NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Friday, April 21, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


Wisconsin communities along the Mississippi River are preparing for what could be “major” flooding as soon as this weekend as the river swells to its highest flood level in decades.

Andy Boxell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Milwaukee-Sullivan station, said communities along the river and its tributaries are already at moderate flood stages as of Thursday due to heavy rains and melting snow. But the flood levels are expected to crest over the next few days.

“We’re seeing really a number of locations along the Mississippi expected to reach major flood stage here over the next week,” Boxell said.

Elsewhere in northern and central parts of the state, communities are seeing minor flooding, he said.

—WI Public Radio

Wisconsin’s teenagers could see their access to social media limited under legislation being considered at the state Capitol.

Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, says he’ll sponsor a bill that would give parents full control over their kids’ social media accounts and impose a curfew for social media users under 18.

He says it’s an effort to address mental health concerns stemming from overuse of popular platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, and to keep children safe from bullying, harassment and even trafficking.

According to a policy brief from Steffen’s office, the legislation would require age verification for every new account created after January 1, 2019. It would give parents full access to their kids’ accounts, and put all accounts to sleep from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

It would also restrict the kinds of targeted ads minor accounts are shown, and establish fines for noncompliant social media companies of up to $100 per day per account.

—WI Public Radio

fter years of opposition to any form of marijuana legalization in Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers are now working privately to build support for a medical cannabis program that could win bipartisan backing and be enacted into law later this year, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told The Associated Press on Thursday.

For now, the group of lawmakers — whom Vos declined to name — are working only among Assembly Republicans to build enough support, and he hopes to introduce the plan this fall. Vos has long backed some form of medical marijuana program, but no bill has ever received a vote in either the GOP-controlled Assembly or Senate.

Vos said he remains steadfastly opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana and does not want to create a medical program that would be a precursor to that. Wisconsin remains an outlier nationally, with medical marijuana legal in 38 states and recreational marijuana legal in 21. The push for legalization in Wisconsin has gained momentum, as neighboring Illinois and Michigan allow recreational use while Minnesota and Iowa have legalized medical use.

—Wisconsin AP

Financial literacy could become a required course for Wisconsin high school students under a revised state Assembly bill.

Last year, Wisconsin’s GOP floated a plan to require high school students to complete a full credit of financial literacy in order to receive their diploma. It would have gone into effect for the 2022-23 school year. But the tight timeline and cost to school districts to implement the classes caused the measure to fail.

The revised bill would shorten the requirement to a half credit and would not begin until the 2028 school year. On Thursday, the Assembly Committee on Education heard three hours of testimony from students, teachers and non-profits supporting the idea.

Chase Yells, a junior at West De Pere High School, called his personal finance course the most important class he will ever take.

“We as students learn how to budget, so we know how to save, spend and invest,” Yells said. “We know the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA and how that can make a huge impact. Thousands of others, including many at my school who do not take the elective course, do not get the opportunity to learn personal finance and consequently will likely learn from costly mistakes.”

—WI Public Radio

Vote early. Harvest ballots. Build broad appeal. Fight to win. These are the themes Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit on in her remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California on Thursday evening.

“Contrary to what you might hear, we did ballot harvest where the law allowed it,”— according to an advance copy of her remarks obtained by Townhall — using the example of the RNC working with the California Republican Party to ballot harvest “right here in the Golden State.”

“Two weeks ahead of Election Day, we worked with Congressman John Duarte’s campaign to identify 18,000 strong Republican voters who hadn’t voted yet despite a wide window of early voting. We shifted our strategy to repeatedly contact those voters as Election Day approached. Then, we worked with the California GOP to ballot harvest and ensure that those Republican votes made it to the ballot box in time to be counted. Congressman Duarte won by just 564 votes.”

That, she hopes, will become the blueprint for the next major national elections in 2024 where ballot harvesting is legal, all while continuing the RNC’s legal work to maintain bans on harvesting where it remains unlawful.

“We fight in the courtroom, but we play by the rules we’re given in the field. We need to ensure that voters bank as many votes before Election Day as possible — through early voting, absentee voting, and ballot harvesting where it’s legal. If we only vote on Election Day, we will always be playing catch up to the Democrats.”

In addition to winning over independents and moderate Democrats, Republicans also have had to grapple with the challenge of winning over those within their own tent, a sometimes uncomfortable reality.

“I am Mitt Romney’s niece and I was appointed chair of the RNC by Donald Trump. I would support either of them if they were the nominee against Joe Biden in 2024, but I don’t know if they would support each other,” she added before noting she’s “someone who literally has the entire spectrum of the party in my body” before calling for Republicans to “put aside our differences.”

“We have seen what being divided has meant in several states like Arizona, Georgia, and New Hampshire this last election where some Republicans refused to vote for the Republican nominees.If we let rigid ideological purity tests define who can join our movement — or allow personal animus to divide us, we will be no better than the left — and we will lose again and again.”

McDaniel reminded her audience that Republican candidates received three million more votes than Democrats did in the 2022 midterms (and if 2022) had been a presidential election cycle, would have won the Electoral College too.

Still, McDaniel will acknowledge that “there were some disappointments in the last two elections” while also calling out “a lot of Republican candidates” who ran in 2022 and “took their DC consultants’ bad advice to ignore” the subject of abortion following the Supreme Court’s opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.

McDaniel noted polling that shows, “when the choice is between a Democrat who wants zero abortion restrictions and a Republican who supports protecting life at 15 weeks, we win by 22 points.”


Executives at high-powered firms hired by TikTok for lobbying and strategic consulting visited the White House at least 40 times in the past year, according to official White House visitor records.

The Chinese social media platform and its parent company, ByteDance, are mounting a massive public relations blitz as lawmakers are seeking to ban the app due to national security, espionage, and data privacy concerns. ByteDance and TikTok have spent $13 million on federal lobbying since 2019 and hired heavyweight firms such as influential Democratic public relations shop SKDK.

While it’s unclear if TikTok was discussed during any of the visits—which included a mix of large events and small private meetings—the number of contacts shows the extensive clout of TikTok’s growing lobbying network inside the White House.

—Washington Free Beacon

Leftist Democrat Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said Wednesday that the U.S. needs amnesty for millions of illegal aliens because they do things such as clean our homes and pick our food. Without them, America would be doomed, she argued.

Her comments were made during a Congressional House hearing on border security, and she seemed rather concerned that if the U.S. ever did seal its southern border and stop the never-ending flow of illegal aliens, then every manual labor job in the country would suffer big-time.

“So let’s all take a minute to recognize the hypocrisy of every anti-immigrant debate,” Jayapal said while arguing for amnesty, according to Fox News. “This country needs immigrants to survive. Immigrants pick the food we eat, rebuild our communities after climate disasters, help construct our infrastructure, power our small business economy, clean our homes, and look after the most precious in our families — our children and our elders.”

As the conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks put it, “Jayapal using the tired old, ‘Who will clean our homes?’ defense on illegal immigration. Limousine liberalism at its finest!”

—The Daily Wire

Alec Baldwin has dodged a legal bullet in the Halyna Hutchins’ death case. The multi-Emmy-winning actor will not be facing involuntary manslaughter claims in the mini-trial scheduled to begin in New Mexico in less than two weeks.

Sources told Deadline that special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis, who were recently appointed to the case, are expected to file paperwork soon to dismiss the charges without prejudice. This means that while the charges are dropped for now, the case could be reopened in the future as the investigation continues.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, Baldwin’s co-defendant and ex-Rust armorer, still faces charges, keeping the investigation open and giving prosecutors the power to subpoena going forward.

Previously, both Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin had pleaded not guilty. Despite Baldwin’s repeated insistence that he did not pull the trigger on the prop gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, an FBI report released last year disagreed with his account. Baldwin’s lawyers are now contesting the state of the gun, and further investigation into the firearm appears likely as part of any renewed probe.

—The Post Millennial

The guardians of Champagne will let no one take the name of the bubbly beverage in vain, not even a U.S. beer behemoth.

For years, Miller High Life used the “Champagne of beers” slogan. This week, that appropriation became impossible to swallow.

At the request of the trade body defending the interests of houses and growers of the northeastern French sparkling wine, Belgian customs crushed more than 2,000 cans of Miller High Life advertised as such.

The Comité Champagne asked for the destruction of a shipment of 2,352 cans on the grounds that the century-old motto used by the American brewery infringes the protected designation of origin “Champagne.”

The consignment was intercepted in the Belgian port of Antwerp in early February, a spokesperson at the Belgian Customs Administration said on Friday, and was destined for Germany. Belgian customs declined to say who had ordered the beers.

Frederick Miller, a German immigrant to the US, founded the Miller Brewing Company in the 1850s. Miller High Life, its oldest brand, was launched as its flagship in 1903.

According to the Milwaukee-based brand’s website, the company started to use the “Champagne of beers” nickname three years later. At one point, the beer was also available in champagne-style bottles.

No matter how popular the slogan is in the United States, it is incompatible with European Union rules making clear that goods infringing a protected designation of origin can be treated as counterfeit.

Belgian customs said the destruction of the cans was paid for by the Comité Champagne. According to their joint statement, it was carried out “with the utmost respect for environmental concerns by ensuring that the entire batch, both contents and container, was recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.”

—ABC News

Legendary scientist Sir Isaac Newton once predicted the world would end in 2060 – and people are terrified that he might be right.

Many people have predicted the end of the world, from St.John the Divine in the first Century AD to random “time travellers” on TikTok.

But while you might not take most of these prophecies seriously, when the father of modern science predict the end of all things it’s probably worth paying attention.

Sir Isaac Newton, who made numerous pioneering discoveries in physics and mathematics, believed that the world as we know it will end in 2060.

That might have seemed like a long way off when he wrote down his detailed calculations in 1704. But today it’s just 37 years away. Many of us will still be alive when that date rolls around.

Recent surveys suggest that roughly one in seven people believe the world will come to an end in their lifetime.

—The Daily Star


How many voters know that the Democratic Party supports legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy on demand for virtually any reason? How many voters know this position aligns with only six other countries in the world — three of them, not incidentally, being North Korea, Vietnam and China?

How many voters know that Democrats want to pass a federal law banning states from stopping sex-selective abortions or the dismembering of the post-viable unborn or the requirement of parental and guardian notification for minors before getting abortions? How many know that Democrats want to strip medical workers of their conscience rights by compelling them to participate in the procedure or lose their jobs? How many people know that Democrats want to eliminate the popular Hyde Amendment, which stops the federal government from funding abortions with taxpayer dollars?

Now, maybe a majority of voters aren’t aware of Democrats’ maximalist positions because the media endlessly lies and obfuscates them. And maybe pollsters rarely ask useful questions on the topic because the answers are a lot more complicated than they’d like. And, maybe, after the shock of Roe v. Wade being overturned — treated by Democrats as if it had been chiseled into magical stone tablets over the past 50 years — the energy and passion of the debate will temporarily reside on the pro-abortion side. And, maybe, if every voter knew all the facts, it still wouldn’t matter. Abortion is a complex and emotional issue.

None of that excuses the inability, or aversion, of national conservatives to make a coherent and compelling pro-life case. Sometimes it feels like Republicans are more terrified by the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision than pro-abortionists. Even if pollsters were right about the unpopularity of abortion restrictions, there is this crazy thing that politicians occasionally engage in called “persuasion.” Rather than just chasing around voters for approval, this entails convincing them with arguments.

The problem, it seems, is that too many in the GOP accept the media’s concern trolling or listen to risk-averse advice of the consulting class. Recently, for example, Janet Protasiewicz beat conservative Dan Kelly by 10 percentage points to flip Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. Virtually every outlet treated the race as a national referendum on abortion. Anonymous consultants were recruited by one big media outlet after the next to offer off-the-record comments voicing their deep concern about the deleterious effects of the abortion issue.

Weird how this dynamic only works in one direction.

Running from the abortion conversation, as so many Republicans seem to do, creates the impression they don’t really believe in their own stated position. Quite often, that’s probably the case. But if you’re going to run as a pro-lifer anyway, allowing the opposition to define your beliefs makes little sense. Especially when making a rational and moral case for protecting viable life, at the very least, isn’t particularly difficult — certainly not when contrasted with the left’s extremism.

—David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1986, in a much-hyped television special, American journalist Geraldo Rivera opened a vault that was found in the former headquarters of Chicago gangster Al Capone; however, he and an estimated 30 million TV viewers discovered that it was empty.

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