NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


Wisconsin voters on Tuesday gave control of the state’s highest court to liberals for the first time in 15 years, instantly reshaping politics in the Badger State by putting the state laws most celebrated by conservatives at risk of being overturned — including a 19th Century-era ban on abortions.

Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly in a race that served as a referendum on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, shattering national spending records and attracting a level of political warfare unseen before in a state judicial race.

“Today I’m proud to stand by the promise I’ve made to every Wisconsinite that I will always deliver justice and bring common sense to our Supreme Court,” Protasiewicz told supporters after she was declared the winner.

Protasiewicz, 60, defeated Kelly after spending millions on a campaign largely focused on telling voters she supports abortion access, a partisan appeal to voters that was unprecedented in a judicial race before and forecasted how she might vote on a lawsuit seeking to repeal the state’s abortion ban that is expected to land before the high court.

“Our state is taking a step forward to a better and brighter future where our rights will be protected,” she said.

After the race was called for Protasiewicz, Kelly refused to call his opponent to concede the race, saying he respected the voters’ decision but not her.

“I wish in a circumstance like this I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent. But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede,” Kelly told supporters at a campaign event in Green Lake, calling Protasiewicz a “serial liar.” “I wish Wisconsin the best of luck, because I think it’s going to need it.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

With just over 500 votes separating Republican Dan Knodl from his opponent, Democratic attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, Knodl declared victory in the special election for Wisconsin’s 8th Senate District seat late Tuesday.

As of 11:54 p.m., 98% of the votes had been counted with Knodl getting 37,180, or 50.4%. Habush Sinykin received 36,647 votes, 49.6%. Votes in the Town of Lisbon were still unaccounted for.

“Those numbers are in my favor in the Town of Lisbon, we’re in good shape and we have a victory,” Knodl said from his campaign party.

Habush Sinykin’s campaign said the race was still too close to call. “Still waiting for all results to come in, Jodi and her family have gone home for the night,” a campaign spokesman said.

A Knodl win would again secure a two-thirds majority in the state Senate, allowing them to remove state officials convicted by impeachment.

Knodl, of Germantown, would replace former state Sen. Alberta Darling in the 8th Senate District, which covers the northern Milwaukee suburbs. Darling retired last year, prompting Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to call a special election to replace her.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It will be harder to get out of jail on bail before trial in Wisconsin under an amendment to the state constitution approved by voters on Tuesday.

Judges will now be able to consider past convictions for violent crimes when setting bail for someone accused of a violent crime. They also will be allowed to set conditions meant to protect public safety when releasing someone before trial.

The amendment’s passage, which appeared as two separate ballot questions that were approved by wide margins, is the latest victory in a Republican-backed push to enact stricter bail laws across the country.

—Wisconsin AP

Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts Tuesday in New York, a historic moment as the first former president ever to face criminal charges and a dramatic backdrop for the 2024 presidential race as he campaigns again for the White House.

• Trump surrenders: Trump surrendered at Manhattan District Attorney’s Office at 1:23 p.m. EST and was placed under arrest.

• Trump pleads not guilty: He pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments to women who claimed to have had sex with him.

• What was grand jury investigating?: Witnesses said Trump arranged for his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to pay two women for their silence before the 2016 election.

• 2024 election: Trump denied wrongdoing and noted Cohen is a convicted liar. Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination have criticized Bragg, with some saying voters should decide the former president’s fate.

Trump attacked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg during his remarks to supporters at Mar-A-Lago on Tuesday evening. At one point, Trump called Bragg a “local failed district attorney.”

“I never thought anything like this could happen in America,” Trump said.


Former President Donald Trump returned to his estate at Mar-a-Lago to a crowd of cheering supporters in the ballroom, where he railed against the “election interference” being brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over alleged payments that were used as hush money to Stormy Daniels.

“The only crime that I have committed is to fiercely defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it,” Trump said, while noting Bragg was backed by money donated by George Soros during his election for district attorney.

It was not just the recent indictment Trump brought up Tuesday night. He said the establishment has gone after from the day he started running for president back in 2015. In addition to being targeted by the government, Trump said, “Our country is going to hell” under President Joe Biden.

Trump also called out Bragg for not prosecuting serious crimes committed by everyday New Yorkers, resulting in major crimes being at high levels.

The indictment brought by Bragg has been called weak not just by Trump’s supporters, but also talking heads at liberal mainstream media outlets.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said the only reason why Trump was charged is because he decided to run for president again.


According to a Reuters/Ipsos survey issued on Monday, 45th U.S. President Donald Trump has increased his lead over his competitors in the 2024 Republican presidential nominee race, despite the fact that he is currently facing criminal charges in New York.

In an earlier poll conducted from March 14th to March 20th, 44% of people who identified as Republicans said they would still choose Trump to be their party’s presidential nominee.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) is supported by only 19% of Republican voters, down from 30% last month. Several other likely competitors also received low single-digit votes.

The most recent online survey was conducted between March 31st and April 3rd following the announcement that Trump would be charged for allegedly paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is the very first American president to be indicted in history. On Tuesday, he entered a not-guilty plea in a courtroom in Manhattan, New York.

The belief that Trump paid the porn star to stay quiet about an affair before the 2016 election was shared by 71% of people in the recent poll, including 58% of Republicans.

Trump has acknowledged that Daniels was paid, but he still maintains his own innocence and denies having an affair.

Nonetheless, 51% of responders to the poll, including 80% of Republicans, said they thought the accusations against Trump were politically motivated. These numbers haven’t altered much from the previous month.

—One America News

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., stood by her remarks calling Democrats “pedophiles” in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night.

Greene doubled down when pressed on her “over the top” remarks in the past, including calling Democrats a “party of pedophiles.”

“I would definitely say so,” she replied. “They support grooming children.”

Correspondent Lesley Stahl pushed back on Greene’s assertion: “They are not pedophiles, why would you say that?”

Greene again defended her remarks: “Democrats support — even Joe Biden the president himself — supports children being sexualized, having transgender surgeries. Sexualizing children is what pedophiles do to children.”

Stahl audibly sighed and rolled her eyes, before asking Greene whether she can fight for what she believes in without name-calling and personal attacks.

Greene then accused Democrats of doing the same to her. “I would ask the same question to the other side. Because all they’ve done is call me names and insult me nonstop since I’ve been here,” she said.

“They call me racist. They call me antisemitic, which is not true. I’m not calling anyone names. I’m calling out the truth basically,” she added.

—NBC News

A Richneck, Virginia, woman who was shot by a 6-year-old in early January 2023 has filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School Board, claiming negligence led to the shooting.

Richneck Elementary went into lockdown on Jan. 6, 2023, after first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner was shot in the hand and chest by a child who reportedly obtained a gun belonging to his mother, which was allegedly secured.

Zwerner says she told the school’s administration that the boy, whose family says he has an “acute disability,” had threatened another student at the school, but nothing was done.

“They didn’t call security, they didn’t remove the student from the classroom, the school administration failed to act,” said her attorney Diane Toscano in January.

In the 20-page complaint, many of the previous assertions about the small boy are made, with expansions on key individuals involved in different incidents. he lawsuit claims that the 6-year-old “had a history of random violence,” including attacking “students and teachers alike.”

According to the lawsuit, that very day of the shooting, around 11:15 a.m., Zwerner told the assistant principal that the child was “in a violent mood” and “threatened to beat up a kindergartner during lunchtime, and angrily stared down a security officer.”

Then, at about 2 p.m., the boy shot Zwerner while she was sitting at a table after pulling a gun out of the front pocket of his hoodie.

The single shot went through the teacher’s left hand and into her chest.

The lawsuit names Newport News School Board as the lead defendant, along with Assistant Principal Ebony Parker, former school Principal Briana Foster Newton, and the superintendent.

—The Blaze

The total amount refunded to taxpayers by the Internal Revenue Service to date this year is approximately $172 billion — $16.4 billion less than in in 2022, the latest data from the agency shows.

That equates to an average refund of $2,903 — $360 less per person than in 2022, the data shows.

Given the importance of these refunds to many households’ annual budgets, those spending plans are likely to be dramatically affected, according to Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.

“Lots of people like refunds,” Rossman said. “It’s the largest windfall many households get throughout the year.”

A recent Bankrate survey found 75% of respondents said this year’s tax refund would be very or somewhat important to their financial health, compared with 67% who said so in 2022.

—NBC News

Obesity rates surged throughout the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, and the U.S. military was not immune from the impact. According to new research, almost 10,000 U.S. Army soldiers slipped into obesity amid reduced physical training during the pandemic.

Researchers from the Center for Health Services Research (CHSR) at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, recently analyzed medical records of all active duty Army soldiers in the Military Health System Data Repository. The research findings, which were shared with NTD, found that 26.7 percent of soldiers who were healthy before the pandemic became overweight, and 15.6 percent of soldiers who were overweight before COVID-19 became obese during the pandemic.

Several pandemic-era policies aimed at social distancing and preventing the person-to-person spread of the virus likely contributed to the weight gains. Many gyms closed down, including on military bases. In some cases, gyms on military bases remained open but at significantly reduced capacity or with exercise visits by appointment only.

Weight issues can have real tangible effects on the readiness of the military, which features a range of physically demanding jobs.

America’s weight problems impact military readiness on both ends. While the number of obese active-duty Army soldiers grew during the pandemic, the pool of qualified potential military recruits shrank.

Overweight problems represented the most common single disqualifying factor, impacting about 11 percent of the prime recruiting age group.

The Army already fell short of its fiscal year 2022 recruiting goal by about 25 percent or about 15,000 recruits. Recruiting shortfalls could compound in the ensuing years as the service needs to catch up with its 2022 shortfalls and deals with a shrinking pool of potential recruits.

—The Epoch Times

New South Wales (NSW) students will be barred from using their phones at the start of term four in October.

Newly elected NSW Education Minister Prue Car said the ban would improve educational outcomes, reduce distractions in classrooms, and help address cyberbullying issues.

Students will hand over their devices at the beginning of the day, before retrieving them once school is finished.

Car told 2GB radio that the ban would also apply during recess and lunch.

Car said she has “lost count” of the number of times teachers have reported students sitting in the playground playing on their phones rather than interacting with each other.

The education minister said further consultation was needed around how a ban would be implemented but noted that “everyone will have to comply.”

Car did not rule out paying for lockers if schools determined they were the best for storing phones, but said the state would not ban iPads or smart watches.

Labor leader and Premier elect Chris Minns pointed to northern Sydney’s Davidson High School, which reported a 90 percent improvement in student behaviour in just eight weeks after banning the use of mobile phones.

Michael Carr-Gregg, an adolescent and child psychologist, said the only exceptions should be when students use phones to monitor health conditions, or when teachers instruct students to bring their phones for a particular classroom activity.

—The Epoch Times

Iowa standout Caitlin Clark said there’s no reason for LSU’s Angel Reese to be criticized on social media for waving her hand in front of her face while staring down Clark during the women’s NCAA championship game.

Clark, The Associated Press Player of the Year, made a similar gesture to no one in particular during Iowa’s victory over Louisville in the Elite Eight.

“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all. No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I’m just one that competes — and she competed,” Clark said Tuesday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines, ” adding: “I think everybody knew there was going to be a little bit of trash talk in the entire tournament. It’s not just me and Angel.”

Reese, who was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, waved her hand in front of her face as if to say “you can’t see me” while staring down Clark in the final moments of LSU’s 102-85 win on Sunday, then pointed toward a finger as if to indicate a ring was coming.

Social media was divided on Reese’s gesture, with some saying it was just part of the game and others saying Reese lacked grace in victory.

—Associated Press


It’s Groundhog Day. We have another attempt to take down former President Donald Trump, another institution stained by the Left in their foolish pursuit of this man. Throughout his presidency, the Left whined about how the Trump administration deviated from the norms and threatened institutional integrity. We’ve known for years that call was coming from inside the house, with the Left’s deep state allies engaging in an illegal covert war within these agencies, specifically the Department of Justice. From Russian collusion to mishandling of classified documents, liberals have engaged in every extrajudicial method to ensnare Trump in a legal pickle. The FBI raided his home last summer, and now he’s finally been indicted on a biased porn payment scheme involving ex-porn star Stormy Daniels.

On this front, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg took misdemeanor charges whose statute of limitation had expired and elevated them to felonies in an epic feat of linguistic gymnastics. The indictment means nothing, as grand juries often charge nearly 99 percent of those under such legal scrutiny. Some in the liberal media were a bit bearish, noting that it only takes one person to derail the train. That didn’t happen here. Yet, even before Bragg took the podium to detail the indictment’s contents, we knew Trump was facing 34 charges. Someone leaked it to the press, which is a felony.

The Left is willing to break the law to honor the law; we’re back to the ‘destroying the village to save it’ mentality. And while there’s a biased legal circus in Manhattan, it pales compared to the other investigations Trump is facing from his alleged 2020 election interference. The Georgia grand jury could be more compromised than Manhattan’s, given that the prosecuting attorney’s office reportedly had ice cream parties with its members. Yes, that’s been alleged by the forewoman of this shambolic investigative body, Emily Kohrs, who decided to spill everything on network news in February.

Even liberal hosts and legal analysts penned op-eds pointing to Kohrs recklessness by offering these interviews to some of the most liberal, anti-Trump outlets in the country, which could torch the entire grand jury probe’s credibility. It already has, but you knew that.

When Trump is down, he always seems to clinch wins, even if they’re only symbolic this time. The Left says Trump must go to protect America’s institutions and the rule of law but leak sensitive information to the press about ongoing legal investigations, deploy FBI agents to ransack his home under laughable pretenses stemming from the Presidential Records Act, which isn’t a criminal statute. Their minions also leak privileged communications between foreign leaders to gin up Russian collusion hysterics.

A felony has been committed regarding the Manhattan DA’s investigation into Trump, but it’s someone from Bragg’s office.

—Matt Vespa, Townhall

One of the many great tragedies prompted by the reported indictment of the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, is that so many conservatives now are forced to step aside from engaging in the exciting run-up to the GOP presidential primaries for the 2024 election. Despite the exciting lineup of choices to kick out Biden and Kamala, the order of the day now is to close ranks behind Trump.

Other than Andrew Johnson, no other president has been so persecuted, demonized, and tortured as Donald Trump. He is too strong to say “They are torturing me.” So I will say it. This is unbridled torture, outside all bounds of behavior in American history. This garbage is why America ends up with so many mediocrities like Biden and Kamala leading our country into quagmires — because truly great Americans decide: “I don’t need this.”

We recognize a bit of how and why the hate unfolded. Trump was incredibly nasty and occasionally quite coarse during the 2016 GOP primaries. He descended into an idiotic comparison of hand sizes with Sen. Marco Rubio and insulted fellow candidates Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina for their looks. Similarly, he went after Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife’s appearance because she is not as glamorous as Melania, and he intimated that Cruz’s father could have been involved in the John Kennedy assassination. But truth is that the Left went after Trump even before he stepped outside of civility.

The Clintons are despicable and vicious. Enough ink has been spilled on this — the people they destroyed in pursuit of their power, their ruthlessness, corruption, the misogyny of the one, and the cynical defense of his misogyny by the other.

And then the annual travesty, the rigged Jan. 6 Committee hearings by a one-sided panel that covered up all inconvenient evidence. Time has evidenced that Jan. 6 was no insurrection. In all, a grand total of two people have been convicted of sedition. Not a shot was fired. Cops escorted some invaders deeper into the Capitol. A guy put his feet on Pelosi’s desk. Sentences typically have been for periods of less than a year.

Trump made mistakes during his presidency. But Donald Trump got a ton more things right and may have left behind the most impressive first-term presidency in American history. The economy boomed, and unemployment numbers reached record lows for all sorts of historically disadvantaged groups. He did not get us enmeshed in a single war, and he kept Russian President Vladimir Putin out of Ukraine just by being Trump. He started building that big beautiful wall, brought back American jobs, and successfully imposed tariffs without starting a trade war. He got Europe cheapskates to cough up more money for NATO. And he named consistently top-notch conservative federal judges — from district courts to appellate circuits to the Supremes. He got ventilators to states so fast that even bitter political foe then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo felt obliged to thank him. And Trump’s Operation Warp Speed got vaccines developed in beyond record time. The more he succeeded, the more Democrats hated him because he proved impervious to their persecutions.

And now Trump is indicted. It is bogus and cruel. Even tough men deserve fairness and justice. Personally, I like Trump, and I also like Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo, and I also esteem Mike Pence. But, like that famous scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film, I find myself declaring in the face of Marcus Alvinus Braggus: “I’m Trump!”

We conservative Republicans now all are Trump. And we now will not rest until Joe Biden — and, if still possible, Hillary Clinton — are indicted and handcuffed.

—Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., is Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values (comprising over 2,000 Orthodox rabbis)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1984 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surpassed Wilt Chamberlain as the all-time leading scorer in the National Basketball Association.

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