WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Major farm crops in better shape thanks to much-needed rain
Wisconsin's major farm crops are in better shape, thanks to a heavy dose of much-needed rain. Officials say 71-percent of the state's corn is in good-to-excellent condition, along with 72-percent of the soybean crop. Both figures were in the 60's for most of the summer. Chippewa County had five-and-a-half inches of rain last week. Buffalo County had five inches, Portage County four, and Vernon County three. Much of it soaked into the ground. Seventy-eight percent of Wisconsin farm fields now have adequate top-soil moisture, and 11-percent have a surplus. That's quite a contrast from mid-August, when 45-percent of the state's fields were short or very-short of moisture. The corn and soybean crops are both maturing at rates slightly behind the averages for the past five years. The oat harvest is behind, at 73-percent. All but five-percent of that crop should be in by now.
A man killed in Syria while fighting for the Islamic State used to clean airplanes at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport, where lots of Wisconsinites fly. K-M-S-P T-V in the Twin Cities says Abdirahmaan Muhumed is the second known American -- and the second Minnesota native -- to be killed while fighting for ISIS in a battle last month. Two former employees said they worked with Muhumed at Delta Global Services, a former subsidiary of Delta Airlines which cleaned airplanes. Earlier this year, the work was transferred to the Airserv company. K-M-S-P said the Metropolitan Airport Commission grants security clearances -- and it's not commenting on Muhumed due to a continuing F-B-I investigation. Muhumed did not have a Minnesota criminal history which would have prevented him from working at the Twin Cities' airport. It was not known what level of security he had. The same battle which killed Muhumed also killed another Minnesota native and reported Islamic State member, Douglas McCain.
Wisconsin's propane industry does not expect the kinds of shortages we saw last winter -- when folks struggled to heat their homes as prices skyrocketed. Chris Tews, president of the Wisconsin Propane Gas Association, says both customers and their dealers are being more pro-active. He says customers are filling their tanks earlier, to take advantage of lower prices. Suppliers, meanwhile, are increasing their storage capacities to make sure they don't run out. Appleton supplier Garrow Oil added enough tanks to store about 360-thousand gallons of propane -- double their storage capacity from a year ago. Tews told W-B-A-Y T-V in Green Bay that the industry learned a lot from last winter -- when shippers could not get propane quickly enough to the areas where it was needed. The coldest temperatures in years were partially to blame for the shortage -- along with a closed pipeline, and a heavy demand by farmers to use the fuel to dry their grain.
A day after President Obama spoke in Milwaukee for a higher minimum wage, and chided Republicans for not passing it, one G-O-P leader fought back. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville told a Milwaukee luncheon yesterday that a higher Earned Income Tax Credit would do more to keep people in the workforce than raising the minimum wage. Ryan pointed to a Congressional Budget Office study which said a hike in the minimum to 10.10-an-hour could lead to the loss of a half-million jobs nationwide. Ryan countered, "Let's focus on economic growth ... Let's focus on job creation." Meanwhile, Wisconsin Jobs Now is planning another round of protests by fast-food workers tomorrow. They've called several times over the last year-and-a-half for a 15-dollar minimum wage, plus the right to form unions without retaliation. Tomorrow's rallies are at fast-food places in Milwaukee, Madison, and Wausau. Episcopal church pastor Dean Einerson of Rhinelander will speak in Wausau. He helps host a monthly free meal and says he's seen firsthand how working families are having a hard time making ends meet.
House Republican Paul Ryan of Janesville says the U-S needs a comprehensive and thorough campaign to defeat the Islamic State. Ryan was answering questions at a luncheon in Milwaukee yesterday when he was told about the reported beheading of a second U-S journalist, Steven Sotloff, which the White House later confirmed. Ryan asked for a prayer and a moment of silence. He then said the Islamic State is filling a "vacuum" created by what he called poor decisions from the Obama administration in Syria and Iraq. Ryan also said the president should never have told reporters that the U-S didn't have a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State, which he called "al-Qaida three-point-oh" and a "terrorist organization unlike any we've seen before." Marquette graduate James Foley was also beheaded by the Islamic State. His death was shown on a video the group released last month.
U-S Senate Republican Ron Johnson says the Islamic State militants are evil barbarians who must be defeated. Johnson was campaigning with G-O-P Senate candidate Mike McFadden in Minnesota yesterday, when the Islamic State released a video that showed the beheading of U-S journalist Steven Sotloff. It was the second such incident confirmed by the White House, the first being the death of Marquette graduate James Foley last month. McFadden -- who's running against Democratic Senator Al Franken -- said the U-S should continue targeted bombings in Iraq and possibly Syria. He does not support a ground invasion. Johnson did not say what type of intervention he favors.
Wisconsin's historical sites are more popular this year. The State Historical Society said attendance is up at all but one of its 11 locations. Total attendance from January through mid-August is four-point-eight percent higher than the same time a year ago. Officials credit a more comfortable summer and a number of events -- including the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Prairie du Chien at Villa Louis, new exhibits at the Wisconsin Historical Museum, and a chance to ride historic bikes at Old World Wisconsin. The First Capitol near Belmont was the only site to see a drop in attendance, of almost 12-percent. Officials say there's construction taking place, and the site is not promoted as much as the others.
The Ice Bucket Challenge has not only raised awareness and funding for A-L-S. It's also making veterans more aware of a disease which affects them more than the rest of us. Oneida County Veterans Service Officer Tammi Walters says veterans have a 60-percent greater chance than non-veterans of being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. It's a progressive neuro-degenerative condition which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Walters says veterans with A-L-S can get help from the V-A, and those who are diagnosed should contact their county veterans' service offices immediately. Walters says those with at least 90 days of service can be found 100-percent service-disabled. She says A-L-S is a service-connected disability regardless of when or where veterans served. Spouses and dependents could also qualify for benefits. More information is available from county veterans' service offices.