NEWS STORIES

Local Lawmakers and Religious Leader's Take on Contraceptive DebateSubmitted: 02/19/2012

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RHINELANDER - The contraceptive rule in President Barack Obama's health care reform law has sparked an on-going debate between politicians, religious leaders, and women's rights groups.

When President Obama announced contraceptives would be included in required preventative healthcare coverage by all employers, Cardinal Timothy Dolan lead Catholic Bishops in protest.

"Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience," says Cardinal Dolan.

After weeks of pressure the President revised the rule.

"Religious organizations won't have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly," says President Obama.

But the rule does still require the institution's insurance to offer contraceptives.

"All it's doing is saying, 'Well the insurance company has to now provide it'. Well in essence the Catholic Church is still paying for the insurance," says Representative Sean Duffy.

"Although it looked like a compromise to some extent, it does not really respect fully religious liberty. Because indirectly employers will have to pay eventually," says Father Tom Thakadipuram, the Priest at Nativity of Our Lord Parish.

The rule does exempt churches, but almost nothing else including religiously affiliated hospitals or charities. Father Tom says the revision is a good start, but he agrees with Cardinal Dolan that the rule as it stands is unacceptable.

"I would like to see a broader exemption because of the principals of religious liberty at stake," says Father Tom.

But supporters of the contraception rule aren't happy about how GOP leaders are going about opposing it.

"It seems that women are always fair game when there are hot-button issues," says Nancy Meier, from Merrill.

Last week the GOP held a hearing regarding contraceptives. Supporters of the rule pointed out the panel included religious leaders, but left someone else out.

"Imagine having a panel on women's health, and not having any women on the panel," says Representative Nancy Pelosi.

As this issue is likely to continue to be hotly debated, Father Tom hopes both sides can find common ground.

"As religious leaders and as political leaders we need to embrace the virtue of the middle. I think that is the way for the country to go forward," says Father Tom.

Congress is expected to vote soon on legislation to block the President's policy.

Story By: Lyndsey Stemm

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Raising awareness about alcohol useSubmitted: 04/22/2014

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NORTHWOODS - People in Wisconsin love their beer, but alcohol is a big problem in the Northwoods. Experts want people to remember that alcohol is a drug and should never be abused.

Alcohol is a depressant and slows down the central nervous system. Experts feel drinking here in the Northwoods has become too normalized.

“When you talk to people even from the Northwoods community alcohol goes hand in hand with family gatherings , graduation, prom, hunting, snowmobiling, recreational activities,” says Katie Kennedy, Options Counseling Service Clinician. “It's kind of created this normalized look at alcohol that it's okay to do that in these environments or in these situations when it actually really increases risks.”

It's not just adults that have alcohol problems. Kids under 21 are finding unique ways to abuse the drug. Some have even resorted to snorting alcohol as a means to get drunk faster.

“What happens anytime you ingest a substance as far as snorting like right into your nose it goes into your mucus membrane,” says Kennedy. “So instead of drinking alcohol whereas it's processed through your system it's a process, the alcohol goes immediately into your body into your blood stream it affects you a lot quicker.”

In 2012 Wisconsin was the number one state for binge drinking. That's according to the Center for Disease Control. April is alcohol awareness month.

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Wisconsin DNR to hand out turkey certificatesSubmitted: 04/22/2014

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MADISON - Wisconsin wildlife officials say they're going to hand out personalized certificates to successful first-time turkey hunters this year.

The Department of Natural Resources says hunters can fill out information about when and where they killed the bird as well as information on its weight and spur length on the agency's website. Hunters also can submit a photo of themselves with their turkeys.

The agency will send the certificates out electronically within a few weeks of receiving the information.

The certificate program will run during both the spring and fall hunts.

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Northwoods man initially charged with homicide, takes plea deal Submitted: 04/22/2014

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - A Lac Du Flambeau man will take a plea deal before letting his case go to a jury.

31-year-old James Peterson was originally charged with first degree intentional homicide.

Witnesses told police he showed up to a party in 2013 with a knife and drunkenly started a fight, but other witnesses say Peterson was attacked.

Online records show Peterson accepted a plea deal in Vilas County court Monday.

He pleaded no contest to two lesser charges including hurting someone by carelessly using a weapon. He was also found guilty of a second OWI.

Peterson will face sentencing in August.

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Trost aide: Walker to sign police billSubmitted: 04/22/2014

MADISON - An aide to a Wisconsin lawmaker says Gov. Scott Walker intends to sign a bill that would put outside agencies in charge of investigating officer-involved deaths.

Craig Trost, an aide to Rep. Chris Taylor, says in an email that Walker's office notified Taylor's office that he plans to sign the bill Wednesday.

Taylor, a Madison Democrat, and Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, developed the legislation in response to three high-profile deaths in the last 10 years. None of those incidents resulted in criminal charges.

Supporters say the new requirements will counter claims that police protect their own from consequences of using deadly force. But police observers say the bill could create conflict and confusion for Wisconsin agencies that have traditionally done the investigations themselves.

The bill passed the Legislature earlier this year.

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Northwoods students celebrate Earth DaySubmitted: 04/22/2014

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - People from all over the Northwoods celebrated Earth Day today. Students at Lac du Flambeau school participated in a natural resources fair today.

Classes, groups and individual students submitted projects to be judged. By doing the projects they learned the importance of Earth Day.

“Polluting could harm the earth and if that harms the earth later on we won't have a better earth to do stuff on like camping, or fishing, hiking and taking walks,” says Sky Risingsun, a Lac du Flambeau student.

35 projects were judged in the science competition. Each student was given a white spruce seed to take home and plant in their own yard.


“It's a white spruce which is a native tree to this area,” says Bryan Hoover, Lac du Flambeau Energy and Air Quality Coordinator. “We've got almost 500 of them and every student is going to take one home so that they can pick a spot in their yard to plant the new tree and watch that tree grow as it matures.”

This was the 2nd annual natural resources fair.

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Rhinelander receives award to upgrade sewersSubmitted: 04/22/2014

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RHINELANDER - Leaders in a Northwoods community want to make sure that their untreated waste water doesn't get into lakes and rivers.

That's why they applied for an award that will help them upgrade the sewers.

The city of Rhinelander won the award today.

The city got $3,754,000 in grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve its downtown sewers.

Leaders say a flood with the current system could hurt local waterways.

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Duffy calls out veterans disability claims backlog, teams with congressional delegation to defend Milwaukee officeSubmitted: 04/22/2014

WISCONSIN - More than 350,000 American veterans have been waiting months or even years to get their disability benefits.

That backlog includes about 3,500 veterans under the umbrella of the Milwaukee Regional Office, which serves Wisconsin veterans.

The backlog is because of massive case of laggard claims processing across the nation.

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