Kasich: Midterm turnout suggests opening for independent bid
By HOLLY RAMER
Thursday, November 15
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Thursday while he remains undecided about another presidential run, the midterm election results could suggest a greater opening for an independent or third-party candidate.
Kasich made his second trip this year to New Hampshire, where he finished second in the state’s lead-off Republican presidential primary in 2016.
“I’m encouraged every time I come back here,” he told reporters in Concord before meeting with supporters. “I know everybody’s wondering how I’m going to make a decision, when I’m going to make a decision. I don’t know, but what’s most important to me is that I can have a voice that can be a healing voice for the country.”
Asked about his previous speculation about running as a third-party or independent, Kasich said all options remain on the table.
“I think there’s a vast ocean in the middle. The middle has been numb, they didn’t know what to do. But they did something they haven’t done in 100 years, they voted. They turned out in unbelievable numbers to say we’ve had enough,” he said. “Where that takes us, I can’t quite tell. But if you have this big ocean in the middle, there’s perhaps a chance for something that’s unique in American history.”
Kasich elaborated a bit later in Manchester, noting the rapid pace of innovation in technology and medicine.
“In an era of all this change, why wouldn’t we think there could be fundamental political change?” he said. “The day will come, I think. When it will happen, I don’t know.”
The former congressman has been one of President Donald Trump’s most outspoken Republican detractors, and said the president will have a hard time getting re-elected as a divider. He said the midterm elections showed the Republican Party needs to change its message on separating families at the border, health care and other issues.
“To me, there is a very positive message. And that is: Americans don’t want the negativity. They don’t want the chaos. They don’t want the divide,” he said.
In contrast to Trump, who characterizes the media as an enemy of the people, Kasich spoke later at the annual First Amendment Awards given by Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. The school is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded by the late president and publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“The press is the one thing that holds the rich and the powerful accountable so we normal citizens can make up our minds about the current state of affairs, about our culture, about the world, about what we can do, and think and take action about,” Kasich said.
Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of New Hampshire Republican Party, backed Kasich’s 2016 primary bid and wrote him in on the general election ballot rather than vote for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton. He refused to vote for any midterm candidate who supports Trump, leaving him with a nearly blank ballot.
“The election results to me suggest that enough Republicans are disgusted with the Trump administration that it’s now costing other Republicans their chance to win,” he said.
Kasich noted while many Republican governors lost, Ohio elected another Republican to replace him.
“Why is that? A big factor is because no one was left behind in the state over the last eight years,” he said. “People in Ohio feel pretty good. They’re not angry. They don’t feel left out. They feel like why would I change, we’re going in the right direction.”
But back at home, the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly spent Thursday thumbing its nose at the absent governor. Lawmakers overrode Kasich’s veto of a measure expanding their power to revisit rules written and finalized by the government’s executive branch. The Ohio House also passed a “stand your ground” gun bill and a restrictive heartbeat abortion bill like one Kasich vetoed in December 2016. Both measures still need to be voted on by the Ohio Senate before a bill reaches Kasich’s desk.
Associated Press Writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
Lawmakers pass ‘stand your ground’ bill, abortion limits
Thursday, November 15
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Lawmakers in the Ohio House opened a lame-duck session by approving relaxed gun regulations and a strict anti-abortion bill, measures long sought by Republicans and at odds with outgoing GOP Gov. John Kasich.
The House on Thursday approved the so-called anti-abortion “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortions in Ohio after the first fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The Republican-controlled House voted 58-35 Thursday in favor of the legislation, which does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
The bill provides “a more consistent and reliable marker for the courts to use” when considering abortion laws’ constitutionality, said Rep. Christina Hagan, a Stark County Republican and the bill’s co-sponsor.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the measure “a total abortion ban” and promised to sue if it becomes law. Kasich vetoed a similar bill in December 2016, siding with opponents who contend it is unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, House lawmakers approved “stand your ground” gun legislation that eliminates a requirement to retreat in confrontations before using deadly force.
The House voted 64-26 in favor of the bill, a supermajority large enough to override Kasich’s expected veto.
Backers say the bill puts Ohio in line with about 35 other states.
“This bill is a huge step forward to providing the citizens of Ohio with clearer and concise gun laws and clarifying their right to bear arms,” Rep. Terry Johnson, a Republican from McDermott in southern Ohio, said in Wednesday’s debate.
Democrat Nickie Antonio accused the Legislature of being “tone deaf” to what’s happening in the country.
“Rather than put innocent Ohioans at risk and legalize a right to kill, I urge my colleagues to kill this bill and save Ohio lives,” she said.
Also Wednesday, lawmakers overrode Kasich’s veto of a measure expanding their power to revisit rules written and finalized by the government’s executive branch.
The abortion measure passed as the term-limited Kasich was in New Hampshire for the second time this year, speaking at journalism awards ceremony and boasting of his achievements in Ohio, including Medicaid expansion, tax cuts and efforts to address the deadly opioid crisis.
“People in Ohio feel pretty good,” Kasich said Thursday afternoon in Concord. “They’re not angry. They don’t feel left out. They feel like why would I change, we’re going in the right direction.”
Both bills go to the Senate next for a vote.
Associated Press Writer Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.
COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF WILDLIGHTS
Powell, OH – It’s beginning to look a lot like Wildlights season at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium! One of Central Ohio’s most cherished holiday traditions, Wildlights, efficiently powered by AEP Ohio, is now open and will run from Nov. 16, 2018 through Jan. 6, 2019.
This year marks the 30th Wildlights season with more holiday cheer than ever before. The entire Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland covered in millions of LED lights. Some of this year’s main Wildlights attractions include:
· Animated light shows, including “Holiday Rhythms Around the Watering Hole” at Conservation Lake and Jingle Ball located at the Shores Play Park.
· Do You Wanna Find a Snowman Seek-n-Find, brought to you by Disney On Ice: Frozen and Friends, with new winners and magical prizes each week.
· Santa’s Holiday Home in the North America region at the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost! Guests can spend time with Santa and also enjoy holiday sweets with Mrs. Claus at her kitchen in Conservation Courtyard. Please note that the Claus family will not be available after Dec. 23 due to other obligations.
· Wildlights rides, including the Polar Bear Express, a train ride through the North America winter wonderland; camel rides located in the North America region; and the 1914 Mangels-Illions Carousel, a historic Central Ohio treasure located near the Columbus Dispatch Charities Grand Pavilion. Additional fees may apply.
· Meet and Greets with Rudolph and Friends. Be sure to bring your camera as the most favorite reindeer of all, Rudolph, the lovable abominable snow monster, Bumble, and aspiring dentist, Hermey the elf, join us at Wildlights this year to create even more magical memories. You can also catch Rudolph and his friends on the big screen at the Shores Play Park 4-D Theater in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D Theater Experience.
· The Sparkling Spruce, presented by Meyers Jewelers, and its captivating light and sound shows “Candela: The Evolution of Light” and all-new show “Christmas Cheer Masterpiece” located in the Entry Village.
· And, of course, amazing animals! Many animals will be visible from the comfort of heated, indoor shelters, including Manatee Coast; Discovery Reef; the reptile building; the habitats at Vanishing Giants and the Naomi Coyle Dempsey Quest for Enlightenment Interpretive Center in Asia Quest; and the nocturnal building in the Australia and the Islands region. Others— including Santa’s favorite, the reindeer—will be outside during the festivities. Please note that some animal areas (such as the gorilla and bonobo habitats in Congo Expedition) will close at 4 p.m.
Other holiday traditions happening concurrently with Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo include:
· Stuff the Truck Food Drive with Kroger and the Zoo benefitting the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Wildlights while giving back to our community. Each guest who donates five non-perishable food items at the Zoo on Friday, Nov. 16 may enjoy one complimentary ticket to Wildlights to be used that evening. Guests who show one of their donated items at the parking booth will also receive free parking.
· Jack Hanna’s Home for the Holidays featuring Santa Paws, when guests can share holiday cheer and the spirit of giving with the animals of the Zoo! Visitors who donate an item from the Zoo’s wish list on the Zoo website event page will receive free admission on Saturday, Dec. 8. Santa Paws will also make a special visit to the animals of the Zoo on this day to give them special presents as animal enrichment! Later that evening, Jack Hanna returns home for the holidays and presents three LIVE shows with his animal friends.
· Zoo with Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Nationwide Arena. Enjoy the festive, familiar sounds of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. or 8 p.m., and a portion of every ticket sold will benefit the Columbus Zoo’s conservation efforts.
The Zoo opens daily at 10 a.m. with Wildlights activities operating Sundays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Zoo will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) and Christmas Day (Dec. 25), as well as for Wildlights on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). Wildlights is included with Zoo admission. Regular admission rates apply to all guests, and admission is free for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium members. For more information, please visit the Zoo’s event calendar.
About the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 600 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads and inspires by connecting people and wildlife. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Course. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also manages The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; annually contributing more than $4 million of privately raised funds to support conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.
Portman: Help is on the way to combat opioid crisis
Rob Portman, Opinion contributor
Nov. 12, 2018
The refrain I hear across Ohio about the opioid epidemic is clear: People are desperate for hope, and they want solutions.
We’ve made progress recently, and we have much more to do. But I’m proud that Congress took another important step to make the federal government a better partner through new legislation the president just signed into law.
The most urgent crisis we face in Ohio is the rise of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl overdose deaths in Ohio have increased by nearly 4,000 percent since 2013, and last year fentanyl was responsible for more than 70 percent of Ohio overdose deaths.
Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, co-chair of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, told me at a recent meeting that fentanyl continues to be the top killer in Greater Cincinnati – and other drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth are being laced with it.
In August 2016, Cincinnati experienced 174 overdoses over six days. That spike was caused by a fentanyl analogue called carfentanil. It drew national attention to this crisis – and highlighted the need to act.
Just days after we learned this spike was caused by synthetic opioids, I introduced bipartisan legislation to combat the rise of these drugs.
Based on an 18-month investigation by a congressional subcommittee I chair, we know that fentanyl is mostly shipped into our communities from China through our U.S. Postal Service. Our legislation addressed that.
The legislation – the STOP Act – was included in the new opioid law the president signed last week and closes the loophole in our international mail screening that drug traffickers have exploited. It requires the Postal Service to receive electronic advance data on packages entering the U.S., something private carriers are already required to do.
This information allows law enforcement to identify suspicious packages, test them and seize fentanyl.
I’ve seen this process in person, including at the DHL distribution center at the Greater Cincinnati airport, where I met with Customs and Border Protection officers who told me how badly they need this information to keep fentanyl out.
Now that it is law, the STOP Act will act as a tourniquet, stemming the flow of fentanyl into Ohio and allowing prevention, treatment, and recovery programs to take hold.
The new opioid law also expands access to treatment. When someone is ready to get over their addiction, treatment centers have to be ready to accept them. I’ve talked with too many families who have lost loved ones from overdoses after they were turned away from a treatment center because there wasn’t enough space.
A decades-old policy restricts those with Medicaid from seeking care in facilities with more than 16 beds. The new law includes bipartisan legislation I authored to lift this arbitrary restriction.
We want to help more people with the disease of addiction get treatment, and this initiative will do that. It will also ensure that all forms of substance abuse are covered and that treatment centers offer multiple forms of medication-assisted treatment to help people get treatment that is right for them.
The new opioid law also helps protect pregnant and postpartum moms affected by addiction as well as babies born dependent on drugs. These innocent babies have to be taken through the process of withdrawal as infants – and the long-term health effects are uncertain.
Earlier this year, I introduced CARA 2.0 to build on the successes of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), my bipartisan legislation that became law in 2016. A number of provisions from CARA 2.0 are in this new law, including $60 million for a plan of safe care for babies born dependent on drugs.
This is welcomed news for Cincinnati organizations like First Step Home, which provides support for expecting mothers, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which has an innovative program to help babies born dependent on drugs.
The law also includes the CRIB Act, a bipartisan bill I co-authored that will help newborns recover from addiction in the best care setting possible and provide support for their families.
I’ve seen the love and care babies receive through these impressive recovery programs, like Brigid’s Path in Dayton. This new law will assist that great program and support more like it.
Despite overdose deaths rising to new highs last year, there are some encouraging signs. In Cincinnati, more Narcan is being distributed to save lives, medication-assisted treatment is being expanded at places like Center for Addiction Treatment and Talbert House to help more people get into effective treatment to overcome their addiction. Mercy Health in Cincinnati is partnering with treatment centers to bridge the transition from immediate medical assistance and detox to longer-term treatment and wellness.
Through the commitment I have seen at the local level and this new law’s renewed partnership from the federal level, I believe we can turn the corner and take back our communities from the grips of addiction.
Sen. Rob Portman is a Terrace Park Republican.
Why covering the environment is one of the most dangerous beats in journalism
November 15, 2018
Professor of Journalism and Chair, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, Michigan State University
Eric Freedman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
From the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi by Saudi agents to President Trump’s clashes with the White House press corps, attacks on reporters are in the news. This problem extends far beyond the politics beat, and world leaders aren’t the only threats.
At Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, we train students and professional journalists to report on what we view as the world’s most important beat. One hard fact is that those who cover it are at heightened risk of murder, arrest, assault, threats, self-exile, lawsuits and harassment.
In a recent study, I explored this problem through in-depth interviews with journalists on five continents, including impacts on their mental health and careers. I found that some of them were driven away from journalism by these experiences, while others became even more committed to their missions.
Journalist Saul Elbein describes how in developing countries, covering the environment can be tantamount to investigating organized crime.
In the cross-hairs
Covering the environment is one of the most hazardous beats in journalism. According to one estimate, 40 reporters around the world died between 2005 and September 2016 because of their environmental reporting – more than were killed covering the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Environmental controversies often involve influential business and economic interests, political battles, criminal activities, anti-government insurgents or corruption. Other factors include ambiguous distinctions between “journalist” and “activist” in many countries, as well as struggles over indigenous rights to land and natural resources.
In both wealthy and developing countries, journalists covering these issues find themselves in the cross-hairs. Most survive, but many undergo severe trauma, with profound effects on their careers.
As one example, in 2013 Rodney Sieh, an independent journalist in Liberia, disclosed a former agriculture minister’s involvement in a corrupt scheme that misused funds earmarked to fight the parasitic, infectious Guinea worm disease. Sieh was sentenced to 5,000 years in prison and fined US$1.6 million for defamation. He served three months in Liberia’s most notorious prison before an international outcry pressured the government into releasing him.
In the same year, Canadian reporter Miles Howe was assigned to cover protests by the Elsipotog First Nation in New Brunswick against hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Howe worked for an independent online news organization that sought to spotlight unreported and under-reported stories.
“Many times I was the only accredited journalist witnessing rather violent arrests, third-trimester pregnant women being locked up, guys tackled to the ground,” he recalls. Howe was arrested multiple times, and during one protest a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police pointed him out and shouted, “He’s with them!” His equipment was seized, and police searched his home. They also offered to pay him for providing information about upcoming “events” – in other words, spying on the protesters.
The relatively few studies that have examined attacks on reporters show that such treatment can have lingering impacts, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive and substance use disorders. While some journalists are able to cope and recover, others live in a state of fear of future incidents, or suffer survivor guilt if they escape and leave relatives and colleagues behind.
“Overall, journalists are a pretty resilient tribe,” Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University, told me. “Their rates of PTSD and depression are about 13 to 15 percent, which is comparable to rates among first responders. Environmental or social justice reporters often have a higher-than-average sense of mission and purpose and a higher level of skill,” beyond that of some of their peers on other beats.
But this attitude can translate into reluctance to seek help. Most journalists I interviewed didn’t seek therapy, usually because no services were available or because of the profession’s machismo factor. Gowri Ananthan, a lecturer at the Institute of Mental Health in Sri Lanka, calls journalism “a profession in denial,” even as some victims acknowledge the price they’ve paid.
For example, Miles Howe suffered serious psychological problems following his arrests. “What did it do to me? It made me upset, angry,” he says. Howe didn’t seek therapy until he left journalism more than two years later, but in hindsight regrets not acting sooner.
Others told me their experiences recommitted them to their missions as journalists. Rodney Sieh says his stint in prison “really elevated our work to an international level that we would never have had if I weren’t arrested. It made us stronger, bigger, better.”
Indigenous rights versus professional ethics
Environmental controversies often involve indigenous rights. In South America, for example, indigenous journalists and “ethno-communicators” are playing an increasingly vital role in uncovering vast exploitation of natural resources, forests and land.
Despite professional codes calling for balanced, impartial coverage, some reporters can feel compelled to take sides on these stories. “We saw that clearly at Standing Rock,” says Tristan Ahtone, a board member of the Native American Journalists Association, referring to protests on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“NAJA had to put out ethical guidelines for journalists. We saw it mostly with young Native reporters who were happy to blow the ethical line,” Ahtone says. “A lot of it is having a different world view.”
One such reporter, freelance journalist Jenni Monet – a tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico – was arrested while covering the protests but acquitted of trespassing at trial. She also has covered deforestation and logging in a tribal area in Brazil’s Amazon region. “Most times I’m with indigenous people (on such stories), and I see things through their eyes,” she told me.
Better training and legal protection
Many of these issues need further research. From a craft perspective, how do these experiences affect journalists’ approach to reporting? How do they deal with sources afterwards, especially if those people are also at risk? How do editors and news directors subsequently treat reporters in terms of assignments, story placement and salaries?
These findings also raise questions about how press rights groups can successfully protect and advocate for environmental reporters. In my view, more environmental journalists need the type of safety training that many war and foreign correspondents now receive.
Pollution and natural resource damage affect everyone, especially the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. The fact that journalists who report on these issues are so vulnerable is deeply disturbing. And their abusers often operate with impunity.
For example, there have been no convictions in the 2017 murder of Colombian radio journalist Efigenia Vásquez Astudillo, who was shot while covering an indigenous movement to take back ancestral land that had been converted to farms, resorts and sugar plantations. As the Committee to Protect Journalists observes, “Murder is the ultimate form of censorship.”