CityBeat Blogs - Healthcare Reform http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-34-77.html <![CDATA[Obama Makes Plea to Cincinnati Voters at UC Appearance]]>

Just two days before the general election, President Barack Obama made his case to 13,500 people packed into the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena and 2,000 in an overflow room.

Obama cast the race in comparisons to the previous two presidents, comparing his policies with those of Bill Clinton and equating Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s plans with those of George W. Bush.

“So stay with me then,” Obama said. “We’ve got ideas that work, and we’ve got ideas that don’t work, so the choice should be pretty clear.”

With less than 48 hours before polls open on Election Day, a Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll had Obama and his Republican challenger locked in a statistical dead heat. However the same poll showed Obama with a slight edge in Ohio, up 48 percent to Romney’s 44 percent.

Obama touted his first-term accomplishments, including ending the war in Iraq; ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the policy preventing homosexuals from serving openly in the military; and overhauling the country’s health care system.

“It’s not just about policy, it’s about trust. Who do you trust?” the president asked, flanked by a sea of supporters waving blue “Forward” signs.

“Look, Ohio, you know me by now. You may not agree with every decision I’ve made, Michelle doesn’t always agree with me. You may be frustrated with the pace of change … but I say what I mean and I mean what I say.”

Nonpartisan political fact-checker PolitiFact on Nov. 3 took a look at Obama’s record on keeping his campaign promises from 2008. The group rated 38 percent as Kept, 16 percent Compromised and 17 percent Broken.

Twice during his speech the president was interrupted by audience members shouting from the stands.

The first was a man on the balcony level of the arena interrupted, shouting anti-abortion slogans and waving a sign showing mutilated fetuses before being dragged out by about five law enforcement officers. Both were drowned out by supporters.

Music legend Stevie Wonder opened the rally for Obama, playing a number of his hits, opening up “Superstition” with a refrain of “on the right track, can’t go back.”

Wonder discussed abortion policy between songs and urged Ohioans who had not already voted to do so either early on Monday or Election Day.

So far, 28 percent of Ohio voters have already cast their ballots. CNN reports that those votes favor Obama 63/35, according to public polling.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Romney campaigned before an estimated crowd of 25,000 in Pennsylvania, according to the Secret Service.

Political rallies always draw a number of the loyal opposition, and this late-evening appearance was no different. Only five people protested near the line to the arena, but what they lacked in number they attempted to make up for in message.

One large sign read “Obama: 666” and another “Obama is the Beast,” alluding to a character in the Christian Biblical book of Revelation.

A man who only identified himself as Brooks carried a large anti-abortion sign that showed pieces of a dismembered fetus.

“I’m here to stand up for the innocent blood that has been shed in this land to the tune of 56 million,” Brooks said. He said he was opposed to the politics of both major party presidential candidates.

“I pray for Barack Obama because his beliefs are of the Antichrist, just like Romney,” Brooks said.

Brooks said his message for those in line was for them to vote for Jesus — not on the ballot, but through their actions and through candidates that espoused Christian beliefs.

“Obama is not going to change things, Romney is not going to change things,” Brooks said. “In the last days there are many Christs, but not the Christ of the Bible. The Christ of the Bible is not for killing children, is not for homosexual marriage.”

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

Vice President Joe Biden was in town over the weekend. During the stop, he outlined “fundamental differences” between President Barack Obama’s campaign and Mitt Romney’s campaign. Specifically, he criticized the Romney-Ryan plan of turning Medicare into a voucher system. The visit also unveiled a new fake, pointless controversy in the media when a female biker almost sat on Biden’s lap.

Secretary of State Jon Husted backed down on telling county boards of elections to not begin implementing in-person early voting for the weekend and Monday before Election Day. On Aug. 31, a federal judge ruled Husted must enact in-person early voting for the extra days. Following the case, Husted sent out Directive 2012-40 ordering county boards of elections to not enact in-person early voting rules until the court case granting extra hours was appealed and re-ruled on. The judge responded to the directive by asking Husted to explain himself in court. But Husted backed down by sending out Directive 2012-42, which rescinds Directive 2012-40. Republicans have consistently attempted to block more voting hours in the past few months, citing racial politics and costs.

A CityBeat analysis found cuts in the public sector are partly to blame for the unemployment rate.

The identity of the man behind a super PAC supporting senatorial candidate Josh Mandel, lying extraordinaire, has been revealed. The group is Government Integrity Fund, and it is headed by Columbus lobbyist Tom Norris. The group also employs former Mandel aide Joe Ritter.

Criminals might face stiffer penalties for gun-related violations due to a new Butler County policy. Critics say the policy will cost the taxpayer more money.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreclosure sale notices cannot be distributed via websites. The court said institutions have to notify customers more directly.

The Enquirer shined some light into its paywall model in an editorial by CEO Margaret Buchanan yesterday. In the editorial, Buchanan acknowledges the newspaper’s duty to “watchdog journalism” to keep organizations and people in check.

Cincinnati web designers were quite busy in 2011.

The Ohio Board of Education is meeting today and tomorrow. The agenda seems pretty packed, but it’s possible the board could release more details about the search for state superintendent at the meeting. The board will consider how to transition into the third grade reading guarantee recently passed into law by the Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich.

An ammonia leak caused an evacuation at a food processing plant yesterday.

A pizza owner in Florida really loves Obama. Florida is considered a major swing state in the presidential election. However, the race may not be as close as the media’s fairness machine seeks to make it seem. Recent aggregate polling at FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics is moving heavily in Obama’s direction in swing states and the national level. That could be attributed to volatility caused by political conventions, but the trend favoring Obama has been consistent for some time now.

The Romney campaign flip-flopped on Obamacare only to flip-flop back in a matter of hours. The campaign has been repeatedly criticized for lacking substance — much to the apathy of both Romney and Ryan — and this does not help.

Popular Science scientifically analyzed why former President Bill Clinton is so good at giving speeches.

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<![CDATA[Commissioners Vote to Keep Senior, Mental Health Levies Flat]]>

Faced with the choice of raising property taxes or funding senior and mental health services at their current levels, the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners voted on Wednesday to approve a ballot measure that would effectively cut tens of millions of dollars from those services if passed by voters.

“It seems wrongheaded for us to ask citizens to pay more in taxes when their homes are worth less, when costs have gone up in their households and when in many cases their paychecks are down,” said Board President Greg Hartmann. “So we need to hold the line on those property taxes.”

The tax rate would be held at the levels passed by voters in 2008, which would be an effective reduction due to declining property values. If Hamilton County voters approve the levies in November, senior services would see a $7 million reduction in funding over the next five years — down to $97 million from $104 million — while funding for mental health services would fall $17 million from $187 million to $170 million, Hartmann said.

The money funds services such as meals on wheels, in-home care for seniors, counseling and drug and alcohol addiction and treatment services.

The board’s sole Democrat — Commissioner Todd Portune — made the symbolic gesture of submitting an alternate proposal which would have funded services at the levels providers had requested, but it failed without support from either of the board’s two Republican members.

Portune’s resolution would have increased property taxes by $5 for every $100,000 the property was worth. He said voters should be given the option to shoulder the additional tax burden. He later voted in favor of Hartmann’s resolution, saying the worst thing that could happen would be for voters to approve no levy.

Commissioners also approved a resolution to formally review all healthcare services provided by the county in hopes of saving money by eliminating any that were duplicated at the federal level under the healthcare overhaul.

Hartmann said he didn’t come to the decision to keep the levies at the current rate lightly and pledged to work with the recipients to manage the reduction.

Many of those providers appeared at three public hearings held in the last month and with near unanimity asked commissioners to approve the increased rates — which would have kept funding even by countering the money lost from decreased property values.

Patrick Tribbe, president and CEO of the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, didn’t outline specific cuts the agency would undertake, but told reporters after the commissioners’ vote that he would spend the next six months planning for the start of the next fiscal year, when the cuts would take effect.

The Tax Levy Review Committee had recommended that the property tax rate remain flat instead of increasing. It suggested that service providers reduce their administrative costs and find areas to increase efficiency. 

Many of the providers who spoke at the public hearings said they had already cut administrative costs about as deeply as they could and had very little room for to cut further.

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

Northern Ohio counties are starting to receive $19 million from Cleveland casino tax revenue. Cincinnati and Hamilton can expect a similar revenue boon next year when the Horseshoe Casino opens on Feb. 2013. Of course, the casino (and its revenue) could have been coming this year, but Gov. John Kasich blocked construction last year to protect his tax plan.  

The Enquirer over the weekend did an investigative piece on ER “superusers” — individuals who can sometimes cost the health-care system as much as $1.3 million due to a lack of health insurance. Hospitals have said that this "charity care" could be curtailed by Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and save the state money, but Kasich claims the Medicaid expansion is too costly for the state. 

The Ohio Board of Regents is considering banning smoking on all public campuses. Smoking is already banned in buildings, but health concerns may lead to a bigger ban.

Toledo Public Schools used “scrubbing” to improve report card scores. The Board of Education claimed such cheating could be a “state-level problem.”


Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and his Republican opponent Josh Mandel have settled on a day to debate: Oct. 15.


Former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was inducted into the Hall of Fame Sunday. Here’s CityBeat’s C. Trent Rosecrans’ column offering current players’ thoughts on Larkin.


The Great Ohio River Swim was postponed Saturday because of high bacteria levels. Not very surprising.


In science news, a European agency became the first in the Western world Friday to approve a gene therapy treatment for a rare genetic disease.



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<![CDATA[Children’s Defense Fund to Host Conference in Cincinnati]]> The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) will host a national conference in Cincinnati July 22-25 with a focus on child poverty, education and health care. It’s the first national conference hosted by CDF since 2003.

Child poverty and its causes will be one of the main focuses of the conference. Nearly 15 million children in the United States, or 21 percent of all children, live in families below the federal poverty level, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP). A study from the NCCP found Cincinnati has the third-worst children’s poverty rate at 48 percent. Only Detroit and Cleveland were worse, with 53.6 percent and 52.6 percent, respectively.

“We’re going to look at all the range of policies and practices and the impact of those and what we can do,” CDF President Marian Wright told WVXU today. “It’s going to be a real teach-in on what we must do to move forward and stop the move backwards, which I think we’re in the midst of.”

The conference will also look at education issues. It seeks to shine light on the issue of the achievement gap between the poor and non-poor and racial disparities. A 2011 analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics found black and Hispanic students are behind their white peers by 20 test-points in math and reading tests provided by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The difference equates to about two grade levels.

The conference will also look at child health care services, zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools and tools and programs that can be used to improve the lives of struggling children.

Anyone is free to register at CDF’s website to join the conference. Experts, doctors and activists will also be there. 

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

During a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado last night, a gunman walked into a theater, threw tear gas, and opened fire. Police identified James Holmes as the suspect in the shooting. Twelve were killed and at least 50 were wounded. On Twitter, one witness lamented that “there is no dark knight, no hero, that could save us from anything like this.”

Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig will learn later this summer if he'll be required to undergo additional training and take the state police exam. Craig and his attorneys yesterday told the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission about his 36 years of policing experience.

This summer, Ohio families will receive health insurance rebates as part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The average family will receive $139. In total, Ohioans will be getting back $11.3 million. 

Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent in June, down from 7.3 percent in May. That’s the lowest unemployment has been since 2008.

An Ohio Supreme Court task force approved changes that will help prevent racial bias in death penalty cases.

Gov. John Kasich can’t get even his own people to agree with him on his tax plan. An Ohio Tea Party group came out against the plan yesterday.

Speaker of the House John Boehner called the issue of Mitt Romney’s tax returns a “sideshow” and said that Americans don’t care about it. But Romney apparently disagreed with Boehner’s perspective in 1994 when he asked then-Senator Ted Kennedy to release his tax returns.

First giant mirrors, then volcanoes. Now, scientists want to use plankton to help fight global warming.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Leaders of the nonprofit Music Hall Revitalization Co. seemed to have compromised last week when the group proposed a 99-year lease of Music Hall as part of a $165 million renovation. But the lease included a clause that would allow the group to acquire the historic building for $1 at the end of the lease or at the end of a second 99-year lease. The permanent sale of the building is what held up the initial plan to turn the renovation over to the nonprofit group, which says its donors will not offer the financial support without the city turning over ownership. Mayor Mark Mallory told The Enquirer that the proposal will not be approved. “I don’t care if it’s 99 years, 198 years, 500 years or 1,000 years, the city should always retain ownership,” Mallory said. “That should never change.”

The George W. Bush Presidential Library denied a request by a Democratic super PAC for documents related to Sen. Rob Portman’s work in the George W. Bush administration. The library says it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and that all are welcome to see the documents in 2014. The super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, has been researching GOP candidates as Mitt Romney moves closer to choosing a running mate.

“When you look at the roster of V.P. candidates, each of them is significantly flawed,” American Bridge senior adviser Ty Matsdorf said in a statement. “For Portman, it is his calamitous record on fiscal issues while working at the Bush White House. It shouldn’t be a shock that he is going to want to keep that under wraps for as long as possible, but unfortunately it’s pretty hard to hide a record as terrible as that.”

CNN is live blogging from the Supreme Court to see if there are any rulings on the health care law or immigration.

Gay pride celebrations took place in New York, Chicago and San Francisco over the weekend, and Obama organizers were there to recruit volunteers.

Spain formally asked for European aid for its banks.

The sea level is rising faster along the Atlantic Coast than other places in the world.

Facebook has created a new “find friends nearby” function that will allow users to see friends and people they don’t know who are at events or social gatherings. From some Facebook engineer’s comments on the story:

I built Find Friends Nearby with another engineer for a hackathon project. While it was originally called ‘Friendshake’, we settled on ‘Find Friends Nearby’ for launch (the URL was a little bit of a homage to the previous iteration).

For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you’re out with a group of people whom you’ve recently met and want to stay in contact with. Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction.

HBO’s The Newsroom premiered last night, and this guy at the Toronto Star said it kind of sucked while the New York Times says CNN could learn something from it.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> A federal investigation into a January construction accident at the Horseshoe Casino site is now completed and the fines in the case have been reduced. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration originally imposed $108,000 in fines, but has since cut that amount in half. Thirteen workers were injured when a concrete floor they were pouring gave way. Four firms were cited in the mishap.

An article in a journal published by the American Heart Association states that a review of eight cases indicates the use of electrical stun guns by police can cause cardiac arrest. Douglas Zipes, a physiologist with Indiana University, wrote the article that examines the effects of the Taser X26 ECD. At least three people have died locally in recent years after being shocked by Tasers, most recently a North College Hill man who was shocked at the University of Cincinnati last August. Police in Colerain Township and Fairfax have stopped using stun guns, but Cincinnati police officers still use the devices.

A single woman who used artificial insemination to become pregnant has filed a federal lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after she was fired from her teaching job at a Catholic school. Christa Dias, who was fired in October 2010, isn't Catholic and says she wasn't aware of the church's teachings against the procedure. She taught computer classes and had no ministerial duties at the school. Employment law experts expect the issues involved in the case will attract national attention and could set a precedent.

Nine local schools will receive part of a $21 million federal grant given to the state of Ohio to help improve low-performing schools. The Cincinnati facilities that will get aid are Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, Woodward Career Tech High, South Avondale Elementary, William H. Taft Elementary, George Hays-Jennie Porter, Schroder Paideia High, West Side Montessori High, Oyler and the district's Virtual High School. Local school officials say the grant money has been used the past two years to take all but one school out of the “academic emergency” classification.

Cincinnati City Council could vote as soon as Wednesday on a proposal to extend insurance benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees. A council committee voted 8-0 Monday to give tentative approval to the plan, which was lobbied for by Councilman Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay man to serve on the group. The benefit is expected to cost the city between $300,000 and $540,000 annually, depending on how many claims are filed. Councilman Charlie Winburn, a Republican and evangelical Christian minister, abstained from the vote.

In news elsewhere, documents seized from Osama bin Laden's hideaway in Pakistan after his death reveal the terrorist leader was worried about al-Qaeda's image. The records show bin Laden trying to reassert control over factions of loosely affiliated jihadists from Yemen to Somalia, as well as independent actors whom he believed had sullied al-Qaeda’s reputation and muddied its central message. Bin Laden was killed in a raid by Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011.

British lawmakers said today that global media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is unfit to run a major company and should take responsibility for a culture of illegal telephone hacking that has shaken News Corp. A parliamentary committee said Murdoch and his son, James, showed "willful blindness" about the scale of phone-hacking that first emerged at Murdoch's News of the World newspaper. In the United States, Murdoch owns the Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.

President Obama expressed support Monday for the blind Chinese dissident at the center of a standoff between Beijing and Washington. Speaking at a press conference, Obama said he wouldn't address specifics of the Chen Guangcheng case, but then went on to urge Beijing to address its human rights record. It's believed that Chen is hiding at the U.S. Embassy in China, but officials have declined to confirm the speculation or whether negotiations are underway.

Although most Republican politicians are united in their opposition to federal health-care reforms known as “ObamaCare,” they disagree on what should replace it, Politico reports. Even after three years of railing against Obama’s plan, Republicans haven't coalesced around a full replacement plan. Although most Republicans support the health law’s requirement that insurance companies accept all applicants, the main replacement plan put forward by the GOP ignores that idea.

Violence continues in Syria between government forces and rebels despite both sides agreeing to a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire. A human a rights group reported 10 civilians were killed in an army mortar attack and 12 soldiers killed in a firefight with rebel gunmen today as U.N. monitors tried to broker an end to the fighting, which has lasted more than a year.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Cincinnati City Council will soon create a working group of leaders from six neighborhoods near the planned downtown casino site. Once organized, the working group will examine ways to maximize the benefits from the visitors, jobs and tax revenue the new casino will bring, while dealing with any problems like possible increases in crime. The neighborhoods involved in the effort are downtown, Pendleton, Mount Adams, Mount Auburn, Over-the-Rhine and Walnut Hills.

A winner has finally been announced in a disputed judicial election from November 2010. Once a count of provisional ballots was completed Friday, Democrat Tracie Hunter was declared the victor over Republican John Williams by 71 votes. Because of the close margin, however, a recount likely will be held. Hunter seemingly lost the 2010 election by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast by county voters, but 286 ballots weren't counted because they were cast by people who showed up to vote at the correct polling place but were misdirected by poll workers and voted at the wrong precinct table. Hunter filed a lawsuit, and two federal courts ultimately agreed the ballots should be tallied.

Since taking office in October, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler has cracked down on bail bond agents who owe money to the court system. During the past seven months, Winkler has collected $1.3 million of the $2.1 million owed by bond agents and their insurance companies. Since the early 1990s, several previous clerks of courts allowed some bond agents not to pay bonds forfeited when their clients didn’t appear in court, resulting in a large amount of forfeited but uncollected bonds owed to the governments involved in the cases.

The results of an investigation into the recent actions of Villa Hills Mayor Mike Martin will be released at a meeting tonight. Martin is accused of retaliatory behavior and comments, misuse of city facilities, violating the Open Records Act and burning city documents, according to WCPO-TV (Channel 9). Several council members have requested that Martin resign, but he has refused.

Motorists that use the Norwood Lateral to access southbound Interstate 75 will have to find a new route for the next 45 days. Beginning today, work to replace a bridge deck will require a closure of the ramp from westbound Norwood Lateral to southbound I-75. Traffic will be detoured to northbound I-75 to Paddock Road to southbound I-75.

In news elsewhere, the CIA is ignoring the Pakistani government's directives and has resumed the use of automated drone attacks within that nation's borders. The drone strikes killed four al-Qaeda-linked fighters Sunday in a girls’ school they had taken over in the North Waziristan tribal area. Some politicians said the drone strikes might set back negotiations over the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that Pakistan blocked five months ago.

If the U.S. Supreme Court rules to strike down the federal government's mandate that individuals must buy health insurance, some observers say state governments might have to enact their own versions or pass other measures to draw healthy people into the system so their insurance markets remain viable. Ironically, lawmakers in the states opposing the federal mandate could face pressure from insurance companies to pass state mandates if the high court doesn’t also strike down the rules preventing them from charging more or denying coverage to sicker people.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said negotiations with Iran should be given time to work before launching a military strike against the nation's nuclear facilities. Olmert, who was prime minister from 2006-09, was in office when a suspected nuclear site in Syria was attacked in five years ago.

A few days after the United Kingdom entered into a double-dip recession, Spain has followed suit. The recession, defined as two months of “negative growth,” was blamed on weak domestic demand that was only partially compensated by exports, according to data from the National Statistics Institute. It was the first official estimate to confirm a recession. Gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist under house arrest in China, has escaped his captors and gone into hiding. A dissident who met Chen in Beijing after his escape said Chen scaled a wall by night to escape from his village in eastern China, past guards and surveillance equipment. A human rights group says Chen has taken shelter in the U.S. embassy, but American officials have not publicly confirmed the reports.
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<![CDATA[Republican 'War on Women' Marches Forward]]>

Jobs, jobs, jobs. That is what Republican House Speaker John Boehner said would be priority No. 1 for Republicans after sweeping the House of Representatives and many state legislatures in 2010. This, Republicans said, was why they were elected: People wanted to see changes in the economy fast.

But, apparently, there was one other priority.

Almost immediately after coming into office in 2011, Virginia Republicans set the national stage for vital women’s health issues. House Bill 1 — the first bill Virginia Republicans chose to take on — was a personhood bill, a bill that define life beginning at conception. Not only would the bill have banned abortion, it would also have banned the birth control pill, which sometimes prevents birth by stopping the implantation of a fertilized egg.

An impartial observer might wonder why a personhood bill would be a top Republican priority. After all, the same election that put all these Republicans in power also had a personhood bill overwhelmingly rejected in Mississippi — a state so socially conservative that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans want to make interracial marriage illegal, according to a recent poll from Public Policy Polling.

Nonetheless, this was the issue Virginia Republicans decided to give serious attention. In an economy with a 9 percent unemployment rate at the time, this was the most important issue to Virginia Republicans.

Ohio wasn’t much luckier with its crop of Republicans. Five months after inauguration, the Ohio House passed its “heartbeat” bill, or H.B. 125. To this day, it’s the most radical anti-abortion bill in the country. Not only would it ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, but the bill makes no exceptions for rape, incest or life-threatening circumstances.

Ohio and Virginia were not alone. Republicans were pushing anti-abortion, anti-contraception bills all around the nation. Pennsylvania, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas all made national headlines with their own bills. In more than 20 states, bills have been introduced to restrict insurance coverage of abortions, according to ABC News. At the federal level, Republicans have made funding for Planned Parenthood a top issue time and time again, and insurance companies covering contraception recently became such a big issue that the White House had to step in.

So much for keeping the government out of health care. The same political party that clamored for small government now couldn’t wait to regulate women’s health care. Apparently, the economy is too much for the government to handle, but every woman’s uterus is fair game.

There has been some backlash. After Virginia tried to pass a bill that would force doctors to give patients seeking abortion a transvaginal ultrasound, women’s health advocates in states across the nation organized protests, leading to governors and state legislatures beginning to back down in their rhetoric. Even Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who originally supported the transvaginal ultrasound bill, has been downplaying his involvement in Virginia’s anti-abortion, anti-contraception bills.

Now, Mitt Romney, the likely GOP nominee for president, is facing some of the backlash. In a recent Gallup poll, women came out severely against Romney. In the category of women under 50, Obama held 60 percent of voters, while Romney held only 30 percent. That’s right, Obama now leads with women under 50 by a two-to-one margin.

But while that may stop some rhetoric, the bills and laws are still coming forward. The Ohio heartbeat bill is still being pushed by some Republicans in the Ohio Senate, and a personhood initiative could show up in Ohio’s 2012 ballot after a stamp of approval from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Mississippi also plans to reintroduce its personhood initiative in the 2012 ballot, and other states are beginning to pass around petitions for their own initiatives as well.

In the end, one is left to wonder what could stop social conservatives. Public backlash and poor polling don’t seem to be enough to stop the Republican war on women, and in some cases it might have actually emboldened them.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Here they come again: the pigs, that is. Artists around Cincinnati are putting the finishing touches on another round of decorated fiberglass pigs that will be unveiled in May as part of the next Big Pig Gig. Co-sponsored by ArtWorks and C-Change, the event is modeled after the one held from May to October 2000 when local artists and schools decorated more than 400 statues and installed them throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The pigs eventually were auctioned off, raising money for area nonprofit groups. This year's pigs will debut at the Flying Pig Marathon in May and go on full display during the World Choir Games in July. The theme is the city's architecture, or as organizers call it, "pork-itecture."

A decision is expected today in a lawsuit to stop a $12 million renovation project at the Anna Louise Inn. Western & Southern Financial Group wants to purchase the land on Lytle Street where the battered women's shelter is located and build upscale condominiums there. Union Bethel, the group that owns the shelter, have said they feel bullied by the powerful corporation.

Gov. John Kasich is an odd man, so it should be no surprise that some items in his recent state budget proposal also are downright bizarre. They include reclassifying bottled water as a food so consumers no longer have to pay sales tax on it, and repealing a 2006 regulation that required all Ohio employers to have applicants fill out a form attesting that they weren't affiliated with any terrorist organizations. (Ahh, the early 2000s. Good times.)

Trustees at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College have authorized bids to construct two 10-unit hangars at its Cincinnati West Airport in Harrison. The new structures would be built next to existing hangars, which house 22 planes and are leased to capacity.

Longtime Reds sportscaster Thom Brennaman assessed the team's prospects for the upcoming season from its spring training camp in Goodyear, Ariz. The interview can be found at the website for WNKU (89.7 FM).

In news elsewhere, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich appears to have conceded that he cannot win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to nab the party's nomination. The ex-House Speaker from Georgia is reducing his campaign schedule, laying off about one-third of his cash-strapped campaign’s staff and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a “big-choice convention” strategy. Gingrich will now focus on winning in a contested party convention scenario in Tampa, Fla., when the party meets there in late August.

If you like the fact that an insurance can't drop you for a preexisting condition under President Obama's health-care reform law, or that a company can't impose a limit on paying the cost of your medical care, then you'd better hope the Supreme Court upholds it. That's because Obama and Congress have few contingency plans about what to do if the high court strikes down the mandatory insurance requirement.

A dispute is brewing in Israel over plans to prevent the Canaan, an ancient breed of dog mentioned in the Bible, from going extinct. In recent decades, many Canaan dogs were destroyed in rabies eradication programs, and now only a few hundred subsist in the Negev desert. But the Israeli government is threatening to close the operation that has been helping preserve the breed by collecting rare specimens in the desert, breeding them and shipping their offspring to kennels around the globe.

Syria's tentative acceptance of a United Nations-backed plan to end the nation's violent uprising has triggered skeptical responses from U.S. and British officials, amid concern that President Bashar al-Assad is trying to buy time and divide his opponents.

Neighbors of the west African nation of Mali have threatened to use economic sanctions and expressed a readiness to use military force to dislodge those behind last week's coup, urging them to quickly hand back power to civilian rulers. A summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has sent a team of diplomats to confront the coup leaders in coming days. Meanwhile, the United States has cut off aid to Mali in protest.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> A crowd estimated at close to 1,500 people attended a rally Monday evening at downtown's Fountain Square to express outrage that the alleged shooter of an unarmed teenager in Sanford, Fla., hasn't been arrested. The Feb. 26 killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, has sparked widespread outrage, but some of the marchers at the Cincinnati rally said it's a time to remember all victims of violent crimes. The Rev. Peterson Mingo, who's lost five relatives to violence, urged attendees to take non-violent action. "The same thing can happen to either one of you, someone you know, family or friends,” Mingo said. “And it doesn't matter the color of your skin. We have all the same rights."

Meanwhile, details about the shooter's account of the incident were leaked to a Florida newspaper near Sanford. Police reports indicate George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin, told police the teenager punched him in the nose and tackled him, bashing his head into the ground. That's when Zimmerman shot Martin at point blank range in the chest, the reports said. The reports state that Zimmerman was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. Some — but not all — of the witnesses to the incident have corroborated this version of events.

Neighborhood activists in Avondale, where 11 murders occurred last year, will be the first in the nation to try a new anti-violence program that uses a relatively simple approach. The Moral Voice program involves using “people of influence” in the lives of criminals to speak to them, encourage them to stop shooting and selling drugs, and offer help to get their lives back on track. It's unclear how this differs from the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), which uses a similar approach.

Some area Tea Party groups have taken umbrage at letters they've received from the IRS. The agency has sent questionnaires to various groups, including the Liberty Township Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council, seeking information about their political activities because they've applied for tax-exempt status. But some groups think the questions are too intrusive and constitute harassment. A University of Notre Dame law professor, however, said the IRS inquiries do not seem overly intrusive or unusual.

The Great Recession hit Ohio harder than just about every other state in terms of private-sector job loss. Only three states lost more private-sector jobs than Ohio during the last four years, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Buckeye State lost 266,300 private-sector jobs between 2008-12, leaving it with about 4.36 million positions.

A longtime West Side fixture has died. Demetrios Christos James Kostopoulo, or just “Jim” to his many friends and acquaintances, recently died at age 74 while working at his popular restaurant, Delhi Chili. A Greek immigrant, Kostopoulo came to the United States in 1956. He opened his eatery in 1963 and would work 12-day shifts before taking time off, his daughter said.

In news elsewhere, the impact of the individual mandate in President Obama's health-care reform law is being vastly overstated, some economists say. Even as the Supreme Court hears arguments about the law's constitutionality, analysts note that most Americans already have coverage that satisfies the mandate. For the remainder, the law would create subsidies that would help pay for coverage. The mandate most likely will affect about 25 million people when it takes effect in 2014 — many of whom are younger, healthier people who were taking the risk of going without health insurance. (That's probably you, dear CityBeat reader.)

Syria has reportedly accepted a ceasefire plan drawn up by Kofi Annan, a special envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League. Annan's spokesman confirmed that the government had accepted the six-point peace plan, which the U.N. Security Council has endorsed. Annan said it dealt with "political discussions, withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, humanitarian assistance being allowed in unimpeded, (and) release of prisoners,” although few details were available. Syria has waged a violent crackdown against anti-government protestors for more than 12 months.

A strong earthquake shook northern Japan today, but no damage was reported and there was no risk of a tsunami. The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a 6.4 preliminary magnitude. There may be a small change in sea levels, the agency said, but it didn't issue any tsunami warnings.

There was a close call in space over the weekend.  A leftover piece of an old Russian satellite forced six astronauts on the International Space Station to take shelter in a pair of lifeboat-like space capsules Saturday, but passed harmlessly by the outpost to the crew's relief. The space junk was spotted too late to move the orbiting laboratory out of the way and flew as close as 6.8 miles when it zoomed by, NASA officials said. Where's Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and those other Armageddon space cowboys when you need them?
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Supporters of low income housing programs are criticizing a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood). Chabot's proposal would impose restrictions on people who use the federal Section 8 housing program, which provides vouchers to help poor people pay their rent. Among his changes, people only would be able to use the program for five years. In Cincinnati, however, 53 percent of clients already leave the program within five years. Of the 47 percent who remain, many of them have problems like mental health issues and likely would become homeless and more expensive to deal with for the government, a housing advocate told The Enquirer.

To prepare for an influx of foreign visitors when the World Choir Games begin here in July, a new language translation tool is being launched. Cincinnati-based Globili is testing its text and mobile application for cellphones and smartphones that translates signs, menus and ads into about 50 languages. The event will be held July 4-14 at various locations in downtown and Over-the-Rhine including the Aronoff Center for the Arts and Music Hall.

It's been 147 years since the U.S. Civil War ended, but Kentucky lawmakers are just now getting around to abolishing a pension fund for Confederate veterans. The measure, which passed Kentucky's House of Representatives unanimously on Feb. 29, now heads to the state Senate for a vote. No one who is eligible to receive the pension has been alive for at least 50 years, lawmakers said. I guess things really do move more slowly in the South.

Business at the venerable Blue Wisp Jazz Club has increased since it moved to a new location at Seventh and Race streets in January. The club's owners attribute the jump to more pedestrian traffic and the number of hotels located near the new site. The front room includes a bar and restaurant accessible with no cover charge, while the back room is reserved for performances by Jazz musicians.

Steep spikes and drops on standardized test scores, a pattern that has indicated cheating in Atlanta and other cities across the nation, have occurred in hundreds of school districts and charter schools across Ohio in the past seven years, a Dayton Daily News analysis found. The analysis doesn't prove cheating has occurred in Ohio, but documents show state officials don't employ vigorous statistical analyses to catch possible cheating, discipline only about a dozen teachers a year and direct Ohio’s test vendor to spend just $17,540 on analyzing suspicious scores out of its $39 million annual testing contract.

In news elsewhere, the U.S. Supreme Court begins its constitutional review of the health-care overhaul law today with a basic question: Is the court barred from making such a decision at this time? The justices will hear 90 minutes of argument about whether an obscure 19th-century law — the Anti-Injunction Act — means that the court cannot pass judgment on the law until its key provisions go into effect in 2014.

When it recently was announced that a U.S. soldier who allegedly went on a shooting spree in Afghanistan would be charged with 17 counts of murder, many people wondered about the number. After all, early reports indicated Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a Norwood native, allegedly killed 16 people. Military officials decided to charge Bales with murder for the death of the unborn baby of one of the victims, a senior Afghan police official said today.

In a possibly related incident, a gunman in an Afghan army uniform killed two NATO soldiers today at a base in southern Afghanistan, NATO's International Security Assistance Force has said. Details were still sketchy, but NATO said in a statement that an individual wearing an Afghan soldier's uniform had turned his weapon against international troops. Coalition forces then returned fire, killing the gunman.

China and the United States have agreed to coordinate their response to any "potential provocation" if North Korea goes ahead with a planned rocket launch, the White House says. North Korea says the long-range rocket will carry a satellite, but U.S. officials say any launch would violate United Nations resolutions and be a missile test.

Somehow, 71-year-old Dick Cheney managed to get a heart transplant Saturday after spending nearly two years on a list waiting for a suitable organ to become available. Cheney, a former U.S. vice president and — some would say — unindicted war criminal, got the transplant even as much younger, healthier people continue to wait for a new heart. (My guess is he made a pact with Beelzebub.) Cheney has had five heart attacks over the years, the first occurring at age 37.

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<![CDATA[Conservative Group Hires Beckett]]>

A local conservative activist has found another job in politics.

Brad Beckett recently was appointed as Heritage Action for America’s first regional coordinator for the Cincinnati area. Beckett served for years as chief of staff for City Councilman Chris Monzel, until Monzel left that group in January 2011 to become a Hamilton County commissioner.

In his new role, Beckett will be responsible for growing Heritage Action’s grassroots infrastructure in Cincinnati and nearby areas in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

“Brad brings a wealth of experience in and knowledge of Cincinnati politics,” said Michael Needham, Heritage Action’s CEO, in a prepared statement.

“His knowledge of Cincinnati and the surrounding region will be essential to ensuring that the American people’s voices cut through the big-government noise in Washington as we fight to save the America dream,” Needham added.

Prior to his latest gig, Beckett almost had the top job in Butler County government. When Monzel was elected to the Hamilton County commission, Beckett discreetly lined up another job as Butler County administrator. Two commissioners there hatched the plan privately but one abruptly changed his mind a day before Beckett’s employment was to have begun, leaving him without a job.

More recently Beckett has been working at the Apple Store in Kenwood Towne Center and launched The Political Daily Download, a right-leaning blog. Also, he assisted in Tom Brinkman’s unsuccessful campaign to win the Republican nomination to run for the Ohio House 27th District seat.

Founded in 2010, Heritage Action for America is the sister organization to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. The newer group’s motto is “we hold Congress accountable to conservative principles,” and it was formed mostly because the foundation isn’t allowed to back pieces of legislation due to its tax-exempt status.

One of Heritage Action’s first projects was to organize opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health-care reform law pushed by President Obama.

Among Heritage Foundation’s primary donors is Charles Koch, one half of the infamous Koch Brothers duo. They’re the industrialists who helped form the Tea Party movement, which advocates for corporate interests that benefit the brothers and harm the working class.

Also, the Kochs led the push to abolish collective bargaining rights for public-sector labor unions in Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

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<![CDATA[Anti-Health Care Fight Is Un-Christian]]>

There are protesters who have been standing outside of a pediatrician’s office almost daily since at least the summer. Why? Someone else in that same tiny complex is offering abortions. A woman who has taken her special needs daughter to that pediatrician’s office for more than 20 years was recently told by her minister’s wife that she needed to switch pediatricians. Abortion is “murder,” of course, so going anywhere near the “scene of the crime” must make her a co-conspirator.

On the opposite side of town is a Catholic organization made up of young people who were praying the rosary daily in hopes of a veto on the law that required Catholic employers to provide health care that included birth control coverage. Furthering their attack on small families are two Republican candidates for president. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney seem to want to reverse the bill that legalized the sale of contraception.

Yes, the Bible says “Be fruitful.” The Bible also says to take care of children. Statistics from UNICEF report that in 2009 roughly 2.1 million children are currently orphaned in America. Who is taking care of them? Should anyone be so adamantly against birth control when they’re also clearly unwilling to help take care of the result from a lack of birth control?

Before abortion was legalized, women were forced to take to back alleys in order to end unwanted pregnancies. Those terminations consisted of the use of things like scalding water or hangers. Many women contracted infections from those unsterile and unsafe methods. Too many women died from those infections. Why wasn’t anyone looking out for them?

Many of the comments we’ve received at CityBeat in response to coverage of these issues have focused on the sinfulness of abortion and birth control (and, of course, homosexuality). Why are they overlooking all the other “sins” the bible suggests?

Click the jump for a list of all the crazy things the Old Testament says are also sins. ---

Here’s a list of things the Old Testament says are also sins:

• Turning away from foreigners (Leviticus 19:33)

• Tattoos (Leviticus 19:28)

• Working on “The Sabbath” (Leviticus 19:3)

• Slander/Gossip (Leviticus 19:16)

• Having sex with your wife while she’s on her cycle (Leviticus 18:19)

• Cursing your mother or father (Leviticus 20:9)

• Wizardry (Sorry, Potter.) (Leviticus 20:27)

• Harvesting the corners of your field (Leviticus 19:19)

• Waiting to pay the lawn guy until tomorrow (Leviticus 19:13)

• Wearing linen-wool blends (Leviticus 19:19)

• Cross-breeding animals (Your puggle is going to Hell!) (Leviticus 19:19)

• Trimming your beard (Leviticus 19: 27)

• Eating meat that’s still bloody (Leviticus 19:26)

• Lying about your weight (Leviticus 19: 35-36)

There’s an obvious rebuttal for all of these.

“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Seems legit.

Christ’s sacrifice should solve all the problems. Except, it doesn’t. People are still being chastised for their “sins.” Why? The Bible doesn’t say, “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of Christians.”  Nor does is say, “Christ was sacrifice once to take away the sins of many … except the gays and the whores.”

The bible does say, however, that none of us are sin-free and to “Let he without sin cast the first stone,” (John 8:7). Splitting hairs over the equality of sins is pointless. If you’re a Christian, you believe that we are all sinners. The big picture is that God tells you to stop condemning your fellow brother, sister and human being and look at yourself, instead. It’s commanded right here:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

You think birth control is a sin? That’s cool. But it’s not your job to keep people from sinning. Your job is to keep yourself from sinning. God gave us free will for a reason: He wants humans to each decide whether they want to follow him or not. By not allowing people to make their own choices, you’re nullifying the very essence of that free will. 

Remember this: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)

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<![CDATA[Watch Out, Obama — Real Socialists Are Running in 2012]]>

If President Obama hopes to rely on all the socialists who in 2008 elected him with hopes of seeing all of America’s wealth get spread around, he better come up with something even more radical this year.

Something called the Freedom Socialist Party announced in December that it is running two candidates in a national write-in campaign — New Yorker Stephen Durham for president and Christina López, of Seattle, for vice president. And today the duo sent out a press release demonstrating that America’s real socialists are none too pleased with Obama’s first three years in office.

In a memo titled, “Recognize healthcare as a human right — make it universal and free,” Durham and López refer to Obama’s healthcare reform as one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.

“Instead of stepping up to the plate and acknowledging that public healthcare is a need as great as public education,” the release states, “Obama made one concession after another to the pharmaceutical and insurance mega-corporations. As he restated in his February State of the Union address, his Affordable Care Act does not give the government the role of guaranteeing universal care; instead, it relies on a reformed private market.”

López goes even further, calling the healthcare program just another one of Obama’s “sellouts of the human rights of women and immigrants under corporate and right-wing pressure.”

Ouch!

Durham, according to the FSP website, says Obama and the other jokers in Washington have furthered the struggle of America’s working class and poor during their bipartisan attempts at correcting the recession.

“The Democratic and Republican parties have done nothing but cooperate in forcing workers and the poor to pay the costs of the Great Recession caused by the banks and Wall Street,” the site says. “President Obama may play to the crowd by criticizing ‘bad apple’ corporations, as he did in his State of the Union address. But the facts show that the program of corporate coddling, which creates austerity for the masses, is completely bipartisan.”

Durham and López are also offended by Obama’s recent compromise with religious institutions over providing birth control coverage.

Durham says the only way to provide quality health care is to get private insurers out of the picture altogether. For-profit insurance companies, according to a Baltimore-area neurologist Dr. Steven Strauss, are a fundamental problem.

“No one should be making a profit from providing — or, more to the point, denying — the medical care that should be treated as a basic human right,” Strauss says, according to the release. “But insurance and drug companies are among the biggest money-makers in the nation, amassing billions each year from people's suffering.”

The Freedom Socialist Party believes that a single-payer option such as Medicare, if it were to be offered to everyone, would be a reasonable first step but that all for-profit entities must be removed from the pharmaceutical, medical supply and hospitals industries.

It also suggests taxing corporations and the very wealthy — something that’s not going to take away any of Obama’s votes because he’s trying to do that, too. And the duo’s ideas for redirecting military spending to the nation’s human needs probably won’t cost the president too many reelection votes, either.

For more information go to www.socialism.com or email the stuff you hate about unrelenting capitalism to votesocialism@gmail.com.

President Obama could not be reached for comment before the publishing of this blog.

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<![CDATA[ACLU, Archbishop Spar Over Birth Control]]>

As Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and other Catholic officials speak out publicly against a new federal rule involving free birth control, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defends the switch and says the criticism is misguided.

Last month the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — known informally as “ObamaCare” — would require nearly universal coverage of contraception.---

The rule, which takes effect in 2013, reclassifies birth control as a preventative measure, which means most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health insurance plans with no cost-sharing like co-pays or deductibles.

Among the institutions affected by the change are insurance plans offered to employees of Catholic hospitals and schools, but only those where the majority of employees are non-Catholic.

Catholic teachings prohibit the use of artificial birth control such as birth control pills, condoms and intrauterine devices.

Shortly after the announcement, Schnurr wrote a letter that was read during Mass at area churches Jan. 28-29.

The archbishop wrote, “In so ruling, the (Obama) administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.”

The letter added, “We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of goodwill in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.”

Schnurr urged Catholics to write members of Congress to support legislation that would overturn the decision. Meanwhile, some churches are hosting forums about the rule change, like St. Cecilia Parish in Oakley on Feb. 15.

Some Catholic politicians, including GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes, echo Schnurr’s sentiment.

“This is a tremendous infringement of religious liberty,” Gingrich said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Every time you turn around the secular government is shrinking the rights of religious institutions in America.”

During the show, Gingrich said host David Gregory took the "ACLU’s" position after Gregory attempted to explain religious exemptions for contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

ACLU leaders said Gingrich and others are distorting what the rule requires.

“To be clear, the rule does not require churches or other houses of worship that hire people of the faith to carry out religious practices to purchase birth control coverage for their employees,” said Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director. “It does require organizations like hospitals and universities that operate in the public sphere to play by public rules. We should all be alarmed that Mr. Gingrich and other extremists are asking that religious groups should get a license to discriminate and impose their beliefs on others who may not share them.”

Romero added, “The Constitution's rights to privacy and equal treatment under the law, consistently held up by the Supreme Court, guarantee that all women have access to basic and essential medical services. Religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, including whether to use birth control, based on our own beliefs. The contraceptive rule ensures that millions of women will be able to follow their own conscience when it comes to their health and their families.”

Two other groups — one consisting of Catholic theologians, the other consisting of Catholic politicians — have submitted open letters to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, urging her to resist pressure from Catholic bishops and cover all women under the proposed regulations regarding preventive health services, including contraception.

The letter from the theologians states, in part, “among American Catholics the sensus fidelium — the graced and experience-fed wisdom of the faithful that has always been one of the sources of truth in the Catholic tradition — is clear on the matter of contraception, the only area that is covered by the exemptions. The overwhelming majority of Catholics favor and use contraception. The majority of Catholic moral theologians hold that artificial contraception is a moral option and, in some instances, even a moral mandate.”

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<![CDATA[CityBeat's Cheat Sheet]]>

During the past two weeks CityBeat has published its list of endorsements in the race for Cincinnati City Council,along with those on local and state issues.

Some readers have requested that the endorsements be put into a smaller format that will be simpler to print out and take along with them to their polling places on Tuesday.

So, here it is. Clip, save and enjoy.---

Cincinnati City Council: Kevin Flynn, Nicholas Hollan, Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan, Jason Riveiro, Chris Seelbach and Wendell Young.

Ohio Issue 2: No

Ohio Issue 3: No

Local Issue 32: Yes

Local Issue 37: Yes

Local Issue 38: Yes

Local Issue 44: Yes

Local Issue 45: Yes

Local Issue 46: No

Local Issue 47: No

Local Issue 48: No

And if you want even more endorsements to consider, find CityBeat's award-winning Who's Endorsing Whom charts here (City Council) and here (school issues).

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<![CDATA[Candidates On: City-operated Health Clinics]]>

As part of CityBeat's continuing election coverage, we’ve once again sent a questionnaire to the non-incumbent Cincinnati City Council candidates to get their reactions on a broad range of issues.

Nine of the 14 non-incumbents chose to answer our questions. Others either didn’t respond or couldn’t meet the deadline.

During the next few weeks, we will print the responses from the non-incumbents to a different topic each time.

Today’s question is, “Do you consider the operation of health clinics to be an acceptable function of municipal government?”---

Mike Allen (Independent): “Yes. Every effort should be made to keep the health clinics open, but council should also look to save resources by consolidating health services and bidding these services out through managed competition.”

Kevin Flynn (Charterite): “We need to revamp our entire delivery system of public health in our community. We have a tremendous asset in our health clinics but we don’t utilize them well. Our city has a fine Health Department which is constantly threatened by the budget axe. The city needs to be a central player in redeveloping the public health model for our region in a sustainable manner.

“As chairman of the board of the Drake Center, I have observed a lot of wasted time, money, and effort in this area. We spend a lot of money on public health in this region, but we do so in a manner which wastes money and does not address the health needs of our community. We need to combine and coordinate the efforts of the clinics sponsored by the city, the UC College of Medicine, the nursing and allied health colleges in our community, the funding provided by the county, the state, and the federal government, and the resources of our hospital systems. By combining efforts, we can focus on a continuum of care which will emphasize prevention and early treatment in our community, leading to better health in our community, and less cost to our community.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “Cincinnati has a long tradition of focusing on health care and our clinics play a critical role in our collective well being. As a healthcare professional, I am an ardent supporter of keeping the health clinics open and accessible to those individuals who desperately need them.”

Patricia McCollum (Independent): “The operation of public health clinics are beneficial for the health and safety of it’s citizens. It is our obligation to provide the necessary care for children, seniors and uninsured who have no other means to obtain basic care.”

Catherine Smith Mills (Republican): “We need to focus on the basic necessities: Safety, water and sanitation services, and then we should plan for future economic growth. I support health clinics if they are run in a sustainable matter with private/public partnerships to support any future planned growth.”

Sandra Queen Noble (Independent): “I am so for sure if someone brought harm to your family, you would change the world for them. On a daily basis, politicians produce the bitter taste of poverty economics, oversee public abuse, crimes against man's inhumanity toward man. I'm for 'No Heal, No Bill.'”

Jason Riveiro (Democrat): “Yes, and we can find more federal monies to address the serious health concerns in our city such as AIDS, birth rate, dental, etc.”

Chris Seelbach (Democrat): “100 percent, yes. Just as Alicia Reece and Laketa Cole worked hard to keep our health centers open, I pledge to continue their work. I stand strongly against the current conservative majority who want to close the health centers that over 35,000 residents use every year.

“And of these 35,000 residents who use our health centers, nearly all have no other option. In 2014, President Obama’s health care overhaul will dramatically change the way many low-income and struggling Americans receive health-care. In the mean time, I am strongly against closing our health clinics and look forward to seeing how the president’s health-care overhaul may change our current system.”

P.G. Sittenfeld (Democrat): “Yes, I do – and I have advocated Council to maintain their support for health clinics. Our health centers provide an important safety net that helps keep people out of emergency rooms where we all bear a greater expense. Additionally, within the next several years, our health centers will be able to continue to deliver a valuable service at significantly reduced cost to the city due to new health care legislation.”

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<![CDATA[Chabot: 'Magnificent' or Misleading?]]>

A group affiliated with the Heritage Foundation has bombarded voters in Ohio's 1st Congressional District with a glossy flier that tries to paint Rep. Steve Chabot as someone akin to an Old West hero.

The fliers, which began showing up in mailboxes during the past few days, feature a large photograph of a smiling Steve Chabot next to a headline that states, “Steve Chabot fights for our families.” The direct-mail campaign piece was paid for and distributed by Heritage Action for America, a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt group founded last year by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.---

Using a photo of Chabot that's sepia-toned and appears to be at least 10 to 15 years old, the flier uses a font style similar to one used on Old West bulletins and wanted posters and tries to link Chabot and 10 other GOP lawmakers to the famous 1960 Western film, The Magnificent Seven.

The flier states: “Despite unrelenting liberal attacks, Congressman Steve Chabot came to the defense of our future. That's why he's been named one of The Magnificent 11.”

It continues, “Putting the well-being of our nation ahead of his career, Steve Chabot courageously voted for a bold plan to to fix our economy. Liberals claim the plan ends Medicare. This is a lie. The plan saves Medicare and gives Americans the same health care options as members of Congress.”

Well, that's not quite true. Or, to use the flier's terminology, it's a lie. But we'll get to that in a moment.

On the flier's opposite side is a photo of the silhouette of a man in cowboy hat, riding a horse and waving the American flag.

Yee haw, pardner!

According to a web site and Facebook page created by Heritage, other members of Congress' Magnificent 11 are Justin Amash, Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga and Tim Walberg of Michigan; Steve King of Iowa; Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina; Steve Pearce of New Mexico; Steve Southerland and Allen West of Florida; and Joe Walsh of Illinois.

Media reports say Heritage spent $300,000 on mailings thanking Republican House members for their vote in favor of Congressman Paul Ryan's so-called “Path to Prosperity” budget plan.

A Heritage analysis says Ryan's plan, which cuts $6.2 trillion in spending during the next 10 years, would create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4 percent by 2015 and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs by 2019.

Other economists, however, sharply dispute those figures.

The Congressional Budget Office noted that Ryan's plan doesn't take into account the interest on the national debt when arriving at its conclusions. Moreover, the plan doesn't specify the changes to government programs that would be needed to achieve the goals.

Also, the Ryan plan increases costs for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare, reduces their benefits and puts private insurance companies in charge of the program. For current beneficiaries, important benefits – such as closing the “donut hole” in Medicare’s drug coverage – would be immediately eliminated. For individuals age 54 and under, Medicare’s guarantee of comprehensive coverage would be replaced with a “voucher” or “premium support” to buy private health insurance. By design, this federal contribution does not keep pace with medical costs, shifting thousands of dollars in costs onto the individual.

More importantly, the Ryan plan would have even greater impact on individuals age 54 and younger, who aren't currently enrolled in Medicare.

Critics note there are roughly 470,000 individuals age 54 and younger in Ohio's 1st Congressional District who would be denied access to Medicare’s guaranteed benefits.

The Ryan plan would increase out-of-pocket costs for health coverage by more than $6,000 annually in 2022 and by almost $12,000 annually in 2032 for the 101,000 individuals in the district who are between the ages of 44 and 54. Further, it would require those individuals to save an additional $23.6 billion for their retirement – an average of $182,000 to $287,000 per person – to pay for the increased cost of health coverage over their lifetimes.

That hardly sounds like it “saves” Medicare. We don't cotton to liars around these parts, varmint.

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