Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wheeler News - Afternoon State News #1 - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Afternoon State News #1

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Here are the details:

Only one of every four Wisconsinites are concerned about getting the flu this winter -- and three of every ten people do not plan on getting flu shots.  That's according to a survey from Aurora Health Care, one of the state's most prominent medical providers.  Aurora unveiled its first quarterly report today called the "Health of Wisconsin."  Company vice president Anne Martino said the goals are to identify consumer sentiment and health gaps on various topics, and to seek innovative ways to close those gaps with more effective care.  Wisconsin has had an unusually large number of early-season flu hospitalizations, around 200 at last word.  About two-thirds of those patients were 65-and-older.  The Aurora survey showed that 62-percent of those 55-and-older in Wisconsin plan to get annual flu shots.  Only 31-percent of 18-to-34-year-olds expect to do the same.  Aurora also cites national data which shows that Americans as a whole are slightly more concerned about getting the flu, but about the same percentage of people do not expect to get vaccinated for it.

-12/18-

Wisconsin's outgoing attorney general will not run for the State Supreme Court next spring.  Republican J-B Van Hollen tells the Associated Press he wants to take a break from elected office -- but he'll remain active, and he'll never close the door to running for something again.  Van Hollen announced in 2013 that he would end eight years as head of the Wisconsin Justice Department in January. Republican Brad Schimel was elected in November, and will be sworn-in on January fifth.  Van Hollen said he accomplished everything on his agenda -- including the elimination of a large backlog of D-N-A samples for investigations, more training for local police to catch child pornographers, and being even-handed in defending state laws.  Van Hollen also told the A-P he was tired of the media second-guessing him, and assuming that all elected officials are corrupt. He said it's troubling that most reporters think they're Woodward-and-Bernstein, the Washington Post writers that uncovered the Watergate scandal.

-12/18-

Wisconsin health officials say 32 of the 38 people who got sick at a dinner for the Durand High School football team drank unpasteurized raw milk -- and the other six may have done so.  That's according to the state Health Services Department report into the September 18th dinner.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dug up the report, which said 26 of the illnesses originated with the Campylobacter Jejuni bacteria that's sometimes found in raw milk and under-cooked meat.  Ten of the 38 people were sick enough to be hospitalized.  The health report confirmed that milk consumed during the team dinner was associated with the illnesses.  Officials said last week that the milk came from the Roland and Diana Reed farm of nearby Arkensaw.  She told the Journal Sentinel she did not believe the farm's raw milk was to blame for the illnesses. State officials had said they would consider possible action once the Health Services' report was finished.  No action has been reported.

(End)

Minnesota News from MNN - 12/18/14

"Minnesota Summary"  12-18-14

State Jobless Rate Lowest Since 2001

(St. Paul, MN)  --  Minnesota's unemployment rate dropped another two-tenths-of-a-point in November to 3.7 percent.  The state Department of Employment and Economic Development says employers added 66-hundred jobs as the jobless rate fell to its lowest level since May 2001.  DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben (SEE'-bin) says Minnesota has seen a remarkable burst of hiring since July, adding 35-thousand jobs during that period.  Leisure and hospitality led all sectors in November with 61-hundred jobs gained, while construction lost 35-hundred last month. 

Media Report IDs Suspect Fatally Shot By Police
**MEDIA REFERENCE**

(Maple Grove, MN)  --  A newspaper in Washington state has identified the out-of-state suspect in a homicide at an I-94 rest stop who was shot and killed by police on I-694.  The "Tri-City Herald" says the Kennewick, Washington School District confirmed that high school student Johnathan Mar was fatally shot after leading authorities on a high-speed chase from Maple Grove to Shoreview.  Mar's age was not released by school officials.  Mar was reportedly driving a red S-U-V with Oregon plates that fled the rest stop early Wednesday after a man was found dead in a vehicle. Investigators say he brandished a weapon when he crashed the S-U-V and was shot by a Brooklyn Center officer and Hennepin County sheriff's deputy.  Both incidents are still under investigation.

Man Cleared In Wife's Murder Blames Faulty Info From Duluth Hospital
**MEDIA REFERENCE**

(Tomah, WI)  --  A man cleared of charges in his wife's death in Wisconsin is blaming faulty information from authorities in Duluth, where 26-year-old Tina Clark died in October.  Twenty-six year old Cade Clark of Tomah, Wisconsin left the courtroom a free man yesterday (Wed), after the district attorney asked that a first-degree murder charge be dropped.  Clark was accused of shooting his wife Tina to death in October at a home in Winter, Wisconsin.  Clark's lawyer says the set-up of the room where she died and the trajectory of the fatal bullet show that Tina Clark took her own life.  The La Crosse Tribune reports the state's case began to fall apart at a preliminary hearing last month, when the judge called the evidence "slim."  The defense attorney doesn't blame the D-A for that, saying there was faulty information from authorities in Duluth -- where Tina Clark died at a hospital.  He says Clark now wants to get back together with his young son and start living life as an exonerated man.

Holidays Often Tough For Those With Mental Illness

(Undated)  --  The holidays can be a stressful time, and even more so for Minnesotans struggling with mental illness.  A new study shows that barriers to treatment are among the reasons many don't seek the help they need.  Phoenix University social science professor Doctor Stephen Sharp says many are unsure where they could go for counseling, they can't find someone they feel comfortable with, and very often reluctant to face their problems  --  plus he says there's social stigma.  The research also shows that 97 percent believe that mental health issues are a serious problem -- and more than half would seek counseling if those barriers didn't stand in the way.

In Sports...

(Eden Prairie, MN)  --  The Minnesota Vikings have a late morning practice at team headquarters in Eden Prairie today, as they continue to gameplan for Sunday's contest at Miami.  Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is returning to his hometown for the game and says he is loved by many there and expects a lot of family and friends to attend the game.  Bridgewater is handing over the ticket responsibilities to his mother so he can focus solely on playing in the football game.  Sunday's game is set for noon.

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Werner

World / National Midday Summary - 12/18/14


The hackers win.  Sony Pictures has decided not to release the controversial comedy "The Interview" on Christmas Day, as scheduled.  The studio made the announcement Wednesday.  The decision was made after several major theater chains dropped the movie due to a terror threat posted by hackers.  The decision to pull the movie -- especially if it is permanent -- may wind up making this the most-damaging cyber-attack ever inflicted on a U-S business.  Movie makers were predicting a gross of about 30-million dollars in the opening weekend.


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The move to improve relations between the U-S and Cuba is being met with strong disapproval by some American communities.  U-S Senator Marco Rubio of the Florida says opening an American embassy in Havana will do nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba.  Many leaders in Miami are still resisting any kind of normalizing of relations between the two countries.  Rubio says the change will provide the economic lift the Castro regime needs to become fixtures in the country for years to come.


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A former justice of the peace in Texas has been given a death sentence for carrying out a revenge plot which left three people dead.  Eric Williams had been convicted earlier this month for last year's murder of Cynthia McLelland.  She was killed along with her husband, District Attorney Mike McLelland, in their home.  Prosecutors say he also killed a county litigator, Mark Hasse (HASS-ee).  They say he killed those three because he had lost his job as justice of the peace and his law license after he was prosecuted for theft and burglary.


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The ban on the death penalty in Pakistan has been lifted by that country's prime minister.  He had lifted the ban last year, then put it back in place when the government began holding peace talks with militants.  The Wednesday changes came as the country started three days of mourning over 148 people killed in a Taliban attack at a school run by the military.  Most of the victims were children.


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The U-S Department of Labor says plunging gasoline prices are bringing down consumer prices.  The inflation reading for November was point-zero-three-percent after flat readings in October.  Fuel costs dropped more than 10-percent in November, the most precipitous decline in almost six years.  For the past 12 months, overall inflation is one-point-three-percent, while core inflation is one-point-seven-percent.


Nebraska Midday Summary - 12/18/14


One of the so-called “Beatrice 6” has reached a settlement with the state of Nebraska over her wrongful conviction.  Debra Shelden will get 300-thousand dollars.  Shelden and five others were convicted and sent to prison for their roles in the death of Helen Wilson in 1985.  Shelden and two others spent up to six years behind bars.  Three of the six were locked up for nearly 20 years.  D-N-A testing exonerated them.  Investigators say a drifter who died in prison was linked to the woman’s death.  All six sued for wrongful convicted and several have now been awarded money. 


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A lockout of the main generator has resulted in the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant being taken offline.  Omaha Public Power District says the incident happened Wednesday morning and the plant responded as it was supposed to.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been notified and the reason for the lockout is being investigated.  That plant was shut down from April 2011 to December 2013 for dozens of problems.  O-P-P-D says the shutdown is a temporary one for the plant located 20 miles north of Omaha.


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Building a new prison isn't an option for state lawmakers, but more money for the Department of Corrections could be forthcoming. The chairman of the Unicameral's Appropriations Committee says it could take as long as three years to make any meaningful progress in the prison overcrowding crisis. Senator Heath Mello of Omaha says change is coming, but slowly. The Council of State Governments Justice Center estimates the expenditure of 33-million dollars over the next five years could reduce the state's prison population by 10-percent. That would save money for Nebraska in the long run.






Missouri Midday Summary - 12/18/14


A Kansas City councilman accused of choking an aide has announced he is stepping down effective January 2nd.  Michael Brooks has denied allegations he choked Tonya Titus in his office.  A special prosecutor may be appointed to consider whether charges should be filed.  In his resignation letter, Brooks blamed a media circus for causing problems for his colleagues and loved ones.  He said he wants to use the holiday period to complete some work projects and clear out his office.  Mayor Sly James says he plans to name a replacement as soon as possible.


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Plans for a die-in at St. Louis City Hall died at a locked set of doors Wednesday.  The city administration building was locked down for abut 90 minutes.  There were no arrests and the protesters wound up holding their die-in outside on the steps to City Hall.  No police showed up to arrest the 75 protesters, but they weren’t able to get inside.  The die-in was held as a part of a string of protests against the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson August 9th. 


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The sheriff of Franklin County says he will step down at the end of his term in 2016.  Sheriff Gary Toelke has led several high-profile investigations during a career which will have spanned 28-years.  Toelke was a leading figure in the investigation of Michael Devlin, who abducted 13-year-old Ben Ownby in 2007.  While investigating that crime, authorities discovered Devlin had also kidnapped Shawn Hornbeck and held him captive for almost five years.  Devlin is serving several life sentences.  Toelke was first elected in 1988.


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A New Madrid man has been sentenced to 35-years in prison for running over another man at a party with his car.  Twenty-seven-year-old Joseph Thornton was sentenced last Friday in Scott County for the incidents which happened April 28th, 2013.  In addition to the murder conviction, Thornton was also found guilty of five assault charges.  Prosecutors say he got into an argument at his cousin’s house and was asked to leave.  Instead, he tried to hit his cousin with his car.  He missed him, but ran over several other people.  Jeremie Johnson was killed and a four-year-old girl suffered a broken jaw and burns.


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Springfield police say two men they have arrested on burglary charges were carrying machetes when they broke into a home last week.  The crime was recorded on a security camera and a dog inside the home scared them off before they could take anything.  Seventeen-year-old Gage Scott and 19-year-old Jeremiah White are being held in the Greene County Jail on 50-thousand dollars bond.  Police were called by the residents last Friday about the break-in.  White and Scott were arrested during a Tuesday traffic stop. 

Iowa Midday Summary - 12/18/14


Prosecutors in Dubuque County say they simply didn't have enough evidence to get a conviction on first-degree murder.  That's why an Iowa man who admits responsibility for the death of his ex-girlfriend's two-year-old son has been sentenced to just 10 years in prison.  Thirty-six-year-old Nick Reed has pleaded guilty to possession of red phosphorous with intent to manufacture methamphetamine and entered an Alford plea to a charge of child neglect.  Reed told investigators Bentley Randall wouldn't wake up from a nap and he poured water on the boy.  He says he didn't realize the water was so hot and the child suffered severe scalding, dying two days later.


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Three years ago a “Draft Warren” effort convinced the Democratic politician from Massachusetts to run for the U-S Senate and win.  Elizabeth Warren’s supporters think it could happen again and they want her to run for president.  A group backing Warren held a rally in Des Moines Wednesday night.  It plans to open offices in Iowa and hire staff as a part of the effort to convince Warren to run for president.  Warren has already said she isn’t running.  Some Democrats think the effort to draft her is a waste of time and resources. 


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Des Moines police say four people were exercising at a fitness center when someone stole their cars.  Investigators say the thieves grabbed keys placed on a hook inside the business and inside a locker.  In one case, the victim’s pursue and debit card were taken, with the debit card used to make a purchase.  Two other vehicles were stolen at approximately the same time in other parts of the city.  In those cases, the owners had left the cars running while they were unattended.  Police remind owners to keep their car keys with them at all times, even while they are working out.


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Four months after it was shut down by flooding, the Red Oak Community Middle School will welcome its students back next month.  An inspection by the Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office this week has made the January 5th re-opening possible.  The school was shut down indefinitely when a leak flooded its second floor.  As much as two inches of water caused damage and leaked into the electrical system, causing a safety hazard.  The building near downtown Red Oak is more than 100 years old.  The district says the final bill for cleanup is expected to reach 150-thousand dollars.

Wheeler News - Noon State Sports - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Noon State Sports

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Here are the details:

Green Bay Packers' coach Mike McCarthy appears optimistic that right tackle Bryan Bulaga can play on Sunday at Tampa Bay.  Bulaga is getting over a concussion suffered in last Sunday's loss at Buffalo.  The coach said Bulaga is clearly making progress, after he worked out and attended team meetings yesterday.  Players in the N-F-L's concussion protocol don't often reach that stage until late in the week following the injuries.  Linebacker Mike Neal did not practice yesterday, due to a problem with his abdomen.  McCarthy said it was not serious.  Running back Eddie Lacy was limited with an eye problem that the coach said was not football-related.  Linebacker Clay Matthews was also limited at Wednesday's workout due to a biceps issue.  The Packers are practicing again today.  They can secure a playoff spot this weekend, and it appears they'll go down to the wire with Detroit for the N-F-C North title and a first-round post-season bye.  The Packers host the Lions a week from Sunday.  

-12/18-

The Marquette women's basketball team is hosting Vanderbilt in a matinee scheduled for noon.  It's "Milwaukee Public Schools Day," and large groups of students will be on hand at the Al McGuire Center on campus.  The Golden Eagles are 2-and-7 under new head coach Carolyn Kieger.  Marquette has lost four straight, after losing by nine to Northern Kentucky on Monday night. Vanderbilt is 7-and-2, after winning at Elon 66-to-50 last time out.  Junior Heather Bowe scored 15 points for the Commodores in her season debut.  Also, the U-W Parkside women will wrap up three games in Puerto Rico, when they take on Bayamon today.  

-12/18-

Seven games are on tonight's schedule for Wisconsin Division-Three college basketball teams.  In the Midwest Conference, Beloit College plays a men's-and-women's double-header at Cornell of Iowa.  The Lawrence men have a non-conference home contest in Appleton against Viterbo.  In the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, Lakeland College of Plymouth hosts a men's-women's twin bill against Concordia-Chicago.  The Wisconsin Lutheran men are at home against Concordia of Mequon.  Also in non-conference play, the U-W Whitewater women entertain Illinois Tech.  

-12/18-

Three Wisconsin Badger volleyball players have been named All-Americans by the coaches' association.  Sophomore setter Lauren Carlini was among 14 players selected to the Division-One first team.  Wisconsin junior libero Taylor Morey made the All-American second team, as did Badgers' senior Courtney Thomas.  Carlini is only the second in U-W history to make the coaches' top squad.  Sherisa Livingston did it in 2000 and 2001.  Carlini averaged just under 11-and-a-quarter assists per set, and she was named the Big Ten's player-and-setter of the year.  Morey led the conference with five-point-one-two digs per set, and was also named the Big Ten's defensive player of the year.  Thomas was second on the Badgers with two-point-eight-four kills per set with a .338 hitting percentage.

(End)  

Wheeler News - Mid-Day State News #2 - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Mid-Day State News #2

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Here are the details:

Wisconsin's job growth continues to lag behind the rest of the country.  The federal government said today that the Badger State grew its private-sector workforce by one-and-a-half percent for the year ending in June.  That's the 32nd-largest job growth among the 50 states -- and it lags behind the national increase of two-point-three percent.  The numbers come from the Quarterly Census of Employment-and-Wages, the most accurate indicator of job growth since it surveys 96-percent of employers.  The monthly unemployment updates only survey about three-and-a-half percent of employers -- which state officials have criticized when the numbers make Wisconsin look bad.  That's not true today, however.  The Labor Department said the Badger State added an estimated 16-thousand-500 private sector jobs in October.  However, that data is often subject to heavy revisions later on.  Wisconsin's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate dropped another two-tenths of a point to five-point-two percent.  That's six-tenths less than the national jobless rate for last month.

-12/18-

The State Supreme Court said a judge was wrong to go back on a promise to throw out a Brookfield man's marijuana-dealing conviction after he completed a probation.  The justices reversed lower court rulings today that reinstated Kearney Hemp's Milwaukee County conviction.  That was after he was later arrested for drunk driving and pot possession in Walworth County.  Back in 2010, the 24-year-old Hemp pleaded guilty in Milwaukee to a felony charge of possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver.  Now-retired Judge Jean DiMotto told Hemp his conviction would be expunged if he completed the terms of his probation, which he did in late 2011.  A year later, his lawyer filed a form which sought the expungement, and DiMotto rejected it in light of his Walworth County arrest.  However, the Supreme Court said the first conviction was automatically thrown out when Hemp completed the probation -- and he didn't need to ask for it again.  State law allows those under-25 to have convictions expunged for offenses that have maximum sentences of six-months in prison or less.

-12/18-

The Oshkosh Corporation continues to get military business, despite the scale-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, the Oshkosh Defense division announced another 67-million dollar contract to build the types of trucks-and-trailers it's been constructing since 2010.  The new deal calls for 256 units in the Army's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, to be built next year at Oshkosh. The vehicles have special armor that protect crew members.  Among other things, they'reused to move troops and supplies.  Over the past five years, Oshkosh has built 22-thousand F-M-T-V trucks, and 11-thousand trailers.  

(End)

Wheeler News - Mid-Day State News #1 - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Mid-Day State News #1

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Here are the details:

Two burglary suspects are under arrest, after they allegedly shot at officers who pursued them during a chase.  It all started last night, when authorities in nearby Upper Michigan told Marinette County deputies that two wanted men were staying at a hotel in Crivitz.  The two had been suspected of busting into homes in Pound Wisconsin and Stephenson Michigan.  W-L-U-K T-V said one of those victims provided a description of the getaway vehicle in the break-ins -- and officers later found it north of Crivitz and began pursuing.  Sheriff Jerry Sauve said the suspects fired shots during the chase, and later crashed their vehicle near Middle Inlet.  After that, the two men ran off -- prompting a manhunt which ended with their arrests about three hours later.  Two taverns were shut down during the search, and a number of homes were evacuated. The village hall in Crivitz was open for the evacuees to stay if need be.  Officials said nobody was hurt in the episode, and at least one weapon was recovered.

-12/18-

Wisconsin's Freedom from Religion Foundation is suing the state, to try and learn more about its decision to limit enforcement of mandatory insurance coverage for contraceptives.  State officials said in July it would exempt employers with religious objections from requiring blanket coverage for birth control.  That was after the U-S Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" decision, which allowed private employers with religious objections to avoid the birth control coverage mandate in the national Affordable Care Act.  The Freedom from Religion group said it filed two requests for state documents about its decision. However, the group said the Insurance Commissioner's office did not supply all the records it has about the matter -- and it's asking the courts to force that release.  The agency did not comment on the lawsuit.  

-12/18-

Some folks in far northern Wisconsin are moving almost a foot of snow that fell between Monday night and yesterday.  Cornucopia, the state's northern-most hamlet in Bayfield County, had 11-inches.  Gile, the Iron County community which has had over 100-inches already this fall, picked up nine-and-a-half more this week.  Above-normal temperatures fell on Tuesday, to more winter-like levels.  Some places were in the teens this morning, but most of Wisconsin was in the 20's.  A high pressure system will keep things relatively cool today.  No place in Wisconsin could see 30-degrees, and tonight's lows will drop into the single digits in a number of spots.  A gradual warming trend begins tomorrow. Parts of the state could see 40 by Monday.  You can expect dry weather through tomorrow.  Light freezing drizzle is possible during the weekend.

(End)

Minnesota Sports from MNN - 12/18/14

"Minnesota Sports Summary"

Bruins Beat Wild In OT

(St. Paul, MN)  --  Boston's Loui Eriksson scored the winning goal 1:30 into overtime lifting the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild last night at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul.  Carl Soderberg and Patrice Bergeron (puh-TREECE  BER-zhjer-anh) both lit the lamp in the first period for Boston, which snapped a three-game losing streak.  Niklas Svedberg stopped 35 shots in the win.  Kyle Brodziak (BROD-zee-ack) and Jason Pominville scored for the Wild, who have dropped three of four.  Niklas Backstrom made 22 saves in the setback.  Minnesota entertains Nashville on Saturday night.  Prior to last night's game, Minnesota called up goaltender John Curry from AHL Iowa.  Backstrom was playing through the flu, while Darcy Kuemper (KEMP-er) was too sick to play.

NHL Updates Mumps Info, Protocol

(New York, NY)  --  The NHL is sending out updated information to teams on trying to combat an outbreak of mumps among players.  Deputy commissioner Bill Daly tells ESPN.com that the league sent a memo to all 30 clubs back in November, but this latest one offers more specific information and protocol on taking precautions.  The Wild have had players miss games with the illness, including star defenseman Ryan Suter.  Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby was diagnosed last week after arriving at the team's morning skate with noticeable swelling in his cheeks.  As of Wednesday, 15 players from five different teams had been diagnosed with mumps, with three more players from the Penguins undergoing tests.

T'wolves Wrap Up Brief Trip Tomorrow In Boston

(Boston, MA)  --  The Minnesota Timberwolves wrap up their short two-game road swing tonight in Boston against the Celtics.  Minnesota has lost three in-a-row after Tuesday's 109-95 setback to the Wizards in DC.  The T'wolves sit at 5-and-19.  The Celtics come in at 9-and-14 after last night's home win over Orlando.

Report: Celtics Shopping Rondo

(Boston, MA)  --  The Rajon Rondo trade rumors are resurfacing again.  ESPN reports the Celtics and Mavericks "are in substantive discussions on a trade that would send Rondo" to Dallas.  The deal would involve draft picks with at least one of them being a first rounder along with center Brandan Wright going to Boston.  There would need to be other players in the deal to make the trade work from a salary cap perspective.  Other teams the Celtics have been in contract with include the Knicks, Kings and Rockets.  Rondo is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  The Timberwolves play at Boston on Friday.

Gophers Off Until Friday

(Minneapolis, MN)  --  The Golden Gopher basketball teams are off until tomorrow when the Minnesota men welcome Seattle University to town.  The Gopher men have won five straight following their 85-57 rout of Southern University last Wednesday.  The Gophers are 8-and-2 on the season.  Seattle is 5-and-5.  The Gopher women's team hosts a four-team event at Williams Arena on Saturday and Sunday.  Minnesota takes on Liberty on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at The Barn.

Gophers Practicing For Bowl Game

(Minneapolis, MN)  --  The University of Minnesota football team was back on the practice field yesterday afternoon, getting ready for the January 1st Citrus Bowl in Orlando.  The team is still on campus and will not leave for Florida until Christmas Day.  The Golden Gophers take on the Missouri Tigers in the contest.  Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill says the Tigers are good on both sides of the football and boast the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in Shane Ray, while also having a playmaking, mobile quarterback in Maty Mauk (MATTY MAHK) running the offense.

Wisconsin Introduces Chryst As New Head Football Coach

(Madison, WI)  --  Paul Chryst is the new head football coach at the University of Wisconsin.  Chryst replaces Gary Andersen, who left to take over at Oregon State.  Chryst spent the last three seasons at Pittsburgh, going 19-and-19 and earning three bowl appearances.  The Madison native was the Badgers' offensive coordinator from 2005-to-2011, the tight ends coach in 2002 and was a quarterback from 1986-to-1988.

Harbaugh Report

(Ann Arbor, MI)  --  The University of Michigan wants to make San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh the highest paid coach in the college ranks.  Several media reports say U of M has offered Harbaugh a six-year, 48-million-dollar contract.  The deal would pay him nearly one-million-dollars more a year than Alabama's Nick Saban, who made over seven-point-one-million this season.  The former Michigan quarterback has one year remaining on his five-year, 25-million-dollar contract with the 49ers.  The Wolverines have not made any comments about head coach candidates since Brady Hoke was fired from the position earlier this month. 

Federal Judge Rejects NCAA Settlement Over Concussions

(Undated)  --  A federal judge is rejecting a 75-million-dollar NCAA settlement aimed at ending a lawsuiit over the long-term effect of concussions.  U.S. District Judge John Lee says the proposed agreement is a step in the right direction, but argues the 70-million dollars devoted to fund concussion testing and diagnosis for athletes won't cover costs.  Another five-million was to be set aside for research into sports-related concussions.  Lee also expressed reservations about the NCAA's ability to notify former athletes who would be eligible for care.

Vikings Taking On Dolphins On Sunday

(Eden Prairie, MN)  --  Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says he wants his team to finish the season learning how to close games out in the fourth quarter.  He says he wants his club to play tough and play hard and he is seeing progress in that regard.  The Vikes continue to prepare for their final road game of the season on Sunday in Miami against the Dolphins.  Minnesota will host Chicago to close out the year.  The Vikings are 6-and-8 following their 16-14 loss to the Lions in Detroit on Sunday.  The Dolphins sit at 7-and-7.  In other news, the Vikes added safety Ahmad Dixon to the active roster from the practice squad and signed guard Jordan McCray to the practice squad.

Ravens Ink Greenwood From Vikings

(Owings Mills, VA)  --  The Baltimore Ravens are adding Chris Greenwood to their ailing secondary.  The team signed Greenwood off the Minnesota Vikings practice squad.  Greenwood is the 13th cornerback that the Ravens have had on their 53-man roster this season and is the seventh cornerback added over the last 10 weeks.  Baltimore placed corner Asa Jackson on injured reserve Tuesday.

NFC North:  Bears To Start Jimmy Clausen At Quarterback

(Chicago, IL)  --  The Chicago Bears are benching quarterback Jay Cutler for their upcoming game against the Detroit Lions.  ESPN reports the team will start backup Jimmy Clausen instead.  Chicago has lost three straight and is in the NFC North cellar at 5-and-9.  Cutler leads the league with 18 interceptions and 12 fumbles.  Clausen has thrown for 16-hundred yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 16 games over his five-year career out of Notre Dame.  The Lions are 10-and-4 and tied with the Packers for first place in the division.  Detroit currently holds the tiebreaker, having beaten Green Bay back in Week Three.  Chicago hosts Minnesota a week from Sunday in the regular season finale for both teams.

NFC North:  Packers Prep For Bucs

(Green Bay, WI)  --  The Green Bay Packers continue to prepare for their final road game of the regular season on Sunday in Tampa against the Buccaneers.  Green Bay had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 21-13 loss in Buffalo on Sunday.  The Packers are now sixth in the NFC at 10-and-4.  The Lions are also 10-and-4 but hold the tiebreaker over the Pack.  Detroit comes to town in Week 17.

NFC North:  Lions News

(Allen Park, MI)  --  The Detroit Lions practiced outside yesterday as they get ready to travel to Chicago for a division showdown with the Bears on Sunday.  Defensive end George Johnson did not participate in drills yesterday because of an illness, while receiver Calvin Johnson, linebacker Ashlee Palmer. cornerback Mohammed Seisay and safety Don Cary were all limited with injuries.  Yesterday, the NFL named safety Glover Quinn NFC Defensive Player of the Week.  Quinn intercepted a pass in the second quarter of the Lions win over the Vikings and returned it 56 yards to the Minnesota 11-yard line.  Detroit then scored a touchdown and held on for the 16-14 victory. 

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grimm

Minnesota News from MNN - 12/18/14

"Minnesota Summary"        12/18/14

Four Suspects Charged In Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

(St. Paul, MN)  --  Four suspects are facing charges in connection with a nearly four-million-dollar fraud scheme in the Twin Cities.  The Ramsey County attorney has charged Yasmin Ali and Ahmed Mohamed of Fridley and Joshua Miller of St. Paul with felonies including racketeering, theft by swindle and filing false tax returns.  Authorities say from 2009 through 2013, Ali, Mohamed and Miller owned and operated a group of businesses that illegally received reimbursement for personal care assistants and child care assistance.  Jordan Smith of Cottage Grove, who worked within the group, is also charged with seven felonies in the case. 

Menahga Strangler Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison

(Menahga, MN)  --  A Menahga (men-aw'-guh) man has been sentenced in the strangulation death of a Park Rapids woman.  Prosecutors say Harley Leritz was drunk and high on meth when he murdered Kiela (kee-luh') Knowles.    The 19-year old was found dead in her apartment last February.    His father, David Leritz, says Harley had a "Doctor Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde" mentality when he was on drugs and alcohol, but without it was "Just a normal Joe."  Knowles left behind a 3-year-old son, and her close friend Lori Hanson says that since his mother's murder the boy has not been the same.  Leritz was sentenced to 28-years in prison.    He could be eligible for parole after serving more than 18 years of his sentence.

Competency Hearings Today in Wisconsin "Slenderman" Attempted Murder Case

(Waukesha, WI)  --  Two Wisconsin girls could find out today whether they'll be considered mentally-competent to stand trial in the Slender Man stabbing case.  Defense lawyers have challenged tests from state psychiatrists, which concluded that 12-year-old Morgan Geyser and 13-year-old Anissa Weier are able to help with their cases. Circuit Judge Michael Bohren agreed to hold full-scale, back-to-back competency hearings for each girl today (Thu).  Prosecutors say the girls plotted to kill their classmate Peyton Leutner as a sacrifice of sorts to the fictional online horror character Slender Man.  Officials said Peyton was stabbed 19 times in late May, but she recovered enough to return to school this fall.  In August, the judge ordered up to a year of mental treatment for Geyser, finding her incompetent to stand trial at the time.  Weier is having her first competency proceeding today (Thu).  Both are charged as adults with attempted murder 

Buzzfeed Building Local Office After Purchasing Hyper IQ

(Minneapolis, MN)  --  A well-known pop culture website will be opening an office in Minneapolis after purchasing a local technology firm.  BuzzFeed has acquired mobile app producer Hyper IQ.  The new local office will focus on the technical side of the business and will give BuzzFeed the ability to develop apps themselves.  All of the current Hyper IQ employees are expected to be transferred to BuzzFeed. 

St Cloud Man Charged With Arson in Sock Burning

(St. Cloud, MN)  --  A St. Cloud man is charged with arson after he apparently started a fire in his apartment building during an argument with a neighbor over the use of the complex's clothes dryer.  Police say 59-year-old William Hoglund intentionally started his sock on fire in the hallway of the building.  St. Cloud Fire officials say there was just minor damage to the carpeting and nobody was hurt.

Use Caution On The Ice

(St. Paul, MN) --  It may be colder out now than it was this past weekend, but officials are still urging caution on the ice.  Several ATVs, snowmobiles and fish houses have gone through the ice in recent days, and Major Greg Salo with the Department of Natural Resources says people need to check ice conditions before venturing out and follow certain suggested guidelines.  He says they recommend around four inches for walking, five inches for a snowmobile or ATV and eight to 12 inches for a car and then 15 inches for trucks.  Salo is careful to note that these are just recommendations, and that ice can be inconsistent from spot to spot, and can change at different times of day. 

Electric Car Study

(Minneapolis, MN) --  A new University of Minnesota study finds that electric vehicles are only as green as their source of electricity.  U of M researcher Chris Tessum says they learned that electric vehicles running on coal-fired power are worse for public health than gas-powered cars.  Tessum says the study suggests that driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy could reduce deaths from air pollution by 70 percent.  Air pollution is blamed for 100-thousand deaths a year in the U-S.   

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Weston

Wheeler News - Morning State News #4 - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Morning State News #4

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Here are the details:

Hundreds of supporters rallied in Kenosha last night at the site of the proposed Menominee tribal casino-and-resort.  Local leaders and state lawmakers were among those showing up at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park, where the tribe has attempted for years to build the 800-million dollar project.  Local job agencies were on hand to speak with those seeking work.  The supporters say the proposed Hard Rock Casino-Hotel would create thousands of jobs and have a huge economic impact on the area.  Governor Scott Walker has until February 19th to decide whether to approve the facility.  He has received strong opposition from the nearby Potawatomi tribe, which now operates the only Indian casino in heavily-populated southeast Wisconsin.  The Ho-Chunk tribe is also against the project, saying it could sap revenues from their gaming houses as well.  The Menominee has said it would cover losses by the other tribes which can be directly attributed to the proposed Hard Rock facility.

-12/18-

A Tomah man has been cleared of a homicide charge in the death of his wife in northwest Wisconsin. Twenty-six year old Cade Clark left a Sawyer County courtroom a free man yesterday, after District Attorney Bruce Poquette asked that a first-degree intentional homicide charge be dropped.  Cade Clark was accused of shooting 26-year-old Tina Clark to death on October fifth at a home in Winter.  Defense lawyer John Matousek said he contended all along that Tina shot herself, based on the set-up of the room where it occurred and the trajectory of the fatal bullet.  The La Crosse Tribune quotes Matousek as saying the state's case began to fall apart at a preliminary hearing in early November when the judge called the evidence "slim."  Matousek doesn't blame the D-A for that, saying there was faulty information from authorities in Duluth Minnesota where Tina Clark died at a hospital.  The attorney says Clark now wants to get back together with his young son, and start leading life as an exonerated man.

(Thanks for help Craig Otto, Magnum Broadcasting, Tomah)

-12/18-

Veterans who take one-day Honor Flights to the nation's capital will have fewer airport hassles, thanks to the federal spending package signed into law this week.  A temporary administrative rule passed in 2011 was first suggested by a Wisconsin Honor Flight leader, and it's now permanent law.  It lets veterans on chartered Honor Flights pass through security just by showing valid photo I-D. The flights began several years ago to let World War Two veterans see their national memorial in Washington before they die.  The program has since included veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars.  Mike Thompson of Wausau's Never Forgotten Honor Flight program said it was almost unbearable to watch older veterans having to empty their pockets, and remove shoes and belts -- and sometimes get things mixed up.  Thompson asked the head of the Transportation Security Administration to do something, and the new law is the end result.  Thompson says it reduces the amount of time needed to get on board by about 40 minutes each way -- and gives them an extra 80-minutes to see the memorials and monuments which are dedicated to them.  Thompson also says the new law expands the simple I-D requirement to honor flights on commercial planes -- and not just those on charters.  

(Thanks Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau)

(End)

Wheeler News - Morning State News #3 - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Morning State News #3

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Here are the details:

Both of Wisconsin's U-S senators voted in favor of raising the fuel tax on barges, to improve navigation on the Mississippi River at the state's western border. Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson were among 76 senators who endorsed a nine-cent increase in the barge fuel tax, as part of a larger bill which helps disabled Americans.  The Illinois Corn Growers Association said it's "incredibly exciting" for farmers who use the Mississippi to ship their products toward the Gulf of Mexico.  The Waterways Council says it will help modernize locks-and-dams on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers -- some of which are 90 years old.  The diesel fuel tax for barges would go up from 20-cents a gallon to 29.  It was rejected in a Senate debate over a larger spending bill, so it was added to the so-called "ABLE" law which provides the disabled with things like education, housing, and transportation.  The bill now goes to President Obama after the House passed the measure earlier this month on a 414-to-17 vote.  Wisconsin Democrats Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan were among the "no" voters.  

-12/18-

Governor Scott Walker says he remains committed to cutting local property taxes, even with a possible two-point-two billion dollar budget deficit on the horizon. The Republican Walker made brief appearances in six Wisconsin cities yesterday, to remind homeowners that his party cut local taxes by an average of 141-dollars since 2010.  Most of that was approved earlier this year, when news of a billion-dollar state surplus emerged -- and the governor and lawmakers reduced taxing limits for technical colleges.  Since then, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau projected a 400-million dollar revenue shortfall for the current state budget, and a possible one-point-eight billion dollar deficit in the next two-year budget.  Walker and other Republicans have rejected those estimates, saying they don't reflect economic growth that should bring in more tax revenues above-and-beyond the projected shortfalls.  Walker also said the state was working with local governments on their tax levies, to assure more tax cuts over the next four years.  The Walker tour took place as Wisconsinites are receiving their local tax bills this month.

-12/18-

It's been over a year since the federal government recalled two-and-a-half million home dehumidifiers -- and Wisconsin fire-fighters are still responding to blazes caused by those units.  Green Bay Metro Fire Lieutenant Nick Craig tells W-B-A-Y T-V he still sees recalled dehumidifiers when residents call for help in installing smoke-and-carbon monoxide detectors.  One recalled unit was blamed for a Thanksgiving weekend house fire in Green Bay that caused 18-thousand dollars in damage.  Gree made the dehumidifiers which were recalled late last year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  They were sold under a dozen different brands which included Frigidaire and Kenmore.  Officials say the units overheat without warning.  The safety commission said the products were responsible for 120 fires nationally, causing four-and-a-half million dollars in total damages.  Although it's December and homes are getting drier, Craig says some people are still running them.

-12/18-

A central Wisconsin couple is accused of not reporting 159-thousand dollars they owed in federal income taxes while running an attorney's office.  Federal prosecutors have charged 43-year-old Scott Swid and his 44-year-old wife Jodi, both of Kronenwetter, with tax fraud and filing false income tax returns.  Scott Swid practiced law from locations in Mosinee and Stratford, and his wife was his bookkeeper.  Prosecutors said they kept two sets of books, and were skimming parts of their clients' fees-and-payments off the top and hiding the proceeds in separate accounts.  Authorities said they also under-reported payments taken as barter from clients, and providing false business records to their tax providers.  The alleged false income tax returns were said to be filed from 2007-through-'09.

(Thanks Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau)

(End)

Wheeler News - Morning State News #2 - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Morning State News #2

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Winning lottery numbers:
Powerball:  22-31-38-47-48, Powerball 15, Power Play 3
Megabucks:  9-10-18-25-40-48
Five-Card Cash:  5-spades, 8-clubs, 4-diamonds, 10-spades, A-diamonds
Supercash:  10-22-23-25-31-34 - No Doubler
Pick-3:  6-0-1
Pick-4:  8-2-0-7
Badger-5:  1-2-8-13-26

Here are the details:

Governor Scott Walker says he'll call out the National Guard to quell any unrest from an upcoming decision on charges in the Milwaukee police shooting of Dontre Hamilton.  However, Walker said yesterday he fully expects people to respond peacefully to whatever District Attorney John Chisholm decides.  The D-A has spent months considering possible charges against Milwaukee officer Christopher Manney, who was fired after approaching Dontre Hamilton from the back and frisking him in late April at a downtown park.  A scuffle ensued in which white officer Manney shot the black Hamilton to death.  Walker says his office has "proactively worked" to make sure the National Guard reaches out -- and the Guard has met with Milwaukee area law enforcement "just to make sure."  Walker says the last thing he wants is for the Guard to get a call and then "scurry about what they need to do."  The governor says he still believes any protests can be peaceful, in contrast to the violence in Ferguson Missouri after a prosecutor said he would not charge a white officer in a black suspect's death.  Hamilton's supporters have made comparisons to the Ferguson case.  D-A Chisholm has not indicated when his final decision will come down.  Milwaukee Police said any mutual aid would be coordinated by Wisconsin Emergency Management.  Mayor Tom Barrett's chief-of-staff said the mayor has appreciated what he called the Hamilton family's "peaceful approach" to the way they raise issues in Dontre's death.

-12/18-

The weekend between Christmas and New Year's is one of the busiest times for tourism in Wisconsin's Northwoods.  However, one of the area's key winter attractions -- snowmobiling -- remains at a near stand-still due to the recent mild spell.  Forest County Parks Administrator David Ziolkowski (zil-cow'-skee) says it's been impossible to groom snowmobile trails, with only three-inches of snow on the ground and many wetlands still unfrozen.  His office plans to be in touch with local snowmobile groups next week, to predict an opening date for Forest County's trails.  According to Travel Wisconsin-Dot-Com, Vilas County is the only one with trails in fair condition -- and some are so poor that local officials do not recommend using them.  Trails in Bayfield, Sawyer, and Price counties are also in poor shape.  Marinette and Douglas counties only have limited trails open, and they're in rough shape as well. 

(Thanks Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander)

-12/18-

Starting next year, the F-B-I will consider animal cruelty as a separate major crime -- a move that's praised by state advocates for crime victims and animal rights.  Wisconsin Humane Society president Anne Reed says it shows the progress society has made in recognizing the seriousness of animal abuse. Jill Karofsky, the state Justice Department's head of victim services, says studies show a "high correlation" between those who hurt animals and those who hurt other people.  The state will start gathering separate data next year for animal cruelty cases. We'll begin seeing reports in 2016.  Four kinds of abuse will be categorized -- gross neglect, intentional abuse, sexual abuse of animals, and organized abuse such as cock-fighting.  We've seen virtually all of that Wisconsin in recent years, as major animal cruelty cases have become more common.  The more notable ones include the thrill-killings of deer by snowmobiles in Waupaca County, a sexual assault case in Milwaukee that turned up over 200 exotic animals living in squalor, a woman's poisoning of an ex-boyfriend's dog in Wausau, and rural neglect cases involving hundreds of pets at a time.  

(End)


Minnesota News from MNN - 12/18/14

"Minnesota Summary"  12-18-14      *Thursday*

Obama Pushes To Re-Build Ties With Cuba

(St. Joseph, MN) --  President Obama says the U.S. and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations, and open economic and travel ties.  Gary Prevost (PRE-vost) is a political science professor at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University and says, while there aren't a lot of Cuban immigrants here in Minnesota, it is an important step for the country.  He says the president was facing a real political challenge because in April of this coming year there is the every three year summit of the America's meeting in Panama.  And Prevost says the Latin America leaders have basically said that they were not going to come if the United States did not invite Cuba and move toward normalization of relations.  Wednesday's announcement is the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years. Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro spoke by phone on Tuesday for 45 minutes, the first conversation between the country's two leaders since 1961.

Mall Of America Protesters Told To Stay Outside

(Bloomington, MN)  --  Demonstrators planning on protesting inside Mall of America this weekend are being told to stay outside.  Community organizers say they have been informed by mall management and Bloomington Police that protesting inside the mall is against policy and gatherers could be arrested and banned.  Organizers have planned a protest this Saturday inside the mall's rotunda as part of the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Mall officials say they will be increasing their security for this Saturday and throughout the holiday season.

Homeless Memorial March And Service

(Minneapolis, MN) --  Tonight the 30th-annual Homeless Memorial March and Service will take place in Minneapolis to pay tribute to those who lost their life this year.(2014)  Event spokesman Steve Horsfield says last year, 148 Minnesotans fell victim to homelessness.  He says tonight's event serves as a respectful memorial for those members of our community that were lost in the past year  Horsfield says it also reminds us of the grave nature of housing instability in our state.  The silent march begins Thursday at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis at 5 p.m. followed by the memorial service(6:30).

Mendota Heights School Cancels Classes For Younger Students

(Mendota Heights, MN)  --  Another Minnesota school is feeling the effects of the flu. Classes for the Lower School at the Convent of the Visitation School in Mendota Heights have been canceled for the rest of the week because of an outbreak of "influenza-like illnesses."  The building will be sanitized.  Classes however are still in session for students in grades six through 12.

November Jobless Numbers Out Today

(St. Paul, MN) --  State officials are set to release November unemployment figures later this morning.(10) In October the state's jobless rate fell to 3.9 percent -- the lowest since June of 2006.  State job analyst Steve Hine says initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by over 18-hundred in October to 16-thousand-400 -- a new post-recessionary low and the lowest level of claims for unemployment that we have seen since September of 2000.  Hine says the 28-thousand-300 jobs added in August, September and October is the strongest three-month span on record which dates back to 1990.  The U.S. unemployment rate is at 5.8 percent. 

Former Stillwater Mayor and Two Brothers Accused Of Defrauding Government

(Minneapolis, MN)  --  A former Mayor of Stillwater and two St. Paul brothers are facing charges following allegations they defrauded the government of over ten-million-dollars.  Minnesota's U.S. Attorney's Office says Ken Harycki (hair-rick-ee) is accused of submitting phony tax forms to help Thurlee and Roylee Belfrey defraud Medicaid through a health care company they owned.  Prosecutors claim the brothers used some of the money to help fund a lavish lifestyle.  Harycki resigned as Stillwater's mayor last month when the FBI began investigating his work as a certified public accountant.

"The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food"

(Undated) --  "I'd have to be sharpening it all day.  Since the hog's skin is very thick I'd always have to sharpen it."  Speaking through an interpreter and under the pseudonym "Emiliano (ee-MEEL'-ee-ah-no) Ballesta (buh-LESS'-tuh)", the story of the former worker at Quality Pork Processors slaughterhouse in Austin and nearly two-dozen others is chronicled in the new book "The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food", written by Ted Genoways.  The workers at the Spam factory began showing symptoms in 2006 of a neurological disease which officials at the Mayo Clinic and the Minnesota Department of Health eventually attributed to the inhalation of brain matter vapors while slaughtering hogs.  But Genoways says his book is also a narrative about the impact of the ag industry's emphasis on production speed versus the health and safety of workers.

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Weston/Redel

Wheeler News - Morning State News #1 - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Morning State News #1

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

Winning lottery numbers:
Powerball:  22-31-38-47-48, Powerball 15, Power Play 3
Megabucks:  9-10-18-25-40-48
Five-Card Cash:  5-spades, 8-clubs, 4-diamonds, 10-spades, A-diamonds
Supercash:  10-22-23-25-31-34 - No Doubler
Pick-3:  6-0-1
Pick-4:  8-2-0-7
Badger-5:  1-2-8-13-26

Here are the details:

Wisconsinites appear to have mixed feelings about President Obama's move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.  Cuban natives in Milwaukee says it's been way too long in coming, and one said America's top priority should be to monitor human rights violations in their native country.  U-S Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin agreed that a half-century of isolation has only created hardships for Cubans, while failing to weaken the country's regime and achieve America's national security goals.  Republican Governor Scott Walker, a possible candidate for president in 2016, called the normalizing of relations a "bad idea."  He said there's been no noticeable change toward having a "free and prosperous country" there.  Walker said a commitment to American-style freedoms has always been a condition for having a normal relationship with the U-S.  Obama said he would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, open an embassy in Havana, and support a lifting of America's economic embargo of the country.   

-12/18-

A five-year extension of the Great Lakes' environmental clean-up program will have to wait until the next Congress convenes in January.  The House voted last week to continue the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  But the Senate adjourned Tuesday night without taking it up -- which means the process will have to start all over again after lawmakers begin their new terms.  Over one-point-six billion dollars has been spent since 2010 on a host of projects in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest -- including removals of invasive species, reductions of algae, improved wildlife habitat, river-and-harbor cleanups, and more.  Ohio Representative David Joyce sponsored a bill to spend 300-million dollars each year on the program for another five years -- although the allocations would need to be voted on each year.  Joyce says his bill has "broad bi-partisan support," and he intends to bring it back in January.  Todd Ambs of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition remains confident the extension will be finalized soon.  He said the Senate's failure to pass the bill this week was disappointing -- but it's only a temporary setback. 

-12/18-

Two Waukesha girls could find out today whether they'll be considered mentally-competent to stand trial in the Slender Man stabbing case.  Defense lawyers have challenged tests from state psychiatrists, which concluded that 12-year-old Morgan Geyser and 13-year-old Anissa Weier are able to help with their cases. Circuit Judge Michael Bohren agreed to hold full-scale, back-to-back competency hearings for each girl today.  Prosecutors said the girls plotted to kill their classmate Peyton Leutner in allegiance to the fictional online horror character Slender Man.  Officials said Peyton was stabbed 19 times in late May, but she recovered enough to return to school this fall.  In August, the judge ordered up to a year of mental treatment for Geyser, finding her incompetent to stand trial at the time.  Weier is having her first competency proceeding today.  Both are charged as adults with attempted homicide.  

-12/18-

Authorities expect to finish their clean-up work today at a house in Oshkosh where the deadly chemical ricin was said to be made.  The federal E-P-A and the Wisconsin National Guard began the project yesterday.  Trucks and trailers lined the street outside the home, while a dozen people tested the building for the chemical's presence.  Winnebago County officials sought outside help for removing contamination.  U-W Oshkosh student Kyle Smith was arrested on Halloween after his off-campus house was searched.  He has pleaded innocent to federal charges of possessing ricin, and intending to use it as a weapon.  

(End)


Wheeler News - Morning State Sports - 12/18/14

Wheeler News Service - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Morning State Sports

Editor on Duty: Thom Gerretsen (715) 389-2373
Story Contributions: wheelernews@yahoo.com

In the N-B-A...
Portland 104, Milwaukee 97

In men's college basketball...
U-W Green Bay 66, Morehead State 50
Saint Norbert 87, Illinois College 58
Aurora 65, Marian 62

In women's college basketball...
U-W Parkside 68, Puerto Rico-Mayaguez 43
Saint Norbert 72, Illinois College 45
Milwaukee Engineering 72, Illinois Tech 44

In Wisconsin girls' high school basketball...
Heritage Christian 47, Shorewood 43
Milwaukee Bradley Tech 31, Milwaukee South 10
Watersmeet Michigan 73, Mercer 66

Here are the details:

The injury bug hit the Milwaukee Bucks again, as they lost at Portland last night 104-to-97.  Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo left late in the first half with a sprained left ankle, just one game after rookie forward Jabari Parker went out for the season with a torn A-C-L.  Both have been touted as the future of a Bucks' franchise that's on the rebound after winning just 15 games a season ago.  The 20-year-old Antetokounmpo rolled the same ankle last month in Milwaukee's triple-overtime win at Brooklyn.  He'll be evaluated today, to see whether can go tonight when the Bucks play at Sacramento.  The Bucks took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Trail Blazers.  Portland pulled ahead by ten, and Bucks' coach Jason Kidd decided to keep fouling center Thomas Robinson -- who was making his first N-B-A start.  Robinson only made 4-of-10 free throws, but the Bucks could not capitalize on offense.  Robinson, who replaced the injured Robin Lopez, had 15 points and 16 rebounds.  Damian Lillard topped Portland with 29 points and seven assists.  Ex-Marquette guard Wesley Matthews scored eleven.  The Blazers took advantage of a small Bucks' lineup for a 52-32 rebounding edge, as Portland won for the eighth time in ten games.  Brandon Knight scored 24 for Milwaukee, which dropped to 13-and-13 overall and 1-and-1 on its four-game Western road trip.  

-12/18-

The U-W Green Bay men's basketball team scored the game's first 12 points, and never looked back in beating Morehead State at home last night 66-to-50. Marcus Fuggins made the Eagles' first shot six-and-a-half minutes in.  Green Bay made seven straight free throws to go up 23-8.  The Phoenix led by nine at the break, and quickly increased the margin to double figures early in the second half.  Morehead State never threatened after that.  Keifer Sykes scored 17 for the Phoenix, who shot just under 50-percent and made 20-of-35 from the free-throw line.  Morehead State was held to 33-percent shooting and made just 12-of-21 from the charity stripe.  Brent Arrington scored 13 for the Eagles, who dropped to 4-and-9.  Green Bay improved to 8-and-2, and will host Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday.  Tonight, the Marquette women entertain Vanderbilt. The U-W Parkside women close out three games in Puerto Rico by taking on Bayamon.

-12/18-

Paul Chryst's return to Wisconsin was billed as a homecoming last night, as he was introduced as the Badgers' next football coach.  The Madison native, former U-W quarterback, and ex-Badger offensive coordinator came home to replace Gary Andersen -- the Utah native who went back out West eight days ago as the new coach at Oregon State.  The 49-year-old Chryst told stories of his youth, saying he used to deliver newspapers to Camp Randall Stadium and sneaked onto the field to play.  Athletic director Barry Alvarez said Chryst is getting a five-year contract, and said the "timing is right" for Chryst to take over the state's only F-B-S football program.  The new coach also thanked officials at the University of Pittsburgh, where athletic director Steve Pederson was fired last evening.  Pederson hired Chryst in 2011 to his first head coaching job.  He went 19-and-19 with the Panthers.  Alvarez said several well-known head coaches and top assistants inquired about the Badger job, but Chryst was the main target from the outset.  

-12/18-

Green Bay Packers' coach Mike McCarthy is warning his team not to be too over-confident at Tampa Bay on Sunday.  The Packers are ten-point favorites against a Tampa squad that's 2-and-12 overall and 0-and-6 at home.  The Buccaneers will be without one of their leaders, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who's out for the year with a sprained knee.  Even so, McCarthy says Tampa will be motivated and will throw everything it has against the Packers -- who need to win their final two games to secure their fourth straight N-F-C North Division crown.  After losing at Buffalo last week, McCarthy said he was striving to put his 10-and-4 team in a playoff mindset.  As part of that, he had the players elect their post-season captains yesterday.  They chose quarterback Aaron Rodgers, receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, safety Morgan Burnett, linebacker Julius Peppers, and special teams' standout Jarrett Bush.

-12/18-

The Milwaukee Brewers have released one of their supplemental first-round draft picks from 2009.  Triple-"A" pitcher Kyle Heckathorn was let go, along with Double-"A" starter Andy Moye.  The 26-year-old Heckathorn went 3-and-2 at Nashville this past season in 24 relief outings and four starts.  He had a five-point-seven-oh E-R-A this year, and a four-point-three-five E-R-A in 164 minor league appearances.  Moye, who's 27, started ten games at Huntsville this year and made one appearance in relief.  He went 4-and-2 with an E-R-A of four-and-a-half.

(End) 

Morning Kickers - December 18th

MORNING KICKERS
0415
 
Several Johns Hopkins hopefuls were incredibly disappointed after the university mistakenly sent out acceptance emails. Nearly 300 applicants had their hearts broken after Johns Hopkins University accidentally sent out emails notifying them of their acceptance to the school. Many students had previously received rejection letters only to then receive an acceptance letter and then a third letter correcting the mistake.
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A chubby dachshund has shed 50 pounds and is now showcasing his slim figure in a hot dog calendar. Obie the dachshund, from Portland, Oregon, made headlines in 2012 when he tipped the scale at 77 pounds. His new owner, Nora, put the pooch on a strict diet and exercise regimen that has gotten Obie down to a healthy 23 pounds. To celebrate his incredible transformation, Obie's owner is releasing a 2015 calendar chronicling his journey.
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A monster truck reached speeds of nearly 100 miles-an-hour to break a Guinness World Record. The Raminator, sponsored by Ram Trucks, was taken for a spin on a Texas racetrack where it reached 99-point-one miles-an-hour and set a new Guinness record. The driver hopes to break 100 miles-an-hour during his next run.