Saturday, July 31, 2021

Frustrated Reaper still sees insufficiencies in COVID toll

The reader who risks bafflement at the words of Ron Johnson - 

- might be freshly dumfounded that Johnson, despite 8,300 Wisconsin fatal COVID illnesses and more than 600,000 in the US, opposes vaccine mandates unless there were some "incredibly deadly virus" out there - 

"No, not unless there's some incredibly deadly disease. I mean, much higher infection-fatality rates than we have with COVID.

"We don't know the final infection-fatality rate but right now it's looking like it's not going to be much more than double a bad season of flu."  

- but the reader navigating Johnson's collapsing circuitry may be less stupefied knowing that he had already shrugged off a possible US death toll from COVID of more than 11 million:

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson downplays possibility millions could die from COVID-19

“Getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population"

We don't shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It's a risk we accept so we can move about. We don't shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu." 

Friday, July 30, 2021

WI DNR wants another 130 wolves killed this fall

On top of more than 200 wolves killed in a legislatively-ordered, state-sanctioned and dog-assisted hunt in February - a number which does not include poaching - the WI DNR is seeking permission from its oversight Natural Resources Board to run a fall hunt in which another 130 wolves statewide can be killed, documents show.

Let's talk about these so-called wolf 'harvest' quotas, science, data, proposed strengthened wildlife policies and practices, and some other things:

* The quotas in all four previous Wisconsin-sanctioned hunts - including those in 2012-2014 - were broken. See this link for quota histories and related material.

*  The DNR's recommendation for a fresh 130-wolf kill this fall has been made despite its own acknowledgment that there are gaps in its wolf population estimates - - yet the Natural Resources Board is likely to either rubber-stamp the agency's recommendation, or substitute a higher humber to satisfy the special 'sporting' interests which Wisconsin's official wolf 'management' policies routinely favor. 

* The bill establishing Wisconsin's wolf hunts was enthusiastically-signed into law by former GOP Governor Scott Walker. He even cut the inexpensive license fee in half

Speaking at the Wisconsin NRA convention in Wausau on Friday, Gov. Scott Walker announced his intention to reduce the price of the wolf hunting license to $50.

Because why should the Legislature get all the headlines?

* Fred Prehn, a Walker appointee to the Natural Resources Board, has refused to step down as member and chair even though his term has expired. An appointee of Democratic Governor Tony Evers is waiting to take Prehn's place.

Walker was defeated in November, 2018, but the GOP-led Legislature has refused to hold confirmation hearings for some Evers' nominees.

Several organizations have asked Attorney General Josh Kaul to remove Prehn.

In my opinion, the longer Prehn remains Natural Resources Board chair, the longer the Board's credibility will slide and taint the DNR's performance.

* A final thought. Contrast Prehn's arrogance - 'this is my choice' - and official Wisconsin's growing national reputation as the place where wolves go to die -

A wolf hunt blew past its kill quota in February. Another hunt is coming this fall.

- with a collaborative, big-picture wildlife stewardship guide just released which views wolves as key contributors to a healthy forest, state and planet.

The resources shared here are a compilation of practices and policies for wolf conservation and stewardship in the United States, based on best science, democratic processes and inclusivity, and ethics. These products are the result of an intensive collaborative effort by multiple organizations, and a comprehensive vetting process with input and critiques from a broad array of scientists, ethicists, retired and current agency professionals, Tribal biologists and representatives, and academic experts.  

This Advocate Wolf Planning Guide identifies the fundamental elements of a state wolf plan and walks through the planning process so advocates have the information needed to ensure the conservation and full recovery of wolves throughout the contiguous United States.
Those kinds of methods, standards and goals are needed more than ever to create fair snd enlightened wildlife policy-making and to help systematically confront the accelerating climate emergency, but will fall on deaf ears at Wisconsin's Natural Resources Board as long as Prehn - a backer of substantial wolf kill quotas - extends Walkerite influence and its environmentally-hostile attitudes over the wide range of DNR programs, public health obligations and policies.

 


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Senate Super-scientist also becomes new Wisconsin Pothole King

Because the planet is broiling, I was waiting for Senate Super-scientist Ron Johnson to link up sunspots, COVID19 troubles and that January 6th love-fest at the Capitol which some of Johnson's co-workers are carefully studying, but today the multi-tasking Johnson 

pivoted to another of his strong suits: hypocrisy.

NBC's Sahil Kapur Tweets that Ron Johnson is a 'hard no' on the bipartisan federal infrastructure bill because it adds too much spending.

I guess Johnson wants to be Wisconsin's Worst Senator and New Pothole King, though the last Badger State failed campaigning road warrior got to see that notoriety on billboards which no doubt helped his defeat.

So basically, if you break an axle in a Scotthole, or wonder if today's the day that that rusty bridge you commute across decides to drop into the river, Johnson says, that's your problem, not his.

Kinda like how he sees food, shelter and medical care, or your personal safety around his GOP friends - all reported, here.

Also: this is the same Ron Johnson whose Oshkosh-based family-owned business got a taxpayer-subsidized rail line and other publicly-provided benefits before he was elected to the Senate, as I noted in 2010

Ron Johnson Outed As Corporate Welfare Beneficiary

More, here about Johnson's business history, with some company-approved edits. 

Final note:

Similar self-dealing hypocrisy surfaced when Johnson blocked Trump's tax 'reform' plan because the generous benefits it extended to upper-income earners and businesses needed one last dollop of breaks for firms structured like Johnson's.

The bill was amended and Johnson provided a key vote to get it passed. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Here's a jolt: MORE public money to Foxconn?

Another subsidy for Foxconn? - and for an electric vehicle startup in the face of established multi-billion dollar corporate veterans like Ford, GM and Tesla, as I'd mentioned some months ago.

This is no joke, as Bruce Murphy recounts

Foxconn Wants a New Subsidy? 

Deal to build electric cars for Fisker may depend on yet another taxpayer giveaway.

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Once there was cabbage on prime ag land there (my 2019 photo). Long before before promised flat-screen TVs...and giant coffee makers...and emergency room ventilators. And now electric vehicles in markets dominated by GM, Ford, and Tesla? But also without enough computer chips to go around? Bring back the vegetables.
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I guess I have to update my Foxconn archive.

May I remind you 
what happened the last time Wisconsin and WEDC subsidized a transportation-vehicle startup promising whiz-bang products jobs, lots of jobs and a municipality's salvation in a rough-and-tumble field dominated by long-standing businesses?

Little Hope Remains For Wisconsin Officials Looking To Recover Funds From Failed Aircraft Deal

Bankruptcy Proceedings Ongoing For Company That Said It Would Create Hundreds Of Jobs In Superior. As predicted.    


 

 


WI COVID vaccination data suggest more lockdowns & orders are coming

When it comes to COVID, Wisconsin can't have it both ways.

It can't complain about and resist COVID-prevention emergency orders, lockdowns and masking requirements on the one hand while the more easily transmitted Delta virus variant is pushing COVID caseload numbers higher... yet barely half Wisconsin's population eligible to receive the vaccine has gotten it, and vaccination trends have fallen, too. 

And the more granular vaccination data focused on age and race are really depressing.

Did we go through more than a year of suffering and losses across the board only to welcome in another wave of the disease and all its dislocations through a combination of ideologically-fueled ignorance.

Or selfishness and sheer indifference

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., downplayed the need for the Covid-19 vaccine for all adults during an interview Friday with a conservative radio host, facing immediate criticism for suggesting people don't need to be inoculated.

"Because it's not a fully approved vaccine, I think we probably should have limited the distribution to it to the really vulnerable," he told host Vicki McKenna. "What is the point? If the science tells us the vaccines are 95 percent effective. So, if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?"

----------------------------------

'"So, if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?"
 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Idle 'WisConnned' Valley hits 4th anniversary

I'll pair up my four-year running Foxconn archive with this headline and story from four years ago today:

Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin factory, scheduled to be open by 2020, would be massive. The campus dubbed "Wisconn Valley," would cover nearly 1.6 square miles and be three times the size of the Pentagon. Foxconn's plant will produce liquid-crystal display panels, or LCDs, that are used in televisions and computer screens. 

- while you let the impact of Wisconsin's Republican Party-endorsed bulldozing - 

 

- and private property expropriation further update you about what's happening - other than promised employment and production - in WisConned Valley

Village Board Unanimously Votes to Blight Local Business for Foxconn 

“With no discussion or public comment, the Mount Pleasant Village Board rams through action to blight the property of a local business in Foxconn Area One, after barricading entrance and charging owners with trespassing.”

Friday, July 23, 2021

Tiffany gripes about Biden spending bill irrelevancies, then adds his own

Wisconsin GOP northwoods US House member Tom Tiffany - 

Image of Tom Tiffany

has in the same (and latest emailed issue) of his weekly, taxpayer-paid 'Tiffany Telegram' news[sic]letter a) complained extensively that other legislators - presumably Democrats - were adding irrelevancies to Pres. Biden's already-complex spending bill - and then without a shred of irony in a newsletter section labeled "Speaking of spending bills…" also b) brag about the non-spending and extraneous tangent he wants added to the legislation. 

"Even so, this week I proposed a few amendments. The first would prohibit the Biden administration from “re-listing” the gray wolf as a threatened or endangered species – and protect the right of Wisconsinites to make their own wildlife management decisions."

Two things to help you work through this Tiffany thicket:

1. Wisconsinites familiar with Tiffany's record, newsletter and 'thinking' will not be surprised by his inconsistency or bigger picture behavior.

2. Right now, the gray wolf is newly 'threatened or endangered'...by reckless Wisconsin wildlife management which has ignored science in favor of the ideologically-based special-interests which Tiffany's ‘legislating’ is designed to serve.

Desecration of indigenous peoples' cultures & remains in WI must stop

The Wisconsin DNR, its oversight Natural Resources Board and local governments have got to change their ways and get on the right side of history, humanity and common sense if they want to resolve all the contradictions in these four items: 

1.  Interior Department to consult with community leaders on changes to graves and repatriation law

“The repatriation of human remains and sacred cultural objects, and the protection of sacred sites is integral to preserving and commemorating Indigenous culture,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said in a department press release.

2. Development aims more harm at WI land, water, indigenous cultures

...[yet] that is precisely what is happening in two threatened high-profile land and water desecrations - one for a toxifying mining project enabled by corporate tools Scott Walker and Tom Tiffany along the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border - 

Menominee River | Tom Young

- and the other, separately, on a Lake Michigan shoreline nature preserve and state park in Sheboygan County which has already gathered a host of public agency endorsements.

3. Ancient human remains unearthed at proposed Kohler golf site in Wisconsin 

Archeologists have unearthed human remains of Native Americans who lived up to 2,500 years ago during excavations of the Sheboygan County site along Lake Michigan where Kohler Co. wants to build an 18-hole golf course. 

A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee team in 2018 and 2019 inadvertently encountered  fragments of human bone and teeth from at least seven locations beneath the privately-owned wetlands and forest where Kohler Co. envisions its third championship facility in Wisconsin, according to documents obtained by Wisconsin Watch. 

The disturbance came while recovering tens of thousands of ceramics, tools and other artifacts at the 247-acre site during a study required under federal historic preservation law, according to a 2019 report

4. 29 Wisconsin schools still use Native American mascots

In 2010, former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed the first-of-its-kind law in the country. Known as Act 250, it gave the Department of Public Instruction the ability to begin a review process if one individual reported to find a mascot or logo offensive. Doyle’s law required the school district to prove its mascot is not offensive.

Three years later, with Doyle no longer in office, a bill sponsored by then Rep. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, moved quickly through the GOP-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law in December of 2013. 

The new law placed the burden of proof on the individual who found the mascot or logo offensive. Now, for example, if a student attends Mukwonago High School and finds the Indian chief mascot offensive, they have to submit a petition signed by members of the community equivalent to 10 percent of the district’s student population saying the logo or mascot is offensive. 


More Wisconsin counties under an air pollution advisory Friday

Eight eastern and inland Wisconsin counties are under a pollution alert Friday. Additional counties along the Lake Michigan shoreline are under a related but higher-level alert.

 

8 WI Lakeshore Counties under high-level air pollution alert

This is relatively unusual, should suspend a lot of outdoor activity and get your attention from Door County through Kenosha County:


 

Grothman, Fitzgerald, Tiffany and Steil vote against 'bipartisan' PFAS action

 [Reposted with a corrected headline that to include Fitzgerald.]

To the contamination of Wisconsin waters with 'forever' PFAS chemicals enabled by Republican state lawmakers you can add pro-PFAS votes cast against a multi-pronged Federal measure by US GOP Reps. Tom Tiffany, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman and Bryan Steil. 

  

Grothman joined fellow Republicans Fitzgerald, Tiffany, and Steil in opposition to Federal actions against 'forever' PFAS chemicals which are contaminating Wisconsin and other waterways.

I cannot explain why WisPolitics put this headline on its reporting but left out the names of four of five Wisconsin GOP Representatives whose "nay" votes undermine the 'bipartisan' thrust of the headline: 

DC Wrap: PFAS legislation clears House with bipartisan support

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher was the only GOP member of Wisconsin’s delegation to join all Dems in passing a measure to limit the use of PFAS pollutants. 

The Allouez Republican joined all 218 House Dems in a 241-183 vote that sent the PFAS Action Act to the Senate for consideration. While only one of Wisconsin’s Republicans supported the measure, 22 Republicans from other states joined him. 

The measure would set regulations on the use of PFAS chemicals and direct the EPA to list PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. The EPA would also have to determine if these forever chemicals qualify as toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act and set a national standard for the amount of PFAS chemicals allowed in drinking water. 

The report included a link to the roll call vote, but why send readers to a link with more than 400 names to scroll through when the names of the 'nay' votes in the small Wisconsin delegation could have easily been included in the text.

Not every reader can rattle off the names of the members of Wisconsin's GOP congressional delegation other than Mike Gallagher.


 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Grothman, Steil, Tiffany & Steil vote against 'bipartisan' PFAS action

To the contamination of Wisconsin waters with 'forever' PFAS chemicals enabled by Republican state lawmakers you can add pro-PFAS votes cast against a multi-pronged Federal measure by US GOP Reps. Tom Tiffany, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman and Bryan Steil. 

  

Grothman joined fellow Republicans Fitzgerald, Tiffany, and Steil in opposition to Federal actions against 'forever' PFAS chemicals which are contaminating Wisconsin and other waterways.

I cannot explain why WisPolitics put this headline on its reporting but left out the names of four of five Wisconsin GOP Representatives whose "nay" votes undermine the 'bipartisan' thrust of the headline: 

DC Wrap: PFAS legislation clears House with bipartisan support

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher was the only GOP member of Wisconsin’s delegation to join all Dems in passing a measure to limit the use of PFAS pollutants. 

The Allouez Republican joined all 218 House Dems in a 241-183 vote that sent the PFAS Action Act to the Senate for consideration. While only one of Wisconsin’s Republicans supported the measure, 22 Republicans from other states joined him. 

The measure would set regulations on the use of PFAS chemicals and direct the EPA to list PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. The EPA would also have to determine if these forever chemicals qualify as toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act and set a national standard for the amount of PFAS chemicals allowed in drinking water. 

The report included a link to the roll call vote, but why send readers to a link with more than 400 names to scroll through when the names of the 'nay' votes in the small Wisconsin delegation could have easily been included in the text.

Not every reader can rattle off the names of the members of Wisconsin's GOP congressional delegation other than Mike Gallagher.


 

DNR Wolf Committee meets Thursday, 9 a.m. Access info. below.

The Wisconsin DNR's Wolf Management Plan Committee (WMPC) public meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 22.

It's a public, streamed meeting; access details are below.

You may remember that devastating new data about wolf poaching and the impacts of Wisconsin's sanctioned yet-brutal February wolf 'harvest'-cum-slaughter were recently published and forwarded to the DNR.

It will be interesting to see if that report's data has had the impact it deserves as another hunt looms by state law later this year:

About 100 additional wolves died over the winter in Wisconsin as a result of the delisting of grey wolves under the Endangered Species Act, alongside the 218 wolves killed by licensed hunters during Wisconsin’s first public wolf hunt, according to new research.

The combined loss of 313 to 323 wolves represents a decline in the state’s wolf population of between 27% and 33% between April 2020 and April 2021. Researchers estimate that a majority of these additional, uncounted deaths are due to something called cryptic poaching, where poachers hide evidence of illegal killings.

The findings are the first estimate of Wisconsin’s wolf population since the public hunt in February, which ended early after hunters exceeded the quota of 119 wolves within a few days. These population estimates can help the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) prepare for the next legally mandated wolf hunt this fall....

University of Wisconsin–Madison environmental studies scientists Adrian Treves, Francisco Santiago-Ávila and Karann Putrevu performed the research, which was published July 5 in the journal PeerJ.

Note that some of the same researchers have written about the need for science to intersect with public trust wildlife stewardship:

We review the role of public trust principles in the restoration and preservation of controversial species. In so doing we argue for the essential roles of scientists from many disciplines concerned with biological diversity and its conservation. We look beyond species endangerment to future generations' interests in sustainability, particularly non-consumptive uses.... 
Without public trust principles, future trustees will seldom prevail against narrow, powerful, and undemocratic interests. Without conservation informed by public trust thinking predator populations will face repeated cycles of eradication and recovery. Our conclusions have implications for the many subfields of the biological sciences that address environmental trust assets from the atmosphere to aquifers.    

I have excerpted information from DNR webpages and announcements about the Thursday meeting, and I urge you to observe the meeting:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will hold the first of four Wolf Management Plan Committee meetings on Thursday, July 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The meeting will be held virtually, and the public is invited to attend and observe the proceedings. No pre-registration required.

There are two ways to join the call:

  • Use this link to join a livestream of the meeting, or
  • Join by phone (312-626-6799, Meeting ID: 817 6864 6459) 

Event Agenda: 

Time                     Item

9:00 - 9:15 a.m. -  Welcome and project overview (Randy Johnson)
9:15 – 9:35 a.m. -  Introductions – Committee members (30 seconds each)
9:35 – 9:50 a.m. -  WMPC timeline; Plan for the day (Raj Kamal)
9:50 – 10:20 a.m. - Summary of public input – presentation, Q&A (Ben Beardmore)
10:20 – 10:30 a.m. - Break
10:30 - 11:00 a.m. - Overview of the current wolf management program (Randy Johnson)
11:00 – 11:30 a.m. - Review prework #1 (Raj Kamal)
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. - Brainstorming – issues and concerns (WMPC)
12:00 – 12:30 p.m. - Lunch
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. - Continue Brainstorming
1:30 – 1:45 p.m. - Break
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. - Continue Brainstorming
2:30 – 2:50 p.m. - Reflections on how the day went (WMPC)
2:50 – 3:00 p.m. - Conclusion and next steps – pre-work, next meeting (Randy Johnson)

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Photo: Gray wolf. Credit: Gary Kramer / USFWS

Photo Caption: Gray wolf. Credit: Gary Kramer / USFWS



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Regular blogging here is on pause...

Due to this Tuesday night downtown Milwaukee message:

Screenshot of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo during trophy presentations.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

MI issues PFAS-related consumption 'guidelines' for Lake Superior smelt

I'd say this raises more health and environmental justice issues:

When you read yet another story about PFAS chemical contamination in Great Lakes and Midwestern waters - 

Fish advisories impact tribal traditions; Lake Superior smelt the latest species found contaminated

In March, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a precautionary consumption guideline for rainbow smelt from Lake Superior; the advisory came after natural resources officials in Wisconsin found and reported elevated levels of legacy chemical PFOS — perfluorooctane sulfonate — in samples of that species caught near the Apostle Islands and off of Port Wing, a shoreline city about 50 miles east of Duluth, Minnesota.

Because Indigenous people living near Lake Superior eat multitudes more than average amounts of fish, they face a choice whether to drastically limit how much they eat traditional foods to avoid poisoning — contamination that leaves the community collectively more susceptible to negative health risks associated with PFAS exposure.

- remember that Wisconsin's corporately-obeisant and Republican-led state legislature continues to enable multiple pollutants in Wisconsin waters and to reduce PFAS science, prevention and regulation

Republicans are enabling 'forever' toxins now found in Eau Claire city wells 

7/16/21 update from 7/14/21:

But wait, it gets worse, and the dirty hand of Robin Vos is involved. 

Bill Could Reduce DNR’s Regulatory Authority Over PFAS

Drafting files of the bill obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio reveal further details surrounding the intent of lawmakers behind the legislation, as well as the involvement of staff working for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester. 

The files show that Vos’ staff member Jake Wolf requested language from Evers’ proposed PFAS municipal grant program, including several revisions. Those changes included reducing the area that would be eligible for funding to test for PFAS down from 3 miles to 1 mile from a contaminated site. 

The revisions also included the bill’s proposal to bar local governments from seeking additional payments for PFAS damages if they receive grant money, as well as adding language to explicitly restrict local authority to regulate PFAS. 

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Lake Michigan gale
Great Lakes waves on Lake Michigan break on the Milwaukee shoreline. @James Rowen photo.