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Trump ousts hawkish Bolton, dissenter on foreign policy


President Donald Trump on Tuesday abruptly forced out John Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser with whom he had strong disagreements on Iran, Afghanistan and a cascade of other global challenges.

The sudden shake-up marked the latest departure of a prominent voice of dissent from the president’s inner circle, as Trump has grown less accepting of advice contrary to his instincts. It also comes at a trying moment for Trump on the world stage, weeks ahead of the United Nations General Assembly and as the president faces pressing decisions on difficult foreign policy issues.

Tensions between Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser, and other officials have flared in recent months over influence in the president’s orbit and how to manage his desire to negotiate with some of the world’s most unsavory actors.

Since joining the administration in the spring of last year, Bolton has espoused skepticism about the president’s whirlwind rapprochement with North Korea and recently became a vocal internal critic of potential talks between Trump and leaders of Iran and Afghanistan’s Taliban.

Bolton also broke with Trump with his vocal condemnation of Russia’s global aggressions, and last year he masterminded a quiet campaign inside the administration and with allies abroad to persuade Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State and Iranian influence in the region. Bolton’s maneuvering at the time contrasted with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ decision to instead resign over Trump’s December withdrawal announcement, which has been effectively reversed.

On Twitter on Tuesday, Trump and Bolton offered opposing accounts on the adviser’s less-than-friendly departure, final shots for what had been a fractious relationship almost from the start.

Trump tweeted that he told Bolton Monday night his services were no longer needed at the White House and that Bolton submitted his resignation Tuesday morning. Bolton responded in a tweet of his own that he offered to resign Monday “and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.’”

Trump explained that he had “disagreed strongly” with many of Bolton’s suggestions as national security adviser, “as did others in the administration.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had been traveling with Trump on Monday, said reports of Bolton’s opposition to a now-scrapped weekend meeting with the Taliban at Camp David were a “bridge too far” for Trump.

And one Republican familiar with the disagreements between Trump and Bolton said the adviser’s opposition to a possible meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was a precipitating factor. French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to broker such a meeting, possibly on the sidelines of the upcoming U.N. General Assembly, in hopes of salvaging the international Iran nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew.

“There were many times that Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed. That’s to be sure,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday. He added that Trump has been clear that he is willing to meet with Rouhani “with no preconditions.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who appeared with Pompeo at the White House, volunteered, “The president’s view of the Iraq war and Ambassador Bolton’s was very different.”

A former Bush administration official, Bolton has championed hawkish foreign policy views dating back to the Reagan administration and became a household name over his vociferous support for the Iraq war as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under George W. Bush. Trump initially supported the 2003 U.S. invasion, but subsequently became a vocal critic.

The Iranian government hailed Bolton’s departure, and spokesman Ali Rabiei said it might pave the way for warmer relations. “By dismissal of the biggest supporter of war and economic terrorism, the White House will face less barrier to understand realities of Iran,” he said in a tweet. Tehran calls the U.S. sanctions on Iran “economic terrorism.”

Pompeo said, “I don’t think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because some one of us departs that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way.”

Bolton’s well-known foreign policy views and harsh rhetoric for U.S. foes had turned him into a convenient boogeyman for the likes of North Korea and Iran, which have assailed him in their media.

His ouster came as a surprise to many in the White House. Just an hour before Trump’s tweet, the press office announced that Bolton would join Pompeo and Mnuchin in a briefing on an executive order expanding ways to counter terrorism. He did not.

As pressure has mounted amid global troubles and signs of an economic slowdown at home, Trump has increasingly favored aides who are willing to defend him on television. Bolton was tentatively booked to appear on a pair of Sunday talk shows in late August but backed out, saying he was not comfortable with some of the administration’s plans, and that drew the president’s ire, according to a White House official not authorized to discuss private conversations.

Bolton and his National Security Council staff were also viewed warily by some in the White House who saw them as more attuned to their own agendas than the president’s—and some administration aides have accused Bolton’s staff of being behind leaks of information embarrassing to Trump.

He was always an unlikely pick to be Trump’s third national security adviser, with a worldview seemingly ill-fit to the president’s isolationist “America First” pronouncements. He briefly considered running for president in 2016, in part to make the case against the isolationism that Trump would come to embody.

Still, Trump had admired Bolton for years, praising him on Twitter as far back as 2014. Trump had told allies he thought Bolton was “a killer” on television.

Defending Bolton after Tuesday’s announcement, a person close to him said they had been authorized to say one thing—that since he had been national security adviser there had been no “bad deals” on Iran, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The person, who did not divulge who had given the authorization, was not allowed to discuss the issue by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

When asked to respond to the person’s comment, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham smiled and told reporters, “Sounds like just somebody trying to protect him.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said the turnover in the president’s foreign policy team was a cause for worry.

“John Bolton was the wrong choice and the silver lining to this instability is that there will be fewer people whispering war chants in the president’s ear,” said Murphy. “But no one of any quality is going to take a job in the nation’s national security cabinet so long as everyone’s head is permanently hovering slightly above the chopping block.”

But Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 nominee for president, bemoaned Bolton’s ouster, calling it “an enormous loss for the country and for the administration.”

He added that “in decision making you want people who disagree and who offer a very different perspective.”

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Charles Kupperman, the deputy national security adviser and a former Reagan administration official and defense contracting executive, would fill Bolton’s role on an acting basis. Trump said he would name a replacement for Bolton next week.

Bolton was named to the post in March 2018 after the departure of Army Gen. H.R. McMaster.

Angela Major 

Pam Kuffer carries a white pumpkin out of a field Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in Janesville. She and her husband, John Kuffer, sell pumpkins at the two Janesville farmers markets, the Whitewater farmers market and the Jefferson Farmers Market. They also sell pumpkins at their Janesville farm on West Miles Road.

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Janesville School District passes tentative budget, assessments addressed

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It’s one of those riddles taxpayers are loath to consider.

If the assessed value of my home goes up 30%, will my school taxes go up 30%?

The math sees to make sense, but the reasoning is faulty, Janesville School District Finance Director Daniel McCrea told the school board Tuesday.

He made the statement during a presentation of the tentative budget for the 2019-20 school year.

The budget calls for total spending of $121.45 million, down from $121.55 million last year. Of that, $35.7 million will be covered by local property taxes. That’s down from $37.52 million last year, a decrease of 4.85%.

For taxpayers, that translates to an estimated tax of $8.10 per $1,000 of property value, down from last year’s $8.51, a decrease of 4.82%.

But the city of Janesville’s revaluation process has some people concerned.

McCrea explained it this way: Everyone is in the same pool and it’s half filled with water. When the water rises, all the boats rise. That’s the value of housing going up. But the amount of tax money needed for schools remains fixed at $35.7 million, and that amount will be spread across a deeper pool.

In the budget documents that came with the agenda, McCrea explained it this way: “... the entire community experienced a revaluation, and the district levy is spread across the entire community.”

The documents also explain that the district levy is calculated using equalized value, not individual parcel value.

School districts, counties and vocational schools often collect property taxes from several municipalities with different assessors and different assessment schedules. Equalized valuation strives to impose one consistent standard in estimating the taxable value of each municipality. Then levies from school districts, counties and other overlying districts can be fairly apportioned to each municipality.

The school district budget will not be finalized until October, when the district gets its last round of money from the state.

New items in the 2019-20 budget include:

  • The addition of a 10th-grade health class. The school district meets the state requirement for health classes, but high school staff felt the addition was needed, said Craig High School Principal Alison Bjoin.

Bjoin pointed to adverse childhood experience scores. Rock County’s score is one of the highest in the state. Adverse childhood experiences, such as having a parent in jail or witnessing domestic violence, can lead to mental health problems and other issues as kids get older.

In addition, the district’s traditional health class is taught in eighth grade, and some subjects, such as human reproduction, might be better taught at an older age, she said.

  • An estimated $133,000 for bathrooms at Rock University High School. The high school, which is housed in Blackhawk Technical College, has expanded to about 70 students. Blackhawk would like to place it in a different part of the building with more space, and is remodeling to accommodate the Rock University High School’s needs.

The school district is paying for the bathrooms. At the meeting, Superintendent Steven Pophal stressed that the district doesn’t pay Blackhawk Technical College rent, and the addition of bathrooms was a fair way to share costs.

  • The elimination of course fees and a new fund for athletic uniforms.

Fees used to be charged for courses where students needed special material or tools. Pophal said it had come to their attention that students were not taking classes because of the fees, and they wanted to change that.

A fund to pay for uniforms was a regular part of the budget until all of the cutbacks after Act 10. As a result, parents had to pick up those costs.

Mark Lennihan 

Norma Molina, of San Antonio, Texas, leaves flowers by the names of firefighters from Engine 33 at the September 11 Memorial, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in New York. Her boyfriend Robert Edward Evans, a member of Engine 33, was killed in the north tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Obituaries and death notices for Sept. 11, 2019

Jessie “Grandma Jessie” Arnold

Carol L. Burns

Sandra Marie Carroll

Delores (Smith) Church

Brandon R. Clift

Yvonne C. Cross

Derek L. Garber

Athanas “Tony” Georgalas

Helen Gray

Melburn “Bud” J. Hammer

Nicholas A. Haviland

Gene Edwin Krug

Phillip A. Lobrano

Mildred “Milly” Probst

Shirley M. Ross

Vernice Ruth Stark

Angela Major 

John Kuffer carries a white pumpkin to a patch of grass while sorting them to be sold at farmers markets Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in Janesville.

Angela Major 

Pam Kuffer carries squash as she harvests squash and pumpkins with her husband, John, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in Janesville.

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Janesville company to start commercial CBD oil production

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Help support reporting that brings important issues to light. By subscribing, you can help us continue to serve the area and keep local journalism thriving. Local news matters.

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A Janesville company that shifted gears into hemp products this year aims to start commercial processing of CBD oil later this fall at a property on the city’s south side.

Simply Solutions, a manufacturer of natural personal-care products, confirmed Tuesday that it’s retooling a 30,000-square-foot building at 401 E. Conde St. to ramp up contract production of cannabidiol oil—better known as CBD oil—for the homeopathic health care market.

The company, which launched at the Janesville Innovation Center, plans to move out of about 8,000 square feet it leases at the center and into a building that once housed Diamond Assets, an electronics dealer, in October.

The company said its plans will dovetail with the fall hemp harvest. It wants to become a conduit for local hemp growers who want their crop processed into CBD oil—a nonintoxicating, legal ingredient in hemp used in numerous personal-care products and for treating certain medical conditions.

Over the last two years, Simply Solutions has branched out from its signature personal-care products, including Lip Loob lip balm. It recently has made inroads with a natural, nontoxic liquid designed for use in fog machines in military, police and fire department training.

Earlier this year, Simply Solutions officials told The Gazette about plans to pivot into CBD, a burgeoning industry, although it still is blazing new trails in health care.

CBD oil is considered legal to sell and obtain under new federal rules that allow hemp product sales. Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the high-inducing active ingredient in hemp’s cousin, marijuana, remain strictly controlled or illegal in many states.

Simply Solutions COO Mark Schweiger said the company hopes to use its status as a licensed, clean-room producer of personal-care products to separate itself from a mostly unregulated network of CBD oil producers.

Simply Solutions uses a proprietary process that it says is cleaner and more efficient than other CBD extraction processes, and the company already is set up to handle organic products, including organic hemp.

“We continue to be really positive about the fact that we’ve got this clean production process that really gives us an advantage in the marketplace,” Schweiger said. “It gives us the ability to have a certified organic product. So if we get certified organic hemp, we can have an organic CBD oil or distillate, or whatever we’re making.

“It’s exciting and different and differentiates us in the marketplace.”

Company CEO Mark Goepfert has said the biggest task was finding investors to provide startup capital for CBD production, which is still viewed with skepticism in some lending circles.

That’s mainly because federal lending regulations still place hemp products in the same class as marijuana products, despite the fact that federal law has removed hemp from the list of cannabis plants that remain prohibited in some states.

Schweiger declined to discuss Simply Solutions’ financing or its move to a bigger facility. But he said the company is in a financial position to move forward on its CBD plans and can begin production at the new location this year.

He said Simply Solutions will use about two-thirds of the building for production of various products, including hemp.

A recent national public health crisis has been linked to vaping—or inhaling vaporized liquid nicotine and marijuana mixtures using vape devices or e-cigarettes. More than 400 people in dozens of states have developed serious lung disease and at least six have died.

National health studies, including one that examined Wisconsin patients sickened by vaping, indicated that some patients had been vaping liquid CBD oil in addition to other liquids.

The medical community so far has not determined an exact cause or specific product linked to the lung disease. That’s in part, health experts have said, because many of the branded vaping liquids are unregulated and contain unknown chemicals.

Schweiger said the CBD oil that Simply Solutions will produce will be sold on contract to private sellers, but the company will test its products for purity at several points before they reach consumers.

“We will be tracking all the way from the field to the final customer, and we will be testing along the way on a consistent basis, both internally and through third-party testing, to verify that our products are what we say that they are,” he said.

“We actually welcome further regulation in this industry. That will force some of the people who are not offering credible products out of the market, or at least really force them to change the way they’re marketing their products.”