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Braun apologizes for doping; High Social Security benefits flow into northern Wisconsin; More Wisconsin news briefs

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Ryan Braun has finally admitted taking banned substances during his MVP season of 2011 when he led the Milwaukee Brewers on a deep playoff run in which they almost made the World Series.

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Braun was one of 14 players suspended last month for allegedly buying performance-enhancing drugs from the now-closed Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Reports at the time said Braun was placed on a regimen that included lozenges of synthetic testosterone.

In his statement, Braun admitted taking a lozenge and a cream to help him deal with a nagging injury, but he did not identify the drugs or say where he got them. Braun missed the 2011 All-Star Game and was bothered the rest of the season by a left calf injury centered behind the knee.

Many fans were less upset about the PEDs than the way he constantly denied using them after he won an appeal of a positive drug test in late 2011.

Last night, Braun said he “deeply regrets” much of what he said in his March 2012 news conference in which he blamed drug sampler Dino Laurenzi for mishandling his sample and called baseball’s drug program “fatally flawed.”

Braun now says his comments were rooted in a deep denial, and he was convinced for the longest time he did nothing wrong. Besides his statement, Braun issued a separate letter to Brewers’ fans who get the team’s e-mails.

A month ago, he was heavily criticized by Major League players for his cover-up. Last night, San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said it’s time to move on. Braun is signed with Milwaukee through 2020, and he’s still owed $117 million in his contract.

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High Social Security benefits flow into northern Wisconsin

Two northern Wisconsin House districts get some of the highest totals of Social Security benefits in the nation.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said the Seventh and Eighth congressional districts each pull in $2.3 billion in benefits a year.

The committee’s Dan Adcock says the average congressional district gets around $1 billion a year, and his group was surprised to see the Wisconsin districts get so much.

In the North’s Seventh District, the benefits go to 167,000 people who are retired, children and those getting death-and-disability benefits. In the Fox Valley’s Eighth District, about 142,000 recipients get benefits.

The

committee says the economic impact of Social Security benefits is considerable, especially in northern Wisconsin, and Congress should consider that when it acts on a proposed cut in cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients.

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People still don’t like wolves

If last year’s wolf hunt was meant to make people more tolerant of the animals, it didn’t work.

That’s what UW-Madison researchers learned when they studied people’s perception of grey wolves.

Back in 2009, just over half of those surveyed in northern and central Wisconsin said they would be more tolerant of wolves if people could hunt them and reduce their numbers. This year, only 36% said a hunt makes people more tolerant of the wolves which exceeded quotas after the state reintroduced them in the 1970’s.

The governor and Legislature rapidly approved a wolf hunt soon after the animal was taken off the federal endangered species list. Lawmakers said it would reduce tensions over the wolves and reduce the damage they cause to crops and farm animals.

This spring, the Department of Natural Resources estimated the wolf population at up to 831 animals. That was after 117 of them were hunted between last October and December.

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Crivitz man gets life sentence for killing gas station worker

A northeast Wisconsin man will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend while she was working at a gas station.

Richard Heyer, 56, of Crivitz was sentenced Thursday to life with no chance for a supervised release. The defense asked for the minimum 20 years before a release could be considered. They also asked for a mental health commitment, but the judge said any such treatment would be left up to prison officials.

Authorities said Heyer shot Ann Schueller, 51, once in the back at a Citgo station in Wausaukee a year ago on Monday. Marinette County District Attorney Allen Brey said the murder was planned, and done in cold blood. Heyer also wounded himself in the shooting incident.

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Another case of cheese-related listeria reported

Health officials have confirmed a sixth case of listeria that’s linked to three award-winning Wisconsin cheeses.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said the latest case was reported in Texas. That’s after five other listeria cases were reported in early July when Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese of Waterloo recalled its Les Freres, Petit Frere and Petit Frere with Truffles. All three have won awards from the American Cheese Society.

One person in Minnesota died from the small outbreak. Another had a miscarriage, and three others were hospitalized after eating contaminated cheese.

Besides Minnesota, cases were reported in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. No cases were reported in Wisconsin.

Government regulators are reviewing Crave Brothers’ corrective actions before allowing production to resume.

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Some still without power after mid-week storms

Almost 450 electric customers were still in the dark this morning after Wednesday night’s thunderstorms in northeast Wisconsin.

Over 24,000 customers lost their electricity at the height of the storms. Alliant Energy said 330 customers in Menominee County were still without power as of 4:30 a.m. Friday, and about 80 in Shawano County were still out. We Energies had a dozen outages this morning near Clintonville. Wisconsin Public Service says all its customers are back on.

One person died in the storms. Menominee tribal member Marlo King was killed when a tree fell onto the car she was driving on Hwy. 47 in Keshena.

The National Weather Service inspected parts of Shawano County Thursday to see if a tornado landed there. There’s no final word on that yet.

About a dozen homes were damaged in the Bonduel area. Lightning started a nursing home fire in which 13 residents were moved to another facility.

The storms were caused by a passing cold front which also brought heavy rains to southern Wisconsin Thursday.

Parts of the south have dense fog advisories this morning. When that clears, a sunny day is in store statewide with highs of around 80. A chance of rain returns during the weekend along with warmer temperatures that could hit 90 again on Monday.

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Brother gets life sentence for fire that killed three kids

Jeremy Wand was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for helping burn down his older brother’s house in Argyle and killing three kids inside.

Judge Thomas Vale gave Wand, 19, a chance for a supervised release starting in 35 years when he’ll be 54.

Earlier Thursday, the judge rejected Wand’s request to withdraw his guilty pleas to five Lafayette County charges connected a blaze at Armin Wand’s house last September. Three of Armin’s sons were killed, along with his wife Sharon’s unborn daughter.

Sharon Wand – who had serious injuries while escaping the fire – recently recanted her statements to police and said the Wand brothers had nothing to do with the incident. In court Thursday Sharon did another flip-flop and told Jeremy, “I hate you for what you did.”

Armin Wand was earlier given three life prison terms plus 105 years for his role in the fire. Officials said he did it to collect the insurance money, and he offered Jeremy just $300 from that check.

“Why would you do something this terrible for 300-dollars?” Sharon asked Jeremy.

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Unemployment claims dropping

Fewer Wisconsinites are seeking unemployment benefits. The state’s Workforce Development.

Secretary Reggie Newson said it’s another sign that Wisconsin’s economy is getting better.

First-time claims for jobless benefits have stayed below 8,000 a week for five weeks in a row. The last time that happened was in 2005. It’s only the second time it happened since 2000.

The state’s weekly unemployment claims first dropped below 8,000 during the week ending July 20 – the first such drop since September of 2007.

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Man who drowned near UW-Madison was new student

A 20-year-old man who drowned in a Madison lake was just about to start his first classes at the University of Wisconsin.

The victim was identified Thursday as Richard De la Cruz of Wauwatosa. Preliminary autopsy results show that he accidentally drowned while swimming with friends in Lake Mendota on Wednesday.

Students tried saving De la Cruz soon after he struggled and went under. Rescuers pulled his body from the water nearly four hours later.

De la Cruz had just transferred from Marquette and was about to start his first semester at UW-Madison. Dean-of-Students Lori Berquam issued a statement that extended thoughts and prayers to De la Cruz’s relatives and friends.

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