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Government and Political Roundup: First Lady visits Sikh temple in Oak Creek

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First Lady Michelle Obama spent almost 90 minutes yesterday meeting with the families of those killed and wounded in the Sikh Temple shootings in Oak Creek. Relatives said Obama expressed support and sympathy - and from the questions she asked, it was obvious that she read up on the plights of the victims. She especially knew the story of Satwant Kaleka, the president of the Oak Creek temple who was killed while trying to slow down gunman Wade Michael Page by stabbing him with a butter knife. Kaleka's son Amardeep said the First Lady kept telling him, "Your father was a true hero." Obama met privately with each family, after she made a public appearance with a temple leader and Oak Creek's mayor. She offered sympathy to each of them. Sikh leaders say they're grateful that the Oak Creek tragedy has drawn public attention to their religion - and the First Lady's visit was one more way to preach compassion and unity. Meanwhile, temple leaders have recognized Oak Creek Police lieutenant Brian Murphy, who was shot up to nine times while tending to a wounded victim during the massacre. Murphy was released from a hospital on Wednesday. And as a sign of gratitude, Sikh Temple members gave his family 10-thousand dollars plus a large banner signed by those wishing him well.

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Wisconsin's Paul Ryan is speaking out against proposed cuts in the military. The Republican vice-presidential candidate told supporters in North Carolina yesterday that Mitt Romney will prevent the cuts from taking effect if he's elected president. Ryan, the House Budget chairman from Janesville, spoke at Fayetteville - the home of Fort Bragg and large numbers of military families. He said the defense cuts would take effect automatically and across-the-board if Congress does not reach an agreement on a new federal budget in the next few months. In the House, Ryan had voted for such automatic spending cuts - but he later voted to block the reductions.

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Paul Ryan will get a huge send-off on Monday before he leaves his hometown of Janesville for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. A send-off rally begins at 10:45 Monday morning at Janesville Craig High School. Ryan, the House Budget chairman, will formally accept his party's vice-presidential nomination at the convention. Tickets for Monday's event are available at Mitt Romney-Dot-Com-Slash-states-Slash-Wisconsin. Meanwhile, five polls over the last week-and-a-half show that Ryan's presence on the G-O-P ticket has helped Romney in Wisconsin. President Obama still leads in three-of-the-five polls, but only by one-to-four points. Romney leads the other two polls by a point - and Marquette pollster Charles Franklin says the Badger State is definitely considered a toss-up at the moment.

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Wisconsin officials are being asked again to dump the government's long-time regulation of electric utilities. The Compete Coalition said utility monopolies in the Badger State have been raising their rates. And if they're deregulated, the group says it would lead to more competition and lower rates for everyone. The group says 41 of its 669 members have ties to Wisconsin. And it said consumers could only win if the state quote, "takes steps to reduce the adverse impact of protected monopolies, and adopts laws and policies allowing competitive market forces to provide incentives for increased efficiencies, lowest available costs, and environmental improvements." The governor and Legislature would have to approve any changes. Governor Scott Walker's office said it would need to see a specific proposal before commenting. Wisconsin considered utility deregulation in the 1990's - but the issue died after it sent prices soaring in California due to market manipulation. The Citizens' Utility Board, which represents Wisconsin consumers, says deregulation would be risky. And the group said there are lower electric rates in Midwest states that kept their regulated markets, as opposed to those which didn't.

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