WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Pres. Obama denounces MU grad Foley's death by terrorists
WASHINGTON D.C. - President Obama said today the entire world is appalled by the terrorist execution of Marquette University graduate and freelance journalist James Foley. The president calls the beheading of the 40-year-old Foley "an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the world."
Obama vowed to protect Americans from what he called the "radical extremism" which led to his death. The al-Qaida spin-off group ISIS posted a video yesterday which showed the beheading of Foley, who was kidnapped on Thanksgiving of 2012 while reporting for a Boston Web site on the civil war in Syria. The group said it would kill another American unless the president stops attacks on Islamic fighters in northern Iraq. The White House Security Council said it authenticated the video this morning. Foley is a native of New Hampshire, and he graduated from Milwaukee's Marquette University in 1996 in history and Spanish. Marquette plans to hold a prayer vigil next Wednesday afternoon to honor Foley. Obama said he called Foley's parents today to offer his condolences. The president said the Islamic State radicals do not speak for a religion, as many of its victims are Muslim. In the president's words, "Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim they are at war with us or the West, but the fact is, they terrorize their neighbors and offer nothing but slavery to the empty vision."
U.S. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Madison wants the governor to find out what happened to the 38,000 people who lost their BadgerCare, and never signed up for Obamacare. Baldwin called on the Republican Walker to "develop a strategy" to address the coverage gap. Last year, Walker refused to accept more federal funds to expand BadgerCare under the Obama health reform law. Instead, he cut off 63,000 adults above the poverty line, while adding 97,000 folks below the poverty line who received tax-funded care for the first time. Those who lost BadgerCare were expected to enroll in private plans under Obamacare -- but 38,000 have not done so. Baldwin says the governor should create a strategy for serving those people. Recently, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said Walker's decisions would cost state taxpayers an extra $206-million by not expanding Badger-Care. But Walker has said the federal money would most likely dry up someday -- and Wisconsinites would be hard-pressed to cover the extra costs themselves.
A judge in Eau Claire says Amish families must get county building and sanitary permits -- and he finds little evidence that it would hurt their religious beliefs. Eau Claire County Circuit Judge Michael Schumacher heard a trial last month, before issuing an 11-page ruling. It said families in the Old Order Amish are not burned by the county's application process. Schumacher ordered them to apply for county building and septic permits within 30 days, or they could be removed from their homes. None of the Amish who were involved in the case testified at the trial -- and the judge said it led him to believe that they don't have sincere religious beliefs about the matter. The defense attorney disagreed, saying the court is punishing his clients for their religion.
Wisconsin public school superintendent Tony Evers said last year's seniors "did a fine job" on the ACT college entrance exam. The state Department of Public Instruction released district-by-district results today. That was after the statewide totals showed that Wisconsin had the nation's second-highest composite score on the ACT test -- 22-point-two of a possible 36. However, one of every five Wisconsin students who took the exam failed to reach the A-C-T's benchmarks for assuring academic success in first-year college courses. Still, half the students achieved three or more benchmarks. Three-fourths of test takers achieved the benchmark for English -- but only around half achieved it for reading, math, and science. Evers noted that the percentage of Wisconsin kids who achieved the reading and science benchmarks were well above the national averages. And both those percentages were slightly higher than a year ago. Starting this school year, all Wisconsin students will be required to take the ACT. Evers said the system wants students to pursue rigorous coursework, so they can be prepared for the next steps -- whether it's college, military service, work, or job training.
The UW Board of Regents could decide tomorrow whether to ask for $95-million more dollars in the next two-year state budget. Governor Scott Walker told state agencies last month not to expect any increase in tax funding in the budget he would propose in February, if he gets re-elected this fall. The Regents will meet tomorrow in at the Oshkosh campus, and they could decide whether to ask the Republican Walker for additional funding. UW System officials say they need it to help pay for the university's new Talent Development Initiative -- which will seek to create new science and technology jobs. The UW also says it needs to boost the numbers of graduates, and put more students in internships. System officials also say the 26 campuses need to preserve academic quality, in the face of another tuition freeze that Walker has proposed.
Suburban Milwaukee police are holding a man as a person-of-interest in the death of a woman in an apartment building in Cudahy. Her father tells the Journal that he and his son provided saliva samples to police -- and it helped confirm the identity of 50-year-old Peggy Pamperin. Police said they found the body last Wednesday "concealed" in an upstairs apartment. Reports said she could have been dead for months. A search warrant affidavit said the mummified body was covered with papers and wrapped in a blanket. The Milwaukee County medical examiner was still trying to confirm the woman's identity at last word, as well as a cause of death. WISN-TV said the building's landlord stopped by to find out why Pamperin was no longer paying rent -- and neighbors reported an odor from the apartment. Pamperin's father, Richard Chybowski, tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel his daughter lives in the apartment where the body was discovered -- and he has tried to contact her for months but couldn't. He said the man in custody might have been someone living with Pamperin.
Wisconsin tree nurseries want to buy native seeds from landowners, to help with the state's reforestation efforts. According to the DNR, nurseries are in the market for jack-pine, balsam fir, basswood, walnut, butternut, and shag-bark hickory. They're also looking to buy red-and-white oak seeds, along with swamp white-oak. Seeds can be dropped off through September at various sites around the Badger State. More information is available at the DNR's Web site, accessible at Wisconsin.gov.