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Latest poll shows Gov's race is 'dead heat'; High court will decide cellphone tracking case; more state news

MILWAUKEE -- With the governor's race in a dead heat, Republican Scott Walker says the key to his re-election is for his supporters to call voters and knock on their doors.

A new Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday shows Walker leads Democrat Mary Burke 46- to 45 percent among registered voters while Burke has a 47-46 edge over those likely to vote in November. Both are well within the margin of error, and poll director Charles Franklin says nothing has statistically changed since the last survey in May.

Burke said she's glad to be leading among likely voters for the first time, although the error margin puts that in doubt.

Also, just under half of voters said they still don't know enough about Burke to form an opinion of her. Burke's campaign is trying to fix that with ads that profile her business experience with her family's Trek Bicycle company which Walker has criticized lately for shipping jobs to China.

Three-fourths of respondents in the Marquette poll said they were aware of the now-halted John Doe probe into Walker's campaign activities in the recall elections. Of those, 54 percent said it was just more politics.

Ryan unveilling plan to fight poverty

WASHINGTON D.C. -- House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan was to unveil a new package Thursday which aims to fight poverty. The Janesville Republican has spent a year visiting low-income communities and holding hearings.

Ryan says his proposals seek to find common ground between both parties -- a change from his previous packages of social spending cuts that the Democratic Senate and White House wanted nothing to do with.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel received an advance copy of Ryan's package. The newspaper reported it includes anti-poverty approaches that both parties have supported in the past. They include Democrats' ideas to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and reduce prison populations with new guidelines for minimum sentences.

The Ryan plan also includes long-proposed conservative measures which would place some social programs into block grants and giving fewer federal mandates to the states.

Ryan planned to unveil his agenda Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

In a draft paper, Ryan said "Far too many people are stuck on the lower rungs," and "government has a role to play in providing a safety net and expanding opportunity for all."

Dems, advocacy groups upset by birth control ruling

MADISON -- Democrats and women's advocates are upset about the state's decision to stop enforcing a law requiring insurers to cover birth control for employers who object for religious reasons.

The state insurance commissioner's office said this week it had no choice, in the wake of last month's U.S. Supreme Court decision which upheld Hobby Lobby's policy of not insuring contraceptives due to the owners' religious beliefs. Democratic attorney general candidate Jon Richards said the Walker administration interpreted the ruling way too broadly. If he's elected, Richards said he would file suit to require the state to enforce its insurance requirement for all employers.

The justices said the Hobby Lobby case only affected private firms with small ownership groups. Richard said the court made it clear that the decision would not strike down laws like Wisconsin's.

The state Assembly voted last year to exempt employers with religious objections but the measure failed to pass the Senate.

Did police exceed warrant authority to find murder suspects? High court will decide

MADISON -- Can police use cellphone data to track down murder suspects? The Wisconsin Supreme Court was expected to answer that question Thursday.

The justices are scheduled to rule on a pair of homicide cases from Milwaukee and Kenosha counties, in which police obtained data from cellphone providers to find and arrest the suspects.

Milwaukee Police found Bobby Tate in his mother's apartment. He said detectives did not have enough evidence to justify a warrant they obtained to track his cellphone.

The Kenosha murder suspect, Nicolas Subdiaz-Osorio, was arrested in Arkansas. He contends that the search of his phone data was illegal.

Tel Aviv flight ban affects Wisconsin groups

At least two Wisconsin groups have canceled trips to Israel, amid security concerns at Tel Aviv's airport.

The Milwaukee Jewish Coalition called off a trip as part of its teen summer camp program. Also, Madison's Temple Beth El has postponed a 33-person trip to Israel that was scheduled to begin Aug. 3.

Temple Rabbi Jonathan Biatch is optimistic that the group will go eventually but for now, he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there's a lot of disappointment.

Flights at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv were halted for 24 hours on Tuesday, after a rocket landed about a mile from the facility. The FAA said Wednesday that the flight ban would be extended but the American agency reversed the ban Wednesday evening, allowing U.S. flights to resume.

Former mortgage broker gets 9 years for bilking clients

WAUSAU -- A man who used to own a Wausau mortgage firm will spend just over nine years in prison for embezzling over $1 million from clients, bilking campground investors, and sexually assaulting two children. Jay Fischer, 54, struck plea deals in both Marathon and Waupaca counties that convicted him of racketeering, fraud, and child sexual assault.

At his sentencing in Wausau Wednesday, prosecutors asked for a maximum prison term, while the defense called for probation. Fischer was given 11 years, but 552 days will be taken off for the time he spent in jail during his court case.

He will also spend 18 years under extended supervision once he's released.

Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Huber said prison time was justified, because Fischer stole from clients and then created more victims -- including a step-daughter who was molested.

Fischer is the former owner of Valley Title in Wausau. He also owned Krazy-"J's" Campground near Marion, where he was accused of committing securities' fraud involving investors.

-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

Woman who attempted to save boy, succumbs

EAGLE RIVER -- A woman who tried saving a young swimmer in a northern Wisconsin lake has died. Vilas County authorities now say that 47-year-old Karen Wessel of Star Lake died late Tuesday night at a Wausau hospital. Sheriff's captain David Gardner said Wessel and two other women attempted to save three boys who tried swimming to a sandbar in Star Lake, and struggled while returning to the shore.

Two women saved two of the youngsters.

Gardner said one woman went after the third boy, and Wessel joined her. However, she went under while trying to hold the eight-year-old youngster above the surface. Officials said Wessel was overcome with exhaustion.

CPR was performed on the eight-year-old, and he was taken to a Woodruff hospital. His condition was not disclosed.

Children healing after being shot while riding in car

MILWAUKEE -- Two children are recovering, after they were shot inside a vehicle on Milwaukee's north side.

A ten-year-old boy and an eleven-year-old girl were treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Milwaukee Police deputy inspector Stephen Basting said the mother was driving the vehicle when the shooting occurred in an alley around 7 p.m., Wednesday.

Officers found a number of bullet-casings in the alley and they were trying to determine if another person in the vehicle may have been the target. Police continue to investigate.

Construction worker injured at Amazon project

KENOSHA -- A construction worker was injured yesterday in Kenosha, where is building a new merchandise distribution center.

Kenosha Police said the man was pinned between a beam and an aerial lift unit. Rescuers were called around 3:30 p.m.

Police said the man was taken to a hospital with a shoulder injury, after he was freed by co-workers. Beiler said none of the employees saw what happened.

Stradivarius thief faced sentencing in attack, heist

MILWAUKEE -- One of two Milwaukee men charged with stealing a $5 million Stradivarius violin was expected to get a prison sentence Thursday, while the other gets a plea deal.

Universal Allah, 37, pleaded guilty in May to a robbery charge. Prosecutors have recommended an undetermined amount of prison time.

A co-defendant, Salah Salahaydn, 42, was expected to be convicted at the same Thursday hearing. A plea deal was apparently in the works, after Salahaydn was charged with felony robbery.

Police said the two robbed a concert-master of the 300-year-old Stradivarius after a performance in January at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

The violin was found in good condition a few days after the hold-up.

Allah's cousin has asked for leniency, saying the other defendant pulled off the crime.

Milwaukee Symphony director Mark Niehaus said Allah needs to be held accountable, saying "a musician of great value was senselessly and brutally attacked" in the robbery.

Police searching for naked prowler

FOND DU LAC -- Most burglars at least have the decency to wear clothes, but not a prowler in Fond du Lac.

Police said a man wearing only his birthday suit entered an unlocked house Wednesday, and a resident chased him out of the house and down the block before he could steal anything.

On Tuesday, another resident told police about a naked man lurking outside her father's house.

The man ran away when a 19-year-old woman confronted him. He claimed he was just on a walk.

Fond du Lac assistant police chief Steve Klein says officers don't know what the man's intentions are. An investigation continues, and Klein advises residents to lock their doors.

Lumberjack championships underway at Hayward

HAYWARD -- The world's best lumberjacks have gathered in Hayward for three days of competition that began Thursday.

Dozens of competitors were expected to take part in the Lumberjack World Championships at Hayward.

Thursday's events include logging, chopping, and pole climbing.

More than 12,000 spectators are expected to look on, as competitors go for a total prize pool of over $50,000.

U.S. House Republican Sean Duffy of Wausau once competed in the lumberjack championships.