Read today’s news from around the state and country. Each day in the Roundup we cover politics, always with a side of bold humor. We think politics should be fun, informative and encourage us all to take action.
Friday, May 30th
Washington Post Names LJS’s Don Walton Best State-Based Political Reporter: “In every state, there is at least one … that EVERY politico in the state reads,” write the Washington Post’s politics bloggers at The Fix (ALL CAPS? These guys wouldn’t break AP Style for just anything, mind you). A hearty congratulations to Lincoln Journal Star reporter Don Walton for making that select list. Check out the rest of the list here along with links to their Twitter feeds.
UPDATE: Nebraska Watchdog’s Managing Editor Joe Jordan also appeared on the same list late last night. Our bad. Check him out here.
Use Your Spare Two Minutes to Get Inspired: Author and environmentalist Mary Pipher has released a short animated film previewing some of the ideas that got her started on her latest book, “The Green Boat” — chief among them being the Keystone XL Pipeline. Mary’s unique in a field of green writers in that her resume includes work as a therapist too, and she’s able to use that to channel the anxieties that drive action — be it the fear of an oil spill, or a fear that there will be no more birds when your kids have kids — and transform that into a positive force. Think of Mary as a sort of ninja of feelings who happens to like recycling and isn’t a big fan of big oil. Check the mini movie out here and get more Mary there.
” … someone’s 13-year old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic … and go home on the school bus that night?”: So said a very confused congresswoman Michele Bachmann responding to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that would give secret abortions to minors (it doesn’t) while they’re on school field trips (really?). The dubiously informed legislator is planning on withdrawing her name from the 2014 race, and let’s be clear, folks: this has zero to do with the multi agency investigation into the Tea Party favorite’s financials. It’s probably more to do with the fact that she’d rather not represent a state where gay marriage has recently become legal, a fight she’s been at for years. Whatever the reason, revisit a collection of Bachmann’s most delicious gaffes in this Mother Jones story, and congratulate yourself for being more informed than at least one member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lincoln Mayor Harlem Shakes: Welp, it’s Friday, and you know what else starts with an F? No: the other thing that starts with an F. That’s right, fun! And what’s more fun than grown men doing the Harlem Shake? Instead of answering, you should watch this video.
Thursday, May 30th
Former Obama Official Slams KXL: Van Jones was an aide with the president working on green jobs until he became the Rebuild the Dream president. He just released footage of an interview he did on CNN with some very harsh words for the president. Specifically, he says the president’s legacy will be mired in this misstep, and that it would be more fitting to call it the “Obama Pipeline.” He goes on to state that the president’s record on climate change would be ruined if this comes through. I think we all know that. Watch the video here.
Genetically-Modified Wheat Randomly Crops Up In Oregon: In 2001, agrigiant Monsanto did some field trials of some wheat they’d upgraded in the lab to, among other things, make them pesticide resistant. Well, it turns out that a lot of countries that buy wheat from the U.S. are actually quite hostile to GMO foods. So, Monsanto dropped it. Fast forward to 2013: a farmer in Oregon finds that Roundup is destroying all but one section of his crop and, hey, would you look at that? It’s Monsanto’s GMO wheat! How did it get there? How safe is it? No answers on the first; on the second, it’s probably not going to be responsible for any pandemics. But NPR points out that the last time GMOs accidentally found their way into a major crop was in 2006 with rice. That market suffered quite a bit of volatility that year due in some part to the aforementioned hostility to patented foods (which is a weird concept all its own). Read more here.
Pro-Life Nebraska State Sen.: “Women. No one understands them”: Yeah, he definitely said that. Senator Bill Kintner went on to say that, “Men are very easy to understand. Very basic, very simple.” And this confused man wants to tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. Hey, at least Nebraska made national headlines, right? Okay, I tried.
Wednesday, May 29th
Inspector General Probing Possible Conflicts of Interest in Keystone XL Review: The Checks and Balances Project said it will reveal evidence of the State Department’s inspector general’s probe into possible conflicts of interests of the federal environmental review. The probe follows a Mother Jones story which revealed some of the officials responsible for reviewing the KXL project previously worked with oil interests and TransCanada itself. Look for more next Wednesday, sources say.
TransCanada Spent Almost $1 Million Influencing Nebraska Lawmakers: During the legislative sessions of 2011 and 2012, Transcanada spent $678,000 trying to tip the scales in the unicameral, which is more than any one firm spent on lobbying, according to a report from Nebraska Common Cause. All told special interests spent $13 million on the 60-day legislative session in 2012, and $14 million in 2011. Transcanada outspent the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers at $496,000, and the League of Municipalities at $492,000 and the Nebraska State Education Association with $284,000 spend on both sessions. Read more here.
Heineman Serves Kids, Vice-Versa: The Governor recently had members of Omaha South High School soccer team over for lunch to congratulate them on their victory. The unwitting Heineman then got a letter from the kids asking him to reconsider his position opposing licenses for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, a group that last year got reprieve from the immigration system. From what we can tell from the Omaha World-Herald article, it was an embarrassing moment that caught the governor and his spokesperson by surprise. But actually what’s embarrassing is the U.S.’s inhumane and needlessly rigorous immigration system. Where we could have local leadership on the side of the immigrants that share our communities, we have continued hostility toward an already underprivileged population.
Wal-Mart Fined $82 Million for Illegal Dumping: Bleach, fertilizers and just plain trash were among the materials that made it into the California and Missouri’s local sewer systems, according to authorities. They have ordered the retail giant to pony up $82 Million for damages incurred since 2003. Wal-Mart’s word? Well, we haven’t been charged with anything specific, and we’re putting in a program to retrain our employees anyway. Lame. Read the NYT coverage here. This story comes to us courtesy of POLITICO’s Morning Energy newsletter.
Kerry Fibs While Abroad: Secretary of State John Kerry stretched the truth a little about the U.S. drone policy (which targets does not effectively discriminate between combatants and militants, as he claims), Ethiopia’s alleged double-digit growth (while addressing an Ethiopian audience, no less) and once again tries to tell everyone he voted against the Iraq invasion (which he did, but you’ll remember from the ’04 election cycle that he voted for it first). Kerry even blew it explaining where we are on the Kyoto Protocol, which calls on nations to cut emissions 6 percent from 1990 levels. Hello? We’re up 9.5 percent from then. Get your act together, dude. Read more of Kerry’s flubs abroad here. This story comes to us courtesy of POLITICO’s Morning Energy.
Tuesday, May 28th
Who’s Behind the Medicare Expansion Filibuster? Good question. To get around having to even vote on implementing the key Obamacare provision, the members of Unicameral have decided to stall the process through a filibuster. Apparently, a group of them have gone so far as to sign a pledge to sustain the stall. But no one knows exactly who. Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal-Star expressed frustration with the opaqueness of this new group. In a fair and open democracy — and on a program that could help impact 54,000 low-income adults — we deserve to know who’s working for and against this, don’t you think? Read more here.
HuffPo Columnist: Keystone XL Opponents Won: Tom Zeller Jr.’s latest column on the Huffington Post begins talking about new oddball betting markets centered around all manner of questions (Will 2013 be the warmest year of them all? Who will be the next James Bond?), none of which are being placed on the Keystone XL Pipeline approval. It might be a simple oversight, but Zeller argues that the KXL’s odds have become so long as to make the project unviable for even a gambling crowd. He writes, given that pipeline approval used to be such a routine approval process — and we’re now entering our fifth year with the KXL project — “all of that extended review should be recognized as a clear and historic victory for the environmental movement and for climate change activists in particular. They’ve managed to halt what had heretofore been a rather rubber-stamp process for cross-border pipeline projects, and to insist loudly and quite rightly that no major energy infrastructure proposal — indeed, no infrastructure project of any kind — ought to be permitted without due examination of its implications for a real global problem.” Let’s not rest on our laurels here. Zeller goes on to cite a Yale survey showing 63 percent approval of the KXL Pipeline. Read more here.
Monday, May 27th
Keystone XL Terrorist Drills Address Perceived “Fringe Element … Willing to Do Violence”: Remember those crazy drills that occurred South Dakota’s schools based on the premise of environmental terrorism? No surprise to anyone, but these guys definitely need to be checked. Further grilling from some no-nonsense press folks reveals this whole debacle was orchestrated by emergency management personnel who chose Keystone XL activists and nuclear weapons protesters as the situation’s antagonists because these groups are “relevant” and would “add realism to the scenario,” which — although they have never acted with violence — contain “fringe elements on any side of an issue willing to do violence.” They go on to add that they wish to push no particular agenda or political position (they said as their noses started to inexplicably elongate), and that they’re super sorry it pissed anyone off. We can forgive, because we’re nice and non-violent like that. But it’s really a waste of our time when environmental activists have to spend time defending their image because of crap like this. This takes time away from the issues.
Ready to do something about this? Email Lawrence County Emergency Management Director Paul Thomson and politely request Ken Hawki, chair of the Lawrence County Local Emergency Planning Committee and co-author of this stupid plan, be removed immediately. While you’re at it, kindly mention to him that your email contains no attachments which are in fact bombs.
Surprising Exactly No One, Exxon Lies About the Mayflower Spill: Emails were circulating internally at Exxon April 6 about definite contamination across Lake Conway due to the Mayflower, Ark., spill. However, externally the company was ready in a press release to say, hey, it’s summer time, let’s all just go take a dip in Lake Conway. All this according to info obtained through the trusty Freedom of Information Act by our friends at GreenPeace. What follows that is some minor bickering about how a cove — which is not part of the lake, but leads right into it — is where the majority of the 210,000 gallons of crude that were released went, they think. Not the lake, you fools. Arkansas environmental officials cried foul saying the cove is part of the lake on the basis that all water is unified. I think we can all agree on that. Read more here.
CBS Breaks Climate Silence with Sunday Panel: Big stuff here, folks — we’ve just learned that humans might be causing climate change, according to a clout-ey panel of scientists on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday morning. Ok: this isn’t too remarkable, but what’s really noteworthy about this is that we have a major media outlet willing to connect climate change to the increasingly crazy weather we’ve been seeing lately (May Day snow storms, anyone?) where there seems to be zero appetite to. And on Sunday morning, their prime time. While it may be tempting to roll the old eyes when you hear someone say, “We’re getting a level of consensus on thousands of peer reviewed studies over decades that have established the human contribution to climate change,” as one of the panelists did, remember that only three percent of media outlets were willing to even use the words “climate change” when covering this month’s devastating floods. Read more here.