At this point, the NSA phone-spying scandal is nearly irrelevant. Privacy-wary individuals shouldn’t be worrying about the federal agency spying on their text or email conversations — they should worry about that information being leaked by other individuals or through court mandates. Basically everything that a person sends on the Internet can be easily accessed and revealed to the rest of the world. If there’s a scandal on a public scale or a law suit, whatever an individual has sent online will inevitably emerge.
Somehow, politicians fail to understand this concept. Anthony Weiner caused multiple scandals related to his sexually-suggestive text messages and tweets, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s staff caused controversy regarding an email thread that indicated their involvement in the closure of the George Washington Bridge.
A newly released email thread demonstrates the racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic nature of a conversation between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s staff members.
According to the Huffington Post, the released email chain includes correspondence between Thomas Nardelli, who was Walker’s chief of staff, and his deputy Kelly Rindfleisch. At the time of the email thread, in 2010, Walker was the Milwaukee County executive.
In the email, Nardelli states the following: “In the nightmare ... I am homosexual, and on top of that with a Mexican boyfriend. Oh, my God ... Black, Jewish, disabled, gay with a Mexican boyfriend, drug addict, and HIV-positive!!! ... Say it isn’t so!!! I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don’t tell me I’m a Democrat.”
The message doesn’t fully make sense without context (the Huffington Post alleges Nardelli was describing "a 'nightmare' scenario"), but it does demonstrate his ignorance.
That email was just one of thousands released by a Wisconsin Court of Appeals in response to an investigation into campaign activity during Walker’s tenure as county executive. Walker himself is not being investigated, but numerous members of his staff are under the spotlight. The Washington Post and other media outlets have uncovered some unusual stories by combing through the massive amounts of emails, but none have implicated significant wrongdoing on behalf of Walker’s former staff.
Wisconsin man Jason Willis has been banned from the Internet after playing a twisted practical joke on his neighbor.
Willis posted an ad on Craigslist pretending to be his female neighbor Dawn. The ad asked men to show up at Dawn’s house for sex. Willis used his neighbor’s name, address, and contact information in the ad.
Sure enough, men started showing up at Dawn’s house. One eager responder showed up in nothing but a trench coat.
“[Willis’] idea of a joke is much different to other peoples’ idea of a joke,” Dawn said.
“He had my full name," Dawn said of the man who showed up to her home in a trench coat. "He knew my address. And he said, ‘Oh, I got it off of Craigslist. You put an ad on there.’”
Dawn reported the incident to detectives. Some quick research found Willis posted numerous ads across the web asking men to come to Dawn's house for sex. They tracked the IP address behind the ads to Willis’ home.
On Tuesday, Willis accepted a plea deal for the charges. He will be disallowed access to the Internet for 30 days and will be on probation for 30 months.
Presiding Judge Allan Torhorst compared Willis’ dangerous use of the Internet to a drunk driver’s use of a car.
“If you want to drive drunk, you’re not allowed to drive,” Torhorst said. “To me, a public availability of the Internet—to use it the way he did—is unconscionable. Everybody knows it’s wrong. He knew it was wrong. He admitted it.”
A movement called “Overpasses for America” is calling for the president’s impeachment. As you might have guessed from their name, their chosen outlets for self-expression are overpasses.
Overpasses for America is also calling for the removal of members of Congress who “disregard the constitution” and “engage in crony capitalism.”
Demonstrators in Campbell, Wis. started using the town’s pedestrian overpass to display their patriotism and to call for Obama’s impeachment in August of 2013.
After another October gathering that angered local citizens, the Town of Campbell passed an ordinance prohibiting the display of signs, flags, or banners within 100 feet of the overpass.
Chad Hawkins, the town’s clerk and treasurer, said that the ordinance was enacted with the intention of protecting those driving by. A multilane highway runs under this particular overpass, and banners overhead could easily serve as distraction to motorists.
On October 24, demonstrators gathered on the overpass, wearing T-shirts that collectively spelled “IMPEACH OBAMA.” They were ordered off the overpass by police officers who were threatening to issue citations. Amongst them was Thomas Luce, who is now pressing charges against the city.
Joining Luce in the lawsuit is Nicholas Newman, who, three days after the T-shirt incident on the overpass, displayed an American flag on the overpass and was issued a $139 citation.
The Thomas More Law Center is handling Luce and Newman’s lawsuit, which claims that their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been violated. In addition, it states that the ordinance itself is “blatantly unconstitutional.”
Hawkins has also spoken out, saying that the ordinance “was never intended to eliminate their right to speech.”
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Law Center has said that he is “astonished that the Town of Campbell and the police department think it can ban a citizen from displaying the American Flag.”
As Thompson has elaborated, the First Amendment cannot ban expression of ideas “just because some find it offensive.”
“In fact,” Thompson said, “the Supreme Court has allowed the burning of the American Flag on the grounds that it is a matter of free expression.”
Photo Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com
The parents of students attending Marinette Middle School in Wisconsin are upset over a game organized by administrators that they say revealed too much about the personal lives of students.
The game was called “Cross the Line.”
According to administrators, the game was part of an anti-bullying program and was meant to build stronger bonds between students. Talk to parents and you’ll hear a different story.
In the game, a teacher asks a question like “Do you have any siblings at home?” Any student with siblings at home then steps forwards. The concept of the game doesn’t seem problematic. But check out the kinds of questions being asked by teachers at Marinette:
“Do your parents drink?”
“Has anyone in your family ever been to jail?”
“Have you ever been suicidal?”
“Have you ever had the urge to cut yourself?”
Questions like these, parents say, are inappropriate for middle school children to be answering in front of their peers.
“This kind of stuff, I mean, this can’t happen again,” one mother said. “These are our little kids. We’re parents. We should’ve been protecting them. You should’ve gave us the benefit of the doubt of contacting us.”
Not only do parents believe the game was inappropriate, but they also report that participation in it was required. Marinette administrators claim participation was voluntary, but one student who declined to take part was threatened with in-school suspension.
The student’s parent spoke to NBC 26 about her daughter’s refusal to partake in the game.
“She stood her ground, half her class stood their ground,” Janette Sadowski said. “Those are questions no child should have to answer.”
On Friday, the school sent a letter home to parents explaining why the game was played. Parents are demanding more answers, though, and hope to meet with school officials soon.
“It was too personal,” another parent added. “It’s just things your kids don’t need to be disclosing to other kids.”
A Wisconsin public school teacher that was fired for viewing pornographic images and videos at work was reinstated by his district’s school board on Monday.
The teacher, Andrew Harris, is a former seventh-grade science teacher at Glacier Creek Middle School in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, located near Madison. Harris was fired in 2010, but a 60-page arbitrator’s order mandated that he be reinstated this year. The district’s school board recently voted to comply with the order.
According to Fox News, taxpayers in the district will be required to fund almost $200,000 in back pay for the years in which Harris was out of work. The publication also claims that the district spent almost $1 million on Harris’s case, including legal fees. The school district ultimately decided to offer Harris a new job teaching seventh-grade science at Kromrey Middle School, a different school in the district.
Prior to the school board’s decision, superintendent Don Johnson voiced his disapproval of Harris’s actions and the arbitrator’s ruling.
“This ruling completely minimizes the conduct that cannot be tolerated. It sends the message that it is acceptable for employees to view pornography at school, during the student-school day, on school equipment. It also flies in the face of the need to provide a professional work environment and a safe place to educate our children,” Johnson said, according to Lakeshore Lament.
While the issue of abortion remains a hotly contested political topic, certain practices are found to be universally abhorrent. For example, the practice of aborting a fetus because of its gender—also known as “sex-selective abortion” and almost always favoring males over females—is generally viewed as a cruel and inhumane practice. There are few credible reports of sex-selective abortion happening in the United States and, even if all are true, does not represent a larger, societal problem.
Still that is not enough for Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman, who has put forth a bill in the Senate that would make sex-selective abortion illegal. Grothman is a pro-life crusader who has a number of bills under consideration involving the practice. While, on the surface, preventing sex-selective abortion sounds like a good law, it is not without its critics.
According to the progressive blog Uppity Wisconsin, the fear is that a section of the bill paves a way for family members to obtain an injunction from the court preventing the procedure. There is no clear language in the bill that determines how a “mother, father, or grandparent” would prove the claim that the abortion is in fact sex-selective. They also suggest that by simply filing the claim a pregnant woman would have to provide “personal medical records for court inspection, and force [her] to answer to a court for her lawful decision to end a pregnancy.”
The specific language is found in Section 2, subsection 3(b) which states that the “court may issue an order enjoining a person from performing an abortion contrary to” the new law. The analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau published with the bill states “the mother, father, or grandparent of an unborn child that is aborted in a sex-selective abortion may also seek injunction relief, wherein the court may enjoin the person who performed the abortion from performing another sex-selective abortion.” So, it seems that the injunction can only be filed by a family member against an abortion provider after-the-fact, to prevent further sex-selective abortions rather than stopping the first.
However, according to Senator Grothman, "the analysis is in error." When asked by Opposing Views if family members could prevent an abortion under this law, he replied, "I believe if you read the bill they can do that." In fact he doubts that anyone who reads the language of the bill could interpret it any other way. When asked about how one would prove the abortion is sex-selective, Senator Grothman replied "The court would have to determine that."
This article was updated to include comments from the Senator, who was unavailable at press time.
Michael Eisenga, a multimillionaire businessman and prominent GOP donor living in Wisconsin, helped draft a bill that lowers child support payments for the wealthy. Eisenga, coincidentally, currently pays a minimum of $15,000 per month in child support for his three children. According to the Wisconsin State-Journal, Eisenga’s income in 2010 was $1.2 million with assets of $30 million.
The bill Eisenga helped draft is referred to officially as Assembly Bill 540. It was authored by Rep. Joel Kleefisch, and its provisions include prohibiting judges from evaluating a parent’s assets in determining the level of child support, as well as limiting payments for those that earn over $150,000 per year.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a series of emails amongst Eisenga, his attorney William A. Smiley and Rep. Kleefisch revealed Eisenga’s heavy involvement with drafting the bill. In addition to the general provisions limiting the child support requirements, one of the emails shows that Eisenga attempted to include language in the bill that would directly lead judges to reconsider his own case.
Despite Eisenga’s attempts to satisfy his own concerns, the lawmakers ultimately removed the provision that would allow his child support payments to be cut. The lawmakers directly referenced the removal of this provision in an email, claiming it would "potentially open the flood gates because the courts will be required to revise any child support order that was granted before the effective date, since the amount will not have been determined using the new method."
Eisenga’s actions potentially represent the unnecessary influence of money and lobbyists in the political process, although his influence over politics is not completely unfounded. Eisenga was the former mayor of Columbus, Wisconsin. He regularly donates to the Republican Party, including direct donations to the campaign of Rep. Kleefisch.
Chris Derrick and Betty Ybarra have been homeless for almost a year in Madison, Wis.
But on Christmas Eve, they got their own home, which was built by more than 50 volunteers (including themselves) from the progressive activist group Occupy Madison (video below).
"Everybody did a part. It's been a community effort,” Ybarra told the Associated Press. "It's exciting. I've never owned my own house."
The house is only 96-square-feet, but it is a roof over their heads and protection against the harsh winter.
"There's no comparison between having a place to go at night, and close the door, and sleep comfortably, and not freeze to death or have your possessions stolen,” said volunteer Luca Clemente.
According to Trulia.com, the average house in Madison sells for $284,167, locking low-income and many middle class people out of the market.
Madison had 831 homeless people in January, which included 110 families, noted ForwardLookout.com. That's when the “Tiny House Project” began.
The Tiny House Project builds small homes that include a bed, kitchen and a toilet. The homes are powered by a solar panel and heated with propane.
These $3,000 homes are mounted on trailers that can be legally parked on the street.
The Madison Common Council voted in October to change the zoning laws so the tiny homes could be parked on the property of churches and other non-profit organizations, noted The Cap Times.
“It’s not just a shelter, it’s a commitment to a lifestyle,” said Brenda Konkel, the executive director of the Tenant Resource Center. “It’s a co-op mixed with Habitat for Humanity mixed with eco-village as the long-term goal.”
Wisconsin woman Selina Boulton was charged with a misdemeanor of mistreating animals after she allegedly strangled her ex-boyfriend’s basset hound to death.
Boulton broke into her ex-boyfriend’s house on Nov. 14 through the window and began a heated argument with him. During their argument, she allegedly killed the dog.
The police found the dog dead on the floor of the home after it had died of respiratory failure, leading them to suspect that Boulton had strangled the animal. Court documents show that the dog had a collapsed lung, fractured ribs and a stab bound.
Police also noticed that the dog’s collar was cinched tightly to its neck and saw a frying pan lying nearby.
Boulton claimed that the 13-year-old dog had surpassed its life expectancy and complained that it had more rights than she had.
Boulton added that the dog had bit her when she entered the house, suggesting that its death was a result of self defense.
"She did not seem to have any remorse for the fact that the animal was now deceased," police said of Boulton.
Boulton’s ex-boyfriend has since written police and asked the attorney general to drop charges against Boulton. Instead, he claims the hound had a heart attack when Boulton climbed through the window.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention are warning Wisconsin residents not to eat the state’s traditional raw beef sandwiches this holiday season after E. coli outbreaks occurred last year.
The “cannibal sandwich” is an appetizer consisting of raw sirloin, usually topped with thin-sliced, raw onion, and served on rye bread. Sometimes a raw egg will also be mixed with the meat.
Last holiday season, there were four confirmed E. coli cases tied to eating cannibal sandwiches and 13 other cases that were also likely E. coli, according to a CDC report issued this week.
The meat was bought at a Watertown market that later recalled more than 2,500 pounds of meat, NBC News reported. Carol Quest, director of the Watertown health department, said their investigation found no health violations at the market.
"The big message is that people need to cook their food properly and make sure they're taking temperatures of their meat," Quest warned.
Milwaukee historian John Gurda says the sandwich was served at German and Polish festivities since the 19th century.
"It's like a coarse pate and when you put the onions on, there's a crunch as well and that kind of cuts the softness," Gurda told NBC.
It was often seen at weddings, Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties, and funerals, up until several years ago when many became conscious of the risk of eating raw beef.
Also referred to as “tiger meat,” “steak tartare,” or just “ground beef,” the cannibal sandwich led to other E. coli outbreaks in 1972, 1978, and 1994.
Symptoms of E. coli infection includes stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever and vomiting. The incubation period can be as short as one day or as long as 10 days.