by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
• As much
as I usually enjoy Krista Ramsey’s controlled, empathetic reporting and
writing, I don’t understand why Enquirer editors wasted her talent and
their limited space on their serial about a bank-robbing granny. Who
cares? If I learned anything, it was from the front page dedicated to
the start of the serial. It was pure, screaming tabloid and perfect
practice for the day the Enquirer shrinks its page size again.
Enquirer discovered a foreign policy “expert” living silently among us
for years. That’s their word: “expert.” He was outed on Monday’s page 1
in a lavishly illustrated story about his taxpayer-paid travels. It’s
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot. Face it, travel doesn’t make anyone an expert.
If it did, Rick Steves should be our next Secretary of State.
we go again. Our Enquirer carrier is supposed to deliver the Enquirer
seven days a week and the New York Times Monday-Saturday. Last
Wednesday, the Enquirer arrived but the Times didn’t. Times call center
people in Iowa promised a replacement paper by 2 p.m. We’re still
Thursday, there was no Times for the second day and, instead of a replacement
Wednesday paper, the Enquirer carrier tossed a copy of the Wall Street
I can’t invent this stuff. The WSJ is the only serious challenger facing the Times as a national daily.
people in Iowa promised a replacement Thursday paper. I’ve called so
many times I can recite their script with them, including faux sincerity
when apologizing for missed papers.
also sent another note to the circulation VP at the Times, using the
email address on the paper’s website. (I couldn’t find any such person
or email in the online list of Enquirer contacts. No surprise.)
Times circulation VP couldn’t happy about paying to deliver the WSJ. An
aide called, saying he’d do all he could by phone. Not much. Actually,
Friday, finally, the Enquirer carrier got it right: Enquirer and Times. That can’t last. The lapses are not new.
are being raised about foreign research involving UC and Henry
Heimlich. UC News Record reporter Benjamin Goldschmidt said, “The study
tested whether or not a modified version of the Heimlich Maneuver could
stop an acute asthma attack or treat asthma symptoms without
contemporary treatment. The subjects’ parents gave consent and the
results reported no adverse effects, according to the study. The 67
children who participated were between the ages of six and 16.”
said Heimlich’s son, Peter, is pressing the inquiry at UC and
elsewhere. The younger Heimlich said that “Since at least 1996, based on
dubious evidence, my father has claimed that the Heimlich Maneuver can
stop asthma attacks, but asthma experts have expressed strong doubts . .
. For example, in 2005, Loren Greenway, administrative director of
respiratory and pulmonary medicine for Intermountain Health Care in Salt
Lake City, told a reporter that using the Heimlich maneuver in an acute
asthmatic condition … could actually kill somebody.”
Heimlich said he targeted UC because Charles Pierce, adjunct professor
of psychiatry at UC, was involved with applying for loans for the study
in Barbados, an Atlantic nation between Haiti and Venezuela. He cited
email correspondence in the Winkler Center’s Heimlich Archives at UC.
News Record quoted UC spokesman Greg Hand, who said the majority of
Pierce’s work is done at Children’s Hospital, not with UC.
Peter Heimlich raised questions about his father’s foreign experiments
on malariotherapy, which seeks to prove that infecting people with
malaria creates HIV-killing fevers.
• If you missed it, find last week’s page 1 New York Post photo of a man about to be killed by a subway train.
photographer R. Umar Abbasi said it is one of dozens he shot using his
flash unsuccessfully to alert the driver about an emergency. A furor
followed the Post’s decision to print his photo.
Photographers frequently are faulted for not intervening in violent or deadly situations. So let me offer a couple comments.
Abbasi had no duty to try to lift Ki-Suck Han to safety. He says he
wasn’t close enough, the train was coming, he was unsure whether he
could lift the man. Others, closer, did not try to help.
photographers should set aside their cameras and get involved is a
recurrent question. My answer is this: The greater the risk, the smaller
the obligation to help. That’s how we get images of wounded and dying
soldiers, people trapped in or rescued from bombed buildings, prisoners
being shot, stabbed, torture, etc.
what photographers do. They show us what’s happening and in many
situations, photographers would have been casualties if they’d try to
older colleague at the Minneapolis Star said a woman who survived the
collapse of a downtown hotel complained that he photographed her instead
of helping. My colleague sent her an autographed copy of the photo,
inscribed, I recall, “Deadlines are deadlines, lady.”
the Post wasn’t wrong to publish the photo. I’m on the side of showing
what happens when things go very, very wrong. War is ugly. So are
traffic accidents, trench cave-ins and shootings here. Sanitizing does
no service to readers/viewers who need to know what happened in a
newsworthy event. Is the photo disturbing? Yes. But not so much as
Ki-Suck Han’s death at the hands of a stranger who pushed him on to the
often spend their lives known for one news photo: Marines raising the
flag on Mt. Suribachi, a young woman screaming over the body of a
student at Kent State, a starving Sudanese child watched by a nearby
vulture, a South Vietnamese officer executing a Viet Cong suspect with
one shot to the head. Some images win famous prizes. Some photographers
build careers on their moments. At least one, Kevin Carter, bedeviled
by what he’d seen among Sudanese famine victims, killed himself. Abbasi
will not easily shake the image of his image of that subway death.
Dec. 8 Economist online has a cautious update on the declining
newspaper industry, including Gannett, owner of the Enquirer. Included
is a look at the ways pay walls like that at the Enquirer are succeeding
where online content long was free. At some papers, online income
finally is seriously compensating for income from lost print ad
revenue. But the Economist warns “Most important, a paper’s content has
to be worth paying for, which is bad news for (unnamed) papers that
have cost-cut themselves into journalistic wraiths.”
love a journalistic hoax. A top Chinese daily, People’s Daily, reported
that “The Onion has named North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un as
the sexiest man alive for the year 2012.”
unaware that the Onion is an American satirical website, Chinese
editors copied it verbatim: “With his devastatingly handsome, round
face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this
Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman's dream come true. Blessed with
an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made
this newspaper's editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion
sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.”
pranks are nothing new. Years ago, when WNOP “Radio Free Newport”
broadcast from an Ohio River barge, it would play recordings of prank
telephone calls. One was to a railroad asking if the caller could use
its engine roundhouse to play a huge Bobby Breen U.S. Steel record.
Another asked a department store lingerie clerk about an Erin go Bragh,
and I think, a Freudian slip. A supermarket customer insisted he
properly assembled his “chicken parts kit” but it would only fly
backwards. What should he do? The “Green Hornet” called a garage,
supposedly servicing his Black Beauty car to ask when his Filipino
houseboy Kato could pick it up. Finally, there was the soldier who
called a McDonald’s with a detailed order for an entire Army reserve or
national guard unit. The laughs, of course, came as recipients of the
calls struggled to make sense of the queries until they realized they’d
however, a clever media hoax goes sadly wrong. That’s apparently what
happened last week when Australian radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael
Christian fooled nurses at London’s King Edward VII Hospital into thinking they were the Queen and Prince Charles. They wanted to know how Kate was handling her severe morning sickness.
an early morning telephone call, Greig, impersonating the Queen, said:
“Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate please, my
she was speaking to the Queen, immigrant nurse Jacintha Saldanha, on
switchboard duty, replied; “Oh yes, just hold on ma’am.”
put the call through to the nurse in the Duchess’ room. That nurse, so
far unnamed, also thought she was speaking to the Queen and provided
details about Kate’s health.
Sydney station, 2Day, heavily promoted its prank and broadcast it
repeatedly. It became an international sensation; even the real Prince
Charles was reported to have thought it funny.
Saldanha was found dead Friday, three days later. London police said
they are not treating her death as suspicious. That means suicide or
natural causes. British news media assumed suicide, suggesting Saldanha
couldn’t deal with humiliation after 2Day’s recording of her
embarrassing error went viral. The London Telegraph said “the two
presenters who made the call will be questioned by Australian police
following a request by Scotland Yard, which will gather evidence for an
P. McIntosh was a Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter writing for women in
1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. Editors killed
her story, saying her graphic description of civilian victims would be
too upsetting. Last week, the Washington Post published the uncut story
with McIntosh’s recollections. It’s vivid, fine reporting, the kind of
writing we seldom see today.
inexplicable failure of journalism honesty landed NBC in court. George
Zimmerman, who admits he shot and killed unarmed Florida teenager
Trayvon Martin, sued the network. He says NBC editing of his original
911 call defamed him and caused intentional infliction of emotional
played the its reporter’s edited tape three times. On it, Zimmerman
says, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or
something. He looks black.”
on the unedited tape, Zimmerman says, “This guy looks like he’s up to no
good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking
around, looking about.”
Then the 911 dispatcher says, “OK and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic.”
Only then, in response, Zimmerman said, “He looks black.”
the dispatcher’s question nor Zimmerman’s answer was racist. If a
police officer was to be dispatched, it was important what the potential
suspect, Trayvon Martin, looked like.
a story I haven’t seen as we edge up to the fiscal cliff: how many
billions are spent on fully employed people whose wages are so low that
employers transfer their costs to the rest of us? Medicaid, food stamps,
etc. aren’t limited to the unemployed or aged. And while they’re at it,
reporters can tell us how much a full-time worker must earn to equal all
of their taxpayer-supported benefits.
now, a birther alert. Ted Cruz, newly elected Hispanic and perfectly
conservative senator from Texas, says his Canadian birth doesn’t
disqualify him from a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
He told Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker, “The Constitution requires that
one be a natural-born citizen and my mother was a U.S. citizen when I
was born.” He could have added that
Americans captured Canada 200 years ago in the War of 1812, assuring
Donald Trump of Cruz’s eligibility. And hey! Americans then defeated
Santa Ana at the Alamo.
by Andy Brownfield
Maya Angelou, other activists encourage justice without hate
Panelists including the parents of slain Florida teenager
Trayvon Martin talked about reconciliation and turning personal
suffering into power at the National and Racial Healing Town Hall at the
Duke Energy Convention Center on Wednesday during the Children’s
Defense Fund National Conference.
Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, broke down in tears as he
told the story of how his son saved his life by dragging him out of
their condo and calling 911 after Tracy had been badly burned in a
“My child is my hero,” Tracy Martin said. “He saved my life. Not to be there to save his is troublesome to me.”
Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Trayvon, who was black, was unarmed and shot by the white
and Hispanic Zimmerman after Zimmerman pursued him in defiance of a
request by a police dispatcher. Zimmerman claims the shooting was in
Zimmerman is out on $1 million bail while awaiting trial on a charge of second degree murder.
“Nothing anyone can do will bring Trayvon back,” Tracy
Martin said. “You have to take that negative and turn it into a
positive. We chose to keep our son's name alive and not let his death be
The town hall-style meeting was kicked off by poet and
author Maya Angelou. She urged the hundreds of people in attendance,
mostly young and black, to demand justice for Trayvon — referring to
Zimmerman as “the brute” — but “that means we don’t become poisoned by
Angelou wasn’t the only one who urged against hate.
Black historian and civil rights activist Vincent Harding,
who celebrated his 81st birthday on Wednesday, issued a challenge to
the youth in attendance:
“Are you ready to fight for the healing of George
Zimmerman and all the George Zimmermans of America? Are you up to that?”
“This country has no chance unless they are healed.”
The panel was made up of social activists, many of whom
had lost friends and family to violence or bigotry, but whose pain
prompted activism instead of retaliation — panelists such as The Rev.
Ronald and Kim Odom, who lost a son to gun violence but volunteer in
intervention and outreach programs; Clemmie Greenlee, a former
prostitute and gang member who formed a peacemaking organization to work
with gang members after her son was killed; and Ndume Olatushani, a
former prisoner who was released in June after 19 years on death row
after being falsely convicted of murdering a Tennessee shopkeeper.
The younger members of the audience were encouraged to ask
questions after the panel presentation. Teenagers and young adults from
as far as Tennessee, North Carolina and Minnesota asked questions about
dismantling the system of racial oppression, overcoming odds stacked
against young minorities and having society see past an old felony
The panelists all tried to offer encouragement, while
urging the younger generation to continue to try to fight to make things
“When you look at the odds, it’s so horrific for a young
minority American, you say ‘why even try, why even bother?’ ” said
Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who is representing Trayvon’s
mother Sabryna Fulton. “But the reason you try and you bother, there is
so many examples where we beat the odds every day and nobody even know
about it or talked about it.”
“It goes back to you and saying, ‘I am going to make
something of myself. I don’t care about the statistics, I don’t care
about the odds.’ … You say, ‘well, if it’s one out of a million, I’m
going to be that one.’”
by German Lopez
A performance audit for the Cincinnati Service Department
could save the city $3.7 million. The audit claims $2 million could be
saved every year if the city privately contracted solid waste collection
and street sweeping. An additional $1.7 million could be saved if the
city reduced overtime, sick leave and staffing levels. Along with other recommended savings measures, the changes could
amount to 7.9 percent of Cincinnati’s budget.
Trayvon Martin’s parents will be visiting Cincinnati today to
take part in the national conference hosted by the Children’s Defense
Fund. The conference will target violence and race-related issues.
Procter & Gamble and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
have teamed up to improve environmental sustainability at manufacturing
facilities and supply chains.
The worst U.S. drought in half a century is putting pressure on
oil and gas companies to recycle and conserve water used for fracking.
Fracking uses millions of gallons of water to free oil and gas from
underground rock formations.
Gay marriage has generated $259 million in economic activity in New York City.
The Congressional Budget Office said repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit by $109 billion.
Voters sometimes punish politicians for bad weather.
Some scientists are saying the plot of The Amazing Spider-Man might not be too far off from reality.
by Danny Cross
A local developer has offered to build a new jail adjacent
to the Justice Center, a cost of $65 million, in return for the county
leasing it for 30 years at $10 million a year, according to The
Enquirer. The developer, Rob Smyjunas, said the offer isn’t about making a profit, just making the county better for his and other families.
Mayor Mallory didn’t answer The Enquirer’s questions about
the potential for a Council majority to block the property tax increase in
City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposed budget. A Mallory spokesman says he’ll work
behind the scenes on a budget that will win a Council majority and
that he’s off to New Orleans for a conference on reclaiming vacant
An environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro kicked off on
Wednesday, with environmental groups and activists disappointed with the
Rio+20’s lack of progress on creating clear goals for sustainable
The Sanford, Fla., police chief who drew criticism for not investigating the shooting death of Trayvon Martin has been fired. Sanford
City Manager Norton Bonaparte said he relieved Bill Lee of his duties
because the police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the
A video of middle school kids in upstate New York bullying
a 68-year-old bus monitor has drawn international media attention. The
woman says the kids are all pretty much normal and are OK to deal with
The bullying continues unabated for about 10 minutes in
the video, reducing Klein to tears as a giggling student jabs her arm
with a book. Recorded by a student Monday with a cell phone camera, the
brazen example of bullying went viral and spurred international outrage.
A population of chinstrap penguins in Antarctica has declined by 36 percent due to melting sea ice.
"Actually, in the '90s it was thought that the climate
change would favor the chinstrap penguin, because this species prefers
sea waters without ice, unlike the Adelie penguin, which prefers the ice
pack," study researcher Andres Barbosa told LiveScience. He added that
at the time, chinstraps, named for the thin black facial line from cheek
to cheek, seemed to increase in numbers, with some new colonies being
established. The sea-ice decline in the winter, however, has become so
big that it is now impacting krill populations, said Barbosa, of the
National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.
Researchers found evidence of ice on the moon.
A new study has found that eating disorders are common
among older women. Researchers say weight and eating concerns do not
discriminate based on age.College football BCS commissioners have endorsed a
four-team playoff format to determine college football’s national
champion instead of the current computer-human two-team system. The plan will go to the BCS presidential oversight committee
on June 26 for approval. LeBron James and the Miami Heat are one win away from winning the NBA championship after going up 3 games to 1 with a 104-98 win in Game 4 Tuesday.
by Danny Cross
After 18 months in the courts, Democrat
Tracie Hunter has won a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judgeship, but
a GOP challenge to the court's acceptance of Hunter's challenge is
likely to follow. Republican John Williams led hunter by 23 votes on
election night 2010, but Hunter filed a lawsuit over provisional
ballots cast at incorrect polling stations that weren't counted. After a
recount of 286 provisional ballots, Hunter moved ahead by 74 votes.
Republican board of election members reportedly plan to argue that
the 286 should not have been recounted.
The Enquirer's Mark Curnutte today
offered an analysis of recently released census data that shows a
steady growth of the regional Hispanic population and a growth of
minority population in areas outside the city that were once largely
white. Cincinnati's data suggests that the city and region are
slightly different than the nation's overall trend, which in 2011 for
the first time found a majority of the country's under 1-year-old
population minority (50.4 percent), up from 49.5 percent in 2010.
Included in The Enquirer's story, which
included a profile of a Mexican-American Florence family that moved
to Northern Kentucky eight years ago from Los Angeles:
A decrease of 1.3 percentage points in Hamilton County’s
black population under 5 was countered by increases in the black
population under 5 in each of the region’s six other core counties:
Butler, Clermont and Warren in Ohio and Boone, Campbell and Kenton in
Overall, the regional population of Hispanic children under 5
years rose from 7,583 in 2010 to 8,032 in 2011, a proportional
increase of 0.4 percentage points to 6.1 percent.
The family of a teenager fatally shot
by a Cincinnati police officer on Fountain Square last summer has
filed a federal lawsuit alleging police used excessive force and
violated 16-year-old Davon Mullins' constitutional rights. Police
say Mullins pulled a handgun, but the lawsuit says he had been
disarmed before officer Oscar Cyranek shot him multiple times.
Cincinnati's Bike Month revelers and
Over-the-Rhine residents received some good news this week when Reser
Bicycle Outfitters announced the opening of an OTR location. The
store could open by June 1 in the 1400 block of Vine Street.
Legislation regulating ownership and
breeding of exotic animals has been approved by the Ohio House Agriculture
and Natural Resources Committee, 17-4. Senate Bill 310 could get
through the full House and Senate next week and be signed by Gov.
John Kasich soon afterward. The ban on the acquisition, sale and
breeding of certain species would take affect 90 days later.
Europe is preparing for Greece to
completely duck out of the Eurozone. The world markets are feeling
Mitt Romney has released his first
general election TV ad. And he's giving cookies to the media.Former Senator John Edwards will learn
his fate today, as a jury was set to deliberate this morning on charges that Edwards used campaign funds to
conceal an affair during his run for president.
More than 200 pages of documents,
photos and audio recordings were released yesterday
offering further details about what happened the night George
Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
The documents include an FBI audio
analysis of the 911 call placed by a resident that captured yells and
screams. Two FBI examiners said they could not determine whether it
was Martin or Zimmerman yelling because of the poor quality of the
recording and the "extreme emotional state" of screamer.
The AP is live-blogging Facebook's
stock market debut. Why does Bono have so much Facebook?
Cell phone maker Nokia has accused
Apple of programming bias into its interactive Siri voice search by
making it answer the question “What is the best smartphone ever?”
by stating “"Wait... there are other phones?" The answer
had apparently previously been “Nokia's Lumia 900.” Apple won't
say whether or not it changed Siri's answer after finding the glitch.
A new study suggests that nighttime
fasting can go a long way toward keeping you slim even if you eat bad
stuff during the day.
Scientists have found a car-sized
The private space launch is scheduled for
4:55 a.m. Saturday, and there will be alcohol involved.
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 15, 2012
An entrepreneur profited off of Trayvon Martin’s death by
selling gun range targets featuring a hoodie with crosshairs aimed at
the chest, Skittles and a can resembling iced tea — all items Martin had
in his possession when he was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla. in
February. World -2
by Hannah McCartney
at 02:30 PM | Permalink
Special prosecutor says new information to be divulged in Trayvon Martin investigation
Justice could be on its way for slain teenager Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, who said he was acting in self-defense on the incorrect assumption that Martin was armed, has since dodged legal charges on the basis of Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which offers legal protection to citizens who use deadly force on a person to prevent injury, death or the occurrence of a forcible felony. This afternoon, Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced charges will be filed against Zimmerman, although the nature of those charges isn't yet clear. The announcement comes just a day after Zimmerman's attorneys, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, withdrew themselves from his case, stating that they'd lost touch with Zimmerman after he'd taken actions without consulting them. According to The Washington Post, Sonner and Uhrig expressed concern over Zimmerman's emotional and physical well-being. Corey's office says it will release new information about the case at a press conference 6 p.m. Wednesday. Recently, George Zimmerman launched his own website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, which features a prominent PayPal link where supporters can donate to Zimmerman for living expenses and legal expenses, which he claims are much-needed as a result of the media frenzy generated by the slaying. Aside from the PayPal link, there's not much to Zimmerman's site, other than a gaudy American flag background and a slew of patriotic quotes, including this token from 19th
century Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen: “A thousand words will not leave so deep an
impression as one deed.”The Columbus Dispatch, however, documented a faux pas on the site before Zimmerman could correct it. One page on the website is dedicated to "persons whom have displayed their support of justice for all," and, until yesterday, featured a photo of an act of vandalism that was spray-painted on the wall of Ohio State University's Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center. The words "Long Live Zimmerman," which cover the wall in dripping white paint, has been labeled as a hate crime. The Dispatch's article alleges that "George
Zimmerman is either ignorant or supports hate crimes," according to
several Ohio State University students. Stay tuned to The Washington Post's story for updates on Zimmerman's prosecution.
by Kevin Osborne
“Accentuate the positive” has always been Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory's motto when giving his annual State of the City address, and Tuesday night's speech was no different. Mallory talked about the new development in Over-the-Rhine and The Banks riverfront district, adding that type of vision for the future must continue. The mayor also said city officials must strive to improve the quality of life for residents.A national teachers' union said Cincinnati Public Schools officials have used faulty budget estimates to justify a plan to lay off up to 225 teachers next week. CPS says it will have a $43 million deficit next year and already has laid off 40 administrators. At the request of the local union president, the American Federation of Teachers reviewed the CPS budget forecast and declared it has identified at least $17.9 million in savings, enough to save at least 197 teaching jobs.Less than a week after the Reds agreed to a major contract extension for Joey Votto, the team now has struck a deal with Brandon Phillips. The second baseman will get a six-year, $72.5 million contract. Referring to the deals, Sports Illustrated wrote, “the small-market Cincinnati Reds show that they're serious about winning.”A University of Cincinnati student remains hospitalized today after a toxic chemical explosion on campus overnight. Police say a female student was working with the chemical alone at the engineering building around 1 a.m. when a reaction caused an explosion. The student was working on a process known as aluminum etching.Oxford police have had to stand watch while members of a fraternity that was ordered to shut down at Miami University clear out their belongings from the frat house. Sigma Chi International officials yanked the local charter and ordered the 29 frat house occupants evicted by today after years of sanctions for alleged drug use, alcohol abuse, hazing and property damage. Police had to arrest an apparently inebriated 21-year-old student from Chicago for refusing to leave the scene after he repeatedly barked at a police dog. (How douchey.)In news elsewhere, Rick Santorum announced Tuesday he was leaving the race for the Republican presidential nomination, clearing the path for Mitt Romney. Although Santorum — an ex-Pennsylvania senator who lost reelection in 2006 — said his decision partially was prompted by health concerns about his three-year-old daughter, Bella, most pundits agree he likely was afraid of losing the primary election in his home state on April 24, which could've dashed his plans for a political future.More Americans think the U.S. Supreme Court justices will be acting mostly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News. Only 40 percent of respondents expect their decisions to be rooted primarily “on the basis of the law.”Attorneys representing George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of an unarmed black teenager dropped out of the case Tuesday, saying they've had no contact with their client since Sunday. The attorneys, who conceded they had never met their client in-person, said Zimmerman had been in contact with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity during the same period. Meanwhile, special prosecutor Angela Corey said Tuesday she would hold a press conference “in the next 72 hours.” Corey will decide whether Zimmerman should face criminal charges for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.McDonald's has become the fifth major company to recently drop its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The shadowy group, which has ties to the Koch brothers and the NRA, provides model legislation for state lawmakers to introduce on various conservative and “free market” issues. ALEC has been criticized for pushing the “stand your ground” law in Florida that allows people to kill someone in public places if they feel their life is threatened. Other firms that have dropped membership are Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Intuit.A massive earthquake off Indonesia’s western coast triggered tsunami fears across the Indian Ocean today, sending residents in coastal cities fleeing to higher ground. The U.S. Geological Survey said the first 8.6-magnitude quake was centered about 19 miles beneath the ocean floor. At least one aftershock also has been reported.
by Kevin Osborne
Workplace safety inspectors have cited six companies for violations in connection with the Jan. 27 accident at the construction site of the Horseshoe Casino. More than a dozen workers were injured in the mishap. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed more than $108,000 in fines on the companies, which include such local stalwarts as Messer Construction and Jostin Construction. In a statement, Messer's CEO says the firm “respectfully disagrees” with the findings and will request a meeting with OSHA.A man who was the police chief of Elmwood Place for 11 days is trying to get his record expunged of the five criminal charges that cost him his job. Jeremy Alley briefly served as chief in 2003, until he was caught using his police department computer to seduce someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl but actually was a police officer. Hamilton County prosecutors, however, are opposing the expungement request.A billboard advertising a cat litter brand was recently removed in Over-the-Rhine after some residents complained that it insulted their neighborhood. Tidy Cat's billboard stated, “You're so Over-the-Rhine,” followed by “#lifestinks.” It was part of its “NoMorePU.com” ad campaign, which used the billboards to mention things in life that stink. Tidy Cat's maker, Purina, issued an apology on Twitter that said "We're sorry. Our billboard was meant to be humorous, but to many of you it wasn't. We'll take fast action to correct this."Construction began Monday on a long-delayed retail, office and hotel project in Norwood. Developers broke ground on Rookwood Exchange, which will include a 15,000 square foot retail building along Edwards Road and a 230,000 square foot retail/entertainment/office building, along with a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, two restaurants and a parking garage. A legal dispute with homeowners involving eminent domain held up the plans for several years.Local ticket scalpers, who are licensed by the city, are upset with the Cincinnati Reds. After a counterfeit ticketing scheme on Opening Day, the team is urging fans to only buy their tickets from its website, or online at StubHub or TicketMaster. But legitimate scalpers, who pay $400 per year for a license, says the counterfeiters came from Atlanta and are giving them a bad name.In news elsewhere, FBI statistics indicate that although violent crime continues to decrease across the United States, the killings of police officers are increasing dramatically. Seventy-two officers were killed by perpetrators in 2011, a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a 75 percent increase from 2008. The 2011 deaths were the first time that more officers were killed by suspects than car accidents and was the highest in nearly two decades, excluding those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds President Obama holds clear advantages over Mitt Romney on personal attributes and various major issues, but remains vulnerable to discontent with the pace of the economic recovery. Obama has double-digit leads over the likely Republican presidential nominee on who would do a better job of protecting the middle class, addressing women’s issues, handling international affairs and dealing with health care.A decision about whether George Zimmerman will face criminal charges for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida could be announced today. Special Prosecutor Angela Corey said Monday that she won't present the case to a grand jury, which legal experts say means that Corey won't charge Zimmerman with first-degree murder, because that charge requires an indictment by a grand jury. In a statement, Corey's office stressed that the decision not to call a grand jury "should not be considered a factor" in whether Zimmerman will ultimately be prosecuted in Martin's death. If Zimmerman is charged, it likely will be for the lesser charge of manslaughter, experts added.In related news, activists in Sanford, Fla., said the investigation into Martin's death isn't the first case involving the death of an African-American person that the local Police Department has botched. Leaders in Sanford's black community say police have repeatedly failed to properly investigate crimes involving minority victims. In the past three years, officers have been caught demanding bribes from motorists, fabricating evidence and drawing weapons unlawfully.A psychiatric examination has found that confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is not criminally insane, despite a claim based upon an earlier assessment. Today's finding comes six days before the 33-year-old man is set to stand trial on terror charges stemming from a bomb and shooting rampage that killed 77 people last summer in Norway.
by Kevin Osborne
Shadowy ALEC group helps push for the laws
An analysis of U.S. crime data by a British newspaper has found there’s been a 25 percent increase in civilian justifiable homicides since the controversial “stand your ground” (SYG) laws started being introduced in 2005.London’s Guardian newspaper analyzed data from FBI and state sources. It concludes that the spike in civilian justifiable homicides is related not only to SYG laws, but also weak gun control laws in certain states.Florida was the first state to introduce an SYG law in 2005 and similar measures have now been adopted in some form by more than 20 states. Most were passed in 2006. Ohio doesn’t yet have such a law, but it’s believed that gun advocates might be planning a campaign for one here soon.Florida’s SYG law is expected to be part of the defense made for George Zimmerman, if he is charged with a crime. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. The incident has triggered widespread public outrage.The Guardian’s analysis shows that SYG laws alone cannot be statistically linked with the rise in justifiable homicides. But in states with both SYG laws and the weakest gun control laws — as defined by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — it found a statistical correlation with an increase in justifiable homicides.Across the United States, such killings have risen sharply over the past five years, according to the data provided by the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. From 2001-05, there were 1,225 homicides classified as justifiable, compared to 1,528 in the period 2006-10. By contrast, violent crime overall has been falling."The police are shooting more people and citizens are shooting more people. We're evolving into an increasingly coarse society with no obligation to diffuse a situation and rapidly turn to force,” said Professor Dennis Kenney, of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and an ex-police sergeant in Florida. "People are literally getting away with murder."SYG laws allow a potential crime victim who is in fear of “grave harm” to use deadly force in public places, not just inside their own homes. They eliminate the legal requirement to retreat before a person may claim he or she acted in self-defense.SYG laws have been pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafts model legislation for state lawmakers to use.State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) is among ALEC's leaders, as CityBeat has previously reported here and here. The group, which held its annual meeting in Cincinnati last spring, has a membership of nearly 2,000 state legislators and around 300 private-sector members.Funded by the Koch brothers, the National Rifle Association, oil companies and others, ALEC’s model bills have served as the template for "voter ID" laws that swept the nation in 2011, for the voucher programs that privatize public education, for anti-immigrant legislation, and for the wave of anti-labor union legislation pushed during the past two years in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, New Hampshire and elsewhere.This week Coca-Cola and PepsiCo dropped their memberships in ALEC, amid the threat of boycotts.In 2010 National Public Radio reported that Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), a private-sector ALEC board member, participated in the drafting of Arizona Senate Bill No. 1070. The report documented the behind-the-scenes effort to draft and pass the law and how the CCA stood to benefit from people incarcerated under it.Marvin Meadors, a Huffington Post contributor, has described ALEC as “a bill-churning mill which uses corporate money to draft model legislation that advances the agenda of the Far Right and encourages crony capitalism.”