NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Briefs are posted weekday mornings, M-F


A major winter storm is tracking from the Rockies and Plains to the Great Lakes and Northeast.

Heavy snow and blizzard conditions are likely in parts of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest.

Accumulating sleet and ice is expected in the Great Lakes and Northeast.

This will make travel difficult, if not impossible, in some areas.

Over a foot of snow will fall from Winter Storm Olive in the Northern Plains and upper Midwest. Some of these areas may see up to two feet of snow.

This could be the heaviest snowstorm in over a decade in some locations.

Accumulating ice is also expected in parts of the Great Lakes and Northeast.

—The Weather Channel

A liberal Milwaukee judge and a conservative former state Supreme Court justice won Tuesday’s primary to face off in a pivotal Wisconsin Supreme Court race that will determine majority control with major issues looming.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz and ex-Justice Dan Kelly were the top two vote-getters in a four-candidate field and advance to the April 4 general election.

Conservatives currently hold a 4-3 majority on the court and have controlled the court for 15 years. But an open seat this year gives liberals a chance to take the majority with issues like abortion access, gerrymandered legislative districts and voting rights heading into the 2024 presidential election at stake.

The court came within one vote of overturning President Joe Biden’s win in the state in 2020, and both major parties are preparing for another close margin in 2024. With so much on the line, spending on Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court race is expected to shatter national records for such contests.

Protasiewicz won with about 46% of the vote, while Kelly came in second with about 24%. Protasiewicz and the other liberal candidate combined for nearly 54% compared with about 46% for the two conservatives, a worrisome sign for Republicans heading into April.

Protasiewicz said afterward that voters knew how high the stakes were.

“We’re saving our democracy in the state of Wisconsin,” she said. “That’s what I’m explaining to people. I’m talking about the ability to vote, to have a vote that counts about women’s rights, reproductive freedoms, the fact that the 2024 presidential election results could likely come into our Supreme Court chamber, just everything people care about.”

Kelly said the campaign was now “starting all over at ground zero and having a conversation with people all across the state.”

“I think they are going to be passionate about supporting their constitution and protecting it from being overturned by someone who is trying to put her thumb on the scales of justice,” he said in a dig at Protasiewicz.

Kelly held off a challenge on the right from Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow, who gained national attention for presiding over the trial last year of a man convicted of killing six people when he drove his SUV through a Waukesha Christmas parade.

Kelly cast himself as the only tested conservative in the race.

Outside groups have already spent about $9.2 million on the Supreme Court race as of Tuesday, about evenly split between the two sides, according to AdImpact Politics, which tracks advertising.

—Wisconsin AP

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tony Earl suffered a stroke this week and is now receiving palliative care, his oldest daughter Julia Earl said Tuesday.

Earl, 86, is a Democrat, who served one term as governor from 1983 to 1987. He was a champion of gay rights and a staunch environmentalist.

Earl was defeated in 1986 by Republican Tommy Thompson. Earl’s political career ended after he lost a Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate in 1988 to Herb Kohl, but he went on to become a leading advocate for campaign and election finance reforms and a champion of environmental causes.

“Our dad is surrounded by loved ones,” Julia Earl said in a text message to The Associated Press. “He is receiving palliative care and is at peace and painfree. We appreciate the genuine support and love shared by family and friends.”

—Wisconsin AP

“It did catch me with a bit of a shock.”

Those were the words Franklin Mayor Steve Olson shared with representatives of Northwestern Mutual who came before the city’s common council Feb. 20 in the aftermath of the company’s announcement that it planned to move its satellite campus to downtown Milwaukee.

Olson previously told the Journal Sentinel he was informed of Northwestern Mutual’s plans to renovate an existing building in Milwaukee and relocate its Franklin workforce the day before the company announced them. The $500 million redevelopment investment includes emptying the Franklin campus of its 2,000 workers and sending them to the new skyscraper set to resemble the company’s crystalline tower.

“No matter how this could possibly be spun this is terrible for Franklin,” said Ald. John Nelson. “It’s terrible.”

Nelson asked Northwestern Mutual representatives whether they had reached out to the city during their decision-making process, wondering if there was anything Franklin could have done to keep the company in the suburbs.

“It really wasn’t a situation where there was something we were looking for from the city or something they could offer,” said Steve Radke, vice president of government and community relations for Northwestern Mutual. “It was based on our long-term view of the campus and the workforce experience.”

Radke acknowledged to the council “this announcement must have seemed abrupt to many of you.”

The company opened its Franklin campus in 2001 because, as Radke said, “we felt we had too much concentration of talent in our downtown campus.” Franklin was also a desirable location for the company’s data center.

Over the last two decades, the way business is done has changed.

“Several of the driving factors that led us to Franklin (are) no longer as relevant for us today as they were 20 years ago,” Radke said.

Pandemic-driven remote work has continued for some employees, shrinking the risk of talent concentration. Northwestern Mutual is now focusing on one, consistent experience that amplifies company culture and allows for better collaboration for those in the office, representatives said.

Additionally, they said cloud computing has reduced the need for a separate data center.

“This decision in no way reflects any dissatisfaction with the City of Franklin,” Radke said. “We love this community and you’ve all been excellent partners.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Young people are turning up at emergency departments across Wisconsin in unprecedented numbers for attempting or contemplating suicide, the latest illustration of a profound shift in pediatric health care.

“It’s terrifying,” said Dr. Allie Hurst, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at UW Health Kids.

In just the last two years, Hurst said, the number of children under 13 coming into her department with suicidal ideation has gone up 77%. And over the last decade, the number of pediatric visitors needing psychiatric care has nearly tripled, with the majority of cases the result of suicidal ideation, drug or alcohol intoxication, and overdoses.

In Milwaukee, Children’s Wisconsin hospital saw a 60% increase from 2020 to 2021 in emergency department patients who had attempted suicide.

“It is more common than not for a provider during any given shift to have at least one patient who’s coming in for suicidal ideation or suicide attempt,” said Dr. Erin O’Donnell, emergency medicine physician at Children’s Wisconsin.

Black youths are coming into the emergency department more frequently for suicide attempts than any other youth demographic at the hospital, O’Donnell said. Many have trauma-related exposure, whether in the form of physical violence, gun-related violence, sexual abuse, or family risk factors, such as a family member going to jail.

Statewide, the highest risk group for suicide, suicidal thinking, or suicide attempts are LGBTQ children. That aligns with data from the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the Wisconsin Department of Instruction. It found that 66% of lesbian, gay and bisexual students said they felt sad or hopeless, and nearly half of all lesbian, gay and bisexual students reported they seriously considered or attempted suicide. That’s four times higher than their peers’ experiences.

“Those children have far more stressors placed on them, more stigma,” O’Donnell said. “There’s so much trauma.”

Hospitals in La Crosse, Marshfield, Green Bay and Oshkosh also confirmed seeing an upward trend in suicide-related cases. And the phenomenon reaches beyond emergency rooms.

In La Crosse’s Gundersen Health System, nearly 40% of the children that pediatrician David Gerhard treats are experiencing depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts. Mental health used to make up only a “small smattering” of the issues he treated. Further, Gerhard said, the patients are younger and presenting more abrupt, severe mental illnesses.

It used to be, Gerhard said, that a patient having suicidal thoughts or intent could be watched overnight and evaluated by a pediatric psychiatrist. But the increase in the number and intensity of cases, combined with a high demand for staffed beds, makes that less possible.

At the national level, the numbers are equally grim.

Self-harm was the ninth-leading cause of nonfatal emergency departments visits among children and young adults between 10 and 25 in 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 22,584 children between 10 to 14 hospitalized for “cut/pierce” and 74,015 adolescents and young adults hospitalized for “poisoning.”

—Green Bay Press Gazette

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN’s “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace” that when he says the border is secure, he does not mean that people aren’t able to cross the border illegally, because “by that measure, the border has never been secure.”

When asked how he can say the border is secure, Mayorkas said, “Right now, the United States has millions of jobs opening due to the economic success of this administration. We have progressed in conquering the pandemic far more than the countries to the south of Mexico, and that makes the United States an appealing place of destination for people fleeing persecution or otherwise in desperate need of a better life.”

Host Chris Wallace asked, “But when you say it’s — what does secure mean to you? It certainly doesn’t mean people are able to get across the border illegally.”

MAYORKAS: Of course not. That is — by that measure, the border has never been secure, right? Since the Department of Homeland Security was created, individuals have evaded —

WALLACE: So by what measure is it secure, sir?

MAYORKAS: There is not a common definition of that.

WALLACE: What’s your definition —

MAYORKAS: What our goal is to achieve operational control of the border to do everything that we can to support our personnel with the resources, the technology, the policies that really advance the security of the border and do not come at the cost of the values of our country.

WALLACE: But on the question of security, we have all seen the scenes of floods of people walking across shallow points in the Rio Grande. We’ve all seen the pictures of encampments in downtowns, El Paso, places in Arizona. We’ve all seen the pictures of the flood of migrants coming to New York. By those standards, it is not a secure border.

MAYORKAS: The vast majority of those individuals have not sought to evade law enforcement but have actually surrendered themselves to law enforcement and made a claim for relief under our laws. The challenge, the challenge is that between that time of encounter and the time of an ultimate immigration judge’s evaluation of their claim for asylum is four plus years.

—Just the News

The air-conditioning gave out as students returned from summer break last year to Jim Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi, forcing them to learn in sweltering heat. By Thanksgiving, students were huddling under blankets because the heat wasn’t working.

Along the way students dealt with broken showers in locker rooms, plumbing issues and a litany of other problems in the nearly 60-year-old school building.

“There’s been times we’ve been cold, there’s been times we’ve been hot,” said Mentia Trippeter, a 17-year-old senior. “There’s been times where it rained and it poured, we’ve been drowning. We go through it — we go through it, man.”

Like other schools serving low-income communities across the country, Jim Hill has long dealt with neglected infrastructure that has made it harder for students to learn. So when Jackson Public Schools received tens of millions of dollars in federal COVID relief money, it decided to put much of the windfall toward repairing heating and plumbing problems, some of which temporarily caused the school to switch to remote learning.

For poorer school districts, deciding what to do with that money has involved a tough tradeoff: work on long-term academic recovery or fix long-standing infrastructure needs.

All told, the federal government has allocated $190 billion in pandemic relief aid to help schools recover — more than four times the amount the U.S. Education Department spends on K-12 schools in a typical year, and with few strings attached.

An Associated Press analysis of school district spending plans from across the country found that the poorest districts in each state are far more likely than the richest districts to spend emergency relief funds on upgrading their buildings or transportation systems.

The data in AP’s analysis came from education market research firm Burbio, which reviewed how more than 6,000 districts across the country, representing over 75% of the nation’s public school students, planned to spend their federal relief money. The data covered the final and largest round of federal aid to schools, totaling $122 billion.

The AP found that school districts with the highest percentage of children living in poverty — the poorest 20% of districts in each state — were more than three times as likely as the wealthiest school districts to dedicate money to the construction of new buildings or classrooms. School districts with high levels of poverty were also more than twice as likely to include money for facilities repairs.

—Associated Press

Everything’s just so doggone paw-litical.

A state bill filed in Florida would make it illegal for dogs to stick their heads out of moving car windows — a past time man’s best friend famously loves.

The unnamed bill — introduced by Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book — includes several provisions that would ensure the safety of canines when inside a moving vehicle.

If passed, a dog would not be allowed to “extend its head or any other body part outside a motor vehicle window while the person is operating the motor vehicle on a public roadway,” the bill states.

The bill would greatly limit how a dog could be situated inside a vehicle. Canines would need to be secured either by a harness or pet seat belt that is specifically designed for the car — and would not be restrained at the neck — or inside a crate that adheres to particular size regulations.

Dogs may be held in a person’s lap if a crate or harness is not available, so long as it is not the driver of the vehicle.

Those who neglect the new rules could be charged with a misdemeanor, the proposed law states.

Book does not explain in the bill itself why she is seeking to enact the animal welfare regulations, but the American Humane Society had recommended the same rules in a June 2022 driving safety fact sheet.

“Never allow pets to stick any portion of their bodies out the window,” the animal advocacy group stated.

“Although most dogs love to stick their heads out open windows, the wind can seriously irritate mucous membranes and blow pieces of grit or other debris into their eyes. Pets could also be seriously injured by objects as you drive down the road.”

—NY Post


In an interview on Fox and Friends Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis blasted President Joe Biden for handing Ukraine a “blank check,” gallivanting around Ukraine while the U.S. border is in shambles and involving the United States in an alarming proxy war with China.

On Monday, President Biden announced the U.S. would be providing half a billion dollars in military aid to Ukraine (that’s in addition to the $113 billion we’ve already given). According to DeSantis, Biden’s “blank check” policy with Ukraine is not only irresponsible but dangerous. “They have effectively a blank check policy with no clear, strategic objective identified, and these things can escalate, and I don’t think it’s in our interests to be getting into a proxy war with China, getting involved over things like the borderlands or over Crimea,” DeSantis said.

“So I think it would behoove them to identify what is the strategic objective that they’re trying to achieve,” he continued, “but just saying it’s an open-ended blank check, that is not acceptable.”

DeSantis also heavily criticized Biden’s “surprise visit” to Ukraine — a trip that’s awarded the president melodramatic praise from the corporate press, Even though it is pretty transparently a publicity stunt to cover for the president’s disastrous handling of the Chinese spy balloon and the East Palestine chemical leak.

“He’s very concerned about those borders halfway around the world. He’s not done anything to secure our own border here at home,” said DeSantis. “We’ve had millions and millions of people pour in, tens of thousands of Americans dead because of fentanyl, and then, of course, we just suffered a national humiliation of having China fly a spy balloon clear across the continental United States.”

Indeed, upon taking office, Biden dismantled former President Donald Trump’s border security provisions and reinstated the Obama-era catch-and-release system, causing a massive spike in illegal immigration and, consequently, human and drug trafficking.

DeSantis also noted that the war in Ukraine may never have started had Biden not shown so much weakness in office, particularly in his embarrassing and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan. “I don’t think any of this would have happened but for the weakness that the president showed during his first year in office, culminating, of course, in the disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan,” DeSantis said.

—Evita Duffy-Alfonso is a staff writer to The Federalist and the co-founder of the Chicago Thinker

On Wednesday, Catholics and other Christians across the world will gather to receive ashes as a reminder that “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Despite not being a holy day of obligation, Ash Wednesday is traditionally one of the liturgical year’s most attended Masses with attendance increasing even more in recent years. This solemn but sobering Mass reminding us of our sins, frailty, and dependence upon God is more popular than ever. Why?

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats flooded the streets and airways alike, insisting that the act of ending life is an unalienable right. No longer do they even bother to hide behind the mantra of “safe, legal, and rare.” Today, they proclaim their love of and worship for abortion far and wide—and often speak in religious terms. It seems to be their sacrament that can solve all problems.

Actress Anne Hathaway, for one, did just that. On The View, she attested, “My own personal experience with abortion, and I don’t think we talk about this enough—abortion can be another word for ‘mercy.’” Unfortunately, her mistaken view of abortion as “mercy” is not uncommon.

The abortion industrial complex—comprised of government, Big Pharma, Planned Parenthood, and other non-profits—has marketed abortion as a compassionate alternative to motherhood. Women are told that not being quite ready to be a mother justifies the right to decide the fate of another human being.

In the Bible, mercy is defined as forgiveness and compassion, specifically carried out by the withholding of punishment. Ms. Hathaway, do you think your abortion was “withholding punishment” from your child?

Recently, comedian Chelsea Handler took her radical beliefs to the next level. In a video titled “A Day In The Life Of a Childless Woman,” she brags about, among other daily activities, sleeping in until 12:30 pm, eating edibles, going to her “fave spot in Paris to grab a croissant,” and doing “a meditation sesh.”

Handler’s life is downright depressing. It consists of nothing other than self-indulgences and materialistic acts of escapism that even she is trying to rationalize to herself in this ridiculous video. She basks in the glory of not having children when in fact, she was a mother—a mother to two unborn children that she, in her own words, proudly aborted. We’ve worked with tens of thousands of women who’ve had an abortion, and they may not regret it, but they’re never proud of it. It’s evident that Handler is angry, lonely, and does not speak for women who have gone through the trauma of abortion. There’s no clearer sign than comically broadcasting this sad reality to the entire world.

Ash Wednesday’s surging global embrace comes from the innate human desire to transcend the temporal and the corporeal and come face to face with who we are, who we aren’t, and who we ought to be. It’s a refreshing break from a world consumed with self, constantly changing identities, and getting outside of one’s head. Ash Wednesday is more popular than ever because it is a break from self in a self-absorbed culture. It may seem dry, depressing, and un-affirming, but in 2023 Ash Wednesday is water in the desert.

—-Shawn Carney is President and CEO of 40 Days for Life, the world’s largest pro-life organization, and bestselling author of 4 books, including What to Say When: The Complete New Guide to Discussing Abortion.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1980 during the 1980 Winter Olympics, against the backdrop of the Cold War, the U.S. ice hockey team defeated the favored Soviet team in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Olympic Games.

One thought on “NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Wednesday, February 22, 2023

  1. It will be interesting to see what happens with the NML space. We don’t have that many corporate headquarters in the area, especially that size or non-manufacturing. Maybe some company in IL or another crummy state elsewhere tires of their decline and relocates. That would be great; however, is a very ambitious goal.

    Can the buildings be subdivided that much to become more of a multiple company facility without lots of renovation?

    Or, could it be renovated to become some kind of residential setting like a retirement home? Luxury apartments? Would NML decide it’s a great “community” gesture to turn it into something for low income?

    All speculation on my part as I don’t know anything more than this announcement. I think it should become a water park and 27th Street can be the new Dells. 🙂


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