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.

Thursday, September 14th

Tomorrow is the big hearing on the Citizen Lawsuit challenging Nebraska’s unconstitutional pipeline process. The hearing starts at 11 am and will take place at the Lancaster District Court. Here are the details. We hope to see you there. Here’s your Roundup:

We recently stood in solidarity with our friends in Michigan who suffered from the Kalamazzo River Enbridge oil spill—the largest inland oil spill in our nation’s history. Enbridge now wants to replace the pipeline that ruptured and caused that spill, but there are many along the path who don’t want to see that happen. In response, Enbridge has acted arrogantly, presenting landowners with the notice that not only do they plan on replacing the line, but they want to take additional swaths of land to do so. If contracts do not get signed, Enbridge condemns their land, and engages in other threatening tactics like “hiring guards with semi-automatic weapons to stand watch near the land of recalcitrant farmers.” Remembering the pipeline’s last spill, residents along the path worry about the safety of a pipeline that will be twice the size of the last one that ruptured. Naturally, Enbridge has responded with promises that it “will be thicker, will be fitted with enhanced lead detection systems and will have computer assisted programs that constantly monitor the line.” Does this sound familiar? Read here

Today, Congress held a hearing on “achieving North American energy independence within the next decade.” These hearings are always overrun with “energy experts” and oil lobbyists who spout off the “benefits” of expanding domestic oil production to try to justify getting subsidies to do so. But the fact of the matter is that the U.S. already exports oil, and expanding our own oil production will make no change to the price of oil because it is tied to the world market and market speculators—making it a very volatile and sensitive commodity. The only true path toward energy independence is reduced use of oil, through both efficiency measures and the use of alternative fuels. Read here

Yesterday, a tragedy took the lives of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Embassy officials. While details of this tragedy were still coming out, Mitt Romney threw a distasteful political attack at President Obama over his handling of the situation…which was to “strongly condemn” the attacks while also “rejecting efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” The attacks on the U.S. Embassy came in the wake of a film that mocked the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of all who were killed in the attack. Read here

Tuesday, September 11th 

This morning we remember September 11, 2001. We remember and honor those whose lives were lost in the attacks on our nation, and we remember and honor those who have gone to war as a result of those attacks. Here’s your Roundup:

Privatization of Child Welfare “Still Hurting”: It has been mostly accepted that the State made a huge mistake when it tried to privatize the child welfare system. Not only were virtually none of the stated goals achieved, but it also cost the state millions of dollars to try to implement. Most recently, it cost Nebraska $3.2 million in federal funding. Other than the fact that the whole idea was a bad one, perhaps one of the reasons for failure was lack of planning and coordination between all the different stakeholders involved. Both the judicial system and the federal government were excluded. Now the Department of Health and Human Services has to try to improve the child welfare system while making up for the $3.2 million loss in federal funding and while repairing troubled relationships. We, like many others, hope they succeed. Read here

Chicago Teachers Shed Light on Nationwide Issues: Yesterday, teachers in Chicago shocked the nation by going on strike. This is the first strike in 25 years in Chicago, and the first strike in a major city in the past 6 years. Though there are several reasons why these professionals are going on strike, one reason is that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel promised a pay increase, then rescinded on that agreement. It is also about too much importance placed on students test scores in teacher evaluations, and too many kids in the classroom. Some have criticized the teachers for jeopardizing kids and putting parents in a sticky situation. But the great majority of teachers to not choose their profession unless they want to have a positive impact on kids and unless they truly want to be an educator. These 29,000 teachers going on strike are bringing attention to issues that have been plaguing the U.S. education system for years, and hopefully they will be listened to–for the sake of both our nation’s kids and the teachers who have dedicated their lives to educating without ever receiving the compensation they deserve. Read here and here

Help Out Ken Haar! : This Friday, the Sierra Club is hosting a fundraiser event in Omaha for Ken Haar. Ken has been a leader in the fight for Nebraska’s land and water, and we owe a lot to him for his determination to protect Nebraskans. As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, he led the charge against TransCanada and the Keystone XL Pipeline, including two sign-on letters to Sec. Clinton, several hearings and education forums all culminating in a Special Session and a bill that rerouted the XL Pipeline around a large portion of the Sandhills. Now he is up in a tough battle for re-election, and can use all the help we can give him! Details for the show of support/fundraiser are here, and if you can’t make it, donations are welcomed.