Take a look at the stories from around our area and world that are making news today.
Madison cracks down on illegal Airbnb operations: Dylan Brogan of Isthmus writes: "This fall, Andy Manis bought a larger home with his partner and decided to rent out his old house near Hoyt Park. He thought he had found the perfect tenant. 'This person checked out,' Manis, a professional photographer, tells Isthmus. 'She had a good job. Good credit.' So Manis was shocked when he saw his westside property listed on Airbnb as 'a stunning bungalow in the heart of Madison' going for $162 a night. That was his stunning bungalow! 'Hell yeah I felt duped. Never even dreamed this would happen,' Manis says. His neighbors had found the listing on Airbnb, having grown suspicious after seeing numerous people come and go from the house. 'It soon became clear [the tenant] never planned on living there at all. This was strictly a way for her to make money and plenty of it.' After investigating, Manis calculated his tenant was making thousands of dollars a month off of his house. It was also mostly booked up through the end of year. Guests seem to enjoy their stay — the house had a perfect five-star rating. His tenant’s scheme was a huge liability for Manis since his insurance didn’t cover the property for this use. 'If something happened — the house burns down or someone slips and hurts themselves — they are going to come after me,' Manis says. 'Not the renter.'“ Read more.
Wisconsin Dem governor candidate calls for pardoning marijuana offenders: Morgan Gstalter of The Hill writes: "A top Democratic candidate in Wisconsin's gubernatorial race says he would pardon all low-level marijuana offenders if elected. Matt Flynn, the former chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said at a candidates’ forum Wednesday he would pardon offenders with nonviolent convictions who were not involved in dealing drugs, according to Madison's Fox6Now. Flynn said he does not know how many offenders such a policy would affect. He has repeatedly called for Wisconsin to legalize marijuana. Flynn is one of a number of Democrats seeking to run this fall against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a two-term governor. Walker has not pardoned anyone since he took office in 2011, according to Fox 6. Flynn leads all Dems in the race in cash on hand with $305,000, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday. He has reportedly raised $351,000. Walker raised $3.7 million in the second half of 2017 and had $4.2 million in cash, the Journal Sentinel reported."
Trump administration bars Haitians from US visas for low-skilled work: Reuters reports: "Haitians will no longer be eligible for U.S. visas given to low-skilled workers, the Trump administration said on Wednesday, bringing an end to a small-scale effort to employ Haitians in the United States after a catastrophic 2010 earthquake. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the change less than a week after President Donald Trump reportedly questioned in an Oval Office meeting why the United States would want to take in immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to them as 's___hole' countries. Trump has denied using that word. DHS said in a regulatory filing that it was removing Haiti from lists of more than 80 countries whose citizens can be granted H-2A and H-2B visas, given to seasonal workers in agriculture and other industries. It cited what it said were 'high levels of fraud and abuse' by Haitians with the visas, and a 'high rate of overstaying the terms' of their visas. A DHS report published last year stated that Haitians on a variety of non-immigrant visas, including H-2As and H-2Bs, had a roughly 40 percent visa overstay rate in the 2016 fiscal year." Read more.
US slips behind China in new global leadership poll: Laura Smith-Spark of CNN writes: "A year into Donald Trump's presidency, global confidence in US leadership has fallen to a new low, according to an opinion survey conducted across 134 countries. The Gallup poll puts global approval of US leadership at just 30 percent, slightly behind China on 31 percent and only three points ahead of Russia. Germany is now the top-rated global power in the world, with an approval rating of 41 percent, according to the survey. The US rating is down nearly 20 points from the 48 percent approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama's administration, Gallup said. It's also four points lower than the previous low of 34 percent, seen in the final year of George W. Bush's presidency. By comparison, in Obama's last year in office the United States led Germany by seven points, China by 17 points and Russia by 22 points, according to Gallup. 'This year marks a significant change in our trends,' said Jon Clifton, global managing partner at Gallup. 'Only 30 percent of the world, on average, approves of the job performance of the US's leadership, down from 48 percent in 2016. In fact, more people now disapprove of US leadership than approve. This historic low puts the US's leadership approval rating on par with China's and sets a new bar for disapproval.'" Read more.
Trump denies changing his position on border wall: Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times writes: "President Trump directly contradicted his own chief of staff on Thursday and said his position on building a wall between the United States and Mexico had not 'evolved.' Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, told some Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had 'evolved' on the issue of the wall, and that the president was not 'fully informed' when he promised to build such a barrier last year. In an early-morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump took the unusual step of publicly pushing back against his own White House, signaling a disconnect between the president and his staff at a critical time of negotiations with Congress to avoid a government shutdown. Mr. Kelly’s comments on Wednesday, which he made at a meeting with members of the Hispanic Caucus, were unusual as well, however. It is rare to see a White House chief of staff undercut a president’s public statements. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. Such a wall is estimated to cost billions of dollars. In one of his Twitter posts on Thursday, Mr. Trump restated his intention that Mexico would foot the bill." Read more.
Marquette University police chief cited for drunken driving: Jesse Garza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes: "Warnings to Marquette University students about the academic pitfalls of alcohol abuse and the dangers of drunken driving are easy to find on the Twitter and Facebook pages of the Marquette University Police Department. Wednesday evening, the chief of that department, Paul Mascari, was placed on administrative leave by the university after being cited for operating while intoxicated. The incident occurred off campus while Mascari was off duty, according to a statement from Marquette spokesman Brian Dorrington. The statement said Mascari would be placed on leave while the university conducts an internal review. It said the university 'takes the conduct of all of our employees very seriously,' but provided no additional details. In a subsequent email, Dorrington said that because it is a personnel matter, no further information would be forthcoming."