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Roundup September 2nd – 6th

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.

Bold-Blocks-Column

September 6th

Pro-KXL Editorial Draws On Dragnet, Faulty State Review: “Just the facts,” leads an opinion piece in today’s World-Herald written by Barry Rubin. Talk to any Nebraskan and they give the KXL a big ‘ol thumbs up, Rubin writes, adding opposition to the pipeline “has even reached the level of entertaining.” Oh by the way, Rubin is a talking head for Nebraskans for Jobs and Energy Independence, a pro-pipeline group you’ll remember from the repulsive robocall strategy that attracted the attention of the NY Times a few years ago. Then as now they’re calling the KXL a viable jobs strategy and “the safest pipeline ever built” relegating their detractors to a category of “fringe special interest groups,” the nth miscategorization of pipeline opponents. You terrorists, you dissidents, unreasonable foes, extremists. Are you pissed yet? Good. Click here, and let Mr. Rubin know it’s your turn to talk now. Remember: just the facts

Canadian P.M Offers Obama Climate Partnership In KXL Bid: Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a letter to POTUS proposing join action to reduce greenhouse gas emission in exchange for support of the Keystone XL pipeline. The letter, sent in August, has yet to get a response from the White House. Read more here.

Why Are We Still Doing Bullshit Jobs? On this Friday as on all the blessed ends of the week, we thank the brief relief from the work-a-day world that steals us from our ambitions to write poetry, paint in watercolors or binge watch Breaking Bad. The break from our bullshit jobs is welcome. But, wait, it’s 2013. Why aren’t we just automating everything and reducing the amount of time we spend installed in the dreaded cubicle? The Economist takes a stab at that. Their argument in short: things feel meaningless because you’re too disconnected from the end products to really feel like you’re doing much. The trend to greater wages and fewer work hours has, in the bigger picture, very much been with us, albeit slowing quite a bit in the last generation. Your bullshit job will probably still be around as long as the feeling, empathetic qualities you bring to your bullshit job aren’t cheaply automated, which probably won’t be too much longer. Ch-ch-check this fascinating read out here.

September 5th

Higher Mortality, Death Rates At Keystone XL’s End: The KXL is a like a rainbow: there’s a big pot of black gold at the very end for the oil industry. For everyone else, there’s, um, cancer. On Earth has a very, very scary report showing that folks living in Port Arthur, Texas, have a 15 percent higher shot at cancer than the average Texas. Your chances of dying from said cancer are also 40 percent higher. A hundred miles upwind, you’re four time less likely to report heart and respiratory conditions, nervous system and skin disorders, headaches and muscle aches, and ear, nose and throat ailments. One can only imagine things will get worse if we let the KXL come through. Read more here.

Moving Beyond Keystone XL: CounterPunch is running a broad analysis of the backlash Enbridge, TransCanada and co. are suffering at the hands of the recently awakened environmental movement. Their advice: think big. “The existing Keystone pipeline system (without the proposed XL line) already moves 590,000 barrels/day. But Keystone XL isn’t the only way tar sands oil are proposed to be moved, nor is oil or even tar sands oil the only driver of climate change.” They writers encourage us to look to new oil/gas developments in the Dakotas, new fracketeering projects and broader industry resistance toward energy efficiency and renewables. Focusing too much one one aspect of the greater climate picture is looking for the horseshoe while the barn burns. Read more here.

September 4th

USA Today Op-Ed Downplays KXL: “From following the contentious Keystone pipeline debate, you can be forgiven if you think that fight over whether to build it. That’s not quite right,” a USA Today column from Wednesday’s edition begins. The opinion piece leads with a cutting point: the Keystone XL is the fourth phase of a larger pipeline project that’s been transporting oil since 2010. What’s more, Obama gave a re-election campaign speech in Cushing then touting the pipeline as good for the economy. Of course, the old they’ll-transport-it-by-rail-anyway argument is in there, and the good folks at Reuters have already buried that one. So, take it with a grain of salt. But definitely give it a quick browse.

Why That 830,000 Barrels Of Heavy Crude Still Matters: The Wall Street Journal penned a blistering piece earlier this week claiming refineries have moved on from the KXL. Yet, Mother Jones counters the oil that was going to be transported through the pipeline is finding other ways out. Truck shipments are up 38 percent, barge transport of oil out of Alberta is up by 53 percent, and rail shipments have quadrupled. They’re not going to just let go of those 830,000 barrels. Read more here.

People Be Trippin’ With Political Math Problems: Ask people to determine the effectiveness of a skin cream, present them with numbers and they’ll get the correct answer most of the time. Present them with the same data and tell them it measures the effectiveness of gun control laws, and they fall apart. A study measuring our comprehension against our politics finds that both liberals and conservatives gets tripped up when faced with a math problem that leads them to an answer disproving their political ideology. Fascinating! Read more here.

September 3rd

Oil Exec: The Industry Is Moving On From KXL: While the Keystone XL pipeline remains in regulatory limbo, oil producers and transporters are finding other ways to build fossil fuel transport infrastructure, according to investor news outlet The Motley Fool. Expansions in North Dakota’s Bakken development, growth in oil-by-rail shipments, and plans by Enbridge — which ships two thirds of Western Canadian crude, mind you — to expand their oil sands export capacities by 1.7 million barrels daily are making the oft discussed transnational pipeline less relevant. Today’s Wall Street Journal is carrying a story under the headline “U.S. Refiners Don’t Care if Keystone Gets Built.” Read more here, and find that WJS piece here.

Enbridge Quietly Building 589-Mile Canadian Oil Pipeline: It starts in the Chicago area and ends in Cushing, Okla. A 36-inch diameter artery dubbed the Flanagan South Pipeline will run dialgonally through 11 Missouri counties. This $2.6 billion project brought to you by Enbridge — the same folks who dumped 840,000 gallons of oil in the Kalamazoo River. By all appearances, this looks very much like the pipeline problem we have here in Nebraska. The pipeline will carry dilbit, and will cross about many bodies of water — eight of which already fail to meet federal Clean Water Act standards. Somehow, Enbridge landed a special permit for utility projects that impact no more than a half-acre of wetlands even though the project will actually tear through about 38.23 acres. This permit also allows Enbridge to build with almost zero public or federal input. Wow. Read more here.

Obama Administration To Introduce New Safety Regs For Oil-By-Rail: The U.S. Department of Transportation began stepping up rail inspections in March after officials began noticing differences between the contents of rail cars the hazard warnings they bore, but they’ve been spurred to greater action by the run away oil train that killed 47 in Quebec. Operation Classification was launched last month in response to the disaster intensifying rail inspection — especially those carrying Bakken oil like the one that exploded in Quebec. The administration introduced temporary rules for oil-by-rail shipments, and plans to craft new rules to address the transport medium within weeks. Read more here.

September 2nd

Keystone 1 Did Little For Retail Spending: Among the many arguments for building the Keystone XL pipeline are those that cite it as, okay, probably not a great big job creator, but at least a sales booster, right? Well, no. The Lincoln Journal Star’s analysis of 10 counties intersected by the first pipeline don’t show a consistent economic boost. Only two counties experienced a boost. The others had losses in taxable retail sales greater than the state’s 2009 average, minus 3.4 percent. Keep in mind that it was a recession year. Nevertheless, if the pipeline was the economic powerhouse TransCanada would like us to believe, it would at least perform in this relatively simple test. Read more of Art Hovey’s coverage here.

LPD Assault Double Amputee, Call Him ‘A Cripple Crawling Around’: A lawsuit against the City of Lincoln claims Leroy Duffie was wrongfully arrested and physically abused for no reason following a traffic stop. The black double amputee was approached on Sept. 3 last year by police who had their guns drawn when they approached his car. He was forced out of his van and fell on to the street losing his prosthetic legs prompting the officers’ laughter. One of them called him “a cripple crawling around.” Cops searched his car for 30 minutes. Finding nothing, they let Duffie go. He seeks damages pursuant to this violation of his civil rights and the torn rotator cliff he suffered in the incident. Read more here.

Nebraska’s Huge Business Incentives Under Scrutiny: Our good state spends at least $1.4 billion per year on business incentives making us third in the nation. That’s over $700 per Nebraskan. A report published earlier this year shows we’re spending between $43,00 and $235,000 for each job created in state. Legislators who heard a report from state economic officials are looking for a better way to gauge the efficacy of programs like these. Read more here.

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