April 19, 2014

Johnson thinks sanctions needed for Russia

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) says allowing Russian forces to move in to the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula is the wrong example for America to set.

The Wisconsin Republicans says it’s a culmination of the U.S. not leading the way and the weakness of President Obama. Johnson says having “a team in the White House that would have been showing far more resolve, far more strength, not leading from behind but actually leading…maybe we could have been speaking to Putin and prevented him from moving into Crimea.”

AUDIO: Sen. Ron Johnson (:15)

Johnson says he believes Russia is lying about its motivations for moving troops in to Ukraine and believes their presence could only serve to further destabilize political turmoil in the country.

Johnson says Russia needs to pay a diplomatic price for its actions, which could include withholding visas, freezing assets of Russian officials, and utilizing the banking system to impose harsh economic sanctions.

Johnson says Russia is in violation of treaties and international laws, and “needs to pay a price for this.”

Bob Nelson, KFIZ

Recording Wisconsin veterans experiences

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is collecting audio of military veterans across the state. Their stories will be preserved for future generations. An interviewer records the veteran’s recollection of his or her military experience, each portraying a different perspective.

“Because we’re a veterans museum; we’re not a war museum and we’re not a military museum. We’re a museum that focuses on that veterans experience.”

Ellen Brooks is the first permanent full-time oral historian, overseeing the museum’s Oral History Project, which began 20 years ago. Almost 1,900 interviews have been recorded.

“Almost half of them are transcribed and the rest are in the process. The variety of the interviews is so impressive to me,” Brooks says, “and we’re looking to increase the diversity of the veterans, as well.”

AUDIO: No matter how many interviews they get, Brooks says they’ll continue to pursue more in order to show a variety of experiences. :55

Brooks will have the interviews transcribed, archived, and available for the public — some are already online. She is in search of more stories, before they are lost or forgotten. Brooks says there are many “gut wrenching” as well as light-hearted memories. They are all part of the veteran experience.

“Kind of a theme that I always see, that I find really interesting, is just people talking about how the military really brought them up and how the military made them the person that they are today.”

The interviews are conducted by trained volunteers, many of whom are veterans themselves. They are currently focusing on the aging WWII population, but all veterans in all branches of the military are encouraged to tell their story — as long as they have ties to Wisconsin.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:49

Pentagon cuts will face challenge in Congress

The Obama adminstration plans to reduce the size of the military. The effort will likely face strong opposition from Congress.

“What a lot of folks don’t realize is just how devastating the future defense cuts are going to be, and how much the president is going to propose shrinking our military,” said Representative Paul Ryan. “In my personal opinion, this is very dangerous for our national security.”

John Hall is a professor of military history. He said that congressional opposition is likely to make the job of cutting more difficult to accomplish.

“I doubt very seriously that the level of drawdown that the Department of Defense is proposing right now is actually going to survive Congress,” said Hall.

But it’s not just Congress. “Even within the Department of Defense and within the various services, you have projects of record with supervisors and a bureaucracy that’s established in order to safeguard these projects,” Hall said. “There will be a lot of wrangling within the services, not to mention as always, between the services.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are supporting Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the proposed cuts. The most controversial move is probably to cut the U.S. Army to about 450,000 active-duty troops, from the current level of some 520,000, the lowest since World War Two.


Second National Guard soldier suspended over photos

Instagram screen shot

Instagram screen shot

A second Wisconsin National Guard soldier has been suspended from a military funeral honors unit, over an Internet photo showing happy and smiling soldiers around a flag-draped casket.

The Guard said Wednesday that Sergeant Luis Jimenez went on social media to defend the posting of the controversial picture. As a result, he’s been relieved of his duties with the unit that helps conduct funeral services around the state for fallen troops. Jimenez remains in the Guard full-time in Madison, but with other duties.

On Tuesday, the Guard said Specialist Terry Harrison was suspended for posting the controversial photo on Instagram. Jimenez was Harrison’s task leader.

Members of other units were reported to be in the photo, which the Guard said was taken at a training site in Arkansas. The casket was empty at the time.

Maj Gen Donald Dunbar, the state’s Adjutant General, released a statement condemning the incident. Dunbar said “Military funeral honors are a sacred trust” and he deeply regrets “the pain this has caused, and personally apologize to the entire military family.”

Guard member’s post draws outrage

Instagram screen shot

Instagram screen shot

A social media posting by a member of the Wisconsin National Guard has drawn outrage and threats.

Wisconsin National Guard spokesman, Major Paul Rickert, says they became aware of the inappropriate posting on Monday, and have taken action. “There is an investigation that was started this morning, that is looking into the matter,” said Rickert. “The soldier has been suspended from funeral honor details, pending the outcome of that.”

The photo depicts a group of smiling Guard members from various states posed around an empty, flag draped casket at a training facility in Arkansas, with the caption “We put the FUN in funeral.”

Rickert says the original posting has been left on-line to allow people to vent their emotions on the matter – but the Guard is deleting threats of violence.

“The soldier has recieved death threats,” he said. “While we do not condone the pictures or excuse the comments, we can also cannot condone or excuse threats made to service members or their families.”