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Daily Bread for 2.24.20

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of thirty-nine.  Sunrise is 6:37 AM and sunset 5:38 PM, for 11h 00m 38s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 0.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred third day.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM, and the Whitewater School Board at 6 PM in closed session, with an open session beginning at 7 PM.

  On this day in 1863, the 28th and 29th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery take part in an expedition to Yazoo Pass by Moon Lake in Mississippi.

Recommended for reading in full —

Kelly Meyerhofer reports 18 months into UW merger, small, rural campuses still struggling to find students:

The UW System’s 12 other branch campuses face a similar storm of challenges: rising costs, repeated budget cuts and a tuition freeze for 12 of the past 14 years. Mostly, though, the problem centers on enrollment, which is what [director for student enrollment at UW-Richland Center John] Poole spent his 42-year career on campus worrying about before retiring in 2013.

Seven of the System’s branch campuses this fall, including Richland Center, tallied their lowest enrollment in nearly half a century, according to preliminary data. Total enrollment at the branch campuses, about 7,300 students, marked a 46-year low.

The demographic trend shows little sign of reversing during the next decade. Projections based on the state’s birth rate show the number of students graduating from Wisconsin high schools this spring will be the lowest since 2000, according to a UW-Madison report.

Nationally, the contraction in college enrollment will worsen as an even smaller pool of students born during the Great Recession enters college between 2025 and 2030.

Dominic Rushe reports ‘America’s Dairyland’: Wisconsin’s farmers see bleak future:

Wisconsin still styles itself the dairy state. Car number plates come with the slogan “America’s Dairyland”. Last year it was also the state with the highest number of farming bankruptcies – 57, its highest total in a decade. The number of dairy farms across the state has fallen by 49% over the past 15 years.

The decline is fundamentally changing Wisconsin’s rural landscape as schools and small businesses collapse taking the rural communities that supported them with them. Wisconsin is an avatar of a wider problem in the dairy industry. America’s largest milk producer, Dean Foods, filed for bankruptcy last November. Borden, founded in 1857, filed for bankruptcy in January.

The milk industry’s woes have been a long time in the making and no single factor accounts for them. Collapsing prices, the rise of mega farms in warmer states such as Texas and Arizona, the increasingly international trade in dry milk products like whey protein, Trump’s tariffs, the fluctuations in international trade and shifting consumer habits have all played a part.

The irony is that as the number of farms in bankruptcy rises, milk sales and prices are also on the rise. Per-capita dairy consumption reached 646 pounds per person in 2018, the most popular year for dairy in the US since 1962.

How One Group Is Restoring Thousands Of Oysters To The New York Harbor:

Daily Bread for 2.23.20

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of forty-five.  Sunrise is 6:39 AM and sunset 5:36 PM, for 10h 57m 48s of daytime.  The moon is new with 0.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred second day.

  On this day in 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.

Recommended for reading in full —

Greg Sargent writes Trump’s corruption will get worse. His own advisers just showed how:

Trump publicly attacked the Russia investigation as a witch hunt for years, expressly to justify his efforts — also undertaken in plain sight — to obstruct it.

True, there are things Trump didn’t want publicly revealed — like his campaign’s 2016 efforts to encourage and benefit from Russian electoral sabotage.

But this is precisely where the public corruption comes in. Trump’s insight has been that unabashedly attacking and obstructing law enforcement in plain view makes it seem less shady, reverse-reinforcing his original claim that efforts to ferret out the wrongdoing he does want concealed are illegitimate.

Trump just pardoned a string of white-collar criminals and political allies, claiming they were unfairly prosecuted by the “same people” who investigated him. This reportedly came not after a serious procedural vetting of their prosecutions, but after recommendations from friends, celebrities and campaign donors.

Trump didn’t hide this. Here again the public and unabashed declaration of the power to confer impunity on the guilty — to declare the guilty innocent simply because they were investigated for wrongdoing just as he was, meaning he is one of them — is the whole point of it.

Bess Levin writes Trump’s “Phase One” Trade Deal [with China] Is Another Classic Trump Scam:

For one thing, as the New York Times notes, just 16% of the $200 billion in purchases will be of goods produced by farmers, who were hit extremely hard by the trade war (banks, the energy industry, and drug companies are major beneficiaries), and whose recovery won’t happen overnight. For another, as Vox’s Jen Kirby points out, China desperately needs agricultural products like soybeans and pork, so it was already prepared to buy such items, and might have done so anyway. And there’s the question of whether U.S. farmers can even produce the amount China says it will purchase, which some experts believe may not be achievable.

While the U.S. has halted additional tariffs on Chinese goods that were scheduled to go into effect in December 2019 and will halve tariffs on $110 billion in goods announced last September, duties will remain on approximately $360 billion in Chinese goods, which of course U.S. companies and consumers will continue to pay for. In addition, China refused demands to include a clause promising not to hack American firms and will continue to heavily subsidize many of its state-run and private companies, a major point of contention that Trump cited as recently as September as a reason to reject a proposed deal. Despite the administration’s claims, what was agreed on today is not exactly a lot to write home about, particularly considering the carnage Trump has caused over the last two years in order to get it.

Life Through the Eyes of a Sea Turtle:

Film: Tuesday, February 25th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Judy

This Tuesday, February 11th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Judy @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

(Biography/Drama)
Rated PG-13

1 hour, 58 minutes (2019)

A biography recounting the rough and harrowing later years of Judy Garland. The action takes place during a 1969 European concert tour in which the star sold out shows in London for five consecutive weeks…wherein, what nights and in what condition she would show up, sets the melodrama. A powerful, sad, and affecting performance by Renée Zellweger, which earned her the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Actress.

One can find more information about Judy at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 2.22.20

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of forty-one.  Sunrise is 6:40 AM and sunset 5:45 PM, for 10h 54m 59s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 1.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred first day.

  On this day in 1980, it’s a Miracle on Ice at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, as the US hockey team defeats the Soviets, 4-3.

Recommended for reading in full —

Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey report Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates:

President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election.

Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The push comes in the aftermath of an impeachment process in which several members of Trump’s administration provided damning testimony about his behavior with regard to Ukraine. The stream of officials publicly criticizing Trump’s actions frustrated the president and caused him to fixate on cleaning house after his acquittal this month.

“We want bad people out of our government!” Trump tweeted Feb. 13, kicking off a tumultuous stretch of firings, resignations, controversial appointments and private skirmishes that have since spilled into public view.

The National Security Council, the State Department and the Justice Department are targets of particular focus, according to two administration officials, and there have recently been multiple resignations and reassignments at each of those agencies.

Sally Yates writes Trump thinks the Justice Department is his personal grudge squad:

The imperative of Justice Department independence from political influence has deep roots. After the Watergate scandal, Attorney General Griffin Bell sought to reestablish Justice’s independence and ensure that the department would be “recognized by all citizens as a neutral zone, in which neither favor nor pressure nor politics is permitted to influence the administration of the law.” The nation had lost faith in the Justice Department and the rule of law, so during the Carter administration Bell instituted strict limits on communications between the White House and Justice to prevent any “outside interference in reaching professional judgment on legal matters.”

While the policy is ostensibly still in effect, it is a hollow ode to bygone days. From virtually the moment he took office, President Trump has attempted to use the Justice Department as a cudgel against his enemies and as a shield for himself and his allies. He ran off Jeff Sessions after Sessions’s recusal in the Russia investigation rendered Sessions useless to protect him. The president has attempted to order up investigations of his perceived political enemies and enlist the department to protect his friends. With every blow, the wall of Justice independence has wobbled a bit more. This week, it teetered on the verge of collapse.

Moon ‘eclipses’ Mars in Arizona’s early morning sky:

Daily Bread for 2.21.20

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of thirty-three.  Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 5:34 PM, for 10h 52m 10s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 4.29% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundredth day.

  On this day in 1918, a resolution to denounce Sen. Robert La Follette and the nine Wisconsin congressmen who refused to support World War I fails in the State Assembly, by a vote of 76-15.

Recommended for reading in full —

 Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, and Anne Gearan report Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected:

A senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers last week that Russia wants to see President Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments.

After learning of that analysis, which was provided to House lawmakers in a classified hearing, Trump grew angry at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office, seeing Maguire and his staff as disloyal for speaking to Congress about Russia’s perceived preference. The intelligence official’s analysis and Trump’s furious response ­ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief, according to people familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

It was not clear what specific steps, if any, U.S. intelligence officials think Russia may have taken to help Trump, according to the individuals.

Philip Rucker writes ‘Something has to be done’: Trump’s quest to rewrite the history of the Russia probe:

The U.S. intelligence community long ago produced evidence of Russia’s illegal interference in the 2016 presidential election to try to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy. Then the special counsel investigating the matter detailed myriad ways President Trump sought to stymie the probe. And then Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress about Trump’s conduct — and warned of Russia’s continued interest in thwarting U.S. elections.

Seven months after Mueller’s marathon testimony brought finality to the Russia investigation, Trump is actively seeking to rewrite the narrative that had been meticulously documented by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, both for immediate political gain and for history.

Turbocharged by his acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial and confident that he has acquired the fealty of nearly every Republican in Congress, Trump is claiming vindication and exoneration not only over his conduct with Ukraine — for which the House voted to impeach him — but also from the other investigations that have dogged his presidency.

Russia is foremost on Trump’s mind. Since even before he was sworn in as president, Trump has viewed the FBI’s Russia investigation as a dark cloud over his administration that threatened to delegitimize his claim on the office. And more than three years in, Trump remains haunted by all things Russia, according to advisers and allies, and continues to nurse a profound and unabated sense of persecution.

As his reelection campaign intensifies, Trump is using the powers of his office to manipulate the facts and settle the score. Advisers say the president is determined to protect his associates ensnared in the expansive Russia investigation, punish the prosecutors and investigators he believes betrayed him, and convince the public that the probe was exactly as he sees it: an illegal witch hunt.

  How Old Shoes Get Turned Into Ski Boots:

Daily Bread for 2.20.20

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixteen.  Sunrise is 6:43 AM and sunset 5:33 PM, for 10h 49m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred ninety-ninth day.

The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

  On this day in 1962, astronaut John Glenn, aboard the Mercury capsule Friendship 7,  becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.

Recommended for reading in full —

Elliot Hughes, Alison Dirr, and Mary Spicuzza report 8 in 10 Milwaukee police stop-and-frisk incidents lack documented justification, report on ACLU lawsuit says:

The Milwaukee Police Department failed to document a justification for 80% of frisk incidents in the first half of 2019, according to a newly released report.

The report comes from the Boston-based Crime and Justice Institute, which is monitoring the police department’s compliance and issuing periodic reports as part of a multimillion-dollar settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin over stop-and-frisk practices.

The report found that officers’ narratives were lacking the details necessary to establish reasonable suspicion that the people being frisked were armed or immediately dangerous to those around them.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales defended his agency, saying it is making progress.

“It’s a learning process for us,” Morales said in an interview. “We’re making progress, we’re learning. Are those numbers going to be perfect from the beginning? Absolutely not.”

Joseph O’Neill writes How Milwaukee Could Decide the Next President:

Our polarized national politics means that the Presidential election is exceptionally transparent. If the Democrat flips Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, he or she will almost certainly win. If Donald Trump holds just one of these states, he will very likely scrape together an Electoral College majority. In the 2018 midterms, which came to be known as the Blue Wave, Democratic gubernatorial candidates won in Pennsylvania and Michigan by about seven points. In Wisconsin, the Democrat Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker, the incumbent governor, by a point—fewer than thirty thousand votes. If the upcoming Presidential race goes down to the wire, it very much looks like the wire will be in Wisconsin.

….

Most Democrats in Wisconsin are concentrated in two cities: Madison and Milwaukee. Voter turnout in Madison has been consistently very high; in Milwaukee, it has been up and down. In the 2012 Presidential election, Milwaukee city’s turnout was measured at sixty-six per cent, but in 2016 it fell to fifty-six per cent. The difference comes to forty-one thousand votes—almost double Trump’s margin of victory.

This is not the whole story, of course. But even I, who had never set foot in the state, could figure out this much: if Milwaukee voters turn out in numbers, Trump will be in trouble. Who are those guys?

Here we come to one of the great historical ironies of the 2020 election. Milwaukee has been rated the worst city in the country to be an African-American resident, yet nearly forty per cent of its population is African-American. What may be the most downtrodden urban community in the United States has a superpower: the potential to decide who will be the country’s next President.

  What is Super Tuesday?:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Yesterday’s spring primary included a statewide contest for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with incumbent Justice Dan Kelly and challengers Judge Jill Karofsky and Professor Ed Fallone. (It was the only race on Whitewater’s ballot, as there were no contested local races).

A few remarks —

Statewide. Kelly and Karofsky will move on to the spring general election on April 7th. In unofficial results, Kelly received 352,860 votes, Karofsky 261,721 with Fallone in third at 89,181. (The sum of the challengers’ votes, 350,902, is roughly the same as Kelly’s total.)

In Whitewater. In the City of Whitewater, Karofsky led with 478, Kelly had 364, and Fallone had 276. (The sum of the challengers’ votes, 842, is significantly greater than Kelly’s total.)

April 7th. April 7th is both Wisconsin’s spring general election and a presidential preference primary. The upcoming electorate will be so much larger than last night’s, with a likely onslaught of presidential candidates’ advertising, so predicting the outcome of April’s judicial election based on February’s results is unsound.

Walworth County. Once again, and perhaps forevermore, Walworth County reported its election results in a pdf format while nearby counties used a more advanced web-based format. A county that doesn’t take pride in its election reporting doesn’t take pride in representative government.