NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Monday, April 10, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Sunday “our hearts are heavy” a day after two police officers were shot to death during a traffic stop.

″Our hearts are heavy for the Chetek and Cameron police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty yesterday. Kathy and I are praying for the officers’ families, colleagues, and the Barron County community mourning this tragic loss,” Evers posted on Twitter.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a statement late Saturday that it was investigating the shooting in Cameron.

An officer from the Chetek Police Department conducted a traffic stop around 3:38 p.m. and at some point gunfire was exchanged with the motorist, the department said.

The Chetek officer and another officer from Cameron were pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect in the shooting was taken to a hospital and later died, the department said.

The names of the officers and the suspect were not immediately released.

—Wisconsin AP

A long-awaited documentary about the 1992 death of a Green Bay paper mill worker will make its world premiere to a sold-out audience at the Tarlton Theatre Friday.

“Beyond Human Nature” tells the story of Tom Monfils’ death in a James River Corp. paper mill pulp vat and the subsequent homicide convictions of six of his coworkers. It’s a case that has captivated the Green Bay community for three decades, as some people believe the “Monfils Six” were wrongfully convicted.

The film’s director, Michael Neelsen, said it was important to him that “Beyond Human Nature” premieres in Green Bay.

“It’s a Green Bay story. We made it with Green Bay in mind,” Neelsen said. “Hopefully Green Bay likes it, because we wanted to do it justice.”

On Nov. 22, 1992, Monfils, 35, was found dead at the bottom of a two-story pulp vat. Twelve days prior, he had called the Green Bay Police Department to anonymously report that a fellow millworker, Keith Kutska, was stealing scrap electrical wire from the mill. A series of events ensued: Kutska was suspended from work for a week without pay, Monfils repeatedly called the police department begging them to not release audio recordings of his phone call, and through police miscommunication Kutska got for other millworkers, stirring up anger.

Shortly after the tape was played, Monfils disappeared. His body was found 36 hours later.

After a 2½-year investigation, police arrested six of Monfils’ coworkers: Kutska, Mike Piaskowski, Michael Johnson, Michael Hirn, Dale Basten and Rey Moore. At a trial in September 1995, all six were found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide as party to the crime.

Currently only Kutska remains in prison. The other five men have been released — one exonerated, the others on parole. One man has died. During the last three decades, all have maintained their innocence.

—Appleton Post Crescent

Residents of northeastern Wisconsin, or those looking to call friends and family in more than a dozen communities, may want to start memorizing 274 as a new area code to dial when making phone calls.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin announced Friday the new 274 area code will serve as an additional overlay code for the geographical region covered by the existing 920 area code, which is expected to run out of assignable prefixes, or the three numbers dialed after the area code, by the first quarter of 2024.

The new area code will be in service starting May 5 and will be used to provide telephone numbers to new customers in several communities, including Appleton, Beaver Dam, Berlin, Fond du Lac, Fort Atkinson, Green Bay, Manitowoc, Oshkosh, Ripon, Sheboygan, Sturgeon Bay and Watertown. All current customers will retain their existing telephone numbers.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator, a neutral third-party area code relief planner, will assign 274 area codes once all 920 area codes have been assigned. PSC officials expect that could occur as early as the end of this year.

In 2020, at the direction of Congress, the Federal Communications Commission designated 988 as a hotline for the suicide prevention line, which users now reach by dialing an 800 number.

For that to work, 87 area codes — in states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan — that have a 988 prefix must switch to 10-digit dialing to prevent inadvertent calls to the suicide prevention line.

—WI State Journal

Property taxes levied on single-family homes in the United States increased 3.6 percent to $339.8 billion in 2022, according to a new report from a real estate data firm.

That’s up from $328 billion in 2021. The 2022 increase was more than double the 1.6 percent growth in 2021, but smaller than the 5.4 percent increase in 2020, according to the report from ATTOM, a property data provider.

The report also shows that the average tax on single-family homes in the United States increased 3 percent in 2022, to $3,901, after rising 1.8 percent in 2021. The latest average tax resulted in an effective tax rate nationwide of 0.83 percent. That was down slightly from 0.86 percent in 2021 to the lowest point since at least 2016. The “effective rates continued to decline even as total taxes rose because home values went up faster than taxes,” according to the report.

“Property taxes continued their never-ending climb last year, with wide disparities continuing from one area of the country to another, connected to varying costs, services, and tax bases. But, on balance, the latest increase nationwide again was modest,” said Rob Barber, chief executive officer at ATTOM. “This year, local governments and school systems will face even greater challenges keeping taxes in check, given rising inflation rates and a growing number of commercial properties that could be eligible for tax reductions after suffering a surge of vacancies during the pandemic.”

The states with the highest effective property tax rates were New Jersey (1.79 percent), Illinois (1.78 percent), Connecticut (1.57 percent), Vermont (1.43 percent), and Nebraska (1.36 percent). Rounding out the top 10 were Pennsylvania (1.29 percent), New Hampshire (1.28 percent), Ohio (1.27 percent), New York (1.26 percent), and Iowa (1.25 percent).

At the other end: Hawaii (0.30 percent), Alabama (0.37 percent), Arizona (0.39 percent), Colorado (0.40 percent), and Tennessee (0.42 percent) with the lowest effective property tax rates in 2022.

—The Epoch Times

A systematic review of 2,168 studies that looked into the adverse effects of wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic has found that the practice led to negative health consequences, including itching, headaches, and restriction of oxygen.

“We found significant effects in both medical surgical and N95 masks, with a greater impact of the second,” states the review, published in the “Frontiers in Public Health” on April 5. A meta-analysis of multiple studies found that headache was the “most frequent symptom” among mask wearers, with a prevalence of 62 percent for general mask use and up to 70 percent when using N95 masks. Shortness of breath was observed at 33 percent for general mask use and 37 percent among N95 users.

While 17 percent of surgical mask wearers experienced itching, this number was at 51 percent among users of N95. Acne prevalence among mask users was at 38 percent and skin irritation was at 36 percent. Dizziness was found to be prevalent among 5 percent of subjects.

—The Epoch Times

Not surprisingly, global physical activity plummeted in early 2020, as lockdowns and work-from-home mandates took effect to reduce COVID-19 spread. But even with all those restrictions lifted, activity hasn’t returned to its pre-pandemic level, according to a new study in The Lancet Global Health.

Looking at step counts as a measure of daily fitness, researchers analyzed data from a free health-wellness app called Azumo Argus, which collects step-count information from more than 200 countries. Anonymous data on 1.2 million users showed that physical activity recovered somewhat over the past two years, but is still lower than data from 2019, which shows an average rate of 5,323 steps per day for app users.

Step counts recovered the most in North America, which is just 4 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels, and the least in Asia, at 30 percent below the 2019 step count average.

The results should serve as a prompt for everyone to assess how much they’re moving, especially compared to what they were doing a few years ago, first author Geoffrey Tison, M.D., cardiologist and assistant professor of cardiology at University of California, San Francisco told Runner’s World.

“This study reminds us that as of early 2022, our overall physical activity levels have not yet returned to where they were pre-pandemic,” he said. “So, in addition to adhering to infection precautions when necessary or advised, we should also pay attention to increasing our physical activity, which is important for health.”


A new bill proposed in California would create an “Ebony Alert” system to specifically notifiy the public when black women and children go missing. While the state already has a missing persons alert system, this one would only be for black women and children.

The state currently has an Amber Alert for missing children, a Silver Alert for missing elderly persons, and a Feather Alert for missing indigenous persons. The Amber Alert system is not race-segregated like the Ebony Alert would be.

In a release on the race-based crime bill, state senator Steven Bradford said that the bill would “address the often ignored or lack of attention given to Black children and young Black women that are missing in California.”

His reasoning is that black children, which comprised 38 percent of those reported missing in the US, are often classified as runaways, meaning that their disappearance does not trigger the Amber Alert system.

“The Ebony Alert would ensure that resources and attention are given so we can bring home missing Black women and Black children in the same way we would search for any missing child and missing person,” said Bradford.

“When someone who is missing is incorrectly listed as a runaway, they basically vanish a second time. They vanish from the police detectives’ workload. They vanish from the headlines. In many ways, no one even knows they are missing. How can we find someone and bring them home safely when no one is really looking for them,” he said.

—The Post Millennial

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he expects to undergo surgery to repair a broken leg he suffered Saturday during a victory parade for the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team.

In a tweet Saturday night, Blumenthal said a fellow parade goer tripped and fell on him during the event in Hartford, Connecticut, to celebrate the team winning the NCAA basketball title on April 4 in Houston.

The 77-year-old Democrat said he was awaiting “routine surgery” on his femur scheduled for Sunday and expects a full recovery.

—Associated Press

Pleasant Hill (Missouri) police received an unusual call Wednesday afternoon: The Goppert Financial Bank at 2100 N. Highway 7 had been robbed by an elderly woman.

Witnesses said the suspect — dressed all in gray, with plastic gloves, a black N95 mask and black sunglasses — approached the counter and passed the teller a note, which, according to documents filed in Cass County Circuit Court, read in part: “… is a robbery I need 13,000 small bills … thank you sorry I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Surveillance video captured her banging on the counter, asking the teller to hurry and give her the money, Cass County prosecutors claim. The woman allegedly advised the teller not to count the money and “just give it to her.”

After she was given the money, the suspect, later identified by police as 78-year-old Bonnie Gooch, was seen leaving in a Buick Enclave with its handicap registration number on display. Prosecutors say the vehicle pulled out of the bank and onto southbound Highway 7. Officers were then able to locate Gooch and stopped her vehicle in the Pleasant Hill Animal Clinic parking lot. The suspect smelled strongly of alcohol, prosecutors claim, and police found a large amount of cash in small bills on the floorboard.

Police arrested Gooch. She was charged with one count of stealing or attempting to steal from a financial institution. She remains in Cass County Jail, with her bail set at $25,000.

According to court records, the woman has at least two other bank robbery convictions.

Pleasant Hill Police Chief Tommy Wright told The Star “We’re working with agencies to figure out what the next steps are sad.” Wright called the case “unusual,” saying that in his 30 years of police work, he’s never encountered a bank robbery suspect her age.

“When officers first approached her, they were kind of confused … It’s a little old lady who steps out,” he said. “We weren’t sure initially that we had the right person.”

—-Kansas City Star


The recent dump of county-level data from the Census Bureau shows that America’s big left-run cities have kept losing population long after the COVID pandemic ended.

High taxes, poor services, and declining public safety are making many big cities hostile places to live in. People don’t always move to new states, but they often move out of bad cities.

For parents, the situation is urgent. Not only are schools in many big cities appalling, but it simply isn’t safe anymore to raise a family in many of these environments. In Washington DC, a random tourist cannot stay safely in her hotel room without being murdered by a career criminal who is supposed to be in jail. This is a direct consequence of soft-on-crime prosecutors and judges turning loose hardened criminals and people with serious untreated mental disorders.

So where are people going to live? They’re going to newer and better-run cities in dry desert places such as Boise and Meridian, Idaho. In spite of what Democrats tell you, people looking for a better place to live aren’t put off by the fact that this state has open carry of firearms, a near-total abortion ban, and execution by firing squad. Even if those are not majority political positions in the U.S., most people find it a heck of a lot better than having to live amid filthy homeless encampments and Antifa violence and intimidation in Portland, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

People are also moving to Montana, Utah, Arizona, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Florida and Texas. That’s because these are all places where they can count on a friendly business environment and getting their money’s worth for their tax dollars.

—Washington Examiner

Look, they are always going to call you a fascist, but if they are not screaming about what you are doing as loud as their high-pitched voices can go, you are not going against the left anywhere near hard enough. They will insist that any use of conservative power – whether by a Florida governor elected with a 20-point margin or a Tennessee 3-1 supermajority – is illegitimate authoritarianism in their Marxist narrative. This is why we conservatives, instead of caring about the lies that we are “fascist” or “authoritarian” or – of course – “racist,” should use the volume of their howling solely as a metric of our success.

They scream loudest when it hurts the most.

When we take away their ability to groom kids in schools.

When we cut off the power of their corporate co-conspirators.

When we use the judicial system to stop their (actual) fascist power grabs.

When we buy guns and ammunition to protect our lives and liberty.

When we hold them to their own rules and toss out insurrectionist representatives who obstruct legislative proceedings.

When are Republicans going to learn that when they show weakness, the other side will take it as a sign of…weakness?

The point is that you cannot argue with them. Argument presumes that sufficient facts and evidence will change the opinion of the listener. But this is not true here. “You Republicans are bad and so is anything you do even if you won an election” is not a position susceptible to argument.

So, stop arguing with them.

Start crushing them. Use the power you have been entrusted with to root them out of the institutions, bar their bizarre obsessions like abortion and castration, stop the racial spoils system, protect our kids, and prevent them from gaming the system to take unearned control via rigged elections.

Yes, they will yell and scream. Measure the intensity of their yelling and screaming to assess whether you are hitting them where it hurts.

—Columnist Kurt Schlichter

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1866, three years after stopping a carriage driver in Russia from beating his horse, Henry Bergh of the United States founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City; the ASPCA became one of the largest organizations dedicated to halting cruelty to animals.

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