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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Former MU grad killed by ISIS

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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Former MU grad killed by ISIS
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

MILWAUKEE  - Islamic terrorists in Iraq released a video yesterday which appeared to show the beheading of Marquette University graduate and journalist James Foley.  

An al-Qaida spin-off group called the Islamic State used the video to urge President Obama to stop attacks on Islamic fighters in northern Iraq.  If he doesn't, the video threatened a second execution of an American captive.  The video was posted on You-Tube, then spread to other social media before You-Tube deleted it.  In Washington, the National Security Council said intelligence officers were studying the video to see if Foley was actually the one beheaded.  If it's genuine, Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the agency is appalled by what it called the "brutal murder of an innocent American journalist."  Media reports quoted one U.S. official as saying the video was legit.  Two others said the 40-year-old Foley was indeed the victim. He's a native of New Hampshire, and he graduated from Milwaukee's Marquette University in 1996 in history and Spanish.  Foley and three other journalists were previously held in Libya for 45 days in 2011, while reporting on that country's civil war.  Foley also reported from Iraq and Afghanistan.  

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A federal appeals court has scheduled a hearing for September 12th on the Wisconsin Justice Department's effort to get the state's voter ID law re-instated.  A three-judge appellate panel in Chicago will hear arguments in the state's appeal of a ruling this spring.  Federal Judge Lynn Adelman said the photo ID voting requirement was unconstitutional and a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.  State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked the appellate court to overturn Adelman's ruling -- and while it's considering that, Van Hollen has asked that the voter ID mandate be put in place for the November 4th elections.  In July, the State Supreme Court ruled that the Republicans' 2011 voter ID law was constitutional -- but the law remained blocked until the federal courts resolve the issue.

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Wisconsin continues to have the nation's second-best scores on the ACT college entrance exam.  However, the results show that about half of last year's seniors would struggle to succeed in a first-year college reading, science, and math course.  Wisconsin had an average composite score of 22-point-two of a possible 36 on the ACT.  That puts Wisconsin in sole possession of second-place, after tying with Iowa a year ago.  Minnesota continues to have the top scores on the ACT, which is the predominant college entrance exam for Midwest colleges.  Schools on both ends of the country mainly use the SAT test.  The ACT also released benchmark scores that would give students a 75-percent chance of getting a "C" or better in college courses, and a 50-percent chance for a "B."  One of every five Wisconsin high school grads in May failed to reach any of the benchmarks on the exam.  Seventy-five percent met or surpassed benchmarks in English -- but only around half did the same in reading, math, and science.  However, at least ten-percent of the students were just a point-or-two short in reading and science.  The numbers of Wisconsin youngsters taking the ACT have grown immensely.  Seventy-three percent of the Class-of-2014 took the test, and the state is requiring it for all public high school students next year. 

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A man was shot to death while he was doing improvement work at a home on Milwaukee's north side.  Police said the shooting took place just before six last evening.  Other details were not immediately released.  Meanwhile, a man killed while sitting in a car on Milwaukee's north side was identified yesterday as 20-year-old Dominique Hill.  Police said he was shot around 12:30 Monday afternoon.  

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The State Patrol confirms that 47-year-old Tina Laffin of Reedsville was killed in an SUV crash in rural Manitowoc County.  Officials released her name yesterday, after she died Monday night.  Investigators said she was driving east on Highway 10 near Reedsville, when her unit veered to the left, crossed the roadway, entered the left ditch, and rolled over.  The State Patrol said Laffin was not wearing a seat-belt.  She was ejected from the SUV.

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Both of Wisconsin's U.S. senators made separate visits to the Northwoods this week, to call for policies to expand timber harvesting in the state's only national forest.  Republican Ron Johnson of Oshkosh joined members of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals yesterday on a tour of Forest County and part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.  He said the national forests should be self-financed, so they can use revenue from timber sales to manage the land better and create more opportunities for harvesting.  Johnson says counties do the same thing, and there's no reason the federal government can't do it as well.  A ten-year plan allows the Chequamegon-Nicolet to harvest 131-million board feet per year, but a report from last year said only about 60-percent of that amount was being harvested.  The Forest Service has blamed a lack of forestry management funds, at a time wood products' companies say they cannot get wood to meet their demands.  Revenues from timber sales on the national forest now go to the federal treasury instead of the Forest Service.  On Monday, Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Madison appeared in Crandon and Laona, to endorse timber harvest which are closer to the forest plan goals.

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At least 12 people were found to have melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, after they were screened at last week's Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.  Over 600 people took advantage of screenings arranged by the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic.  Two dozen doctors joined ten farm center staffers and others in conducting the tests, held at the state's largest farm show near Plover.  Outreach specialist Tammy Ellis said the goal is to make it as easy as possible for farmers to take advantage of the screenings.  She said some farmers had not been screened for skin cancer since the last two Farm Technology shows in Marathon County in 2011, and Clark County in 2005.  Nationally, health experts say 76,000 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed this year -- and about 97-hundred people will die from the disease.

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Five friends say they'll paddle across Lake Michigan to raise funds for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.  Kwin Morris, Jeff Guy, and Andrew Pritchard -- all of Traverse City, Michigan -- will join their buddies Joe Lorenz and J. Mueller on a 60-mile trip.  It starts on the Wisconsin shore at Algoma, and it's due to end at Frankfort Michigan.  The goal is to complete the trip in 24 hours sometime before Labor Day.  They'll ride stand-up paddle boards on a mission they call "Stand Up for the Great Lakes."  The five hope to raise ten-thousand dollars for the alliance, which studies numerous ways to preserve the water quality of the Great Lakes.

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We'll get the final results today from last week's U.S. House primary in east central Wisconsin.  All but one of the eleven counties in the Sixth Congressional District completed their ballot canvasses yesterday.  It appears that second-place finisher state Sen. Joe Leibham of Sheboygan won't gain nearly enough votes to overcome the 214-vote margin in which he trailed state Sen. Glenn Grothman of West Bend after the unofficial Election Night tally.  Both are Republican state senators who seek the GOP bid for the House seat given up by 36-year Republican incumbent Tom Petri.  Sheboygan County expects to wrap up its canvass this morning, when it reviews its tally and reports the results to the state.  The Sheboygan Press said Leibham gained five votes and Grothman one vote in the county's tally, which included absentee ballots.  If those hold firm, Grothman will have gained a net of six votes and Leibham one, for a 220-vote Grothman victory.  That margin would still only be about one-third of one-percent among the 64,000 ballots cast in last week's primary.  If Leibham seeks a recount, he could still get it for free, since his losing margin will appear to be within one-half of one percent.

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One, and perhaps two state legislative races are heading toward recounts, after last week's primary ballots were made official in county canvasses yesterday.  In the 87th Assembly District, Republican Michael Bub said he would ask for a recount, after a canvass in Rusk, Taylor, and Sawyer counties confirmed election night totals which showed him losing by 17 votes to former Rusk County supervisor James Edming.  The primary winner will face Democrat Richard Pulcher in November for an Assembly seat given up by Republican Mary Williams of Medford.  In southwest Wisconsin, canvassers said former DOT budget director Ernie Wittwer led by seven votes over ex-Feingold staffer Pat Bomhack for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat given up by Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center.  Bomhack said he wanted to consult with county and state officials before deciding to seek a recount.  That primary winner faces state Assembly Republican Howard Marklein of Spring Green for the Senate post in November.  

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Students at Green Bay Preble High School will stay in class 18 minutes longer this school year, to make up for a two-week delay in starting the fall term.  A fire at the school this month caused the start of classes to be delayed from September 2nd to the 15th.  State law no longer requires schools to be in session for 180 days, but they still have mandatory numbers of classroom hours.  As a result, Preble says two minutes will be added to each of nine periods during the day -- and school will be in session from 7:30 a-m to 3:18 p-m.  Also, Preble students will be in class October 31st while other Green Bay students get the day off.  And they'll have full days while other city schools get half-days.  The recent fire caused smoke damage in the entire school, and fire damage in the gym.  Authorities said it started when employees did not correctly dispose of rags used to re-surface the gym floor.  

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A man who's awaiting trial for a 2008 murder in Wisconsin Rapids pleaded innocent yesterday to killing his wife Pamela 30 years ago.  Fifty-five year old Joseph Reinwand made his initial court appearance on a first-degree murder charge filed late last week in Portage County.  Circuit Judge Thomas Pflugar set a 100-thousand dollar bond.  Reinwand won't be going anywhere, since he's in prison at Portage for previous convictions that include identity theft, burglary, forgery, and marijuana possession.  He's accused of killing his wife at their home in Plover, not along after she gave birth to a daughter. Authorities first believed Pamela's death was a suicide.  But after Reinwand allegedly killed Dale Meister in Wisconsin Rapids in '08, Pamela Reinwand's body was exhumed in 2009.  Prosecutors said Reinwand confessed to relatives and others that he killed his wife.  Officials said new technology produced the evidence they needed to charge her husband with murder.  In the meantime, Reinwand faces a two-week trial in mid-October in Wood County for the Meister killing.  

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A 20-year-old man could spend the rest of his life in prison, after he was convicted yesterday of killing a former high school classmate in southeast Wisconsin.  A Washington County jury deliberated for three hours before finding Daniel Bartelt guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the strangling death of Jessie Blodgett.  Her mother testified that the 19-year-old Blodgett was at a theater group's cast party last July -- and the mother found her dead in her bed the next afternoon.  An autopsy showed that she was bound and strangled.  Bartelt initially pleaded insanity, but two experts found him mentally competent to help with his defense.  Sentencing is scheduled for October 14th. Bartelt will get a mandatory life term, but the judge can set a date for a possible supervised release at least 20 years down the line. 

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Wisconsin gas prices are at their lowest since mid-February.  The Triple-"A" says the statewide average is $3.46-a-gallon this morning for regular unleaded. That's eleven-cents cheaper than a month ago, and seven-cents less than on this date a year ago.  Motorists in neighboring Minnesota are getting an even better deal.  They're paying around $3.35, the lowest for an August in the past decade.  Gail Weinholzer of Minnesota's Triple-"A" says crude oil prices have stabilized, and the demand for gas has dropped this month.  She and other experts predict that fuel prices will keep falling, as we head into the Labor Day weekend eight days from now.  

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A Milwaukee man who spent a quarter-century in Alaska is going back -- this time, to help run the world-famous Iditarod sled dog race.  Starting next month, Willie Karidis will be the new chief operating officer of the Iditarod Trail Committee, which plans the long-distance racing event.  He spent 25 years at Alaska's Denali National Park, and was the director of its education center before he came home to Milwaukee in 2009 to care for his parents. Karidis took a job with the Urban Ecology Center, where he's now the director of the Washington Park branch.  Karidis says he has mushed with sled-dogs, but has never raced.  He'll oversee the day-to-day operations of the Iditarod, and will coordinate trail maintenance and other logistics.  

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