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BRANDON RAYGO

Take a look at the stories from around our area and world that are making news today.

University of Wisconsin will have huge influence in USA-Canada women's hockey game: Gary D'Amato of USA Today Network writes: "There’s red in the red, white and blue. There’s red in the Canadian flag. And when Team USA and Team Canada face off in a women’s hockey preliminary game Thursday at the Pyeongchang Olympics, they’ll be seeing red. Or, if you want to be picky about it, cardinal. That’s the vivid shade of red associated with the University of Wisconsin, represented on the two heavyweight hockey teams by nine players — four on Team USA, five on Team Canada. That means nearly 20 percent of the players on the combined rosters are products of UW’s women’s hockey program, led by coach Mark Johnson. For Team USA, forwards Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan and Brianna Decker and goaltender Alex Rigsby played at Wisconsin. All were first-team all-Americans and Duggan and Decker were Patty Kazmaier Award winners. Decker (Dousman) and Rigsby (Delafield) also are Wisconsin natives. For Team Canada, forwards Emily Clark, Sarah Nurse and Blayre Turnbull, defenseman Meaghan Mikkelson and goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens are UW products. Mikkelson and Desbiens were first-team all-Americans and Desbiens won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2017. That’s a whole lot of Bucky." Read more.


Fitzgerald pushing major rewrite of Wisconsin liquor enforcement laws: Shawn Johnson of Wisconsin Public Radio writes: "One of the state Legislature's top Republicans is making an end-of-session push for a major rewrite of Wisconsin's liquor laws. The plan by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, is similar to one that surfaced but ultimately went nowhere during budget negotiations last year. Fitzgerald's proposal, which was first reported by the conservative MacIver Institute, would create a new Office of Alcohol Beverages Enforcement in Wisconsin. Fitzgerald told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday that it would take on some of the duties of the state Department of Revenue, which he contends is no longer enforcing Wisconsin's liquor laws the way it should. 'It doesn't matter if you're a brewery or if you're a tavern or you're a retailer, everyone agrees the enforcement has just fallen apart,' Fitzgerald said. Brewers and distillers were among a coalition that successfully fought the proposed changes last year. The effort was also opposed by conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, which said Fitzgerald was effectively calling for a 'liquor czar' in Wisconsin." Read more.


Trump’s longtime lawyer says he paid Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket: Maggie Haberman of the New York Times writes: "Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said on Tuesday that he had paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to a pornographic-film actress who had once claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump. In the most detailed explanation of the 2016 payment made to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, Mr. Cohen, who worked as a counsel to the Trump Organization for more than a decade, said he was not reimbursed for the payment. 'Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,' Mr. Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times. 'The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.' He declined to answer several follow-up questions, including whether Mr. Trump had been aware that Mr. Cohen made the payment, why he made the payment or whether he had made similar payments to other people over the years. Mr. Cohen has previously said that Mr. Trump has denied an affair with Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels. She has said the affair took place soon after Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, gave birth to the couple’s son, Barron." Read more.


Porter was up for promotion despite abuse allegations: Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak of CNN write: "Rob Porter was involved in serious discussions to be promoted when he abruptly resigned from the White House last week amid allegations that he abused his two ex-wives, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. His anticipated elevation further highlights how top White House officials were willing to overlook indications from the FBI that there were potential abuse allegations in his background in exchange for professional competence in a tumultuous West Wing. Porter had been actively lobbying to take on new policy portfolios outside the traditional scope of the staff secretary, one person familiar with the matter said, which included speechwriting duties and a role in planning policy rollouts. Neither of those tasks is traditionally carried out by the staff secretary. One of the areas Porter was set to delve further into was trade policy, according to the person. Porter was a regular attendee at a weekly trade meeting among top-level administration officials." Read more.

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Can the U.S. combat election interference if some don't believe it's happening?: Philip Ewing of NPR writes: "America's adversaries are circling like coyotes just beyond the light from the campfire, top intelligence officials warn — but that's not the scariest thing to some members of the Senate intelligence committee. What bothers them is the need to convince people the coyotes are there. 'My problem is, I talk to people in Maine who say, 'the whole thing is a witch hunt and it's a hoax,' because that's what the president told me,' said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine. The leaders of the U.S. intelligence community gave bleak evidence on Tuesday about the ongoing threat Russia poses to Western democracies — among many other threats around the world. King contrasted that with the frequent denials and equivocations about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by President Trump and the White House, which King said have led to a major disparity in belief around the country. The campaign of 'active measures,' as intelligence officers call them, is no longer discussed in terms of whether it happened, but, rather, amid certainty that it never stopped. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and their colleagues laid out an eye-watering picture about the extent of that campaign." Read more.


After bribery allegations, Netanyahu's government stable -- for now: Maayan Lubell of Reuters writes: "Key coalition partners said on Wednesday they would stick with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for now, pending a decision by the attorney general whether or not to indict him for bribery as recommended by police. A decision could take months and Netanyahu’s government appeared stable for the time being. The right-wing premier has strongly denied the police allegations, calling them 'full of holes, like Swiss cheese.' 'I want to reassure you, the coalition is stable. No one, not I, not anyone else, has plans to go to an election,' Netanyahu told a conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the day after police made their recommendations public. 'We will continue to work with you for the good of Israel’s citizens until the end of the term,' he said. Police on Tuesday said they had found sufficient evidence for the 68-year-old Netanyahu to be charged with bribery in two separate cases, presenting him with one of the biggest challenges to his long dominance of Israeli politics. It is now up to Israel’s attorney general to decide whether to indict Netanyahu and this could take some months to resolve." Read more.