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Rock County first responders learn canine first aid


Almost all the knowledge a paramedic uses to treat humans can be used to help an injured police dog.

Most paramedics don’t know that, said Paul McNamara, a veterinarian and owner of Odin’s Fund, a nonprofit that teaches canine first aid to first responders.

McNamara demonstrated canine first aid for a packed room full of Rock County first responders Friday at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville.

His class teaches basic first aid that will help police dogs that are injured on the job.

Police dogs face the same hazards as human officers: guns, knives, explosives, chemicals, insects and other threats. Dogs often approach a scene first, making them the most vulnerable, McNamara said.

The opioid epidemic has exposed dogs and humans to even more danger because of substances such as carfentanyl, which can cause overdoses simply by touching it, McNamara said.

Friday’s class was one of the most impressive groups McNamara has trained, he said, because it included canine handlers, paramedics, doctors and other first responders who normally don’t attend the training.

The turnout showed the commitment local professionals have to police dogs and the community, he said.

Many medical skills that stabilize humans before they’re transported to a hospital can also help police dogs, McNamara said. Likewise, many of the same drugs that help humans can be used on dogs—just in smaller doses.

Rock County sheriff’s Deputy Nathan DeBoer and his partner, Sasha, a German shepherd-Malinois mix, helped give a demonstration to the class Friday.

McNamara used Sasha to show how to approach an injured police dog: give a visual examination, approach the dog from the front, give the dog a few pats and scratches for comfort and then begin care.

Sasha let McNamara check her pulse and arteries.

DeBoer then scooped up the large dog in both hands to show how a handler can calm a dog for an exam.

Police dogs provide valuable services to law enforcement and the community. Treating humans is always the priority during an emergency, but helping a police dog preserves an important resource, McNamara said.

Jennifer Gibson Chambers, an MD-1 physician, said police dogs provide another layer of safety to medical staff in dangerous scenarios.

Parker McKenzie, a paramedic who works with Beloit’s Special Weapons and Tactics team, said he has never seen a police dog get hurt, but he was glad to know what do if that happened. He was surprised at how many of his paramedic skills transfer to animals.

For her part, Sasha didn’t seem nervous at all. She lay in DeBoer’s arms with her tongue out, tail wagging, loving the medical attention she was getting.

Hanoi summit nightmare scenario: Bad deals and little change

HANOI, Vietnam

The nightmare scenario heading into the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un isn’t so much “fire and fury” and millions dead. Rather, some experts fear the meeting could result in an ill-considered deal that allows North Korea to get everything it wants while giving up very little, even as the mercurial leaders trumpet a blockbuster nuclear success.

There’s little argument that just sitting down together again in the same room this week in Hanoi is a positive sign for two men who seemed to be flirting with a second Korean War in 2017, and there is, as the White House trumpeted ahead of the summit, “a tremendous opportunity” here to address a monumental problem that has flummoxed generations of policymakers.

But with the stakes so high, a growing chorus of experts highlight a particular risk: that Trump, burned by criticism that the results of his June meeting with Kim in Singapore were vague at best and an outright failure at worst, will ignore his more cautious aides and try to strike a deal that is cobbled together on the fly with little preparatory work.

Why is this potentially dangerous? Because when it comes to North Korean nuclear diplomacy, all deals are not created equal.

A look at some of the anxieties that are swirling ahead of the Hanoi summit:

Worry No. 1:

A piecemeal deal

South Korean newspapers have been filled with unidentified government sources suggesting Trump and Kim might strike a deal that stops far short of the road map for the full denuclearization of the North that the United States has long insisted on.

Instead, Kim could agree to give up only part of his arsenal—his intercontinental missiles aimed at America, for instance, or his main nuclear reactor—in return for an easing of harsh sanctions. There’s also fear that Trump will eventually orchestrate some sort of drawdown of U.S. troops from South Korea or an extended halt to U.S.-South Korean military drills.

For Trump, such a deal could generate a much-needed rush of “breakthrough” headlines to help distract from swirling investigations in Washington while helping assure his supporters that he is protecting the American mainland.

Kim, for his part, would be taking a huge step toward cementing the North as a nuclear weapons state and, as a bonus, driving a wedge in the U.S.-South Korea alliance that the North maintains is aimed at the overthrow of the Kim family—all without addressing the North’s arsenal of short- and mid-range nuclear armed missiles aimed at Seoul, Tokyo and other parts of Asia.

Those in favor of this kind of piecemeal deal say it’s simply a matter of accepting reality: North Korea won’t give up nukes it sees as crucial to deterring what it calls U.S. hostility, so the wise move is to work to first limit or freeze the program’s most worrisome aspects and then work toward total denuclearization.

Skeptics say this would give the North too much in return for too little. They want instead something that first forces Pyongyang to list the particulars of its nuclear program, then allows outsiders to verify the list and see the program demolished.

“Ad hoc deals or piecemeal negotiations absent an agreed-on road map would allow Pyongyang to dictate the terms, pace and duration of the diplomatic process without making a dent in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal,” Duyeon Kim, a Koreas expert at the Center for a New American Security, recently wrote.

“There is a serious risk of Trump ad-libbing his way into a bad deal, as he did in Singapore in June 2018, by relinquishing vital bargaining chips that disadvantage U.S. interests and Asian allies’ security,” she added.

Worry No. 2: Kim and Trump are too aligned

There’s a joke being shared by some North Korea experts: Did you hear that Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump both want the same thing from their Hanoi summit? The United States out of South Korea.

Funny or not, the dark humor gets at serious doubts churned up by Trump’s repeated public expressions of a deep wariness about the U.S.-South Korea alliance that many in Seoul and Washington see as a linchpin of Northeast Asian security.

The best example might be Trump’s stunning announcement in Singapore of the suspension of annual military drills by Seoul and Washington that North Korea rails against as “invasion preparation.”

Trump called the drills “very provocative,” mirroring North Korean language.

Although his lieutenants say the removal of American troops isn’t on the agenda in Hanoi, Trump has said that he wants to eventually bring home the 28,500 troops stationed in the South. Just this month Trump said: “South Korea—we defend them and lose a tremendous amount of money. Billions of dollars a year defending them.”

Worry No. 3: North Korea hasn’t changed

There’s also alarm that Trump and South Korea’s dovish president are misreading North Korea.

“Kim is not going to unilaterally surrender his nuclear weapons,” Vipin Narang, a North Korea nuclear expert at MIT, said in an interview. “It is now pretty clear that Trump doesn’t care that Kim isn’t going to unilaterally disarm, so long as he doesn’t embarrass Trump by visibly flight testing missiles or openly testing nuclear weapons.”

Despite the positive spin on North Korean intentions by the liberal government in Seoul, critics say, Pyongyang, as it has since the Korean War, still claims to be the sole legitimate Korean government, and is therefore working to split South Korea from its U.S. protector and enshrine its nuclear program, even if partially, as a way to eventually coerce Seoul into doing its bidding.

North Korea has famously called its nuclear arsenal a “treasured sword.” And a senior North Korean official said last year that dialogue won’t continue “if the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment.”

Asked at a recent press briefing if the North was negotiating in good faith, a senior U.S. official who refused to give his name under White House rules said: “I don’t know if North Korea has made the choice yet to denuclearize. But the reason why we’re engaged in this is because we believe there’s a possibility that North Korea can make the choice to fully denuclearize.”

Trump tweeted Sunday that he and Kim “both expect a continuation of the progress made at first Summit in Singapore. Denuclearization?”

Still, there are big doubts about the North’s intentions.

When the two leaders meet in Hanoi, Kim “will further ensnare Trump on his march toward full nuclearization, compelling Trump to make more concessions like a peace agreement and drawdown of military support for South Korea,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a Koreas expert at Tufts University. “’Peace’ sounds very pleasant, even hypnotically alluring, but a peace agreement between the U.S. and North Korea and allowing Kim Jong Un to buy more time only increases the chance of war.”

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Energy company eyes land in town of Whitewater for possible solar farm


A New York solar energy company is eyeing several hundred acres in the town of Whitewater for a possible solar farm.

Jeff Rauh, a project representative with Ranger Power, said the company is evaluating whether areas of the town would be suitable for a utility-scale solar development. Rauh said residents in the town have expressed interest in leasing land to the company for the project.

Rauh said the company would need 600 to 800 acres for the solar panels, which could be on land east of the city of Whitewater. The panels likely would produce fewer than 100 megawatts of electricity, Rauh said, so Walworth County would have regulatory authority over the project.

Another solar farm is being considered by a Chicago company in the towns of Darien and Bradford. The state Public Service Commission would have regulatory authority and issue permits for that project because it would produce at least 100 megawatts of electricity. That company has said the arrays near the town of Darien could produce up to 250 megawatts.

Rauh said the company’s initial conversations with landowners in the town of Whitewater began early last year. Company representatives participated in discussions about solar energy ordinance revisions with Walworth County officials last year.

The county’s ordinances previously required solar panels to be set back at least 50 feet from all property lines and that the equipment be removed within 90 days after it is no longer in use.

The county amended the ordinances so that the set back requirement may be waived if adjacent properties host the same solar arrays. The county also eliminated the 90-day removal requirement. A removal schedule will be determined during the conditional use application.

Andrew Hamilton, a representative with Ranger Power, spoke in support of the ordinance revisions at a county public hearing in May. He suggested the county reword the removal language because “the size of these utility scales can be very large, and it may take longer than 90 days.”

The Walworth County Zoning Agency unanimously approved the amendments June 21.

Rauh said the town of Whitewater is an appropriate location for a solar farm given its proximity to Milwaukee, Madison and Janesville. The arrays likely would be on noncontiguous parcels, and the company would seek to tie into an existing transmission line, possibly the Whitewater to Mukwonago line with the American Transmission Company.

It’s too early to determine a timeline for the project, Rauh said.

The company likely would lease land for at least 25 years, Rauh said. That’s similar to lease agreements for the project in the towns of Darien and Bradford, which are 25 years.

Rauh said the cost of solar power has dropped about 80 percent in the last eight years. That has made massive solar farms attractive and economical, he said, and utility companies are anxious to increase their solar energy production.

“This now makes sense in Wisconsin, whereas perhaps in previous time, it would not have made sense this far north,” Rauh said. “But now you’ve got efficiency of panels as well as cost of the facility that really makes a facility like this attractive in the state of Wisconsin.”

Evers' higher education budget would continue tuition freeze


People who entered the country illegally could pay in-state tuition, a long-running tuition freeze would continue for another two years and institutions would receive an additional $150 million under Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ executive budget proposal for the UW System.

Evers is scheduled to release his two-year spending plan Thursday. His administration gave The Associated Press a broad preview of his plans for the system over the weekend.

The governor said during his race against then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker last year that he wanted students who were children when their parents brought them into the U.S. without legal permission to pay in-state tuition rates, a popular Democratic talking point. The budget proposal appears to go even further than that.

According to the administration’s outline of the plan, any Wisconsin resident who entered the U.S. without legal permission would pay in-state tuition at both UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System schools.

The plan is certain to draw criticism from Republican lawmakers. Walker criticized Evers over the idea, saying Evers wanted “special treatment for illegals.” But Evers’ administration said in the outline that 21 other states and the District of Columbia provide in-state tuition for “undocumented students.”

Evers also promised on the campaign trail that he would continue a freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition. The freeze has been in place since 2013; Republicans imposed it after learning the system was building huge reserves while raising tuition year after year.

The freeze has been a perennial sore spot for UW officials. Walker made things even tougher for them when he slashed $250 million from the system’s 2015-17 budget.

The GOP restored about $26 million in the current budget as Walker headed into his re-election battle with Evers but tied the money to institutions’ performance. Evers’ administration said in the budget outline that a third of the additional $150 million he wants to give the system would go toward backfilling revenue lost through the freeze.

Here’s a look at other highlights of the proposal:

  • $109 million in additional funding to provide access to classes in high-demand fields; maintain student support services and bolster funding for a nurse educators program that would give nurse educators help repaying their loans if they commit to teaching in a Wisconsin nursing program for three years; fund a UW-Extension agricultural agent in every county that wants one; and help fund the tuition freeze.
  • $40.4 million in additional funding for a 2 percent pay increase for UW System employees in each year of the biennium.
  • $18 million in additional funding for the technical college system.
  • $50,000 for a study on the feasibility of creating an authority to refinance student loans. Evers promised during his campaign to allow students to refinance their loans. The study is a step toward that goal.
  • $17.4 million in additional funding for need-based grants for in-state undergraduates at UW schools, technical colleges and private universities. Last fiscal year, 63,567 students received such grants totaling $107.7 million, according to Evers’ administration’s outline.

It’s unclear how much of Evers’ plans will survive in the final budget. The executive spending plan is only the starting point of a months-long approval process. Republicans will go through the budget and revise it line by line before sending it back to Evers for his signature.

Obituaries and death notices for Feb. 25, 2019

Kenneth Joseph Church

Gerald L. “Jerry” Forst

John W. Reiff Jr.