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Kalliope Vocal Arts

The musical “Rent” took Broadway by storm when it first premiered in 1994.  It tells the story of a young group of friends living on Manhattan’s lower east side in what might politely be described as “squalor.”  It tackled a variety of social issues such as poverty and HIV, but also age-old questions of identity.

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

Last week was a great one for fans of the aurora borealis.  The Northern Lights were visible far further south than normal, thanks to increased solar activity. Ambient light made seeing them basically impossible in metro Milwaukee, but out in the country, there were lots of sightings.

So what’s responsible for the shimmering, colorful atmospheric magic?  Astronomy contributor and director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee, Jean Creighton, explained to Bonnie North exactly how they work - starting with two basic ingredients: the sun and the earth's atmosphere.

Jon Strelecki

As a large, urban research university, UW-Milwaukee does have a lot of buildings - filled with classrooms, laboratories and study space.

But in addition to all of the bricks and mortar, there are also thousands of acres of bogs and wetlands. There is a butterfly conservancy; and even an abandoned mine that is home to thousands of bats. Not all of these pieces of nature are found on UWM’s campus on Milwaukee’s East Side… although the main campus does have the Downer Woods nature preserve.

Mike Kalasnik / Flickr

A spokeswoman for Governor Scott Walker says context is lacking in a report about a major gift to Walker's 2010 campaign. The story, by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, was published yesterday in the online Yahoo News service. 

As Wisconsin lawmakers grapple with their biggest challenge this year – balancing the state budget – they face another hefty project.

They plan to rework the state’s campaign finance laws, covering everything from how much people can contribute to candidates, to whether donors’ names should be made public. Some of the laws are considered outdated. A few are unconstitutional. Legislators dug into the topic Tuesday, inviting experts to testify before a new joint committee in Madison.

When you vote on April 7, you’ll find two items on the ballot related to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The race for justice features Incumbent Ann Walsh Bradley and challenger James Daley. The second item will ask voters how the high court should select its chief justice. A change that would amend the state constitution.

There are still loose ends in the case of a white Milwaukee police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man.

This week, the city’s Fire and Police Commission upheld former officer Christopher Manney’s dismissal. Members agreed with the chief that Manney violated department policy in his encounter last April with Dontre Hamilton and deserved to lose his job because of the harm caused.

Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

Last week, the Starbucks coffee chain announced its initiative to get people to talk about the sensitive issue of race.  The plan was pretty straightforward – have its baristas write #RaceTogether on coffee cups and initiative conversations. 

But the idea almost immediately became the source of ridicule on social media, criticized as heavy-handed or quixotic.

But take Starbucks out of the equation, and how do you initiate a dialogue about race relations and inequality?

Emily Forman

In Wisconsin, African Americans are 30 times more likely to be shot and killed than non-Hispanic whites.

Michelle Pitts is the owner of New Pitts Mortuary - a black-owned funeral home in the heart of Milwaukee. She sees this statistic first-hand.

Mike Wright, Flickr

In a mix of sports metaphors, Tuesday's Reading Blitz represents a full-court press for organizations trying to improve reading skills among Milwaukee kids.

The day's effort, sponsored by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, is the culmination of a concerted effort to increase the number of volunteer reading tutors in the community.  Community engagement specialist Karissa Gretebeck says the effort is aimed particularly at the youngest readers.

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