NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Thursday, February 23, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


More than 1,400 flights within, to and out of the United States were canceled Wednesday as severe weather wreaked havoc with massive storms threatening to bring record snowfall across America.

Residents across the northern Plains will be hunkering down as the storm hits, with schools across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin announcing closures ahead of the severe weather system, which is expected to affect millions while California contends with strong winds and sweeping power outages.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm, blizzard and high-wind advisories for swaths of the western and the north-central U.S., with up to 2 feet of snow expected in some areas through Thursday.

Officials have also warned residents to stay off the roads because of potential “whiteout” conditions.

In normally sunny Southern California, blizzard warnings were issued for mountain regions of northern Los Angeles County, the first such alerts in more than 30 years.

At least 2,770 flights, within, into or out of the United States, were delayed mid-afternoon Wednesday, according to the online flight tracker FlightAware.

There were more than 1,434 U.S. flight cancellations by 2 p.m. EST, and at least 416 of those called-off journeys were related to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. At least 243 cancellations were listed out of Denver International Airport.

The arrival of a large arctic air mass from Canada “interacting with an energetic upper-level pattern and multiple frontal systems forecast to move through the country this week will bring numerous weather hazards,” the weather service said.

Widespread heavy snow is expected to continue across the West and the northern tier of the country, with total snowfall of 1 to 2 feet expected for most of the mountain ranges across the West, the agency said. The heaviest amounts of snowfall are expected to fall across east-central Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, it said.


A day before conservative voters chose former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly to compete for a seat on the state’s highest court after another bitter primary race that left Republicans mostly at odds with each other, the chairman of the state party was unequivocal.

“Conservative candidates and their supporters need to come together after tomorrow night. Like at 8:00 pm,” Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Brian Schimming tweeted, referring to the time polls closed Tuesday.

The fresh calls for unity as Kelly launches a general election campaign against Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz are being made as conservative voters are still feeling the fallout of the last Republican primary in the 2022 governor’s race, when construction executive Tim Michels entered the race just a few months before the primary election and defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch after some nasty campaigning.

Now, Republicans face losing control of a court that has delivered and protected their priorities for more than a decade while witnessing record turnout for a spring primary, most of which was for Protasiewicz.

“Those of us who believe in a fair and impartial judiciary must unite behind Daniel Kelly,” Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow said in a statement Wednesday. “We can’t let her succeed. I ask all those who volunteered, contributed and voted for me to now get behind Daniel Kelly.”

On election night, conservative radio show host Dan O’Donnell tweeted “We have six weeks to get every national conservative involved in this or else everything conservatives built in Wisconsin during the @ScottWalker era comes crashing down instantly.”

And Kelly, who during the primary refused to commit to backing Dorow in a general election, in a statement Tuesday night made an appeal to Dorow’s supporters:

“Judge Jennifer Dorow has my respect for the good and important work she has done on the Waukesha County Circuit Court. And I admire all those who so passionately supported her candidacy in this race. My hope is that all of you — and the rest of our fellow Wisconsinites who treasure our Constitution and the liberties it protects — will afford me an opportunity to earn your support as we enter this six-week sprint to the general election on April 4.”

Brandon Scholz, a retired Republican strategist, said Wednesday it will take effort on the part of Kelly to create enthusiastic supporters out of Dorow’s voters.

“When the campaign runs a negative attack campaign for the sole purpose of winning no matter what, post-election repair can be difficult, but it is the responsibility of the winner to reach out and do whatever it takes to try and convince the supporters of the candidate that they beat that they merit the support of those voters whose candidate lost,” Scholz said.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had invalidated a 19th Century state law that banned doctors from performing abortions in Wisconsin unless the woman would die without one. Now, with the ban back in effect, Protasiewicz is all but assuring voters voters she will side with plaintiffs seeking to repeal the law.

She told reporters Tuesday she doesn’t view her message as being in conflict with the state’s judicial ethics code.

Scholz said Protasiewicz’s style of campaigning could change the dynamic of the race.

“My sense is any candidate can take any position on any issue they want, whether the case has come before the court or not, and espouse their views. That’s what she’s done. And therefore, I’d say all the gloves are off,” Scholz said.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A spokesman for Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson has told the Badger Institute it is “likely that Milwaukee police officers will have a renewed presence in some Milwaukee Public Schools in 2023.”

Should Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee Police Department follow through, it would be the first time officers have been posted in schools since 2016. The School Board allowed officers to patrol around schools for four years after that but voted unanimously to prohibit that as well in June 2020 after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The disclosure from the mayor’s office follows a fall semester when 34 MPS high schools made 778 calls for police service, 21.2% more than the 642 calls last spring and 16.5% more than the 668 made in the fall of 2021, according to police data obtained by the Badger Institute.

Schools made 68 reports of battery this past fall, compared to just over 100 for the entire 2021-22 school year; 36 reports of a subject with a gun, compared to 39 for the entire previous school year; and 25 reports of sexual assault compared to 39 for all of last year, according to the data.

Discussions of putting officers back in schools have “advanced significantly” between MPS and MPD, according to Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for Johnson.

“Because it’s not finalized, I don’t want to step out ahead of others,” Fleming told the Badger Institute in an email. “More discussions and approvals are needed.”

As we did last summer, the Badger Institute recently requested calls for service data for all Milwaukee high schools listed on the MPS website except for the Milwaukee County Youth Education Center because its students are exclusively Milwaukee County Jail inmates, or Lad Lake’s Synergy because it is a residential campus.

Calls are up significantly.

According to MPD data analyzed by the Badger Institute:

Marshall High School called Milwaukee officers 83 times last semester, more than any other high school. Marshall officials also called police more than any other school in 2021-’22.

Pulaski High School made 73 calls in the fall semester, roughly the same number made for the entire 2021-’22 school year.

North, Washington, Vincent and Madison high schools continued to be among the worst schools in need of police services. Bradley Technical High School, with 34 calls, and Hamilton High School, with 32, were less disruptive than they were in the last full school year.

—The Badger Institute

Wisconsinites could soon order beers and booze straight to their doors instead of venturing outside of their homes to make the purchase, under a new bill authored by a bipartisan group of legislators.

The bill’s authors — Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Town of Cedarburg, Sen. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, Rep. Cindi Duchow, R-Delafield and Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee — bridge a broad political spectrum and are calling for allowing retailers to deliver alcohol directly to customers or provide a curbside service for those looking to pick up an order on-the-go.

Currently in Wisconsin, sellers can only make face-to-face sales of alcohol to consumers at the licensed store. After the sale is made, the seller can deliver the alcohol to a location for the consumer, but the purchase must be made in person.

The state is only one of eight that prohibit online orders, Stroebel said.

The new bill would allow consumers to place an order online or by phone and have their alcohol delivered to their location, eliminating the need for face-to-face contact with the alcohol seller.

There are some stipulations in the bill. The alcohol must be delivered in its original unopened package or in a tamper-evident sealed container, payment has to be completed when the order is placed, the customer must be able to prove they are at least 21, deliveries can only be made during the normal hours of the business.

The bill also requires that alcohol purchased in this manner to be the same price that in-person customers would pay, and all options for sale in the store must be available for delivery.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Soon the sweet smell of pretzel bread will fill the air in Franklin’s business park.

Milwaukee-based Miller Baking Co./Pretzilla is consolidating all operations to the City of Franklin, according to Mayor Steve Olson.

“We’re now the pretzel capital of southeast Wisconsin, if not the state,” Olson told the Journal Sentinel. “We welcome Miller Baking to our community.”

Régulo Martínez-Montilva, Franklin’s principal planner, said the city has received a site plan amendment application for a building addition for Pretzilla which is still under review.

The building which Pretzilla will occupy at 4620 S. Oakwood Park Drive is 162,473 square feet. Miller Baking Co. has submitted an application to construct a two-story bakery addition on the north side of the building adjacent to Ironwood Drive, adding 28,152 square feet (14,076 square feet per floor).

The facility will employ 120 people per shift with three shifts per day. The plant will be in operation seven days a week with six days of production and the seventh day reserved for sanitation.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Influenza vaccine effectiveness was under 50 percent this season, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though a smaller study arrived at higher estimates.

Data from the CDC’s New Vaccine Surveillance Network showed the vaccines were 49 percent effective against hospitalization or emergency department visits.

The total was higher, 68 percent, for just inpatient admissions.

Researchers in Wisconsin estimated that the influenza vaccines were 54 percent effective against outpatient influenza A among people aged 6 months to 64 years, and 71 percent effective against symptomatic influenza among children aged 1 to 17.

Researchers examined data from the fall of 2022 through early 2023 to reach the estimates. They are employed by the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, with the work being partially funded by the CDC.

The Wisconsin research only covered a small number of participants, all within the state. For the child effectiveness estimates, for instance, only 241 children were studied. Like the CDC researchers, the Wisconsin researchers also excluded people who tested positive for COVID-19 and only included controls who tested negative for both influenza and COVID-19. They also didn’t count people who were infected by influenza within 14 days of infection.

—The Epoch Times

Members of Congress are preparing to probe COVID-19 vaccine development and other issues related to the shots.

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is planning to investigate how possible side effects are being studied, the regulatory process of authorizing and approving the vaccines, and why the vaccines were mandated, members told The Epoch Times.

One goal of the committee is making sure the United States is prepared for future pandemics, “and that includes perfecting our vaccine development,” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) told The Epoch Times via email.

“In order to do so, we must have complete transparency in vaccine research, clinical trials and adverse reactions, and manufacturing.”

“I expect our oversight hearings will shed light on the FDA approval process, the potential for side effects, and ultimately the success rate and safety of the vaccine—each of which will help us to navigate future global health emergencies,” she added.

Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.), another member, said the panel “will be performing a comprehensive review of how the vaccines were developed, approved, and mandated.”

McCormick, a doctor, is concerned about how data on possible side effects has been collected. He also wants to look into how children as young as 6 months old have been encouraged to get a primary series and at least one booster, “given the lack of scientific evidence for a benefit, coupled with real concerns about possible harm for an otherwise immune person.”

Children are at the least risk from COVID-19.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) said she also hopes the panel will investigate why mandates were imposed and what effects the mandates had.

“The COVID-19 vaccine mandates were a clear abuse of government authority, and we need to know who made the formal decision to implement these mandates,” Lesko said.

—The Epoch Times

Doug Brayshaw was sitting on his porch when a massive plume of black smoke rose over the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment like a scene out of a horror movie.

“It was like a storm, like a big storm was coming,” said Brayshaw, a truck driver who lives less than 3 miles from the site where Norfolk Southern chose to burn hazardous chemicals to avoid the risk of an explosion.

Since then, Brayshaw, 63, has fretted over whether his well water is safe. Some 15 days passed before officials finally arrived at his home Tuesday to test it, but he is going to have to wait even longer before he gets any answers.

—NBC News

National Public Radio announced this week that it will cut roughly 10% of its workforce as the station struggles to cope with falling revenues.

CEO John Lansing announced the cuts in a memo that The Hill obtained, indicating that the firm is in dire financial straits.

“We had created a plan to address a $20M sponsorship revenue falloff for FY23 but we are now projecting at least a $30M shortfall. The cuts we have already made to our budget will not be enough,” he said.

“Unlike the financial challenges we faced during the worst of the pandemic, we project increasing costs and no sign of a quick revenue rebound,” he continued. “We must make adjustments to what we control, and that is our spending. We have reached a point where we can no longer protect all jobs.”

The outlet intends to eliminate vacant positions outright and to evenly apply cuts across the firm, per The Hill.

NPR joins other legacy outlets such as CNN, which announced a considerable number of layoffs late last year, and the Washington Post, which did the same.

—Just the News

With Super Bowl 57’s completion, the NFL offseason is officially underway. And while it’s often framed as a time of hope for the 31 teams that failed to kiss the Lombardi Trophy, reality is rarely so kind.

In a league designed to suppress or elevate teams to .500 – well, .471 or .529 in the modern era of the 17-game regular season – several high-profile clubs seem decidedly set up to regress and/or could be restricted from improving based on their past decisions and current circumstances, that could have a devil of a time enhancing their situations in the coming months:

Green Bay Packers

If QB Aaron Rodgers decides to continue playing for them, the Pack will owe him a fully guaranteed $58.3 million bonus by the start of the 2023 season. If the sides settle on divorce proceedings – and AR12’s good buddies Randall Cobb, Marcedes Lewis and Mason Crosby are among the club’s free agents – Green Bay will eat more than $40 million in dead-money cap charges to make a trade. Regardless, aside from quantum leaps by young players – and possibly QB Jordan Love – hard to figure how an 8-9 team improves.


Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is too busy taking walks to address the unfurling environmental and health crises caused by a train derailment and subsequent hazardous chemical burn in Ohio earlier this month.

At least, that’s what he told the Daily Caller’s Jennie Taer when asked if he had anything to say to the people in East Palestine, Ohio, who are “suffering right now” after a train carrying toxic chemicals veered off the tracks. The train cars were later deliberately set ablaze, which disseminated a noxious plume of black smoke that was spotted from miles away.

“Well, I would refer you to about a dozen interviews I’ve given today. And if you’d like to arrange a conversation, make sure to reach out to our press office. I’m not going to have that conversation just walking down the street here,” Buttigieg said.

After Taer once again pressed Buttigieg to offer a message to Ohioans, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made it clear he was not interested in addressing crises that fall under his jurisdiction while off the clock.

“I’m going to refer you to the comments that I made to the press because right now I’m taking some personal time and I’m walking down the street,” Buttigieg insisted.

What Buttigieg didn’t mention in the brief sidewalk conversation, however, is that he didn’t speak up about the calamity until nearly three weeks after the initial derailment. By then, residents all over Ohio had complained of contaminated air and water sparking sickness that rapidly spread through their families, friends, and pets, and killed the surrounding wildlife.

In his first public comments since the Feb. 3 disaster, Buttigieg admitted on Monday that he “could have spoken out sooner.” Yet he still failed to share specific plans on how he will help the locals affected by the derailment or when he will visit the site of the transportation calamity.

“I am very interested in getting to know the residents of East Palestine, hearing from them about how they’ve been impacted and communicating with them about the steps that we’re taking,” Buttigieg said on a conference call with the press. “When the time is right, I do plan to visit East Palestine. I don’t have a date for you right now.”

Despite repeated calls from Ohioans and the mayor of East Palenstine for the transportation secretary to visit the afflicted site and address residents’ ongoing concerns, Buttigieg once again confirmed on Tuesday that he has not set a date for a trip.

“Are you going down there at all?” Taer asked during their exchange.

“Yep, I am,” Buttigieg replied.

“When are you going?” Taer pressed.

“I’ll share that when I’m ready,” Buttigieg said.

Train derailments in Ohio and other states are just one of the many scandals plaguing the cabinet member, who seemingly got the job under Biden’s affirmative-action hiring model based on his sexual preferences, not his transportation experience.

—Jordan Boyd is a staff writer at The Federalist

Sen. John Kennedy, the folksy Louisiana Republican, says he doesn’t want America to be the world’s policeman, “but I don’t want to see Xi Jinping in China or Putin in Russia or the ayatollah in Iran be the world’s policeman, either.”

“We have decided to defend Ukraine,” Kennedy told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Wednesday.

“If you decide to be a bear, be a grizzly. We can’t blink, especially when you’re dealing with hard men like these. And I say ‘men’ intentionally. You don’t see too many women in the Politburo or in other decision-making positions in China or in Russia.”

Kennedy said he worries about what Putin just described as “new levels of cooperation” between China and Russia.

“Well, it’s not going to be easy, and there is risk,” Kennedy said about U.S. support for Ukraine. “But there’s even greater risk, in my judgment, if we do nothing. I have never viewed the money we’re providing to Ukraine as an act of charity. I see it as an act of self-preservation.”

—CNS News

Parents aren’t qualified to determine what their children should, and shouldn’t, be taught, an Arizona teacher claimed last week, objecting to a parental rights bill under consideration in her state.

“I have a Master’s degree…what do parents have?” the special education teacher asked at a discussion of a state bill (SB 1700) that would allow parents to review and request removal of materials that normalize pedophilia, are lewd or promote gender ideology, The Arizona Daily Independent reports:

“Last week, during discussion of a bill that would allow parents to request the removal of school library or classroom materials they find inappropriate, Special Education teacher Alicia Messing questioned what qualifies a parent to parent.”

Messing suggested that un-vetted parents are less qualified than teachers with advanced degrees to determine what the parents’ children are taught:

“I have a master’s degree because, when I got certified, I was told I had to have a Master’s degree to be an Arizona certified teacher. We all have advanced degrees. What do the parents have?

“Are we vetting the backgrounds of our parents? Are we allowing the parents to choose the curriculum and the books that our children are going to read? I think that is a mistake.”

Messing claimed that enlightened teachers have the right to determine and teach what children “need” to learn, despite parents’ objections, quoting “one line that I love”:

“The purpose of public education is not to teach only what parents want their children to be taught. It is to teach them what society needs them to be taught.”

As The Independent notes, Messing has also vowed to defy any law prohibiting the teaching of racially-divisive Critical Race Theory (CRT):

“Messing first came to parents’ attention in 2021 during a statewide conversation about Critical Race Theory. At the time, the Arizona Legislature was considering legislation that would have prevented the teaching of Critical Race Theory-based curriculum in the classroom, and Messing was one of 4,200 teachers who signed a pledge to defy the law should it be enacted.”

According to the bill’s text, parents would have the right to know what their children are being taught, and to request the materials be removed – if they violate the current prohibition of lewd or indoctrinating content.

—Craig Bannister is the editor of the blog

The president made one statement in his remarks alongside Volodymyr Zelenskyy that I found fascinating. Shortly after lauding the Ukrainians because they “remind the world every single day what the meaning of the word ‘courage’ is,” Biden said, “freedom is priceless; it’s worth fighting for as long as it takes.”

Did you catch that? Joe Biden thinks that freedom is “worth fighting for” for the Ukrainians. How about for Americans?

That depends. If you’re on his side, he’s all about your freedom. If you disagree with him in any way, not so much.

Remember, this is the president who accused Georgia and other red states of ushering in “Jim Crow on steroids” when they undertook efforts to make elections more secure. In Georgia in particular, Biden’s rhetoric, combined with that of Stacey Abrams, led Major League Baseball to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta. (Or maybe it was the mention of steroids that made MLB skittish.) Does he think the freedom to prevent Democrats from cheating in elections is “worth fighting for”?

He’s also the president who threatened those who chose not to line up for an endless regimen of shots with a “winter of severe illness and death” from COVID-19. Does he think the freedom to trust “the science” of one’s own immune system is “worth fighting for?”

At the same time, he’s the president whose attorney general, Merrick “Almost Made SCOTUS” Garland, threatened to sic the full force of the federal judicial apparatus on concerned parents at school board meetings and went after pro-life activists. Does he think that the freedom to speak out for one’s convictions against the left-wing narrative is “worth fighting for”?

If we are to take Biden at his word that freedom is worth fighting for, it’s time to stand up for our freedoms! We have a long way to go to get to the 2024 election, and each one of us needs to stand up and fight for the freedoms that we believe in — and campaign and vote for candidates who will also fight for these freedoms.

Continue to make your voice heard. Don’t shrink back in the wars for policy and culture. Never give up on the fight for medical freedom and election integrity. Stay strong in the fight against government overreach and big-tech censorship.

—Chris Queen, PJ Media

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – This day in 1836, during the Texas war for independence, Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna began a siege of the Alamo, which was captured after 13 days and which became for Texans a symbol of heroic resistance.

And in 1945 six U.S. servicemen raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II.

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