TIME States

Nebraska Has Ordered a State of Emergency Over Bird Flu

In this May 11, 2015 photo provided by John Gaps III, men in hazardous materials suits load dead poultry to be buried at Rose Acre Farms, Inc., just west of Winterset, Iowa.
John Gaps III—AP In this May 11, 2015 photo provided by John Gaps III, men in hazardous materials suits load dead poultry to be buried at Rose Acre Farms, Inc., just west of Winterset, Iowa.

Over 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the pathogen

Governor Pete Ricketts ordered a state of emergency Thursday after Nebraska’s Department of Agriculture confirmed the highly contagious H5N2 avian flu virus had infected a second farm.

The declaration opens up emergency funding in the hopes it can help contain the pathogen that now threatens what is, according to local officials, a $1.1 billion poultry industry in Nebraska.

“While not a human health threat, the discovery of avian influenza is a serious situation for our poultry sector, and I want to provide responders with access to all appropriate tools to address it,” said Ricketts in a statement.

The proclamation follows similar actions taken in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. More than 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the outbreak, which originated in a small backyard flock in Oregon.

The outbreak has hit Americans’ pocketbooks as, the Associated Press reports, the price of large eggs in the Midwest rose by 17% since mid-April and other price increases are being seen in turkey, boneless breast meat and mixing eggs.

TIME police

No Criminal Charges for Wisconsin Cop in Unarmed Teen’s Shooting Death

This combination made with file photos provided by the Madison, Wis. police department and Wisconsin Department of Corrections shows Madison Police officer Matt Kenny, left, and Tony Robinson, a biracial man who was killed by the officer.
AP This combination made with file photos provided by the Madison, Wis. police department and Wisconsin Department of Corrections shows Madison Police officer Matt Kenny, left, and Tony Robinson, a biracial man who was killed by the officer.

Tony Robinson, 19, was shot and killed on March 6

A Wisconsin police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in March will not face criminal charges, the Dane County District Attorney announced Tuesday, marking the latest case of a police-involved killing to draw national attention.

In a lengthy and detailed explanation of his investigation into the shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told reporters he had determined that the use of deadly force by officer Matt Kenny, who is white, was lawful.

Following Tuesday afternoon’s announcement, Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, told CNN her family “absolutely” plans to file a civil lawsuit against the police. “The things that have taken place since my son passed and the things that have been done to my family, to me, they’ve gone above and beyond to try to make sure they kick me when I’m down,” she said. “They have done a smear campaign against my child and against me since this all began.”

Kenny was responding to reports of a disturbance in Madison on March 6 that involved a man dodging through traffic and punching multiple people, Ozanne said. A friend of Robinson’s initially called 9-1-1 just before 6:30 p.m., concerned about Robinson’s erratic behavior. The friend said Robinson was “tweaking” after he took hallucinogenic mushrooms, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. Other emergency callers said a man fitting Robinson’s description had punched multiple pedestrians in the area.

When Kenny arrived on the scene minutes later, Robinson was in his friend’s apartment. According to Kenny’s account, Ozanne said, Robinson immediately punched Kenny in the face. Kenny then fatally shot Robinson seven times within three seconds, with all of the bullets striking the teen.

Robinson’s death sparked days of large protests within Madison. It was another death in a string of highly publicized killings of unarmed black men around the country that have become a cultural and political flashpoint since the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last August. This year, police officers involved in killings of black men in North Charleston, S.C., and Baltimore were dealt murder charges.

In the wake of recent riots tied to police killings of unarmed black men by white officers, Ozanne urged Madison residents to maintain peace following Tuesday’s announcement. As the first black district attorney in Wisconsin, he said he “understands the pain” of unjustified racial profiling. But he also said his decision was based on the facts that were presented to him, not emotion.

“My decision will not bring Tony Robinson Jr. back,” Ozanne said. “My decision will not end the racial disparities that exist in the justice system, in our justice system.”

Read next: These Two Stats Show the Big Problem With Policing in America

TIME Crime

Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Wisconsin Teen to Learn Fate Tuesday

In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, Dane County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne speaks in a Madison, Wis., court. Ozanne is weighing whether to file charges against Madison Officer Matt Kenny in Tony Robinson’s death.
Michael P. King—AP In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, Dane County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne speaks in a Madison, Wis., court. Ozanne is weighing whether to file charges against Madison Officer Matt Kenny in Tony Robinson’s death.

A medical examiner said Tony Robinson Jr. was shot in the head, torso and right arm

The white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed biracial man in Madison, Wis., on March 6, sparking protests against perceived police brutality and institutional racism, will learn Tuesday whether he will face charges over the death, Wisconsin county prosecutor Ismael Ozanne said Sunday.

Officer Matt Kenny, 45, was responding to reports that a man suspected of assaulting two people was weaving through traffic on foot, reports Reuters. Investigators say 19-year-old Tony Robinson Jr. was shot in his apartment after he attacked Kenny but no other details have been released.

A county medical examiner says Robinson was shot in the head, torso and right arm.

The incident motivated peaceful demonstrations in Madison organized by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition. They have called for Kenny to be fired and charged with homicide.

A number of racially charged episodes involving the police and the black community has put the debate about perceived institutional racism at the forefront of America’s national conversation.

Last month in South Carolina, officer Michael Slager was charged with homicide for shooting Walter Scott as he was running away. On May 2, Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson was charged with second-degree murder for the death of Freddie Gray. Five other officers involved in that arrest, which resulted Gray’s death from a severe neck and spine injury, are facing various other charges.

[Reuters]

TIME Crime

Driver Shot and Killed After a Car Accident Leaves a 2-Year-Old Dead

A 15-year-old was also injured during the shooting

A Milwaukee man was shot to death Sunday evening after he hit and killed a 2-year-old child who had run into the street.

In a statement, Police Captain Timothy Heier said a 15-year-old was also injured in the shooting, which occurred at 5:10 p.m., according to the Associated Press.

The driver, 41, was at the scene of the accident when the shooting occurred. The man was pronounced dead at the scene and the 15-year-old was taken to the hospital to treat injuries.

It is unclear if the teenager was a passenger in the car.

TIME College Basketball

A Wisconsin-Duke Final Is Just Fine

Quinn Cook #2, Jahlil Okafor #15 and Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils acknowledge fans while walking off the court following their 81-61 win against the Michigan State Spartans during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lance King—Getty Images Quinn Cook #2, Jahlil Okafor #15 and Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils acknowledge fans while walking off the court following their 81-61 win against the Michigan State Spartans during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Without undefeated Kentucky, this year's title game won't be historic. But it's still loaded with intrigue

At the start of the 2014-15 college basketball season, 351 Division I teams had a chance to win the national championship. Going into this weekend, four teams remained: undefeated Kentucky and Wisconsin on one side of the bracket, Duke and Michigan State on the other. Let’s face it: Duke-Kentucky would have been a dandy final. Both programs have a national imprint. Dynastic Duke is the New York Yankees, or Dallas Cowboys, of college hoops. Kentucky is not only a blue blood program, but more recently it’s a factory of future NBA talent led by a divisive coach, master salesman John Calipari. The NCAA had already nullified two Final Four appearances of his prior teams, UMass and Memphis.

Imagine Calipari’s Cats just needing to get by the venerable Coach K, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, to complete the first perfect season in major men’s college basketball since 1976. The good vs. evil narrative, trite as it is, would write itself. The cunning Calipari, the man whose system of shuttling players to the NBA after a year of college is a supposed affront to higher education, on one side, against Coach K, molder of student-athletes at prestigious Duke. That match-up guaranteed a monster TV rating.

Well, it’s not happening. Duke held up its end, as the Blue Devils trounced Michigan State, 81-61. However, Wisconsin gutted out a thrilling 71-64 victory over Kentucky to squash the Wildcats’ dreams of perfection. Plus, the Calipari/Krzyzewski clash is hogwash. If anything, Krzyzewski has copycatted Calipari’s strategy of recruiting NBA-ready players who are only in college because NBA rules require that they spend a year in school before they’re drafted. Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers and Jabari Parker left Duke after just one year in 2011, 2012 and 2014, respectively; this year, Duke freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow are locks to be high first-round picks. Freshman guard Tyrus Jones could also go pro. So who’s one-and-done U here?

MORE: Here’s Your Final Four Drinking Game

According to the ol’ eye test, the Blue Devils were just too good for Michigan State on Saturday night. They should swarm Wisconsin too. In the first half against Kentucky, the Badgers needed a few crazy shots to go in to stay ahead. In the end, the skills of Wisconsin stars Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker—combined with some sloppy execution by Kentucky, which relied too much on guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison to create scoring chances, rather than give the ball to the big men—made the difference.

On Sunday, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said he got numerous texts from people reminding him that when the Team USA hockey team beat the Soviet Union to complete the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Olympics, the U.S. still had to defeat Finland in the gold medal game. It’s cute to compare Wisconsin’s win over Kentucky to the Miracle on Ice, or even to Duke’s upset of the undefeated UNLV team in the 1991 national semis, but both comparisons are off. That Soviet team was unbeatable, and on paper a bunch of American amateurs had no conceivable shot to win. That UNLV team was not only undefeated, but it crushed everyone all year and had the same nucleus as the team that won the national title in 1990. Kentucky had a few close calls this season, including one just last week against Notre Dame in the regional final. The Wildcats had a perfect season going, but they weren’t a perfect team. It’s not entirely stunning that they lost.

And Duke, I suspect, poses a bigger challenge than the Fins—relatively speaking. If the Badgers are to beat Duke on Monday night, they’ll have to pull off the same feat they did against the Wildcats: make tough shots against a bunch of future pros. That’s difficult to do for two straight games.

One observer’s prognosis: one-and-done U will win the title. Just not the one most people expected.

TIME animals

Official ‘State Dog’ Designations Divide Utah and Maine

Image Source—Getty Images

Dog breed favoritism divides two state legislatures

Lawmakers in Utah and Maine are waging the battle of the dog breeds, trying to get a favored variety recognized as their states’ official man’s best friend.

Supporters in Utah have had uneasy success making the golden retriever the “state domestic animal.” According to the the Salt Lake Tribune, the move came at the suggestion of a fourth-grade class. Those in favor cited the breed’s popularity across the state, as well as the golden retriever’s gentle temperament as a therapy animal.

But there were many on Monday who dissented out of loyalty to the german shepherd or the cocker spaniel, and the measure barely passed. It goes to a final vote later in the week.

Meanwhile, a bill to declare the labrador retriever Maine’s state dog suffered a resounding defeat in committee. State representatives, according to the Associated Press, wanted to avoid playing favorites, while one committee member called the whole affair a “waste of time.” (Notably, Maine already has an official state cat: the Maine coon cat.)

If Utah’s representatives vote to make the golden retriever as the official state pet, they’ll join five others that have singled out a dog or a cat. The Alaskan Malamute is, predictably, that state’s dog. Wisconsin has the American water spaniel, Louisiana has the Catahoula leopard dog and Maryland has bestowed the honor on the Chesapeake Bay retriever. Maryland is also the only state other than Maine with an official cat—the calico.

TIME

Scott Walker’s High-School Science Teacher: ‘Man Up’

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker participates in a panel discussion at the American Action Forum
Yuri Gripas—Reuters Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker participates in a panel discussion at the American Action Forum in Washington, Jan. 30, 2015.

The Republican presidential hopeful refused to answer a recent question about evolution. The governor's former science teacher tells TIME she isn't pleased

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker—a leader in the 2016 Republican presidential sweepstakes—prompted some stateside head-scratching this week when he dodged a British journalist’s question about evolution.

Walker said, “I’m going to punt on that one… That’s a question that a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another.” He was in London on a trade mission.

Among those who questioned Walker: the chair of his high school science department, Ann Serpe, 73. “Answer the question when they ask you!” Serpe said in an interview. “He could have manned up a bit. That’s what I would tell him.”

Serpe, who taught chemistry and chaired the math and science department at Delavan-Darien High School in Delavan, Wis., before her retirement in 1998, now lives in nearby Elkhorn. She recalls that Walker, her pupil and an advisee in student government, was a bright, committed participant in class. Walker graduated in 1986.

What would Walker have learned in high school? “We taught the theory of evolution, and human evolution, as a prerequisite to understanding biological classification. I went out and looked at my biology textbook just to make sure.”

Serpe says, “I don’t know the dogma of the Baptist church where Scott’s father was the minister, as it concerns evolution. But I do recall that Scott was very accepting of everything in science class. He had a good sense of it.”

Walker’s onetime teacher has seen him a few times since his high-school days. She even attended one of Walker’s fundraisers in Milwaukee. Darwin, though, hasn’t come up in their conversations.

She says she hopes he—”as an intelligent young man”—would understand the importance of scientific thought, that evolution and creation are not mutually exclusive. Walker, who may be two decades removed from Serpe’s classroom, said on Twitter that science still informs his worldview.

TIME christmas

Wisconsin Man has Same ‘Supernatural’ Christmas Tree for 40 Years

The ageless tree is waiting for the man's oldest son to come home for Christmas

A Wisconsin man has had the same Christmas tree for four decades.

Neil Olson put up a Christmas tree for the last time in 1974, when his six sons went to fight in the Vietnam War and he promised not to take the tree down until all the men were back home safe for the holidays, the Marshfield News Herald reports. Olsen hasn’t taken that tree down since.

Olson’s oldest son was injured at war and hasn’t been able to get home to Wausau, WI, from Washington state for Christmas. The tinsel-dripping, ornamented tree, meanwhile, looks just as it did 40 years ago, though its needles are a bit yellowed.

“It’s supernatural, I say,” Olson, 89, told the Wausau Daily Herald. He added that if his sixth son gets home for Christmas one year, he predicts “the needles will drop right off” the waiting tree.

[Marshfield News Herald]

TIME weather

Road Salt Prices Skyrocket After Last Winter’s Snowstorms

Road Salt Woes
Carlos Osorio—AP Salt is unloaded at the Scio Township, Mich. maintenance yard on Sept. 16, 2014. Some Midwest county road officials are facing price increases that are three times what they paid last year.

Prices have risen by up to three times since earlier this year

Last winter’s severe snowstorms triggered road salt shortages around the U.S., pinching supplies and forcing some transportation departments to stock up early. The result: road salt costs have doubled, and even tripled in some parts of the country, thanks to increased demand by states hoping to keep the roads clear.

From Minnesota to New York, states have had to pay premium prices for road salt this year. In Michigan, prices up are up 50%. In Indiana, they’re up almost 60%. In Missouri, some local transportation departments are reporting prices that have doubled. St. Louis, for example, is paying $112 a ton, up from $49 last year.

“Several severe winters are forcing prices upward,” says Todd Matheson, a spokesman for the department of transportation in Wisconsin, where more than four feet of snow fell in some places last week.

Wisconsin normally goes through about 500,000 tons of salt a year. But because of the potential for a repeat of last winter’s severe weather, this year the state has 564,000 tons on hand with 141,000 tons as an option to purchase. Costs are up statewide 14% compared with this time last year, averaging $69 a ton, Matheson says.

Ohio, which got unexpectedly hit with by storms over the weekend, triggering snow emergencies across the central part of the state, paid $105 a ton for a portion of the 600,000 tons of salt it currently has on hand. On average, the state paid $57 a ton compared with $38 last year.

Even with the rising prices, most states are not reporting road salt shortages. The New Jersey Department of Transportation is currently at 100% capacity (164,000 tons) and is in the process of adding 20,000 tons of storage space set to be available this winter. It can also store 716,000 gallons of liquid calcium and 150,000 gallons of brine, which is often applied to roads before a storm hits to help keep snow and ice from sticking.

One state that is running below average is Pennsylvania. The state has in store 90% of the average amount it uses during a winter, says Richard Kirkpatrick, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesperson. The average is 841,000 tons, and last year the state went through 1.2 million tons. But this year it only has 694,000 tons on hand with another 65,000 on order. And the long-range forecast? Above normal snowfall for much of the state.

TIME

Obama Rallies Wisconsin Democrats for Mary Burke

President Obama attends a campaign event with Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Gov. Mary Burke while at North Division High School in Milwaukee, Oct. 28, 2014.
Larry Downing—Reuters President Obama attends a campaign event with Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Gov. Mary Burke while at North Division High School in Milwaukee, Oct. 28, 2014.

Burke gambles that Obama will drive out the base more than he drives away those unhappy with him

President Barack Obama did his best on Tuesday to remind Wisconsonites why they twice elected him President, only this time he turned on the full court press for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

“She will be your next governor as long as folks vote,” Obama told an overflow crowd before the event. “We need you to go talk to your friends, your neighbors, you coworkers. You got that cousin on the couch who’s watching the ol’ Packers games, but doesn’t always vote during the midterms. You have to go reach out and tell people that they’ve got to exercise their franchise, they’ve got to be good citizens.”

The event was at North Division High School, in a ward where Obama outpolled Republican Mitt Romney 843 to 5 in the 2012 presidential election, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The somewhat risky bet that Burke is making is that Obama, polarizing as he is, will help turn out Wisconsin’s urban Democratic base for her next Tuesday.

“Wisconsin is one of the most polarized states in the country and this race has been close for months,” says Nathan Gonzales, who follows gubernatorial races for the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. “When a race is this close anything could be deciding factor. The Burke campaign is making a calculated risk that having president Obama campaign for her will be a net boost on turn out and we’ll see on election day if that was the right decision.”

Burke is one of the very few candidates to welcome Obama, whose unpopularity in the polls has made him somewhat of a pariah amongst vulnerable Democrats in tight races. But Wisconsin’s labor-heavy, populist base hasn’t always loved Burke, a millionaire former executive at her family’s company, Trek Bicycle. Thus the gamble with Obama, whose presence risks putting off independent and suburban voters.

Walker, who is reviled by Wisconsin Dems who tried to recall him after he pushed through union-busting legislation, was quick to note that Obama is the fourth Washington surrogate to campaign for Burke in recent weeks. Former President Bill Clinton packed a Hyatt ballroom with nearly 1,000 supporters for Burke last week. First Lady Michelle Obama has made two visits. And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also put in an appearance.

“I think it reflects the fact that she’s the candidate of Washington. We’re not bringing Washington surrogates in,” Walker told reporters after an event Tuesday in Wausau.

At the same time, Walker isn’t without some outside help himself, though he’s been complaining about how he’d like more help. Walker, who is scheduled to campaign the Republican Governor’s Association Chair Chris Christie back in Wausau on Friday, on Monday dinged Christie for not providing enough support, only to walk it back hours later.

“Let me be clear: When I complain about the national groups that come in, I by no means am complaining about the RGA,” Walker told reporters. “Gov. Christie’s a good friend. He’s the only person I’m campaigning with this week who’s not from Wisconsin, and that’s because he’s a friend and he asked if he could come to the state and campaign.”

Walker is leading Burke by 0.2%, according to a Real Clear Politics average of Wisconsin polls. And he hardly suffered from financial neglect. RGA has spent more than $20 million for Walker. $5.2 million in 2010, $8.9 million in 2012 and $8 million in 2014. If you add up all the outside spending, Walker has a $4 million advantage, according to a GOP source.

Walker and Burke have also been fighting for the female vote. Walker announced a bus tour today for Women for Walker and began airing a television ad featuring Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch claiming that Walker supports equal pay for women. Democrats were quick to cry foul, noting that Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s equal pay law two years ago.

“We’re one week out and Scott Walker is launching his ‘Women for Walker’ bus tour and releasing a TV a touting his support for equal pay after repealing the state law,” says Marcy Stech, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List, a group that works to elect pro-choice women. “Mary Burke, however, has a real message to run on – one that provides economic opportunity for hard working families, that’s a message that is electrifying crowds across the state.”

Nationally, Democrats have focused on turning out unmarried women, a demographic that reliably votes Democratic but rarely shows up in off-presidential year elections. In some races, Democrats lead by double digits amongst women.

But Burke enjoys only a slight edge with women, 48% to Walker’s 47% according to the most recent Marquette Poll out Oct. 15. Obama, who remains relatively popular with unmarried women nationwide, could help change that. “This is one of the closest races in the country,” says Jennifer Duffy, who follows Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If the President is going to Wisconsin, it is a sign that strategists believe he can motivate drop off voters. In a race this tight, every vote is going to matter.”

It was a point Obama certainly drove home in the lively campaign event. “Four years ago, Democrats lost the governor’s race in Wisconsin by just 10 votes per ward. Ten votes. Hmm-mmm,” he said, arching a brow as the crowd laughed. “Ten votes. Ten votes could be the difference between an economy that works for everybody, or an economy that just works for the few. Ten votes could decide whether nearly 600,000 Wisconsin workers are denied a raise, or whether they get the raise they deserve. Ten votes could decide whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin families remain without health insurance, or whether they finally get a chance to go see a doctor. Your vote will decide the course that Wisconsin takes.” The crowd roared its approval.

–With reporting by Zeke Miller in Washington.

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