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.

Tuesday, April 23: 

Amid Social and Economic Adversity, East Texas Community Takes on KXL: There is in Manchester, TX, a skewed but not completely untrue reflection of modern America — a poor, drug ridden, predominantly-minority suburb of Houston surrounded on one side by a Goodyear rubber plant on one side and on the other a bevy of oil refineries set to soak up the lion’s share of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s tarsands trash when it’s built. But residents are determined to work that “when” down to an “if,” to which they have responded “never.” After having lying on the social and economic margins for years, residents of Manchester are standing up and refusing to be the world’s waste basket. They’re starting with the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that would only worsen residents’ health and quality of life prospects. Read Yes! magazine writer Kristin Moe’s profile of the neighborhoods efforts here.

EPA to State Department: “No, ‘They’ll Just Develop It Anyway’ Isn’t an Acceptable Reason to Build KXL'”: First of all, a hearty congratulations to our friends at InsideClimate News for their recent Pulitzer Prize award. Great work, guys. Second of all, a pat on the back, too, to the Environmental Protection Agency for finally getting around to their job description and joining Keystone XL Pipeline critics in highlighting what has been a certainly botched review from the State Department. “Perhaps the most glaring error,” the EPA report said, “is the State Department’s assertion that the tar sands will be developed at the same rate regardless of whether Keystone XL is built … This assumption is flawed and unsupported, is directly contradicted by nearly all sectors including the oil industry itself, and it violates the State Department’s NEPA obligations.” Read more of InsideClimate News’s coverage here and wish them a hearty congratulations while you’re there.

U.S. Military Intervention Abroad a Possible Motive in Boston Bombings: The Tsarnaev brothers may have gotten the wrong idea on their visit to Dagestan or from Islamic connections, but both seem like somewhat looser explanations that what officials familiar with the investigation are calling ire toward American foreign policy, according to the Washington Post. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told his questioners that anger over wars in Iraq and Afghanistan played a big role in his bombing the Boston Marathon on April 15. The revelation serves as a bitter reminder for how much work there remains to be done to foster a lasting peace for the world. Perhaps we can start by forgiving this damaged 19 year old boy. To those who insist that he does not deserve forgiveness, I counter that forgiveness is not something one gives in exchange for something else, it’s not a transaction. “Desert” does not have a place in pardons, which could then no longer be called forgiveness. Read the Huffington Post’s piece on the new insight here.


Today the Omaha World Herald covered Bob  and Nancy Allpress’s hard work on making sure our national bird is protected from the KXL. We are extremely grateful for the Allpress’s work on this as the DEQ report doesn’t reflect any knowledge of the nest, which leads us to ask “what else did the DEQ miss?” As is outlined in the Citizen’s Report of the DEQ’s Environmental Impact Statement, they missed a lot. Thanks to Bob and Nancy, this flaw has been brought to a wider audience, and should serve as just an inkling of how flawed the DEQ’s report is. Heineman needs to reject the route that is now sitting on his desk. There are too many flaws in the report, and the report was compiled by a company with a major conflict of interest in the project. Read here


It’s less than a week until we see President Obama giving his second inaugural address in Washington D.C. Throughout the entire campaign, very little was mentioned about climate change at all, much less the immediate danger it poses to all of our livelihoods. Not even a word was spoken in Obama’s debates with Mitt Romney. Immediately after his re-election, however, President Obama started talking about climate change again, and pundits have said he will make it one of his priorities for his second term. But the President has a lot of other issues on his plate, too: immigration reform, the debt ceiling, tax reform, gun control, to name a few. We need to remind him about the climate legacy he needs to leave, a legacy in which he will lead our country in taking dramatic steps toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and lead the world in renewable energy generation. There is a group of moms who call themselves the “Clean Air Force,” who are asking Obama to address climate change in his inaugural speech. Click here to sign their petition to the President. We are asking President Obama to deny the KXL for many reasons, one of them being the direct link its construction would have to speeding up climate change. Click here to sign up for a date to send your letter to Obama.


Today Governor Heineman gave his State of the State address, in which he spent no time talking about his impending decision on the KXL. He did, however, mention how important agriculture and water are to our state, which we obviously find common ground on and see as being big reasons as to why he should deny TransCanada’s proposed route.  His silence was noted by me and three other students, who stood up at the end of his speech and turned our backs to reveal “Governor Heineman, Don’t Turn Your Back on the Aquifer” on the back of our shirts. Whether he noticed or not, everyone else in the room did, including the press. He has an obligation to protecting our state’s resources, and he has more than enough reason to deny the permit. In fact, he has even said before that he is “opposed to a route that goes directly over the Ogallala Aquifer.” He needs to live up to those words. Instead of mentioning the KXL, he spent approximately 20 minutes talking about taxes (more on that in a second), a couple minutes on health care (most of which was spend complaining about Obamacare), and a fleeting moment on our state’s education system (which is ironic given he threatened cutting funding to our state education system in exchange for expanding Medicaid coverage, and wants our state’s school districts to start raising more money on their own so state funding can be reduced). His grand plan on taxes is to eliminate the state income tax, and in exchange, get rid of many sales tax exemptions. While there are undoubtedly some exemptions that need to go because they  are outdated or treat some businesses and industries unfairly, eliminating the income tax and increasing the sales tax would most hurt those who can least afford to pay. We’ll be watching the final proposal and keeping track of what the legislature does with it. Read here