In for a laugh to start off your morning? Check out Fox News’ gaffes, ranging from lack of geography knowledge (of the United States, no less), and Mittens in disguise. For a more reliable source of news, here’s your Roundup:
What’s Health Got To Do With It? Nearly every day, there is a story in the news about the health care debate. Whether it’s a new plan to make it more efficient, or more likely, a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, there are two polar sides to the issue. But what really is the issue? The California Healthline goes into the politics of health care, which has roots way back in the 1920s. It traces health care history to the current times, where the debate is no longer about health care. It’s about politics. Read here
Change of Face and Other KXL Updates: Our Executive Director, Jane Kleeb, expresses the astonishment many Nebraskans feel at the speed with which some of the NE GOP turned their backs on those they had appeared only weeks before to represent. It’s just another notch in the crooked belt surrounding this project. WaPo gives a rundown of recent events, defining the fight against the pipeline. Read here
Dropping the Tax on the Rich to Prevent Taxing the Working: The Democrats are again negotiating out of necessity–and show signs of caving. In a meeting Wednesday between Senate leaders discussing the GOP version of the payroll tax bill that passed in the House, Dems showed signs of dropping the “millionaire tax” as a way to pay for not increasing the taxes on 160 million working Americans. Republicans in Congress have been able to thwart the millionaire tax for months. Although it is likely a payroll tax cut extension will be passed, there are other issues with the bill that must be debated alongside dropping the millionaire tax. One of those is the inclusion of the KXL in the House version, which the State Dept. has shown every intention of axing if it is included in the final version, ending the project (we could only hope)….oh. And did we mention they’re trying to avoid another government shutdown? Read here
Holding Us Back: House Republicans released a $1 trillion omnibus bill last night to fund the federal government through most of 2012. Of course, it also ties America to a dirty energy future instead of moving our country forward into a 21st Century clean energy economy. According to House Appropriations, the bill would:
- block some, if not all, of EPA’s efforts to tighten pollution controls on mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.
- fully fund the Interior Department’s new offshore drilling enforcement and permitting agencies.
- require Interior to expedite approval for plans for new offshore drilling.
- repeal light bulb efficiency standards.
- strike down the president’s proposal for an increase in oil and gas drilling fees.
- hold renewable energy research funding steady while increasing research funding for nuclear energy and advanced fossil fuel technologies.
Rock the Vote: Attorney General Holder’s voting rights speech last night was directed to every American, and thus, every Republican who is trying to pass disenfranchisement laws. Holder’s points are no-brainers that needed to be said. He proposes to modernize the voter registration system to allow more citizens to vote. Voting should not be a privilege, it is a right. Read here
Wednesday, December 14th
Who has the privilege of being Time’s 2011 Person of the Year? Congratulations, its you. In fact, it’s everyone who has embraced the growing trend of activism around the world in the past year. From Egypt, Zuccotti Park, and right here in Nebraska, congratulations to the Protester. You changed governments around the world, made a country more aware of social injustice, and protected the Sand hills; truly, no one made a bigger difference. Here’s your Roundup:
Calling their Bluff: It comes as no surprise that House Republicans couldn’t put the well being of Americans before their Big Oil agenda. After the State Department explicitly warned that any bill designed to put a deadline on the review process of KXL would kill the pipeline (that’s ok with us) and after Obama made it abundantly clear that he would veto any similar provision, the House still moved forward with their poison-packed bill. Instead of extending the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans, they guaranteed another drawn out political battle. Good thing Obama and Senate Democrats have promised to strike down this bill. We’ll see how the House will react if they are forced to vote on a payroll tax cut bill only. Will they be able to leave KXL behind? Read here
Can’t Catch a Break: Things keep getting worse for Romney. Now his campaign must deal with the endorsement of Christine “I’m not a witch” O’Donnell. Ol’ Mittens must be very irritated, realizing that endorsements by O’Donnell only perpetuate the narrative that he’s moved to the radical right. He just can’t catch a—wait? Romney is touting O’Donnell’s endorsement? The same women who stormed to victory in the Delaware primary but was easily defeated when forced to deal with the more moderate and independent general electorate? It appear so. It’s no secret that Romney is willing to say and do anything to get the nomination, and if O’Donnell means he can snag a couple votes from the fringe, then so be it. Read here
All We Wanted for Christmas: We have been good all year. After fighting to protect the Sandhills and the rights of Nebraska landowners, we thought Santa would be good to us. But it appears our wish wasn’t meant to be. Trump is pulling out of moderating his own debate, squashing our dreams of endless late night material. Trump is right, before nearly every candidate intelligently backed out, ratings would have been high, but it would have been to watch the primary-turned-reality-show that is the GOP race. Read here
Precarious Future: 2,834 barrels of oil is a lot, and that’s just how much spilled onto Nebraska land on December 10th. This is but an indicator of the risk pipelines in our soil pose. We think this spill opens up a lot of questions about how oil and tar sands pipelines operate in our state. Nebraska has no liability laws or public emergency response planning for when there’s a spill. We hope this accident spurs our state senators to pass more protections for Nebraska when they convene in January. Read here
Shameful Neighbors: In 1997, Canada was legally required to reduce its carbon omissions to 6% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Currently, our neighbors 30% above that target. This has led the Canadian government to be the first country to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol. Canada’s Environmental Minister Peter Kent was first to blame the United States and China for not facing the necessary requirements to reduce their carbon emissions. America is not off the hook, we agree. Our country needs to get serious about the dangers of global warming and take immediate action. We owe that to the world. But its a lie when Kent states that Canada’s opt out is due to anything other than a commitment to destructive tar sands oil production. Unfortunately for Canadians, this is also a commitment to the destruction of their revered forests and natural landscapes. Read here
Tuesday, December 13th
Only 12 days until Christmas, and we’re not fond of the gifts Congressional Republicans want to give America. Here’s your Roundup:
Twisting the Knife: It was bad enough when Sen. Johanns betrayed Nebraskans by suddenly deciding TransCanada’s pipeline couldn’t wait another day to be built. Now Governor Heineman’s following Johanns down this ill-conceived path that’s more about sticking it to President Obama than doing what’s right for Nebraska. Rushing the pipeline now with an arbitrary deadline would make it impossible for the State Dept to write a truly unbiased, independent review. If you’re as fed up as we are with Heineman playing politics with our land and water, you can call his office at 402-471-2244. Read here
State Department Warning: Despite efforts by Republicans in Congress (including Nebraska’s Lee Terry with the approval of Senator Johanns and Gov. Heineman) to force construction to begin on the KXL in 60 days after their bill’s passage, the State Department has declared any arbitrary deadline will not be adhered to. In a statement released yesterday, the State Department said that Congress’ actions would not only compromise the review process, they would prohibit the department from acting consistently with already established law. Read here
More Ammo to the 99%: In an official report released by Public Campaign this month, it was confirmed that corporations paid more in lobbying fees than they did in taxes. While this doesn’t come quite as a shocker, it does provide proof of the delusion relationship between the government and corporate world. Today, we applaud the thousands of 99 Percenters who marched on K Street in Washington, D.C. as a part of an action called “Take Back The Capitol,” taking aim at the lobbying firms that corporate interests use to influence the federal government. Read here
Nothing Good: A NY Times editorial reflects on the GOP payroll tax cut bill, which currently has a provision attached that would speed up the process on building the KXL. But there’s a lot more to dislike about the bill as well–indeed, just about everything but the fact that it extends the tax cut is something to dislike. It targets the unemployed, cutting in half the amount of time that unemployment benefits can be received. Read here
How Much is A Trillion? We found a good visualization of what $1 trillion would look like. Current events that prompted us to do this? The $7 trillion the banks gave to the financial industries in 2007, the trillion dollars in debt our nation is in, and the trillion dollars that the GOP wants to cut rather than increase revenues from the wealthiest 1%. Read here
Bailouts: A bail out that’s easy to support has came onto the scene. It’s so easy because it doesn’t involve bending to the interests of multi-million, corrupt financial institutions or too-powerful corporations. Nope. This time, the bailouts are benefitting local artists who have been struggling in the economic downturn. A creative “Mobile Pinhole Project,” a pinhole camera created out of a van, was one of the benefactors of the third annual Artist Bailout. Read here
Monday, December 12
Another GOP Presidential Debate came and went. If you’re burned out from this campaign turned reality show like us, you may have missed some large gaffes. None bigger than ole Mittens, who challenged Perry to a $10,000 bet. How out of touch with reality can one elitist be? Here’s your Roundup:
Most Precious Resource: The EPA is starting to take a stand against the dangerous practice of fracking. The agency finally acknowledged what many unfortunate residents around the country have known for awhile: fracking pollutes the local groundwater. In attempting to reach new oil and gas, chemicals are pumped into the ground to create a larger fissure. Focus is on Pavillion, Wyoming, where residents have been advised not to drink the water that they say reeks of chemicals. Calgary, Alberta based owner of the Pavillion plant, Encana, has been attempting unsuccessfully to sell the site. Perhaps they have known for awhile that it was only a matter of time before the EPA came a-knocking for endangering American lives. Read here
All They Want for Christmas: This year children of immigrants are writing into Washington instead of the North Pole. On their minds is something more important than any gift: their families. Already 5,000 children have sent letters to President Obama and members of Congress asking for the end of deportations that are tearing families apart. In a 6 month span from January to June, the United States deported over 46,000 parents of U.S. citizens, leaving many children nowhere to go but into foster care. The immigration debate must consider basic human dignity and the welfare of children. Read here
Cronies in Crime: Jon Bruning’s inappropriate gifting of $100,000 to the Farm Bureau to stop the Human Society of the U.S. has one supporter, Governor Heineman. Heineman was too quick to call the HSUS names to realize what he is standing against. HSUS would give Nebraskans the opportunity to purchase high quality beef from healthy, humanely treated animals. Heineman and Bruning are not only indulging Big Ag’s bullying but fighting free market principles. This is why the Farmers Union has boldly opened lines of communication with HSUS. We stand with the Farmers Union for making the tough call. This could be a reall opportunity to connect more family farmers with consumers who will pay well for their humanely raised products. Read here
Where’s the Anger? Recent upswings in American activism has Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone wondering why citizens aren’t angrier about the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill authorizes the indefinite detention of “terrorist” suspects on American soil. The language of the bill does state a suspect to be “…a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” Nothing to fear than right? Wrong. As Taibbi points out the US’s move to broaden the term of “terrorist” beyond al-Qaeda or Taliban forces. We need to all be more vigilant citizens and watch for such laws that put our civil liberties in danger. How far will this law extend? Read here
Students Fight Back: If you know anyone who’s passed through the hallowed halls of higher education lately, you know nothing weighs more on a recent grad’s mind than paying back those student loans. The costs of higher ed have increased by 600% since 1980, and they continue to climb. Students are now fighting back against predatory lenders with Occupy Student Debt movement. Paying for college shouldn’t be a trap that allows banks to yoke students to decades of debt. Stories and more here