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Daily Bread for 1.15.23: Mikhail Popkov Would Like to Join Russia’s Mercenaries

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 40. Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 4:46 PM for 9h 24m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 44.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1967, the first Super Bowl takes place in Los Angeles: the Packers defeat the Chiefs 35–10.


 

Here’s Popkov’s Wikipedia biography:

Mikhail Viktorovich Popkov … born 7 March 1964) is a Russian serial killer, rapist, and necrophile who committed the sexual assault and murder of seventy-eight girls and women between 1992 and 2010 in Angarsk, Irkutsk, in Siberia, and Vladivostok in Far East, although he has confessed to and is suspected of at least eighty-three in total. He is known as “The Werewolf” and the “Angarsk Maniac” for the particularly brutal nature of his crimes; he would extensively mutilate the bodies of his victims and perform sexual acts on them.

Popkov, a former police officer and security guard, was convicted of 22 murders in 2015 and sentenced to life imprisonment, and confessed to an additional 59 three years later; on December 10, 2018, he was convicted for 56 of the 59 additional killings, three of which the police could not find sufficient evidence with which to be proven, and given a second life sentence.[3] Popkov received a second life sentence.[4] There were calls for Popkov to be executed, but this was unavailable as capital punishment in Russia is subject to a formal moratorium.[5]


Russian propagandists on state TV say life is overrated:

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Daily Bread for 1.14.23: After Russia Kills, It Steals

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 4:45 PM for 9h 22m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 55.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1952, NBC‘s long-running morning news program Today debuts, with host Dave Garroway.


Jeffrey Gettleman and Oleksandra Mykolyshyn report As Russians Steal Ukraine’s Art, They Attack Its Identity, Too (‘Russian forces have looted tens of thousands of pieces, including avant-garde oil paintings and Scythian gold. Experts say it is the biggest art heist since the Nazis in World War II, intended to strip Ukraine of its cultural heritage’):

KHERSON, Ukraine — One morning in late October, Russian forces blocked off a street in downtown Kherson and surrounded a graceful old building with dozens of soldiers.

Five large trucks pulled up. So did a line of military vehicles, ferrying Russian agents who filed in through several doors. It was a carefully planned, highly organized, military-style assault — on an art museum.

Over the next four days, the Kherson Regional Art Museum was cleaned out, witnesses said, with Russian forces “bustling about like insects,” porters wheeling out thousands of paintings, soldiers hastily wrapping them in sheets, art experts barking out orders and packing material flying everywhere.

“They were loading such masterpieces, which there are no more in the world, as if they were garbage,” said the museum’s longtime director, Alina Dotsenko, who recently returned from exile, recounting what employees and witnesses had told her.

When she came back to the museum in early November and grasped how much had been stolen, she said, “I almost lost my mind.”

Kherson. Mariupol. Melitopol. Kakhovsky. Museums of art, history and antiquities.

As Russia has ravaged Ukraine with deadly missile strikes and brutal atrocities on civilians, it has also looted the nation’s cultural institutions of some of the most important and intensely protected contributions of Ukraine and its forebears going back thousands of years.

International art experts say the plundering may be the single biggest collective art heist since the Nazis pillaged Europe in World War II.

The Russian army and her mercenaries: invaders, killers, war criminals, thieves. 

While a libertarian would prefer peaceful trade with all the world, he or she cannot countenance savagery in its place. We are right to arm the Ukrainians so that they can defend themselves. Russian weapons and tactics are inferior to our own; those in our country before the war who claimed otherwise are now evident fools.

Americans who apologize for Putin, or craft lies against Ukraine, debase themselves by becoming fellow travelers or (occasionally) fifth columnists of the Russian dictatorship. 


Deadly tornado rips through Alabama leaving damage in its wake:

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Daily Bread for 1.13.23: The Conspiracy Capital of Wisconsin (It’s Not Whitewater)

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 30. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:44 PM for 9h 21m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 65.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C.


Henry Redman reports Racine at the center of Wisconsin’s election conspiracy universe:

In the two years since the 2020 election, the city of Racine and the surrounding area have become a hotbed of right-wing election-related activism. 

In November of 2021, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling accused five of the election commission’s six members of committing felony election fraud for choosing not to force voting assistants to go in person to nursing homes to collect absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last year, Schmaling was again involved in a right-wing allegation of election fraud when Racine County resident Harry Wait reached out to the sheriff to alert him of a vulnerability in the state’s online absentee ballot request system. Instead of exposing a flaw, Wait informed Schmaling that he’d illegally requested and received absentee ballots on behalf of Racine’s Democratic Mayor Cory Mason and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). 

Wait is now facing criminal charges for his fraudulent absentee ballot requests. 

The 2020 election was fair and accurate. Numerous reviews, audits, lawsuits and investigations in Wisconsin have affirmed that President Joe Biden won the state and that there was no widespread election fraud. Yet in the more than two years since the 2020 election, complaints of election fraud have come from all over the state. Two of the most vocal lawmakers on the issue, Reps. Janel Brandtjen and Tim Ramthun, came from Waukesha and Fond du Lac counties. Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s widely derided review of the 2020 election was based in Brookfield. 

But the Racine area has seen election-related right-wing activism persist past the 2022 midterms with a fervor that other parts of the state have not been able to sustain as attention has shifted to other issues.

….

“So there’s a local group here that’s very active, Harry Wait being one of their leaders who’ve really been pretty steadfast in their critique of the work that the city does to make sure that people have access to the polls,” Mason says. “So I think that’s what’s different. I think there’s a group here that’s radicalized in a way that we’re not seeing in other parts of the state.”

Whitewater has her share of conspiracy-minded populists, convinced of one lunatic notion or another, but not so many as Racine. If we’d educated our people better, and so fortified them against nonsense, we’d have a healthier and more prosperous city. We didn’t, as it was momentarily easier to pretend that all was well, and to avoid refuting ignorant-but-easily-offended conspiracy theorists, so now we’ve a years-long problem of recovery ahead of us. 

There is nothing that scares Whitewater community leaders and our school administrators into acquiescence so much as an edgy, ignorant man in a red trucker cap.  See (Local) Fear of a Red Hat


 Scientists record world’s largest hatching of baby turtles in South America:

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Friday Catblogging: Acoustic Kitty

Andrew Daniels writes in Popular Mechanics about the Acoustic Kitty project, a Failed Government Feline Mission

In the 1960s, the CIA allegedly spent $20 million to implant microphones in cats’ ear canals so the animals could inconspicuously eavesdrop on the Soviets. The disastrous first mission, in which a cat would mosey around the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., doomed the ill-conceived effort—codenamed “Acoustic Kitty”—from the start: “The cat was released nearby, but was hit and allegedly killed by a taxi almost immediately.”

Acoustic Kitty was canceled in 1967…

Daily Bread for 1.12.23: An Election Commissioner’s Support for Vote Suppression

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:43 PM for 9h 19m 47s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 74.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1932, Hattie Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate.


Scott Bauer reports Wisconsin Elections Commission member bragged about GOP plan to suppress Milwaukee votes

A Democratic member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission called Wednesday for a Republican member who bragged about GOP efforts to suppress votes in Milwaukee to resign from the bipartisan panel.

Commissioner Robert Spindell’s comments sent in an email to Republicans in the 4th Congressional District were first reported on Tuesday by Urban Milwaukee. On Wednesday, fellow Commissioner Mark Thomsen, a Democratic attorney, said Spindell should step down from the six-member commission.

“My fellow commissioner Bob Spindell has shown he cannot be fair and should resign from the WEC,” Thomsen tweeted.

In the email, as quoted by Urban Milwaukee, Spindell, who is white, says that Republicans “can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”

Spindell said the effort was due to a “well thought out multi-faceted plan.”

Spindell provided The Associated Press with a similar email he said he sent to Republicans in the 4th Congressional District. That message also heralded the drop in voters in Milwaukee, but described it differently.

….

Spindell is a defendant in three separate pending lawsuits related to him serving as a fake GOP elector.

One in federal court seeks $2.4 million in damages from Spindell and the other fake electors, alleging that they were part of conspiracy by Trump to overturn the election. Another lawsuit in Dane County circuit court alleges that Spindell should have recused himself from a complaint filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission seeking action against the fake electors, of which Spindell was one. A third lawsuit alleged Spindell did not comply with the state open records law for documents requested related to his being a fake elector.

An elections commissioner as fake elector and opponent of (some) voter turnout. 

That’s present-day Wisconsin.


James Webb Space Telescope snaps ‘dynamic star-forming region’:

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Daily Bread for 1.11.23: The Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 45. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:42 PM for 9h 18m 17s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 82.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Police & Fire Commission meets at 7 PM

 On this day in 1964, Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Luther Terry, M.D., publishes the landmark report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States saying that smoking may be hazardous to health, sparking national and worldwide anti-smoking efforts.


Shawn Johnson reports Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates discuss abortion, redistricting at Madison forum

The four candidates running for a pivotal seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court laid out how they’d approach the job during a forum in Madison Monday, with some of the candidates sending strong signals about their views on issues like redistricting and abortion.

Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz are all seeking a 10-year term on the court to replace conservative Justice Patience Roggensack, who is retiring. Roggensack endorsed Dorow Monday.

The court currently has a 4-3 conservative majority, meaning the race could flip the ideological balance of the court. While the race is officially nonpartisan, Dorow and Kelly are supported by Republicans while Mitchell and Protasiewicz are backed by Democrats.

The forum comes a little more than a month before voters head to the polls in a Feb. 21 primary. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election on April 4.

The statewide court race with an ideological tint (where candidates express definite & partisan views) will affect local elections that take on an ideological tint. If the high-court race should cause a tide in one direction or another, candidates locally who are identified ideologically will benefit (or lose) ground accordingly. 

Of posts this week: Wisconsin’s Near-Death Experience (the 2022 elections), What Price for a Wisconsin Legacy? (an aspirational future), and today’s on the Wisconsin Supreme Court Race (the real future whether hopeful or regrettable). Local may not be local, as nonpartisan is not nonpartisan. 


Drone footage shows vehicle inside huge sinkhole after torrential downpours in California:

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Daily Bread for 1.10.23: What Price for a Wisconsin Legacy?

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 42. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:41 PM for 9h 16m 50s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 89% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM

 On this day in 49 BC, Caesar crosses the Rubicon, signaling the start of civil war.


Steven Walters writes Evers, Vos Seek Legacy-Defining Wins

The Capitol’s two top elected officials, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, fought over dozens of major policy issues over the last four years. But they share one thing — worry about their legacies — in the 2023-24 legislative session that began last week.

The 71-year-old Evers is unlikely to seek a third four-year term in 2026. So, he wants both this session and the one that follows to write his eight years in office into Wisconsin’s history books.

Vos will turn 55 on July 5, just past the deadline for approval of the 2023-25 state budget. Vos took his 10th oath of office last week; he will have spent more than one-third of his life in the Assembly by mid-2023. The longest-serving Assembly speaker in state history, Vos has passed on all runs for statewide office and is not expected to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2024.

But Vos had a political near-death experience last August, when he won his party’s nomination for re-election by only 300 votes over a challenger backed by former President Donald Trump.

All this may have Vos, who runs several small businesses, asking how much longer he wants to be a Capitol power broker.

….

Evers and Vos may find one definition of a “legacy” helpful: “Learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future.”

What deals are truly worth making with a gerrymandered — illegitimate — leader? 

There may be a few (e.g., medical marijuana), but only few. 

A better definition of legacy would be holding to principle


Ozone layer on track to recover within decades, UN reports:

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Daily Bread for 1.9.23: Wisconsin’s Near-Death Experience

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 40. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:39 PM for 9h 15m 27s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 94.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6 PM. 

 On this day in 1962, NASA announces plans to build the C-5 rocket launch vehicle, then known as the “Advanced Saturn,” to carry human beings to the Moon.


Ari Berman writes How Democracy Nearly Died in Wisconsin

If the redistricting maps drawn in secret by Republican staffers and passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 were unfair, the maps adopted by Republicans in 2021, over Evers’ objections, were even more one-sided. As a result, the number of GOP-leaning seats increased to 63 out of 99 in the state Assembly and to 23 out of 33 in the state Senate. That meant that—­according to calculations by Marquette University Law School research fellow John Johnson—Democrats would have to win the 2022 statewide vote by 12 points just to get to 50 seats in the Assembly, while Republicans could garner a majority with only 44 percent of the vote.

At the state GOP convention back in May, held at a Marriott in suburban Madison, GOP Assembly leader Robin Vos candidly laid out his plan for total domination of state politics. His top priority, he said, was defeating Evers. But short of that, if Republicans picked up one more seat in the Senate and five in the Assembly, Vos explained, that would give them a two-thirds supermajority that would “make Tony Evers irrelevant.”

That supermajority would have given legislative Republicans unfettered authority to override Evers’ vetoes and the power to implement an extreme and unpopular agenda on issues ranging from guns to education to abortion—including, potentially, the ability to overturn election results. “If Republicans get supermajorities in the state legislature,” Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler warned before the election, “it’s a threat to the foundations of American democracy.”

On November 8, Vos’ first plan failed. Evers was reelected by 3.5 points—triple his margin in 2018 and practically a landslide by Wisconsin standards—marking the first time since 1962 that Wisconsin had voted for a Democratic governor while a Democratic president was in office. But Vos’ backup plan almost succeeded: Despite Democrats winning four out of five statewide offices, Republicans picked up the state Senate seat they needed and ended up just two Assembly seats short of a supermajority, coming remarkably close to nullifying the power of the twice-elected governor.

In a year in which seemingly the entire GOP radicalized against democracy, Republicans in Wisconsin were on the cutting edge of attacking free and fair elections. Donald Trump had made the state the focal point of his obsession to decertify the 2020 election; nearly three-quarters of Republicans in the legislature acted to discredit or overturn the results; and critics of the way elections are conducted in Wisconsin ran for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. That was just the beginning of their plans. The GOP hoped to wrest control away from the bipartisan commission that supervises elections and turn it over to the ultra-gerrymandered legislature, which could give it more power over how elections are certified. That could’ve allowed Republicans to toss aside election results in 2024 through more sophisticated and ostensibly legal means than Trump used in 2020.

A place nearly drowned yet saved.  


‘Flying boat’ makes waves at CES:

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Daily Bread for 1.8.23: Why Have a Popular Vote When the Gerrymandered Wisconsin Legislature Can Pick the Winner?

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:38 PM for 9h 14m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 97.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 2005, the nuclear sub USS San Francisco collides at full speed with an undersea mountain south of Guam. One man is killed, but the sub surfaces and is repaired.


Scott Bauer reports New documents detail Sen. Ron Johnson asking about GOP-controlled Legislature choosing Wisconsin electors

The former chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party said Republican Sen. Ron Johnson spoke to him weeks before Joe Biden assumed the presidency about having the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature, rather than voters, choose Wisconsin’s presidential electors, according to newly released documents from closed-door testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee.

Johnson, in a statement Tuesday, said he had no recollection of the conversation with Andrew Hitt and accused the committee investigating the 2021 Capitol insurrection of attempting to “smear” him by selectively releasing text messages.

….

Hitt, who resigned as state party chairman in July 2021, testified before the Jan. 6 committee on Feb. 22. The transcript of his interview was released on Monday. Hitt did not respond to messages from The Associated Press left Tuesday seeking comment.

Hitt provided the committee with a text message he sent to Mark Jefferson, the Wisconsin Republican Party executive director, on Dec. 7, 2020. That was just a week before Wisconsin’s electors met to cast their ballots for Biden, who defeated then-President Donald Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in the state. At the same time, Republicans were discussing ways around having the state’s electors awarded to Biden.

“Ron called me right after and now is arguing for us to have the legislature choose the electors. OMG,” Hitt’s text message to Jefferson said.

“What is he doing?” Jefferson replied.

“There is a huge amount of pressure building on them to find a way around the electoral college,” Hitt told Jefferson.

“How can he feel good about promoting that though?” Jefferson said. “Does he believe we won here?”

Jefferson declined to comment Tuesday.

Should anyone be surprised?

You get what you pay vote for. 

“Ron Johnson” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


 Arsonists Set Themselves on Fire While Trying to Burn Down Immigration Services Business:

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Daily Bread for 1.7.23: Only the Best People

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:37 PM for 9h 12m 51s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 99.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1904, the distress signalCQD” is established only to be replaced two years later by “SOS.”



Live Video Feed from Kitten Rescue in Los Angeles

Caturday (plural Caturdays)

noun

(Internet slang) Saturday, as the day of the week for posting lolcats or other pictures of cats.

This is a live stream of a cat room at Kitten Rescue, an organization founded in Los Angeles, in 1997, dedicated to rescuing and taking care of homeless cats with the help of more than 100 volunteers.

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Daily Bread for 1.6.23: What Extreme Gerrymandering Wrought

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 30. Sunrise is 7:25 AM and sunset 4:36 PM for 9h 11m 38s of daytime. The moon is full with 99.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 2021, violent supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attack the United States Capitol to disrupt certification of the 2020 presidential election, resulting in five deaths and evacuation of the U.S. Congress.


Dennis Aftergut writes The Chaotic House That SCOTUS Built (‘The Supreme Court enabled Republicans’ addiction to extreme gerrymandering. Now they’re reaping what they’ve sown’): 

Momentously, in 2019, a radical Supreme Court majority composed of Republican nominees issued a 5–4 decision in Rucho v. Common Cause. It gave radical partisan gerrymandering the court’s blessing as constitutional. The fifth vote in that ruling came from ultraconservative justice Neil Gorsuch, who was only seated after Senate Republicans unscrupulously refusedto hold a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland. He would have almost certainly cast the fifth vote the other way.

If you doubt Rucho’s effect in creating today’s Republican House majority, look to Florida as a case study. In 2022, its governor, Ron DeSantis, “strong-armed” through the state legislature an extreme, gerrymandered map that eliminated half of Florida’s Black-dominated districts. In November’s election, the state flipped red three blue congressional seats.

Similarly, North Carolina’s gerrymandering added three Republican seats that, based on the state’s Democratic vote-share, should have gone Democratic. (Incidentally, North Carolina is the state whose gerrymandered map the Supreme Court upheld in Rucho, and it is also the state whose map the court will judge in this term’s much-discussed case of Moore v. Harper.)

Similar results seem to have occurred in Texas and Kentucky, where partisan voter registrations are evenly divided. Yet in Texas, 25 of the 38 congressional representatives are Republican, a 2-to-1 ratio. In Kentucky, five of the six representatives are Republican.

Democrats, too, have gerrymandered in states whose legislatures they control, but their efforts have been far surpassed by Republicans’, and without the destructive effects for the country’s institutions.

And so, the debacle we’ve been witnessing in Congress. From gerrymandered Republican seats come noncompetitive districts that elect hardliners with little to no incentive to compromise on choosing a speaker—or anything else. They gain attention via television and social media and raise money from their MAGA base by standing firm and dropping pipe bombs on the system of governing, and rarely face consequences for the fallout.

Indeed.

The Wisconsin Legislature, too. 


The Milwaukee County Zoo’s Gentoo penguin chick, born Dec. 17, 2022, gets examined:

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Film: Tuesday, January 10th, 1:00 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Jerry and Marge Go Large

Tuesday, January 10th at 1:00 PM, there will be a showing of Jerry and Marge Go Large @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

Drama/Comedy

PG-13; 96 minutes (2022)

Based on the true story of a long-married Michigan couple (Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening) who win the lottery and use the money to revive their small hometown.

One can find more information about Jerry and Marge Go Large at the Internet Movie Database.