NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS, February 27, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


Just before the end of a February that has brought weekly winter storms, Wisconsinites will see one more that is expected to bring heavy rain to the southeast part of the state and 2-6 inches of snow and some ice to northern portions of Wisconsin.

Rain in central and southeastern Wisconsin is expected to start at midnight or the early hours of Monday morning.

According to the National Weather Service, rain will peak from 6 a.m. to noon and is expected to stop anywhere from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday. The weather service predicts that most places will see between 0.75 to 1.5 inches of rain on Monday.

Ahead of the rain the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is asking Milwaukeeans to try and minimize the amount of water they are using to try and prevent basement backups and sewage overflow into Lake Michigan and the city’s rivers. Some suggestions included waiting to do laundry and taking shorter showers.

Because of this prolonged period of rain, forecasters are warning of minor flooding in urban and low-lying areas. Taylor Patterson, a weather service meteorologist, said snow and ice pack coupling with covered drains due to previous storms only enhances the chance of flooding.

“With some portions of the ground still frozen it’s going to be harder for rain to seep into the ground or find drains,” said Patterson. “We are recommending that if you live in these areas that you clear drains and make sure all downspouts are cleared.”

Patterson also mentioned that more central counties, such as Columbia, Marquette and Green Lake, could experience freezing rain in the morning hours.

A strip of counties that includes Trempealeau, Monroe, Winnebago and Brown, are under a winter storm watch as freezing rain is a possibility in those areas.

Much of northern Wisconsin – from Door County and Stevens point northwest to Bayfield and Superior – is under a winter storm warning as colder temperatures could mean 3-6 inches of snow and some ice.

—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the Energy Department has concluded with “low confidence” that the COVID-19 virus emerged from a laboratory in China.

The newspaper, citing a classified intelligence report, said the Energy Department’s new position adds to divisions within the intelligence community on what was behind the pandemic, which first appeared in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

The Energy Department’s judgment that a lab mishap was behind the COVID-19 outbreak was based on “new intelligence” and further study, according to the Journal’s reporting.

But some who read the undisclosed intelligence called it “weak,” according to The New York Times, which also reported on the determination. The Energy Department characterized its judgment as being made with “low confidence.”

Exactly what comprises the new intelligence isn’t yet known, but it was notably gathered by the Energy Department’s network of national laboratories, a different intel-gathering method than what was likely relied upon by the FBI, both newspapers reported.

The Energy Department’s conclusion is an update from its previously undecided position.

The FBI has previously determined with “moderate confidence” that a lab leak caused the COVID outbreak, according to WSJ.

However, four other agencies and the National Intelligence Council believe with “low confidence” that the pandemic was sparked by natural transmission involving an infected animal, per the report.

Two other agencies, one of which was identified as the CIA, still haven’t drawn a conclusion.

There is agreement across the government that the virus wasn’t the product of a biological weapons program in China — a conspiracy theory that has sometimes been conflated with concerns about a lab leak.

The classified intelligence report cited by The Wall Street Journal was reportedly provided to some congressional lawmakers and the White House.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday responded to the WSJ report, saying the intelligence community hasn’t come up with a “definitive answer” on the question.

“There is a variety of views in the intelligence community. Some elements of the intelligence community have reached conclusions on one side, some on the other. A number of them have said they just don’t have enough information to be sure,” Sullivan said.

A number of GOP lawmakers quickly jumped on the WSJ report to call for action against the Chinese Communist Party. Others said it proved that suspicions of a lab leak were correct.

“The left spent the past 2yrs trying to censor the truth & cover up for Communist China, but the facts are undeniable,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tweeted. “The CCP is evil. Its virus killed millions & Xi will stop at nothing to destroy the U.S. It’s time to hold this evil regime accountable.”

Asked whether there should be consequences for Beijing if the U.S. definitively determines a lab leak caused the pandemic, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) on Sunday said there need to be more public hearings on the matter.

“Look, this is a country that has no problem coming out and lying to the world … I think that we need to make sure every country knows that, and then look at what the consequences could be,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Obviously, millions of deaths, huge economic impacts, and it would once again show that the Chinese Communist Party is not only a menace, but the nature of these regimes is to lie to the world,” the senator said.

—The Hill

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel said Sunday that all GOP presidential candidates who want to take part in the first presidential debate need to agree to a pledge to support the eventual 2024 Republican nominee.

“Anyone getting on the Republican national committee debate stage should be able to say, ‘I will support the will of the voters and the eventual nominee of our party,’” McDaniel told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

However, when asked about how the RNC could enforce such a rule, McDaniel did not provide a specific answer.

“We’re saying you’re not going to get on the debate stage unless you make this pledge. I think people in our party really want to see that. They want to see us come together. They don’t want the infighting,” McDaniel said in response. “We saw big races lost this cycle, because of Republicans refusing to support other Republicans,” she added.

“Unless we fix this in our party, unless we start coming together, we will not win in 2024,” she added.

The first Republican presidential debate will be held in August in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In an email sent last week, McDaniel told RNC members that no other debates have been sanctioned so far and no final rules have been set, reported The Washington Post.

—The Epoch Times, Reuters

Paul Ryan, a member of the Fox Corporation Board of Directors, said this weekend he will skip the 2024 Republican National Convention if former President Donald Trump wins the Republican Party primary.

In an interview on WISN ABC, Ryan was asked where he would be during the 2024 convention held in Milwaukee.

“Where will you be?” the host asked.

“It depends on who the nominee is,” Ryan replied. “I’ll be here if it’s not named somebody Trump.”

“You won’t show up if it’s someone —,” the host said before Ryan quickly cut in.

“Yeah, I’m not interested in participating, no,” Ryan retorted.

“Even if in Wisconsin?” the host asked.

Ryan replied, “Even Wisconsin.”

According to recent polling, it appears probable Trump will be the favorite to win the GOP primary against competitors and hypothetical candidates. A Rasmussen Reports poll found Thursday that Trump more than doubled Gov. Ron DeSantis in a hypothetical Republican primary matchup.

Fifty-two percent supported Trump, while only 24 percent chose DeSantis — less than half. Just 15 percent said they supported former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, widely viewed as the most establishment candidate among the three potential contenders.

—Breitbart News

Members of the House Select Committee on China are pledging to redouble their efforts to counter Beijing’s ongoing threats to its targets on U.S. soil.

Standing in front of a now-shuttered overseas Chinese police outpost in downtown Manhattan on Feb. 25, and surrounded by dozens of pro-democracy activists, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Select Committee on China, likened the threats from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to those of a mafia.

“They buy off politicians, multinational organizations, companies, and in some cases, law enforcement. They use muscle and threats, instead of persuasion. And like the mafia, they [aren’t] afraid to make people disappear,” he told the listeners at the press event.

Having spoken to dozens of Chinese dissidents, he said, it was “rare to find anyone who hasn’t experienced some low-level forms of digital harassment from the CCP”—one Chinese American citizen was detained against her will in China for eight months while she was pregnant.

“We have been blind while the CCP has been very cunning,” said Gallagher, who was joined by Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), both members of the China committee. “Now, they want to export that repression around the world, and the only thing standing in their way is our will to defend our values.”

He noted the spy balloon spotted traversing the United States that turned out to be part of a state-run Chinese surveillance program worldwide. Both the overseas police stations and the spy balloon program are an affront to U.S. sovereignty, he said.

“It sent the message of ‘look what we can do and get away with and you won’t push back,’” Gallagher told The Epoch Times about the balloon incident. “So that’s why we need to push back and make sure that we’re not allowing stuff like this to happen.”

—The Epoch Times

Thursday’s partial collapse of a Bayshore parking structure in Glendale came after snow was piled up near the center of its top deck − and a large chunk of concrete beneath that snow pile crashed through to the ground level.

Fortunately, no one was injured − although two Whitefish Bay High School Students were just seconds away from driving into the parking garage’s ground level before the collapse occurred.

That same type of building failure has happened at other parking ramps throughout the United States when snow being cleared from a top open level is concentrated in one spot.

That’s despite widespread warnings about that practice.

The collapse came about a year after Bayshore, which is operated by Dallas-based Cypress Equities LLC, switched from its longstanding snow removal firm to a competing business.

The current contractor, West Allis-based Winter Services LLC, began working for Bayshore during the 2021-’22 season, according to Jesse Hoffman, president of MCR Holdings LLC.

Milwaukee-based MCR Holdings previously held the snow removal contract at Bayshore for around 10 years.

“(Winter Services) piled the snow in one location,” Hoffman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “In my eyes, it’s negligence. It’s not knowing how a parking structure is built.”

Based on the amount of snow that fell Wednesday and news media accounts which said it was piled in the center of the deck, Hoffman estimated Winter Services piled about 100 to 140 tons of snow on the parking structure’s top level. He said that area could hold about 18 to 20 tons of snow.

MCR Holdings would not have piled snow in the center of the parking deck, Hoffman said. The parking structure’s main support is along the exterior walls and the corners, he said.

People answering the phone at Winter Services declined to speak with a Journal Sentinel reporter.

Bayshore’s spokesperson declined to comment other than to confirm that Winter Services is the property’s snow removal contractor.

An article on best practices for parking garage snow removal, posted at Woodstock, Georgia-based Innovative Engineering Inc.’s Structural Engineering Blog, features this tip as No. 1 on its list:

“Don’t store large piles of snow on the top level. Large snow piles get heavy over time and can quickly exceed the live load limits of the structure or garage.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The former White House physician to Presidents Obama and Trump has a warning for the U.S. regarding President Joe Biden’s declining mental health.

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) raised concerns days after Biden made notable gaffes while giving an interview and fell again up the stairs of Air Force One.

Jackson cautioned that his decline in cognitive health would lead the country into war.

“It’s TERRIFYING for our country that Biden is our commander-in-chief. He doesn’t know where he’s at half the time, and every day he brings us closer to an all-out war with Russia & China,” Jackson said in a tweet. “His cognitive decline is going to get people KILLED!!”

In the past year, Biden has ramped up the transfer of U.S. military equipment to Ukraine for its border defense and 1,500 new and 750 amended sanctions and export controls against Russia.

Additionally, lawmakers have earmarked $110 billion to help defend Ukraine’s borders.

Meanwhile, Biden continues to ignore his own country’s borders, that is being overrun by illegal migrants bringing everything from sex trafficking to deadly drugs into the U.S.

Since taking office, Biden has let over five million aliens enter the U.S. illegally, ignoring demands for him to secure the border.

The president’s notable forgetfulness and mood swings have worried Republican lawmakers, calling on him to take a cognitive test due to fears he may have Alzheimer’s disease.

Earlier this month, 38 Republican lawmakers demanded Biden to undergo a cognitive test, pointing out similarities between the disease and the president’s personality.

“The Alzheimer’s Association lists “changes in mood and personality,” including being more “easily upset” as one of ten signs of mental decline. You displayed this type of mood change during a cabinet meeting on January 24, 2022, when you apparently did not know your microphone was on after finishing your opening remarks. You called a White House reporter a “stupid son of a b****” in response to a question asked on inflation,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter.


Christiana Trapani’s estimate was a bit off.

OK, way off.

She had used her Door County Candle Company (WI) for a fundraiser to aide a Ukrainian Catholic school in Chicago in January 2022 and sold 20 or so candles.

So, a month later, after Russia invaded Ukraine, where Trapani has family and friends, she launched her own campaign selling yellow and blue candles in 16-ounce glass jars.

Trapani, whose maiden name is Gorchynski, thought — and this is no joke — that she would sell a few dozen and raise maybe a couple hundred dollars.

Only this fundraiser took off beyond her wildest imagination.

Her little shop on the Door County Peninsula has been overwhelmed with orders. Machines have broken from overuse, pouring tables have been added to keep up with the demand, and an expansion has just been completed to provide more space for storage and shipping. She’s added more employees, while a team of volunteers over the past year have put in a collective 200,000 hours to help the cause.

As of last week, on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, more than 90,000 candles had been sold by Trapani’s candle company and more than $851,000 donated to Razom, a nonprofit formed in 2014 to help the people of Ukraine.

When I visited last week, Trapani was still in disbelief that a simple $30 candle could create such an outpouring of support.

“I didn’t even tell my staff we were doing it because I figured it was something we could do on the weekend and be done with,” Trapani said as we toured her business. “It’s really been a journey. When we started, we weren’t prepared for the volumes and we didn’t know how to manage the volumes. Every day was a learning curve for us but we made it work.”

When Trapani, 29, bought the business eight months before the war, it was making about 15,000 candles a year. This being Door County, the fragrances include cherry, McIntosh apple, pumpkin, cranberry chutney and another that smells like grapes to mimic a vineyard.

On Tuesday, Kay Ellis, of Green Bay, stood beneath a Ukrainian flag and used a copper device and adhesive to attach wicks to the inside bottom of candle jars that would eventually be filled with wax. At a neighboring table, Laura Donnell used a wipe and isopropyl alcohol to clean errant wax off the sides of glass jars. She has been volunteering since May and makes the 40-minute drive every Tuesday from her home in Ellison Bay near the top of the peninsula.

“Even the small things matter tremendously,” said Donnell. “Everyone is doing what they can. Nothing is too small.”

Virtually everything is done by hand, from cleaning the jars to installing the wicks to pouring the wax drawn from vats and old coffee pots. Boxes used to be hand taped, but a machine has been purchased to speed up that part of the process. The expansion also means no longer having to store supplies outside or at the Door County Coffee & Tea Company, which required multiple trips a day with a forklift.

The story of the candles and the fundraising has been told by swaths of local media and has been featured on “ABC World News Tonight” and “PBS NewsHour.” Trapani’s aunt lives in far western Ukraine and turned down offers to evacuate to Poland. But the war, for all of its tragedies, has helped introduce the world to the Ukrainian people, while the candles have provided something tangible for those who are looking for a way to help, Trapani said.

“I think people in the world have learned how resilient Ukrainians are and how strong they are and how they don’t give up,” Trapani said.

—Barry Adams, WI State Journal

A social media influencer claims she developed “digital vertigo” after spending up to 14 hours a day on her phone, with the condition leaving her confined to a wheelchair.

Fenella Fox, 29, says she stared at her screen morning to night, addicted to Instagram, where she has amassed more than 156,000 followers.

But in early 2021, the British brunette reported experiencing headaches and neck pain that gradually intensified. Soon after, she started suffering dizzy spells and nausea.

“I just felt like I really couldn’t walk properly,” Fox told The Mirror of one particular episode. “I felt really unwell. Dizzy, and kind of distorted. I can visualize it, but it’s not easy to explain.”

At the time, the social media star was living in Portugal, where doctors were baffled by her troubles. As her symptoms started to become more extreme, Fox flew to the UK to be looked after by her parents.

“I got a taxi to the airport fine, but when I was in the airport, that’s when I was met with a wheelchair,” she recalled. “I had a wheelchair from that point up until meeting my mom the other end and the wheelchair up until the door of her car.”

Fox allegedly became bedridden and struggled to walk properly, relying on a wheelchair whenever she needed to move around.

Still, the phone addict continued to scroll on her device all day, without realizing it was the purported cause of her problems.

“I’m in bed, I’m scrolling from wake until sleep. What I don’t know is at that point I’m making myself worse,” she stated.

Doctors in the UK were similarly confused by the beauty’s bizarre ailment, and it wasn’t until Fox’s father found articles on “cybersickness” and “digital vertigo” that the phone addict decided to ditch her device.

“I turned off my phone and threw it into the back of the cupboard or gave it to my parents and was like, ‘Please do not let me on this.’ Then I was able to walk again,” she declared.

—NY Post


I have questions but these are just a few I have for those Democrats out there living their lives looking down their noses at those of us who simply won’t obey them. (We never will.) I don’t expect leftists to answer because the answers are obvious, but to know them would require curiosity and the ability to think critically for themselves, and Democrats simply lack the tools.

On “climate change” I have to ask how it is we’re supposed to take you seriously when nothing you’ve predicted has come to pass? We’re well past 30 years of 10-year predictions of coastal flooding, yet Florida still exists. In fact, all the 10-year predictions of doom and gloom haven’t happened.

So, if we haven’t acted on climate change and the “polluting” countries are still pumping out CO2 like it’s a sport, why haven’t your predictions come true? Why didn’t you try to save Barack Obama millions when he bought his mega-estate on Martha’s Vineyard?

On the trans issue, how did all of you lose every bit of life experience and knowledge you’d accumulated over your lifetime inside of about 15 minutes? You don’t really believe the person next to you at a urinal is a woman simply because they peek-a-boo their privates behind thigh fat, do you?

If trans women are every bit as much women and real women, why do they need the prefix “trans”? If trans women are real women why is it that zero straight elected Democrats have ever dated one? Wouldn’t Bill Clinton have gotten what he got from Monica from one by now? Wouldn’t Hunter Biden, who filmed himself having sex with what sure came off as human trafficked, forced prostitutes have filmed himself having sex with a tucked partner, if only by accident? When the chips are down it sure seems like Democrats do, in fact, know what a woman is. Why is that?

On the border, I’ll make this quick: Why do you call illegal aliens “migrants”? “Migrants” migrate, it’s right there in their name. The millions of people flooding across the southern border at your invitation and urging aren’t planning on going anywhere; if they aren’t deported, they’ll never leave. They, therefore, are illegal aliens.

Words matter, or so you people who call everyone a bigot who refers to a guy in a dress as “he,” so why don’t they matter at the border? Migrants enter the country for specific work, generally the harvesting of crops, then go home after completion with their pay. Illegal aliens stay, avail themselves of our social safety net – clog emergency rooms, slow down the education process of American kids while costing the system an untold fortune, receive welfare benefits, etc. – and will never, short of a mega lottery win, be a net benefit to society, even if they were made legal.

I guess my question for you is how can people, unable to communicate in our language and largely illiterate in their own, ever contribute as much (forget more) than they take from our country? Why is the fact that their country sucks our responsibility? Shouldn’t they try to fix their own country rather than be allowed to be a drain on ours? And why do Democrats actively seek to implement in this country the very economic system they marched thousands of miles to escape?

—Columnist Derek Hunter

You go to some of these deep red states where you would think they were based and you have to wonder what the hell they are thinking. Look at South Dakota under Chamber of Commerce Cowgirl Kristi Noem. It took her years and the realization that running interference for the squishes by refusing to sign on to a bill protecting kids from gender freaks was destroying her chance of ever being president before she finally signed something. In places like North Dakota and Idaho, which should be on the cutting edge of medieval conservatism, they regularly elect Buick Republicans who think we should use our inside voices. What gives?

Take South Carolina. Please. Red, red, red. Except it has given us Nikki Haley, who makes Jeb! look like…well, her with lower heels. And it has Tim Scott, a nice guy but someone who would never, ever choose to leave a heap of his enemies skulls on the field of battle as a warning to those who might challenge us.

Look, if you are not into skull-stacking in 2023, you are out of step with the strategic needs of the movement. And then there’s their other senator, Lindsey Graham, the guy who is all in on Ukraine, confirming Dem judges, and amnesty. Sure, Trump digs him – because Trump never learns – but the guy is a fossil locked in a time capsule that says “Don’t Open until 2006 Happens Again.”

How does a state as gloriously scarlet as Lower Carolina breed such throwback Republicans? Is there something in the water? Did Pete Buttigieg let another weird chemical tanker train derail there? 

I have a theory.

I think that red state Republicans have it easy and can afford to be soft. Or at least they think they can. And so they often are.

I think that in the blue states, we Republicans have to fight. I can literally go days not talking to anyone who thinks like us who is not a super-hot Cuban woman. We are surrounded by the left, facing off with them all the time, and constantly on alert. We can never let our guard down. It is who we are. Recently, a person in a line of work where most everyone is a pinko took me aside, out of earshot, and expressed joy in meeting others of a like mind. We are the underground, a real resistance, not some sissy MSNBC posing. In the red states, you know normal people in great numbers. For us, it’s a treat to meet one. We could literally hold a meet-up of every conservative in LA in a Denny’s with room for few pinkos to be getting their grand slam breakfasts too.

In the big red states, everyone who wants to get elected to anything joins the GOP. So, naturally, a lot of people who, in a non-red state, would probably be Democrats, join the GOP. It’s the only game in town. Can you tell the difference between Arkansas’s Asa Hutchinson and a Democrat?

But these people dilute the hardcoreness of the party. You get them in office and they do not evolve into something cool. Rather, they devolve into squishes and undercut those who actually are based. Look at Texas. You would think Texas would be positively neanderthal. Nope. The only reason it is as based as it is right now, with rumblings about fighting CRT and the rest of that commie crap, is because Ron DeSantis is over in Florida shaming Governor Greg Abbott into doing something. Governor DeSantis is shaming a lot of folks into moving right; they would be spinning their wheels in moderation (which is synonymous with decline) if he was not embarrassing them by his transcendent basedness.

Florida proves my theory. It was purple. Democrats often won elections. We all remember 2000 – well, you Gen Z people don’t, but you can consult an elder for tales of hanging chads – and the state came within a battalion of voters of going for Al Gore. Florida is red now, but it took work. It took a struggle. It took fighting. No wonder DeSantis is rock hard. He had to be.

So no wonder the red state parties are soft. They can be. But not forever. You know what other state was deep red? The one that gave us Ronald Reagan. California was ultra-mega GOP right up until it wasn’t. Our GOP got soft. It took its dominance for granted. And it nearly got exterminated.

What’s left of the Republicans base in Cali is hard again, and that’s great, but the rest of you red states better watch yourselves. Never, ever, take your red for granted, or the next thing you know you’ll have a socialist human hairstyle for a Democrat governor too.

—Columnist Kurt Schlichter

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1991 U.S. President George H.W. Bush ordered a cease-fire effective at midnight and declared victory in the Persian Gulf War, a conflict triggered by Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait in August 1990.

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