WUWM

Maayan Silver

Racial justice issues remain front and center in 2021.

A few days after the start of the new year, the Kenosha County district attorney announced that the officer who shot Jacob Blake in the back won’t face charges.

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The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Wisconsin on Dec. 14, 2020 with the first vaccinations that afternoon.

Wisconsin is currently in phase 1a of the vaccination effort, which includes health care workers, first responders and those in long-term care facilities.

Kate is a speech therapist in an acute care medical setting. She is one of the many Wisconsin health care workers who has gotten the first dose of the vaccine.

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There are currently only six states in the U.S. that have laws against hair discrimination: California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, and Washington. Montgomery County, Maryland also bans the practice.

Lawmakers in Wisconsin introduced a similar bill in 2019 but it didn’t pass.

Now, Milwaukee’s Common Council is stepping up with its own measure. Alderwoman Milele Coggs is one of the co-sponsors. She says for many people, hair is not “just hair.”

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COVID-19 vaccinations resume Tuesday at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee. Not for the general public yet  — but for some workers in the city.

Mayor Tom Barrett is especially urging home health care employees to get the vaccine.

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Updated 1:55 p.m.

Everyone over age 65 in Wisconsin will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Monday, a group of 700,000 people that is more expansive than originally envisioned to be next in line for the shot, the state Department of Health Services said Tuesday.

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Micro weddings or weddings with under 75 guests were growing in popularity even before gathering limits were put in place due to the pandemic. While traditional, big weddings are on hold as COVID-19 continues to devastate Wisconsin, celebrations will happen again one day.

With high costs and extra planning associated with long guest lists, micro weddings can be a way to create a more intimate feeling during your wedding celebration.

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Wisconsin’s plan for the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations covers essential workers, including teachers, child care providers, law enforcement officers and hospital staff who aren’t on the front lines.

In Wisconsin, it doesn’t include grocery store employees, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the states’ second phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. Grocery store owners, who thought their employees would be included in the next phase, are upset.

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Every year the Wisconsin Policy Forum releases a top five list of their most important findings from the year.

Rob Henken is the president of the Wisconsin Policy Forum and he discusses each finding.

1. Shift to online shopping helps taxpayers but not state budget.

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Updated 12:11 p.m

From 1942 to 1945, Hollywood created over 200 movies centered around World War II. Thus creating the genre of World War II films, which continued in its popularity even into the 21st Century.

In a new book, “World War II On Film”, author Dave Luhrssen examines the genre through 12 movies and explains how they painted a picture of the war that often blurred the lines of reality.

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The Wisconsin National Guard says 500 of its members are now in the Washington, D.C. area. They're part of roughly 25,000 Guard troops from around the U.S. scheduled to provide safety at this week's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Some members of Congress have raised questions about whether Guard members in D.C. should be screened for their political beliefs, when the nation is so divided just two weeks after pro-Trump extremists attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Wisconsin National Guard spokesman, Maj. Joe Trovato, says the state does no such screening.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Wisconsin’s Congress members broke along party lines last week when the House voted to impeach President Donad Trump for his role in inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead. It’s now up to the U.S. Senate to decide whether to hold a trial that could lead to a conviction, even after Trump’s term expires this week and President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

In this week’s Capitol Notes, Marti Mikkelson asks JR Ross of wispolitics.com where Wisconsin’s two senators, Republican Ron Johnson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin, stand on this issue.

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Wisconsin’s top health official, who has led the state throughout the coronavirus pandemic, is leaving for a job with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President-elect Joe Biden.

Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, has been nominated as deputy secretary of the federal agency.

Palm will work to fulfill Biden's pledge to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and speed up the rate of vaccinations.

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At the beginning of January, the Kenosha County district attorney announced that he would not criminally charge Officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Jacob Blake in the back multiple times while responding to a domestic violence complaint. Blake was paralyzed from the waist down.

The DA said Sheskey’s use of force was acceptable under the circumstances, and that Skeskey had a valid self-defense claim that would prevent the DA from prevailing at trial.

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There are no confirmed reports of any weekend protests in Wisconsin by supporters of President Donald Trump. But Gov. Tony Evers said Friday afternoon that law enforcement is "well-prepared" to protect the state Capitol building in Madison. 

There have been rumors of potential armed protests at state capitols following the Jan. 6 chaos at the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in numerous arrests of pro-Trump extremists.

Earlier this week, Evers announced the mobilization of some Wisconsin National Guard members in the Madison area. Boards were put on some state Capitol windows.

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Wisconsin is launching a mobile coronavirus vaccination program next week to be operated by the Wisconsin National Guard and health officials, Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday.

Nine mobile labs will be dispatched across the state starting Tuesday, Evers said. They will be staffed by members of the National Guard as well as pharmacy and nursing student volunteers through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin System.

As more vaccine is released to the state, the program will expand access with local partners, Evers said.

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The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Friday voted to allow on the ballot a former lawmaker running for a vacancy in the state Senate, rejecting a challenge that he doesn't live in the district.

Jack Hurbanis / WUWM

The number of people getting tested for COVID-19 in Milwaukee County continues to be lower than health officials would like. They’re urging residents to take advantage of testing capacity.

During a media update Thursday, Darren Rausch, director of the City of Greenfield Health Department, said data trends are showing continued increases in cases county wide in the most recent weeks.

Yet, he said, testing is still lower than expected.

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On Friday afternoon, President-Elect Joe Biden shared a detailed plan to tackle the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, promising to fight the pandemic with "the full strength of the federal government."

In a speech in Delaware, Biden laid out his five-part plan for how to speed up the vaccination campaign: Open up vaccine eligibility to more people; create more vaccination sites; increase vaccine supply; hire a vaccination workforce; and launch a large-scale public education campaign.

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The non-partisan state panel charged with drawing fair, impartial election maps for Wisconsin legislative and Congressional districts this year turned its focus to the 4th Congressional District in Milwaukee County Thursday night. 

The People's Maps Commission heard from local attorneys and leaders of the Hmong and the Oneida Nation communities, who argued past gerrymandering has hurt low-income and non-white citizens.

Courtesy of Kim Wilde Corben

For the kickoff of our new season of Bubbler Talk, I thought I would tackle a question from our listener Erin Christie.

“Can you do an appreciation segment on the prevalence of basement bars in Milwaukee?”

Ah, the basement bar. Raised in the Milwaukee area, I remember them well.

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Wisconsin's newest member of Congress, Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, said Thursday he didn't know if President Donald Trump incited the riot last week at the U.S. Capitol and wants a full investigation to find out what motivated the mob.

Courtesy of Samba Baldeh

Newly elected Rep. Samba Baldeh is the first Muslim member of the Wisconsin Legislature. Before becoming a representative, Baldeh, an immigrant from Gambia, served on the Madison Common Council. He now represents Wisconsin’s 48th Assembly District.

As for what Baldeh hopes to accomplish, he says he wants to expand health care programs, like Medicaid, so that struggling communities have proper access to medical care.

Criminal justice reform is also on the top of Baldeh's mind, he says, not only in terms of police reform but also in keeping people out of prison.

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Updated at 4:45 p.m. CST

A Republican-backed push to fast-track redistricting lawsuits in the Wisconsin Supreme Court met with skepticism during a Thursday hearing, with the court's conservative chief justice questioning why the proposal was necessary and how the thinly staffed court could be expected to draw maps.

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As a violent mob tore through the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, questions about what could be done to those who were seen as inciting the crowd arose. While the constitution prohibits the government from taking action against those exercising their freedom of speech or freedom to peaceably assemble, there are laws against inciting violence.

Paul Nolette is a professor and chair of the department of political science at Marquette University and he says the question of where free speech ends and inciting violence begins is a question courts have dealt with for years.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Wisconsin's newest member of Congress — Rep. Scott Fitzgerald — joined the rest of the state's Republican House members Wednesday in a failed attempt to prevent the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

It was the latest in a series of controversial votes by Fitzgerald, a former state Senator, who has only served in Congress about ten days after being elected in the suburban 5th Congressional District in November. He replaced retiring Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

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The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted Thursday to impeach Republican President Donald Trump for the second time during his term.

The vote was 232-197, with Wisconsin’s delegation voting along party lines.

The articles of impeachment charge Trump with inciting a riot inside the U.S. Capitol, in which five people died.

Several members of Wisconsin’s delegation spoke during the debate, including Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee.

Andy Stenz

After the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, some conservatives tried to make connections between the Act 10 protests in Wisconsin’s Capitol in 2011 and the insurrection. In the days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, many continued to try and draw comparisons, including former Gov. Scott Walker.

Courtesy of Francesca Hong

Wisconsin voters made history in November by electing the first Asian American to the state Legislature. Francesca Hong is a chef and restaurant owner, and now a state representative. She was elected to represent the state’s 76th Assembly District, which covers a portion of Madison.

Rep. Hong, a Democrat, talks with WUWM's LaToya Dennis about the work that lies ahead. She begins by explaining her feelings about being elected: “I am both incredibly motivated, grateful and terrified at the same time."

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Updated at 1:13 p.m.

A Black man who was shot in the back by a white police officer in Wisconsin, triggering several nights of violent protests over the summer and leaving him partially paralyzed, said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he was prepared to surrender just before the officer opened fire.

Screenshot / WUWM / Facebook

WUWM has been partnering with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee PBS and the Milwaukee Public Library on an initiative called Listen MKE. Its goal: help north side residents get the information they want and need.

This Listen MKE conversation focuses on COVID-19 and the devastating effect it's had on Milwaukee’s Black community. Many of the survivors face unique physical and mental health challenges.

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