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Himalayan monk to present 'Science of the Chakra' lecture in Chippewa Falls

A local church and a Himalayan monk are coming together to enlighten the Chippewa Valley.

Dr. Santji Dharamananda, a Himalayan monk and holistic ayurvedic chef, will be giving a lecture from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church in Chippewa Falls. The presentation is called “Science of the Chakra” and will focus on various spiritual aspects of human development and how chakra works in correspondence with faith.

Following the presentation by Dharamananda, attendees will be immersed in the cultural and spirtitual headspace via a seven-course authentic Indian dinner. All of the food will be prepared by Dharamananda himself, creating a culinary experience you won’t be able to find anywhere in the Chippewa Valley.

The presentation is part of what the church hopes becomes a regular series through the remainder of 2019.

Christ Episcopal Church Rev. Canon Aaron Zook said there is no specific endgame for these presentations, but hopes they can open the minds of both religious people and those who may be drawn to a form of spirituality they discover through these lectures.

“In many ways for people today, especially those who don’t have a very strong tradition in their family for any specific brand of spirituality or religious practice, eastern philosophies are a lot easier to engage with,” Zook said. “If there’s any way we can provide people with a doorway to a more spiritual life, that’s a positive thing.”

The titular aspect of the presentation will be on the historic idea of a chakra. A chakra can be described as one of the centers of spiritual power that lie in the human body. Traditionally there are thought to be seven human chakras, which work together inside of us to achieve health and emotional well-being.

Zook said the pairing of a traditional church and a Himalayan monk is an unusual one, but that is what is going to make the event interesting and memorable.

“There aren’t a whole lot of avenues to learn this kind of information if you’re not going to school for some kind of religious studies,” Zook said. “If you have any mild interest in any of these things, the food or Himalayan philosophy, both are reason enough to come out for a unique experience. And there will be plenty of more opportunities to learn more if you want, but the worst case scenario is you spend a Saturday afternoon hanging out with a bunch of other people who are interested in learning about these topics.”

For more information on the event, and future presentations in the ongoing series you can call 715-835-3331 or email

Out of touch? Trump aides struggle with shutdown empathy

NEW YORK — One White House aide mused that the shutdown was like a paid vacation for some furloughed workers. President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law said employees’ “little bit of pain” was worth it for the good of the country. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross questioned why cash-poor workers were using food banks instead of taking out loans.

The president himself says workers simply need to “make adjustments.”

With hundreds of thousands of federal workers going without pay during the monthlong partial government shutdown, Trump and his team, which includes the wealthiest Cabinet ever assembled, have struggled to deliver a full dose of empathy for those who are scraping to get by.

Ross set off howls when he was asked on CNBC on Thursday about reports that some of the 800,000 workers currently not receiving paychecks were going to homeless shelters to get food.

“Well, I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why,” he said. “The obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from a bank or a credit union, are, in effect, federally guaranteed. So the 30 days of pay that some people will be out ... there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it.”

In a subsequent interview with Bloomberg, Ross said he was “painfully aware” that workers were suffering hardships. He added that in his earlier remarks, he’d been trying to let workers know that credit union loans were available for those “experiencing liquidity crises” — hardly the language of those living paycheck to paycheck.

It all contributed to perceptions that the Trump administration was out of touch with workers bearing the brunt of the shutdown impact.

“Is this the ‘Let them eat cake’ kind of attitude?” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Or call your father for money?” With that, the speaker evoked Marie Antoinette and took an indirect jab at Trump for inheriting family money to launch his business career.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Ross’ comments “reveal the administration’s callous indifference toward the federal workers it is treating as pawns.” He added: “Secretary Ross, they just can’t call their stock broker and ask them to sell some of their shares.”

Deeming air traffic controllers who are calling in sick “disappointing,” Ross said that workers will eventually get their pay and that there is no reason why a loan would not be a reasonable option for workers who have been staring at zeros on their pay statements.

“Now, true, the people might have to pay a little bit of interest, but the idea that it’s paycheck or zero is not a really valid idea,” said Ross, whose financial disclosure forms reveal $700 million in assets.

The president said he hadn’t seen Ross’s comments but added: “I do understand perhaps he should have said it differently.”

Trump said the commerce secretary’s point was that grocery stores, banks and other local entities were “working along” with federal employees to ease the shutdown’s impact. He added that Ross has “done a great job.”

Other Trump officials have been more effective in conveying their sympathies for those affected by the shutdown.

“Nobody, including myself, likes the hardship caused, the temporary hardship caused by the government shutdown,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said Thursday. “I have young people on my staff, devoted young people. You know, when you’re 28 years old, you don’t save a lot. I get that, and I think a lot of people have to get through this.”

Trump, for his part, has repeatedly maintained, without providing evidence, that federal workers support the need for a border wall even if it means going without a paycheck. The president did not mention the furloughed workers during his Oval Office address to the nation earlier this month and has said that government employees “will make adjustments” to get by.

Asked Thursday what his message to furloughed workers was, Trump said: “I love them. I respect them. I really appreciate the great job they’re doing.” He continued to insist that “many of those people that are not getting paid are totally in favor of what we’re doing because they know the future of this country is dependent on having a strong border.”

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said early in the shutdown that some furloughed employees were, “in some sense, they’re better off” because people who were already taking vacation over the holidays ultimately would not be charged for their already-planned trip. Hassett has since said that his remarks were taken out of context.

Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and campaign aide, said this week that for the furloughed workers, “It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country.”

On Thursday, she tried to explain the comment, insisting to Fox News that “I am incredibly empathetic towards anyone right now without a paycheck” and blaming the mainstream media for misrepresenting her message.


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Reckless homicide charge refiled against Chippewa Falls man

Charges were refiled against a Chippewa Falls man who was convicted of federal drug crimes last spring.

Shane Paul Johnson, 40, of Chippewa Falls, was sentenced in March to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.



Johnson also received 10 years of supervised release.

Now, charges that were dismissed without prejudice prior to that conviction have been refiled in Chippewa County.

Johnson is charged with first degree reckless homicide in the Nov. 22, 2017 drug overdose death of Nicholas J. Buck in Chippewa Falls.

The charge was refiled on Nov. 28. Johnson’s initial court appearance was supposed to take place Monday, but it was postponed to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 at the Chippewa County Courthouse Branch 2.

He is also charged with manufacture/deliver heroin, possession with intent to deliver THC (marijuana), methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and non-narcotics — with all possession charges being second offenses — and with the possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a drug trafficking place, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

A woman, April J. Lonetree, was also charged in connection with Buck’s death.

Assistant District Attorney Roy La Barton Gay is handling the prosecution of the case again, and said it was “generally expected (Chippewa County) would refile when the federal case was done.”

According to criminal complaints, police officers responded to a report of an overdose death in Chippewa Falls on Nov. 22. Drugs were found in the residence.

Johnson and Lonetree were arrested, and a search warrant turned up drugs and drug paraphernalia.

According to the Department of Justice, 238 grams of methamphetamine, 432 grams of marijuana, 23 grams of heroin, 21 grams of cocaine, 284 vials of suspected steroids, over $5,000 in cash and two pistols were found at Johnson’s residence the day after Buck’s death. The total value of the items seized was roughly $48,000.

Lonetree is still facing several charges in Chippewa County court, including methamphetamine possession, maintaining a drug trafficking place and two counts of neglecting a child. A review hearing for Lonetree is scheduled for Jan. 30

Have you seen these people in Chippewa County? A list of those with active warrants out for their arrest
Have you seen these people in Chippewa County? A list of those with active warrants out for their arrest