Author Archives: Owen

Bill Proposed to Protect Kids with Guns at School

This seems utterly reasonable, and in a sane world, unnecessary.

MADISON (WKOW) — Some high school students would no longer have to fear being expelled for having a gun at school, under a limited exemption being considered by state lawmakers.

Under current law, if a student leaves an unloaded gun in their locked car, in the the school parking lot, they would face a mandatory expulsion hearing if anyone reports it to the administration.

But the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) asked Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) to craft legislation that would exempt schools from starting that expulsion process, if law enforcement investigates the incident and doesn’t press charges..

WASB President Steve McCloskey told the Assembly Committee on Education Thursday it is not uncommon for students in rural Wisconsin to hunt before and after school.

And since many of those students live a far distance away from school, McCloskey said it is reasonable for them to keep an unloaded rifle in their locked vehicle.

North Korean Defector Found Riddled With Parasites

They may have to resort to nukes just because their soldiers aren’t healthy enough for a sustained effort.

The massive infection is most likely linked to the low levels of hygiene found in the hermit kingdom. The worms were most likely contracted by eating vegetables fertilized with human feces, the doctors believe. There are many ways to safely use manure to fertilize fields, however, it appears that North Korea doesn’t use these practices.

International sanctions, droughts, and disastrous internal management mean food shortages are a big problem in North Korea. Up to 70 percent of the population live on food aid and eat a dangerously unvaried diet. Micronutrient deficiencies, particularly in iron, zinc, vitamin A, and iodine, are therefore common. Inside the soldier’s gut, they also found corn, a staple grain of the North Korean diet.

In the DPRK, young men must serve compulsory military service for 10 years and women for seven. A further 4-5 percent of North Korea’s 24 million people serve on active military duty, and another 30 percent are assigned to a reserve or paramilitary unit, according to the US Office of Secretary of Defense. This means the soldier’s body is representative of many North Koreans and potentially insightful for researchers hoping to learn about the wider health of the country.

“I don’t know what is happening in North Korea, but I found many parasites when examining other defectors,” added Professor Seo Min. “In one case, we found 30 types of roundworms in a female defector. The parasite infection problem seems to be serious even if it does not represent the entire North Korean population.”

Indigenous Tribe Forced to Convert

What a fascinating, and tragic, story that seems like it should have been written in the 16th century.

The Sumatran rainforests of Indonesia are home to the Orang Rimba – the people of the jungle. Their faith and nomadic way of life are not recognised by the state and, as their forests are destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, many are being forced to convert to Islam to survive.

In a wooden hut on stilts, a group of children dressed in white sit on the floor. They sing “I will protect Islam till I die” and shout “There is no god but Allah”, in unison.

Three months ago, the 58 families that make up the Celitai tribe of Orang Rimba converted to Islam.

[…]

The Islamic Defenders Front – a vigilante group whose leader is facing charges of inciting religious violence – helped facilitate the conversion.

Ustad Reyhan, from the Islamic missionary group Hidayatullah, has stayed to make sure the new faith is practised.

“For now we are focusing on the children. It’s easier to convert them – their mind isn’t filled with other things. With the older ones it’s harder,” he says.

[…]

But village leader Muhammad Yusuf – Yuguk, to use his Orang Rimba name – was thinking about surviving in this life when he converted.

“It was a very heavy and difficult decision, but we feel like we have no choice, if we want to move forward,” he says quietly.

[…]

The fact that they hunt and eat wild pigs also creates social tensions, he added.

“This is a Muslim community. If they see the pig’s blood and the leftover bits, they are disturbed,” the officer explained.

What is taboo, or haram, for the Orang Rimba directly contrasts with what Muslims eat, explains Mr Manurung.

“Orang Rimba will not eat domesticated animals such as chickens, cows or sheep. They think it’s a form of betrayal. You feed the animal, and when it gets fat you eat it. The fair thing to do is to fight. Whoever wins can eat the loser.”

Mugabe Hold On

I’m shocked… SHOCKED… that Mugabe would refuse to step down.

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has turned up to a university graduation ceremony in the capital, Harare, in his first public appearance since the military staged an apparent coup two days ago.

The veteran leader arrived at the Zimbabwe Open University in a blue-and-yellow gown, accompanied by his security detail, two days after being placed under house arrest in Wednesday’s army takeover.
The event was apparently designed to convey a business-as-usual atmosphere — the generals pulling the strings in Harare are desperate not to give the impression they are orchestrating an unconstitutional coup.
But behind the scenes, efforts to push Mugabe aside appeared to be foundering. Mugabe was reported to be resisting a plan to oust him, and the generals were said to be frustrated about his refusal to go quietly.

Gay Times Fired Editor

Well, that’s awkward.

The editor of Gay Times has been sacked for tweeting a series of antisemitic and misogynistic comments as well as using Twitter to attack gay people, homeless people and disabled children.

[…]

Rivers had taken on the role with a mandate to promote inclusivity. But the offending tweets, since deleted, showed him directing hate towards Jews, lesbians, overweight people, as well as Asian and Chinese people.

“I wonder if they cast that guy as ‘The Jew’ because of that fucking ridiculously large honker of a nose,” he tweeted in 2011. “It must be prosthetic. Must be.”

In another tweet he asked for film recommendations but excluded films about the Holocaust. Rivers also described Jews as “gross”.

His tweets directed at women included: “I’ve just seen a girl in the tightest white tank & lord help me if she’s not pregnant, she should be killed. #gross.”

Another abusive message said that “whiny” women should “change your tampon” and stay out of his way.

Rick Gundrum Announces Run for the 58th

The field is getting more crowded. From the Washington County Insider.

Nov. 15, 2017 – Washington Co., WI – Watch for a sixth candidate to jump in the mix tomorrow and announce his candidacy for the 58th Assembly District.

Rick Gundrum, who is currently the chairman of the Washington County Board, said he will have a prepared statement in a press release that will be issued by noon Thursday.

Gundrum has quite a bit of political experience; he’s been on the Washington County Board representing District 16 in Slinger since April 2006. He’s served as

County Board Chairman
Executive Committee.
Chairman – Board of Health.
Chairman – A.D.R.C.
Chairman – Eastern Wisconsin Counties Railroad Consortium.

For the past eight years Gundrum has served as a trustee on the Slinger Village Board; he was first elected in April 2009.

Mugabe Under House Arrest

Mugabe is one of the worst tyrants of our lifetimes. Given that he has held and consolidated power for the better part of four decades, I doubt that there is a “constitutionally sound” resolution. It takes revolutions to oust tyrants.

South African government ministers are in Harare for crisis talks with ousted President Robert Mugabe and military leaders who have seized control.

They are trying to reach a deal on the future of Zimbabwe and the man who has led the country for 37 years and is now under house arrest.

The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) regional bloc is to hold emergency talks shortly.

But sources suggest Mr Mugabe may be resisting pressure to resign.

They say Mr Mugabe is insisting he remains the legitimate president. Regional bodies such as Sadc and African Union (AU) will be keen to reach a constitutionally sound resolution to the crisis rather than to endorse a military takeover, say correspondents.

Senator Johnson Opposes Tax Plan

I’ve had about enough with Senator Johnson.

(CNN)Sen. Ron Johnson announced he is opposed to the tax bill Wednesday, making him the first member of the GOP to formally come out against the party’s plan, though the Wisconsin Republican said he was hopeful about being able to support a final version once changes are made.

Johnson issued a statement saying the current proposal in both chambers is imbalanced in favor of large corporations but he left open the door to supporting the bills if they are altered.
“Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions,” he said. “I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version.”
Here’s the thing… I supported Johnson for election – twice. He originally ran on repealing Obamacare. When it came to getting that done, he and his colleagues failed. Now when it is coming to tax reform, he’s about to be a part of it failing. He’s become a Senator that’s all hat and no cattle. It doesn’t do anyone any good for Johnson to tour Wisconsin and tell us how bad Obamacare is or how much our tax code needs reform if he is unable to bring himself to actually support DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
As to his specific objection, it’s horse shit. The entire purpose of tax reform, I thought, was to spur economic growth and simplify the tax code. Both the House bill and the Senate bill (I like the House’s better) will accomplish those goals to some degree. Yes, in an ideal world, I would like the bill to cut taxes for more people and businesses and be much more simple, but it also has to be something that can get a majority of votes. Johnson is making the enemy of the good. But given the fact that Johnson is smart enough to know that getting something is better than getting nothing, I can only assume that he is just using this as an excuse because he doesn’t actually want to reform our tax system.
Less talk, Ron. More action.

Study: Ethanol Policies Drove Massive Release of Carbon

It’s almost as if the ethanol policies weren’t about the environment and were more about driving money into the pockets of special interests. Hmmmm…..

Federal ethanol subsidies aimed at slowing climate change have triggered the release to the atmosphere of about 30 million tons of carbon a year as farmers have cleared land to plant more crops for production of the renewable fuel, UW-Madison researchers said Wednesday.

The first comprehensive measurement of climate damage associated with ethanol was being presented at a conference in Texas by its lead author, graduate student Tyler Lark, and graduate research assistant Shawn Seth. The study will be submitted to a journal for peer review within weeks, said geography professor Holly Gibbs, who is also an author.

The researchers spent years examining satellite imagery and high-resolution maps showing the vegetation and soil types on land before it was cleared for new crop acreage.

[…]

The researchers determined the amounts of grasslands, prairie, wetlands and wooded parcels that were gobbled up from 2008 to 2012 during a period of high crop prices after federal policies began pushing ethanol as an environmentally-friendly fuel that could constrain burning of fossil fuels in cars.

A portion of the carbon was released when grasslands were burned, but plowing up soil exposed organic matter and began the process of decomposition began the slower release of about 75 percent of the carbon, Gibbs said. Most of that carbon would be released from soil over a period of decades, but some could take a century or more, she said.

West Bend School Superintendent On Leave

This story was in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

After more than three months away from his job, West Bend School District Superintendent Erik Olson remains absent from his role. Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Laura Jackson continues to lead in his place.After Monday’s Board of Education meeting, President Tiffany Larson wouldn’t state the reason for the absence, but said “he is on paid administrative leave.” Olson’s last appearance at a meeting was July 24. Since then he has been on vacation, sick leave and administrative leave and continues to receive payment from the district. His administrative leave began at the beginning of October.

I haven’t commented on this because, frankly, I thought it was common knowledge. He hasn’t been at any official meetings for months and the School Board has spoken about it a couple of times. If you email his school address, someone else will respond. But based on my emails and some reaction I’m seeing on social media, this has come as a surprise.

It is frustrating people because the School Board is not telling anyone why he is out. My understanding is that it is due to personal/medical reasons, which is why state and federal regulations prohibit the School Board from commenting on the reason for his leave. If it is because of a personal/medical reason, all we can do is hope for a speedy and successful resolution for Olson and prod the School Board to consider a succession plan.

State should standardize access to police body cam videos

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Actually, it was online yesterday, but I was busy. Here you go:

Technology has always pushed the boundaries of culture and it often takes time for the law to catch up. As body cameras become more common for police, the management of that footage has largely been left to individual law enforcement agencies. The Wisconsin State Assembly has passed a good bill to govern the public’s access to law enforcement body cam footage that the state Senate and governor should quickly enact into law.

The use of body cams by law enforcement has been expanding mainly due to the public’s pressure to do so. Americans grant a lot of power in our police and extend a lot of trust that they will use that power appropriately on our behalf. But that trust is not absolute and in the wake of a series of high profile incidents where a law enforcement officer killed a citizen under questionable circumstances, many members of the general public pushed for police to wear body cams to help discern the truth in such incidents.

On the other side of the coin, many law enforcement officers asked to use body cams under the belief that while a body cam video might indict a cop doing something illegally, it might also exonerate a cop who is wrongly being accused of committing a crime. Now that many law enforcement agencies are using body cams, the results are predictably varied. What we are finding is that the body cam footage of controversial incidents rarely conclusively show the “truth,” and a jolting video rarely quells the controversy.

While the use of body cam footage may not be the antidote to controversy that many had hoped, body cams have become a useful tool in the routine business of law enforcement. The question remains: now that we have thousands of law enforcement officers going about their work while recording themselves and all of the people around them, who is allowed to see those recordings?

In general, the video recorded by law enforcement’s body cams are public records. That means that upon request, the law enforcement agency must give that video to anyone who asks unless there is a compelling government interest not to do so. Our common law has always set a fairly high bar for withholding public documents, so the end result is that 95 percent of requests for police body cam video are granted.

The presents a problem in balancing the public’s right to know with the individual’s right to privacy and protection under the Fourth Amendment. While policies for when law enforcement officers activate their body cams vary, most of them are recording whenever they are engaging a member of the public for any reason. This means that even when an officer is engaging a citizen who has not committed a crime, which is the vast majority of the time, that engagement may be recorded and released on the internet for everyone to see.

For example, if an officer responds to an elderly person’s fall in his or her home, that could be recorded and released. If an officer responds to a woman who was raped, that encounter could be recorded and released. If an officer helps a person who slid into a ditch, that could be recorded and released. While some of these incidents are benign, releasing the video of the encounter could be embarrassing for the citizen, or worse, used by someone to harass or further traumatize a victim of a crime.

Rep. Jesse Kremer’s (R-Kewaskum) bill seeks to set some reasonable standards for when law enforcement body cams must be released and when they should be kept confidential. Under the bill, footage would be considered an open record and available to the public if it was taken in a public place and involved a death, assault, arrest or search. If one of those actions occurred in a place where a person had a reasonable expectation of privacy, then the footage could only be released if all of the people involved agree.

Under Kremer’s bill, police body cam footage would still be available for any legal action, civil or criminal, but only footage of actual or suspected criminal behavior could be released to the public. This strikes a reasonable balance that allows the public to continue to have general oversight of police in the most serious encounters, but protects the public from malcontents using police videos for harassment, bullying, preying, or just feeding their creepy voyeurism.

This bill was passed on a bipartisan voice vote in the Assembly and now sits in the Senate awaiting action. The Senate should pick up Kremer’s torch and carry it to Gov. Walker’s desk.

Engineering Wisconsin’s Roads for Autonomous Vehicles

Foxconn is pushing Wisconsin to the forefront of technology and innovation.

Spurred by Foxconn Technology Group and its plans for a mega-factory in Racine County, state highway planners are studying the possibility of including special lanes for driverless vehicles on I-94.

Should that come to pass — and at this point it is only something being contemplated — it would put Wisconsin in the vanguard of what many believe will be a key part of transportation in the future.

Driverless cars have been developed and are being tested, but there are no highway lanes dedicated to so-called autonomous vehicles, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

[…]

One possibility, Sheehy said, would be driverless lanes between the Foxconn plant and Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport as a way to move supplies and products to and from the factory.

He said the fact that Foxconn executives brought up the use of autonomous vehicles indicated the vision the company is bringing to the project.

“We’re thinking about two years down the road; they’re thinking 20 years down the road,” Sheehy said.

Wisconsin Eliminates Minimum Hunting Age

Good.

If all goes as planned for freshman legislator Rob Stafsholt, Wisconsin’s traditional gun deer hunting season will open Saturday with a twist that’s raising concern around the country.

Under legislation that Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign into law this week, kids of any age will be allowed to hunt deer and carry their own gun when accompanied by an adult — no training required. Previously, kids had to be at least 10 years old to hunt with a mentor and the two had to share a weapon.

[…]

Stafsholt said that of 42 states with mentored hunt programs, 34 don’t set a minumum [sic] age. In addition, Wisconsin was one of only four of the 42 states to limit the mentor and youth hunter to a single gun.

This story is a little dated. Walker signed it into law today. While there is certainly a minimum age at which kids are mature enough to hunt or handle a firearm, that age is very subjective and specific to the individual child and family. Frankly, parents have a much greater vested interest in ensuring the safety of their kids, so it makes sense to put this determination in their hands. I suspect that when we look back at this in five years, we will not see any change in the safety record of Wisconsin’s hunt.

Yet Another Democrat Gets Into Race

Another one!

The leader of the state’s firefighter union plans to launch a gubernatorial campaign Monday, joining a crowded Democratic field that is expected to grow.

Mahlon Mitchell last ran for public office during the 2012 recall elections, when he was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and lost to Rebecca Kleefisch. The nearly 1.2 million votes Mitchell received in that election gives him the highest vote tally in a single election of any of the candidates running for governor so far.

At 40, Mitchell is also the first major Democratic contender who is younger than Gov. Scott Walker, who recently turned 50. Mitchell, like Walker, grew up in Delavan and attended Delavan-Darien High School.

“I’m running for governor because after eight years of Scott Walker, it’s time for change,” Mitchell said in a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Boy… that’s a compelling platform.

Carfentanil Bust in Canada

It’s scary what people are putting into their bodies.

It was a carbon monoxide alarm that brought the Canadian authorities to the house in Liatris Drive, a quiet residential street lined with manicured gardens. As firefighters checked over the house to ensure its inhabitants were safe, something else caught their eye: kilograms of a mysterious powder sitting in the basement.

Soon afterwards, the police arrived at the house in Pickering, near Toronto, with a search warrant. They seized 33 identical handguns – and 53kg of the unidentified white and yellow powder.

Lab tests eventually revealed 42kg of the substance to be carfentanil – a drug the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has described as “crazy dangerous” and which authorities in the US have flagged as as potential chemical weapon. The local police force had unwittingly stumbled across what is believed to be the largest volume of the opioid ever seized in North America.

Developed in the 1970s as a tranquilizer for large animals such as elephants and bears, the synthetic opioid has also been studied as a potential chemical weapon by countries including the US, China and Israel. It is thought to have been deployed with disastrous effects when Russian special forces attempted to rescue hundreds of hostages from a Moscow theatre in 2002.

But it only burst into public view last year after officials across North America began to warn that it was being cut with heroin and other illicit drugs, leaving a rash of overdoses and deaths in its wake.

Problems in Beloit

This is an interesting story by the Beloit Daily News. The Beloit School District is seeing the same thing as many other districts – terrible kids who disrupt classes – and the administration is apparently doing a poor job of handling it. Here’s on teacher’s story:

Another former BMHS teacher who also left to work in another district loves Beloit and misses its kids. This teacher said 99 percent of students are well behaved, staff is excellent and there are many great programs.

But the teacher said Beloit Memorial High School has a group of around 25 repeat offenders who frequently cause great disruption, preventing teachers from teaching and students from learning. The teacher said most districts have kids with similar issues, but Beloit has suffered from poor administrator response.

“There is a revolving door policy. You send them out, and 5-10 minutes later they are back, sometimes with a bag of chips and a smile on their face,” the teacher said.

Some students, the teacher said, try to get suspended or expelled, and the threat of action does nothing to deter their behavior.

This teacher called the town hall meeting a “joke” and “publicity stunt” because no meaningful action followed it. Although the teacher said the school board asked some good questions, there was no change in approach by administration.

The code of conduct is solid, the teacher said, but it is inconsistently applied and some administrators make deals with students.

You know one thing that’s interesting? Before Act 10, it was much more difficult for teachers to leave for another district without losing things like their seniority. Not only has Act 10 made it easier for teachers to go to another district when they feel unsafe or are dissatisfied, but the outflow of dissatisfied teachers will put pressure on the school district to get their act together. Whether or not the school board responds to that pressure is another story, but at least Act 10 has introduced some natural market forces that push our school to be better for everyone.

State Searches For Ways to Safely Incarcerate Violent Youths

Many of these “kids” are violent sociopaths. God help whoever is tasked with keeping them separated from civilized society.

The most aggressive inmates at the state’s troubled youth prison could be removed and sent elsewhere under a plan Department of Corrections officials are considering as a way to decrease the number of incidents at the facility.

The potential new program is one response from the department to reports of an increasingly chaotic environment at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls after a federal order requiring prison officials to reduce or eliminate the use of pepper spray, restraints and solitary confinement.

Suspect’s Fills Room with Toxic Gas to End Interrogation

That’s one way to throw the cops off the scent.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A police interrogation of a Kansas City man charged with drug and gun offenses ended prematurely when an investigator was driven from the room by the suspect’s excessive flatulence.

A detective reported that when asked for his address, 24-year-old Sean Sykes Jr. “leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering.”

The Kansas City Star reports that Sykes “continued to be flatulent” and the detective was forced to quickly end the interview.

Twisted Headline

Here’s the headline from CNN:

Why men use masturbation to harass women

Um… no. “Men” do not use masturbation to harass women. A very few, twisted, horrible men do, but the tremendous majority of men do not. The effort to lump all men together because of the abusive behavior of a few celebrities is the kind of sexism that the folks at CNN would decry if it were turned around. Can you imagine a headline like, “Why women rape children”? Of course not. Because while a very few, twisted, horrible women do, the tremendous majority of women do not. And to suggest otherwise is a gross generalization.

Three More Candidates Enter Race for the 58th

None of them look very consequential.

Spencer Zimmerman of Janesville also filed paperwork to run as a Republican. According to West Bend city clerk Stephanie Justman, a candidate only has to be a resident of the district 10 days prior to taking office.  Zimmerman has run in a number of races including the 1st Congressional District in Wisconsin in 2016.

Dennis Degenhardt of West Bend also filed papers. He is running as a Democrat and Christopher Lewis Cook from Miller Street in West Bend also filed a campaign registration statement. Cook lists himself with the Independent, Socialist Party.