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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Elected officials against shutting down the government over health care funding

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Most of Wisconsin’s federal representatives are against shutting down the federal government to block funding for the Obama health reform law. Congress will have to act to keep the government going beyond September 30th. Texas Senate Republican Ted Cruz has talked about a temporary shutdown to push through a resolution to stop next year’s funding for the Affordable Care Act. Wisconsin Senate Republican Ron Johnson, who won his seat three years ago by opposing Obama-care, disagrees that a government shutdown is necessary. He said he favors almost anything else that could delay or prevent the major parts of the health act from taking effect in January as scheduled. Both Johnson and Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville say Obama-care would continue to be funded as an entitlement, even if the government is halted. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin said she’d do everything possible to avoid a shutdown. She accused Republicans of quote, “manufacturing crises that in recent years have led to slow growth for our economy.” Fond du Lac House Republican Tom Petri said a shutdown would be great if it would reform the government – but he doubts that would happen. 

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A crime spree allegedly committed by Waupun Police Lieutenant Bradley Young may have started earlier than was first reported. Police officials now say the 43-year-old Young admitted breaking into a Piggly Wiggly store in Waupun last Sunday or Monday and took three-thousand dollars. The state Justice Department is investigating the incident – which may have occurred on the same day that the rest of the two-day crime spree began. Authorities said Young broke into a restaurant and stole a pick-up truck in Green Lake last Monday, and then drove to northwest Wisconsin where he crashed the truck in a police chase in Barron County. Officials said he ran off and stole a vehicle near Rice Lake last Tuesday, and was captured later in the day at a cabin west of Spooner. Young is charged in both Barron and Green Lake counties with nine criminal counts. He’s scheduled to enter pleas September 18th on two Barron County charges of vehicle theft and fleeing officers. Authorities say they still don’t know a motive for the incidents. The Green Lake County charges also include two other grocery store break-ins Young allegedly committed earlier this summer in Markesan and Berlin. 

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What happened to summer? It got down to the freezing mark in Tomahawk this morning, with 32 degrees at five a-m. Readings were in the 30’s as far south as Stevens Point. Monroe was the warm spot with 55. The National Weather Service said a high pressure system from southern Canada brought cooler temperatures into the Badger State yesterday. Afternoon highs were about 10 degrees below normal. Antigo tied an 11-year-old record yesterday for the coldest high temperature for the date, at 63. Rhinelander and Sturgeon Bay tied similar records with 64. The high pressure system is expected to move to the southeast of Wisconsin by tonight – and we’re expected to get dry and mostly clear weather into the weekend, with slowly warming temperatures. Afternoon highs could be back to normal by Saturday, in the 80-degree range. 

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A West Allis man, who said the FBI wanted him to incriminate himself by decrypting his computer drives, has been charged with handling child pornography. Federal investigators said they managed to decrypt two of Jeffrey Feldman’s nine hard drives without the defendant’s help. So yesterday, the U-S Attorney in Milwaukee charged Feldman with two federal counts of receiving-or-distributing child pornography, and one count of possessing it. The case has been closely watched by those concerned about protecting people’s Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in a digital age. Defense attorney Robin Shellow said the charges appeared to be in timed in a way that would pressure Feldman into decrypting his other seven hard drives. The government was supposed to file a legal brief today, explaining why a decrypting order would not violate Feldman’s Fifth Amendment rights. FBI agents arrested the 46-year-old Feldman at his workplace at Rockwell Automation – something his lawyer criticized, after he promised to turn himself in upon being charged. 

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Charges could be filed next week against a Plover man accused of sexually assaulting and killing his neighbor, and then setting her body on fire in an abandoned car. A Portage County judge set bond at a million-dollars yesterday for 32-year-old Jose Flores Aca. He’s suspected of killing his neighbor, 36-year-old Jamie Koch, at the apartment complex where they both lived. Her body was found eight days ago in a burned vehicle in neighboring Waupaca County. Portage County District Attorney Louis Molepske  Junior expects to file charges of homicide, hiding-and-mutilating a corpse, and sexual assault. But until an investigation is complete, the D-A says it’s too early to say what the final charges might be. Molepske says it’s possible that Flores Aca would be deported if he’s convicted. An initial appearance on the pending charges is set for September third. A private funeral service was planned for Koch, with a public memorial service later. 

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U-S Senator Tammy Baldwin says America is in danger of losing its next generation of scientists, unless the federal government does something. The Wisconsin Democrat met yesterday with students and officials at medical school research facilities in Madison and Milwaukee. Baldwin explained a bill she plans to introduce this fall to have the National Institutes of Health create policies that support researchers, and provide incentives for younger scientists. Baldwin said funding has been flat for almost a decade at the N-I-H – and the health agency stands to lose one-and-a-half billion dollars due to this year’s federal budget sequestration. As a result, Baldwin says the average age of medical researchers receiving grants has risen from 36-years-old in 1980 to 42 now. She says it’s getting less likely for medical grads to obtain research grants after college. Because of that, Baldwin fears that the current generation will abandon its work, and future high school grads will pursue other career options instead. Her planned legislation would not increase direct funding to the N-I-H, but it would require policies for mentorships and incentives to support researchers. 

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A 15-hundred dollar reward is being offered to find those who recently put up six anti-Semitic signs in Algoma in far eastern Wisconsin. The Anti-Defamation League offered the reward, as the F-B-I and local police investigate the matter as a hate crime. Elana Kahn-Oren of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation tells Wisconsin Public Radio that the signs appeared in late July and were quickly taken down. She said the signs had messages like quote, “Jew go back where you came from” and “Kill the Jews, Keep Algoma clean.” Local officials issued a statement that Algoma would not tolerate signs which are discriminatory or threatening. 

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Wisconsin health officials now say they’re investigating 19 cases of the rare stomach illness Cyclospora. It’s possible that only six of the cases are linked to a national outbreak in which 535 people apparently got sick from eating a bagged salad mix made in Mexico. State epidemiologist Justin Kohl says it’s plausible that not all of Wisconsin’s cases are from the same source. He tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that doctors are becoming more aware and vigilant about Cyclospora – and as a result, many of the state’s cases may not be related to an outbreak that has covered 18 states. Six Wisconsin cases of Cyclospora were reported a few weeks ago. Three were in Grant County, with the rest in Milwaukee and Brown counties. The F-D-A said it found clusters of illnesses from those eating a salad mix from Taylor Farms de Mexico, served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska. The same thing was not found in any of the other states. Texas has the most cases with 215, followed by Iowa with 153. Most of Iowa’s cases were in the Cedar Rapids area. 

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte has been with the Herald since 2006. He covers County government and anything else that happens in Pierce County on a daily basis.
(715) 273-4334
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