Author Archives: Owen

Paying for Premiums

Yes. Do it.

Gov. Scott Walker made the case on Monday for a requirement in his two-year budget proposal that would make some K-12 education funding contingent on districts’ compliance with Act 10.

Under Walker’s spending plan, teachers would be required to pay at least 12 percent of their health costs in order for a district to receive per-pupil aid increases of $200 in the first year of the budget and $204 in the second.

Remember that 12% is still FAR below the average for all workers. It’s even far less than the average for government workers. Here are the numbers:

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Tell me again that 12% is out of line?

“More than enough” Money for Transportation

Yep. And since there’s “more than enough,” can we refund the surplus in the form of a tax cut?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Monday there is “more than enough revenue” to fund transportation projects without increasing the gas tax or vehicle registration fees.

Reports last week indicated the governor might be willing to consider raising registration fees, but Walker told reporters at the Capitol he doesn’t have “any interest” in doing that. He said he has explicitly stated his opposition to a gas tax hike because lawmakers have raised the possibility.

“I don’t know of anyone in the Legislature who’s talking about vehicle registration fees,” Walker said. “For us, I think there is more than enough revenue out there. I’m willing to work with them.”

Finish the job and repeal prevailing wage

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

Another battle in the long war to repeal Wisconsin’s Prevailing Wage Laws was launched this month when Sen. Leah Vukmir (RBrookfield) and Rep. Rob Hutton (RBrookfield) reintroduced a bill in the state Legislature to repeal the prevailing wage law for state projects. The bill faces an uncertain future in the face of massive opposition from powerful special interests.

Wisconsin’s prevailing wage “law” is actually a series of laws that were passed during the Great Depression with the goal of protecting local workers from losing their jobs to migrant workers who were willing to work for lower wages. The law essentially requires that any businesses that work on a public project of any size must pay the prevailing wages for the area in which the work takes place.

The prevailing wage is determined by a flawed process by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development that heavily favors inflated union wages. The result is Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law protects large, unionized contractors at the expense of inflated prices for taxpayers and non-union contractors.

Intrepid conservative Wisconsin lawmakers fought hard to fully repeal the prevailing wage law in the 20152017 state budget. The result was a compromise that repealed the prevailing wage law for local governments and school districts, but left it in place for state projects. The bill from Vukmir and Hutton would finish the job by repealing it for state projects too.

The reason the fight to repeal the prevailing wage law is so heated is quite simple: money. As it stands, Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law props up the profits for some of Wisconsin’s largest private contractors. Those contractors donate an extraordinary amount of money and support to politicians on both sides of the aisle who like to spend taxpayer dollars on big, expensive projects.

In the 2015 battle over prevailing wage, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other members of the Assembly leadership actively worked to thwart the repeal of prevailing wage. They could not resist the overwhelming public pressure and were forced into the compromise repeal. Last legislative session, Representative Andre Jacque had the temerity to hold a hearing on prevailing wage reform in his role as the Chairman of the Assembly Labor Committee. Jacque’s fellow Republican,

Vos, punished Jacque by stripping him of his chairmanship for the current session.

The reason to repeal the prevailing wage law is one of conservative principle – or of laissez-faire economics, if you prefer. The government should not enforce artificial labor prices or meddle in the free market. Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law does just that and it results in the government distorting the market and encouraging crony capitalism.

While one would like to think that our state lawmakers would consistently act on principle, repealing the prevailing wage law would also be in their self-interest.

There is another war waging in the Legislature over transportation spending. The prevailing wage law aggravates that issue by inflating spending on state transportation projects. A 2015 study by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance showed the state’s prevailing wage law was responsible for up to $300 million per year in unnecessary costs. In terms of Wisconsin’s biennial budget, that is potentially $600 million that could be used for additional transportation spending without borrowing or raising taxes. Such a windfall would release a lot of the political steam that is heating up the debate over transportation spending.

While it was disappointing that Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law as not fully repealed in 2015, state lawmakers now have the opportunity to finish the job for the benefit of state taxpayers. They should quickly pass Vukmir and Hutton’s bill and put it on Governor Walker’s desk – preferably before the state budget so that lawmakers can include the potential windfall savings into their budget calculations.

New School Board Members Sworn In

So the School Board President has one year of experience. Great.

Tiffany Larson was selected as the new president of the West Bend School District Board of Education after board members Nancy Justman, Joel Ongert and Tonnie Schmidt took their oaths of office.

The meeting was called to order by Board Treasurer Monte Schmiege, as prior to the meeting he was the only remaining officer on the board. He also requested a raised-hand vote for the new president.

The group of six ultimately voted privately between Schmiege and Larson.

Copy of the Declaration of Independence Found in England

Fascinating.

Danielle Allen and Emily Sneff — both researchers at Harvard University found this parchment manuscript in a records office in Sussex County, England. So they’re calling it The Sussex Declaration.

“Up until now, only one large-format ceremonial parchment manuscript was known to exist,” Allen said. “That one is in the National Archives and was produced in 1776. This one was produced a decade later, with the signed parchment as its source.”

Both versions measure 24 by 30 inches, although unlike the official one the Sussex copy is oriented horizontally.

And, Allen said, “it illuminates the politics of the 1780s in a flash.”

This is why:

The list of signatories in “The Sussex Declaration” is not grouped by states. It supports the notion that the Declaration’s authority rested on one united people, not a collection of states.

“This parchment manuscript illuminates in one stroke how the Federalists and anti-Federalists debated the question of whether the new republic was founded on the authority of a single, united sovereign people or on the authority of 13 separate state governments,” Allen said.

John Hancock’s signature is more prominent on the official Declaration, while on the Sussex copy all the signatures are the same size.

Jordan Changes Rape Law

I guess one could call this an improvement, but not much.

A law which protected rapists from punishment if they married their victims has been scrapped in Jordan.
The Jordanian cabinet revoked Article 308 on Sunday, after years of campaigning by women’s activists, as well as Muslim and Christian scholars and others.

The law had meant rapists could avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim for at least three years.

Its supporters said the law protected a victim’s honour and reputation.

But last year, it was amended so a rapist could only use the loophole to marry his victim if she was aged between 15 and 18 and the attack was believed to have been consensual.

So if you rape a child and marry her, it’s cool in Jordan.

Killers Ask Court to Stay Execution Due to Good Health

SMH.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two Arkansas inmates scheduled to be put to death Monday in what could be the nation’s first double execution in more than 16 years asked an appeals court on Sunday to halt their lethal injections because of poor health that could cause complications.

Lawyers for Jack Jones and Marcel Williams asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday to grant them stays of execution.

Jones’ lawyers say he suffers from diabetes and is on insulin, has high blood pressure, neuropathy and had one leg amputated below the knee. He is on heavy doses of methadone and gabapentin. They say he may be resistant to the lethal injection drug midazolam because of the drugs he is taking for his maladies and could suffer a “tortuous death.”

Lawyers for Williams say he weighs 400 pounds and it will be difficult to find a vein for lethal injunction, so the drugs are unlikely to work as intended.

So much wrong with this… let’s start with how fat these guys are after being on death row for 20 years. Of course we should feed prisoners, but do we have to let them eat enough to blimp up to 400 pounds? And now that the prison did let them get that fat, remember that all of the related health care expenses are being paid for by the taxpayers.

Whether you support the death penalty or not, how can anyone take this bizarro argument seriously? They are sick so we shouldn’t carry out their sentences? If you find yourself having any sympathy for these men, remember that they are on death row for a reason:

Both Jones and Williams have admitted they are guilty. Williams was sent to death row in 1994 for the rape and murder of Stacy Errickson. Jones was given the death penalty for the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips.

Saudi Arabia Elected to U.N. Commission on the Status of Women

Because… of course.

Saudi Arabia was elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The addition of the Gulf nation was first flagged by UN Watch, a nongovernmental body that monitors the United Nations. The Commission on the Status of Women’s main mission is to assess the challenges to reaching gender inequality, according to the U.N. website.

The organization’s executive director slammed the election, which occurred in a secret vote during the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.

USCCA Disinvited from NRA Annual Meeting

Wow. That stinks.

West Bend, WI – The United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) today announced that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has disinvited the organization from its 2017 Annual Meetings & Exhibits and the 2018 Great American Outdoor Show because of “concerns regarding its programs.”

The move shocked the leadership of the USCCA because they were given less than two weeks notice that they had been banned from the annual show, even though they had attended for the past several years.  This decision also came as a surprise because over the past two months, the leadership from the NRA and the USCCA met twice to discuss the shared goal of the two organizations in support of the Second Amendment.

In a note sent to millions of USCCA supporters, Founder and President Tim Schmidt said that even though the NRA might be fearing the competition, USCCA will still support the NRA’s efforts to protect the Second Amendment.

I suspect that the real reason is that the NRA offers a competing insurance product and the USCCA has been gaining too much market share for the NRA’s liking. What’s unfortunate for 2nd Amendment supporters is that we have two advocacy organizations who won’t work together due to competing business interests.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Kewaskum mourns loss of community leader Larry Ammel

Neighbors in the Village of Kewaskum are mourning the loss of former Kewaskum High School band teacher and community leader Larry Ammel.

“He was a pillar of the community,” said Jeanne Goeden. “He was the one who organized Music in the Park and people really like that.”

Ammel had retired from the Kewaskum School District years ago but while there he was active in many of the musicals including Fiddler on the Roof.  “He was a very beloved teacher,” Goeden said.

Ammel was also extremely active in Kewaskum Kiwanis, he was the choir director at Peace UCC in Kewaskum and he was involved in the upcoming memorial dedication for Andrea Haberman.

“He used to do beginning band camp at Slinger Middle School,” said West Bend High School Band Director Leah Duckert. “He taught me a lot; he taught me beginning trombone.”

Duckert recalled Ammel’s humor during Friday band camp.

“Trombones are derived from an instrument called a sackbut and Larry brought in these brown paper bags and each kid taped a paper bag to their butt and so then they were all sackbuts. It was hysterical,” she said.

Duckert described Ammel as “jolly.”  “He was the type of guy you wanted to hug every time you saw him,” she said.

Kewaskum Police Chief Tom Bishop said Ammel really gave back to the community. “He will definitely be missed,” said Bishop. “He was a heck of a good guy.”

Funeral services from Larry will be 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Peace United Church of Christ, 343 First Street, in Kewaskum, with Rev. Eric Kirkegaard officiating. Larry’s family will greet relatives and friends at the church on Friday, April 28 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at the church on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the time of service. Larry Ammel was 73.

Pipe break forces delayed opening at ION Sports Pub

The owners of ION Sports Pub are asking for the community’s patience as they work through some new issues that have forced them to delay opening by a couple weeks.

Oskar Steinbauer Jr. said he came to the restaurant, 1102 Paradise Drive, this week to find water in the parking lot and some damage inside the building. The new sports pub was supposed to officially open on Monday, April 24 The new official opening will be the first week in May. Steinbauer and his business partner Nora Sanchez will keep the community informed on their progress. A new sign for the restaurant was installed Friday.

Removal of old WB Theatre bridge

The removal of the elevated bridge over the Milwaukee River is underway.  The contractor staging area is on the west side of Veterans Avenue.  The general contractor for this project is West Bend Crane, Inc. from West Bend.

Work will consist of removing the existing bridge over the Milwaukee River.  A crane will be used to move the bridge to the right of way where it will be dismantled and hauled away.

Mass of Dedication at St. Peter Parish on Saturday, April 22

St. Peter Catholic Parish in Slinger will celebrate a Mass of Dedication and Blessing with Archbishop Jerome Listecki at 5 p.m. on April 22 in the newly renovated and expanded church.

The dedication and blessing will consecrate the new newly renovated building as a permanent worship space. Archbishop Listecki will be blessing not only the physical church building and altar, but other items and areas of the church as well.

There will be a reception to follow in St. Peter Church Hall. Please note the usual 8 p.m. Mass will be cancelled Saturday, April 22, 2017. The construction project expanding the original 1892 building began a year ago on February 29, 2016.

The goal to increase church seating capacity has been met, as 740 people can now sit in the main nave, as compared to the original 450 seating capacity. New meeting rooms, an expanded gathering space, and a more spacious church hall and kitchen have also been constructed.

Parishioners are also in the midst of completing a $600,000 furnishing campaign. This campaign will pay for and install all of the church’s stained glass windows and other new furnishing items throughout the building. An open invitation to worship and celebrate Mass is extended to all.

John McGivern to film in neighboring Dodge County

Fans of John McGivern in Washington County are familiar with his PBS show “Around the Corner with John McGivern.” The Emmy award-winning show highlighted West Bend in 2016 and Hartford was featured in 2014.

Now, our neighbors to the west will be featured as McGivern will be filming in Mayville this July. Here’s a note from the Main Street Mayville, Inc.  “We are excited to announce that Milwaukee PBS “Around the Corner with John McGivern” will be filming in Mayville this July. We are seeking interested (and interesting!) parties who may be willing to be filmed and participate in the episode.

Kohlsville Fire Department celebrates gift

Volunteers from the Kohlsville Fire Department gathered under cloudy skies Tuesday afternoon to celebrate a strong donation by neighboring business Spiros Industries.

The locally-run manufacturer donated nearly $10,000 so the fire department could purchase its first jaws of life.

“We’ve always thought about getting one,” said Fire Chief Curt Martin. “Allenton has one and Kewaskum has one but if they’re 10 minutes out we can at least try to rescue a person who may be trapped in a vehicle.”

Spiros Industries recently used the back parking lot at the fire station while its building was undergoing some renovation. As a thank you the company made a generous donation.

“You don’t find a local business that too often does something like that for a volunteer fire department,” Martin said. “It’s amazing what people in the neighborhood do.”

Dennis Backhaus, president of Spiros Industries said they try to do something every year for the firefighters.  “When we’re running out these are the guys who are running in,” he said.

Jim Maronde is a partner at Spiros Industries. “These are really a dedicated bunch of guys,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate in business and we like to help out where ever we can.”

On Tuesday afternoon the Kohlsville Fire Department also showed off its new ambulance. “Our old ambulance was 26 years old and that one we got second hand from Allenton,” said Martin.

The new ambulance is a 2017 E450 Ford custom cab and built by Foster Coach in Illinois. Kohlsville FD ordered the vehicle in December and it just arrived this week.

Foerster Signs in Slinger finished up the signage. The vehicle cost just under $120,000.

Herb Kohl Education Foundation winners

Neighbors in West Bend and Jackson can be proud of Fair Park teacher Renee Wilberg and students Mackenzie Mas from West Bend and Jiexin (Jessica) Yang from Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in Jackson.

The threesome will be recognized during an awards luncheon, Sunday, April 23 by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation. The event begins with a reception at noon at Waupun Junior and Senior High School in Waupun. The awards program follows at 1 p.m.

Each year the foundation recognizes students, teachers and principals for their excellence in academics, leadership and high achievement.

Wilberg is one of 100 teachers being awarded $3,000 by the Herb Kohl Education Foundation.

Updates & tidbits

West Bend Friends of Park and Recreation need volunteers for the U.S. Open. “We have been invited to volunteer at the event entrances for checking bags and credentials,” said Lori Yahr. “There will be a 4 hour mandatory training session and you have to commit to working three 8-hour days.” The U.S. Open is June 12 – 18 at Erin Hills in the Town of Erin. Contact Lori Yahr by April 30 at loriyahr@gmail.com

– The annual Kohlsville Fire Department Smoker is Saturday, April 29 in Kohlsville.

-The West Bend American Legion Post 36 will be hosting a brat fry on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 28, 29 and 30 at 1421 W. Washington Street from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Proceeds go to local projects and veterans programs.

– April 28 is the annual Grandparents for Lunch at Holy Angels School in West Bend.

– The DIVA Spring Bling is coming up Thursday, April 27 in downtown West Bend. Proceeds from umbrella and specialty ring sales benefit Chix 4 a Cause.

– On Monday, May 8 there is a free community education forum at the West Bend High School Auditorium featuring internationally recognized researcher of suicide Dr. Thomas Joiner.

– Horicon Bank has stepped up this year to sponsor the fireworks during the July 4th celebration at Riverside Park in West Bend.

-The 30th annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is set for Saturday, June 10 at the Golden ‘E’ Dairy Farm on 8262 Orchard Valley Road, in the Town of Farmington.

-The Exclusive Company in West Bend will celebrate Record Store Day on April 22. The day includes sales, free food and live music as the store, 144 N. Main St., celebrates its independence. The store opens for 12 hours of sales from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Celebrating the Day Ladies at McDonald’s in West  

This original story ran in 2014 in Around the Bend by Judy Steffes.  Local McDonald’s owner Steve Kilian and son Steve Jr. took the time to offer a McSurprise to four long-time employees at the Galactic McDonald’s on Main Street after receiving a letter from a customer praising the Day Ladies for their friendly service.

“They call them the Day Ladies and each has worked for Steve Kilian for 20 years or more,” said Sharon Ruplinger, a McDonald’s veteran who started in 1973 when she was a 15-year-old sophomore at West Bend East High School.

“I was there when the special sauce for the Big Mac was mixed at the store and when the Hamburgler crawl thing, bouncy fry girls and metal slides were in the outdoor play land,” Ruplinger said recalling how they had to shut down the play area when it was “real hot because kids would burn their legs.”

As a teen Ruplinger had to know all the prices and the tax table, add by hand on a piece of paper, and cook by sight – not by computer. Ruplinger now works as Steve Kilian’s assistant and local marketing manager.

She said the Day Ladies have similar stories; they’re a unique group recognized by customers for their courtesy, commitment, and familiarity.

“I think we enjoy the customers as much as they enjoy us,” said Vicki Montanez, a Day Lady and an employee since Aug. 1, 1990.

“I was 36 when I started and the menu was really basic, we made all the biscuits for breakfast by hand and we had to bake and frost the cinnamelts ourselves and now it’s all done ahead of time.”

Montanez, who previously sold real estate, gravitated to McDonald’s because of the fast-paced environment but found she loved it for the flexible schedule. “It was really good because if my kids got sick at school I was able to leave in a second and that was really important,” she said.

Customers know the Day Ladies by name, they know their families, and many times their days off.

“You have the same people that come each day, some we know by name and others we know by order,” said Karen Wentz who knows a regular customer simply as ‘large coffee, seven cream, seven sugar.’

Wentz started in January 1997, when she was 33. She worked during the era when McDonald’s would bring breakfast to the high schools serving pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and egg McMuffins.

“We’d set up in one of the cafeterias and the kids just loved it,” she said.

Day Lady Caroline Schwartz started at McDonald’s in 1988 when the uniforms were baby blue with polyester pants and a blue striped button-up top. “I started because all my friends worked here,” she said. “I’ve stayed 25 years because it fit my schedule and the Kilians treated me like family.”

Schwartz talked about working alongside Steve Jr. when he was 12 years old and the appreciation shown by the owner.

“Steve sent us to the Packer game with a chauffeur and then they took us out to lunch at the Ninja Japanese Steakhouse; just so nice,” she said about Kilian who bought his first McDonald’s in West Bend in 1990.

Jane Sterr has been with McDonald’s since May 2, 1981. “I was 18, at West Bend East High School and the restaurant was across the street where Auto Zone is now,” she said. “We had a one-window drive thru and the popular sandwich was the McLean Deluxe.”

Camaraderie and customer service are reasons Sterr has stayed for 33 years. “We have our very regular customers and we joke around; we can still work while having fun. It’s a very good atmosphere,” she said.

Customer Judy Essig brought Jane a gift for her anniversary last year. Questioned about the longevity of the Day Ladies she said, “It speaks highly for the employer and the way they’re treated.”

Sterr admitted, she never thought she’d be at McDonald’s this long. “It’s hard work but we all work well together, we get along, and it’s amazing because we’re just dedicated.”

Federal Ruling May Slam AmFam

This is an interesting case.

American Family Insurance Co. could face a legal liability as high as $1 billion if a federal judge adopts the ruling of a federal jury, which found this week that thousands of the insurer’s independent agents should be classified as employees who are entitled to a full package of retirement benefits.

Following a two-week trial, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Ohio on Tuesday returned a unanimous decision finding that Madison-based American Family improperly classified its agents as independent contractors, even though the agents are bound exclusively to sell policies from the company, often known as AmFam.

If a federal judge accepts the jury’s finding in a follow-up decision that is expected in June or July, AmFam could be forced to fund its retirement package in compliance with terms of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which are federal regulations that protect retirement benefits.

“The jury apparently agreed that AmFam cannot have it both ways,” said Erin Dickinson, one of the attorneys representing the agents in the class-action suit. “A company cannot just call its agents ‘independent contractors’ to avoid following the federal law protecting retirement benefits and then insist on controlling how those agents do their work.”

I tend to agree with that attorney. How can one claim that they are “independent” contractors if they are prohibited from representing any other insurance provider? On the other hand, AmFam’s agents signed their contracts and entered the relationship with eyes wide open. Why should they get benefits that they weren’t expecting and that AmFam never promised?

I suppose the fairest solution is for the court to rule in favor of the agents, but only require AmFam to pay for their agents’ benefits moving forward.

Trump Denies Sanction Waiver to Exxon to Drill in Russia

Well, that’s going to make cabinet meetings awkward.

“The Treasury Department will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said in a statement Friday. Mnuchin said he consulted with President Trump on the decision.

Exxon had applied for a waiver from sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in a bid to resume its lucrative joint venture with Russian state oil giant PAO Rosneft.

In a statement, Exxon said “we understand” the decision by the Treasury Department. Exxon explained that its application for a license was aimed at meeting the company’s “contractual obligations” in Russia, where competitors are allowed to drill under European sanctions.

Shhhhhhh… I’m Hunting Woodchucks

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if you shot it in the butt?

Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Tom Tiffany began circulating the bill for co-sponsors Thursday. The measure would remove woodchucks from the state’s protected species list and establish a hunting season for them from the beginning of July through the end of December with no bag limits. The legislators say the animal is abundant and they’ve heard complaints about woodchucks eating gardens and flowerbeds and causing damage by burrowing along sidewalks, driveways and building foundations.

We had a couple of woodchucks in our yard a few years ago. The local hawks took care of them.

Walker Walks Fine Line on School Referendum

This looks like something of a semantic argument.

BLANCHARDVILLE (WKOW) — Gov. Scott Walker told 27 News Thursday he does not want to penalize school districts that increase operating revenues through referendum votes, putting him at odds with some Republican lawmakers who put forth that proposal last month.

Walker made those comments after speaking to students at Pecatonica High School.

[…]

“The question might be whether or not the aidable assistance goes up. realistically, if there was anything, that would be more of the adjustment, it wouldn’t be taking money away,” said Gov. Walker. “It would just a be a question of whether you’d be giving more to those districts who choose to do that, because one of the other complaints I hear from school districts is, if they choose not to do that, they feel like they’re penalized if they operate within their budgets and somebody else goes beyond that. But I certainly wouldn’t penalize it.”

As I read that comment, Walker does not want to “penalize” school districts that pas an operating referendum, but he is okay with an “adjustment.” Walker is saying that if a school district wants to increase their taxes and spending through a referendum, that’s fine, but state taxpayers won’t be kicking in anything extra.

Fewer People Receiving Unemployment

Excellent!

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The number of out-of-work people collecting unemployment checks fell to a 17-year low in April, underscoring the strongest U.S. labor market in years.

So-called continuing jobless claims fell by 49,000 to 1.98 million, marking just the second time they’ve fallen below 2 million during the current eight-year-old economic expansion. Continuing claims also dipped below the 2 million mark in March.

Paris Terrorist Was Released Early

So the cop killing terrorist in Paris was released early from prison where he was serving a sentence for threatening cops. Brilliant.

A policeman was shot dead while two other officers were seriously injured by a Kalashnikov-wielding gunman on the Champs Elysees in central Paris – just three days before the French presidential election.

The alleged ISIS gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim C – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 – parked his Audi and opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue.

[…]

Karim was born in France and lived in Chelles, a commuter town close to Paris and was jailed for the 2001 attack – but is believed to have been released early in 2016.

Verizon Shedding Mobile Customers

There’s a price war going on in the wireless market and consumers are the winners.

In the first six weeks of 2017, Verizon Wireless lost 398,000 on-contract wireless customers. Considering that analysts expected Verizon to add nearly 250,000 customers in the first quarter, that’s dire.It’s only thanks to Verizon’s launch of unlimited plans that the bloodshed isn’t worse. In the weeks after Verizon launched an unlimited plan, it stopped losing customers and actually gained 109,000 subscribers, bringing the net loss of customers in the first quarter to 289,000.

The obvious thing to blame for Verizon’s plummeting numbers is the recent wave of competition being driven by T-Mobile. The cheap unlimited T-Mobile One plan that it rolled out last year has seen T-Mobile poach customers from the other three big mobile carriers. Growth of postpaid customers (those who get billed every month, the bread-and-butter of the mobile industry) has stagnated at every carrier apart from T-Mobile in recent months.

The most telling number in Verizon’s earnings report is the level of “churn,” which measures turnover in customers. A higher level of churn indicates more customers hopping between different carriers, which is normally indicative of a highly competitive environment. Verizon’s churn increased from 1.03 to 1.15 percent of all customers in the first quarter, a strong sign that the race-to-the-bottom between the carriers is starting to see results.

Thanks to Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Law, consumers can’t benefit from such price wars for most consumables.

Hillary’s Watching

This is hilarious.

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Venezuela Seizes GM Plant

Socialists gonna be socialists

GM (GM) described the takeover as an “illegal judicial seizure of its assets.”

The automaker said the seizure showed a “total disregard” of its legal rights. It said that authorities had removed assets including cars from company facilities.

“[GM] strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights,” it said in a statement.

GM’s subsidiary in the country — General Motors Venezolana — has operated in Venezuela for nearly 70 years. It employs nearly 2,700 workers and has 79 dealers in the country. GM said it would make “separation payments” to its workers.

Oklahoma State Cowboys Restate Their Record

At least the players have a nice story about it for the rest of their lives.

The Oklahoma State football team’s Alamo Bowl champions rings have been unveiled, and the engraving seems a bit off.

The ring, which was revealed by Twitter user Boone Pickens State, has the record 11-2 engraved on the side. The issue is the Cowboys lost three games in 2016.

They lost two Big 12 games — to Baylor and Oklahoma — and an early non-conference game against Central Michigan. However, the Central Michigan loss in early September came with quite a bit of controversy.

On what should have the game’s final play, quarterback Mason Rudolph heaved a pass downfield and out of bounds to ensure that the game clock would expire. The referees, however, ruled that the pass as an intentional grounding and awarded Central Michigan an untimed final play with the ball at the Chippewas’ 49 yard line.

The Chippewas completed a Hail Mary hook-and-ladder for a 51-yard score, giving Central Michigan a 30-27 victory.

The referees later admitted they awarded the Chippewas by mistake, meaning the game should have ended with Rudolph’s incomplete pass. Coach Mike Gundy later issued a statement about the loss, blaming his play call at the end of the game.