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John Hart 

People walk near a vacant lot, background, downtown at the southwest corner of Bristol and Main streets in downtown Sun Prairie on Dec. 19, Town officials are envisioning new residential and commercial development for the corner which was formerly home to Glass Nickel Pizza and was the epicenter of a natural gas explosion that killed a firefighter and leveled or damaged several buildings in July 2018.


Crime
UPDATE: Man dies after being shot in Janesville on Sunday morning

JANESVILLE

Police are investigating as a homicide the death of an Illinois man shot outside a Janesville home shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday.

Investigators believe a man not from Janesville is responsible for the fatal shooting near 613 W. Racine St., Janesville police Lt. Charles Aagaard said.

The victim was transported to Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center, where he later was pronounced dead, Aagaard said. The victim is from Illinois, Aagaard said.

The suspect and the victim had been at a party at the Janesville home before the shooting, but Aagaard said a motive for the shooting was not clear.

The suspect was identified through witness statements, Aagaard said.

The victim was not armed, Aagaard said.

Janesville police Lt. Todd Kleisner said police found the man down in the road near 613 W. Racine St.

Kleisner said the call came in at 5:08 a.m.

Aagaard said investigators don't believe the shooting was a random act.

"We're still trying to figure out what precipitated this," Aagaard said.

"We want to ascertain if this was a random act. We don't think it is," Aagaard said.

After confirming they have probable cause to make an arrest, police will release the suspect's name and enter his information into a national police database.

Aagaard said the man should be considered armed and dangerous. Shell casings were found at the scene of the shooting, but no weapon was recovered, he said.

A neighbor said the 600 block of West Racine Street was closed all morning. Several squad cars were still blocking the street at 10:40 a.m.

A “significant number of people” were at the Racine Street residence, possibly at a party, when the incident occurred, and police were interviewing them, Kleisner said.

Two neighbors told The Gazette they heard about eight shots. Others said they slept through the incident. One neighbor said the shots came at different times, spread out over a minute or more.

"We don't know what's going on. We're trying to get answers," said a neighbor who asked not to be identified.

Small children live in many of the residences in the immediate vicinity.

Police officers were at the small, two-story white house from 9 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. when a Gazette reporter was there. Several more officers in street clothes arrived during that time and entered the house.

Officers could be seen talking to two women near the front door and searching the purse of one of them.

This story will be updated.

Frank Schultz 

West Racine Street in Janesville was closed after a report of shots fired Sunday morning. Police were seen entering the white house at 613 W. Racine St. and talking to people inside.


Politics
AP
Trump doubles down on striking cultural sites in Iran

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that Iranian cultural sites were fair game for the U.S. military, dismissing concerns within his own administration that doing so would constitute a war crime under international law. He also warned Iraq that the U.S. would levy punishing sanctions if it expelled American troops in retaliation for a U.S. strike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian official.

Trump’s comments came amid escalating tensions in the Middle East after last week’s strike on Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force. Iran has vowed to retaliate and Iraq’s parliament responded by voting Sunday to oust U.S. troops based in the country.

Trump first raised the prospect of targeting Iranian cultural sites Saturday in a tweet. Speaking with reporters Sunday as he returned to Washington from his holiday stay in Florida, he doubled down, despite international prohibitions.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said.

The targeted killing of Soleimani sparked outrage in the Middle East, including in Iraq, where more than 5,000 troops are still on the ground 17 years after the U.S. invasion. Iraq’s parliament voted Sunday in favor of a nonbinding resolution calling for the expulsion of the American forces.

Trump said the U.S. wouldn’t leave without being paid for its military investments in Iraq over the years—then said if the troops do have to withdraw, he would levy punishing economic penalties on Baghdad.

“We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,” he said. “If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.”

He added: “We’re not leaving until they pay us back for it.”

Earlier Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. military might strike more Iranian leaders if the Islamic Republic retaliates. His comments came as other repercussions from the attack played out: the U.S. military coalition Baghdad suspended training of Iraqi forces to concentrate on defending coalition troops; and in Beirut, the Lebanese Hezbollah chief said U.S. forces throughout the Mideast are fair targets for retaliation.

In Tehran, Iranian state television reported the country will no longer abide by any limits of the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with the United States and other world powers. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018 and stepped up economic sanctions on Tehran—actions that accelerated a cycle of hostilities leading to the Soleimani killing.

The State Department had no immediate comment on Iran reportedly abandoning the nuclear deal, a move that holds the prospect of Iran accelerating its production of materials for a nuclear weapon.

Trump had issued warnings to Iran by tweet Sunday afternoon. “These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” he wrote. “Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”

That tweet also appeared to serve as a warning to Congress that Trump would respond quickly to any attack and without first gaining the approval of lawmakers. Democrats in Congress have complained that Trump’s order to kill Soleimani took place without first consulting with or informing top lawmakers, noting that Congress still holds sole power to declare war. Trump did meet the 48-hour deadline required by the War Powers Act to notify Congress of the deadly drone strike, though the document provided Saturday was entirely classified and no public version was released.

The White House faced a barrage of questions about the killing’s legality. Pompeo said the administration would have been “culpably negligent” in its duty to protect the United States if it had not killed Soleimani, although he did not provide evidence for his previous claims that Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on Americans. Instead of arguing that an attack had been imminent, he said it was inevitable.

“We watched him continue to actively build out for what was going to be a significant attack—that’s what we believed—and we made the right decision,” he said, adding later: “We continue to prepare for whatever it is the Iranian regime may put in front of us within the next 10 minutes, within the next 10 days, and within the next 10 weeks.”

Congressional Democrats were skeptical.

“I really worry that the actions the president took will get us into what he calls another endless war in the Middle East. He promised we wouldn’t have that,” said Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate’s top Democrat.

Schumer said Trump lacks the authority to engage militarily with Iran and Congress needs a new war powers resolution “to be a check on this president.” To which Pompeo said: “We have all the authority we need to do what we’ve done to date.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said the administration violated the Constitution by not consulting with Congress in advance.

“It’s also important because one, you potentially get members of Congress to buy in ahead of time, and two, they may ask that hard question that’s not asked in an insular group,” Warner said.

Congressional staffs got their first briefings from the administration Friday, and members were expected to be briefed this week.

Pompeo’s appearance on six news shows might have been aimed at dissuading Iran from launching a major retaliation for the Soleimani killing. The Iranians have said the U.S. should expect a strong response. They have a range of options, from cyberattacks to military assaults.

It was unclear whether the administration would attempt a back-door communication with Iran in pursuit of its stated goal of “de-escalation” of tensions. Retired Gen. David Petraeus, an ex-CIA director and former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said he believes the administration needs a strategy for tamping down the chances of all-out war.

Pompeo declined to say whether he had sought to communicate with Iran since Friday. He stressed the U.S. resolve to hold Iran accountable for its interventions in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Mideast.

Pompeo said the Obama administration had tried to “challenge and attack everybody who was running around with an AK-47 or a piece of indirect artillery.

He said the cost to Iran if it uses proxy forces to hit American targets will come down on just those proxies, which are present in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere.

“They will be borne by Iran and its leadership itself,” Pompeo said. “Those are important things the Iranian leadership needs to put in its calculus as it makes its next decision.”

Pompeo tip-toed around questions about Trump’s tweet Saturday threatening to attack Iranian cultural sites, a military action that likely would be illegal under the laws of armed conflict and the U.N. charter.

Trump wrote that if Iran were to strike “any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

Pompeo said any U.S. military strikes inside Iran would be legal.

“We’ll behave inside the system,” Pompeo said. “We always have, and we always will.”


Local
top story
A is for art: Parker teacher and former student work together on alphabet book

JANESVILLE

A is for alphabet.

B is for book.

C is for creative collaboration.

In December—that could be our D—Parker High School art teacher Sam Van Galder published a children’s animal alphabet book featuring a former student’s drawings.

The recently graduated student, Ethan Frank, first met Van Galder in his class designed for special education students called “Exploring the Arts.”

“He was always drawing pictures,” Van Galder said. “He has this interesting, almost childlike, way of drawing things.”

The work in “Ethan’s Animal Alphabet” is cartoon-like, but little touches show Frank’s sophistication.

Parker High School art teacher Sam Van Galder recently published the book “Ethan’s Animal Alphabet.” His former student, Ethan Frank, did the outline of the animals, and Van Galder colored them in and created the backgrounds.

An elephant with round eyes peers at the reader, his big body overwhelming his feet. It’s a clever way to give the viewer a sense of the elephant’s bulk.

A hippo with two teeth popping out and a quirky smile was a good choice for the letter H. The hippo looks like a mischievous child with buck teeth smiling over a secret prank.

A black and white Holstein looks like a child’s drawing of a cow until you notice that its tongue is sticking out. It transforms a cute cow into an adorable one.

“Everybody was drawn to his pictures,” Van Galder said.

Van Galder worked with Frank to decide what animals should go with each letter.

“For some of them, he didn’t know what the animal was, he had to work from pictures,” Van Galder said.

Vulture, as in “V is for vulture,” was one of those. The result is a vulture that looks like it is laughing about something.

Parker High School art teacher Sam Van Galder recently published the book ‘Ethan’s Animal Alphabet.’ His former student, Ethan Frank, did the outline of the animals, and Van Galder colored them in and created the backgrounds.

Laughter, joy and an impish delight in the world are reflected in all of Frank’s drawings.

Van Galder said that’s who Frank is in real life, too.

“That’s the way he sees things,” Van Galder said. “There’s nothing mean, there’s nothing vicious, everything has kind of a fun face.”

Van Galder loved having him in his class.

“He was a super, super fun kid,” Van Galder said. “He’ll definitely brighten your mood every day.”

Frank drew the outline of the animals and then Van Galder colored them in and created backgrounds for each page. In addition, Van Galder found a publisher for the work.

But the book is dedicated to Frank.

The dedication says Frank was diagnosed with autism at age 3, but due to “his own personal efforts and the great support system he’s had around him, he has been able to grow immensely throughout his life and into a fine young man.”

“Thank you Ethan, for letting me play a small role in your life,” Van Galder wrote.

The book is available on Amazon.com and on Barnesandnoble.com.

Money from the sale of the book will go to an autism related charity.


Death notices and obituaries for Jan. 6, 2020

Donna Mae Chamberlain

Ivan Leroy Drake

Richard A. “Dick” Kapke