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Thunderstorm watch continues; Democratic chairwoman: Walker gives women ‘back of his hand’; More Wisconsin news

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Parts of far northwest Wisconsin remained under a severe thunderstorm watch until 10 a.m. this morning after the region had hailstorms last evening.

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The National Weather Service said Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer and Price counties were hit between 6:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.

Tennis-ball-sized hail fell at Siren. Oakland in Burnett County reported just over 2 1/2 inches of rain by 11:30. Further to the east, Eagle River had about an inch and a half overnight.

The Weather Service blamed the storms on a warm front that lifted into the Upper Great Lakes region. Forecasters say an approaching low-pressure system will give us strong southerly winds and warmer temperatures today with highs in the 80's to near 90 in the south and lots of humidity.

A cold front is supposed to move through Wisconsin late this afternoon and tonight with a chance for more severe thunderstorms.

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Democratic chairwoman: Walker gives women ‘back of his hand’

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee has compared Gov. Scott Walker's record on women's issues to a slap and top Wisconsin women in both parties quickly condemned those remarks.

Here's what Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a round-table discussion in Milwaukee yesterday: "Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality."

She continued, "What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back."

Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch quickly jumped to Walker's defense, saying she was "shocked" to hear Wasserman Schultz use domestic violence language to talk about political disagreements. Kleefisch said the motive was "despicable."

Mary Burke, the Democratic candidate for governor, distanced herself from the remarks. Her press secretary Stephanie Wilson said it's not the type of language Burke would use, or has used, to point out clear differences in her contest against Walker.

Party spokeswoman Lily Adams said Wasserman Schultz did not intend to belittle the pain that domestic violence victims go through. The Florida congresswoman was criticizing Walker for opposing a higher minimum wage and for signing a bill that stopped letting job discrimination victims file lawsuits in state courts.

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Police offer protection to Packer fans

Packer fans normally show up in force at road games, and tonight Seattle police will have an undercover operation aimed at keeping the visiting fans safe.

A number of police officers will wear Packers' jerseys to catch unruly Seahawks' fans who go too far in harassing the Cheeseheads at the game.

The Packers open the NFL's regular season at 7:30 p.m. this evening against the Seahawks.

Police say fans who cross the line will be ejected, and the season ticketholders who have the ejected fans' seats could get them revoked. The league has a code of conduct for which teams can punish violators.

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Walker aims to expand private school choice

Gov. Scott Walker wants to expand Wisconsin's private school choice program, and he says his Democratic opponent Mary Burke should promise to do the same.

Burke is on the Madison School Board. The Republican Walker accused her yesterday of not doing enough to reduce her district's large achievement gap between blacks and whites.

The governor said Burke could reduce that gap by supporting the choice program, which gives tax-funded vouchers to low-income kids to attend private schools. The program was expanded last fall from Milwaukee and Racine. It has a limit of 1,000 students this year in 26 private schools throughout the state.

Walker's did not indicate how much of an expansion he wants, saying it should be done in stages.

The governor also said Burke is hurting the Madison district by not implementing the Act 10 bargaining limits. The board and the teachers' union took advantage of a judge's ruling to set contracts through 2016. Walker said the district could have saved millions of dollars under Act 10 and the money could have been put back into classrooms.

Burke later said the best way to reduce the achievement gap is to pay teachers fairly. She defended her district's contract approvals and said she would repeal the out-state voucher program if she's elected. Burke said there was "no basis" to expand it.

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Obey center opens with pomp

National political figures from both parties helped dedicate former Congressman David Obey's new civic resource center in Wausau.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was among the speakers at a grand opening ceremony last evening. Obey's Republican successor, Sean Duffy, was also there along with Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin, retiring House Republican Tom Petri and House Democrat Gwen Moore. Former congressman and defense secretary Mel Laird submitted a video as did ex-House speaker Nancy Pelosi. President Obama sent a letter congratulating Obey on the center's opening.

The Resource Center will be run by the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service based at the UW-Marathon County college in Wausau. The goal is to engage young people in the political process by providing research and learning opportunities through numerous papers Obey collected during his 41 years in Congress.

Obey said that if the new center inspires one student, it will fulfill its mission. Obey served in the House from 1969 through 2010, rising to the chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

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Preliminary hearing set for former deputy accused of murders

A judge in Madison will decide this morning if there's enough evidence to put a former sheriff's deputy on trial for the killings of his wife and her sister.

Andrew Steele has a preliminary hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. on two charges of first-degree intentional homicide.

Steele, 39, is accused of killing his wife Ashlee and her sister Kacee Tollefsbol. Both were found shot to death Aug. 22 at the Steeles' home in Fitchburg. They were both originally from Stillwater, Minn.

Andrew Steele was diagnosed with ALS and retired in June after 14 years as a Dane County sheriff's deputy. He took the Ice Bucket Challenge on TV and raised awareness of his disease, while his wife raised $75,000 dollars to help care for him.

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Man who used Facebook to lure teen sex victims gets 225 years

A 45-year-old man has been sentenced to 225 years in prison for creating a Facebook club for teenage girls and sexually exploiting two of them.

Robert Huber had just left prison and was living in a halfway house when he created the Kittens Inc. club on Facebook last year.

Authorities said he later used the club to lure teen girls as "members," and he had bondage sex with two victims. Officials said he threatened the girls and their families if they told their parents.

A West Allis high school student left her Facebook page on a computer screen where somebody else saw it and called authorities. Huber was arrested last Halloween.

A Milwaukee County jury convicted him on 25 felony charges of sexual assault, child enticement, exposure, strangulation and suffocation, child abuse and using a computer for sex crimes.

Huber testified at his trial that unknown people coerced him into making lurid videos or his mother would be hurt. He continued to proclaim his innocence during his sentencing.

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Police identify alleged teen robber killed in Milwaukee

A 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a man he was trying to rob in Milwaukee has been identified as Camron Powell.

Police now say Powell was part of a group that committed 35 holdups in the Milwaukee area in recent days.

Powell was killed early Monday in a parking lot just south of the city's downtown. Officials said he was part of a group that was robbing another group when a 30-year-old West Allis man pulled a gun and shot Powell.

The alleged shooter was briefly in custody before being released. He must still meet with prosecutors about possible charges.

A vehicle that was stolen in a carjacking was found near the shooting scene, and police said it had a glove similar to one found next to Powell after he was shot.

Five teens in the alleged robbery ring have been arrested. An 18-year-old man, three boys and a girl have been referred to the district attorney’s office for possible charges.

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Great Lakes water levels keep rising

Water levels continue to rise on Wisconsin's two Great Lakes.

The International Lake Superior Board of Control said the monthly water level on that lake is the highest since 1997 and Lake Michigan had its highest level for August since 1998.

Lake Superior rose .4 inch last month. It's now six inches above the average for Sept. 1 and eight inches higher than this time last year.

Lakes Michigan and Huron each rose two inches in August at a time when those levels normally go down a bit. Those lakes are 17 inches above what they were last Sept. 1, but still an inch below their norms.

Officials credit more rain and less evaporation for the rising water levels. The trend has continued for over a year -- much to the delight of shippers and recreational boaters who've battled low waters for about the last decade.

A seasonal decline on Lake Superior is expected to begin this month and continue through March.

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Elvis impersonators gather in La Crosse

La Crosse will again host one of the nation's largest gatherings of Elvis impersonators.

Thirty tribute artists from the U.S., Canada and England will take part in a contest for the singer who most resembles the sound, costumes and charisma of Elvis Presley.

Three rounds of competition begin tomorrow night at the La Crosse Center. Six judges will choose ten finalists who will square off in the final round Sunday afternoon.

Organizer Ronny Craig said the La Crosse event began 17 years ago and has grown rapidly since then. Up to 5,000 Elvis fans are expected to watch the competition. Proceeds to go to the Children's Miracle Network.

Elvis' bodyguard, Joe Esposito, will be on hand to sign copies of his book about his life with the performer.

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National budget shortfall delays Guard training

A budget crunch is forcing thousands of Wisconsin Army National Guard members to have their monthly training delayed.

The training was supposed to be this weekend, but the Guard has a $101 million national shortfall which must be covered before the federal budget year ends Sept. 30.

Wisconsin kicked in $2.5 million to help cover that deficit. As a result, most Guard units in the Badger State delayed their training from this weekend to the final weekend of the month. Payments for those sessions will be made in October after the new fiscal year begins.

Soldiers get anywhere from $284 to $726 for a weekend of training, depending on their ranks and years of service.

Captain John Fesler said the Guard's national shortfall was the result of fewer mobilizations and more training sessions than expected during the past year. When troops are mobilized, the Department of Defense pays the soldiers instead of the Guard.

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Murder suspect arrested in Colorado

A Madison man who's charged in the murder of a 25-year-old has been arrested in Colorado.

An arrest warrant was issued yesterday for Tyrone Isaac Jr., 27. He surrendered to police in suburban Denver, where he's awaiting extradition to Dane County on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.

Isaac is accused of shooting Darren Goodwan to death last Saturday. The victim's body was found along a street on Madison's west side.

Officials said Isaac went to a hospital in Dubuque, Iowa, after the shooting and said he was shot in a knee during a robbery. Police said one of Goodwan's friends shot back at Isaac right after Goodwan was hit. After being treated, Isaac reportedly rode a cab to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he boarded a bus to Denver.

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