I-Team investigates Afghanistan waste

Published: Wednesday, May 07, 2014 @ 5:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 07, 2014 @ 5:45 PM


            A school building that has been funded by the U.S. is shown. It has been built so poorly that the bricks are literally melting.
            U.S. Government / Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

Hospitals with no running water, schools with melting walls...billions of dollars wasted in Afghanistan according to government auditors.

It is enough money to build a high speed rail system between Los Angelos and San Francisco, build 500 new schools, and still have billions of dollars left for roads, bridges and highways.

"This is more money than we have spent on any other single country in the history of the United States," said John Sopko, Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. 

Sopko said it adds up to more than one hundred billion dollars and counting that the U.S. has spent on buildings and infrastructure in Afghanistan.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said the mission is important. 

"If we make a commitment to that country a war effort to that country and we don't want terrorism to grow there again you invest like that," said Brown. 

However, Sopko said his office has found problems time and time again like the half a billion dollars spent on C-27 aircraft. He said the plans cannot fly in Afghan altitude so they just sit and rust and now can't even be flown out of Afghanistan. 

"Basically, these plane were flying coffins," said Sopko. "Total waste of money." 

Then there's the Salang Hospital. Inspectors found newborns being bathed with river water because there is no running water or electricity. 

Sopko also told us about school buildings and prisons built so poorly, that the bricks can be taken apart with a spoon. 

"When you contract out so much of what used to be the military with private contractors and private interests, you end up with more fraud and more waste," Brown said. 

Spending won't end when our troops pull out later this year. The U.S government is committed to spending between 8 and 9 million dollars a year for years to come. 

Sopko said that's more than the combined amount the Federal Government spends for researching cures for cancer, aids and Alzheimer's disease.

World’s largest Starbucks to set up shop on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 7:37 AM

Starbucks will open a Reserve Roastery in Chicago in 2019.
Starbucks

Chicago’s swanky Magnificent Mile will soon have a mega jolt of caffeine as Starbucks announces plans to open the world largest coffee shop of its brand.

The chain announced this week that it will open Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago in 2019, WMAQ reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The North Michigan Avenue business will be four stories tall and will be a “full sensorial coffee environment dedicated to roasting, brewing and packaging its rare, small-batch Starbucks Reserve coffees from around the world,” according to a press release from Starbucks.

The 43,000-square-foot Starbucks will open in the building currently holding a Crate and Barrel at Michigan Avenue and Erie Street.

It is the third roastery in the U.S. The first is in Seattle and opened in 2014. The second is scheduled to open in New York City next year. There are roasteries planned for Shanghai, Milan and Tokyo.

Check your change jar for rare penny worth up to $85,000 

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 7:23 PM

A rare coin, the 1943 copper wheat penny, also known as the Wheat Cent, is worth a pretty penny these days, selling for up to $85,000 at auction.

>> Read more trending news

That’s according to the online coin value service CoinTrackers, which said the pennies are so valuable because so few were made and they were released by mistake.

The Wheat Cent is made mostly from copper, but steel versions were issued during World War II, CoinTrackers said on its website. Because the 1943 coin was mistakenly minted of copper instead of steel and released, its value skyrocketed.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

Coin experts have suggested the mistake occurred when copper plates were either tested or left among the steel plates from 1942, KTRK-TV reported.

A penny worth $85,000 may sound astronomical, but consider that in 2012 a 1943 Lincoln penny sold for $1 million at auction.

 

Republicans press for possible Friday House vote on GOP health care bill

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 7:58 AM
Updated: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 7:58 AM

With a group of more conservative lawmakers from the House Freedom Caucus now on board, Republicans in the House are setting the table for a possible Friday vote on a GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law, a day before President Donald Trump marks his 100th day in office.

The clearest sign of a possible vote came late on Wednesday night, as Republicans posted the text of the GOP health bill – the American Health Care Act – and several related amendments, on a website which shows the expected schedule for the House floor.

The changes included language worked out in recent days by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), which would allow states to apply for waivers to certain provisions of the Obama health law, like the law’s Essential Health Benefits.

Also posted by the GOP was a fix for the MacArthur-Meadows amendment, which would strike out language that seemingly exempted members of Congress from any changes that might be made to health insurance coverage.

But while it was clear GOP leaders were now thinking about a House floor vote, it still seemed an uphill fight to convince reluctant Republican lawmakers to vote for that plan.

“I always vote my conscience, and this will not lower premiums,” said Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), one of a group of moderates who have not been sold on GOP health care efforts so far, worried it will go against the pledge to maintain protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

In order to set up a Friday vote, Republicans would have to first have the House Rules Committee approve a resolution setting out the guidelines for debate, including on the new amendments to the GOP health plan.

Ol’ Lefthander Joe Nuxhall to be featured on newest Hamilton mural

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 10:15 PM

Homegrown baseball hero Joe Nuxhall will be the subject of a mural to be painted on the side of a Hamilton sporting goods store this summer.

Nuxhall, known as the “Ol’ Lefthander,” the beloved Cincinnati Reds pitcher and later radio announcer for the team, became the youngest player in modern Major League Baseball history at age 15 in 1944.

He died in 2007 at age 79, but remains a beloved figure not only in his hometown of Hamilton, but also across the country, where his voice poured through the radio during Reds broadcasts for many years.

MORE: Hamilton murals program goes bigger for 2017

The first people who saw the mural, unveiled during Wednesday’s Hamilton City Council meeting, considered it a home run.

After local artist Jennifer Acus-Smith, a StreetSpark mural organizer, showed images of the the mural, the crowd at Hamilton City Council spontaneously applauded — not a common occurrence during meetings.

Acus-Smith noted the mural’s location, the longtime Clark’s Sporting Goods at 15 S. B St., is visible from the High-Main Bridge.

The dynamic mural, which has a 3-D effect of young Nuxhall extending his left arm toward the viewer with an autographed baseball in his hand, alongside an image of an older Nuxhall, was designed by Paul Loehle, a local artist and Hamilton High School art teacher.

“I’m sure he was in that sporting goods store a few times,” Mayor Pat Moeller said.

RELATED: Nuxhall Miracle League opens season with parade

At the McDonald’s across the street from Hamilton’s city building, the Nuxhall mural won approving nods from older Hamilton men, including Charles W. Farthing, 85, a retired automaker who attended the former Wilson Junior High School with Nuxhall.

“He was a better ballplayer than I was — you couldn’t hit his ball,” said Farthing, who was a grade behind Nuxhall and said he faced off against him in gym class.

“It looks alright,” said Glen Bryant, 77, also of Hamilton, who said Nuxhall was “a pretty good ballplayer, and a good announcer. And he spent his life in the ballgame, which you give him credit for. Being a pitcher so young (in 1944). I was just a baby then.”

“That’s great — I like that,” said Charles Tolbert, 64, another Hamiltonian who was sitting nearby. “I like the way it’s in 3D or something like that, the way he’s holding the ball out there like that, Ol’ Lefty.”

RELATED: Hamilton mural gets ‘tweak’ from famous illustrator’s family

Two other murals to be painted this summer in the city will be images that prominently feature birds.

A second mural will adorn a parking garage above a new downtown pocket park and will depict a person releasing a dove.

Called “Taking flight,” the mural was created by Taylor Welch, an artist and architecture/interiors professional at Community Design Alliance. It will loom above the new Rotary Park at Second and High Street that’s almost ready to open. The mural will adorn a large wall on the city’s McDulin parking garage.

The “Taking Flight” mural “represents our industrial foundation, paper, from which we are taking our next steps for the future of Hamilton,” Acus-Smith said, in reference to the proposed mega-indoor-sports complex, Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill, which will occupy the former Champion Paper property.

MORE: 6 Hamilton parks to get nature-themed murals

A third mural will show various bird images, including origami birds, echoing the city’s proud paper-making past.

The mural design for 212 Main St. was conjured by Canadian Annie Hamel, and features references to light bulbs and paper birds, in a nod to past city businesses and industries. She recently finished a mural project in France.

RELATED: Make way for murals? McCloskey art may find home in Hamilton

The murals were chosen through a blind selection process, with judges not knowing names of those submitting artworks.

“We got 117 designs submitted by 63 artists from three different countries,” Acus-Smith said. “So we were very pleased by this response. We essentially doubled the number of designs that came in last year.”

Painting of murals will start in late May, with some of the work continuing through July. Thirteen artists will do the painting. This year, college students from Miami University, the University of Cincinnati, the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Columbus College of Art & Design submitted entries.

Each mural will have its own dedication.