Saturday, May 18, 2024

Feds: Armed robberies were staged so "victims" could apply for immigration visas

Federal Marijuana Reform: Milwaukee applauds Biden’s historic announcement

Workers remove dozens of apparent marijuana plants from Wisconsin Capitol tulip garden

From The Journal

Someone's plans to harvest dozens of apparent marijuana plants grown on the Wisconsin state Capitol grounds have gone up in smoke.

The plants sprouted in a tulip garden outside the Capitol, WMTV-TV reported Thursday.

Workers have removed what appeared to be marijuana plants growing in a tulip garden on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Tatyana Warrick, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration, told The Associated Press in an email Friday that workers had removed the plants, but that her agency couldn't determine if they were marijuana or hemp. Both are forms of cannabis, but only marijuana has the compound that gets people high.

UW-Madison botanist Shelby Ellison, who examined the plants for WMTV before they were removed, told the station that they were cannabis plants. But she told The Associated Press on Friday that she couldn't say for certain whether they were marijuana or hemp.

She said there were dozens of the plants in the garden, suggesting someone planted them intentionally.

Marijuana remains illegal in all forms in Wisconsin. Assembly Republicans introduced a bill last session that would have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, but they couldn't muster support among their state Senate counterparts and the measure never got a hearing.


Friday, May 17, 2024

Daily Dose Of Internet: Never Going on Escalators Again

How Dangerous Is It to Drive While High?

One day, a computer will fit on a desk (1974) | RetroFocus

George Carlin American Slave ownersMarch 18, 2021

Kamala Harris in Milwaukee, touts economic efforts | FOX6 News Milwaukee

The laughing hyena strikes again.

Conservative political group gives away free gas while VP Harris visits Milwaukee

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Microsoft Racine County data center expansion, new AI training focus of Biden visit to state

From JSOnline:

Karl Ebert
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Microsoft plans a  major expansion of artificial intelligence education and job training programs in southeast Wisconsin, along with a huge increase in its plans for a data center complex now under construction in Mount Pleasant.

Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith will be joined by President Joe Biden in Racine County on Wednesday to highlight Microsoft's moves, which build upon the company's previous investments in the state.

Smith will announce a significant acceleration of the Mount Pleasant data center project, including a large increase of its value compared to the $1.4 billion it pledged when it bought more than 1,000 acres in the village's Wisconsin Innovation Park late last year.

The project is expected to bring 2,000 union construction jobs to the area by the end of this year.

Worker and business artificial intelligence training promised

He also will announce details of a multimillion-dollar investor in worker and business training partnerships that involve upskilling for non-traditional workers, a data center technician training program, and programs to provide business leaders and their technical and engineering teams with training to help them understand and effectively adopt AI and other emerging technology. Smith said the company hopes to provide training to 100,000 workers.

The jobs and training programs are tied to the construction of Microsoft's massive data center, the company's TitletownTech partnership with the Green Bay Packers, the company's involvement with the University of Wisconsin's Connected Systems Institute and technical education programs that Microsoft has supported in northeastern Wisconsin and Milwaukee.

"This builds on everything we've been doing for the last more than five years in Green Bay," Smith said in an interview on Tuesday.

"It builds on what we've been doing with the Connected Systems Institute at UW-Milwaukee. It builds on what I regard as a partnership that is unique ‒ the partnership between Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers. You know, it's just to me a fascinating example of how you can be more ambitious in the future if you've built a strong foundation."

Efforts focus on "the AI economy"

The jobs and training programs aim to bolster Wisconsin business and workers' participation in "the AI economy," with a multi-pronged approach that will open opportunities for students, workers in need of new skills, business leaders and others. The package of programs will be unique to Wisconsin with a focus on strengthening and building the state's manufacturing base.

"Wisconsin was settled and and founded in many ways, based on advances in manufacturing, and this is about making Wisconsin a global leader in manufacturing for the next three decades," Smith said.

Construction of the first Microsoft data center progresses Wednesday in Mount Pleasant. Microsoft has pledged a minimum value of $1.4 billion on the first phase of its development in the village's Wisconsin Innovation Park.

More:We Energies plans $335 million investment to power to Microsoft's Mount Pleasant data centers

Biden to contrast Microsoft growth with criticism on U.S. economy

Biden will speak in Racine County near the business park where Microsoft now owns nearly 2 square miles of developable land, most of which had been controlled by Foxconn International Holdings and held in reserve for what was to be a massive large-screen LCD manufacturing complex that was to create 13,000 jobs.

Biden is expected to tout the fast growth of Microsoft's plans for the Mount Pleasant data center and its commitment to business and workforce development as a prime example of the success of his economic growth and future-facing job creation policies.

The focus on Microsoft could allow Biden to draw a distinction between the speed with which the Microsoft development is coming together compared with the unfulfilled promise of its neighbor, Foxconn, which former President Donald Trump dubbed "the eighth wonder of the world" at a 2017 groundbreaking.

Trump so far made two campaign stops in Wisconsin this year. At both, he claimed Biden's policies caused inflation and have in general been bad for the country.

The message Biden is expected to deliver would parallel those made during previous stops in Wisconsin by the president and other administration officials other to highlight progress in the administration's "Investing in America" initiative, a package of bills passed in late 2021 and early 2022 that aims to encourage investments in domestic manufacturing and infrastructure, accelerate the nation's transition to clean energy, and create new, well-paying jobs.

Those messages aim to build support for Biden at a time when a recent Marquette University Law School poll found Wisconsin voters consider likely GOP nominee Trump better than Biden on the economy by a 52-34 margin.

More:Microsoft president: Wisconsin a 'really important state' for the tech giant. Here's why

More than building a data center, Microsoft aims to transform a state economy

Microsoft's first data center building is under construction and expected to open in 2026, and plans outlining three others have been submitted to the village. In all, the company owns nearly 2 square miles of industrial land, positioning it for decades of new construction.

The company's move beyond the brick and mortar project in Mount Pleasant stems from the company's recognition that its position as a technology innovator needs to be tied to a public benefit, Smith said.

"You can't have a great company without contributing to a great community. You need the community to support the company, the company needs to support the community," he said.

UWM, Gateway to help businesses adapt to changing tech environment

A centerpiece of the plan is a partnership with UW-Milwaukee and Gateway Technical College to launch an AI Co-Innovation Lab, an immersive training program in which companies' tech teams work with Microsoft AI and Internet of Things specialists to solve problems, develop technology strategies or simply better understand the opportunities new technology offers for manufacturing operations.

The lab would be Microsoft's third in the U.S. and the first east of the Rocky Mountains. As the first innovation lab that is a partnership with a university and focused on manufacturing, it is expected to become a magnet for companies across the country, Microsoft said.

The lab would be housed at UWM's Connected Systems Institute, a research and education center focused on advanced industrial processes. Microsoft in January gave the CSI $1.2 million to expand its programs. It also donated $1.5 million in 2019.

Staff would include two full-time and three part-time employees hired by Microsoft as well as two people from Titletown Tech, the initiative started in partnership with the Green Bay Packers in 2019 to provide venture capital and business development resources to technology entrepreneurs. 

Participation in the program, which aims to work with about 50 businesses, would be free. In addition to business training, the program would provide internship and fellowship opportunities for students and a pipeline to Titletown Tech for startup companies that enroll in the program.

The training and education initiatives also include:

  • Partnering with gener8or, a Madison-based startup business and skills accelerator program, to provide AI-related training for southeast Wisconsin leaders at primarily small and mid-sized businesses. The goal is to provide training for 1,000 companies over the next five years.
  • Expanding a partnership with United Way, schools and other organizations to bring people into quick-hitting, boot camp-style skills training programs for roles in well-paying tech fields. United Way is a key partner because of its ability to reach people who face barriers to well-paying jobs, the company said. The goal is to create 100,000 opportunities by 2030 for people to learn new skills and to use new applications, including Microsoft Copilot, a suite of Microsoft AI services.
  • Opening a previously announced data center academy at Gateway Technical College that will train up to 200 students a year as data center technicians. Graduates could be hired to work at Mount Pleasant or at other regional data centers.
  • Partnering with Racine Unified School District to expand its Girls in STEM program to two additional middle schools, allowing it to reach more than 500 middle-school aged girls over next five years.
  • Working with Racine County to support its Summer Youth Employment Program, matching at least 125 working-age high school students a year with local employers for on the job training.
"The big thing is reaching 100,000 people with skilling, reaching businesses so that they can really innovate in manufacturing," Smith said. "That's why we're building the infrastructure in the first place. So let's make sure the infrastructure serves the people and businesses of Wisconsin and that it isn't just a place that uses the land to serve the rest of the country."

Another boatload of promises, just like Fox-conjob.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Cipolla's 5 Laws of Human Stupidity

How Big Business Broke Recycling (And Blamed You)

Racine students can buy prom tickets with cash, but some say options still too limited

From JSOnline:

As more school districts move to online-only ticketing for events, some students say that excludes low-income and non-English speaking families.

Gina Lee Castro
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Just in time for this year's prom, students in Racine Unified School District can purchase their tickets in cash.

The agreement to accept cash payment for the county's main prom event comes 11 months after some students began advocating for the school district to expand options for cash ticketing. Those students said online-only ticket sales for school events caused barriers for low-income and non-English speaking families.

Racine's main prom event is organized by the Racine Founder's Rotary Club, not the school district. The service organization hosts a county-wide prom for high school students called "Post Prom." Not all high schools in the county have a traditional prom, so "Post Prom" is the only version of prom some students have access to.

Racine Unified School District spokesperson Stacy Tapp said the district asked Racine Rotary to accept cash payment for prom, and the organizers agreed.

"I think we're the only district in the county that requested to do cash sales," Tapp said in an email.

However, some students said they are unsatisfied that some RUSD schools are only offering cash sales on certain days.

A crowd of more than 40 students gathered on the lawn outside of the RUSD offices on May 1. Students and two teachers took turns speaking in a megaphone to demand the district reinstate cash payment for all events and for all days prom tickets are sold.

"It is a win, but why only two days? Why can't it be more?" said Jessica Malacara, a teacher and parent at Horlick High School.

Many of the students were from Horlick and are members of Youth Empowered in the Struggle, the youth chapter of immigrant rights organization Voces de la Frontera. They began protesting after the school district transferred ticketing for all after-school events to the online system Ticket Spicket in 2022.

The district stopped offering cash sales at events due to safety concerns and lack of staffing, said Tapp, the school district spokesperson.

But students with Youth Empowered in the Struggle said the limits on cash payment exclude households that don't have access to bank accounts or can't navigate the Ticket Spicket website in English.

The students' request to reinstate an on-site cash payment system for all after school events was turned down by Horlick and RUSD leadership, although district officials said staff will find ways to accommodate students who can only pay in cash.

Eliana Gibson, 17, said it's disappointing that cash sales for Post Prom tickets are restricted to just two days out of the two weeks that Horlick High School is selling tickets. She said students have to purchase tickets during lunch, and the line is so long that students might not have enough time to get their ticket and eat.

"People have to make sure that they get their money, and if it's only two days, it's like putting a barrier on them," Gibson said. "I don't think that's OK at all."

Tapp said the decision about how and when to sell prom tickets is made on a school-by-school basis. She encouraged students to approach their principals directly with complaints.

"The YES students are well-spoken and have demonstrated their ability to speak up for themselves and their peers," she said in an email. "If they have concerns, I would encourage them to approach their school leaders who are always willing to listen and work together when possible."

In previous years, Racine Rotary accepted cash payment, said spokesperson Alicia Schmitz. Racine Rotary has since transitioned to using the digital ticketing system Eventbrite because schools prefer it, she said.

"We're doing everything we can to work with the schools, and we will not turn the students away regardless of how the payment has to come in," Schmitz said.

Gina Castro is a Public Investigator reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She can be reached at


Sunday, May 5, 2024

What would marijuana reclassification mean in Wisconsin?

From JSOnline:

The Biden administration is expected to reclassify the federal government's position on marijuana, shifting it from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug.

Jessie Opoien
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – The Biden administration is expected to reclassify the federal government's position on marijuana, shifting it from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug, The Associated Press first reported.

The change would mean the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration would treat marijuana as a drug that can be lawfully prescribed as medication, rather than one believed to be highly dangerous, addictive and without medical use.

The move wouldn't fully legalize the drug, but would follow recommendations by the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice to place marijuana alongside drugs like testosterone, ketamine, Tylenol with codeine and anabolic steroids — substances deemed to have "moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence."

Schedule III drugs can be legally prescribed by licensed health care providers and dispensed by licensed pharmacies.

Marijuana has been a Schedule I drug since the Controlled Substances Act was signed in 1970.

What would reclassification mean for Wisconsin?

Probably not much, at least at first. Marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin, and the DEA reclassification would not fully address the inconsistencies between federal restrictions and state laws.

But it could open the door to additional research, which would further inform policymakers as they consider changes going forward.

The Wisconsin Medical Society supports reclassification, "with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods." The organization has previously opposed "medical" marijuana proposals because of the lack of scientific research available on the drug, particularly which elements of the plant have therapeutic potential and which could cause harm.

Is marijuana legal in Wisconsin now?


Marijuana use of any kind is illegal in Wisconsin. Penalties for possession vary. A first offense in a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Additional offenses are charged as felonies.

Transporting marijuana from one state back to Wisconsin is a federal crime because cannabis is still illegal under federal law.

Have elected officials considered legalization?


Democratic proposals to legalize marijuana have generally been met with GOP resistance. In recent years, some Republican lawmakers have shown interest in legalizing cannabis for medicinal use, but have struggled to reach consensus.

Most recently, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other Assembly Republicans put forward a medical marijuana bill that would have created state-run dispensaries and would not allow users to smoke cannabis.

Senate Republicans opposed the bill's proposal to create government-run dispensaries, and Senate President Chris Kapenga questioned the wisdom of legalizing marijuana for any reason.

How popular is the idea of legalizing cannabis use?

Wisconsin is one of 12 states where recreational or medical marijuana is not available.

Using marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor's approval is a popular idea among Wisconsin voters — 86% supported it in a January 2024 Marquette University Law School poll. In the same poll, full legalization was supported by 63% of Wisconsin voters.

What about all the cannabis products already for sale in Wisconsin?

recent investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Examination and found that chemical cousins to marijuana — with names like delta-8, HHC and THCH — are prevalent in Wisconsin at gas stations, strip mall dispensaries and even tourist shops.

The investigation found that these largely unregulated products are causing a sharp rise in reports of children and adults getting sick, alarming doctors and public health researchers.

The emergence of delta-8 and similar products can be traced to the 2018 Farm Bill, when Congress legalized the sale of hemp and products extracted from it. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that has low levels of delta-9 THC, the psychoactive compound that gets people high. 

USA TODAY contributed.


Friday, May 3, 2024

Daily Dose of Internet: This Shouldn't Be Possible

Just Rolled In: Customer States Another Shop Caused Rear Wheels To Lock Up

The Large Hadron Collider | 60 Minutes Archive

Are Libraries Becoming More Dangerous?

Joe Biden to make 4th trip to Wisconsin with Racine visit next week

From JSOnline:

Jessie Opoien
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

President Joe Biden will return to Wisconsin for the fourth time in 2024 next week, his campaign confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Biden, a Democrat, plans to visit Racine on May 8, where he will deliver official remarks and then hold a campaign event.

The trip follows Republican former President Donald Trump's second stop in Wisconsin this year.

"President Biden is showing up yet again to speak with Wisconsinites about the issues that matter most to us, including his administration’s historic investments in our communities, economic gains made under his leadership, and he and Vice President Harris’s commitment to defending fundamental freedoms," Garren Randolph, Wisconsin Democratic coordinated campaign manager, said in a statement. "Wisconsin voters will show up for President Biden and Vice President Harris this November just like we did in 2020."

More:In interview, Trump doesn't commit to accepting Wisconsin election results if he loses

With polls showing a tight presidential race in this battleground state, Trump rallied a crowd in Waukesha on Wednesday around immigration and economic issues. It was his first rally since his criminal trial began in New York last month; he's accused of falsifying business records during his 2016 campaign to conceal an affair.

As Biden continues to campaign across the country, Trump has spent much of his time in a Manhattan courtroom.

"Never forget our enemies want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom. I'm never going to let it happen, " Trump said in Waukesha on Wednesday. "They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you."

The Biden campaign has highlighted its commitment to Wisconsin, noting that this is the first time the Democratic presidential nominee has made Milwaukee a state campaign headquarters in at least two decades. That site is one of 46 general election offices across the state, according to the campaign, including one in Racine.

The Biden campaign also noted that the Republican National Committee declined to renew its lease in its Hispanic outreach center in Milwaukee’s south side Lincoln Village, and the location is slated to become an ice cream shop

Trump's first Wisconsin rally of the 2024 election was in Green Bay early last month. There, he attacked Biden over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Wisconsin is one of just a handful of states that will decide the next presidential contest, and Biden and Trump are locked in a tight rematch of 2020. A Marquette University Law Poll released last month showed Trump leading Biden 51%-49% among both registered voters and likely voters.

Jessie Opoien can be reached at


What a choice we face in November: Sleepy Joe or Conman Trump.

Ho-Chunk Nation decriminalizes cannabis. This is what that does, and doesn't, mean.

From JSOnline:

Frank Vaisvilas
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Kristin White Eagle, who serves as a member of Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Legislature, says it’s time for Wisconsin to legalize cannabis.

“Across the country, we have seen the benefits of cannabis,” she said in a statement. “It’s time to move toward an end to this prohibition.”

White Eagle and the rest of the Ho-Chunk tribal legislature voted to decriminalize cannabis on tribal lands, according to an announcement April 30.

They reasoned that millions of dollars in potential revenue leaves Wisconsin every year as residents buy cannabis from surrounding states that have legalized it.

“The Ho-Chunk Nation recognizes that marijuana and its derivatives are natural growth plants with medicinal and industrial applications,” the tribe said in a statement. “Indigenous people have used marijuana and hemp for hundreds of years for a variety of purposes and the Ho-Chunk Nation acknowledges its functional purpose.”

Cannabis is illegal in Wisconsin and on the federal level, but the tribe said it anticipates entering the cannabis business once it becomes legal in the state.

But tribal law experts say there's still a legal question about whether tribal nations can allow cannabis sales on federal trust reservation land — land that isn't subject to local jurisdiction or taxes but still must abide by federal law.

Matthew Fletcher, a University of Michigan law professor who specializes in tribal law, doubts tribal nations can have much success in that endeavor without a change in federal law.

"The only way to do that would be on tribal trust land/Indian country land, and since federal law still bans cannabis, no, there’s no way," Fletcher said. "That doesn’t mean tribes won’t do it, but they are at the complete mercy of the whims of the federal government’s decision to prosecute or not. It’s no way to do business. Same is true even if the state makes it legal."

But Wednesday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration signaled it intends to reclassify cannabis as a less dangerous drug, eight months after the U.S. Department of Health recommended that it do so.

The reclassification of cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug means the federal government would acknowledge the potential medical benefits of the drug and it would be legal for medicinal purposes at the federal level.

But states could still choose to make cannabis illegal, even for medicinal use.

It’s unclear if tribes in Wisconsin would allow sales of cannabis for medicinal use if it becomes legal on the federal level but remained illegal at the state level.

Rob Pero of Canndigenous and the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association is organizing tribal support for the legalization of cannabis in Wisconsin.

“Tribes are able today to self-determine their interests in cannabis and the complex landscape requires the navigation of local, tribal, state and federal policy,” said Rob Pero, founder of the nonprofit Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association. “We see the reclassification empowering tribes to engage meaningfully throughout the supply chain, from farming to processing to retail and more, as well as to facilitate interstate nation-to-nation commerce.”

The Ho-Chunk Nation is a member of the ICIA, along with three Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin — Lac du Flambeau, St. Croix and Sokaogon Mole Lake — and is lobbying Madison with its Indigenous partners for legalization of cannabis.

“This is a history day for Ho-Chunk,” Pero said of the tribe’s vote on cannabis. “We commend their commitment to increasing accessibility to plant medicine. … They are building and environment now, before prohibition ends, that will position them to lead the industry, create sustainable economic opportunity and improve the health and wellbeing of our people.”

Tribes in states where cannabis is legal have already entered the industry and are seeing large profits,

Robert Van Zile, chairman of the Mole Lake Ojibwe Tribe in Wisconsin, said the Hannahville Potawatomi Tribe, about 100 miles east of Mole Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, earns about 90% of its $5 million annual cannabis business revenue from Wisconsin residents.

He said Wisconsin is losing tens of millions of dollars to surrounding states where cannabis is legal, including Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

Frank Vaisvilas is a former Report for America corps member who covers Native American issues in Wisconsin based at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Contact him at or 815-260-2262. Follow him on Twitter at @vaisvilas_frank.