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Author: Wisconsin Watch

Researcher says brain injury in sports is “the Civil Rights issue of our time”

The subject of the 2015 movie “Concussion,” Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of a degenerative brain disease in former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster and others has spurred a national debate about the safety of high contact sports including football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling, rugby, lacrosse and soccer. In 2002, Omalu identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a crippling neurodegenerative disease found in football players, including Webster. He went from Hall of Fame inductee and Super Bowl champion to homeless. Webster’s erratic behavior included tasing himself into unconsciousness in order to sleep. Omalu likens the American obsession with football...

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Critics say independent medical examiners routinely rule against injured workers

As an administrative law judge hearing worker’s compensation cases in Wisconsin for three decades, Joe Schaeve said he often knew how certain doctors hired by employers and insurance companies would rule even before opening their reports. “It winds up with the doctor saying ‘Not work related’ or ‘It’s all in his mind,’ ” said Schaeve, who retired in May. “You can almost sense it coming when you spend 30 years reading these reports.” Schaeve said a few of the experts’ opinions were so predictable that “it’s almost a waste of time to read the report because you know what...

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Incidents of hate were on the rise across Wisconsin before Trump

The contentious 2016 presidential election raised religious and racial tensions, but experts say the fears fueling hate and bias incidents began years earlier. The reports came in at an alarming pace. A student at a middle school near Milwaukee drew a stick figure with a swastika on its face. The image held a gun pointed at another stick figure, which had the name of the student’s Jewish teacher on it. A voicemail left on the phone of a leader of a local Jewish organization said, “Pack up your bags with all of your other kikes and get the f***...

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Swastikas and pro-Trump graffiti found near historic synagogue on Rosh Hashanah

A memorial near the Gates of Heaven synagogue in Madison’s James Madison Park was spray-painted with swastikas and a pro-President Donald Trump message in large red letters on September 20, hours before the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah. A memorial near the Gates of Heaven synagogue in Madison’s James Madison Park was spray-painted with swastikas and a pro-President Donald Trump message in large red letters hours before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is the latest in what a top Wisconsin Jewish leader says is an increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the past few years. Madison Police...

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Dairy jobs go unfilled as Milwaukee County debates Sanctuary City status

In Milwaukee County, the debate over ‘sanctuary cities’ continues, while in rural Wisconsin, informal networks form to help immigrants avoid deportation. Along a desolate country road in northeastern Wisconsin, Manuel Estrada speeds toward work in his rumbling silver Ford SUV. He’s running late for his predawn shift. And he’s worried. His boss is counting on him; she’s been down a worker for a month. More than 400 Holstein cows stand blinking, waiting to be milked. His family needs the paycheck from his $11.50-per-hour job. And Estrada, 30, hopes the police aren’t waiting for him too. It’s a risk he...

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Trump policies impacting Dairyland with exodus of migrant farmers

The Hernandez family and other dairy workers are heading back to Mexico amid hostile rhetoric and rising immigration arrests in the Midwest and nationwide. In the driveway of a two-story house on a dairy farm in western Wisconsin, five men focus on a unique construction project. Using a drill, hammer and nails, plywood and rope, they work together in the afternoon sun to erect a structure that resembles a makeshift corral in the bed of a Honda pickup. Every so often, Luisa Tepole, 25, carries a suitcase or packaged appliance out of the house, handing it to her husband,...

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