Scientists Find Possible Signs of Life on Venus

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Scientists Find Possible Signs of Life on Venus - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Scientists have long been searching for evidence of life on other planets – not necessarily as an escape plan for us, but to prove once and for all that we’re not alone in the vast universe.

And they may have found it.

In September, a group of researchers published a study in Nature Astronomy that explained the discovery of trace gases in Venus’s atmosphere and how it could indicate that there’s life on the planet. More specifically, in the planet’s hyperacidic gas clouds. (Venus’s surface is dusty and hot – temperatures can reach up to 880 degrees F, so it’s unlikely that anything living could survive there.)

Venus’s atmosphere contains phosphine gas, which is typically associated with biological processes. Researchers tried – and continue trying – to connect the gas to non-biological processes, but so far, they’re coming up short.

“We did our very best to show what else would be causing phosphine in the abundance we found on Venus. And we found nothing. We found nothing close,” said MIT molecular astrophysicist Clara Sousa-Silva, who co-authored the study.

The gas molecule is, at least on Earth, a byproduct of bacteria and industrial processes. Here, it’s detectable in rice paddies, landfills and meth labs (so it should go without saying that we definitely don’t recommend taking your science set out to test for it).

This could drive a shift in focus from Mars, which scientists have been exploring as a potential place for exploration, and back to the second rock from the sun. Currently, NASA is thinking about a couple of low-cost robotic missions to Venus that haven’t yet been approved.

What Do You Think?

Are you excited about scientists finding potential signs of life on Venus? Do you think it’s a better idea to explore Venus than Mars? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Twitter feed or on Facebook page!

Carlos Gamino

Court Orders Indonesians to Dig Graves for Refusal to Wear Masks

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8 Indonesians Ordered to Dig Graves for Refusal to Wear Masks - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A district leader in Cerne, East Java, ordered eight people to dig the graves of coronavirus victims in September. The move, designed as punishment for those who refuse to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, has drawn international applause.

The district leader, identified as Suyono, chose to impose the punishment because the area is suffering from a lack of gravediggers.

“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” Suyono said. “Hopefully, this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” he said.

It’s important to note that the people sentenced to grave-digging didn’t actually bury the bodies; they were only sentenced to dig. However, Suyono maintains that it’s a just punishment. The number of COVID-19 cases are increasing in Indonesia and in many other parts of the world – including the United States, where some experts are saying that the number of fatalities could top 400,000 by the end of 2020.

Other countries, like South Korea, have imposed hefty fines for refusal to mask up. Even in the U.S., some cities and counties are imposing fines as punishment for not wearing a mask, which has been proven to slow or prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus.

What Do You Think?

Do you think digging graves for coronavirus victims is a fitting punishment for refusing to wear a mask in public? Do you wear a mask in public? What do you believe is a fair punishment – or should there even be a punishment – for those who refuse? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Twitter feed or on Facebook!

Carlos Gamino

Will Wisconsin Schools Reopen During Fall 2020?

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Will Wisconsin Schools Reopen This Fall - Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re like most parents, you’re wondering whether schools in Wisconsin are going to reopen in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic – and you’re concerned about making the right choice for your child if they do. It’s a tough balance; moms and dads all over Wisconsin need to work, and kids need formal education, so what are we all supposed to do?

The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee met online in mid-July to talk about it, and its members don’t seem too keen on the idea of opening.

“School opening is an engine for all the other respiratory viruses. This is going to be a nightmare for our school districts,” said Dr. Jonathan Temte, a UW-Madison family medicine professor.

Schools all over Wisconsin have been given more than $200 million in COVID-19 relief funds – $45 million for private and charter schools and $155 million for public schools – which may help teachers and school administrators prepare to open the schools with safety precautions in place.

Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards said, “Our goal is to reopen if possible five days a week. Whether that’s realistic or sustainable will depend upon infection rates, the spread of the virus and people’s perceptions about how dangerous that is.”

In June, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released guidelines for reopening. The plan, which totals nearly 90 pages, includes the potential to shift between in-person instruction and virtual learning as necessary, as well the possibility for a four-day school week and short-term closures. The guidelines aren’t mandatory, and nothing in them is a requirement – they’re only meant to help individual administrators make the right choices, according to Deputy State Superintendent Mike Thompson.

Parents who aren’t comfortable with their own school district’s arrangements are free to teach their children at home, provided they’re registered as homeschoolers. You can get more information on Wisconsin’s requirements for homeschooling here.

What Do You Think?

Will you send your children to school in the fall? Do you think it’s safe to do so, or would you prefer to keep them home to limit their potential exposure? How do you feel about Wisconsin’s guidelines? I’d love to hear your opinion on whether our state’s schools should reopen in the fall – and if you believe they should, which restrictions each district should put in place. Please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or Twitter feed to join the conversation!

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Weird Crime: 2020 Edition

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Weird Crime in the U.S. - Carlos Gamino By Carlos Gamino

Every now and then we like to pick up oddball news stories related to crime from across the world, and for 2020 – which is already weird as it is – we’ve uncovered a whole host of almost-unbelievable true crimes, including a couple who faked a woman’s death to keep her out of prison and a 5-year-old boy who wanted to buy a Lamborghini.

West Virginia Couple Fakes Woman’s Death

A West Virginia woman, with the help of her husband and son, attempted to fake her own death so she could avoid prison time. The woman went “missing” on May 31, when her fraud-committing family members said she fell off a cliff while searching for a missing earring. Search and rescue crews, including one from the National Park Service, scoured the area… until she turned up in her home a few days later.

Boy, 11 Years Shy of Getting Driver’s License, Takes Family Car on a Road Trip to Buy a Lamborghini

An Ogden, Utah 5-year-old hopped behind the wheel of his family’s SUV and embarked on a road trip to California to buy a Lamborghini because his mother wouldn’t buy him one. Utah Highway Patrol clocked him on the expressway doing 32 miles per hour, so officers believed the driver was drunk or having a medical emergency and pulled the car over. Surprisingly, the boy was fine – but he only had $3 in his wallet, so if the police hadn’t stopped him, he probably still wouldn’t have been able to get the car of his dreams. The boy isn’t going to face joyriding charges, but he did say, “The police told me I drive good.”

Polite Minnesotan Thief Leaves Thank-You Note

Porch pirates are everywhere, but they usually take your stuff and run. That wasn’t the case with a polite Midwesterner (they raise us right out here) who left a thank-you note in place of a package he or she stole from someone’s porch. The note, scrawled on notebook paper, read, “So just a quick little thank you for leaving me the opportunity of stealing your package. Very nice of you. Thank you.” It was signed “The new owner of your package.”

What Are Your Weirdest Crime Stories for 2020?

I’d love to read your favorite weird crime stories from this already-odd year, so please share a link on my Facebook page or Twitter feed to join the conversation!

Carlos Gamino

3 Amazing, People-Free Places to Go This Spring Near Milwaukee

3 Places to Check Out This Spring in Milwaukee - Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

Up for an adventure? There are plenty of things to see right here in Milwaukee, including the Bronze Fonz, St. Joan of Arc Chapel and the North Point Water Tower – but if you venture outside the city, that’s where the real adventures begin.

3 Amazing, People-Free Places to Go This Spring Near Milwaukee

Check out these great adventures within a short drive from Milwaukee – they’re all places you can go to escape from the city:

  1. Nasbro Ghost Town
  2. Fast Fiberglass Mold Graveyard
  3. Holy Hill

Here’s a closer look at each.

#1. Nasbro Ghost Town

You won’t encounter a soul on a visit to Nasbro (see what we did there?). This ghost town was a milling hub from the 1920s to the 1970s, and while there are only a few traces of the dozen homes that once stood on the land, you’ll see five stone lime kilns. The ghost town is located 3 miles west of Lomira on the west side of County Road Y (north of Knowles). It’s definitely worth exploring – and you might find some artifacts along the old train tracks. Check it out here.

#2. Fast Fiberglass Mold Graveyard

Perhaps stranger than a ghost town, this eerie graveyard isn’t home to any people – it’s home to dozens of fiberglass molds designed to make larger-than-life animals, shapes and more. You’ll find massive dogs, oversized Santas and mice bigger than both. The owners let people stroll through the collection, which is located at 14177 County Highway Q in Sparta. Check it out here.

#3. Holy Hill

Whether or not you’re in need of redemption, Holy Hill is an amazing place to visit. Just 30 miles outside of Milwaukee, the hill was deemed a place of miracles after a partially paralyzed hermit named Francois Soubio spent the night there and woke up completely cured from his ailments. The site was home to a cross and altar set up in 1676 by a Canadian pioneer, and then the property sold for $50 in 1855. After changing hands a few more times, you can now find a side chapel and church house with crutches and canes left by those who claim to have been miraculously cured by the hill. And even if you’re not into the religious aspect of Holy Hill, you’ll love the spectacular views from the top – you can see the Milwaukee skyline and acres upon acres of forest. It’s located at 1525 Carmel Road in Hubertus. Check it out here.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your favorite adventures in and around Milwaukee, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.

Carlos Gamino

Corporate Casualties of the Coronavirus Pandemic

What Businesses Are Closing Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Millions of small businesses are at risk of closing down permanently due to the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic – and millions more will shutter their doors forever if the second wave is as bad as Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts.

So which businesses have closed their doors or filed for bankruptcy due to the virus? Here’s the most recent list:

  1. JC Penney, which is the largest victim of the shutdown to date. The company filed for bankruptcy in mid-May.
  2. Crew filed bankruptcy in early May.
  3. Neiman Marcus was the first department store chain to declare bankruptcy in early May.

Forbes is maintaining a “Bankruptcy Watch List,” and as of today, that list includes:

  • Capri Holdings (Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo)
  • Dillard’s
  • Kohl’s
  • Levi Strauss
  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Signet (Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared and Piercing Pagoda)
  • Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzmann)
  • The Gap
  • L Brands (Victoria’s Secret)
  • GNC
  • Olympia Sports
  • Walgreens

The bottom line is that department stores aren’t cut out for long-term closures.

“Retail companies are not built to have their stores closed for extended periods of time, and unfortunately we need to really plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Manny Chirico, the CEO of PVH Corp., the owner of brands including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, told CNBC this week.

Chirico expects to see 20 to 25 percent of all U.S. stores to close within the next few years. And he may be right – department stores never quite bounced back from the 2008 recession, and shoppers’ habits have changed significantly since then. The pandemic has made online shopping even more popular, which could be the kiss of death… and we may be in for another retail apocalypse.

What Do You Think?

Do you think these companies should be bailed out, or that they should file for bankruptcy protection in order to stay open? I’d love to hear how you feel about these major retailers closing down, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Coronavirus in Wisconsin – What You Need to Know

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Coronavirus in WisconsinBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

Coronavirus moved across Wisconsin in mid-March with more than 30 cases of COVID-19 – and one patient has made a full recovery – but what does the CDC say, and are schools scheduled to close?

Coronavirus in Wisconsin: What You Need to Know

Governor Tony Evers has ordered all public and private schools to close by Wednesday, March 18, and that order will remain in effect until at least April 6. Naturally, the schools may remain closed longer, depending on what happens next with coronavirus – an illness scientists are still scrambling to learn about.

The CDC is suggesting that all gatherings larger than 50 people should be postponed, as well. That includes business conferences, festivals and concerts, and other get-togethers. Many cities cancelled St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (including New York, which cancelled its parade for the first time in more than 250 years).

Should you stay home, though?

The CDC says in general, yes. People should stay home whenever possible and avoid going to places like stores, restaurants and other locations where people you don’t know gather. (You can monitor coronavirus cases here.)

Coronavirus Symptoms

If you’re experiencing symptoms that could be related to coronavirus, the CDC is advising you to stay at home and call your primary care doctor. Don’t go to an emergency room unless you’re having difficulty breathing or facing other complications, because you could infect others who are there for other types of treatment.

These are the most common symptoms of coronavirus:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

You need emergency medical attention if you have:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

What Do You Think?

Are you staying home to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect yourself (and others)? What do you think of the way Wisconsin is handling the pandemic, such as by closing schools? Are our officials doing things right or wrong? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Carlos Gamino

 

Check Out These 3 Milwaukee Court Cases From the 1800s

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By Carlos Gamino

Wisconsin law has been through several evolutions over time – as evidenced by these interesting (and old) court cases we dug up from the Newspapers.com archives. Check out these old cases that you’d never see in a courtroom today.

Man Jailed for Failure to Pay AlimonyMan Jailed for Failure to Pay Alimony

On January 31, 1880, a local Milwaukee man, Joseph Budar, got himself into some legal hot water for failing to pay his wife alimony. The case wasn’t new, and Budar claimed he didn’t owe his wife anything because she’d cheated on him with another man. Alimony (now often called spousal maintenance or spousal support) has been around for eons; in fact, it dates back as far as the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, and it was created for the “discarded” wife’s lodging, food, clothing and other necessities.

(Interestingly, the same Joseph Budar was later arrested for violating the Temporary Wartime Prohibition Act – but we don’t know if he ended up paying his wife what the court said he owed.)

Wisconsin Horse Thief George MorrisonWisconsin Horse Thief George Morrison

A slippery horse thief who escaped jail in Neillsville and made it all the way to Lavelle, Indiana, was captured and brought back to Marshfield for trial on September 30, 1885. On top of being a “noted horse thief,” Morrison was a bigamist – he married five different women (maybe on account of his “gentlemanly” appearance). He was also suspected of murder.

Man Found Guilty of BigamyMan Found Guilty of Bigamy, but His Third Wife Missed Him

It’s nearly always been illegal to marry someone while you’re already married to someone else – but Gustave Lange married three someones at once. In 1890, he was found guilty of bigamy. As he sat in jail awaiting trial, his third wife got well into her cups and went to the jail to drop off some pants – and then seemingly became so agitated that neighbors feared for their lives.

What Do You Think of These Cases?

Do you know of any old legal cases in Wisconsin (or elsewhere) that were interesting to read about? I’d love to hear your stories, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

 

Antarctica Hits a Balmy 69 Degrees

Antarctica Hits a Balmy 69 Degrees - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

An iceberg the size of Atlanta broke off a glacier in Antarctica in February, marking the middle of a month of soaring temperatures where the mercury hit 69 degrees for the first time in recorded history. The World Meteorological Association is running double-checks to verify it as a new record, and experts say things are going to become even warmer on the world’s chilliest continent.

The Pine Island Glacier breakage is the latest in a series of calving events, which are incidents in which large chunks of ice snap off a glacier and float into the ocean as icebergs. Since 2012, Pine Island Glacier has lost about 58 billion tons of ice per year. Warming temperatures are redefining all of Antarctica – including the way it’s shaped.

The temperatures are also threatening local animal life, including penguins. Penguin thrive on krill; it’s their primary food source. But krill depends on ice, so if things heat up too much, those penguins will starve and impact the rest of the Antarctic ecosystem, as well.

Just for reference, the mean annual temperature of the interior of the continent is –70.6 degrees F. Its coast is warmer – usually around 14 degrees F in the warmest parts – but a 55-degree difference is a really big deal, particularly in February.

As pieces continue to break away from the Pine Island Glacier and its cousin, the Thwaites Glacier, billions of tons of ice are at risk of falling into the ocean. NASA says that these two glaciers contain enough vulnerable ice between them to raise sea levels by 4 feet (sorry, Florida). Each year since 2016, Antarctica has gotten progressively warmer – as has the rest of the world – which means more ice is melting and breaking off massive glaciers. Methane trapped inside the ice then escapes, which can cause more harm and make the earth even warmer, scientists warn, so even despite our best efforts, it might be too late to turn things around.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about the temperatures in Antarctica and how massive icebergs are breaking off our fast-dwindling glaciers, so please feel free to share your own opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

CDC Prepares for Coronavirus to “Become a Community Virus”

CDC Prepares for Coronavirus to Become a Community Virus - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing for coronavirus to “become a community virus,” and it’s trying to prepare as best it can for widespread infection across the United States.

“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”

There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. so far – including one in Wisconsin – but currently, there’s no cure.

Redfield says his agency is working on a containment strategy to buy more time to develop vaccines and antiviral drugs to help save people. Part of that strategy is quarantining people who have confirmed cases and restricting travel between affected areas.

However, the World Health Organization is arguing against travel restrictions.

“We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ahanom Ghebreyesus.

Redfield disagrees. “I would rather be criticized for over-protecting America than under-protecting America at this stage,” he said.

But the fact remains that people can transmit coronavirus even before they know they’re infected. In that way, it’s a lot like other viruses; it can be spread by someone who’s not yet experiencing any symptoms at all. In fact, Redfield says that the cases popping up in the U.S. only presented with a small sore throat – symptoms that could be mistaken for a whole host of other viruses, including the flu.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about coronavirus – and whether we’re doing enough to prevent its spread. Please feel free to share your own opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino