Morning News and Stuff

Obama commutes life sentence of local man; Ohio House moves closer to approving medical marijuana bill; Trump heightens rifts in Republican party

click to enlarge Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman

President Barack Obama on Thursday gave a Cincinnati man named Thomas Farmer a second chance when commuted his life sentence along with 57 other federal convicts. Farmer has been in a federal prison serving a life sentence since 1995  for charges of cocaine possession and distribution. Obama's latest round of commutes targeted those serving life sentences for drug-related charges and brings the president's total commute number to 306. 

• There's less than two months before the world will finally get the chance to journey to Grant County, Kentucky, to experience a real-life replica of Noah's Ark. After 14 months of construction, the project is apparently coming along smoothly — and even under budget. The controversial structure, which is based on the Biblical tale of one man single-handedly building a giant ark and cramming it full of two of every kind of animal, is set to open on July 7 and is expected to attract 1.2 million visitors in the first year. 

• The Ohio House is set to vote on legislation next Tuesday that could legalize medical marijuana for Ohioans. After months of committee hearings, a special House committee approved HB 523 Thursday evening, making it the first time marijuana legislation has ever made it out of committee and on to a full House vote. The bill would create a tightly regulated system for growing, dispensing and prescribing the plant and would permit it only be used in a patch, vapor, oil or other extract.

• If you're planning on getting out your wildest hat and watching the Kentucky Derby Saturday, as tradition goes, you're also going to hear the crowd sing along with University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band to Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home." But former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker believes some people are missing the racial undertones in the sweet-sounding, old-timey melody. Walker says the song, which was written by composer Stephen Foster as an anti-slavery song, actually has some pretty troubling lyrics related to slavery. 

• It's been less than two days since Donald Trump has taken the spot of the presumed GOP presidential nominee, and already the split in the Republican party is widening. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the country's highest-elected Republican, says he's not ready to endorse Trump for president. Trump responded to the comment saying he's "not ready" to support Speaker Ryan's agenda."

In Ohio, Democrats are already hoping that Republican Sen. Rob Portman's support of Trump will hurt his chances of re-election this November. Incumbent Portman is running against former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland for the U.S. Senate.

News tips go here. Enjoy your weekend, Cincy!

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