U.S. and World Headlines


McCarthy, Opponents Inch Toward Deal To End Speakership Fight

Rep. Kevin McCarthy and some of his GOP detractors appeared Thursday to be nearing a deal that would bring him closer to the Speakership, even as his most vocal critics vowed that it wouldn’t be enough to grant him the gavel.

The two sides were working furiously behind closed doors to carve out an agreement even as McCarthy lost five more floor votes for the Speakership, with the same band of opponents voting against him. It made 11 straight ballot losses for McCarthy.

“It’s changes that we wanted,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), one of the 20 Republicans consistently voting against McCarthy, said of the offers coming from the McCarthy camp.

“Now, we got a lot more we got to get to,” he cautioned. “But this round one, it’s on paper, which is a good thing.”

McCarthy allies also voiced optimism, saying they felt progress was being made.

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Faith On The Hill

As it begins its 118th session, the U.S. Congress remains largely untouched by two trends that have long marked religious life in the United States: a decades-long decline in the share of Americans who identify as Christian, and a corresponding increase in the percentage who say they have no religious affiliation.

Since 2007, the share of Christians in the general population has dropped from 78% to its present level of 63%. Nearly three-in-ten U.S. adults now say they are religiously unaffiliated, describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” up from 16% who did not identify with a religion 16 years ago.

But Christians make up 88% of the voting members of the new 118th Congress being sworn in on Jan. 3 – only a few percentage points lower than the Christian share of Congress in the late 1970s. In the 96th Congress, which was in session in 1979-1980, 91% of members of Congress identified as Christian.

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3 Questions We Have About George Santos

Before the revelations, George Santos was the type of fresh face the Republican Party would have put front and center. The representative-elect is Latino, openly gay and just 34 years old. And by winning the election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District last year, he appeared to have cracked the code to succeeding as a Republican on Democratic-leaning turf.

But now, Republicans seem to want nothing to do with Santos. Last month, the world learned that he fabricated much of his biography and may have broken U.S. and Brazilian law. Santos now admits that he did not graduate from college, never worked at Citigroup or Goldman Sachs, does not own 13 properties and is not Jewish. In addition, he is still in arrears for unpaid rent from several years ago, did not fully disclose the source of his income on his personal financial disclosure forms and was accused of check fraud as a 19-year-old in Brazil.

All these questions about Santos’s past have begotten other questions — about his place in Congress and political future. Here’s our best shot at answering three of them.

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President's Ambitious Plan To Bring Down Migration From Cuba, Haiti And Nicaragua By 90%

The Biden administration announced Thursday it was expanding Trump-era restrictions to rapidly expel Cuban, Haitian, and Nicaraguan migrants caught illegally crossing the southern border.

Instead, it will accept 30,000 people per month from those three countries, as well as Venezuela, so long as they arrive legally.

Even in announcing the plan, Biden acknowledged that it was far from perfect.

'The actions we're announcing today will make things better ... will make things better but will not fix the border problem completely,' he said.

And both left and right were quick to reup their longstanding complaints about the administration's immigration policies.

Here's what the Biden plan does and doesn't do.

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Idaho Murders: Bryan Kohberger Changed License Plate Five Days After Student Slayings

The suspect in the grisly murders of four University of Idaho students switched his license plate five days after his car was spotted near the crime scene, according to state records and a newly unsealed case filing.

Investigators believe Bryan Kohberger drove his 2015 white Hyundai Elantra from Pullman, Washington, to Moscow, Idaho, on Nov. 13, when Kaylee Goncalves, Maddie Mogen, Xana Kernodle and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin were stabbed to death, Moscow police said in an arrest affidavit released Thursday.

Prior to the killings Kohberger had been driving his Elantra with the Pennsylvania plate LFZ-8649, according to the affidavit.

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Wisconsin Headlines


Report: State And Local Tax Burden Falls To Lowest Share Of Income On Record

The combined state and local tax burden in Wisconsin fell in 2022 to its lowest share of income on record thanks to a new round of tax cuts and growing salaries, the Wisconsin Policy Forum reports.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, state and local tax revenues accounted for 10.1 percent of personal income in the state, compared to 10.3 percent in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Along with the $1 billion a year in state income tax cuts approved for 2021-22, property tax caps helped hold down local revenues. And the state saw personal income grow 6.7 percent in calendar year 2021, the most recent available.

Altogether, state and local tax collections rose to $35.36 billion for fiscal year 2022, up 4.1 percent from the $33.97 billion in the previous year. With income growth outstripping that increase in tax collections, it drove down the burden.

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Wisconsin Man Arrested For Online Crimes Targeting Children

United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced that on January 4, 2023, a criminal complaint was issued charging David A. Johnson (age: 36) of Marinette, Wisconsin, with attempted production of child pornography and the transfer of obscene material to a minor in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2251(a) and 1470.

The attempted production of child pornography charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years of incarceration in federal prison upon conviction. The transfer of obscene material charge carries up to ten years’ imprisonment. A conviction on either charge would require Johnson to register as a sexual offender.

According to the criminal complaint, Johnson engaged in sexual conversations with minors located in Ohio and Florida using various social media applications. Johnson sent digital images of his genitals to the minors and urged the minors to send sexually explicit images of themselves to him. Johnson also engaged with an individual whom he believed to be a minor child located in Wisconsin. That individual was in fact an undercover law enforcement agent investigating Johnson’s online activities.

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DNR Assisting With Clean-Up Of Butter Spill Following Fire In Columbia County

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is helping local government and applicable parties clean up a butter spill that resulted from a fire at the Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI) facility in Portage, Wisconsin. The fire happened on Jan. 2.

DNR staff report that approximately 20 gallons of butter entered the adjacent canal via a storm sewer. Absorbent booms were deployed in the canal to contain the discharged material. The butter has since been removed.

The storm sewers are currently clear due to the volume of fire suppression water that flushed through them during the firefighting efforts.

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Wisconsin Circuit Court Clears Way To Sell Unbaked Goods From Home

A Wisconsin trial court has cleared the way for Wisconsin food producers to sell homemade shelf-stable or unbaked goods.

Plaintiffs, in this case, are savoring this legal victory for now but say the battle isn't over just yet.

"Wisconsin is really the last holdout on cottage food in the whole nation," said Kriss Marion, owner of Circle M Bed and Breakfast.

That was the case until Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Rhonda L. Lanford ruled that the government may not prevent people from selling homemade, shelf-stable foods directly to consumers. This ruling means that Wisconsinites may use their home kitchens to support their families with sales of safe foods like fudges, doughnuts, and roasted coffee beans.

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Largest Land Conservation Effort In State History Threatened As Lawmakers Object To Funding

Lawmakers on the state’s finance committee are objecting to what would be the largest land conservation effort in Wisconsin history, threatening to halt the project altogether.

The Conservation Fund, a national environmental conservation group, bought 70,000 acres of private forestland across northern Wisconsin in 2021 called the Pelican River Forest to set it aside for recreational use and logging.

Last fall, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board signed off on a $15.5 million conservation easement to preserve more than 56,000 acres of the forest. The state Department of Natural Resources has been working with the group to secure easements for the property east of Rhinelander.

The bulk of the easement would be funded by a $10.8 million federal forest legacy grant, but the state would also have to contribute funding.

On Thursday, Republican Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, said she and other members of the Joint Committee on Finance, who she declined to name, objected to using around $4 million from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to pay for the project.

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Last Update: Jan 06, 2023 5:23 am CST

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