6 Comments · Wednesday, March 21, 2012
As I’ve read articles and listened to media reports during the past week about the U.S. soldier who went on a bloody shooting spree March 11 in Afghanistan, one thought keeps going through my mind: It’s all so completely unnecessary.
by Kevin Osborne
Many people in Greater Cincinnati still are reeling from the revelation over the weekend that the U.S. soldier who allegedly killed 16 people in Afghanistan grew up in Norwood. Military officials identified U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert “Bobby” Bales as the suspect in the case, which has inflamed tensions between Afghanistan and the United States and led to a renewed push to withdraw troops before the planned 2014 departure. Bales, 38, is a 1991 graduate of Norwood High School who joined the Army in November 2001, and was serving his fourth tour of duty when the incident occurred. Bales has been flown to a military jail at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to await trial.The Cincinnati Fire Department is seeking a $6 million federal grant so it can increase staffing levels. If the department wins the grant, it will hold a recruit class to add up to 40 firefighters. The federal funding would cover two years' worth of salary and benefits for the recruits, but the city would have to pay training and equipment costs.Basketball fans are celebrating now that Ohio has four teams in the NCAA Tournament's “Sweet 16.” Ohio University scored an upset victory Friday against Michigan, winning 65-60, and winning 62-56 against South Florida on Sunday night. The Bobcats join the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University and Ohio State University in advancing in the tournament.The Buckeye State didn't fare so well in an analysis of government transparency and integrity. Ohio ranked 34th out of 50 states and got an overall grade of “D” in a study by the the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity.In news elsewhere, if Mitt Romney gets the Republican Party's presidential nomination and somehow beats President Obama in the fall, he had better reward Puerto Rico in some fashion, possibly by bestowing statehood on the U.S. territory. Romney handily won the GOP's primary there Sunday, getting 83 percent of the votes. Because he won more than 50 percent, Romney will receive all 20 delegates at stake — giving him a much needed boost in his race against Rick Santorum. The next primaries are Tuesday in Illinois and Louisiana.Rick Santorum is turning to a secretive group of rich conservatives to pump cash into his campaign. The ex-Pennsylvania senator is relying on the Council for National Policy to fill his coffers and urge right-wing Republicans to unite behind his presidential bid. The council helped Santorum raise $1.8 million last week in Houston. Formed in 1981, the group brings together some of the Right's biggest donors, and helped George W. Bush in 2000 when his campaign was floundering.Four people are dead after a gunman burst into a Jewish school in France and opened fire. The victims include a teacher, his two sons and another child. Officials said a man arrived in front of the school on a motorcycle or scooter. This is the third attack involving a gunman escaping on a motorcycle to take place in southwestern France during the past week, although police say it's unclear whether the attacks are terrorism-related.Heavy fighting broke out today between Syrian security forces and anti-government activists in a wealthy neighborhood of Damascus. At least 18 members of the security forces were killed in the battle, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, but the official SANA news agency put the death toll much lower.An upsurge in fracking means North Dakota will overtake Alaska as the second-largest U.S. producer of oil within a few months, behind Texas. State data released this month showed energy companies in January fracked more wells than they drilled for the first time in five months, suggesting oil output could grow even faster than last year's 35 percent increase.
by Kevin Osborne
In a refreshing sign of sanity at City Hall, Cincinnati officials might change the way they go about drafting the municipal budget. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who heads council's Finance and Budget Committee, is proposing the group adopt a new priorities-based process that involves more community input. Six council members support the idea, which means it probably will be adopted.As first reported by The Daily Bellwether blog and later picked up by The Enquirer, a new tenant at The Banks shopping and residential district will get almost $1 million in grant and loan assistance from the city. Mahogany’s Bar and Grill, a soul food restaurant scheduled to open in spring, will get a $684,000 grant and $300,000 loan, if City Council approves the deal Thursday. The grant would cover design and construction costs, while the loan would be used to pay for furniture and equipment.Legendary Soul and Funk singer Patti LaBelle is visiting two local Kroger grocery stores to celebrate Black History Month. The diva will visit the Queen City Centre store at 4777 Kenard Ave. from 1:30-2:30 p.m. today, where she will be joined by a choir from the School of Creative and Performing Arts, along with students from Rockdale Academy in Avondale. She will visit the Norwood store at 4500 Montgomery Road from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Thursday, where she will perform with the St. Bernard High School Choir and students from Evanston Academy. As Ms. LaBelle might say, “Gitchi gitchi yaya here, mocha chocolata, yaya here.”As expected, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has broken a 2-2 tie vote by siding with the GOP members of the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Husted wants to appeal the decision of a federal judge who ordered elections officials to count additional ballots in a disputed 2010 juvenile court judge election.In news elsewhere, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is defending comments he made in 2008 that he's a Satanist. No, not really, but he did say that The Evil One exists and has targeted the United States for destruction through the policies of President Obama. (Yes, that part is real.) Maybe Santorum would prefer being elected Pope instead of president. Someone buy the man an airline ticket to Rome, please.The newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to overhaul rules on overdraft fees charged by banks. The agency plans to limit the costly charges. Last year, banks made between $15 billion and $22 billion from overdraft fees, which is excessive, agency officials said.President Obama is about to ask Congress to scrub the corporate tax code of dozens of loopholes and subsidies to reduce the top rate to 28 percent, down from 35 percent, while giving preferences to manufacturers that would set their maximum effective rate at 25 percent, sources told The New York Times.At least four people were killed and 20 injured in Afghanistan after protests spread over the burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. military base. American officials apologized on Tuesday after Korans were "inadvertently" put in an incinerator at Bagram Air Field. Seriously, we're in our 11th year of this war, shouldn't we know proper protocol by now?
by Kevin Osborne
If you've ever felt like your car was held hostage by a towing company wanting an exorbitant fee before it would release your vehicle, this will sound like sweet justice. The city of Cincinnati's prosecutor has begun a criminal investigation of Kenwood Towing, based on allegations of overcharging. The firm, which has locations in Northside and South Cumminsville, also has been indefinitely suspended from its city contracts pending the investigation's outcome. Ohio law limits how much towing companies can charge, but residents have complained that Kenwood routinely violates the law, in some cases charging 400 percent more than is allowed.Leasing issues with some current tenants at Corryville Plaza could delay parts of a major redevelopment project near the University of Cincinnati. The $78 million first phase of U Square @ The Loop is underway, with construction of shops and apartments along William Howard Taft Road. But plans to demolish and revamp the plaza where a Kroger grocery store and a Walgreen's pharmacy are located might be postponed. That's because three tenants — a chiropractic center, furniture store and clothing retailer – remain under lease under 2015. Developers are negotiating for their earlier departure.The recent, unexpected death of Hamilton County Coroner Anaht Bhati means local Democratic officials have until Thursday to find a replacement candidate to put on the November ballot. Besides investigating suspicious deaths, the coroner can act as a de facto commissioner if two of the three Hamilton County commissioners are unavailable to conduct business for some reason.Ongoing construction at the Horseshoe Casino on downtown's eastern edge will cause some detours for motorists. Beginning today, the work will close Eggleston Avenue between Central Avenue and East Court Street for about four months.In news elsewhere, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign raised $6.6 million last month and spent $13.9 million, according to a report filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission. Politico reports the paperwork reveals 25 six-figure donations, many from repeat donors, which accounted for $4.9 million of Restore Our Future’s January haul. Money might not buy love, but it can give new life to a lackluster candidate.More than 2,000 angry Afghans gathered outside a US military base to protest the allegedly inadvertent burning of Korans and other Islamic religious materials. The items are thought to have been burned as part of routine disposal of garbage at Bagram Air Field. (Yep, we're winning hearts and minds over there, don'tcha know.)DSK is in trouble yet again. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, is being detained for questioning by French police investigating a prostitution ring. Strauss-Kahn, once a front-runner for the French presidency, was charged last year in New York with the attempted rape of a hotel maid. Prosecutors later dropped the case, stating it would be difficult to win a conviction.Government officials are offering a reward of nearly $1 million for the capture of 30 inmates who broke out of a prison in Mexico on Sunday. The governor said the inmates staged a riot, during which 44 people died, to create a diversion for their escape. The fugitives are gang members involved in the Mexican drug trade, he added.
by Kevin Osborne
Greater Cincinnati's index of economic indicators was flat in December, indicating weak job growth in the coming months, The Business Courier
reports. The index held steady at 97.5, the same as in November. That
indicates "poor employment growth through winter and early spring," said
the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which compiles the
index. (Thank God Congress reached that jobs deal, right?)Cincinnati City Council will appeal a judge's ruling
that allows demolition of the historic James N. Gamble House in
Westwood. Although the city's attorney said the likelihood of the
appeal's success was low, council voted 6-3 to pursue one. Councilman
Chris Seelbach introduced the proposal; he said the structure is a
landmark that should be preserved.She just wants a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t when she gets home. Kierra Reed, 22, is facing a charge of aggravated menacing after she allegedly attacked her boyfriend for not buying her a Valentine's Day gift.
Reed began hitting and scratching Henry Brown, police said, and when he
locked himself in a bedroom, Reed allegedly got a knife from the
kitchen and tried to cut through the door to stab Brown.U.S. officials have received a copy of the formal charges lodged by the Egyptian government against pro-democracy activists in the Arab nation. Forty-three people, 19 of them Americans, are to be put on trial for allegedly setting up groups without licenses and receiving illegal funding. Critics say the charges are bogus, and being pushed by pro-Islamist groups to prevent dissenting voices from gaining a foothold in the new Egyptian government.Although it's only about one-third the size of the bill President Obama proposed in September, Congressional lawmakers agreed early this morning to a compromise version that results in a $150 billion jobs plan. The deal includes a 10-month extension of a payroll tax holiday that lets the average worker keep an extra $1,000 a year. Also, it would extend unemployment benefits through the rest of this year.In a major turnabout, General Motors reported $7.6 billion in profit for 2011, a 62 percent increase from the previous year. Still, all isn't rosy for the automaker. It reported a $700 million loss in its European operations, and a $100 million loss in South America. The firm, which faced bankruptcy two years ago, saw sales rise 7.6 percent last year to more than 9 million vehicles.The secret is out. Confirming what's been rumored for weeks, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the U.S. government is conducting secret three-way negotiations with the Taliban and his government. Karzai said he believes most Taliban are "definitively" interested in a peace settlement to end the 10-year-old war.Despite the Obama administration's pledge to put an end to “too big to fail” banks, critics allege more are being created. The Federal Reserve Board has just approved a merger that makes Capital One the fifth-largest bank in the nation, over the objections of smaller banks and consumer advocacy groups.
by Kevin Osborne
Some U.S. progressives are supporting a move by Icelandic politicians to nominate alleged WikiLeaks collaborator Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize.Manning was nominated for the prestigious prize by The Movement of Icelandic Parliament, a group of politicians in Iceland dedicated to empowering grassroots activism.
2 Comments · Monday, December 7, 2009
A recent banner story on page 1 of The Enquirer's Local Life reported that Cincinnati Country Day was the second best high school in Ohio, based on passing percentage on state graduation tests and some yet-to-be revealed formula. The real story, if there was one, came later when it was mentioned that five Cincinnati area schools were in the top 10, including a public high school, Walnut Hills. I'm surprised the "study" dreamed up by a Columbus man in his basement survived The Enquirer's crap detector.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Quick: Tell me why U.S. and NATO troops are in Afghanistan. If you say it's to retaliate for the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and destroy the government that allowed the rural nation to serve as the launching pad for the bloody offensive, well, that's already been accomplished. It's disappointing, then, that President Obama has granted a request from his military commanders to commit another 30,000-35,000 troops to the Afghanistan War for an indefinite time.