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Daily Bread for 2.20.21

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 24.  Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 5:34 PM, for 10h 51m 29s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 57.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1950, in a six-hour speech delivered before the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed he had the names of 81 U.S. government officials actively engaged in Communist activities, including “one of our foreign ministers.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Sophie Carson reports 5% of Wisconsin residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19:

More than 300,000 Wisconsin residents have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, state data shows.

That’s about 5.4% of the population.

The number of fully vaccinated residents has jumped by 100,000 in just the last week.

Since second doses are scheduled three to four weeks after first doses, depending on the vaccine, the sudden bump is expected. It comes about three weeks after Wisconsin opened vaccine eligibility to anyone 65 and older and vaccinations increased statewide.

Thursday was the first day that vaccine providers administered more second doses than first doses, said Julie Willems Van Dijk, state Department of Health Services deputy secretary.

 Adam Rogan reports Schools Superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr’s campaign manager and legal counsel quit:

A campaign manager who has continually worked for Democrats and an attorney who has worked often worked with Gov. Tony Evers have both quit Deborah Kerr’s campaign for state superintendent.

The campaign manager, Brandon Savage, said in an email that he resigned Thursday.

“Based on the state of the race, my expertise would not be of any benefit for her moving forward. The campaign will require a different strategy — one that I cannot provide,” wrote Savage, who describes himself as a Democratic strategist. “I’m very pleased with having gotten the campaign to the point of winning the primary election in a seven-way race. But moving forward there will be a different team focused on April.”

Michael Maistelman, who was acting as legal counsel for Kerr, quit Friday. Maistelman has represented Gov. Tony Evers in a number of different roles since 2009.

Kerr, a Caledonia resident who previously was the Brown Deer School District’s superintendent, says she is a Democrat who voted for Joe Biden, although she is backed by Republicans including former Gov. Scott Walker.

 Tobi Thomas reports Dolphins have similar personality traits to humans, study finds:

Dolphins have developed a number of similar personality traits to humans, despite having evolved in vastly different environments, researchers have found.

A study, published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, looked at 134 male and female bottlenose dolphins from eight facilities across the world, with each dolphin’s personality being assessed by staff at the facilities. The results of the study found a convergence of certain personality traits, especially curiosity and sociability.

The study has aided researchers in understanding how certain human personality traits developed independently of immediate environments. These similarities were found despite dolphins having evolved in a completely different environment from primates, with the last common ancestor living about 95m years ago.

Dr Blake Morton, a psychology lecturer at the University of Hull and the lead author of the study, said this research was the first time the personality of dolphins had been studied in this way.

Morton said: “Dolphins were a great animal for this kind of study because, like primates, dolphins are intelligent and social. We reasoned that if factors such as intelligence and gregariousness contribute to personality, then dolphins should have similar personality traits to primates.”

He said: “Dolphins, like many primates, have brains that are considerably larger than what their bodies require for basic bodily functions; this excess of brain matter essentially powers their ability to be intelligent, and intelligent species are often very curious.”

See Perseverance’s first color images of Martian surface:

Tuesday, February 23rd, 1 PM @ Seniors in the Park, 21 Bridges

This Tuesday, February 23rd at 1 PM, there will be a showing of 21 Bridges @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

(Action/Police/Crime/Thriller)
Rated R (Violence, language)

1 hour, 39 minutes (2019)

An embattled NYPD detective (Chadwick Boseman)is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive conspiracy that links his fellow officers to a criminal empire. He then must decide who he is hunting, and who is actually hunting him. During the manhunt, Manhattan is completely locked down for the first time in its history, with no exit or entry to the island, including all 21 bridges.

This cops and robbers “ride-along” will leave you breathless!!

Masks are required and you must register for a seat either by calling, emailing or going online at https://schedulesplus.com/wwtr/kiosk. There will be a limit of 10 people for the time slot. No walk-ins.

One can find more information about 21 Bridges at the Internet Movie Database.

Daily Bread for 2.19.21

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 21.  Sunrise is 6:44 AM and sunset 5:32 PM, for 10h 48m 41s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 47.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1868, photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis is born near Whitewater.

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Kelly Meyerhofer reports UW campuses planning for fall semester to be ‘as close to normal as possible:

Meeting the 75% benchmark would represent a significant change from how classes are currently being delivered.

At UW-Madison, 82% of classes this spring semester are fully online, according to System data. That’s up from 64% of classes delivered remotely last fall.

In fact, every single UW campus increased its share of online classes this semester from what schools offered last fall.

 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board writes Ron Johnson’s whitewash of the U.S. Capitol riot shows why Wisconsin’s senior senator has to go:

To hear Ron Johnson tell it, nothing much happened on Jan. 6 inside the U.S. Capitol.

Just a few bad apples got a little rowdy.

“This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” the Oshkosh Republican told talk radio show host Jay Weber.

“I mean ‘armed,’ when you hear ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms?  … How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?”

Johnson’s grasp on reality has been tenuous for years, but even more so since he aligned himself lockstep with former President Donald Trump.

Since Trump left office, two kinds of Republicans have emerged:

Those who want to purge Trump and his cult of white supremacists and conspiracy theorists from the party and those, like Johnson, who long for the return of their would-be king.

From the week the votes were cast last November, Johnson helped spread Trump’s lie that the election was stolen, helped perpetuate the myth that voter fraud cost the former president the election. Johnson used the levers of government to spread the lie, calling a bogus Senate hearing to “investigate” election “irregularities.”

In fact, this election, held during a deadly pandemic, was the “most secure in American history,” according the nation’s lead cybersecurity agency.

See also U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson: Ambitious, Compromised, or Crackpot? and Ron Johnson: ‘No Enemies to the Right’?

 Tariq Panja reports Fake Doctors, Fake Documents: How a Russian Doping Lie Fell Apart (‘With investigators closing in, the high jumper Danil Lysenko needed a paper trail to support his story. Top Russian track officials provided it by creating a fake hospital’):

If the cover-up was to work, the high jumper Danil Lysenko realized far too late, he had better familiarize himself with the Moscow hospital where Russian track and field officials had insisted he had undergone a battery of medical tests.

The details mattered. The tests were the centerpiece of Russia’s explanation for why antidoping officials had been unable to locate Lysenko in the spring of 2018.

….

So in September 2018, fearing investigators were closing in on the truth, a nervous Lysenko sent an email to a top Russian track official, asking if he could provide photographs of the hospital, so at least the athlete would know how to describe it if anyone asked. Then, accompanied by the same official, he drove to the address listed on the hospital’s website. When the car stopped and Lysenko looked around, he was stunned.

There was no hospital. There wasn’t even a building. All he could see was a construction site.

This was going to be harder to explain.

See exactly where Perseverance landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater:

Daily Bread for 2.18.21

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 25.  Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset 5:31 PM, for 10h 45m 54s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 38% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater Common Council meets via audiovisual conferencing at 6:30 PM.

 On this day in 1930, while studying photographs taken in January, Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Rory Linnane reports Superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr deletes account after tweets about her experience with the N-word:

Screenshot: Kerr Campaign Website

The prompt, from Madison Payton, host of the Race Through Education Podcast: “When was the first time someone called you the n- word?”

Kerr replied, “I was 16 in high school and white — my lips were bigger than most and that was the reference given to me.”

When another Twitter user asked how the experience impacted her, she replied, “It made me realize that we are all different and that is the gift we give to one another.”

(There’s dense and then there’s denser: the consequence of the racial slur directed at the alabaster Kerr would be different from the same slur directed at someone Black, and use of the slur is not a reminder of diversity but an expression of bigotry.)

 Henry Redman reports Election Commissioner Bob Spindell can vote whether or not to investigate himself for election fraud:

Republican elections commissioner Robert Spindell, who has been accused by Law Forward of fraudulently casting an Electoral College vote for former President Donald Trump, will have a say in the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) decision over whether or not he should be investigated, unless he recuses himself due to a conflict of interest. 

Spindell and nine others, including Wisconsin Republican Party chair Andrew Hitt, met on Dec. 14 to cast Wisconsin’s ten electoral votes for Trump, even though Joe Biden won Wisconsin and was awarded the state’s votes.  

Progressive legal outfit Law Forward wrote a letter to Milwaukee County District AttorneyJohn Chisholm and sent a complaint to the Elections Commission alleging that the actions of Spindell, Hitt and others was a violation of state law. 

The Milwaukee County DA has the authority to decide whether or not to file criminal charges against the group and the WEC has the authority to decide whether or not to investigate the allegations made in the complaint. 

Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper report Promotions for Female Generals Were Delayed Over Fears of Trump’s Reaction:

Last fall, the Pentagon’s most senior leaders agreed that two top generals should be promoted to elite, four-star commands.

For the defense secretary at the time, Mark T. Esper, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the tricky part was that both of the accomplished officers were women. In 2020 America under President Donald J. Trump, the two Pentagon leaders feared that any candidates other than white men for jobs mostly held by white men might run into turmoil once their nominations reached the White House.

Mr. Esper and General Milley worried that if they even raised their names — Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army — the Trump White House would replace them with its own candidates before leaving office.

So the Pentagon officials agreed on an unusual strategy: They held back their recommendations until after the November elections, betting that if Joseph R. Biden Jr. won, he and his aides would be more supportive of the Pentagon picks than Mr. Trump, who had feuded with Mr. Esper and had a history of disparaging women. They stuck to the plan even after Mr. Trump fired Mr. Esper six days after the election.

Starbucks Employee Shares ‘Secrets’ on TikTok:

Whitewater School Board Legislative Breakfast, 2.15.21: 6 Points

On Monday morning, some members of the school board and administration met online with area legislators (Reps. Vruwink & Loudenbeck, Sens. Ringhand & Nass) for an audiovisual conference in place of a traditional breakfast meeting

Board members and administrators recounted, among other items, lessons from schooling during the pandemic, and serious matters present before and during the pandemic: hunger, homelessness, risk of self-harm, and lack of adequate technology access.

The full recording is above. The full agenda for the meeting is also available.

A few remarks —

 1. Opening Remarks. Whitewater’s school board president summarized a few district lessons, learned or emphasized, from the pandemic: the need for individualized teaching without over-reliance on standardized testing or methods, the financial needs of special-education schooling, the importance of school attendance for socialization, that some families have no child-care substitutes for periods without schooling, and the role of the district in feeding children in the community. (Video, 1:18.)

 2. Observations on COVID-19 Impacts. The district superintendent observed that about 30% of the district is Latino, but they have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. (Video, 5:15.)

It seems clear that a significant part of the Latino community does not share the Anglo community’s eagerness to return to face-to-face instruction as quickly as possible. There are certainly some Latino parents (and more white parents) who have over these months insisted that in-person learning during the pandemic is in the best interest of all families, but significant numbers of Latino families have chosen virtual instruction.

If large numbers within this group are selecting virtual schooling, the important task is to understand their thinking (as their thinking and actions are likely to be practical or necessary to them).

 3. Homeless Students. Whitewater is a small district with large numbers of homeless students. (Video, 8:20.)

The district can and should do whatever it can, but homelessness is a problem of an overall economy’s failure, not a school district’s failure.

 4. Technology. A presentation on technology assessed that 10% of students lack internet, with 20% lacking adequate internet. (Video, 26:50.)  One should almost be thankful the figures aren’t worse.

 5. Open Enrollment. Open enrollment puts competitive pressure on school districts. Of course it does: free choice favors better alternatives over lesser ones.

A competitive approach produces a better result. It’s better than slogans, marketing campaigns, excuse-making, reliance on superficial measurements, on selectively-presented measurements, or on wholly-contrived measurements.

6. The Amazing. There are surely amazing accomplishments in Whitewater each day. Amazing, however, is scarce among politicians, appointed public officials, administrators, the same-ten-people, public-relations men, self-declared town notables, bloggers, etc. We’re not the stockroom of amazing.

Amazing is more abundant in the very places we’ve not been looking.

Legislation is important, but Whitewater needs more. Politics is important, but Whitewater needs more. Economics is important, but Whitewater needs more. Commentary is important, but Whitewater needs more.

Someday. See Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day.

The Spring Primary 2021

Yesterday’s Wisconsin Spring Primary (mid-February, windchill of about two degrees) saw local and statewide education contests. There was nothing unexpected about the results: in Whitewater more than two candidates have a good chance at one of the two available board seats, and statewide Underly and Kerr have significant backing.

For Whitewater’s school board, five candidates were seeking four spots to advance to the April general election in which the top two candidates will take seats on the board. The Whitewater Unified School District stretches across three counties (Walworth, Jefferson, and Rock), and the Journal Sentinel nicely formatted the accumulated primary totals:

In the statewide contest for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jill Underly and Deborah Kerr advanced to the April 6th election:

Daily Bread for 2.17.21

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 19.  Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 5:30 PM, for 10h 43m 09s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 29% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Parks and Recreation Board meets via audiovisual conferencing at 5:30 PM, and the Whitewater Fire Department Board meets via audiovisual conferencing at 6 PM

 On this day in 1801, an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr, Vice President by the House of Representatives.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Bill Glauber, Mary Spicuzza, and Alison Dirr report Milwaukee takes center stage as Joe Biden pitches $1.9 trillion COVID relief, seeks to reassure Americans:

In his first major political trip outside Washington, D.C., as president, Biden vowed that he was committed to passing the relief legislation, claiming it would create “7 million jobs this year” and that “the economy now has to be dealt with.”

“Now is the time we should be spending. Now is the time to go big,” he said during a town hall broadcast by CNN and attended by a socially distant group of Wisconsin voters.

Asked when the country will get back to normal, Biden said experts warned him to “be careful not to predict things.”

“By next Christmas I think we’ll be in a very different circumstance, God willing,” he said.

“A year from now there will be significantly fewer people having to be socially distant, having to wear a mask. But we don’t know. I don’t want to over-promise.”

A key to recovery is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, which Biden said would be available to every American by the end of July.

“A lot will be vaccinated in the meantime,” he said.

Biden said “it matters where you continue to wear that mask, whether you continue to socially distance, whether you wash your hands with soap and hot water.”

Jon Keegan, Colin Lecher, and Corin Faife report Trump’s False Posts Were Treated with Kid Gloves by Facebook:

In August, as the election approached and misinformation about COVID-19 spread, Facebook announced it would give new fact-checking labels to posts, including more nuanced options than simply “false.” But data from The Markup’s Citizen Browser project, which tracks a nationwide panel of Facebook users’ feeds, shows how unevenly those labels were applied: Posts were rarely called “false,” even when they contained debunked conspiracy theories. And posts by Donald Trump were treated with the less direct flags, even when they contained lies.

The Markup shared the underlying data for this story with Facebook.

“We don’t comment on data that we can’t validate, but we are looking into the examples shared,” Facebook spokesperson Katie Derkits said in a statement.

Overall, we gathered Facebook feed data from more than 2,200 people and examined how often those users saw flagged posts on the platform in December and January. We found more than 330 users in the sample who saw posts that were flagged because they were false, devoid of context, or related to an especially controversial issue, like the presidential election. But Facebook and its partners used the “false” label sparingly—only 12 times.

World’s most endangered right whale spotted off Spanish island:

Divers unwittingly filmed a North Atlantic right whale calf – one of the world’s most endangered whales – as they navigated back to El Hierro in Spain’s Canary Islands. The recently born calf, who appeared to be alone, was thousands of miles from where the species is usually spotted, along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the US.

Ron Johnson: ‘No Enemies to the Right’?

During an interview yesterday, Sen. Ron Johnson declared of the Capitol riot that ‘this didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me.’ Tim Elfrink reports that

As a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol last month, rioters battered police with a multitude of weapons: metal flagpoles, baseball bats, wrenches and clubs. Many soaked police in caustic bear spray. One officer died in the Jan. 6 melee along with four civilians.

But Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Monday argued that it’s wrong to describe the group as “armed” and accused Democrats of “selectively” editing videos to exaggerate the threat posed by a mob that came within feet of Vice President Mike Pence and other elected officials.

“This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” Johnson said on WISN. “When you hear the word ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?”

….

In court filings, officials have said that guns, bombs, stun guns and other weapons were seized from rioters, the Associated Press reported. Fourteen people face charges related to bringing weapons to the riots, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including an Alabama man who allegedly had an arsenal in his truck and a Maryland man who police say stormed the Capitol with a gun, multiple magazines and a bulletproof vest. Federal prosecutors have also accused extremist groups of coordinating the deadly attack.

In the same interview, Johnson said he was sorry for the loss of life, but Johnson (and his communications manager) know that the key message from his interview deprecates the severity of violence at the Capitol.

So, why? This question lingers: Ambitious, Compromised, or Crackpot?

Johnson hasn’t declared whether he’s running again, but if he does run (or if he wants a rightwing political job that keeps him in his Washington, D.C. townhouse), he may be fulfilling his ambitions through a version of a no-enemies-to-the-right position. Perhaps there’s no rightwing person or position he won’t embrace. A strategy like that would protect him from a primary challenge as there’d be no one more extreme to his right, and would make him a champion of the most rabid members of his party in a general election. (He might also advance his chances to become a frontman for a big-money PAC if he declines to run again.)

There’s also the chance that he’s vulnerable to personal pressure of some sort.

The third possibility is that his skull is full of mush.

Statements like yesterday’s might underlie, truly, all three possible motivations for Johnson’s extremism: he wants something, he’s vulnerable to someone, and he’ll say anything.

However motivated, Johnson’s an albatross around Wisconsin’s neck for the next two years.

Daily Bread for 2.16.21

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will see light morning snow with a high of 17.  Sunrise is 6:48 AM and sunset 5:28 PM, for 10h 40m 23s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 20.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1923, Howard Carter unseals the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Rich Kremer reports Marquette University Laid Off 39 In January. Staff And Students Fear More Cuts Are To Come:

Marquette University laid off 39 staff members last month as part of a yearlong effort to close a $45 million budget deficit brought on by COVID-19 financial losses including a drop in enrollment.

The budget-cutting process has sparked fear on campus among some students and faculty who worry the university is moving away from its liberal arts education and Jesuit mission. 

On Sept. 28, Marquette administrators held a virtual town hall to discuss the financial state of the university. Senior Vice President and COO Joel Pogodzinski shared sobering news: university administration is expecting upwards of 300 faculty and staff reductions in the next two years. 

Marquette’s 2020 freshman class was the smallest it has been since 1997, which — along with unexpected losses from the pandemic — meant there was an immediate budget deficit of $45 million. By 2024, Pogodzinski anticipates that deficit could grow to as much as $65 million.

Shawn Boburg and Jon Swaine report A GOP donor gave $2.5 million for a voter fraud investigation. Now he wants his money back:

Like many Trump supporters, conservative donor Fred Eshelman awoke the day after the presidential election with the suspicion that something wasn’t right. His candidate’s apparent lead in key battleground states had evaporated overnight.

The next day, the North Carolina financier and his advisers reached out to a small conservative nonprofit group in Texas that was seeking to expose voter fraud. After a 20-minute talk with the group’s president, their first conversation, Eshelman was sold.

“I’m in for 2,” he told the president of True the Vote, according to court documents and interviews with Eshelman and others.

“$2 million,” Eshelman responded.

Over the next 12 days, Eshelman came to regret his donation and to doubt conspiracy theories of rampant illegal voting, according to court records and interviews.

Now, he wants his money back.

Gary Paul Nabhan and Austin Nuñez write Along the Southwest Border, Trump’s Wall Is Only One of the Insults He Left Behind:

Border towns from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Coast have suffered disproportionately, sacrificed to policies that ignore lives and livelihoods in favor of a dubious 450-mile-long monument to presidential hubris.

….

The insults include extreme rates of Covid-19 infection because of botched state and federal responses to the pandemic, the loss of thousands of agricultural jobs as a result of tariff wars and the intertwined catastrophes of drought, fire and flood, which the Trump administration’s hostile climate policies most likely worsened.

Most counties flanking the international boundary suffer from poverty levels double that of the U.S. average. In unincorporated settlements known as colonias, from Texas to California, border residents live without such basic services as clean water and waste removal. The Trump administration exacerbated longstanding problems by vilifying the border and those living along it and ignoring the region’s vital role in U.S. cultural, ecological, and trade relations with Latin America.

Tractor-Hacking Farmers Take on John Deere:

The Bad Economy Isn’t Causing Good Enrollment Numbers

Catherine Rampell observes Tough economies usually push people into more education. It’s not happening this time. She writes that

Usually, postsecondary enrollment increases during tough economies, as workers seek shelter from the lousy job market and invest in upgrading their skills. This can be a (small) silver lining of downturns: If displaced workers choose wisely when it comes to educational and retraining programs, they can emerge from the recession better equipped to boost their earnings. In the long run, a higher-skilled populace increases economic growth, too.

….

lots of fresh data show that college completions and new enrollment have plummeted since the coronavirus pandemic began. That’s particularly true for programs below the level of bachelor’s degrees. The number of first-time associate’s degree earners dropped 6.7 percent in spring 2020 from the year prior, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center; first-time certificate earners fell nearly 20 percent.

Enrollment trends for the current school year look bad, too. Enrollment overall is down 2.5 percent from the previous year. Much steeper declines are clear among first-time postsecondary students (13.1 percent) and especially first-time students over age 24 (down 30.1 percent). These non-traditional-aged students are presumably those most likely to be switching careers.

There’s a local implication for Whitewater: how much of UW-Whitewater’s enrollment gains over the last decade were a consequence of bad economic conditions during and after the Great Recession? That recession began nationally at the end of 2007 and continued through mid-2009 (but its effects have endured in places like Whitewater).

UW-Whitewater’s enrollment was mostly stable at the turn of the century, but began to increase as the Great Recession tightened its grip on the area:

There’s no easy answer to this question: enrollment gains likely came variously, for different groups of students: attraction to the university, refuge from the Great Recession, etc.  The gains Whitewater saw in the late aughts and early teens of this century have faded into enrollment declines.

Two points are safely made: some meaningful part of Whitewater’s past enrollment gains likely came from a bad economy, and Rampell’s assessment that this bad economy won’t spur new enrollment gains likely applies locally, too.

Daily Bread for 2.15.21

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 4.  Sunrise is 6:50 AM and sunset 5:27 PM, for 10h 37m 38s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 13.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 The Whitewater School Board will hold a legislative breakfast via audiovisual conferencing at 7:30 AM. The Library Board meets via audiovisual conferencing at 6 PM.

 On this day in 1862, Confederates commanded by Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd attack General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union forces Fort Donelson, Tennessee. Unable to break the fort’s encirclement, Floyd surrenders the following day.

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Dan Bice reports [Wisconsin] Supreme Court didn’t release study showing Black men 28% more likely to do prison time in Wisconsin:

For nearly a year, state Supreme Court officials sat on a court-authorized study that found clear racial disparities in the sentencing of felons by Wisconsin courts.

The 23-page report, completed in January 2020, concluded that Black men convicted of felonies have a 28% greater chance of ending up in prison in Wisconsin than white men. The odds of Black men receiving prison time are even higher for more serious felonies.

Called “Race and Prison Sentencing in Wisconsin,” the study found a similar bias in the sentencing of Hispanic men and an even worse one for Native American men convicted of felonies.

As for white male felons, they were 21% less likely than non-white male felons of ending up behind bars. It found no racial bias in the sentencing of women.

“Among men, a clear pattern emerges where American Indian, Black and Hispanic defendants are more likely than whites to be sentenced to prison versus another outcome like jail, probation or a fine,” concludes the study written by Michael Thompson, head of the Office of Research and Justice Statistics for the courts.

Using information from the state’s online case management system, Thompson looked at nearly 180,000 felony cases over 10 years. His work builds on that of others looking at racial disparities in Wisconsin sentencing.

David Leonhardt explains Why Senate Republicans bucked public opinion to acquit Trump:

But the modern Republican Party has found ways other than majority support to achieve its goals.

It benefits from a large built-in advantage in the Senate, which gives more power to rural and heavily white states. The filibuster also helps Republicans more than it does Democrats. In the House and state legislatures, both parties have gerrymandered, but Republicans have done more of it. In the courts, Republicans have been more aggressive about putting judges on the bench and blocking Democratic presidents from doing so. In the Electoral College, Democrats currently waste more votes than Republicans by running up large state-level victories.

All of this helps explain Trump’s second acquittal. The Republican Party is in the midst of the worst run that any party has endured — across American history — in the popular vote of presidential elections, having lost seven of the past eight. Yet the party has had a pretty good few decades, policy-wise. It has figured out how to succeed with minority support.

Dutch ice skaters take advantage of frozen canals and lakes: