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Ohio Sports

LeBron James, Cavs to visit White House on same day as Trump

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James and his Cavaliers teammates will be at the White House on Thursday.

An unexpected guest will be there, too.

The visit by the reigning NBA champions will coincide with President-elect Donald Trump’s meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the handover of power and transition following a shocking election that left James — and millions of Americans — wondering about the future.

Gov. John Kasich, a onetime Republican presidential rival who refused to endorse Trump and boycotted the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, also was to visit the White House on Thursday.

James had supported Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, appearing on stage with the former secretary of state at a campaign rally Sunday to urge Cleveland residents to vote.

On Wednesday, just hours after Clinton had conceded the election to Trump, James posted on his Instagram account that he woke up “looking and searching for answers on what has happened.” He posted the audio to “Alright,” a song by rapper Kendrick Lamar.

James wrote: “Parents and leaders of our children please let them know they can still change the world for the better! Don’t lose a bit of faith! They’re our future and we must remain stronger than ever!! Yes we all wanna lace up the boots, put on the hard hats and strike but that’s not the answer. Love, genuine LOVE and FAITH will be the only thing that can get us through this.”

The Cavs’ trip to Washington has been planned for weeks. Coach Tyronn Lue, who received a phone call in June from Obama shortly after Cleveland rallied to beat Golden State in the NBA Finals, wanted the visit to happen before the first African-American president left office. Cleveland plays at Washington on Friday night.

James has openly expressed his views on numerous political issues in recent years. Following Trump’s election, the three-time champion and father of three said he felt the need to offer encouragement to minorities and women.

“Please know that this isn’t the end, it’s just a very challenging obstacle that we will overcome!!” he said. “… To all the youth out there I PROMISE I’ll continue to lead u guys every single day without no hesitation!! Time to educate and even more mold my children into being the greatest model citizens they can become in life!”

James wasn’t the only Cavaliers player to express his feelings.

J.R. Smith, who also attended Clinton’s rally in Cleveland, posted a photo of his daughter standing outside the White House.

“How do I even feel confident sending her on play dates knowing the kids family voted for the racist, sexist person an I don’t know how they will treat her when she’s gone,” Smith said. “How? Seriously How?”

Categories
Ohio Sports

Rookie Werenski scores in OT, Jackets beat Ducks 3-2

By ROBERT DENHARD, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Rookie Zach Werenski hasn’t been fazed by much this season. Not even scoring into his own goal.

Werenski shrugged off an unfortunate bounce and scored 1:21 into overtime after Columbus blew a two-goal lead, helping the Blue Jackets escape with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.

“Some nights, things aren’t going to go your way,” the 19-year-old top-pair defenseman said. “But it’s just sticking to the game plan, playing hard every shift trying to make the next right play. I think it’s been working for me.”

Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist and Boone Jenner got his first score this season for Columbus, which won its fourth straight at home and stretched its point streak to five (4-0-1). Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves.

Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie tied it at 2 early in the third period after Rickard Rakell scored late in the second. John Gibson made 15 stops.

“We had to find a way — even though we were up 2-0,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “We allowed them back in the game. But we didn’t get psyched out by it. We kind of just kept our composure.”

After being pinned in its zone to start overtime, Columbus pushed the play forward. Alexander Wennberg got his 12th assist by spinning with the puck at the left faceoff dot and hitting Werenski with a backhand pass in stride in the slot. The eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft snapped a shot past Gibson for his third goal and 11th point in 11 games.

Saad played a part setting it all in motion.

“I just tried to dive and get a stick on it,” he said about breaking up Anaheim’s attack. “Then obviously Wenny took over and made a great play.”

Jenner and Saad scored in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game, but the Ducks regained their footing and carried the play from the midpoint of the first period into the third.

“We got better as the game went on,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “I think anytime you’re down 2-0 on the road and come back and get a point you’ve done something. It doesn’t darken the whole day because we’ve lost in overtime.”

Rakell got his goal with 2:39 left in the second. Cam Fowler shot a puck that banked off Rakell before deflecting off Werenski’s blade and in.

Bobrovsky gifted Anaheim its other goal 1:25 into the third. He left his net and misplayed a puck, allowing Joseph Cramarossa to get possession and pass to Ritchie in front for an easy tying score.

Columbus gave itself a first-period cushion for the second time in two games against the Ducks this season. The Blue Jackets scored all of their goals in the opening frame in a 4-0 win at Anaheim two weeks ago.

Jenner was left alone in front and easily put a rebound past Gibson 1:23 in. The goal was his first this season after scoring a career-best 30 last season.

Columbus exposed more open ice four minutes later to make it 2-0. Ryan Murray moved into the zone and sent the puck inside the right circle to Saad, who buried the one-timer for his fourth.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction in winning a game a different way,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “I don’t think neither team ended up with a lot of scoring chances. It was a disjointed game.”

NOTES: D Hampus Lindholm made his season debut for the Ducks. The 22-year-old Swede ended a contract dispute on Oct. 27 then dealt with visa issues before finally arriving Tuesday in Columbus. … The Blue Jackets played their first game without key defenseman Seth Jones, sidelined three weeks with a broken foot suffered Saturday. … LW Sonny Milano, selected in the first round of the 2014 draft, made his NHL debut. … Blue Jackets C Brandon Dubinsky, still yet to score a goal this season, sat out with a lower-body injury. … The Blue Jackets swept the two-game season series.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Play at Carolina on Thursday night, then wrap a three-game trip Saturday in Nashville.

Blue Jackets: Visit Boston on Thursday night.

Categories
Ohio Sports

Time for Browns to win their first game? Nope

By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer

The Cleveland Browns are winless, 0-9 for the first time in this version of the franchise’s history. They are ranked dead last at No. 32 in the AP Pro32.

And now they must play on a short week at their hated rival, the Ravens — who used to be the Browns before fleeing to Baltimore in 1996.

Baltimore was floundering, losing four in a row before beating Pittsburgh, another hated rival for both the Ravens and Browns. A win over Cleveland could give the Ravens sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

It’s a benefit for John Harbaugh’s team that it is taking on Hue Jackson’s squad Thursday night. And no, not only because the Browns have the league’s worst record.

“You just have to get right to the next opponent, which we did being Cleveland,” Harbaugh said. “Fortunately, I think for both teams probably, they are opponents that we both have familiarity with, being a rivalry game and in the division, and we played each other once already this year. So that helps the preparation mentally, but things change, Cleveland has changed scheme and personnel a little bit, so we really have to look at that.

“More than anything, it is getting back physically. The guys will be emotionally ready to play. It is a big game for both teams. … It is a national game. Everybody is going to be excited.”

The Ravens (No. 16 in AP Pro32) are 10-point choices over the beleaguered Browns. Is this the time to go out on a limb — way out on a limb — and take Cleveland to finally win? Nah, because Pro Picks is pretty beleaguered these days, too.

RAVENS, 20-13

KNOCKOUT LEAGUE

Cowboys came through last week, counting on ARIZONA to do the same this week.

No. 5 Seattle (plus 7 1-2) at No. 1 New England

Everything points to Patriots coming off bye as Seahawks travel cross-country after Monday nighter.

BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 30-13

No. 6 Atlanta (plus 2) at No. 13 Philadelphia

Falcons get Eagles at the right time.

UPSET SPECIAL: FALCONS, 23-20

No. 2 Dallas (plus 3) at No. 15 Pittsburgh

Steelers need to turn it around soon. Won’t start Sunday.

COWBOYS, 27-23

No. 31 San Francisco (plus 13) at No. 20 Arizona

Cardinals need to turn it around. Might start Sunday.

CARDINALS, 31-17

No. 4 Kansas City (plus 3) at No. 24 Carolina

Panthers have begun their turnaround. Statement win here.

PANTHERS, 26-20

No. 9 Minnesota (plus 2) at No. 10 Washington

Vikings are too injured and too unreliable on offense right now.

REDSKINS, 20-14

No. 7 Denver (plus 1 1-2) at No. 21 New Orleans

Until the Broncos find more balance …

SAINTS, 27-19

No. 18 Cincinnati (plus 2) at No. 8 New York Giants, Monday night

Could be a shootout at MetLife Stadium.

GIANTS, 30-27

No. 14 Green Bay (minus 2) at No. 25 Tennessee

It’s time for A-Rod and the Packers to wake up.

PACKERS, 28-24

No. 12 Houston (minus 1 1-2) at No. 30 Jacksonville

At some point, the Jaguars figure to get it right.

JAGUARS, 29-28

No. 19 Miami (plus 4) at No. 17 San Diego

Both teams have come on after weak starts.

CHARGERS, 26-17

No. 27 Los Angeles (plus 2) at No. 28 New York Jets

Hard to pick Jets right now. Impossible to pick Rams.

JETS, 20-13

No. 29 Chicago (OFF) at No. 26 Tampa Bay

Look and listen for lots of Bears fans at game.

BUCCANEERS, 28-27

___

Last Week: Against spread (6-5-2). Straight up: (8-5)

Season Totals: Against spread (60-65-6). Straight up: (75-55-2)

Best Bet: 5-4 against spread, 6-3 straight up.

Upset special: 5-3-1 against spread, 5-4 straight up

___

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Categories
Ohio Headlines

Jury deliberations to resume in Ohio police shooting trial

By JANICE MORSE, Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — Jurors are set to resume deliberations in the murder trial of a white former police officer who said he feared for his life before fatally shooting an unarmed black man during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate in Ohio.

Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan sequestered the jurors Wednesday night, telling them that they would resume deliberating Thursday morning.

Before they got the case, Shanahan instructed them to apply the law to the facts presented in court, and to judge the facts “from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene,” not in “20-20 hindsight.”

Prosecutors want the jurors to conclude that now-fired University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing “purposely” killed Sam DuBose. Jurors also have the option of convicting him of voluntary manslaughter, meaning he killed in a fit of rage or sudden passion after being provoked.

Tensing, 26, has said he shot DuBose, 43, while being dragged by DuBose’s car as he tried to drive away on July 19, 2015.

The prosecution said evidence including Tensing’s own body camera video contradicted his story.

“The video is the ultimate witness … this video exposes Tensing’s lies,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said during closing arguments.

He said Tensing and his lawyer became “almost comical with their word games,” calling shooting DuBose “stopping the threat” and saying he “perceived to be dragged.”

But defense attorney Stewart Mathews insisted Tensing was trying to keep from being run over.

“He was in sheer terror,” Mathews told jurors. “The evidence is very clear that a car can be just as deadly as a gun or knife.”

He said prosecutors tried to use race as “a smokescreen.” They pointed to Tensing’s T-shirt worn under his uniform that day. The “Great Smoky Mountains” shirt had a Confederate flag on it. Mathews said it had “no evidentiary value.”

City officials met with civil rights and faith leaders in the weeks before the trial, trying to reduce tensions over a racially charged case that brought demonstrators — including Black Lives Matter activists — outside the courthouse. It is among cases nationwide that have raised attention to how police deal with blacks.

Deters told jurors Wednesday that “emotions are high,” but they must decide based on the facts.

Tensing wept on the stand Tuesday. He said his arm was stuck in DuBose’s car at the time and the car was turning toward him.

Deters asked Tensing about an outside report that eight out of every 10 drivers that Tensing pulled over for traffic stops were black, the highest rate of any University of Cincinnati officer.

Tensing said he was often unaware of a driver’s race, did not single people out unfairly and wasn’t racist.

Witnesses testified that DuBose had significant amounts of marijuana and cash on him, which Mathews described as a reason why he was desperate to flee.

___

Associated Press writers Lisa Cornwell and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

Categories
Ohio Headlines

Hearing set for man accused of trying to join Islamic State

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A bond hearing is set for an Ohio man accused of trying to travel to Libya to join the Islamic State group.

A federal prosecutor in Columbus says Aaron Daniels wired $250 to an Islamic State group operative in January and told an undercover informant about his interest in traveling overseas to commit jihad.

Daniels’ court-appointed attorney has declined to comment.

Daniels was taken into custody Monday at John Glenn Columbus International Airport after a months-long investigation.

Prosecutors want the 20-year-old Daniels kept in jail. Magistrate Judge Terence Kemp scheduled a Thursday morning hearing.

Categories
Ohio Headlines

Comedian accused of abusing power as mayor is acquitted

HILLSBORO, Ohio (AP) — A veteran standup comedian accused of abusing his power as mayor of a small Ohio city has been acquitted of all counts.

A Highland County jury on Wednesday found Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings not guilty of a charge of election falsification concerning his residency and of a charge stemming from alleged misuse of city trash bins.

Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove earlier threw out the two other felony counts that Hastings faced.

A special prosecutor from Ohio’s auditor’s office had told jurors the previous day that Hastings “thought the laws didn’t apply to him,” The Times-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2flyt94 ) reported. Special prosecutor Robert F. Smith has argued that water records and furnishings show Hastings’ real residence is his farm outside the city, not his downtown apartment.

Hastings’ attorney, James Boulger, blasted the accusation that Hastings falsified his residency by pointing out that Ohio’s attorney general investigated the matter in 2013. Boulger suggested Hastings’ political enemies were behind an investigation that began soon after the Republican’s re-election to a second term last November.

Hastings, who has appeared on late-night television shows, had been handily re-elected to a second four-year term.

His case was closely watched and debated in Hillsboro, a city of 6,600 people about 60 miles east of Cincinnati.

Cosgrove, a retired Summit County common pleas judge, heard the case after a Highland County judge recused himself.

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Information from: Times-Gazette, http://www.timesgazette.com

Categories
Ohio Headlines

GM laying off over 2,000 at 2 car plants as sales slow

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — Shifting demand from cars to trucks and SUVS is forcing General Motors to lay off more than 2,000 workers indefinitely at two assembly plants in Ohio and Michigan starting in January.

The company said Wednesday it will suspend the third shifts at factories in Lordstown, Ohio, and in Lansing, Michigan, because of the market change, which is growing and shows no sign of abating.

About 1,250 workers will be furloughed at the Lordstown plant, which makes the Chevrolet Cruze compact car, starting Jan. 23. Another 840 will be idled at the Lansing Grand River factory, which makes the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car and the Cadillac ATS and CTS luxury cars, when their shifts end Jan. 16.

“It’s supply and demand, and right now the demand is not there for what we have,” said Glenn Johnson, president of a United Auto Workers union local at the Lordstown plant east of Cleveland.

Last month, 61.6 percent of U.S. new vehicle sales were trucks and SUVs, according to Autodata Corp. That’s a record that is likely to be broken said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president for forecasting at the consulting firm LMC Automotive.

Because of the shift, it’s likely the GM layoffs won’t be the last at auto factories that build only cars in the slowing compact, subcompact and midsize segments, Schuster said.  “It’s not inevitable but the likelihood is certainly higher,” he said.

Americans have been moving away from cars toward trucks and SUVs for several years now as gas prices have dropped to near $2 per gallon and the larger vehicles have become more efficient. Baby boomers and young people are attracted to smaller SUVs because of their cargo-carrying ability, high seating position and visibility.

Sales of the Ohio-manufactured Cruze are down nearly 20 percent this year even though a new version is only in its second year of production. Of the vehicles made in Lansing, ATS and CTS sales each are down about 17 percent this year, while Camaro sales are off 9 percent.

GM doesn’t know when the workers will be called back, said spokesman Tom Wickham. “Looking ahead at 2017 we know that the car market continues to soften and the crossover (SUV) and full-size truck market continues to grow,” he said. Laid-off workers will get supplemental pay and state unemployment benefits that will amount to most of their wages for a year.

General Motors Co. also announced Wednesday that it would invest more than $900 million at a Toledo, Ohio, transmission plant, the Lansing Grand River factory and a casting plant in Bedford, Indiana, to prepare for undisclosed new vehicles. The investment will preserve jobs but not create new ones.

The GM layoffs are not the first this year for the U.S. auto industry, which has experienced healthy year-over-year growth since 2009. But sales are starting to slow from the record of 17.5 million set last year.

Last month, GM’s crosstown rival Ford Motor Co. said it would temporarily idle four North American assembly plants to better align production with demand. Ford has scheduled one-week closures for plants in Kansas City, Missouri, and Hermosillo and Cuatitlan, Mexico. Those plants make the F-150 pickup truck, the Fusion sedan and the Fiesta subcompact. It also scheduled two weeks of down time for its Louisville, Kentucky, plant, which makes small SUVs.

Lordstown’s Johnson says the layoffs aren’t the fault of the Cruze, which can get 40 miles per gallon on the highway and recently was named the most reliable compact car by Consumer Reports magazine.

“This isn’t just a GM issue,” he said. “The whole small car industry is suffering with the shift.”

Categories
Ohio Headlines

Local veteran services agency ex-chief gets prison for theft

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A former veterans services director accused of stealing thousands of dollars from her county agency in Ohio has been sentenced to three years in prison on charges including theft in office.

Prosecutors say Rebecca Lee was ordered to pay over $19,000 in restitution to the Pickaway County Veterans’ Service Commission.

The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2ffUqc6 ) reports the 52-year-old Lee spoke briefly in court Wednesday to deny allegations that she had an attitude of entitlement and said she’s been humbled.

Besides the financial matters, Lee was accused of stealing an historic World War II flag donated by a local veteran who’d been imprisoned a prisoner at a camp in Poland. The flag featuring a swastika was signed by other soldiers after their liberation.

Authorities suspect Lee sold the flag. It’s still missing.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

Categories
Ohio Headlines

Ohioan who fled US gets 20 years in prison for Ponzi scheme

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A man who spent more than a decade as a fugitive has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for charges related to a Ponzi scheme that victimized hundreds of investors.

A judge sentenced Eric Bartoli on Wednesday in Akron. He had pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy and fraud charges.

His attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Prosecutors say Bartoli and his co-conspirators swindled U.S. and Latin America investors by selling them $65 million in unregistered securities.

Bartoli fled the country after failing to appear at a 1999 hearing regarding a lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was indicted in 2003.

Peruvian police arrested Bartoli in 2013, two years after U.S. authorities sought to extradite him. Authorities brought him back to the U.S. last year.

Categories
National News

Coroner: 1 of 2 Pennsylvania police officers shot has died

CANONSBURG, Pa. (AP) — The coroner says one of two western Pennsylvania police officers shot while responding to a domestic situation has died, and police are searching for a suspect.

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco wouldn’t identify the Canonsburg officer who was slain because relatives are still being notified.

Canonsburg and state police say the incident began about 3:15 a.m.

Trooper Melinda Bondarenka tells reporters the officers were immediately met with gunfire when they arrived at the scene.

The surviving officer has been flown to a hospital in Pittsburgh. His condition wasn’t immediately available.

Police and SWAT teams have been seen near at least two homes in the borough about 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. It’s not clear whether the suspect was in either of those homes.

Nearby schools were delayed or canceled because of the heavy police presence.