Take a look at the stories from around our area and world that are making news today.
Republican legislative staffer fired this month amid harassment concerns: Mary Spicuzza and Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel write: "A Republican legislative staffer was fired amid harassment concerns this month — the same day an open records request was filed asking for information about complaints against the aide. Hariah Hutkowski, a staffer for state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), was dismissed May 3, Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller said. That was the day the Journal Sentinel filed an open records request for employee complaints against Hutkowski as well as documents from investigations prompted by any complaints. Fuller said no formal complaints were filed against Hutkowski. 'However, the Wisconsin State Assembly did receive several informal concerns from various staff members related to Mr. Hutkowski,' Fuller wrote in a Thursday email. Those concerns were shared with Thiesfeldt, and Hutkowski was 'dismissed from his employment,' Fuller added. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he didn't order the firing, but he added that the choice was clear. '(Thiesfeldt) definitely made the right decision for his office and the district,' Vos said Saturday at the GOP convention in Milwaukee. Thiesfeldt, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, refused to answer questions about Hutkowski's firing or complaints against him, saying only that it was a 'personnel issue.' He said such issues are not to be discussed with the public, even though the aide was in a taxpayer-paid position." Read more.
Inside the ‘free speech’ debate that rocked a Wisconsin campus, with ripples across the country: Kamala Kelkar of PBS writes: "As firebrand Ben Shapiro at the University of Wisconsin–Madison mocked so-called 'snowflakes' the week after President Donald Trump was elected, 18 young activists surrounded his stage yelling, 'Safety!' Those ten minutes would soon become the tinder to a national narrative casting students as one of two stereotypes – the outnumbered right and intolerant left – and universities as their battleground. Since the 2016 presidential election, clashes on college campuses spurred by extremist speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer have compelled Republican legislators in more than a dozen states to introduce bills to punish hecklers. Wisconsin supported the strictest one, requiring the suspension or expulsion of anyone who 'materially or substantially disrupts free expression of others.' While conservative students say it’s eased pressure from classmates and teachers to hide their views, progressive campus activists say they fear criminalization for challenging the overbearing power of the right and its financial backers. 'There’s a myth, that, you know, the liberal viewpoint is the majority viewpoint, and that conservatives are minority,' said Douglas McLeod, a professor in journalism at the UW Madison campus. '[Conservative] viewpoints are essentially predominant in power right now, whether you look at national government or the local government.'” Read more.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crash was deliberate, aviation experts suggest: CBS News reports: "An investigation by an Australian TV news program suggests the pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared with 239 people aboard more than four years ago, deliberately crashed into the Indian Ocean. Investigators are still searching for the aircraft, but these findings raise the possibility that one of the greatest aviation mysteries in modern history may not have been a catastrophic accident, but instead a possible mass murder-suicide. '60 Minutes Australia' brought together an international group of aviation experts who say that the disappearance of MH370 was a criminal act by veteran pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah. 'He was killing himself; unfortunately, he was killing everybody else on board, and he did it deliberately,' said Canadian Air crash investigator Larry Vance. Boeing 777 pilot and instructor Simon Hardy reconstructed the flight plan based on military radar, and says Captain Shah flew along the border of Malaysia and Thailand, crossing in and out of each country's airspace to avoid detection. 'It did the job,' Hardy said, 'because we know, as a fact, that the military did not come and intercept the aircraft.' Hardy also made a strange discovery: Captain Shah likely dipped the plane's wing over Penang, his hometown. 'Somebody was looking out the window,' he suggested." Read more.
37 Palestinians killed in Gaza protests ahead of embassy opening: Ian Lee, Abeer Salman and James Masters of CNN write: "At least 37 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during clashes at the Gaza border on Monday, the largest number of fatalities suffered in one day since the latest round of protests began more than six weeks ago, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced. The demonstrations were taking place hours before the new US embassy was due to officially open in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Health Ministry said more than 1,600 had suffered injuries, and that many of the dead had not yet been identified. CNN journalists near the Gaza-Israel border heard gunfire in spurts and saw a tank moving towards the fence in the border area of Malaka. Israeli drones also dropped tear gas over a crowd of protesters. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a statement Monday accusing the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, of 'leading a terrorist operation' and inciting protesters who had amassed by the border fence with Israel to conduct what Israel described as terror attacks. The IDF estimated that around 35,000 people -- who it describes as 'violent rioters' -- had assembled in 12 different locations along the border fence between Gaza and Israel and thousands more were gathered in a tent city about a kilometer from the border." Read more.
Old U.S. nemesis Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran ally Fatah fare well in Iraq vote: CBS News reports: "The political coalition of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took an early lead in Iraq's national elections in partial returns announced late Sunday by the Iraqi electoral commission. An alliance of candidates linked to Iraq's powerful Shiite paramilitary groups was in second. The alliance is headed by Hadi al-Amiri, a former minister of transport with close ties to Iran who became a senior commander of paramilitary fighters in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi performed poorly across majority Shiite provinces that should have been his base of support. The announcement came just over 24 hours after polls closed across the country amid record low voter turnout. It included full returns from only 10 of the country's 19 provinces, including the provinces of Baghdad and Basra. Members of the national election commission read out vote tallies for each candidate list in each of the 10 provinces on national TV. By the end of the announcement, al-Sadr's list had the highest popular vote, followed by al-Amiri's." Read more.
Indonesia’s ‘sick’ new suicide bomb threat: parents with their children: Joe Cochrane of the New York Times writes: "A wave of deadly bombings on Sunday and Monday and evidence of more planned have shaken Indonesia just ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, with entire families — including children — carrying out suicide attacks against Christian worshipers and the police. The troubling discovery Monday of a trove of completed bombs in a housing complex outside Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, came a day after members of a single family carried out three attacks against separate churches in the city around Mass time, killing seven people. On Sunday night, three members of another family, including a child, were killed when a bomb exploded at their apartment outside Surabaya when the police moved in to arrest them. And on Monday morning, a family of five riding on two motorbikes detonated a bomb at the entrance of the Surabaya Police Headquarters — killing all but one of them and injuring four police officers. An 8-year-old girl who was with the attackers survived the blast and was taken to the hospital. The extent of the carnage and the fact that children were enlisted in the attacks drew condemnation from the country’s leader, President Joko Widodo, who called them 'barbaric.'" Read more.