NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Thursday, March 30, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


A train carrying ethanol derailed and several cars erupted in flames, early Thursday, sparking an evacuation for residents living near the crash site in Raymond, Minnesota, officials said.

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office was notified about the train derailment around 1 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET.)

Around 22 rail cars “carrying mixed freight including ethanol and corn syrup” were reported to have derailed, BNSF Railway said in a statement.

Several of the derailed tanks caught on fire, the sheriff’s office said.

An evacuation area within a half a mile around the crash site was established and law enforcement officers and EMS personnel assisted with evacuating the area.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident and the cause of the derailment is under investigation, BNSF Railway said in a statement.

—NBC News

Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. in 2022 posted revenue of $34.9 billion and net income of $912 million.

“Our commitment to maintaining exceptional financial strength is unwavering,” said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer John Schlifske, in a statement announcing the company’s financial results.

Yet, the Common Council recently voted 12-0 to support a proposal from Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s administration to provide $30 million in city financing for the company’s planned $500 million downtown corporate campus redevelopment.

And that raises what Ald. Michael Murphy calls “a very legitimate question” from Milwaukee citizens:

“Why are we doing this when they have that kind of revenue stream?” Murphy asked rhetorically at a recent city hearing.

Northwestern Mutual will get the $30 million grant through a tax incremental financing district.

Communities throughout Wisconsin, and virtually all other states, use TIF districts to help finance commercial development and pay for streets, sewers and other public improvements tied to those developments.

The company now has 4,480 employees, consultants and contractors based downtown. It will move its Franklin operations, with around 2,000 employees, to the expanded Milwaukee campus.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Children’s Wisconsin Foundation went forward with its announcement last week that this year’s Al’s Run would not take place.

But a Children’s Wisconsin spokesman said the organization is committed to a fundraising event in 2024, one that may include a run and walk.

“The thought is that we want to have an event that incorporates Al’s Run in some way or form to honor that tradition to keep that going,” said Andy Brodzeller, the spokesman. “What that exactly looks like, we’ll continue those conversations with various community groups or running groups.”

In an interview this week with the Journal Sentinel, Brodzeller said Children’s Wisconsin has “historically done a lot of the logistical side of the true run and walk event. So we want to continue that tradition but explore ways on how to do it that also allows us to expand the event going forward.”

Al’s Run is a 45-year downtown Milwaukee institution, launched in 1978 by legendary Marquette University basketball coach Al McGuire and sustained over the decades as a prime fundraising event for Children’s Wisconsin.

Around $22 million has been raised by the event that brings together elite runners, recreational joggers and others committed to the cause, including those families whose loved ones sought treatment at Children’s.

The hospital said it was reaching out to supporters “to help us collect ideas and feedback on how our events can be more representative of the communities we serve while also identifying what makes our events special and should be retained.”

The organization has already begun holding focus groups with key constituent groups and is conducting a survey.

Two questions in the survey stand out. Respondents are asked: “What’s most important to you when attending Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk?” They’re also asked: “What ideas do you have around ensuring an engaging experience for kids and adults of all abilities?”

Over the years, participation in the event has declined. In 2019, the race had 10,000 participants, around 5,000 fewer than previous years. After staging virtual events in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, last year’s run had 8,000 participants.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pope Francis is “progressively improving” after he spent the night in a Rome hospital where he was diagnosed with a respiratory infection, the Vatican said Thursday.

The pontiff, 86, had “rested well overnight” and resumed work, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

“The clinical picture is progressively improving and he is continuing his planned treatment,” Bruni said. “This morning after having breakfast, he read some newspapers and resumed work.”

He added that the pope had also “gathered in prayer and received the Eucharist.”

Francis was taken to the Gemelli hospital after complaining of breathing difficulties, the Vatican said Wednesday, adding that he would spend a few days there.

Francis’ audiences through Friday were canceled, raising questions about the pope’s participation in the Vatican’s Holy Week activities and about his health in general.

—NBC News

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) staffer who was attacked by a knife-wielding man in Washington, D.C., last weekend is expected to make a full recovery, according to his parents.

Chuck and Helen Todd released a statement on Wednesday providing an update on the health of their son, Phillip Todd, and asking for privacy so that they can focus on his rehabilitation, as reported by ABC affiliate 7News.

Phillip Todd “was randomly and brutally attacked by a person armed with a knife, who, according to the police report, attempted to kill him. The intervention of our son’s friend helped prevent the wounds from being fatal,” the statement said.

“Our son is in a stable condition, having undergone trauma surgery to address the wounds in his body,” the statement added. “He also has a fracture on his skull, which will be treated with non-invasive neurosurgery. He is expected to make a full recovery due to his young age and good health.”

—Daily Wire

U.S. Marshals assigned to guard the Supreme Court Justice’s home following the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned last year were reportedly told not to make any arrests of violent protestors.

According to training documents obtained by the office of Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala), “unless absolutely necessary,” criminal enforcement action involving the protest or protestors, particularly in public space, was to be avoided.

Previously, Attorney General Merrick Garland claimed that U.S. Marshals “have full authority to arrest people under any federal statute, including that federal statute.” However, the training documents suggested that the Department of Justice lawyers believed applying the statute to peaceful protests directed at the justices would violate the First Amendment.

During a congressional hearing earlier this week, Britt presented those training documents to Garland, which he claims he has never seen before.

At the time of the protests, even Left-wing Washington Post admitted that the protests occurring at Justice’s home were most likely illegal.

“While protest is indeed ingrained in American democracy, legally speaking, the comparison between protesting a politician at home and a member of the judiciary at home is inexact. And experts say the latter category of protests is probably illegal regardless of how peaceful the demonstrations are,” the Post said.


President Joe Biden won’t veto a Republican-led measure to end the national COVID emergency, despite having expressed strong objections against it earlier this year, ensuring the bill is on an easy path to becoming law.

Republicans celebrated the turn of events Wednesday as a sign of their newfound influence in divided Washington, while Democrats quietly complained that the Biden administration had shifted its views.

A White House official said that when the House Republicans were first preparing to vote on the bill at the start of the year, it would have lifted the national emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic in February.

But now, it’s much closer to the White House’s own plan to wind down COVID national emergency status on May 11.

The legislation is a simple one-line measure saying that national emergency declared on March 13, 2020, “is hereby terminated.”

—ABC News

You already know that egg prices are at crazy-high levels because of bird flu, which caused millions of hens to be put down.

But that won’t leave you feeling over easy when I share that the country’s top egg producer, Cal-Maine Foods, just reported a massive increase in quarterly profit.

How massive? Try 718% higher.

What does that mean in dollar terms? A year ago, Cal-Maine pocketed $39.5 million in quarterly profit. This time around, $323 million.

Sherman Miller, the company’s president and CEO, called the latest returns “a solid performance,” which deserves some sort of prize for understatement.

—KTLA-TV, Las Vegas

Fans of the hit sitcom “Seinfeld” may recall the episode in which Elaine (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) hilariously tested positive for opium after eating a muffin containing poppy seeds — which got her kicked off a work trip to Kenya.

But for two pregnant women in New Jersey, the real-life repercussions of eating poppy seeds and then testing positive for drugs weren’t nearly as funny.

The women ate bagels with poppy seeds last year before heading to two separate hospitals to give birth to their children.

Hospital staff administered drug tests to both women — which came back positive for opioids, as a press release from the New Jersey ACLU indicated.

The hospitals reported the women to the New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) for possible abuse and neglect.

Now, the women are suing the hospitals for discriminatory practices.

The women filed lawsuits against the two hospitals, Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack and Virtua Voorhees Hospital in Voorhees Township, for giving them drug tests without their knowledge or consent and “in the absence of medical necessity.”

—NY Post


If you take an oath to protect and serve, and you end up outside of a schoolhouse with some gender freak psycho inside shooting kids, you face a stark choice. You can go in and kill the daughter of a bitch – there’s no gender insanity indulgence due this scumbag – or you can stay outside like a coward, a sissy, or an Uvalde cop. This week we saw, thanks to stunning body cam footage, that courage is not dead in America.

Words like “courage” today are almost a laugh line among our alleged betters, a relic of some bygone era, like “honor” and “normality.” The concept of someone sacrificing for another, of putting everything on the line just because he promised to do so and because he could not bear the thought of failing to keep his word is alien to our supposed best and brightest. What did those police officers have to gain from confronting the gunwoman? Maybe a round in the face. But you can watch the footage yourself. They did not hesitate. They did not dither. They went inside a building with a murderer intent on blowing their brains out. They had no idea where she was – she could have ambushed them. You saw them initially clearing each room systematically and moving forward as fast as they could. And then they heard the shots upstairs and they ran – not to safety, not to cover, but to the sound of the gun.

They crossed over the body of a dead child on the way, a graphic reminder of what could happen to them, but an even more graphic reminder that if they failed it would happen to other kids. No one made them do it. No one made them press the attack. Like that pathetic neuter cop cowering outside the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas School or the band of fearful flatfoots at Uvalde, they had the option to save themselves.

They chose to save the kids.

And when they rounded that corner and the killer came into view, they acted without hesitation and shot her to pieces.

The young officers in Nashville came from our sick society and had courage and honor. It will take more than the puny DEI/CRT indoctrination of blue-haired weirdo teachers and movies about how the USA sucks to wring the bravery from the American soul.

—Columnist Kurt Schlichter

I’ve long argued that the Second Amendment is the insurance policy the Founding Fathers took out to protect the rest of the Bill of Rights. You can’t take away someone’s right to free speech, to freely assemble, and your freedom of religion without first taking away their ability to resist. Otherwise, someone’s going to fight you.

But in the wake of a mass shooting, we start to get a glimpse of who some people are.

As Ben Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

For one USA Today writer, he’s clearly and firmly in that camp.

Three children and three adults are dead, gunned down in a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tenn., by a human being who had no business possessing an AR-style rifle, an AR-style pistol and another handgun.

“But, but, but … the Second Amendment,” some will scream, like a myopic, zombified Greek chorus. Hang your Second Amendment. It’s Monday in America, there has been yet another school shooting. Children are dead. The students who weren’t shot are forever changed by the trauma, and plenty more people across the country will be killed by gunfire in the days to come because, as I wrote a few words earlier, it’s Monday in America, and we have a whole damn week to go.”

And at this point, it really doesn’t matter what else the writer has to say. He’s already made it clear that your Second Amendment rights are completely and totally irrelevant to him.

He’s also made it clear he’s not open for discussion about literally anything else that could potentially reduce mass shootings. Why? Because your rights don’t matter.

We can’t “hang” our Second Amendment rights just because something bad happens. If we do that, we can then start hanging the rest of our rights when someone decides they need to go away.

Frankly, when you’re starting position is that my rights are completely and totally irrelevant, there is no discourse. There’s absolutely no reason to engage with you because there’s absolutely no chance of you being the least bit rational.

Do you want my rights? It’s not surprising. We’ve long known that gun control advocates ultimately want to gut the Second Amendment to the point that it’s little more than a trophy hanging on the wall.

The problem, however, is that it’s easy to say “hang your Second Amendment.” It’s a lot harder to do anything about it. Why? Because there’s an insurance policy in the Bill of Rights, and there are millions of Americans ready to act because of it.

—Tom Knighton is a Navy veteran, a former newspaperman, a novelist, and a blogger and lifetime shooter. He lives with his family in Southwest Georgia.

It’s been said that we are currently in a battle for the soul of America. It’s an appropriate turn of phrase, theologically speaking. Just as God wants to save souls and restore them, patriots want to save the soul of America as founded, restoring her to her place as “the shining city on a hill” once again. Just as Satan wants to destroy souls and subjugate them, leftists seek to destroy the soul of America as founded, subordinating her to the interests of globalists and the ambitions of our communist adversaries, particularly China.

American leftist ideologues — those Democrats philosophically aligned with our communist adversaries — have been part of the Democrat Party for decades. In the last few years, though, these leftists and our communist adversaries have finally made their move.

Leftists have now fully taken over the Democrat Party. They’ve purged any Democrat politician holding office who wasn’t on “the team” by using the primary process. The Democrat Party, as we once knew it, doesn’t exist anymore.

“The left” is the force currently destroying the soul of America. For those of us who want to save the soul of America, the left is the enemy. We “patriots” must defeat this enemy, or the country is lost.

The left is losing control. How can we tell? Polls reveal that most of the false narratives constructed by the left are crumbling. There is growing public outrage at the weaponization of the FBI and DOJ. People are increasingly aware of efforts by the left to censor its political opposition. The public are realizing that the government lied about COVID-19 and tried to hide information from them. The public now know that everything they’ve been told about January 6 is a lie. Polls reflect that the public believe that the 2020 election was stolen. In a battle for public perception, this is what it looks like when your side starts to win.

What does it look like when your opponents start to lose? They start to deviate from their original strategy and make mistakes. The leaders of the left are panicking under pressure. Sen. Chuck Schumer foolishly demanded that Tucker Carlson be censored by Fox News. House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries ludicrously declared that releasing the January 6 tapes to Fox News created a security breach. They are now launching desperate gambles like trying to indict President Trump and announcing plans to arrest an additional 1,000 January 6 protesters. These foolish demands and desperate gambles are almost certain to further galvanize public opinion against the left. They chose the battlefield of public perception. Now their plan is falling apart.

The left still controls most of the levers of power and has deliberately created a host of disasters, both at home and abroad. Before we can even engage with these problems, we must win our current battle first. To save this country, it is imperative that we rid the government of the left. We hold the House now, and representatives there must continue to publicly expose the left and what it has done. In addition, there are efforts being made to restore election integrity all over the country right now. Fair elections are essential, so we must fully support that effort. We stand to increase our majority in the House and might manage to take the Senate in 2024. With fair elections and the truth about the left exposed, the American people will vote to take their country back from these corrupt frauds who have stolen it.

— Ian MacConnell

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – 56 years ago today in 1967, Michael Cooper photographed the cover for the Beatles masterpiece, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. British ‘pop’ artist Peter Blake and his wife were hired by art director Robert Fraser to create more than 70 life-sized cut-out figures of Beatle heroes for the famous collage, including Edgar Allen Poe, Fred Astaire, Carl Jung, Lenny Bruce, Dylan Thomas, Karl Marx, H.G. Wells, Laurel and Hardy, Lewis Caroll, Tony Curtis, one-time Beatle bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe, and — at George’s request — a number of Indian gurus.

One thought on “NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Thursday, March 30, 2023

  1. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (04/03/2023) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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