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BRANDON RAYGO

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

Wisconsin DNR to increase camping fees at most popular parks; cut fees at parks that get less traffic: Lee Bergquist of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes: "The Department of Natural Resources is rolling out plans for a new pricing system for camping and daily admission at state parks that will mean higher rates at the most popular campgrounds and price cuts at parks not as popular. The DNR is raising fees for camping at 38 properties at various times this year and is cutting fees at 36 others. The biggest increases would be $7 per day and the biggest cuts would be $5 per day. Also, the daily entrance fees at three popular parks — Devil’s Lake, Peninsula and Willow River — would increase. The changes have been approved by DNR Secretary Dan Meyer and will be reviewed by the Natural Resources Board at its next regular meeting on Jan. 24 in Madison. The DNR says the new pricing is expected to take effect after Feb. 15. The agency is retooling the fee structure after the Legislature in 2015 cut all general-purpose funding for the parks system. At the time, lawmakers directed the DNR to shift to a new business model and rely solely on fees and other revenue it can generate." Read more.


Live Nation buys controlling interest in Frank Productions: Aaron R. Conklin of Isthmus writes: "In a move that abruptly turns competitors into unexpected business partners, Live Nation Entertainment, the California-based national concert booking behemoth, has purchased a “majority interest” in Madison-based Frank Productions. 'It doesn’t change what we’re doing or how we’re doing it,' says Charlie Goldstone, president of Frank Productions Concerts. 'It simply allows us to grow the business that we’ve been developing in Madison.' Under the new partnership, Frank Productions takes over operations, including staffing and booking, at the Orpheum Theater, confirms Goldstone. That adds the 1,700-capacity theater to an empire that already includes the High Noon Saloon (purchased from former owner Cathy Dethmers in February of last year), Madison FreakFest, the annual summer concert series at Breese Stevens Field, and The Sylvee, the new 2,500 capacity concert venue Frank Productions is building on East Washington Avenue. Thanks to Frank Productions’ in-process merger/partnership with Majestic Theatre owners Matt Gerding and Scott Leslie, Frank Productions now has the ability to book acts into the majority of Madison’s concert venues." Read more.


Trump denies making 'shithole countries' comment: Caroline Kenny of CNN writes: "President Donald Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations as 'shithole countries' during a meeting in which he rejected a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 'The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!' Trump tweeted. White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny the 'shithole' remark on Thursday evening, but instead said in a statement that Trump 'is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.' DACA protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. Trump on Thursday rejected a pitch from a bipartisan team of senators on a compromise immigration deal to protect DACA participants while increasing border security. 'Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?' Trump told senators in the Oval Office, according to a source briefed on the meeting. The Washington Post first reported on Trump's comments." Read more.


African countries and Haiti react to Trump’s remark: Paul Schemm and Eli Rosenberg of the Washington Post write: "President Trump’s dismissal of Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as 'shithole countries' whose inhabitants are not desirable for U.S. immigration shocked people around the world and provoked swift condemnation. The president made the remarks Thursday during a White House meeting with lawmakers and suggested immigrants from Norway or Asia would be preferable. 'The African Union Commission is frankly alarmed at statements by the president of the United States when referring to migrants of African countries and others in such contemptuous terms,' said Ebba Kalondo, the spokeswoman for the African Union. 'Considering the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the U.S. during the Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.' She added that the statement was particularly unpleasant coming from the leader of country that is a 'global example' of how a strong and diverse country can be the product of migration, and she expressed hope eventually that 'the values the U.S. is known for because of its particular experience with migration will come to bear.' The reaction from the United Nations human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, was uncharacteristically blunt, describing the remarks as 'racist.'” Read more.

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Trump boasts of ‘very good relationship’ with North Korean leader: Michael D. Shear of the New York Times writes: "Barely more than a week after boasting that he has a bigger nuclear button than Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, President Trump portrayed himself on Thursday as having good relations with the autocratic leader of the rogue nation. 'I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un,' Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. 'I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.' Mr. Trump declined to say whether he had directly spoken with his North Korean counterpart. 'I’m not saying I have or haven’t,' he said. But the rosy description of his relationship with the North Korean leader was another jarring reversal in tone from a president who has spoken admiringly of Mr. Kim in some moments and mocked him in others, referring to him as a fat 'Little Rocket Man.' In September, the president called Mr. Kim the leader of a 'band of criminals' and later said he was a 'madman.' Two months later, he called Mr. Kim 'a sick puppy.”' Read more.


Tonya Harding admits prior knowledge of Nancy Kerrigan attack during ABC special: A.J. Perez of USA TODAY writes: "Tonya Harding has long denied she knew a plan was afoot to injure Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. That, actually, was not the case, Harding said in Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story that aired on ABC on Thursday night. In fact, she said she basically figured out that her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and his friend, Shawn Eckardt, had likely been behind the plot to attack Kerrigan shortly after she won the U.S. figure skating title. Harding stuck to her story that she's repeated for 24 years now: She had no role in planning the attack. In part of the interview that ran on Good Morning America earlier this week, Harding, however, said she did overhear Gillooly and Eckardt talking about 'taking somebody out' to ensure Harding made the 1994 U.S. Olympic team. 'It popped in my head two or three days after we got back (that Gillooly and Eckardt were involved),' Harding said in part of the interview that didn't run until the two-hour special Thursday night. The special comes as I, Tonya, a sympathetic look at Harding's life that is in theaters, has received critical acclaim." Read more.