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.

Friday, August 10th

President Obama will be in Council Bluffs on Monday, and tickets are free to the public. The rally will be held in Bayliss Park, at some time in the morning–it is uncertain exactly what time the President will speak. Tickets become open to the public at 11 a.m. tomorrow. Here’s your Roundup:

We Have the Most to Lose: It’s pretty obvious that the majority of those who are “human-caused-climate-change-deniers” subscribe to the Republican political party–especially elected officials. Unfortunately, it’s these officials that govern the states that have the most to lose from climate change. The Midwest has suffered the most from this year’s drought, with Nebraska so far counting its losses in comparison to last year’s crop production at 13% for corn and 17% for soybeans. Every one of these states has the ability to do its part to slow down or stop climate change–we all have our special resources. Nebraska has been blessed with wind, but we don’t take full accountability for this blessing–instead, our officials have mostly let it go to waste. It’s time to change the course here in Nebraska, and 94% of Nebraskans want it to happen. If all of us in the 94% go out in November and become “New Energy Voters,” we can make the change we wish to see in this state. Read here

Water is Not Invincible: Lincoln has turned its request for voluntary cutbacks on water usage to mandatory water restrictions. Computer modeling showing the impact of a low Platte River has induced the mandatory restriction, as Lincoln gets most of its water from wells under the Platte. This announcement demonstrates the importance the Platte holds for residents of Lincoln, and it should be crystal clear (if it wasn’t before) that the city’s water supply isn’t invincible. The threat the KXL poses to the Platte River has concerned scientists and pipeline fighters–the connection between a drought causing a low Platte and the ability of a tarsands spill to manufacture a low Platte should not be lost. Read here

False Information: CrossRoads GPS, Karl Rove’s “Dark Money” group, has been forced to take down its ad that flat-out lies about North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. CrossRoads GPS had paid $190,000 for the false ad, but was caught in its lies and held accountable. CrossRoads GPS has invested heavily in the Senate race between Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer, already launching several ad campaigns painting Kerrey as an outsider foreign to Nebraska values. But are ads bought by an outside “Dark Money” group that clearly has no problem airing false information in line with Nebraska values? We think not. Read here


Thursday, August 9th

“Attention Climate Change Deniers,” says the caption on this great cartoon, illustrating what we expect climate change deniers to eat this dry season. Here’s your Roundup:

We Can Pay That: What does 11¢ mean to you? For employees at Papa Johns, it means the difference between health care coverage and being uninsured. But Papa Johns CEO John Schnatter has a problem with Obamacare, and is trying to cause outrage amongst customers over a dime. Schnatter (who has endorsed and fundraised for Mitt Romeny) warns that customers will pay an extra 11¢ to 14¢ per pizza, or 15¢-20¢ per order in order to pay for insuring Papa Johns employees. For some reason, and we have a hunch it just might be because this is an incredibly small amount to pay so that someone else can live a healthy life, it doesn’t seem like Schnatter’s outrage is being felt by the greater majority. Read here

Extend the PTC: Despite the jobs created and the innovation spurred by the wind production tax credit (PTC), Mitt Romney has vocalized his strong opposition to continuing its existence. This could very well have been the wrong move politically considering many Republicans in Congress oversee wind states. Our neighbor, Iowa, is “especially big on wind.”  The wind industry in Iowa supports 215 businesses, provides over 6,000 jobs, and generates 20% of Iowa’s power.  Being 4th in the nation in wind potential, Nebraskans could be taking advantage of those benefits as well. BOLD and other citizens groups in Nebraska have launched a new “Energy Voter Project” for the specific purpose of getting people in office who care about our land, water, and air. Part of that project means getting more sustainable energy, like wind, in our public power state. Read here and here

Still Needs Work: Providing quality child care is an issue that keeps popping up in our state, and our elected officials have again and again failed to rise to the challenge of making sure our state’s most vulnerable get what they deserve. Two of our Governors have cut funding to child care assistance–first Gov. Johanns, then Gov. Heineman. But Heineman’s cut to children didn’t stop there. He also oversaw the privatization of child welfare, which has, as expected, yielded poor results. The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks Nebraska 38th in the nation on the amount of state resources devoted to early childhood. According to Child Care Aware, Nebraska ranks 49th on regulation of child care facilities. For how long will we continue to allow mediocre investment in our state’s children? Read here  


Wednesday, August 8th

Comedian Lee Camp knows how to solve the unemployment problem. Check out his list of “job creators” that reflect the same sort of ridiculousness as TransCanada’s claims that KXL will create tens of thousands of jobs. Here’s your Roundup:

TransCanada Ranks High….On Corporate Abuse: Global Exchange, an international human rights organization, has ranked TransCanada #8 on its “Most Wanted” Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2012. TransCanada earned the spot for its push to build KXL, which would harm the environment, public, and the economy. Citing the fact that KXL will double the imports of tar sands into American refineries; Global Exchange notes that extraction of tar sands pollutes water, damages entire communities, and contributes to climate change. This list of “corporate criminals” also includes such gems as Bank of America and Chevron. Read all of TransCanada’s abuses here  

Irresponsible: For years, the consensus on global warming has been that we cannot let the planet warm by 2°C (that’s 35.6°F). If we continue to emit global warming gases like carbon dioxide and methane to the point where Earth warms 2°C (35.6°F), we will not be able to reverse the cycle that will cause major, mostly negative, changes to our daily lives. In fact, many scientists say that figure is too lenient; we should limit warming to less than 2°C (35.6°F). At global climate conferences, nations around the world agreed to take steps to make sure that threshold is not crossed. But last week, the chief U.S. climate negotiator insisted this target needed flexibility, and that strict adherence to the 2° (35.6°F) mark would cause gridlock in any climate negotiations. In light of what we already know about climate change, “being flexible” is not an option unless we are all okay with living on a planet that is less friendly toward us. Considering the fact that the U.S. is #2 in the world in carbon dioxide emissions, “flexibility” is incredibly irresponsible, and even deadly. Read here   

Keep the Wind Industry Going: A major step to reducing our nation’s carbon footprint is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Wind energy has surged in recent years thanks to the production tax credit, which reduces the cost consumers pay for electricity provided by wind. This tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year, and many Republicans in Congress are intent on making sure that it does. But some good news came from Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried yesterday. He is optimistic that extending the credit will happen, and indeed, it passed out of committee on a 19-5 bipartisan vote. But it still would have to go through the House, which is home to many who think the wind industry is mature enough to stop receiving the credit (apparently not seeing the contradiction in sending billions of dollars to the oil industry). It’s important that we tell our Representatives how important this production tax credit is to Nebraska, as we rank 4th in the nation in wind potential– potential to be more energy secure and create thousands of jobs with wind. Read here


Tuesday, August 7th

Start off your Tuesday with a campaign ad—wait, you probably already did that when you turned on the television. Unfortunately, that ad(s) you have already seen today will have been nowhere near as clever or hilarious as this ad, featuring “Romney Girl, living in Romney World,” where “life is taxless” and there are “tax shelters everywhere.” Check it out, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s your Roundup:

“Keystone: Down the Line”, Aquifer Edition: The Washington Post has published its article on the Ogallala Aquifer in the “Keystone: Down the Line” series. Our concerns regarding what the nature of a spill would be and how it would affect the aquifer were highlighted in the article. Also noted was hydrogeologist James Goeke’s point that a spill would not contaminate the entire aquifer, as well as his own concerns that a spill could still endanger the drinking supplies of Omaha and Lincoln. Some of TransCanada’s claims were given time—that they will build “the safest pipeline we have ever seen” and that “we have no need to worry”. Read the article here, and check out great pictures of Nebraskans and a video featuring those who attended the cookout for Ken Haar here

Burning: One of the oldest oil refineries in the U.S. went ablaze last night. In Richmond, California, a Chevron refinery burned for about 5 hours. Over 100,000 residents of the San Francisco Bay suburb were ordered to stay indoors, and 200 people have already sought medical help for respiratory problems. It is unknown what caused that blaze, but it is guessed that the refinery will be shut down for months. The incident has at least one resident wondering if he should move, noting that when he was growing up in Iran everyone knew not live near refineries. Read here

Renewable Energy = Good for National Security: The Defense Department has signed a new agreement with the Interior Department to develop renewable energy projects to feed military bases. Always a pioneer in research and development, the Defense Department sees the plan as a way to ensure power to military bases is not disrupted in the event of a power interruption, lower utility costs, and improve security. Defense Secretary also says it is the “right thing to do for our environment and our economy.” This is welcome news in a time when seemingly obvious decisions to make our nation more energy secure, create jobs, make the U.S. more competitive as well as environmentally friendly through investment in renewable energy is being held up by Republicans in Congress. Read here

Anything Goes: One of the latest attacks against President Obama by Mitt Romney is that Obama doesn’t want military veterans in Ohio to vote. This is not only blatantly false, but very ironic, considering Republicans around the country have been working hard to disenfranchise voters. The law Obama is challenging in fact prohibits early voting for everyone but veterans—over 93,000 Ohioans took advantage of early voting in 2008. Obama is challenging the law because he thinks that everyone should get to participate in early voting, along with veterans. In no way does his challenge to the law argue that veterans should not get to vote early. Perhaps increasing the extremity of Romney’s claim is the fact that not even Fox News is behind Romney. Read here


Monday, August 6th

The summer is winding down and school is about to start, meaning that sleeping in is out and early breakfast is in. The OWH has some tips for “energizing kids with a good breakfast.” Here’s your Roundup:

More Benefits of the ACA: Another new feature of the Affordable Care Act has come into effect. This part of the law requires insurance companies to devote 80% of the premiums that individual and small group health insurance markets collect towards actual health care, rather than towards increasing salaries and advertising costs. Nebraska will receive $4.8 million in rebates, which will go to 46,444 Nebraskans. The 80/20 rule is designed to bring more accountability into the insurance industry, and make sure that what you pay for your insurance will actually go toward providing you with health care. Read here

It’s Happening Now: Today James Hansen, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and his colleagues will release a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures. The results of their analysis show that extreme events like the European heat wave of 2003 that killed 50,000 people, the Russian heat wave of 2010, and the droughts Texas and Oklahoma experienced last year are not an example of what climate change could bring. They are direct evidence of what climate change is already doing.  Hansen said that the analysis demonstrated that his previous predictions regarding climate change was overly optimistic. The extreme temperatures will become more and more common if we continue to contribute to climate change, costing lives and health and taxing the economy. This is the same man who said development of the tar sands would mean “game over” for the climate. This analysis gives even more reason for the U.S. to say no to KXL…again. Read here

When Will Something Be Done?: Before the Colorado theater shooting could become a memory, another mass shooting has occurred in Wisconsin. A 40 year old gunman entered a Sikh temple of worship yesterday, opening fire on those praying. Six were killed, and three others were wounded. Police arrived and took down the gunman, but only after the gunman severely wounded another police officer. If President Obama and Mitt Romney were hoping that the renewed debate surrounding gun control after the Colorado shooting would subside, they can be sure it will continue. Read here