I tried Mr Motivator’s favourite Dorset Indian restaurant


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Many may be surprised to hear that Dorset’s top Indian restaurant is not actually an Indian restaurant.

The 29029, which started in 2014 in Wareham, is a Nepalese restaurant named after the height (in feet) of Nepal’s Mount Everest.

A second branch opened two years later in Broadstone, Poole, and it has since been voted Dorset’s number one Indian restaurant on Tripadvisor and has even had celebrity customers.

READ NEXT: Tess Daly and Vernon Kay welcome in New Year in Dorset

I spoke with restaurant Manager Prakash Kharel, and asked him about the restaurant’s unusual name.

“That’s the height of Mount Everest in feet - we are all Nepalese,” he said. “It’s an icebreaker for the customers, and it gives us a chance to talk to them.”

Another unusual feature of the restaurant is its location - the original is close to Wareham in nearby Sandford, but stands alone surrounded by countryside.

The restaurant is family-run and its head chef Khim Lal Kharel - Prakash Kharel’s dad - has previously worked all over the world for luxury hotels, which his son said influenced his cooking.

Mr Kharel explained the restaurant’s menu.

“Nepalese food is lighter in taste, less spicy, but more flavour. The food has more of a twist compared to an Indian curryhouse - we try to bring out the spices of Nepal and India in a westernised way of serving.

“It’s a fancy world now and everyone wants to take a picture, so we’ve mainly focused on that!”

And their plan has obviously paid off, as last summer they had celebrity visitors such as TV fitness instructor Mr Motivator, and Homes Under the Hammer, and I’m a Celebrity, star Martin Roberts.

(Image: Handout)

Mr Kharel said he didn’t notice Mr Motivator at first, as the TV star was before his time. “We had Mr Motivator - he came and went. We didn’t know- some other customer told me: “He’s famous!””

However, he remembered Martin Robert’s visit.

“Martin, he ordered quite a few bits. He had duck, and lamb. He ordered one of the traditional Nepalese dishes,” he said.

(Image: BBC)

With celebrity guests, over 1,000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating, I had to go and try it out. And what better day to do so than Christmas Day, when the restaurant remains open every year?

Mr Kharel said: “We open on Christmas Day and we’ve been doing that for the last eight years. We get around 80-85 people.”

However, this raised my standards high - could their food surpass a traditional Christmas dinner with trimmings? I really hoped so.

Note: The restaurant has a range of menus including their main menu, takeaway menu, occasion menu and party menu. They also serve buffet-style food at lunchtimes during the week.

The papadums

(Image: Reach PLC)

Although the Christmas menu included a starter, main, dessert and a naan, the first thing I ordered was a basket of papadums.

Although I ordered a specific number, our table was given a big basket of papadums pieces to share alongside five separate sauces. This worked out much better, as who only sticks to the one papadum each anyway?

The sauces included one that was onion heavy, one made from pickles, a mango chutney, a green mint chutney and - the best of them all - an amazing bright red, sweet, chunky dip with lots of spices which I have not encountered at any other curry restaurant.

All I can say is, if you are visiting here I recommend you order the papadums, unless you want to experience regret.

The starter

(Image: Reach Plc)

The next step was to order a starter from the Christmas menu. I ordered the Hariyali Chicken Tikka, which was described as chargrilled chicken marinated with green herbs and spices, served with mint chutney.

Chicken tikka is also offered on The 29029’s takeaway menu as a starter for £5.25, as well as duck, salmon and lamb tikka.

It arrived quickly, and consisted of three marinated chicken pieces topped with sesame seeds. The chutney was the same mint one that came with the poppadoms, which I thought was great as it was a favourite, and some side salad.

The chicken was tender, the spices were amazing and the sauce went perfectly with the marinade. The only negative I could find with this course was a lack of dressing for the salad, but the main part of the dish - the chicken - was faultless.

The main course

(Image: Reach Plc)

Although this is a review of Dorset’s top Indian restaurant, I had to go with a Nepalese dish.

Like, Martin Robert I chose the Gurkhali lamb, which was cooked with Nepalese herbs, yoghurt and green chilli. It arrived with a pile of Basmati rice and, unusually, some fries and salad.

Although this was a Christmas menu option, it is available all-year-round for £10.95. This seems reasonable considering the portion size, which was massive.

The lamb was boneless and tender, and the sauce was not overly spicy but had many different flavours. As someone who often chooses a chicken tikka masala this was a bold choice, but I ended up glad that I tried something different as it was delicious.

I also ordered a naan, which arrived cut in quarters in a small basket and was obviously freshly cooked. However, for those looking for something different the restaurant offers flavoured naans and other breads including roti, paratha and chapatti.

The Dessert

(Image: Reach Plc)

The final course was fairly limited choice-wise, with only two sorbets available. I opted for the option of strawberry and raspberry flavour.

Although the dessert was simple, I was grateful that there was no stodgy Christmas pudding arriving after the giant portions served before.

Even the presentation of some simple ice-cream was Insta-worthy, as Mr Kharel had mentioned was important. However, even more importantly the sorbet had great flavour.

The drink

The restaurant offers a large variety of drinks and has it’s own bar, which is the first thing you see as you walk in. However, I tried a non-alcoholic drink named mint delight. Made with real mint leaves and flavoured with syrup, this tasted similar to a virgin mojito, and paired well with the rest of the meal.

Final thoughts

Having taken the place of a traditional Christmas roast, I had high standards for The 29029. If there is one day you want to eat good food, it is on Christmas day.

Thankfully, I believe this was one of the best Christmas dinners I have had, and definitely the best Indian-and-Nepalese style dishes I’ve ever eaten. Not only was the food tasty, it was also beautifully presented, the portions were huge and the staff were friendly.

This restaurant has gained their 4.5 star rating despite their remote location and a difficult to remember name, and this really shows just how good the food they serve is. There was hardly a thing I could fault about it.

Perhaps it could be a great place to end a day walking in the Purbecks, or if you aren’t feeling up to cooking a Christmas dinner next year.

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ITV The Masked Singer: Bookies ‘reveal’ contestants' identities from Hollywood actress, legendary comedian to football star


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The 12 - our free newsletter with all the news you need

As far as modern TV goes, The Masked Singer is certainly one of the most surreal programmes out there.

The popular ITV show returned for its latest series earlier this week (January 1) and fans are already sharing their theories as to which famous faces are behind the masks.

With a number of huge names from stage, screen and music having been revealed in past episodes, fans can’t wait to discover who’s who.

READ MORE:Kirstie Allsopp’s famous family from husband of 18 years, ‘strict’ parenting of 2 kids, and Royal connection

To help you in this celebrity guessing game, Betfair has released the names most likely to be behind each mask.

Michael Owen and Paul O’Grady are among celebs listed so far.


(Image: PA)

Aisling Bea 5/6

Laura Whitmore 5/2

Siobhan McSweeney 7/1

Vicky McClure 10/1

Rebel Wilson 12/1


(Image: ITV)

Mark Feehily: 6/4

Tom Daley: 2/1

Ryan Reynolds: 5/1

Paddy McGuinness: 10/1

Richard Ayoade: 12/1


(Image: PA)

Michael Owen: 4/9

Robbie Fowler: 4/1

Gary Lineker: 8/1

Rio Ferdinand: 12/1

Nick Grimshaw: 16/1


(Image: ITV)

Eddie Izzard: 11/10

Judge Rinder: 10/1

James Blunt: 5/1

Craig Revel Horwood: 3/1

Michael Ball: 12/1


(Image: ITV)

Michelle Keegan: 6/5

Mel C: 11/4

Pixie Lott: 6/1

Melanie Sykes: 8/1

Molly-Mae Hague: 12/1


(Image: ITV)

Zendaya: 6/4

Kimberley Wyatt: 4/1

Alesha Dixon: 8/1

Ashley Roberts: 2/1

Nicole Scherzinger: 10/1

Traffic Cone

(Image: ITV)

Chris Kamara: 7/4

Alexander Armstrong: 9/2

Mr Motivator: 7/1

Rick Astley: 10/1

Tom Jones: 11/4


(Image: ITV)

Paul O’Grady: 8/11

Gary Barlow: 5/2

Rylan Clark-Neal: 6/1

John Barrowman: 10/1

Adam Lambert: 16/1


(Image: ITV)

Natalie Imbruglia: Evens

Rebel Wilson: 5/2

Alesha Dixon: 5/1

Helen Skelton: 8/1

Emily Atack: 10/1


(Image: Vincent Dolman/Bandicoot TV/ITV/PA Wire)

John McEnroe: 5/6

Pat Cash: 3/1

Iain Stirling: 9/2

Tim Henman: 10/1

David Tennant: 12/1

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Betfair spokesperson Sam Rosbottom said: “After just one weekend of this edition of the Masked Singer, armchair sleuths already seem confident of some of the celeb identities behind the amazing costumes.

“Doughnuts and Poodle are tipped to be footy legend Michael Owen and TV presenting royalty Paul O’Grady at 4/9 and 8/11 respectively - while other odds-on favourites include Irish actress Aisling Bea to be Mushroom at 5/6 and fiery American tennis star John McEnroe to be Bagpipes at 5/6.

“Other characters who are bamboozling viewers a bit more include Lionfish and Firework, where comedian Eddie Izzard and actress Michelle Keegan are 11/10 and 6/5. Meanwhile Aussie pop royalty Natalie Imbruglia is Evens to be the cute Panda.”

If you’ve got a story you think we should be covering, feel free to email sylvie.wilkinson@reachplc.com

Cyber Ninjas, Derided for Arizona Vote Review, Says It Is Shutting Down


For a company that has had its share of bad weeks, Cyber Ninjas, the Florida firm behind the widely derided review of Arizona’s 2020 presidential vote, may finally have hit bottom.

On Thursday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Phoenix delivered a detailed four-hour livestreamed rebuttal of all the firm’s claims, showing that all, except one involving 50 votes, were either mistaken, misleading or outright false.

That same day, a superior court judge cited the company for contempt after it refused to surrender records of its vote review to The Arizona Republic, which is seeking them under a freedom of information request. He levied a $50,000-a-day fine on the firm until it produces the records.

By week’s end, lawyers said the firm was insolvent and had laid off its employees, including Doug Logan, its chief executive and onetime proponent of a baseless theory that the state’s voting machines had been rigged.

Is Wisconsin the ultimate test of trust in voting?


How did Wisconsin go down this perilous path? And where will it go from here – and will other states follow?

Mr. Trump and his allies are also pushing changes to the state’s electoral system. Some Republicans are trying to purge or eliminate the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission, saying it can no longer be trusted. A Republican sheriff even launched a criminal complaint against members of the commission.

A decade of bitter partisan combat here has shrunk the political center, to the point where neither side trusts the other to play fair. Even among Republicans who dismiss Mr. Trump’s false claims of fraud, suspicions linger that Democrats took advantage of electoral rules under pandemic conditions to boost turnout for Joe Biden.

Wisconsin could become the country’s premier petri dish for what happens when citizens lose trust – for valid reasons or not – in the legitimacy of a democracy’s most fundamental act, voting.

The issue has been rankling states, driven by the ongoing assertions of former President Donald Trump and his allies – despite all evidence to the contrary – that the 2020 election was stolen. And perhaps nowhere has it been as contentious as in Wisconsin.

In the birthplace of the Republican Party, its heirs are grappling with a brewing clash – one playing out in legislative chambers and courtrooms, on social media and talk radio. It centers on an existential facet of democracy: Who controls how elections are run – and what happens when citizens lose trust in the legitimacy of the vote?

On a wintry night in 1854, a small band of citizens gathered in a one-room schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, to address a looming crisis for their young democracy. Meeting by candlelight, they agreed to form a new political party aimed at stopping the spread of slavery, uniting a fractious coalition of Whigs, Free-Soilers, and anti-slavery Democrats around the urgent effort to keep slavery out of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska.

Alvan Bovay, the lawyer who called the meeting, named the party res publica, or Republican. It would become the dominant anti-slavery party in subsequent years of tumult, which culminated in a bloody Civil War under a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln.

Today, Mr. Bovay’s political heirs are grappling with another brewing clash – one that may prove as consequential for the union as the struggles of the 1850s. It’s playing out in legislative chambers and courtrooms, on social media and talk radio, and it centers on an existential facet of democracy: Who controls how elections are run – and what happens when citizens lose trust in the legitimacy of the vote?

Why We Wrote This Wisconsin could become the country’s premier petri dish for what happens when citizens lose trust – for valid reasons or not – in the legitimacy of a democracy’s most fundamental act, voting.

The issue has been rankling states across the nation, driven by the ongoing assertions of former President Donald Trump and his allies – despite all evidence to the contrary – that the 2020 election was stolen. And perhaps nowhere has it been as contentious as in Wisconsin, a pivotal swing state that Mr. Trump lost to Joe Biden by just under 21,000 votes, after winning by nearly 23,000 four years earlier.

Simon Montlake/The Christian Science Monitor This former schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, shown on Dec. 9, 2021, is known as the birthplace of the Republican Party after a meeting was held there in 1854 to form a new anti-slavery political party. The schoolhouse is now a private museum.

A decade of bitter partisan combat here has shrunk the political center, to the point where neither side trusts the other to play fair. Even among Republicans who dismiss Mr. Trump’s false claims of fraud, suspicions linger that Democrats took advantage of electoral rules under pandemic conditions to boost turnout for Mr. Biden.

Mr. Trump and his allies are also pushing changes to the state’s electoral system in advance of a possible rematch in 2024. Some Republicans are trying to purge or eliminate the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) that oversees and certifies elections, saying it can no longer be trusted. A Republican sheriff even launched a criminal complaint against members of the commission.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a staunch Trump supporter whose seat is up in November, has gone so far as to call on the State Legislature to invoke its constitutional role to run federal elections.

A Republican on the election commission says his party is simply taking steps to shore up a faulty system and restore trust. Multiple polls have shown that a sizable majority of Republican voters believe the 2020 vote was stolen. In an October poll for NPR/PBS NewsHour, only a third said they would trust the result of the 2024 election, regardless of which candidate won.

“When you have 50% of the people of Wisconsin thinking that something was wrong with an election, that’s not good,” says Commissioner Robert Spindell. “These questions have to be somehow answered.”

But critics of partisan “audits” like the one happening in Wisconsin say that, far from settling concerns about fraud, they tend to further amplify disinformation, sapping faith in public institutions and priming voters to reject future results.

“This whole enterprise of the [Wisconsin] investigation is built on an outright lie, which is that there were irregularities,” says Kenneth Mayer, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “The people who are promoting this investigation are promoting a lie.”

Andy Manis/AP/File Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature at the State Capitol in Madison on Jan. 22, 2019. A group formed to support former President Donald Trump’s agenda is working with Wisconsin Republicans on a ballot measure that would bypass Governor Evers, a Democrat, to change how elections are run in the battleground state.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who is up for reelection in November, has denounced the attacks on the WEC and vetoed several election-related bills passed by Republicans. But Democrats worry that if the GOP takes back the governorship this year, while retaining its hold on the Legislature, it will gain unilateral control over how Wisconsin’s elections are run and certified going forward.

Ann Jacobs, the Democratic chair of the WEC, envisions a potential scenario in which Wisconsin’s 10 presidential electors could be awarded to the losing candidate – as Mr. Trump urged state lawmakers to do on the eve of the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

“There aren’t two sides to this,” she says. “Either we have an election in which all the votes are counted and the people who get the most votes win. Or we have to stop pretending that we’re interested in democracy.”

How did Wisconsin go down this perilous path? And where will it go from here – and will other states follow?

Rick Wood/ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Rapport/Newscom/File Ann Jacobs, then a volunteer attorney with Election Protection, a nonpartisan voting rights group, talks with an observer outside a polling place in Milwaukee on Nov. 4, 2008. Currently the Democratic chair of the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission, Ms. Jacobs worries about a future scenario in which the losing presidential candidate could be awarded Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes.

A state of contradictory impulses

Wisconsin has always seemed an uneasy marriage of contradictory political impulses. A birthplace of both the Republican Party and progressivism, the state has a long history of government-backed social protections as well as a conservative belief in personal and family responsibility. In recent years, it has grown more sharply polarized: Its rural counties, dotted with dairy farms and an aging, mostly white population, have shifted right, while Milwaukee and fast-growing Madison have moved further left.

Wisconsin’s highly gerrymandered districts, engineered in 2011 by Republicans under then-Gov. Scott Walker, have boosted the GOP’s grip on the Legislature, even when Democrats win popular majorities – a partisan advantage that discourages compromise and persuasion.

The state’s dichotomous politics can be clearly seen in its two current U.S. senators. Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who in 2013 became the Senate’s first openly LGBTQ member, has a consistently liberal voting record on everything from health care to the environment. Her colleague, Senator Johnson, is an outspoken conservative who campaigned on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and has recently drawn criticism for downplaying the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. He has yet to announce whether he’s running for reelection.

As in many states, Wisconsin’s elections are decentralized acts of democracy: Clerks in 1,850 municipalities, many of whom work part time, register voters and send out ballots. In 2020, election officials had to cope with a pandemic that led to a surge in voting by mail; some precincts added drop boxes where people could deliver their mail-in ballots so they could vote more safely.

What happened was all out in the open – citizens could watch every step, from local ballot counting to county-level canvassing, says Meagan Wolfe, the WEC’s nonpartisan administrator.

“There are no dark corners. There are no locked doors,” she says. “Every single piece of an election is transparent.”

Ms. Wolfe reports to a board made up of three Republicans and three Democrats. This bipartisan formula was created by Republican legislators in 2016 to replace an independent agency that ran afoul of then GOP Governor Walker after its ethics division investigated his campaign finances.

During the 2020 campaign, the WEC struggled at times to reach consensus on how to interpret election law under pandemic conditions – such as what to do about closed polling places. After Mr. Trump lost, his allies accused the WEC of issuing illegal guidelines that favored Mr. Biden.

So far, a total of 31 individual cases of potential fraud have been referred to prosecutors in Wisconsin. Of those, just five were actually charged, according to an Associated Press report in December. One involved a man who voted for Mr. Trump despite being ineligible because he was on parole. The other cases were dropped after review.

Actual cases of fraud are extremely rare in Wisconsin’s elections, says Kevin Kennedy, the state’s former election chief for 34 years. But then came a president who said he could only lose reelection if the results were rigged.

“It’s always been hard to cheat,” he says. “But if you keep saying there’s a lot of fraud and a lot of cheating going on, and you throw these shibboleths at unelected bureaucrats who run elections, it’s going to gain traction.”

Daniel Acker/Reuters/File Voters fill out ballots at Riverside University High School during the presidential primary election in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. The Wisconsin Election Commission struggled at times to reach consensus on how to interpret election law under pandemic conditions.

“It’s that simple”

A light snowfall powders the stubbled fields on the road to Waupun, a town one hour northwest of Milwaukee. Inside a brick-fronted cafe warmed by an open fire, Rohn Bishop, a lifelong Republican and a regular here, bounds up to the counter. “Hello ma’am, how are you today?” he says to a server.

Mr. Bishop, who manages the auto detailing shop at a local dealership, is a fixture of public life in Waupun. Currently running for mayor, he’s been chairman of the Republican Party for the past four years in Fond du Lac County, which includes Ripon – making it the party’s oldest branch in the nation, “since 1854,” as its letterhead states.

In 2020, he knocked on doors and handed out yard signs and did all he could to support the Trump ticket. On election night, he gathered with his team at a local radio station to watch the results come in. At one point, his data analyst called him over: Ozaukee County, a GOP stronghold outside Milwaukee, hadn’t shown up for Mr. Trump, which spelled trouble for the candidate’s reelection bid.

By 4 a.m., he had seen enough to know the race was probably lost, and he drove home. Three days later, Pennsylvania was called for Mr. Biden, and the Democrat declared victory.

“That’s when I started to break with the GOP,” says Mr. Bishop.

The Trump campaign challenged the Wisconsin results in court and demanded recounts in two counties. Neither recount found any anomalies, and the state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit to disqualify more than 200,000 absentee ballots in Democratic strongholds.

Mr. Bishop saw no evidence of mass fraud. By the logic of the Trump lawsuit, he notes, his own ballot, cast in advance, would have been illegal since he hadn’t requested it in writing. “We didn’t win,” he says over a chicken panini. “It’s that simple.”

Among fellow Republicans, however, that view was heresy. Mr. Bishop was pilloried on social media and received angry emails and voicemails, including one from a GOP activist who called him a traitor to the conservative movement and vowed never to speak to him again.

“This is a guy I drove home from a baseball game because it was raining,” says Mr. Bishop. “I’m dead to him because of Donald Trump.”

The backlash intensified after Jan. 6, when Mr. Bishop criticized GOP lawmakers in Congress for their part in the insurrection. By February, though, he figured the anger was subsiding. That month, he was reelected as county chairman, unopposed. And while Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin were still challenging the election results, they had asked a respected state audit board to conduct a review.

Yet Mr. Trump kept calling for a “forensic audit,” accusing Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of “working hard to cover up election corruption,” and warning he could face a primary challenge.

Eventually, Mr. Vos bowed to the pressure. At the state GOP convention in June, he introduced former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who would be tasked with investigating election irregularities. Mr. Gableman told the party faithful he was up to the challenge.

“Whatever part of the political spectrum you fall on, nobody, nobody should disagree with the idea that honest, open, fair, transparent elections ought to be what takes place,” he said. “Because if we don’t have that, we have nothing.”

Suspicions and threats

The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall is on the fourth floor of Wisconsin’s imposing State Capitol in Madison. Beneath a vaulted ornamental ceiling, five lawmakers sit at a bench facing a mostly empty hearing room. State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, who chairs the election committee, chats with a fellow GOP lawmaker who was out shoveling snow before dawn. Four Republicans sit on the right side. A lone Democrat, the only member wearing a mask, sits on the left.

“Today, the committee is going to hold an informational hearing on the voter rolls,” Representative Brandtjen announces on a frosty December afternoon.

What follows is 2 1/2 hours of speculative claims and insinuations about Wisconsin’s election system. One of the invited speakers is a retired mathematician named Douglas Frank, whose debunked charges of algorithmic ballot rigging in Michigan have been amplified by Mr. Trump.

Another speaker, a software engineer named Jeff O’Donnell, zeros in on thousands of Wisconsin voters whose dates of birth are listed as 1900 and who registered to vote in 1918. This is just one of many “highly suspicious issues” in the rolls, says Mr. O’Donnell, who is appearing via Zoom.

On its website, the WEC explains that birth dates of Jan. 1, 1900, were entered by default when more than 200 local registries were merged into a statewide database. Since the voting age is 18, the default registration was Jan. 1, 1918. Clerks have since updated most of these entries.

Mr. Gableman, the former justice appointed as special counsel, isn’t at today’s hearing. But his own investigation has surfaced similar conspiracy theories and put Trump associates on the payroll. He has threatened to jail uncooperative Democratic mayors and seized on allegations that fraudulent absentee ballots were cast by nursing-home residents.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, a Republican, has called for five WEC commissioners to be charged with felonies because they stopped sending poll workers to nursing homes to assist with voting during the pandemic. The commissioners have said many facilities were closed to outside visitors and absentee voting was a viable alternative. Sheriff Schmaling alleges that residents were inappropriately influenced by nursing-home staff.

Speaker Vos, who represents Racine County, has said the commissioners, including a Republican he appointed to the WEC, should “probably” face charges, though it’s up to a district attorney to make that decision. (None has filed charges so far.)

“We’ve crossed a line that’s hard to walk back from,” says state Rep. Mark Spreitzer, a Democrat on the election committee, referring to the threat of prosecution. “It’s beyond the pale.”

Morry Gash/AP/File Voters wait in line to vote in Wisconsin’s primary election in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat up for reelection in November 2022, has denounced attacks on the Wisconsin Election Commission and vetoed several election-related bills passed by Republicans.

“We need to move on”

Kathleen Bernier, a Republican who chairs the State Senate’s election committee, contends the 2020 election in Wisconsin was hardly perfect. Election officials interpreted laws too broadly, she says, and Democrats were too quick to dismiss irregularities that merited investigation.

But Senator Bernier, a former county clerk who is vice chair of the GOP caucus in Madison, has also grown impatient with fact-free accusations of fraud made by her colleagues. “There’s the fringe that seems to think that there was an organized attempt to falsify ballots,” she says. “There is no evidence of that whatsoever.”

She wants Mr. Gableman to wrap up his investigation into an election that, she says, was won fairly by Mr. Biden.

“We need to move on. Donald Trump is not going to be reinstated,” she says.

Yet that seems unlikely to persuade voters like Jefferson Davis, a financial consultant and former president of Menomonee Falls village outside Milwaukee.

Mr. Davis is part of a coalition of conservative groups that’s been calling for a full “physical and cyber audit” of the 2020 election. He says his group has uncovered evidence of massive fraud and accuses the political establishment in Wisconsin, including GOP lawmakers, of suppressing the facts.

The irregularities, he claims, include not just improperly cast nursing-home ballots but also get-out-the-vote efforts in Democratic cities that, he charges, led to tens of thousands of “phantom votes.”

Mr. Davis wants state legislators to decertify the 2020 election – despite there being no legal process for decertifying an election once a president is sworn in. And he warns that voters won’t trust future elections run under Wisconsin’s current system.

“This is the biggest fraud in the history of the state of Wisconsin,” he says. “If we don’t get this right, elections will never make a difference ever again.”

Some Republican strategists warn that fraud rhetoric could depress GOP turnout, as was the case in the 2021 U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia, both of which were won by Democrats. But it may also prove a potent motivator that, coupled with political head winds for Democrats nationally, flips the governor’s mansion in 2022. Rebecca Kleefisch, the GOP front-runner, has already sued the WEC over its administration of the 2020 election.

A Republican caucus with more pro-Trump members would then be in position to determine how Wisconsin elections are run and who gets to certify the results. That caucus may not include Senator Bernier: Her local party censored her, and she faces a primary challenger because of her views on the election.

A prominent GOP lawmaker recently announced a run for secretary of state, a mostly powerless job held by an octogenarian Democrat. Amy Loudenbeck said she wanted to expand the secretary’s role to “serve as a check” on the WEC and ensure “election integrity.” In 37 states, elections are run by elected or appointed secretaries of state.

A makeover of the office under Ms. Loudenbeck to override the bipartisan WEC could be controversial, says Tim Cullen, a Democrat and former state senator. “There’s going to be a backlash from voters. But the backlash may not matter much if they’re able to do it.”

Still, he says, Republicans would probably settle for passing laws to restrict ballot access if they win the gubernatorial race. So far there seems little support in the Legislature for the nuclear option prescribed by Senator Johnson of unilateral control of federal elections. Ms. Wolfe, the nonpartisan WEC administrator, remains in her job, as do the commissioners. In October, the state audit board made multiple recommendations for the WEC to improve the electoral system and for lawmakers to update the rules, but found no evidence of fraud.

John Hart//Wisconsin State Journal/AP/File Wisconsin state Sen. Kathleen Bernier, a Republican, listens in the Assembly chambers of the Capitol in Madison on Feb. 16, 2016. Senator Bernier contends the 2020 election in Wisconsin was hardly perfect, but she has also grown impatient with her colleagues' fact-free accusations of fraud.

“I think we’ll come out of this just fine,” says Senator Bernier. “I think at some point everybody will accept the results.”

That still leaves Wisconsin as a national battleground with a red-blue gulf made worse by gerrymandered seats, with 10 presidential electors who will be fiercely contested next time.

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Back in Waupun, Mr. Bishop is focused on his upcoming mayoral race in April. The position is part time and nonpartisan, part of the fabric of local self-government that many in Wisconsin take pride in. He remains a self-identified proud Republican, but notably asked a local Democratic activist to introduce him at a recent campaign kickoff. Mr. Bishop still gets flak from Trump loyalists, he says. But he takes heart in the many quieter expressions of support.

“There are more Republicans out there who agree with me than you realize,” he says.

Nigerians mourn compatriot Olusola Solarin killed in South Africa


By Maureen Okon/Abuja

The Nigerian community in South Africa has again gone into mourning, following the killing of another Nigerian, Olusola Solarin

The killing of Solarin on Dec. 12 last year has raised the death tally of Nigerians in South Africa to more than 127 since 2019.

Records show that 13 of the Nigerians sent to their early graves in the Rainbow Nation were killed by members of the South African police.

In a statement e-mailed to NAN in Abuja on Saturday, the Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA), described Solarin as a brilliant, hardworking, motivator and community leader, who has fallen victim to the orgy of violence and criminality in South Africa.

The statement, jointly signed by the President of NUSA, Mr Collins Mgbo, and Secretary-General, Mr Nimram Durven Longbap-Longs, described Solarin as a businessman, who had a chain of businesses, including pharmaceuticals, clothes and shoes outlets.

According to the unionists, Solarin has since been buried at Makun community in Sagamu, near Abeokuta in Ogun on Jan. 3.

Solarin, an alumnus of University of Lagos, was said to have met his fate after supplying goods to his customers outside Johannesburg, the business capital.

He was returning to his base when he was waylaid.

In an attempt to prevent his assailants from collecting the money he was paid by customers, the assailants murdered him.

In the union’s condolence message to Solarin’s widow named Doris, who is also the Vice-President and Head of Programmes of NUSA, the union said that the Nigerian community in South Africa would miss Solarin dearly.

The union members also noted that their solace was in God, knowing fully well that Solarin had run his race and that his reward awaited him at the bosom of God.

“I have never seen a man with such a heart of gold. I’ve never seen a man so hardworking that with so little he built so much for his family within a reasonable time of his life.

“Life isn’t fair enough to allow him to taste the fruits of his labour.

“I am pushed to ask: `God why’ but if I do, of what benefit is it? Will he be brought back to life?,’’ Mgbo wrote in his tribute.

The NUSA president said he had wished it was on a different occasion instead of Solarin’s death that he as NUSA president was talking about the achievements of Solarin.

“On behalf of NUSA, I Collins Mgbo express the union’s heart-felt condolences to you and your family on the senseless brutal murder of your loving and patriotic husband.

“It is NUSA’s prayer that God will grant you the determination to bear this irremediable loss.

“Please keep it in mind that your late husband’s best wishes will always be with you and your children throughout the rest of your life.

“May Comrade Solarin’s gentle soul rest in peace,’’ Mgbo wrote.