Join us tomorrow anytime between noon and six to carve Pumpkins Against the Pipeline. We need 91 volunteers to carve a special message to Heineman, then we will march at 7 pm--all are welcome! Here’s your Roundup:
Lax Gas: While we have been concerned with safety regulations on the KXL oil pipeline, there is also major problem with lax regulations on natural gas pipelines in the United States. The key difference between the two is that natural gas pipelines are actually getting more stringent regulations put on them. This is partially the result of major incidents that have happened recently including explosions. However, even with the new regulations in place, general oversight on natural gas pipelines will still be “complex and lax.” Read here
The Three Job American Dream: During a town hall Thursday, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan told a college student he should work three jobs and take out loans to pay for college rather than use a Pell grant. The Pell grant program provides funding for students of low and middle income families to attend college. It helps ease the burden of paying for college for these students, who likely work through college as well. But the House Republican majority has constantly tried to lower the maximum Pell amount as well as limiting eligibility, which would effectively knock one million students from the program. Instead of ending subsidies for rich corporations like oil companies, or even slightly raising the tax on millionaires and billionaires, representatives like Paul Ryan would rather see the youth of America suffer more in an economy that is already disproportionately affecting them. Read here
A Battle Finally Won: The struggle for liberation in Libya ended yesterday when Moammar Gadhafi was killed in a crossfire after being captured by revolutionary forces. Libyans crowded the streets in celebration, excited not only for the end of an era of oppression, but also at the prospects of a new beginning. "This is a time to start a new Libya, with a new economy, with a new education and with a new health system--with one future," Mahmoud Jibril, Libya's transitional prime minister, said after proclaiming Gadhafi's death. Read here
Sabotage: Although it has been quite obvious that the Republican leadership in Congress base all of their decisions on what will best foil President Obama’s plans (no matter how common sense and beneficial they are), the Tea Party faction has made it explicitly clear--in writing--that is exactly their plan. In a letter to their members, the Tea Party Nation has called for all small business owners to stop hiring until “the dictator” is no longer in office. Read here and watch Colbert’s take here
Helping the Economy: We hear a lot in the media about how regulations hurt the economy, and right wing radicals gripe about putting regulations on the banking industry (the same industry that tanked our economy in 2008). In the New York Times, three experts debate whether regulations have hurt the banking industry. All conclude that they do, and it’s a good thing. Read here
Thursday, October 20th
Facebook supports LGBT spirit day today, encouraging its users to change the hue of their profile picture to purple as a sign of support for LGBT youth and to speak out against bullying. Here’s your Roundup:
This Needs to Change: Omaha, Nebraska is number one--a ranking we don’t want it to be number one in: the percentage of African American children who live in poverty. Although it is ranked as one of the most affordable cities in America and is home to many Fortune 500 companies, the city’s segregated past still impacts the lives of its residents, with drastic inequalities between blacks and whites. CNN covers the disproportionate rate of poverty here
Game Changing?: If Obama’s volunteers showing up on the doorsteps of his campaign offices across the country to say they will not knock on 1000s of doors as they did in 2008 are not enough to push him to deny the permit for the KXL, maybe the refusal of big-time donors to help out his 2012 campaign fund will be. If Obama says yes to the pipeline, he runs the risk of alienating former high-rolling supporters such as Barbarina Heyerdahl, who has given $120,000 to Obama and the Democratic National Committee over the past three years. Read here
Strange Arguments with Little Grasp of Reality: We’re all familiar with the “ethical oil” argument: that taking oil from Canada is better than taking oil from the Middle East. And now we know who is responsible for this ultimatum that is not, in fact, grounded in reality. If you remember the tobacco industry’s campaign to downplay the adverse health effects of cigarettes, this rhetorical style might seem familiar. It turns out the creator of this “ethical oil” campaign was a lobbyist for the cigarette industry right before turning to the tarsands and is responsible for creating an ultimatum between stopping the flow of contraband cigarettes and increasing the size of health-risk labels on the packs. Read here
Take Note: Hispanic voters are and will only become a larger voice in determining the winners of elections. Although they are being disillusioned by empty Democratic promises, the Republican primaries have shown the alternatives--which are all turnoffs. Cain and Bachmann both want to build super-fences, while Romney and Perry duke it out over who is the softest (and therefore the worse candidate) on illegal immigrants. The growing population of Hispanic voters will require something more constructive in order to cast their ballots. Read here
But Wait...: If minority and poor voters can be disenfranchised for the 2012 elections, the discourse of the Republican primary just won’t matter. This seems to be the strategy taken by Republican legislators in several states, which have been passing a slew of discriminatory Voter ID laws. South Carolina is one state that has passed such a law, and a study done by the Associated Press shows that this law negatively impacts non-white voters. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, states with a history of racial oppression must prove that any change in voting laws will not have a discriminatory effect on minorities. Nebraska fought down a similar bill in the 2011 legislative session, but we expect it to make an ugly return. Read here
Wednesday, October 19th
Another GOP debate last night gave candidates the chance to flub basic facts, retract previous statements, and race each other to the furthest extremes of the right-wing. In case you missed it, watch the full video here. Here’s your Roundup:
Actions Speak Louder Than Words: While the KXL has become a hot-button issue in the Nebraska primary debate, it also has Republican Presidential hopefuls piping up on the issue. All GOP contenders on record for their position on the pipeline are in favor of it, with Mitt Romney voicing support multiple times. In fact, he explicitly stated that if he were president, he would give the project the O.K. Now consider the irony of Governor Heineman hosting a fundraiser for Romney this Thursday in Omaha. This action is an obvious contradiction to the letter he wrote to President Obama asking him to deny the pipeline permit--has he just been full of empty words?
Respecting Our Means: Props to the Nebraska Farmers Union for negotiating with the Humane Society of the United States to develop standards for humanely raising meat and other animal products. Although the agreement is taking some flack from other ag groups, the Farmers Union shows good stewardship of the animals that are an important resource for the state. The idea that the HSUS is trying to phase out livestock production is clearly not a viable option in our state or many others (nor is it an accurate depiction of HSUS’s goals), but HSUS’s ultimate aim of ensuring that the industry continues in a respectful and humane way is something many of us agree with. Read here
Making Change Work: Opponents of the Affordable Care Act see the Obama Administration’s decision to pull one of the programs from the health care reform package as evidence that the entire law is unsustainable and on a path toward demise. However, it shows just the opposite--that the administration is willing to work through the kinks of the bill to make the most important and sustainable parts work. Read here
Heads Barely Above Water: While Herman Cain once again argues that it is the unemployeds own fault that they are out of work, Marian Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, brings attention to another class of the American poor--the working poor. Even if one parent has been able to keep his/her head above the waves of the economic downturn and escape unemployment, families are still being drawn nearer and nearer to the poverty line. Read here
Nothing to Take Lightly: Another effort has been made to delegitimize the Occupy Wall Street Protests. In this morning’s WaPo, pollster Doug Shoen essentially changed his results in order to paint the movement as comprising of radicals with fringe ideas. Unfortunately for Shoen, he’s playing against those who do represent the special interests of the majority--everyday people trying to make a living. Read here
Tuesday, October 18th
From Nebraska to the White House and everywhere in between, the Keystone XL project is garnering attention. We're here to keep you up to speed. Here's your Roundup:
They Have No Right: Certainly not now, that’s the argument of landowners feeling the pressure from TransCanada to sign an easement giving the corporation the right to pass over their land. TransCanada has threatened eminent domain and seemed poised to continue to do so until faced with opposition that questioned the legality of those threats. One of those who stood up to TransCanada: Randy Thompson. Thompson is mentioned in this Times article, reminding us why we stand with him. Read Here.
A Grim Warning: The Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River has been a horrific disaster in Michigan. Children continue to suffer from rashes and sickness due to the spill. Months after the toxic tar sands spill, Enbridge continues to give landowners the run-around by losing claim papers and denying severity of damages. Shamefully, the state has began releases statements made by Enbridge themselves regarding the progress of cleanup. Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it State Department and Entrix? The problems in the Kalamazoo are made much worse by one thing, tar sands. The EPA, and any other entity for that matter, has no idea how to clean up this type of toxic oil. Read Here.
House Follows Suit: Days after a letter from Senators made it to the desk of Hillary Clinton, 30 House Congressmen provided one of their own, condemning Keystone XL and calling for a denial of passage or at the very least a reassessment of the risks. We applaud these Congressmen for speaking out against the State Dept/Entrix/TransCanada love triangle. We have to wonder however, why did no Nebraska Representative sign on? Read Here.
What’s the Deal? State officials have been unclear in answering Governor Heineman’s request on clarification of the state’s power in rerouting the pipeline. State Senator Haar continues to call for a special session and says the State Department has previously made clear that routing authority lies with the state. Heineman is not budging on the special session. We urge the Governor and Speaker Mike Flood to support the special session. However, if there is one thing that is true from this article it is that Senatorial candidate Jon Bruning doesn’t support a special session or protecting Nebraska at all. Read Here.
Keep Pushing: Obama continues to keep pushing his jobs plan that earlier failed passage in the Senate. The President has opted for a segmented approach, yesterday traveling to North Carolina to support using federal dollars to keep teachers and other employees on the payroll. It is the Presidents hope that by dissecting the bill into smaller pieces, at least some measure will be taken by Congress. President Obama also mentioned the flawed plans of his GOP rivals, most of which use cutting environmental regulations as a way to create jobs. Read Here.
Monday, October 17th
Another week, another approaching GOP debate. In case you missed the SNL-sponsored debate, check it out here. Here’s your Roundup:
It Has Arrived: Occupy protests in both Lincoln and Omaha went well this past weekend. Protesters praised the police forces for their cooperation. In Omaha, thousands marched from the Federal Reserve Bank to the Old Market. Tea Party activists, a handful of them, rallied against the occupiers. Looks like someone doesn’t like the new activists in town. Meanwhile in Lincoln, tents have been places and a community is beginning to form on the Centennial Mall. With winter approaching, Lincoln occupiers are asking for blankets and more food donations. Get up to speed on Omaha here and Lincoln here.
Meanwhile at Wall Street: Anti-KXL signs certainly made their way into the marches in Nebraska. However, hundreds of miles away at the epicenter at Wall Street, Jeffrey Sachs brought the Keystone XL pipeline to the attention to the OWS protesters. Watch here, KXL is discussed at the 6:00 minute mark.
Watching Closely: At least three Senators are letting Hillary Clinton know that they are aware of the Cardno-Entrix scandal and find it unacceptable. Senators Sanders, Leahy, and Wyden sent Secretary Clinton a letter calling for a new environmental impact assessment and calling the entire EIS into question as it stands. As the State Department/Entrix/TransCanada scandal becomes more public, we can only hope Americans everywhere realize that the real risks of the KXL have not fully been analyzed. Read the letter here.
We Shouldn’t Be Surprised: How Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plans fails the American middle class is now clear. Much of the plan was crafted by an accountant at a Wells Fargo bank, making us wonder why everyone is taking it so seriously. Howeve,r a new AP report tells of another influence on the plan that shouldn’t come as a shocker. Cain’s campaign managers, aides, and those who helped craft the 9-9-9 plan are former Americans for Prosperity workers, the Koch brothers-funded group who is also trying to push KXL through. The Koch brothers’ influence explains how Cain’s economic policy actually pads the pocket books of the wealthiest Americans. Cain’s not an outsider. In fact, he’s in with the worst type of people. Read here.