Morning Headlines - Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

U.S. & World and Wisconsin trending headlines, and the meme of the day.

Morning Headlines - Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

U.S. and World Headlines

5 Takeaways From Volodymyr Zelensky’s Historic Visit To Washington

Three-hundred days after his country was invaded by Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky jetted to Washington, DC, for talks on what the next 300 days might bring.

Shrouded in secrecy until the last minute, the historic visit was heavy with symbolism, from Zelensky’s drab green sweatshirt to President Joe Biden’s blue-and-yellow striped tie to the Ukrainian battle flag unfurled on the House floor.

But the trip was about far more than symbols. Biden wouldn’t invite Zelensky to Washington – and endure a risky trip outside Ukraine for the first time since the war began – if he did not believe something real could be accomplished meeting face-to-face instead of over the phone.

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Five Things We’ve Learned Through The Release Of Trump’s Tax Records

The main tax committee in the House voted Tuesday night to release six years of tax returns belonging to former President Trump as part of an investigation into the presidential audit program at the IRS. The vote was 24-16 and fell along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against.

The returns include six years of personal returns as well as returns for eight of Trump’s businesses. They’ll be released within a few days following redactions, committee members said Tuesday.

Reports from the Ways and Means Committee about the IRS’s presidential audit program as well as from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on the content of the tax returns have already been released.

Here’s what we know from their reports and from what lawmakers have been saying.

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A FTX Co-Founder And The Former CEO At Alameda Research Plead Guilty To Fraud

Two of Sam Bankman-Fried's top business partners — a co-founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and the former CEO of the hedge fund Alameda Research — have pleaded guilty to fraud, a federal prosecutor in New York said Wednesday.

Former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang are cooperating with prosecutors, the U.S. attorney for Southern New York said in a video statement.

Ellison and Wang were charged “in connection with their roles in the frauds that contributed to FTX’s collapse,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

A plea agreement for the criminal charges shows seven counts for Ellison, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering. In Wang’s case, the plea agreement list four charges, including wire fraud and conspiracy counts.

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Life Expectancy Falls For Second Straight Year Due To Covid-19, Drug Overdoses

Accelerating deaths from COVID-19 and drug overdoses fueled a second straight year of worsening life expectancy, down to the shortest it has been since 1996, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The estimates, published in a new report now analyzing the "final data" on American death certificates tracked by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, make official a steep decline first reported by the agency based on "preliminary data" back in August.

The final estimates differ only slightly from the provisional ones released earlier this year. At the time of the August report, federal authorities had already received data on more than 99% of death certificates for 2021.

Americans born in 2021 are expected to live 76.4 years, the report's authors now estimate. That is down from a peak of 78.8 years in 2019.

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How New IRS Rules Could Affect Venmo, Zelle And CashApp Users

A tweak to the tax code enacted last year was intended to ensure that those who use services such as Venmo, CashApp, Etsy, StubHub and Airbnb to collect money are reporting all their income to the IRS. The change was part of the Biden administration’s efforts to narrow the $7 trillion “tax gap” between revenue that is owed and revenue that is collected.

But for millions of Americans, the new requirement means additional tax forms, potentially higher tax bills and a lot of confusion. That is stirring anxiety among some of the middle-class taxpayers and independent business owners who President Joe Biden promised would be spared from greater tax scrutiny.

The new tax policy was tucked into the stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan, which Democrats passed in 2021. It has gone largely unnoticed because it applies to income earned this year and affects taxes that most Americans will pay in 2023. It is projected to raise about $8 billion in additional tax revenue over a decade.

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Wisconsin Headlines

Gov. Evers: Wisconsin Monitoring TikTok, But No Plans For A Ban

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday that his administration is keeping a close eye on state devices that use TikTok, a popular social media app that national lawmakers proposed banning just a day earlier.

Evers told the Wisconsin State Journal that his office is in frequent contact with the FBI and emergency management officials to make sure the app doesn't pose a security risk, but the governor said he isn't looking to outlaw the platform on state devices.

"It is a small number of people who actually use it," Evers said. "That said, we take it seriously."

Republican members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation called on Evers earlier this month to ban the app, citing their concerns that the Chinese government could use TikTok to spy on users and spread propaganda. In an omnibus spending bill released Monday, lawmakers proposed banning the app on government devices.

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Could Cash Incentives Lure More Residents To Wisconsin Cities And Towns?

Local leaders across the country are asking that question, as communities turn to incentive programs in a bid to lure more residents and workers.

More than 70 communities in the U.S. are offering people at least $1,000 in cash or other incentives if they relocate, a new study from the Wisconsin Policy Forum found.

And the majority, or 61 percent of those programs are based in the Midwest, according to the analysis which used data from MakeMyMove.com and other sources.

The Midwest may be a hub for such programs because certain pockets of the region are trying to reverse population loss, said the study's author, Mark Sommerhauser. Small and rural communities, in particular, may be feeling a pinch as more people flock to in-demand regions like the West Coast and Sunbelt.

"That has created, I think, a little bit of an impetus for some of those communities to try to look at new, perhaps more aggressive strategies to try to entice workers, oftentimes, professional workers, that are relatively highly paid to relocate to their community," he said.

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Governor Evers Focused On Increasing Shared Revenue To Impact Reckless Driving

Reckless driving isn’t just a problem in Milwaukee. Solutions for a statewide problem are needed from politicians in Madison.

“Reckless driving is an issue,” Governor Tony Evers said. “Believe me. Having people die and be unsafe on the roads is not an acceptable alternative. Whatever we can do to make that happen, I am pleased with some of the infrastructure changes that [Milwaukee] made on some of the streets.”

As the sun sets on Evers' first term as governor, his focus has shifted towards term two. The incumbent governor will be inaugurated for his second term on Jan. 3 and to make an impact on reckless driving, he says increasing shared revenue is key.

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Lyndon Station Man Sentenced To 5 Years For Receiving Child Pornography

Kyle O. Luke, 27, of Lyndon Station, Wisconsin, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to five years in federal prison for receiving child pornography. This prison term will be followed by 15 years of supervised release. Luke pleaded guilty to this charge on September 13, 2022.

In January 2022, agents executed a search warrant at Luke’s home based on a tip provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. During the search, agents seized numerous electronic devices. Agents interviewed Luke and he admitted that he accessed child pornography with his phone and that there may still be videos on that phone that had been sent to him on Snapchat.

At the time of the offense in this case, Luke was on supervision for attempted 2nd degree sexual assault and child enticement. Because Judge Conley found the defendant had a pattern of minimizing his sexually deviant conduct, three years of the sentence in this case will run consecutive to a five-year sentence the defendant is currently serving in that prior case. 

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Madison Man Sentenced To 6 Years For Illegal Gun Possession

Devin Crayton, 33, Madison, Wisconsin pleaded guilty and was sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge James Peterson to six years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

On or about January 11, 2022, Crayton was handling a firearm and discharged it in his girlfriend’s residence. Later that morning he was arrested. Officers obtained a warrant to search the house and found an unloaded Taurus 9mm handgun along with a magazine containing four live rounds. They also found a bullet hole from the upstairs hallway that travelled down into the living area, and a stolen police captain’s badge and handcuff case.  Crayton is a convicted felon, has been to prison in Nevada, and is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Crayton said that he likes “car shopping” (stealing from vehicles) and that the police badge was in a bag that he took. He also admitted that he was handling the gun when it discharged in the house. While the defendant said it was a negligent discharge and he only briefly handled it, a witness said that Crayton always carried the gun, that he had pointed it at her before, and that he fired it in the house to wake people up as he was trying to get methamphetamine.

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Last Update: Dec 22, 2022 5:03 am CST

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