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Recycling coffee cups on campus: You’re doing it wrong

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 10:04am

Coffee runs through students’ bloodstreams on the daily, but they have not been recycling their used coffee cups correctly.

The University of Wisconsin Office of Sustainability posted a video to educate UW students on how to properly recycle their coffee cups.

Cafes and markets across campus use approximately 6,500 single-use coffee cups per day. Most cups are placed in the trash, when the cups are actually composed of three parts.

The lid should be placed in the plastic recycling, the coffee sleeve should be placed in the paper recycling and the cup should be placed in the trash.

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Categories: Local Media

What’s on the ballot: Everything you need to know about the upcoming April 7 election

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 6:52am

With the spring election just around the corner, here’s what you need to know about what’s on the ballot.

Polls are open April 7 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Don’t know where to vote? Find out here.

 

Mayor

Candidates:
Paul Soglin
Scott Resnick

The City of Madison mayor ensures city ordinances and state laws are enforced and gives recommendations to the City Council. The mayor has power to veto acts of the City Council.

Incumbent Paul Soglin and Scott Resnick are the two candidates for mayor. Resnick has been the District 8 alderman since 2011 and announced his mayoral candidacy last year. Soglin has served seven terms of mayor since 1973 and has 40 years of experience.

Soglin won the primary election in February with 52.7 percent of the vote. Resnick came in second, with 23.3 percent.

During a televised debate on Monday, Resnick said if he was elected, he would focus on childcare. Soglin said he would focus more on job development.

Soglin, Resnick spar over childcare, job development in first televised debateMadison mayoral candidates Paul Soglin and Scott Resnick faced off against each other for the second time within a week …

Regarding racial disparity, Resnick said during the debate the issue was a lack of trust between the community and the police. Soglin said Madison needs to solve the issue of racial disparity with job creation.

Soglin is interested in making downtown more family friendly and reducing the number of bars. Resnick said Soglin is leaving out the student voice with his vision for Madison’s downtown.

Soglin, Resnick look toward April after underwhelming primary turnoutMayor Paul Soglin and his challenger Scott Resnick face six weeks of campaigning for the April mayoral elections, although many …

Justice of the Supreme Court

Candidates:
Ann Walsh Bradley
James Daley

The Wisconsin Supreme Court consists of seven justices. Supreme Court Justices are elected for 10 year terms on the court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over other state courts and can hear original actions.

Ann Walsh Bradley, who has served as a justice of the Supreme Court since 1995, is running against current Rock County Circuit Court Judge James Daley.

Alders

The 20 city alders make up the Common Council. The council passes laws and regulations in Madison and approves the city budget.

The downtown Madison alders are all running unopposed.

District 8:
Zach Wood

Wood is taking over for Resnick. A senior at University of Wisconsin, Wood has said he wants to focus on issues that affect students, such as public safety, campus safety and affordable housing.

Wood has raised concerns on the increasing cost of student housing in a previous interview with The Badger Herald. For future developments, Wood said the student perspective must be kept in mind.

In another previous interview with The Badger Herald, Wood said he hopes to be a bridge between students and the city.

“I think I can definitely bring the student perspective to city hall,” Wood said, “and I think that’s important.”

UW senior to represent student voice on City CouncilUniversity of Wisconsin senior Zach Wood, who will serve as the new city alderman for District 8, said he hopes …

District 2:
Ledell Zellers

Zellers will continue to serve as the District 2 alder. She has served in this position since 2013.

District 4:
Mike Verveer

Verveer will continue to be the alder for District 4. He was first elected as alder in 1995.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge

The Dane County Circuit Court has original jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters. The legislature also grants the court appellate jurisdiction.

The circuit court judges are all running unopposed.

Branch 2:
Josann Reynolds

Branch 6:
Shelley Gaylord

Branch 10:
Juan Colás

Branch 13:
Julie Genovese

School Board Member for Madison Metropolitan School District

The Madison Board of Education establishes policies for MMSD and approves the budget. Members set up board committees and vote on board executives. Board members are elected to serve staggered 3 year terms.

The MMSD board members are running uncontested.

Seat 1:
Anna Moffit

Seat 2:
Mary Burke

Constitutional Amendment on Election of Chief Justice

Currently, the Wisconsin constitution states the chief justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is whichever justice has served the longest. The proposed amendment would have the justices on the Supreme Court vote on the chief justice for a two-year term.

In a previous interview with The Badger Herald, UW political science professor Howard Schweber said this amendment is politically motivated. Conservative justices have become the majority on the court, while current chief justice Shirley Abrahamson is judicially liberal, he said.

If this amendment passed, the justices would have the chance to vote Abrahamson out of office. Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the amendment was not aimed at one individual.

A “yes” vote means the constitution is changed to have the chief justice elected by current justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

A “no” vote means the constitution would remain unchanged and the longest serving member of the Supreme Court would be chief justice.

Chief justice selection process could change under new amendment A new amendment passed by the Wisconsin Assembly could change the way Wisconsin’s Supreme Court chief justice is selected. Current rules state …

Madison Metropolitan School District Referendum

This proposal would allow MMSD to issue general obligation bonds up to $41 million for the school district. These bonds would go to school construction, making schools more accessible to students, community members and families and upgrading technology.

A “yes” vote means MMSD would be allowed to issue up to $41 million of bonds for schools in the district.

A “no” vote means MMSD would not be authorized to issue up to $41 million of bonds for schools in the district.

The post What’s on the ballot: Everything you need to know about the upcoming April 7 election appeared first on The Badger Herald.

Categories: Local Media

UW professor leads team that developed Ebola vaccine

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 6:17am

A University of Wisconsin professor has developed an Ebola vaccine which has proven successful in primates exposed to the virus.

UW professor of pathobiological sciences Yoshihiro Kawaoka, an expert on avian influenza, Ebola and other viruses, led a team in developing the vaccine. Their discovery was published in the journal Science Thursday.

The vaccine potentially offers more protection because, as a whole virus vaccine, it provides the immune system with the full degree of Ebola genes, according to a UW statement. Whole virus vaccines have been used successfully in the past to treat diseases including polio, influenza, hepatitis and cervical cancer.

Whole virus vaccines have an advantage because the immune system is provided with the full range of genetic material and is more likely to trigger a broader immune response, according to the statement.

“In terms of efficacy, this affords excellent protection,” Kawaoka said in a UW statement. “It is also a very safe vaccine.”

The tests were conducted on cynomolgus macaques, which are highly susceptible to the Ebola virus, according to the statement.

The vaccine was developed in a system that allowed scientists to safely work with the virus because a key gene, which allows the Ebola virus to reproduce in host cells, has been deleted, the statement said.

The virus can be studied safely in labs after scientists have engineered monkey kidney cells to no longer express that same gene, according to the statement.

The vaccine was also chemically inactivated by hydrogen peroxide.

“It’s the best model,” Kawaoka said. “If you get protection with this model, it’s working.”

Currently there are no vaccines that have proven to effectively treat Ebola although several have been developed in the past years and four have advanced to clinical trials in humans.

The vaccine developed by Kawaoka has not been tested in people but successful treatment of nonhuman primates may lead to clinical trials. Human trials are expensive and complex, which may delay the research, the statement said.

This research was conducted at the National Institute of Health Rocky Mountain Laboratories and led by Heinz Feldmann, according to the statement.

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Categories: Local Media

UW research will target how toxins affect the human body

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 6:05am

Humans are constantly exposed to toxins from chemical substances in the environment, but scientists are unaware of potential affects on human development.

A $6 million grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency will fund a Human Models for Analysis of Pathways Center at University of Wisconsin, to analyze how these chemical materials are affecting human physiology, according to a UW statement.

Humans are constantly changing the environment by creating different chemical products, but they really have no idea how those products are affecting human development, Randolph Ashton, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, said. There are 84,000 to 85,000 chemical substances used commercially, he said.

Increasing toxins in the environment could potentially be the cause of diseases such as autism and neurological disorders, Ashton said. Because there is often no genetic cause, scientists believe they may occur sporadically from interactions with the environment.

“There’s no good system to analyze in a cost effective and efficient manner how these different material and commercial products are affecting human physiology,” Ashton said. “The classical model is to do animal studies but those cost a lot of money and take a lot of time.”

This center will be led by a team of UW scientists who are experts in human pluripotent stem cell biology, tissue development and engineering, according to the statement.

The center uses scientists’ expertise to make models of human tissue and test the toxicity of different substances on them, Ashton said. Different UW scientists will be developing models of the human liver, central nervous system, mammary gland and vascular system, Ashton said.

The research also includes developing screening tools to analyze different drugs and their degree of toxicity, Ashton said. Scientists will create a map of each tissue and be able to identify which cells are dying by how the map changes, he said.

“We put together this center grant so that we could coordinate our efforts,” Ashton said. “[This center] will allow the projects to continue and put the money behind the effort to not only derive tissues and characterize them, but actually put them into high input screening platforms that essentially could be standardized platforms used by researchers worldwide.”

Prior to stem cells, research in this field was very expensive because it was performed on rodents, Ashton said. One of the biggest advantages to growing human tissues is it gives scientists access to large quantities, he said.

It is important for scientists to have the ability to study toxicity in a human genetic background because the genetic background of rodents can be different from humans in many aspects, Ashton said. UW scientists have cured several diseases in rodents but have had a hard time translating those to the clinic for humans, he said.

“It’s a merger of developing scientific fields that we need to put together in order to come up with very powerful applications for understanding how the chemical substances that we interact with on a daily basis actually affect human health,” Ashton said.

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Categories: Local Media

Results show MPD officer who shot Tony Robinson was sober

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 7:51pm

Matt Kenny, the officer who fatally shot 19-year-old Tony Robinson, was sober after the shooting, according to results released by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.

Kenny did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system after the shooting on March 6, the Associated Press reported. His blood was drawn two hours after the shooting, AP reported.

Family of officer who shot Tony Robinson releases first public statementThe family of Madison Police Department officer Matt Kenny, who fatally shot Tony Robinson, expressed sadness over Robinson’s death and …

Robinson’s death has sparked protests and demonstrations throughout the city.

Tony Robinson’s death: a portrait of a life ended, a life halted, a community unitedSaturday morning, a team of three Madison police officers stood outside the house at 1125 Williamson Street on the Near …

The state’s Department of Justice is investigating the case, and the results are expected to come out next week.

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Categories: Local Media

Report finds Wisconsin ranks worst in country for declining middle class since 2000

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 2:17pm

Wisconsin ranks the worst in the nation in terms of a shrinking middle class, according to a recent report from The Pew Charitable Trust.

In 2000, 54.6 percent of Wisconsin families fell within the middle class category, meaning they were between 67 and 200 percent of the state’s median income. But in 2013, only 48.9 percent of Wisconsin families landed in that category.

That decline of nearly six percentage points is the worst in the nation.

“It’s pretty disturbing,” Laura Dresser, the associate director of the liberal Center on Wisconsin Strategy, said. “Wisconsin is falling faster than the national decline.”

But as Gov. Scott Walker’s spokesperson, Laurel Patrick, pointed out, he was only in office for three of the 13 years studied.

She told the Capital Times that Wisconsin had, in fact, seen income growth in the middle class from 2011 to 2013, with that growth ranking Wisconsin 15th in the nation.

Patrick also pointed to Wisconsin ranking 12th in 2013 for its personal income growth and that wage growth was also 17th best.

“Other income indicators also that show Wisconsin is heading in the right direction under Governor Walker,” Patrick told the Capital Times.

Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said, however, that the Pew report is a wake-up call for the state of Wisconsin.

While there are several national and international factors that impact the economy, Kraig said, the state of Wisconsin needs to respond.

“Even if state policy is not fully the cause of this, state policy should help remedy this,” Kraig said. “The economy is human-made. It’s a vehicle that needs to be driven.”

The past 15 years have seen a major decline in U.S. manufacturing, which has impacted the Midwest economy more than other parts of the country, Dresser said.

This could explain why the whole region is below the national average in terms of a shrinking middle class, Dresser said. Wisconsin has lost three of every four manufacturing jobs since 2000, she added.

“Fifteen years is pretty unusual, noteworthy and scary when the national economy has a declining middle class,” Dresser said.

This kind of decline incites fear in citizen’s financial security and their ability to secure retirement funds, Dresser said.

There may be a turnaround in the next fifteen years, Dresser said, but it will be a long time until Wisconsin gets back to where it was in 2000.

“I don’t think this is permanent,” Dresser said. “But I don’t think we are going to see strong upward growth anytime soon.”

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Categories: Local Media

UW education expert urges caution regarding recent remedial courses bill

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 2:15pm

State lawmakers are looking to address the proportion of University of Wisconsin System students who take remedial courses, but questions of whether that legislation is needed remain.

The state Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill that would order the UW System Board of Regents to require all Wisconsin students taking a UW System placement test in English or mathematics to disclose their high school. The bill is waiting for approval from the state Senate.

The bill would then mandate the regents to submit the names of high schools whose students placed into remedial courses to the Legislature.

Proponents of the bill have said it might help determine why certain Wisconsin high schools are graduating underperforming students.

But James Wollack, director of UW-Madison’s Office of Testing and Evaluation Services, said problems with remedial courses might not exist.

“We need to be evaluating our remediation programs as we evaluate our general education programs, but I’m actually not starting with the assumption that we have a problem,” Wollack said. “I would hope this isn’t something being used in a punitive way.”

He said compared to national levels of students taking remedial coursework, UW System fares quite well.

Wollack said UW System elects to use its own tests in determining which students take remedial courses because the ACT and SAT are not sufficiently comprehensive and are administered during a student’s junior year. He said this prevents universities from seeing the latest evaluation of a student’s preparedness.

According to a 2013 UW System report on remedial education, 21 percent of all UW System students took remedial courses in either English or mathematics, in contrast to the two-decade low in 2000, when just fewer than 15 percent of students took remedial courses.

Proportions of students taking remedial coursework vary widely between campuses. At UW-Madison, only 0.8 percent of students enroll in remedial coursework, while at UW-Parkside, the highest in the system, 65.3 percent of their students enrolled in remedial coursework.

Wollack said a graphic in the report showing a decline in students taking remedial coursework followed by an uptick in recent years intrigued many state officials. However, he said standards qualifying students for remedial coursework vary by campus.

He said if one standard were set, one would actually see a recent decrease in the proportion of students in remedial courses.

“The system-level numbers are actually very encouraging,” he said. “The students that are taking remedial courses are actually going on and being successful undergraduates.”

Still, in 1982, when the proportion of students in remedial courses were similar to today’s numbers, university administrators felt obliged to better determine standards for incoming freshmen students.

While still a subject of controversy nationwide, Wollack said the Common Core standards, through their standardization of expectations for college and career readiness, might help reduce the amount of students in remedial courses. The 2013 report also stated the Common Core standards provide “a unified statement of specificity.”

While remedial coursework might pose a problem for the UW System, remedial courses at UW-Madison are virtually non-existent. The university does not offer English remediation, and only 147 students enrolled in math remediation.

However, this does not prevent borderline students from receiving help on campus, Wren Singer, director of undergraduate advising, said.

Singer said if a student is close to needing a refresher course in mathematics, the department will work with the individual to improve their placement test score so they do not face having to take a remedial course.

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Categories: Local Media

Bubble soccer bursts into Madison athletic scene

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 2:15pm

If you’ve ever dreamt of playing a traditional sport while in an inflatable plastic bubble bouncing off competitors, look no further: Bubble soccer is now in Madison.

In bubble soccer, skills and fancy footwork go out the window because the biggest challenge is staying up-right, Madison entrepreneur Christie Low, who worked at Epic Systems and founded the city’s first bubble soccer program, said.

“As soon as someone comes after you in regular soccer, you’re both sort of battling for the ball, but in bubble soccer as soon as someone comes for you you’re usually just knocked down and go flying,” Low said.

Low was inspired to bring bubble soccer to Madison after watching a Youtube clip of the game being played.

After looking for a way to participate, Low realized there was no local outlet for the sport, and decided to start one.

“It just looked like fun!” she said. “I saw this video and I instantly wanted to do it, and I think a lot of other people do when they see it.”

Her group, Isthmus Bubble Soccer, started playing exhibition games at Middleton’s Keva Sports, and will begin league play in April. Eight teams have signed up so far for the month-long season, but more people are always welcome, Low said.

While students can arrange to play bubble soccer at Keva Sports, it may be a while before they see an intramural offering of the sport on campus.

Chad Schultz, the University’s Coordinator of Competitive Sports, is tasked with overseeing the daily affairs of University of Wisconsin’s club and intramural sports teams, and frequently receives student requests for activities.

Schultz was quick to confirm that he was indeed familiar with the sport.

“I’m well aware of it,” he said, citing expressions of interest his department has received from students.  “I haven’t put on a bubble, but I’ve seen it played in person before.”

Schultz and other university officials tasked with managing student recreation have looked increasingly to creative, non-traditional activities partially in response to scheduled renovations and temporary loss of usable spaces in the Southeast Recreational Facility, Schultz said. Interest in bubble soccer has recently been a topic of discussion, but the Recreational Sports department needs to conduct more research to best determine if and how the sport will arrive for UW students, he said.

The cost of bubble soccer is one factor UW’s Rec Sports department has to keep in mind, Schultz said.

“Bubble soccer is quite expensive to start,” he said. “The bubbles can cost anywhere between $300 and $600 a pop, and our biggest reservation right now is that no manufacturer backs longer than a 30 day warranty on the product.”

Safety issues associated with bubble soccer are also a concern, Schultz said, so intramural bubble soccer teams careening through the SERF or the Natatorium might not be an immediate possibility.

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Categories: Local Media

Walker’s office hits back on report of $1.5 million donation from richest Wisconsinite

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 10:49pm

Gov. Scott Walker’s office hit back on a Yahoo News report outlining a $1.5 million contribution from the richest man in Wisconsin to a group that’s aligned with Walker’s policies.

The report highlights a 2012 donation of $1.5 million from Wisconsin billionaire John Menard Jr. to the pro-Walker advocacy group Wisconsin Club for Growth.

That group is part of a currently-halted John Doe investigation that is looking into whether there was any illegal coordination between it and Walker’s 2012 recall campaign.

Issue advocacy groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth don’t have to release the names of people who donate to them and often use those donations to fund advertisements on issues Walker supports, but they can’t outrightly tell people to vote for Walker, according to Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck.

But Heck said those issue ads remained influential during Walker’s 2012 recall election and provided something of value to the campaign without disclosing donors, so it should be considered illegal coordination.

“Under Wisconsin state law, it is illegal for a candidate campaign to coordinate with outside groups during an election without reporting who their donations are from,” Heck said.

Conservatives say the investigation has limited the advocacy group’s freedom of speech and have called it a political witch hunt — and have also denied there was any coordination.

Heck said the Menard donation, once brought to light, raised questions about state tax credits and benefits he’s received.

“Menard gave money to WiCFG thinking nobody would find out and then received tax credits, benefits and favorable rulings from the Department of Natural Resources,” Heck said.

In the past, Heck said, Menard has had problems with the DNR but since the donation, DNR has been more relaxed under Walker.

But Walker spokesperson Laurel Patrick said in a statement that Walker has had no involvement in changing the DNR’s enforcement methods nor had anything to do with Menard’s tax breaks.

“Menard has so far received the same number of citations under the Walker administration as under the [former Gov.] Doyle administration, which is one under each,” Patrick said.

She said the tax breaks were solely based on performance objectives such as job creation, job retention and capital investment and were handled by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation without Walker’s involvement.

David Canon, a University of Wisconsin political science professor, said this level of funding could decrease accountability and “lead to improper favors.”

Canon said if Walker chooses to run for president, the issue won’t go away in the Republican primaries.

“This will come up again and there will be a lot of issues on this,” Canon said. “Any Republican [primary rival] will want to bring attention to it.”

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Categories: Local Media

After two-year hiatus due to Arab Spring, Tunisia study abroad program continues

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 9:48pm

After a two-year hiatus due to violence related to the Arab Spring uprising, University of Wisconsin is again offering a study abroad program this semester in Tunisia.

The Emerging Identities in North Africa program, offered through The School for International Training, began running the 11-week program in fall 2011. According to the study abroad office website, students stay in Tunisia for the first seven weeks with the option to relocate or renew their homestay for the final four weeks. They can choose study either French or Arabic.

During fall 2012, SIT moved the program to France for the remainder of the semester due to the violence taking place in Tunisia at that time, Ron Machoian, International Safety and Security Director at UW, said in an email to The Badger Herald.

Machoian said the program was suspended effective spring 2013 when the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning for Tunisia. Once that was lifted, IAP began to offer the program again this semester, he said.

The recent Bardo Museum attack in downtown Tunis on March 18 caused a national stir, but the program will continue for the rest of the semester for the time being, he said.

“In general, a program is curtailed once it is determined that the growing risk in a location begins to diminish the likelihood of successful learning experiences and could pose a threat to the well-being of students or employees,” Machoian said.

Following the incident, SIT took precautions to ensure students were not in harm’s way, examined the situation and reviewed security protocols, he said.

Machoian engaged in a teleconference with representatives from 20 U.S. colleges and universities two days after the incident.

Representatives discussed public knowledge and private assessments from the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council, insurance companies’ foreign security teams and companies operating in Tunisia.

“The shared conclusion is that the events in Tunis were an isolated tragedy that likely does not change the overall safety for students there now,” Machoian said.

Teddy Varelis, a UW student currently in the program, said her professor contacted her immediately after the situation occurred. Students were instructed to immediately return to their host families and remain there until the situation was safe, she said.

Varelis said U.S. and Japanese tourists have special security in Tunisia, which she said those embassies require. She said she must register all travel within the country, and guards often arrive at hotels to check on students.

“Since the terrorist attacks in 2002 and the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in 2012, people are afraid to come,” Varelis said. “People have thanked me for coming to Tunisia.”

The U.S. Embassy in Tunisia has remained in contact with Varelis since the incident, but she said she is excited the students have not been evacuated.

Varelis said the country has great hospitality and wonderful food.

“It’s the most interesting mix of Europe and everything that does not feel familiar,” she said.

She also expressed how impressed she was with SIT.

“The program itself is really well done,” Varelis said. “They’ve got the security, culture and language locked down. People who worked on the new government are daily lecturers. I feel really privileged to be a part of this organization.”

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Categories: Local Media

MIT professor says hurricanes will worsen due to climate change

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 8:18pm

While the total number of hurricanes will go down in the future, climate change will actually worsen their severity and large cities might not be able to tolerate their impacts, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor said on campus Tuesday.

Kerry Emanuel, professor of Earth, atmosphere and planetary sciences at MIT, gave a lecture at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on the increasing risks of hurricanes due to climate change.

Climate warming presents a significant risk to future generations due to uncertainty about its magnitude, Emanuel said.

“Climate change entails a low, but not tiny, risk of catastrophic outcomes,” he said. “Among the myriad risks posed by climate change are changes in extreme events, including hurricanes.”

Atmospheric scientists worry what will happen when the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere increases from burning fossil fuels, thereby warming the planet and affecting weather phenomenon across the world, Emanuel said.

“We’re performing an enormous experiment and making a huge gamble for future generations because we don’t know how [climate change] will turn out,” Emanuel said. “One of the interesting sub problems of this is, ‘What’s going to happen to hurricanes?’”

Wind itself causes mass destruction, but the lethal aspect comes directly from the storm surge, an abnormal rise of water generated by a hurricane, Emanuel said. Fresh water flooding, caused by heavy rain, is another major risk, he said.

Hurricane risk assessments are based off the history of events in a particular region, Emanuel said. Only eight storms have caused more than half of the damage in the United States since the 19th century, and more than 90 percent of the total damage has been caused by high intensity, high category storms, he said.

“Eight, it not a very big number to work with when assessing risk, and that’s for the whole United States,” Emanuel said. “Statistics on United States hurricanes are not up to the task of assessing hurricane risk.”

Scientists predict that the most intense hurricanes in the future will be even more intense than the ones today, Emanuel said.

As the Earth warms, the total number of hurricanes will go down, which may seem like a good thing, Emanuel said, but the ones that will remain will be stronger.

“The problem is that almost all the damage that’s been done historically by hurricanes has been done by grand daddies, the really big ones,” he said.

MIT has developed a risk assessment approach to predict hurricane intensity in the future climate, Emanuel said. The approach will predict rain intensity and assess freshwater flood risk, he said.

MIT professors used this approach to analyze Hurricane Sandy. They predicted Sandy was a 1 in 500 storm event, but in the future climate, storms with similar severity in similar locations are likely to happen every 40 years.

Scientists will use this risk assessment to determine storm statistics for future climates.

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Categories: Local Media

UW System president says he’d resign if cuts don’t go down, shared governance is removed

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:38pm

A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor asked UW System President Ray Cross Wednesday whether he’d resign if the proposed $300 million in cuts remain and if shared governance is removed in the state budget.

And Cross had a simple answer: “Yes.”

Cross was speaking to a UW-Milwaukee audience about the proposed state budget, which would cut $300 million from the university system and remove current rules on tenure and shared governance.

What Walker’s UW budget cuts and increased autonomy means for students and facultyGov. Scott Walker suggested Wednesday that the University of Wisconsin System could ask its professors to teach one more class …

Richard Grusin, a UW-Milwaukee professor who’s been leading efforts against the budget, asked Cross the question and said in an interview that the response surprised him.

“Asking the question wasn’t to get him to resign, it was to get him to light a fire and show how important this is,” he said.

According to a transcript Grusin posted to his blog, he asked Cross, “Will you pledge here today that, if you fail to secure a substantial reduction in the proposed budget cuts, and if you prove unable to protect tenure, shared governance, and academic freedom for all University of Wisconsin universities and colleges–will you pledge here today to resign your position as President of the University of Wisconsin System?”

Walker’s budget would also shift the UW System from a traditional state agency to a public authority, giving it more flexibility over its operations than other state agencies.

Cross has stood by the public authority plan throughout the budget discussions and also called for reduced cuts to the system.

But a Republican co-chair on the state’s Joint Finance Committee, which is tweaking Walker’s budget before sending it to the full Legislature, introduced a plan that would scrap the public authority proposal while still giving UW System flexibilities.

GOP lawmakers’ new budget plan for UW System would scrap public authority proposalThe co-chair of the state’s budget committee is out with a new plan that would scrap Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed …

 

The plan from state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, would also try to reduce the $300 million in cuts Walker has proposed.

Nygren has typically supported Cross’ efforts to mend relations with lawmakers and recommended him for the UW System president job. Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, a frequent critic of UW leadership, thinks Cross’ approach is “a breath of fresh air,” Nass spokesperson Mike Mikalsen said in a recent interview.

Nygren has, however, criticized UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank for”bringing Washington politics to Madison.”

Republicans slam Blank for ‘bringing Washington politics to Madison’The co-chairs of the state Legislature’s budget committee slammed University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank Wednesday for “bringing Washington politics …

Cross’ answer today will likely not change much in terms of the actual legislation, but it could make the UW System’s Board of Regents more active in the discussions against the budget, said Noel Radomski, director of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education.

“The one thing that might have an impact is the Board of Regents would wake up and ask some serious questions,” Radomski said.

Wednesday’s UW-Milwaukee forum can be viewed below:

Nina Kravinsky contributed to this story.

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Categories: Local Media

Young Gifted and Black seeks to educate youth, discuss issues of race after Robinson’s death

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:42am

Dozens of young Madisonians gathered at the University of Wisconsin’s Multicultural Student Center Tuesday night to address the death of Tony Robinson and the subsequent protests and events.

The meeting, hosted by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, was meant to provide a safe space for the community’s youth to gather and talk about the past month’s events, YGB organizer Brandi Grayson said. The meeting was also meant to help educate the community’s youth on making appropriate decisions regarding their actions moving forward, she added.

“[The goal of the meeting is] to provide them with structure and education and knowledge in order for them to construct an objective and purpose,” Grayson said. “So when they decide to protest, when they decide enough is enough, that they have tools at their disposal to make the appropriate decisions.”

Protesters gather after MPD officer shoots, kills 19-year-old black manA Madison Police Department officer shot a 19-year-old black man Friday night, prompting more than 100 protesters to gather at …

The meeting drew close to 50 people, with middle-schoolers and college students alike gathering to share their emotions and ideas.

YGB’s Alix Shabazz, who primarily facilitated the event, stressed the need for communal listening and respect.

Attendees discussed similarities and differences between the city of Ferguson, Missouri and Madison, types of action to take moving forward and reasons why racial disparities exist in communities.

Shabazz created a “tree of oppression” to illustrate various issues surrounding race.

The leaves and the trunk of the tree illustrated issues that many African American people face throughout their lives. Some of these issues included getting killed, getting profiled and going to jail.

But Shabazz said to face these everyday problems, people must get to the root of the problem: racism.

Jason Chan/The Badger Herald

The group discussed the August 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri, in which a white police officer shot and killed an African American teenager, sparking protests and violence.

Individuals cited the similarities between Ferguson and Madison’s officer-involved shooting, noting the two communities’ disproportionate incarceration rates as longstanding racial issues.

But attendees also noted several differences between both cities, specifically on demographics. Ferguson has a higher population of people of color with more overt racial issues while Madison presents itself as liberal, progressive and has been listed as one of the “top 100 places to live,” attendees said. They raised the question, “For who?”

“Madison likes to think there’s no racism,” Shabazz said. “But Madison is a lot worse than Ferguson in some aspects.”

Madison community members peacefully protest officer involved shooting of 19-year-old maleOn the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, Madison community members gathered in peaceful protest Saturday afternoon …

The group also addressed what kind of actions they need to take to ensure their voices are heard and demands are met.

Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin, stressed the importance of peaceful, active community involvement.

“This is not just about my grandson …[the police] are killing kids — period,” Irwin said. “They need to be held accountable. They’re not above the law.”

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Categories: Local Media

Property tax cuts on business equipment could decrease funds for local government

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:31am

A bill working its way through the state Legislature would eliminate a property tax on business equipment that the bill’s co-sponsor calls “double taxation,” but that loss of revenue could bring down funding for local governments.

Under the bill, the state’s businesses and manufacturers would still pay property taxes on the land they operate in — an amount that totaled more than $2 billion in 2014, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The bill, however, targets personal property, which the LFB says are “items not fixed to land, such as furniture, equipment, machinery and fixtures.”

In 2014, those taxes totaled about $270 million, with businesses and manufacturers making up about $265 million of that.

The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, said he’s heard from small businesses that they would almost certainly reinvest those funds in other equipment to improve their business.

Those small businesses, he said, would benefit the most from this bill, as they need to pay sales taxes for the equipment they purchase on top of the personal property taxes for that equipment.

“It is kind of double taxation, is what it is,” Tiffany said.

Jerry Deschane, the executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, said with the loss of personal property tax, the tax burden could be shifted from businesses to the rest of the property taxes, much of that coming from residential property taxes.

An LFB analysis last year on the topic found the net property tax bill on the average Wisconsin home could increase by 2.7 percent, or $80.

But Tiffany said lawmakers would find a way to make sure that tax shift wouldn’t happen, raising the possibility of local governments backfilling the revenues they would lose.

Another source of revenue local governments would lose under the bill are about $80 million the state currently pays local governments, Deschane said. Those payments stem from the exemption of computers from personal property taxes, with the state paying the local governments for that revenue loss.

Tiffany said the bill wouldn’t take effect until 2020, saying he wants to phase in the bill so local governments can adjust to the loss in revenue.

The bill, he added, would relieve some of the burden for tax assessors, as significant amounts of effort go into filing and assessing the personal property taxes that end up generating little revenue.

“The personal property tax is one of the most inefficient taxes that we have in Wisconsin,” Tiffany said.

Deschane agreed the assessing process for personal property tax was “cumbersome.”

“The sponsors of the bill are right that the paperwork is a bit of a hassle,” Deschane said. “Our perspective is, we agree with that and if there was a way to do away with it without crippling local governments, we would be there with them.”

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Categories: Local Media

Soglin, Resnick spar over childcare, job development in first televised debate

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:26am

Madison mayoral candidates Paul Soglin and Scott Resnick faced off against each other for the second time within a week Tuesday night at a WISC-TV debate.

In their only televised debate, the candidates sparred over issues similar to those of previous debates, including racial disparities and crime, job creation and transportation.

If elected, Resnick said he would focus largely on childcare development and suggested devoting $250,000 to early childhood care and city resources.

Soglin, however, said he would focus on job development, citing his summer youth employment programs and partnerships with other units of government. He went on to question why Resnick would suggest to spend a quarter million dollars on childcare development programs when the city is already devoting $850,000 on childcare matters.

Mayoral candidates face off in debate; address digital divide, gang violenceTackling topics such as the digital divide and the recent increase in gang violence in the city, Madison mayoral candidates …

In the wake of extreme community discontent with police after the officer-involved shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, issues of racial disparities and crime were at the forefront of the debate.

In terms of racial disparity and crime, Resnick said the issue came down to a matter of trust between the police and community. He mentioned the need for a new Madison police station, but Soglin said that money used for a new station would be better spent on solutions to solve the issue of racial disparity, such as job creation.

Community voice speaks louder than candidates’ at mayoral forumVoices of mayoral candidates were muted at Thursday’s forum by community protesters seeking justice for the death of Tony Robinson. Before …

The two also discussed matters of economic development. Resnick attributed much of Madison’s economic stability to the Verona based software company, Epic. Resnick said he hopes more Epic-like companies will come to Madison.

“How do we create the next Epic right here in Madison?” Resnick asked. “Those are the kind of investments I’m excited about.”

Soglin, however, said Madison is and has been doing well thanks to more than just Epic.

On the topic of transportation, Soglin continued to advocate for the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit system. He said BRT is a key element in how the city can progress forward to a more efficient transit system. But he noted it will take assistance from both the state and federal levels to implement a program.

This is why Madison Metro’s buses are overcrowdedMadison Metro’s 1970s garage houses 54 more buses than it’s supposed to — and it’s part of what’s causing the …

At various times throughout the debate, candidates spoke to each other directly to refute the other’s statements.

Resnick again brought up Soglin’s absences from Madison and 176 days worth spent traveling around the country for conferences.

However, Soglin countered this directly by telling Resnick to “stop with the fuzzy math,” and asking if Resnick needed his hand held through every vote. Soglin said he only missed six City Council meetings over the past four years and that many of the days in which he was absent from Madison were weekends.

The election is April 7.

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Categories: Local Media

Broadway to boom at Overture in upcoming season

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:23am

The Overture Center for the Arts is gearing up for its biggest season yet as it brings the largest number of Broadway acts it has ever featured.

Seven Broadway shows are scheduled to perform this upcoming 2015-16 season at the Overture, including the Lion King, Disney’s Newsies and Kinky Boots.

Each of the seven shows has a week-long engagement with the exception of one four-week engagement, bringing the total number of Broadway performances to 88 for the season, Overture spokesperson Robert Chappell said.

“Typically in a regular season we get five Broadway acts for about 48 total Broadway performances, but this season the amount of Broadway performances has almost doubled,” he said.

Madison’s thriving local theater and arts scene, as well as its engaged community, is one of the main reasons Broadway’s troupes make a point to stop in Madison on their tours, Chappell said.

The Overture Center’s partnership with Broadway Across America helps schedules Broadway shows with the center and have had high success rates in the past, he said.

The Overture also had a bit of luck on its side for the upcoming season, which allowed the seven Broadway performances to match up perfectly with its busy schedule, Chappell said

Ten other nonprofits share the Overture Center, including the Madison Ballet and the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Chappell said. Each of these nonprofits have various scheduled performances in place and coincidentally their schedules fit the touring dates for the Broadway shows.

Chappell said the Overture is expecting a busy season and high ticket sales.

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Categories: Local Media

Harvard political theorist says equality too often takes backseat to freedom

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:22am

Political theorist Danielle Allen is on a journey to revitalize the commitment to equality, saying it too often takes a backseat to freedom in United States’ democracy.

Allen, who spoke at Memorial Union Tuesday as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series, is a professor at Harvard University. She is known for her work on democratic theory and political thought and wrote a book “Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality.”

The concept of equality is in the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence but is rarely emphasized, Allen said. Freedom is the key term with many political candidates today, while equality falls back, yet both are pillars of democracy, she said. 

Allen said she’s on a journey to revitalize the commitment to equality. It will take a lot of work to fully rejuvenate people’s understanding of one of the two pillars of democracy, she said.

“Our intellectual muscles for talking about equality have atrophied over the last few decades,” Allen said.

Allen said she pursued this revitalization with the students she taught for night school in Chicago while also working as a professor at the University of Chicago. This was a night class of low-income adults, and none of her students had read the Declaration of Independence, she said.

When she later asked her students at University of Chicago if they had read the Declaration all the way through, they also said no, Allen said.

The night school students did not think the text “belonged” to them because it was written by old, dead and white slaveholders, she said.

As Allen took them through the text and focused on the core of the Declaration of Independence, they realized the way they view their lives and the way the writers of the Declaration viewed the world were parallel to one another.

“All the students were there to change their lives, they were trying to regain control,” she said, “The Declaration is just this, a story of people trying to change their lives.”

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Categories: Local Media

UW Health among only three in nation that uses new MRI for viewing tumors

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:12am

University of Wisconsin Health doctors are using a new MRI machine — one of only three in the nation — called the MRIdian to view cancerous tumors during radiation treatment.

During typical radiation treatment, doctors have to use X-ray or CAT scan technology to align the patient’s tumor with the radiation treatment before it is administered, Michael Bassetti, UW Health radiation oncologist, said. During the actual treatment, doctors are not able to see what is happening inside the patient, he said.

The MRIdian, however, allows doctors to see soft tissue within the patient with more definition than an X-ray or CAT scan could, Bassetti said. Because the machine can view the patient’s tumors before administering radiation, doctors will have an image of the patient constantly, he said.

“What an MRI allows us to do is to visualize movement of tumors [and] movement of nearby organs while we’re actually administering the radiation treatment,” Bassetti said. “This is basically marrying an MRI machine with radiation treatment.”

UW Health’s physics department heard about the MRIdian early in its development and was able to be involved in early adoption and use of the machine after it was clear it was a successful treatment unit, he said.

UW was the second school to adopt the MRIdian after Washington University in St. Louis, with the University of California-Los Angeles also using the machine, Bassetti said.

“The University of Wisconsin physical and radiation oncology department has been a very innovative department for a long time in terms of adoption technologies,” Bassetti said. “They’ve always been forward looking.”

With the MRIdian, UW Health doctors are able to administer radiation to less of the patients’ body by having them repeatedly hold their breath, Bassetti said. The software stops automatically as it is tracking the tumor because the radiation is only delivered if the tumor is in the correct position, he said.

“For tumors in the abdomen or the lung, as [the patient is] breathing there’s a lot of movement of the tumor,” he said. “If you can limit the amount of movement of the tumor, then we can focus the radiation on a smaller area, limiting the radiation that goes to or near other organs.”

Other universities and hospitals overseas currently have orders in place for MRIdian, Bassetti said.

(Correction: this article previously referred to the MRIdian as the ViewRay, which is the name of the company, not the technology. The Badger Herald regrets this error.)

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UW launches online degree program for working professionals

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:06am

University of Wisconsin announced a program Wednesday to help working professionals who want to further their education but sometimes can’t due to additional job obligations.

UW’s Advance Your Career program, which launched last month, aggregates the university’s online and flexible courses available on campus on one website, Jeffrey S. Russell, dean of continuing studies and vice provost for lifelong learning, said.

Advance Your Career will offer two new online certificates, one in geodesign and one in power conversion and control, in the fall, according to a UW statement.

The website is intended for adults in the community with bachelor’s degrees who are already employed and don’t have the flexibility to attend a residential campus, he said.

“The idea is to try to make sure that the working adult can continue their education in a high quality educational experience through an institution like ours and remain in their local community and active in the workforce,” Russell said.

There has been an increasing demand for courses as Advance Your Career has developed more programs in science, nursing and social work, Russell said.

The university has also seen this demand in the computer, technology and engineering fields, where people have an interest in continuing their education but don’t want to quit their job and move to Madison, he said.

The website will make it easier for potential students to see what kinds of programs are available, Russell said. Often times, people get “buried” into an academic department’s website because it difficult to find these programs, he said.

“The portal is to be an access point for this narrow audience to understand what kinds of things we have available here at UW,” Russell said. “A lot of times they’re not sure where to start.”

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UW System cuts funding for Course Options program next school year

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 6:20am

Wisconsin school districts will have to cover the cost of the Course Options program next year after the University of Wisconsin System announced it will no longer fund it.

The Course Options dual enrollment program enables Wisconsin school districts to partner with UW System schools and offer college classes and credit to high school students, Perry Hibner, spokesperson for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District said. If the student gets a B or better, they receive college credit.

The Madison School District does not participate in the Course Options program, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Parents paid for the program until 2013, Hibner said. In 2014, a law placed its fiscal responsibility on school districts, he said.

UW System spokesperson Alex Hummel said the system stepped in to help districts by paying for the whole program for one year as a temporary solution.

UW System president Ray Cross said in a letter that it was unsustainable for UW System to continue paying for the program. He said a big reason for this was Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed $300 million cut to UW System in the upcoming biennium budget.

Cross said the plan for the UW System to stop its funding and require school districts to fund Course Options is a one-year program. He said the long-term solution is to amend the legislation and have parents pay for the program.

Hibner said the amount each district has to pay for Course Options varies between the districts. Middleton Cross-Plains School District pays up $350,000 for the program, Hibner said. He said this may lead to some districts ending the program altogether.

“So in the long run, it’s a big loss for everybody,” Hibner said.

Many schools in the UW System and their partner school districts are working through new agreements that make the program more affordable for districts, Hummel said.

Hibner said the Middleton-Cross Plains Area District has worked with UW-Oshkosh to receive an 80 percent discount on the program for the next school year.

The program has helped students save money on college tuition as the credits they earn give them a higher standing when they enter college and reduce time to graduation, Hibner said.

Hummel said the program has been effective in thousands of students’ educations and has given them a head start in life. ​

“It’s a proven success story and it’s just a matter of finding a way to keep us all committed to finding a sustainable funding source,” Hummel said.

Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, said the program allows students to experiment and know what they want to pursue in the future before they invest their money in college. This way, they do not go into debt, he said.

Farrow is planning to propose a bill that would set up categorical aid, which is acquired through state funds and taxes, to finance special educational programs. This funding will help districts pay for the Course Options program and other educational programs.

If proposed, Farrow said he wants to include it in the K-12 education part of the state budget.

“We’ve got to come up with a more sustainable way to continue this program and that is what we are going to propose through the bill,” Farrow said.

Correction: The story previously misstated the cost the districts would have to pay for the program. The Badger Herald regrets this error.

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