'Here & Now' Highlights: Peter Hart-Brinson, Eileen Newcomer, Dr. Keith Poulsen

Here's what guests on the May 3, 2024 episode said about campus protests over Israel and Gaza, rules for election observers in Wisconsin, and tracking the spread of bird flu among cattle.

By Zac Schultz | Here & Now

May 6, 2024

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Zac Schultz and Eileen Newcomer sit facing each other on the Here & Now set.

Zac Schultz and Eileen Newcomer (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

UW-Eau Claire Professor Peter Hart-Brinson considers how students at the university in western Wisconsin are reacting to campus protests in Madison and Milwaukee. League of Women Voters of Wisconsin educator Eileen Newcomer describes a proposed rule change for election observers. Dr. Keith Poulsen of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory explains the threat posed by a strain of avian bird flu that is being increasingly found in dairy cows.

Peter Hart-Brinson
Professor, UW-Eau Claire Departments of Sociology and Communication/Journalism

  • Peter Hart-Brinson said student protests over the Israel-Gaza war on the UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee campuses are starting to spark conversations among students on campuses elsewhere around the state, including in Eau Claire.
  • Hart-Brinson: “Up until very recently, I think very few students have been following the events that have been happening at campuses across the country. I think primarily because we have relatively few students who are Jewish or Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. And, students are really busy focusing on their studies and their work. Given that this is such a complicated geopolitical conflict, students have been hesitant to engage, I think so things have been relatively quiet, amongst our students on a campus here at UW-Eau Claire.”


Eileen Newcomer
Voter education manager, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin

  • Newcomer said although it’s unlikely the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s new rules regarding election observers will be in place by the fall, the League of Women Voters is training new observers to be at the polls in November.
  • Newcomer: “I know that we train our election observers to understand what the normal process looks like, so that they can identify if there’s a deviation of the normal process. It can be something as simple as the registrar not fully understanding all of the proof of residence options and wrongfully sending some away because they thought that something that was an acceptable proof of residence option isn’t. And so in that situation, we would talk to the chief inspector, and often it’s just solved right there.”


Dr. Keith Poulsen
Director, UW-Madison Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

  • Dr. Poulsen has been monitoring a strain of avian influenza called H5N1 that has so far been identified in dairy cows in nine states. It has not been found in Wisconsin, but Poulsen said researchers are testing cows that are transported across state lines.
  • Dr. Poulsen: “I do think that testing will ramp up even further before we get out of this outbreak, but that’s the best way that we control animal diseases — as movement across state lines with the state animal health officials.”
  • Dr. Poulsen said H5N1 spreading among cattle is not yet a threat to humans, but they still need to track the virus.
  • Dr. Poulsen: “We have to remember that the barriers to moving into people where it becomes like a pandemic-potential pathogen — they’re very high. There’s a lot of barriers that would prevent that. But it’s not a zero risk. And the longer that we don’t have good risk mitigation and there’s more virus in the environment or circulating in the cows, the higher that risk becomes.”


Watch new episodes of Here & Now at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays.

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