them to vote for the 1996 sales tax increase.

"It would be the height of irresponsibly to commit funds they knew were not there," Rhodes said. "I've long criticized various governments for living in dream world.

"This takes it to a whole new level," Rhodes said.---

Things aren't much better over at the congressional supercommittee, which former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has described as disastrous.

"If anybody understands the consequences of the failure of the committee of 12, they're horrendous," O'Neill said. "It's basically the consequences of an institution that's found itself unwilling to set priorities, which is what we elected them to do."

UC-Davis students have set up an Occupy camp on school grounds in response to university police casually spraying protesters with pepper spray after Chancellor Linda Katehi requested that they be removed. Now the chancellor is asking the DEA to investigate the department's use of force.

Headline: “GDP revised downward; corporate profits up.” Awesome.

Two new studies suggest that smart kids grow up to be heavier drinkers, with unscientific attempts at explaining the trend including evolution, boredom and “dealing with morons.”

The average number of people on Facebook separating any two people in the world is 4.74.

The University of Cincinnati basketball team had a couple funny quotes come out of its postgame press conference last night after defeating Northwestern State 71-43.

Yancy Gates on the attendance of 4,505: “I guess when Big East play starts, they’ll come to see the other team. It’s their money. They can spend it like they want to.”

Mick Cronin on the embarrassment of losing to Presbyterian on Sunday: “I have slept four hours in two days. I have taken more stomach pills in four days that they might have to pump my stomach. I haven’t left my house. I’m embarrassed to stop and get coffee.”

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

It's deadline day for the Congressional super-committee charged with reducing the federal budget by $1.2 trillion, and talks are not going so well. The defense and national security budgets are going to face the majority of automatic spending cuts if the two sides can't make a deal.

Disagreements have centered on whether tax increases should form part of the budget reduction measures, with Democrats in favor of such rises but Republicans opposed.

A last-minute proposal that included some new taxes raised hopes in the final week of negotiations, but could not muster enough support. …

Republicans had also demanded cuts in entitlement programs, such as social security, Medicare and Medicaid — something that Democrats had shown willingness to permit, but only in return for tax rises on the rich that were not forthcoming from the other side.---

City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan sued the city of Cincinnati last week for treading on her to the tune of 13 cents.

The state of Ohio has banned Michigan-hating license plates due to the more creative Ohio State University football fans trying to use plates such as "KILBLU," "HATEMI" (HATE M-I) and "UMH8ER" (U-M HATER). Time to go back to the Calvin stickers, football fans.

University of California placed its Davis campus police chief and two officers on leave after video of the pepper spraying of Occupy protesters went viral over the weekend. The school's chancellor, Linda Katehi, says the school needs her too much for her to resign in the wake of outrage over how she handled the pepper-spraying incident.

Katehi gave the initial order to campus police, who wore riot gear during the standoff, to dismantle the UC-Davis Occupy encampment because camping on college grounds is officially forbidden. ...

The UC-Davis faculty association called for Katehi's resignation Saturday, writing in a letter there had been a "gross failure of leadership."

Tablet demand is high this holiday season. Up 130 percent, actually, due to the sweetness of Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire.

Hackers remotely shut down A Central Illinois' water supply pump by turning it off and on until it broke. Federal investigators are looking into it.

Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and JLo reportedly “rocked” the American Music Awards last night.

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<![CDATA[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.---

County Commissioners want to resolve their public housing debate with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but HUD says it can't actually agree to anything with the county and the talks need to be with the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, which is a problem because the commissioners don't like CMHA.

Commissioner Chris Monzel's MacGyver idea of selling Drake Hospital rather than raising property taxes in order to cover the stadium fund deficit isn't going to happen. Looking forward to seeing what crappy thing Monzel tries to fix it with next.

City Council yesterday voted to allow three new food truck stations near Fountain Square since 3CDC booted the everyday Skyline from the square.

You know what's delicious? Pizza. Know what's not delicious: overly burdensome and costly pizza regulations. That's why House GOPers have scaled back newly proposed USDA nutritional guidelines that would not have counted tomato sauce on pizza as a serving of vegetables. Keep your government hands off my medicaid pizza!

The changes had been requested by food companies that produce frozen pizzas, the salt industry and potato growers. Some conservatives in Congress have called the push for healthier foods an overreach, saying the government shouldn’t be telling children what to eat.

The Ohio GOP has reportedly questioned the need for a driver texting ban.

There's an ice cavern on one of Jupiter's moons that might have life in it. Go find out for us, Obama!

Tiger Woods is sucking at the Presiden's Cup but the Americans still won yesterday.

Some Golden Globes voters are upset about Ricky Gervais returning to host.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

The Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed Occupy Cincinnati yesterday at Piatt Park. Later in the day 15 individuals were arrested for staying in the park past its 10 p.m. closing time, the first arrests in weeks, as protesters have challenged the legality of the park closing at all. Jackson was reportedly scheduled to return to the park at noon on Wednesday to again speak with Occupy Cincinnati.---

A new study says Ohio's school ranking system is "an illusion or cruel hoax." An advocacy group called the Ohio Association for Gifted Children has argued that the state's expectations for schools are too low and based too much on standardized test scores than preparation for college. Ohio's rankings of Excellent or Excellent with Distinction rankings (the equivalent of A or A+) have reportedly quadrupled during the last nine years while other measures rank Ohio schools below national averages.

Looks like Cincinnati officials were preparing for the defeat of Issue 48, as the city in October applied for $56.8 million in federal funds to restore the uptown and riverfront segments of the Cincinnati streetcar plan, which were originally defunded by Gov. John Kasich.

Chris Monzel is apparently following through with his promise to enact MacGyver-style solutions for the county's stadium deficit. Monzel and Democrat Todd Portune have promised to lower property taxes as was detailed in the original deal that allowed the burden of the stadium costs to disproportionately fall on poor and middle class people.

“I am adamantly opposed to using the (property tax rollback) to stabilize the stadium fund,” Monzel said. “It’s a promise I made to the voters and it’s a promise I will keep.”

Portune and the third member of the commission, Republican Greg Hartmann are up for election next year.

The commissioners were no more decisive in their response to a Monday deadline to decide to allow more public housing in the suburbs, risking millions of dollars in federal grant money. By refusing to even vote on the issue, commissioners avoided being sued for voting “no.”

A 30-acre section of the Mill Creek, once called "the most endangered urban river in North America," has been cleaned up and turned into a park, thanks to $2.1 million worth of work.

An Ohio charter school can't account for more than $250,000 public dollars, and the state wants it back. The total includes about $105,000 from school debit cards, about $85,000 in cash withdrawals and wire transfers and about $33,000 in checks made out to cash. Good job charter school program!

Here's some information on what Warren Buffett is up to investment-wise, because he's apparently doing things that are surprising for him.

Headline: “Newt sure can talk a lot but is he smart?” Ha.

U.S. retail sales are up again. Buy! Buy! Buy!

Players in the National Basketball Association are planning on disbanding their union and taking the labor negotiations to real court rather than playing basketball on courts this year (probably).

And ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky on Monday admitted to showering with boys but said he's not a pedophile and that they were just “horsing around.”

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> One of the judges overseeing the Occupy Cincinnati trespassing cases says there's nothing in the city charter that gives the Park Board the authority to dole out misdemeanors.
Several other municipal court judges either declined comment or said they would consider the point Stockdale makes in his letter if it is raised during the hearings.

Attorneys for the protesters said they intend to do just that. They already have asked judges to dismiss the charges on grounds the park board rules violate the free speech rights of the protesters.

They say Stockdale’s letter raises another weakness in the city’s case against their clients.

“Whether it’s a violation of the First Amendment or an over-reach by the park board, they are clearly relevant questions,” said Rob Linneman, an attorney for the protesters.
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Oakland Police arrested 25 Occupy Oakland protesters this morning and reportedly removed all the tents outside City Hall. The Oakland Tribune has a live blog covering it here.

Members of Occupy Cleveland have staged a sit-in at the soon-to-be-foreclosed home of a mother of two.

The 46 parents with vacation days to burn entered their second week of camping out in front of Fairview-Clifton German Language School in Clifton, hoping to score one of the 38 kindergarten spots for next year.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Clifton, a late-night explosion blew out the front of the Jerusalem Cafe restaurant and is being investigated by the Feds.

The Enquirer recanted Chris Seelbach's election and his efforts in repealing Article 12 back in 2004. Voters in Indianapolis and Charlotte repeatedly elected their first-ever openly gay candidates last week.

60 Minutes last night aired a report on Congressional insider trading, which is apparently legal.

Herman Cain's wife says he “totally respects women” even though that's not what all the accusers of sexual harassment are saying.

Starbucks has been charging a hidden $1.50 fee on bags of coffee less than 1 pound, but now that Massachusetts has fined it, the company says it will stop now.

JC Penny posted a third-quarter loss after high restructuring costs and low sales. Maybe it will stop making stupid commercials like this one:

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Happy Election Day! It looks like SB 5 is headed for a big defeat even though Gov. Kasich last night told a bunch of East Side Tea Partiers how cool it would be if Issue 2 passed, while a union representative told opponents of the bill that it was about to get “shoved down the throats of John Kasich and the Republicans.

The Hamilton County Administrator yesterday said “sorry homeowners, but our stadium deficit will not allow us to offer the tax credit Republicans said would make up for your part of the stadium sales tax.” Commissioners Todd Portune and Chris Monzel today said they're going to include the credit even though they don't know how yet. Hopefully they can figure it out soon so they can work on adding public housing to the suburbs before the county gets sued by the Feds.---

Cincinnati Public Schools' yearly “Occupy the Good Schools” campaign has begun, with parents setting up tents outside Fairview German Language School more than a week ahead of the first-come, first-served application date of Nov. 16. No word on whether police plan to arrest anyone for trespassing, as no local business leaders care.

Parents line up earlier and earlier every year to enroll their children for limited numbers of open seats. They pitch tents and bring Frisbees and barbecue grills. Some don't mind the process. They say it fosters a deeper commitment to the school and a stronger camaraderie among parents. But the process has long been criticized as unfair because it shuts out those who can't camp out due to work, child care or transportation constraints.

President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are looking dumb after talking shit about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of a microphone that journalists weren't supposed to be plugged into (first rule of journalism: plug into anything a president tells you not to). According to the BBC, Sarkozy said "I can't stand him any more. He's a liar” and then Obama was like, "You're sick of him. I have to deal with him every day!" And then a journalist quietly said, “Yessss.”

First he said he didn't know anything about accusations of sexual harassment, then he said he did, then he said he wasn't going to talk about the accusations anymore. Now Herman Cain says he's going to set the record straight. Make up your mind, Herman!

A federal judge yesterday blocked the implementation of a law that would have forced tobacco companies to put scary and gross images on the packages of cigarettes to warn consumers about how seriously they'll mess themselves up if they use the product. The judge cited “First Amendment rights against unconstitutionally compelled speech as a factor in his 29-page decision.

Penn State sex abuse scandal chips at Joe Paterno's Legacy.” Ya think?

OPEC says the world's CO2 emissions will rise 43 percent by 2035 if we keep using so much coal.

Justin Bieber has agreed to take a paternity test to prove he didn't get some 20-year-old pregnant. And then she might be charged with statutory rape because Bieb was only 16 when the alleged boot-knocking occurred.

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The Ohio Elections Committee dismissed a complaint against COAST for allegedly making false tweets about Issue 48, but it was only because the complaint, filed by pro-streetcar group Cincinnatians for Progress, improperly named a COAST political action as a defendant or something. Streetcar advocates say they'll refile the complaint, and COAST lawyer Chris Finney says he'll win again. (“HAHAHA!”)

Youngstown Vindicator is a cool newspaper name. It reports that Ohio Democrats walked out of a vote on the new Republican redistricting map after Republicans failed to gain enough Democrat support to pass it. Lawmakers reportedly yelled at each other, too.---

The ALCU of Ohio plans to investigate the arrest of a Toledo man who was barred from a Toledo City Council meeting for carrying a sign. The man, who was reportedly carrying a handwritten copy of the First Amendment, was denied access and then arrested outside for trying to force his way back in.

Pete Rose is apparently being sued by a Los Angeles dentist. 4192.

The crazy Texas judge who beat his 16-year-old daughter seven years ago will not face criminal charges because too much time has expired.

Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams likely would have been charged with causing injury to a child or other assault-related offenses for the 2004 beating of his then-16-year-old daughter, but the five-year statutes of limitations expired, Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe said.

"We believe that there was a criminal offense involved and that there was substantial evidence to indicate that and under normal circumstances … a charge could have been made," Jayroe said. He said the district attorney determined he couldn't bring charges, and that police would discuss the case with federal prosecutors even though he doesn't believe federal charges would apply.

Hillary Adams, now 23, posted the 8-minute clip on YouTube last week that shows her father viciously lashing her with a belt and trying to force her to bend over her bed to be beaten despite her wails and pleas to stop. The clip had received more than 2.4 million hits as of Thursday, and police began investigating Wednesday after hearing from concerned citizens.

Herman Cain has tied Mitt Romney in the latest virtual poll after a couple weeks of defending past sexual harassment allegations. Maybe because “seven of 10 Republicans surveyed in the Post-ABC poll said the controversy surrounding Cain made no difference in their choice of a candidate.”

Justin Bieber says he never met the woman accusing him of being her baby-daddy. Typical excuse, Bieber!

The National Basketball Association season won't start on time, and some players are considering decertifying their union. At least the UC Bearcats will soon be jamming it in the hoop! (Enjoy the video; please don't judge Darnell Wilks for jamming on Weber State like that — still a good jam.)

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Cincinnati has the third-highest rate of childhood poverty in the country, and The Enquirer's Mark Curnutte tells the story of an East Price Hill family and school system struggling to keep up.

Hamilton County for the fourth straight year dipped into its rainy day fund instead of instituting major cuts or raising taxes.

National non-profit teacher training program Teach For America has offered to work in Cincinnati Public Schools, possibly as early as next year. CPS has yet to commit to the partnership, noting that there are laid-off veteran teachers in the region.---

A New York Times analysis found that members of Congress miss many votes even though it's the basic function of their jobs.

Mr. (Don) Young, the second-longest-serving Republican in the House, has missed 16 percent of all votes so far in the 112th Congress, making him the member of the House most often absent, excluding those recovering from serious illness or Representatives Ron Paul of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, two Republicans who are running for president.

According to an analysis of House attendance, nearly 20 current members have missed more than 10 percent of the votes this year. Most said they were ill or were tending to sick family members. Representative Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado, missed several weeks of votes during what might have been the first paternity leave for a gay member of Congress.

Ohio is ranked seventh for student load debt among 2010 graduates, who left school with 7 percent more debt than the 2009 class.

Occupy Oakland protesters closed the Port of Oakland this morning, dragging fencing across a major entrance and blocking trucks from getting in. The longshoreman reportedly generally supported the protest, though some truckers were angered by being stuck in traffic for a while. A smaller group of protesters had gotten buck wild overnight, barricading a city block and starting a 15-foot-high fire before clashing with police.

Islamist Jihad is reportedly ready for all out war with Israel.

Apple says it will fix your iPhone 4S battery in a few weeks.

A new study thinks it was climate change that killed all the Ice-Age mammals.

And an Ohio State study says the “Freshman 15” is just a myth.

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Occupy Cincinnati protesters have asked a judge to throw all charges against them, arguing that the park rules are unconstitutional which means their punishments shouldn't exist. The cases are expected to be delayed until the constitutional argument is figured out.

Two county commissioners say they want to help the county's Job and Family Services agency after an Enquirer analysis detailed massive funding, technology and staffing shortages that might have contributed to the deaths of three toddlers during the last 10 months. Republican Greg Hartmann and Democrat Todd Portune have suggested the agency use money from a reserve set aside for an expected bookkeeping penalty while they vote on a budget that will stay the same as last year.---

Interstate-471 is slated for a complete overhaul, as long as COAST doesn't try to block its $40-$50 million price tag (right?!?). Northern Kentucky residents have requested noise-reducing pavement after being surprised at how loud thousands of cars driving down an eight-lane highway can be.

State Republicans believe they're close to appeasing black Democrats enough to pass the new congressional map, which will still have 12 solidly Republican districts.

Hermain Cain apparently has remembered allegations of sexual harassment after initially denying they ever occurred. Cain yesterday told an audience that he was unaware of any financial deal given to his accuser and then told Fox News that it was two to three months salary.

"All day today, as I've been getting beat up, I've been trying to recall what some of those things were and haven't been able to recall a lot of them because that's why they got dismissed," he said, referring to the questions thrown his way after Politico broke the story Sunday.

"But here's the one incident that I recall as the day has gone on. She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying, Oh -- and I was standing close to her. And I made a gesture, You're the same height as my wife, and brought my hand -- didn't touch her -- up to my chin and said, You're the same height of my wife because my wife comes up to my chin, my wife of 43 years," he told Van Susteren.

Yoga will make your back feel better.

Uh oh, Apple's iPhone 4S battery is dying too quickly. At least schools will have more iPads than computers in five years.

A new study details how soft drink makers market their fizzy corn syrup to kids, with blacks and Hispanics the major targets.

Here's a video of a Nashville Scene reporter being arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest while attempting to explain to police that he's a member of the media.

What you will hear, very clearly, is a trooper telling another officer to book Meador for resisting arrest. You will also hear, very clearly, audio evidence of Meador's contention: that he was simply doing his job as a reporter and tried to get off the plaza to comply with the law — but the troopers wouldn't let him off that easy.

What you will not hear, in any form or fashion, is the slightest mention of public intoxication — the specious charge against Meador the THP has broadcast to the world. If that charge was made up later to discredit Meador — or even more appallingly, to divert attention from what a Metro Night Court judge last night told officers was a blatantly unconstitutional overstepping of government and police authority — nobody who cares about their First Amendment freedoms should sleep in Tennessee tonight.

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The Cincinnati Enquirer announced its endorsements over the weekend, and four incumbents were left thinking, “What the [expletive] did I do?!?” The current councilpersons who the paper decided not to endorse are Republican Wayne Lippert, who was appointed in March, and Republicans Leslie Ghiz and Charlie Winburn, along with Democrat Cecil Thomas.

Ghiz was described as having a penchant for starting arguments that have been “personal, petty and nasty,” while Winburn's “unpredictable behavior” was noted along with Thomas' problems fully grasping budget and finance issues.---

Apparently the international businesses located in Cincinnati are having problems with our region's lack of bilingual speakers. Chiquita has reportedly cited the issue as one of the factors causing it to consider moving its headquarters to Charlotte or Florida.

A really good story by The Enquirer's Sharon Coolidge in response to last week's death of a toddler after intervention from Hamilton County social workers. It was the third such death in the last 10 months:

No one is saying Job and Family Services' budget woes led to those deaths, but an Enquirer examination of the agency - based on ride-alongs with social workers, public records, and an interview with the agency's boss - revealed an overloaded system that lacks oversight, support staff and the technology that workers need to do their jobs.

Even before Damarcus' death, outsiders and the agency's workers acknowledged that children's safety could be at risk.

President Obama is calling on the FDA to curb drug shortages. Come on, Obama! Give us the drugs!

Occupy Oakland is working on a general strike across the city on Wednesday and plans to march to the Port of Oakland to shut down the nation's fifth busiest port before the 7 p.m. night shift.

More Occupy news from Sunday, according to USA Today:

• Police in Portland, Ore., arrested about 30 anti-Wall Street protesters, dragging and carrying them to waiting vans, after they refused to leave a park in an affluent district.

• In Nashville, about 50 demonstrators chanted "Whose plaza? Our plaza!" in defiance of an official curfew. As people danced to keep warm on a chilly Sunday morning, police monitored the activity but made no arrests.

State troopers began enforcing the curfew at Legislative Plaza on Thursday night, three weeks after protests began.

• In Phoenix, city officials said the demonstrations cost the city $204,162 in overtime for police, firefighters, parks employees and prosecutors since the protests began Oct. 14. Councilman Sal DiCiccio suggested charging protesters for the costs.

Herman Cain is facing some issues that might be even bigger than his blatant disdain for poor people: “POLITICO reported Sunday night that Cain was accused of inappropriate behavior by multiple employees at the National Restaurant Association; the trade group reached financial settlements with several women who also left their jobs.”

Cain is now being asked directly about his past “inappropriate behaviors” by women's rights organizations, including right-leaning women's group Concerned Women for America.

From The Christian Science Monitor: “As world welcomes '7 billionth' baby, UN says empowering women is key to stability: The United Nations estimates that the world population will top 7 billion today. Key to stabilizing that rapid growth – and creating a sustainable future – is closing the gender gap and empowering women.”

Macy's plans to open at midnight on Black Friday, its earliest ever start time.

Google is going to give TV a second try.

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is taking heat from all over the place after the Detroit Lions beat the crap out of the Broncos and then called the starting of Tebow “embarrassing.” Here's an awesome site mocking the little prayer Tebow does on the sidelines during games: tebowing.com.

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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. ---

Members of Occupy Cincinnati held a candlelight vigil last night at Piatt Park to honor a Marine injured in the recent clash between police and protesters in Oakland. Sixteen people reportedly showed up at Piatt Park at 10 p.m. and were granted by police a few minutes to speak on Scott Olsen's behalf. According to The Enquirer, the group then marched around the park and to the justice center.

The Ohio Supreme Court said “sorry Democrats, y'all screwed” today in ruling that it will not restart the 90-day clock for Dems to collect the 231,000 signatures needed to put the crazy new Republican Congressional map in front of voters.

And if that wasn't bad enough, Consumer Reports says a mislabeled seafood scam has affected millions of people.

The world's largest independent product-testing organization Friday will reveal that 22% of the seafood it tested at supermarkets, restaurants, fish markets, gourmet stores and big-box stores in three states was either mislabeled, incompletely labeled or misidentified by store or restaurant employees.

"Consumers are getting ripped off when they buy fish," says Kim Kleman, editor-in-chief of Consumer Reports.

This is no small matter. Americans spent $80.2 billion on seafood last year, up $5 billion from 2009. Mislabeling can be a serious health issue. Some consumers have allergies to specific types of fish, and pregnant women can end up eating fish they shouldn't — with high concentrations of mercury. Others trying to purchase more sustainable fish are being sold cheaper, unsustainable species.

Apparently Rick Perry might not take part in all of the Republican debates. Wonder why.

Pundits are wondering how Herman Cain continues to gain support.

Chevron profit doubles as oil prices rise” -- Nice work, Chevron!

Charlie Sheen's new sitcom Anger Management has been picked up by FX and will air in 2012.

The St. Louis Cardinals won a crazy Game 6 over the Texas Rangers to force a deciding Game 7 tonight.

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