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Flood watch in Northeast Ohio through Thursday
Other noon headlines: Castro and the death penalty, the uncertain safety of built-in devices, Great Lakes shipping, Cleveland mayor race

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:
  • Flood watch for Northeast Ohio
  • Castro's attorney hints at a deal
  • Triple-A says hands-free is not risk-free
  • Great Lakes shipping struggles with low-water levels
  • Lanci files for Cleveland mayor
  • Flood watch for Northeast Ohio
    The National Weather Service says strong thunderstorms with heavy rain are headed toward the area, and a flood watch is in effect for most of our region, including Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, Medina, Portage and Wayne counties. The watch continues through tomorrow afternoon.

    Castro's attorney hints at a deal
    Ariel Castro pleaded not guilty to more than 300 charges of murder, rape and kidnapping in a Cleveland courtroom today (Wednesday) . The man accused of abducting and imprisoning three women for 10 years kept his head down throughout the brief arraignment in a room packed with national and local media. He kept his head down throughout the brief proceedings.

    The charges include aggravated murder. Castro’s accused of starving and beating a woman to force her to miscarry, and Cuyahoga County prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty.

    At a press conference after the arraignment, Castro’s attorney Craig Weintraub indicated that, but for the death penalty, Castro may be willing to plead.

    LISTEN: Weintraub on emotional costs of a trial
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    “We are very sensitive to the emotional impact that a  trial would have on the women, their families and this community. Mr. Castro currently faces hundreds of years in prison with the current charges, and it is our hope that we can continue to work towards a resolution to avoid having an unnecessary trial about aggravated murder and the death penalty.”

    The case has been assigned to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Russo, and the first pretrial will be next Wednesday, and Castro will continue to be held on $8 million bond.

    Triple-A says hands-free is not risk-free
    Hands-free technologies -- marketed as safer than talking on your cell phone while driving -- may not, in fact, be much safer.

    A new AAA study says that the mental workload of using dashboard devices slows driver’s reaction time. It also says drivers scan the road less and are more likely to miss things like stop signs and pedestrians.

    Carmakers are increasingly building systems into new models that allow people to text, talk on the phone and even use Facebook hands-free while they drive.

    AAA says it’s study provides evidence that now is the time to  reconsider  the technology to be sure safeguards are in place before it’s more widely adopted. It suggests limiting voice-activated technology to things like cruise control and other core functions of driving, and disabling its use for social media, emails and texts.

    A statement from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says it is “extremely concerned” that the study is sending a misleading message that “hand-held and hands-free devices are equally risky.”

    Great Lakes shipping struggles with low-water levels
    Freighters carrying iron ore, limestone and other materials key to steel manufacturing have cut down on their loads because the water levels along the Great Lakes are at record lows.

    According to the Plain Dealer, Great Lakes shippers are concerned about what the dry summers are doing to water levels and their $34 billion a year business. The paper says lake levels usually fluctuate, but have dropped for the past 12 months, which hasn’t happened in nearly 100 years.

    Lanci files for Cleveland mayor

    Ken Lanci, who is challenging Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in the Democratic primary, filed his petitions today at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

    Lanci  is a Cleveland native and a millionaire businessman who owns Consolidated Graphics Group.  He unsuccessfully ran as an independent for Cuyahoga County executive in 2010. 

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