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Roundup August 26th – 30th

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.

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August 29th

Peek Inside The Tar Sands Work Camps: “It even has its own airstrip,” a somewhat dazed sounding Rolling Stone feature on the tar sands work camps states. The story comes via an undercover writer buried in the work site, a self contained community with its own food, lodging, bars, astronomically priced cigarettes and underground drug market. Of course, you could stay in a neighboring town, the writer adds, and commute in on what’s known in local parlance as “the Highway of Death” due to it’s one-death-every-1.3-months safety record. Great. And this is what TransCanada means when they say “jobs” and “growth.” We support these borderline abusive work environments by letting the KXL into our land.

Missile Strikes In Syria Shortsighted: Launching a bunch of cruiser missiles into Syria could have a lot of unintended consequences like bolstering anti-Americanism or perhaps arousing the other hornets in the nest widening the conflict, a New York Times report shows. We’re on the cusp of something in the region: chemical weapons may have been used, the intelligence is good that it might be the Assad regime, and we’re poised to enforce an international community’s ban on those sorts of arms. But as a former ambassador quoted in the story says so eloquently: “Our biggest problem is ignorance; we’re pretty ignorant about Syria.” However you feel about the action, you should start doing your homework and engaging your neighbors on this important issue. Start here.

Climate Change Is A Civil Rights Issue: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins’ most recent column on Grist makes the case for making climate change a civil rights issue by rightly pointing out that people of color are disproportionately affected by it (Katrina, anyone?). Read more here.

August 28th

Feds Force Nebraska To Recognize Married Gay Couples Filing Tax Returns: Same-sex couples may still not be allowed to marry in the Cornhusker state, but now the can enjoy all the same benefits straight couples have when filing their income taxes. Thursday, the IRS announced they’re allowing gay couples to file joint tax returns regardless of where they live. So, looks like Nebraska and the 23 other states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage will have to deal. Or they could just let everyone get married that wants to. Read more here.

Citizens Intending To SaveCanada From TransCanada: About 50 protesters showed up at an event designed to promote TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline. The project would repurpose what is right now a natural gas line into a pipeline to carry dilbit. Naturally, the people of North Bay are very concerned as it would run near a lake which provides drinking water to everyone there (sound familiar?) so they have banned together as an anti-pipeline group dubbed SaveCanada. Read more here.

The True Cost of Janssen’s Voter ID Laws: It’s totally fair to want to stop elections from being stolen by fake voters. Except that NEVER HAPPENS. The Omaha World-Herald reported zero cases of voter fraud when the legislature was debating Sen. Charlie Janssen’s measure to require a voter ID in May. And even though these are free IDs in theory, they come with a premium in practice as recent analysis by the Texas Election Law Blog shows. The state recently passed a voter ID law that provides folks with a free pass to vote as long as they have additional ID like a passport — which comes with a $165 price tag — or, if you’re foreign born, a certificate of naturalization, $345. So how’s that for free? Read more here. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about stopping voter fraud; let’s start with Florida 2004.

August 27th

Texas KXL Land Battle Moves To State Supreme Court: An appeals court today ruled against Julia Trigg Crawford, a texan who had her land seized by TransCanada through a loophole in state law. She’s taking her battle against the pipeline to the Texas Supreme Court. Crawford’s bone is with the southern leg of the KXL, which is mostly built and will connect to the northern leg connecting Alberta and Nebraska if and when it’s done. Get some background on the lawsuit here.

Watch Us Be Awesome: We built a barn on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route (chyeah). Watch a short video on the groundbreaking and why we chose to do it here.

KXL May Not Reduce Foreign Oil Dependance: This makes enough sense: we should approve the Keystone XL so we’re not buying oil from people who hate us. Not pointing any fingers, but Venezuela and their throwing out our ambassador comes to mind. It’s sound logic, except it’s not. Bloomberg reports the KXL will probably produce few significant changes to the oil supply equation because we’re already exporting a lot of oil as it is. Likely, what’s going to happen is the tar sands oil will get down there, get refined and exported to developing nations like Brazil. Truth hurts, but it’s the truth.

August 26th

Lawsuit, Bill Challenge Same-Sex Discrimination In Foster Care: Omaha Sen. Jeremy Norquist will introduce a bill next legislative session that would strike down a bar on gay couples becoming foster parents. A lawsuit against Gov. Heineman and state officials seeks to do the same thing. It’s kind of a silly bar given how badly foster parents are needed and how well same-sex households have proven themselves as every bit as effective as their hetero counterparts. Love is love, dude. Read more here.

Internal Canadian Documents Reveal The Necessity Of KXL: Follow me on this one. Obama says the Keystone XL pipeline won’t be approved unless there’s no additional harm to the environment done. Canada’s return: the oil sands are still going to be developed, but the KXL doesn’t change that rate of development and, therefore, is a par for the current carbon emissions. So you can imagine our shock when recent documents released showed the KXL is *critical* to developing the tar sands. They’re depending on tar sands development not to stay steady, but to grow. A lot. There’s an estimated 168 billion barrels of oil sands reserves out there compared to the 4.1 billion barrels of conventional crude out there. Basically, Canadian government and oil officials are trying their best not to say, “cashmoneycashmoney” each time the subject of the pipeline is mentioned. Read more from the New York Times’ wonderful expose here.

Syngenta Probably Killed Those Bees, Suing Anyway: Bees are literally dying by the millions, and we’ve got a good lead on who might be contributing to the problem: agro-chemical giant Syngenta and their insecticide Cruiser. The European Union voted in December to ban the chemicals because scientists found the poison kills bees that visit treated plants. Syngenta and their legal team filed a legal brief basically saying “No, it doesn’t” and hit the EU with a lawsuit to let them spray as they please. Read more here.

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