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Round Up June 10 – 14

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.

June 14th

More on Perhaps-Impending Republican Senate Candidate: Nebraska Watchdog has done a very nice profile of maybe-senatore candidate Ben Sasse, which you can read here. He’s a formidable candidate with an Ivy League education as well experience in both private industry and government “fixing stuff,” in his own words. In an interview in which he quotes both Colin Powell and Rahm Immanuel, Sasse makes his case for at least being considered for the office. Read here. Get educated.

NE One of the Most Friendly States to Transgender Athletes: With almost zero fanfare, the Nebraska School Activities Association passed an atypically progressive policy in protecting transgender athletes’ right to be included in sports and all other student activities. Deadspin recently named Nebraska “one of the best states to be a transgender high school student athlete” as a result. You may not have noticed, but the New York Times certainly took note of the fact that the NSAA’s new policy, which lays out a confidential evaluation designed to produce an appropriate gender assignment for any trans student athlete. There are eight states in the country with this kind of a policy. We have the NSAA’s new Executive Director Rhonda Blanford-Green to thank for that. Read more here.

Energy Secretary Shuts Down Global Warming Denier: Rep. David McKinley crafted quite a few bills that would dismantle key clean air provisions and undo some of the progress we’ve seen to legislate protective measures for our green spaces. Well, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was having none of it. In the equivalent of one of Michael Jordan’s tongue-out high flying slam dunks, Moniz responded to McKinley’s question of whether global warming is natural/cyclical by informing him the the energy secretary knows how to count, and there are certainly more CO2 molecules out now than in the past. Sick burn! Relive the glory here.

Republicans: Minority Voters are Being Paid by Government: In an argument that sounds eerily like something that got a former Republican presidential candidate knocked out of his candidacy, an addressee told folks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference the reason minorities typically vote Democrats is because they’re being paid by the government in benefits (47 percent, was it?). Oh hey: by the way, 70 percent of food stamp recipients are white. And the counties showing the most growth in this program are going for Republicans. Furthermore, polls suggest that this class warfare approach only alienates minority voters. It’s really kind of funny in a dark messed up kind of way. Read more here.

June 13th

Conservatives Pissed at Satirical Video: The Sine Die Show — the unicameral’s traditional comedy event that follows a legislative session — was too kind to liberals this time around, some lawmakers said. In particular, the staff of State Sen. Charlie Janssen got steamed over a mock campaign video featuring the lawmaker dancing, kissing his wife and taking money from lobbyists. Yes: none of this is wholly inaccurate, but the senator’s staffers called the video “completely unacceptable” and “very untasteful.” State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh also took issue with how large he was portrayed, and felt he’d not been given credit for all the weight he’d lost. Everyone’s mad the video, which is shown during a private party, was leaked to the media. Hurt feelings ensued. Those with thick skin can click here to watch it.

NSA Director: we “owe the American people … some statistics”: Army Gen. Keith Alexander, NSA director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, said the intelligence program binging on Americans’ private information isn’t actually as bad as it sounds. Then, he talked more about it behind closed door to lawmakers that issued assuring statements to assuage common people like you and I. To his credit, Alexander holds that there should be a controlled exposure of the program so people can get the some of the same information lawmakers are getting on this program, and therefore form more informed opinions about this stuff. (This may have nothing to do with anything, but you know marketers and big business has been doing this commercially since the dawn of Target, right?) Read more here.

Obama Quietly Attacks Climate Change: The Department of Energy’s increased energy efficiency standards for microwaves is just one consequence of raising the social cost of carbon. Other possibilities include lower emissions standards for new and existing power plants as well as regulating the Keystone XL pipeline. This was all done by quietly revising the social cost of carbon upward. The Obama administration now projects each ton of carbon dioxide emitted in 2020 will cost society $43, about 66 percent higher than the original $26 estimated. Finally feels like we’ve got a Democrat in office again, right? Read more of InsideClimate News’ coverage here.

Spoof of Biracial Ad Serves Naysayers: EVERYONE was talking about that Cheerios ad featuring a biracial family. Some had not so good — and perhaps racist — things to say about it. As the old saying goes, you can get mad or you can hit ‘em back on YouTube. And they have. A riff off the commercial now features a commandingly indignant biracial child and lesbians. Watch the haters get their just bowl of dessertshere.

June 12th

Pipeline Easements on Old KXL Route Returned: TransCanada will be giving back some of the land it acquired for the original Keystone XL Pipeline now that they’re planning to build around the Sandhills and Western wellhead protection areas. 367 easements will be returned to landowners in the new two to three months, which is good because there was some concern these folks would just sell them over to someone else with a new pipeline. Read more here.

Immigrant Advocacy Project Seeks to Repurpose “Man of Steel”: The Imagine Better Network and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas are working on a project called “Superman Is An Immigrant.” The organizers hope to redirect some of the energy surrounding the film’s release to initiate a discussion on immigration by asking participants to tell the story of how they came to the U.S. Find out more here.

Op Ed Finds NSA Whistleblower Guilty: Because you need to read things you may not agree with (trust us, it’s good for you), today’s Round Up includes a note from University of Nebraska law professor Richard Moberly charging Edward Snowden of PRISM fame with misconduct. He contends the whistleblower was clearly out of line going to journalists with his revelations of massive government spying, and should have told the inspector general about it. “Sometimes a national security program needs secrecy to be effective,” the NU professor writes. “[Snowden] does not have the right to usurp the democratic process by leaking national security information.” While there are serious issues with Moberly’s argument — like the part where he says we in some roundabout way desire to be watched and vote in a manner that ensures it — it’s brief and therefore painless, so read it here.

Surveillance State Failed to Capture Mumbai Bomber: James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said PRISM works because how else could they have caught bomber David Coleman Headley from the deadly Mumbai bombings? Yet, the evidence clearly shows they detained Headley after a tip from British Intelligence, not from gathering metadata from his telephone calls. So tell me again why everyone needs to be spied on? Stoke your ire here.

June 11th

Judge Sustains Landowner Lawsuit Against KXL: The lawsuit argues that the state of Nebraska and Gov. Dave Heineman have unconstitutionally shifted the route review of the Keystone XL pipeline to themselves instead of the PSC which our state constitution says regulates pipelines. The three landowners argue Sen. Jim Smith, who is also the president of ALEC in Nebraska, put forward a bill that undid the Special Session laws. Even though Heineman was approved the route, if the citizens win then the route will be nullified and TransCanada has to start at zero again getting their route reviewed by the PSC process. Read more at the Omaha World-Herald here.

Ex-TransCanada Employee Calls Oil Giant “Organized Crime”: Testifying before a Canadian Senate committee last weekend, former TransCanada Corp employee Evan Vokes used words like “coercion,” “culture of non-compliance” and “significant public safety risks” to describe his former employer. Vokes worked for the Canadian oil giant for five years until May 2012 when he claims he was fired unjustly just as he was about to submit the findings of an internal audit. TransCanada, of course, claims no foul play took place. Read more at HuffPo here.

June 10th

OPPD Talks Future of Coal: Omaha Public Power District will bring a speaker (we don’t yet know who) to talk about the future of coal. We are encouraging anyone in the area to go, be prepared for the spin and push back when you see it. We need a diversified energy base, so adding more coal is not the answer. We are hoping the presentation says as much. Deets are below:

Wednesday, June 12
5:30 p.m.
Florence Branch Library
2920 Bondesson St. 
 

Tar Sands Development Will Stagnate Without KXL: The Keystone XL pipeline’s role as a prominent player in Canadian oil development and a climate change detriment is being downplayed, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs (yes, really: Goldman Sachs). The investment firm finds the pipeline’s approval will drive up to $9 billion in expansion of tar sands extraction. Denying the pipeline could choke developments there. NRDC does an excellent overview of the Goldman Sachs report, click here.

Sasse May Be the Grand Old’s New Golden Boy: While it may be new to no one anywhere that a Republican is thinking of running for office in Nebraska, it’s good to kind of be aware of the march to the right before and not after they’re offering laws in a national office with an “R-NE” following their name that threaten our land and water (yes we are looking at you Rep. Terry). Meet Ben Sasse. He’s a Republican and president of Midland University. He likes Ronald Reagan and zealously conservative talking points. He does not like the Affordable Care Act. Sasse does not know if he’ll be running for Sen. Mike Johann’s when he ends his current term, so he’s conducting a listening tour to weigh a bid (with the former Chair of the GOP pushing him from behind). Our problem with Sasse (pronounced Sas not Sassy) is he proudly boasts he is “right-wing” not really the best brand or  ideology to boast about. We are looking for balanced politics in our national and state leaders, not more of the same. Don Walton has a Sasse profile, click here.

Development Will Stagnate Without KXL: The Keystone XL pipeline’s role as a prominent player in Canadian oil development and a climate change detriment is being downplayed, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs (yes, really: Goldman Sachs). The investment firm finds the pipeline’s approval will drive up to $9 billion in expansion of tar sands extraction. Denying the pipeline could choke developments there. NRDC does an excellent overview of the Goldman Sachs report, click here.

Sasse May Be the Grand Old’s New Golden Boy: While it may be new to no one anywhere that a Republican is thinking of running for office in Nebraska, it’s good to kind of be aware of the march to the right before and not after they’re offering laws in a national office with an “R-NE” following their name that threaten our land and water (yes we are looking at you Rep. Terry). Meet Ben Sasse. He’s a Republican and president of Midland University. He likes Ronald Reagan and zealously conservative talking points. He does not like the Affordable Care Act. Sasse does not know if he’ll be running for Sen. Mike Johann’s when he ends his current term, so he’s conducting a listening tour to weigh a bid (with the former Chair of the GOP pushing him from behind). Our problem with Sasse (pronounced Sas not Sassy) is he proudly boasts he is “right-wing” not really the best brand or  ideology to boast about. We are looking for balanced politics in our national and state leaders, not more of the same. Don Walton has a Sasse profile, click here.

 

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