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January 15, 2021

Crime and safety

Campus life


How low-income people are spending their $600 pandemic stimulus payments

The Philadelphia Inquirer


It’s too soon for scholars to have studied how those in poverty have used their $600 stimulus checks. But in a study of the way Americans spent their first round of pandemic-related stimulus checks in April — many of those around $1,200 each — scholars from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Virginia showed that people spent a great deal of their allotment on food, helping to stave off hunger.

U OF I STUDY: Bears Like Baths, too


Noted: Their study was published in “Functional Ecology,” a journal of the British Ecological Society, and involved a collaborative team of researchers from the U of I, Washington State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and U.S. Geological Survey. It looked at how the risk of heat stress from a warming climate might affect milk production in grizzly bears. It also investigated how bears respond, including their use of soaking pools.

If You Have These Conditions, Your COVID Vaccine May Be Less Effective

Best Life

Noted: According to a Jan. 6 preprint of a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, if you develop a fever while you have COVID, you may be immune to COVID for a longer period of time.

“Such an inflammatory response may be key for developing a strong anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody response,” according to the study’s authors. And if you want to stay safe, These 3 Things Could Prevent Almost All COVID Cases, Study Finds.


State news

Democratic Control Of US Senate Will Mean Changes For Wisconsin Senators

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Barry Burden, professor of political science at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Johnson’s strong allegiance to President Donald Trump, as well as his position within the Senate majority and chairmanship of a powerful committee, positioned him squarely in the national spotlight.

“That combination has been really effective for him for the last several years and has given him a national platform,” Burden said. “And now he’s essentially losing all of that.”

Wisconsin residents 65 and older could be in next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: But fellow co-chairman Dr. Jonathan Temte, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said politics shouldn’t play a role in public health decision-making.

“It is our purview to make whatever we think is the best recommendation,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ethically acceptable to say we’re going to do congregate living but exclude the incarcerated, because by definition, that’s congregate living.”

Higher Education/System

Arts & Humanities

Artist Vicki Meek’s Nasher Exhibit is a Profound Celebration of African Ancestry

D Magazine

Noted: Meek knows a thing or two about the symbols and rhetoric associated with the African American race dialogue. She earned her MFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which she calls “the Whitest place in the world.” In the 1960s, the university was a hotbed of civil rights activism. By 1971, when Meek arrived on campus, the administration had purged the campus of “most of the so-called radical element,” she says. “And I had gone to that school because of the radical element.”


Wisconsin Sees First Case Of U.K. Based Strain Of COVID-19


Quoted: Dr. David O’Connor is a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UW-Madison’s school of Medicine and Public Health, where he runs a lab studying viral infections. Speaking with WORT, O’Connor said it’s common for viruses to mutate as they find new hosts.

“The genetic material for the coronavirus is called RNA, and when RNA makes copies of itself, sometimes those copies are sloppy, and a mistake gets made,” O’Connor said.

The Associated Press and other news outlets have focused on the fact the B.1.1.7 strain appears to transmit between people more quickly than other strains. Dr. Thomas Friedrich, who studies diseases and immune systems at UW-Madison, shares this same suspicion.

“This variant does appear to be more contagious, more transmissible between people, about one and half times as transmissible as previous strains. So, that’s concerning to us because it means that virus might spread a bit easier, and might be a little harder to control,” Friedrich said.

Sodium substitutions

Meat & Poultry

Quoted: “In meat systems, permeate can be used to reduce the amount of sodium, enhance browning, protect color, mask bitter flavors and improve structure formation,” said Susan Larson, associate researcher, University of Wisconsin-Madison, for the US Dairy Export Council, Arlington, Va. “The lactose in permeate also provides a carbohydrate that could replace a portion of the sugar in a fermented sausage.”


Black and Latina women carried the brunt of job loss in December


Quoted: Laura Dresser, an economist with the Center on Wisconsin Strategy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said prior economic declines were led by male-dominated fields, such as construction and manufacturing. The pandemic-driven decline, she said, has strongly affected areas – such as the restaurant and education industries – with a high number of women workers.

“And those jobs are low-wage jobs,” Dresser said. “They’re held disproportionately by women. They’re held disproportionately by people of color.”

UW Experts in the News

The debate over whether to call Donald Trump a fascist, and why it matters.


Quoted: Stanley Payne, a University of Wisconsin historian of Spain and author of A History of Fascism 1914-1945, agrees that Trump’s lack of coherent revolutionary fervor makes him fall short of fascism. “Never founded a new fascist party, never embraced a coherent new revolutionary ideology, never announced a radical new doctrine but introduced a noninterventionist foreign military policy,” Payne wrote to me in an email. “Not even a poor man’s fascist. Ever an incoherent nationalist-populist with sometimes destructive tendencies.”

Some of Colorado’s conservative talk radio stations are turning down the volume on “rigged election” claims

The Colorado Sun

Quoted: The motivation for the crackdown is “a combination of corporate pressure through fear of losing advertisers, and some sense of responsibility that this (insurrection) was a bridge too far,” said Kathleen Bartzen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The question is how sustained the corporate response will be,” Culver said. Currently, companies including AT&T, JPMorgan and Coca-Cola have paused their political contributions to the 147 Republicans who objected to certifying the election results, for instance. “Is it performative in the moment or will it last? It feels unlike any moment I’ve seen before.”

Redistricting poised as a top political issue of 2021


The 2010 map, as UW-Madison political science professor Kenneth Mayer explained, was widely criticized after being created by the Assembly’s top Republicans and their lawyers. According to the rulings of federal courts, the party claimed attorney-client privilege and did not release the details of its map.

UW-Madison Related

Ashland County Will Ask Voters To Raise Taxes By Nearly $1M To Address Budget Woes

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: If the county can’t increase revenues, board members would be faced with cutting funds for outside services provided by the Ashland County Aging Unit, Bay Area Rural Transit and the Division of Extension at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ashland County board member Laura Nagro said they need to keep looking for ways to draw in revenue, hinting that it may be a tough sell during the COVID-19 crisis.

Who Was Leonard Schmitt, The Man Who Ran Against Joseph McCarthy?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: Schmitt was born on a Wisconsin farm and moved to Merrill with his family at age 11. He worked in a barbershop and played semi-professional baseball with the Madison Blues while attending school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Three years after graduating from law school in 1928, he became Lincoln County district attorney.