by Kevin Osborne
Even though it has provided it for years, Xavier University will stop including contraceptives in its health insurance coverage for faculty and staff beginning July 1. The Jesuit university employs about 950 people. In a letter posted on the university website, Xavier President Michael J. Graham wrote, “it is inconsistent for a Catholic institution to cover those drugs and procedures which the church opposes.” Of course, some Catholic bishops, including Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, are raising a stink about a new federal rule that requires most religiously-affiliated schools and hospitals to begin offering birth control as part of health-care reforms. Either Mr. Graham got a sudden bout of conscience or he's politicizing an item that caused no controversy for years, until the church hierarchy decided it was time to flex its collective muscle.Stores and other businesses that want to use off-duty Cincinnati police officers for security might soon have to pay more for the privilege. City Hall staffers are recommending the city start charging an hourly fee when they use the off-duty cops. Officials said they need the funds to cover the administrative costs of the program.If you like stopping by Findlay Market to pick up some sushi, gelato or fresh produce, you might want to consider riding your bike there or taking the bus starting later this month, if you need to save money. That's because the market's three main parking lots will become pay lots for the first time since 1999, beginning April 23. The new fees are 50 cents an hour Monday-Friday, and $1 an hour on weekends with a $2 maximum, although motorists will get the first hour free. Also, monthly parking permits will cost $45.Joey Votto, the talented Cincinnati Reds first baseman, is close to signing a new deal that likely would make him one of the highest-paid players in Major League Baseball. According to the website MLBtraderumors.com, Votto is close to reaching a long-term deal with the Reds. Details haven't been disclosed, but the website speculated it would have to be near the $200 million that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder got last year.Hamilton County commissioners have rejected a request to place a property tax levy on the November ballot that would've raised $150 million to pay for repairs at the historic Union Terminal. It's the second consecutive year that commissioners rejected the request, citing the bad economy. Also, they said taxpayers shouldn't pay for the entire cost and that private donations should be sought.In news elsewhere, there are primary elections held today in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia. GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is trailing rival Mitt Romney in delegates won so far, and polls suggest Romney will score some crucial victories tonight. In fact, President Obama has begun treating Romney as though he's already won the Republican nomination. Obama's reelection campaign is running a new TV ad in five swing states attacking Romney by name for the first time.The U.S. Justice Department is offering a $10 million bounty for the arrest of of Hafiz Sayeed, founder of the group blamed for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. The reward is intended to increase the pressure on Pakistan to crack down on militant groups.Two forensic voice experts have concluded it wasn't shooter George Zimmerman that is heard crying for help on a disputed 911 call before an unarmed teenager was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla. The experts, hired by The Orlando Sentinel, reviewed the tape using state-of-the-art voice identification software, and said the cries weren't from Zimmerman and instead were from Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who died that night. “You can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman,” one of the experts said.The notorious Koch brothers, the ultra-conservative industrialists that discreetly bankroll various far-Right causes, are having a bad time recently. The FBI announced it was investigating two Wisconsin groups tied to Americans for Prosperity, the political organization they founded and fund. Then, a federal court handed down a decision that may ultimately require certain nonprofit groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, to reveal their full donor list.Researchers at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies have compiled the human, economic, social and political costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as U.S. military actions in Pakistan. PBS commentator Bill Moyers recently summarized the findings which include 224,475 lives lost, 365,383 people wounded and 7.8 million refugees and internally displaced people, along with $1.3 trillion in Congressional War Appropriations, between $3.7-$4.4 trillion estimated total costs to American taxpayers and $1 trillion more in interest payments through 2020 on money the United States borrowed for war (mostly from China). Was it all worth it?
by Kevin Osborne
Group wants sex strike to protest GOP's 'war on women'
If you’re a horny little bugger, you might want to get as much sex as you can during the next six weeks.A left-leaning advocacy group, Liberal Ladies Who Lunch, is calling for a nationwide sex strike from April 28 to May 5. It says all “women and people who want to join in solidarity should withhold from having sex with their partners.”The protest is in reaction to recent attempts by Republican lawmakers to overturn a new federal rule that requires all insurance companies to provide contraceptives to women free of charge beginning in August.“This will help people understand that contraception is for women and men, because men enjoy the benefit of women making their own choices about when and if they want to get pregnant,” the group states on its website.“Once Congress and insurance agencies agree to cover contraception, we will then resume having sex,” it adds. “Until then men will have to be content with their hand.”Meanwhile, the wife of a Virginia lawmaker already has begun the strike. Rita Von Essen Albo, who is married to State Del. David Albo (R-Fairfax Station), recently refused him sex due to his support for the state's transvaginal ultrasound bill. The lawmaker complained about his wife’s action on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates.On the Facebook page for Liberal Ladies Who Lunch, the group lists several similar strikes in recent years including ones in Colombia in 2006, Italy in 2007, Kenya in 2009 and Belgium in 2011.
by Kevin Osborne
About 75,000 workers in Greater Cincinnati don't have insurance coverage for contraceptives, The Enquirer reports. Most of those who don't are employed by hospital systems connected to the Catholic Church or religiously affiliated universities, which try to adhere to the church's stance against using birth control. Still, as reporter Cliff Peale writes, “They follow the Catholic directives first, but also have set up financial models that depend on millions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and federal student aid programs, and employees who might very well be non-Catholics.” In other words, they want federal largesse, they just don't want to follow federal rules.Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, will be one of the speakers next week at Procter & Gamble's digital marketing summit. The event, known as Signal P&G, will be held March 8 at the corporation's downtown headquarters. About 20 executives will participate in the summit, which will feature a full day of case studies and one-on-one interviews with industry leaders.If you live within Cincinnati's city limits, your day for garbage pickup might be changing. Beginning March 5, some trash collection routes will change, which means the day of the week when garbage and recycling are collected will be affected in some neighborhoods. Check this website for more details.The Cincinnati Board of Education announced today that it wants to renew the contract of Mary Ronan, who has been schools superintendent since April 2009. The board authorized negotiations to be conducted with Ronan over the next month on a three-year contract extension that would take effect on Aug. 1, 2012 and end on July 31, 2015.In news elsewhere, today might well be the rubicon for the campaign of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Primaries will be held today in Arizona and Romney's native Michigan, where his family is something of a political dynasty. Many pundits say that unless Romney scores a convincing victory in Michigan, his campaign could be in serious trouble against the surging Rick Santorum.Meanwhile, Romney is angry that some Democratic voters in Michigan are vowing to cross over and cast ballots for Santorum in the GOP primary, to sow chaos. But Romney used a similar tactic and cast a Democratic ballot in Massachusetts's 1992 primary. "In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary," Romney told ABC News. Until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994, Romney had spent his adult life as a registered independent. "When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I’d vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican,” he added.The Orange One is facing criticism again for his leadership style, or lack thereof. West Chester's favorite son, House Speaker John Boehner, is being chided for fumbling the passage of a major transportation bill. Because Boehner couldn't round up enough votes to pass the bill – which is being touted as the GOP's main jobs plan for 2012 – Boehner had to split the bill into three component parts.Anti-government protestors in Syria said they found the bodies of 64 men dumped on the outskirts of the city of Homs. An unknown number of women and children who had been with the men are missing, protestors added. The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last March, and pressure for U.S. or NATO military intervention is growing due to the violence.New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe, about 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World. Time to start changing those history books.
by Kevin Osborne
GOP congressman blocks woman from testifying about birth control rule
Two Democratic congresswomen walked out of a hearing today in the House after a Republican colleague blocked a woman from testifying about a new federal rule that will require most employers to provide free birth control.U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) left the hearing after House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) prevented the woman from being added to the witness list.Announced last month, the rule reclassifies birth control as a preventative health measure, which means most employers must cover contraception in their insurance plans with no cost sharing like co-pays or deductibles. Initially, an exemption was granted for churches but not for religiously affiliated schools and hospitals, which angered some Catholic bishops and others.In a compromise unveiled Feb. 10, President Obama said religiously affiliated schools and hospitals wouldn’t be forced to offer coverage for free contraceptives. Rather, insurers will be required to offer the coverage free to any women who work at such institutions.That wasn’t good enough for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and some conservative politicians, who said the coverage shouldn’t be required at all.Issa’s staff informed Democratic members of the committee that the hearing was about religious liberty in general, and not the contraception mandate, in explaining why Sandra Fluke couldn’t testify.“As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the (Obama) administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness,” Issa’s staffers wrote in a letter.Fluke wanted to tell about an incident involving a 32-year-old friend who was diagnosed with ovarian cysts and prescribed birth control pills as the only remedy for her condition. Because the woman’s insurance didn’t cover contraception, the friend couldn’t afford her medication and eventually lost her ovary.Read what Fluke had planned to tell the panel here.Eleven people were on Issa’s witness list, led by the Rev. William Lori, the Roman Catholic bishop of Bridgeport, Conn. Eight of Issa’s witnesses are Orthodox Christian, Catholic or evangelical, and represent Christian institutions.Originally, Issa only planned on calling nine witnesses — all men. After the public flap, he added two women to the list.
by Kevin Osborne
Perhaps sensing they were losing the public perception battle, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday agreed to extend the payroll tax cut for another 10 months without getting offsetting reductions elsewhere in the budget. The action is a victory for President Obama, who opposed the GOP’s attempts to force pay cuts for federal workers and require them to contribute more to their pensions.
by Kevin Osborne
A prominent Republican congressman is under investigation for insider trading. U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who heads the House Financial Services Committee, is being probed by the Office of Congressional Ethics for making suspicious trades and buying certain stock options while helping oversee the nation’s banking and financial services industries.
by Kevin Osborne
With 273 days remaining until the presidential election, some of our readers might already be getting sick of listening to the latest blather from the candidates. Still, a rather blistering analysis of President Obama’s recent actions at Politico is worth checking out. Maybe this line will pique your interest: “So much for the high road: Victory is more important than purity … He’s made a series of calculated, overtly political gestures that are far more transactional than transformational.”
6 Comments · Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Don’t believe the tall tales spouted by Newt Gingrich, Steve Chabot or Dusty Rhodes. Despite what some overly excitable white,
middle-aged men will tell you, recent federal rule changes that mean
women will be able to get free birth control don’t infringe on religious
by Hannah McCartney
at 10:21 AM | Permalink
Pfizer tapped into women’s worst nightmares all around the country on Tuesday when it announced a recall on 1.4 million packages of birth control pills. Apparently, a packaging error on Lo/Ovral-28, Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol meant that the pills “may contain an inexact count of inert or active ingredient tablets and that the tablets may be out of sequence,” according to Pfizer’s press release.