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.
County Authority Limited in Pipeline Debate: York County is in a place to stake a position against the Keystone XL pipeline, but York County Commissioner Bill Baumsberger is wondering how strong that position will actually be. In a conversation with the Lincoln Journal Star, Baumsberger talks frankly about the legal limitations and liabilities that come with a county standing in the way of a large political and economic matter such as this one. Read more here.
Nurses Turn Out Against KXL: A group of 1,500 nurses stormed the Golden Gate Bridge Thursday taking a stand against the Keystone XL. Citing concerns with recent spills — we’re thinking of the 210,000 gallons dumped at the door fronts of residents at Mayflower, Ark. — healthcare professionals are joining us in calling on President Obama to dismiss this horrible investment on our future. Read more here.
Bold Texans Are Challenging the Keystone XL Down South: Despite being given the regulatory runaround and dealing with a company that just frankly doesn’t seem to care a great deal, Texans are pushing back against the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline citing the project for shoddy construction and inadequate infrastructure support. The group has begun documenting a wealth of building anomalies like this video and are bringing to light how little work TransCanada is really willing to invest in this effort to get their oil across our country. Also, wtf are those guys doing at Texan ally Julia Trigg Crawford’s house filming her? Read more here.
Anti-Immigrant Politician to Activists: This is Why We Have the 2nd Amendment: A group of demonstrators gathered at the home of perhaps one of the biggest immigrant opponents Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to tell him to get out of the way of common sense immigration reform. Kobach’s response: “If we had been in the home and not been armed, I would have felt very afraid … It’s important we recognize there’s a reason we have the Second Amendment.” So you can shoot people you don’t agree with? Hey, TransCanada, where’s this guy’s terrorist label? I know you’re as pissed about this as I am and you’re looking for a way to get involved. Sign and spread this petition demanding Kobach apologize to our partners. This is why we have ideas and debates: because you need to be able to engage all walks of people and fairly make your case before them and them unto you.
Sean Parker Is Very, Vewy, Sowwy: Napster co-founder and internet bajillionaire Sean Parker recently had an insanely lavish wedding in which he effectively destroyed a portion of the California Redwoods Forest. Understandably, people were pissed. Not-so-understandably, Parker doesn’t think he deserves the complete ire of concerned people everywhere. Parker and his sweetie have even had to postpone their honeymoon to Bora Bora to deal with the contwwwovewwsy. Okay, I’ll stop. (But it’s still sort of hilarious.) Read more here.
South Dakota Rancher Making Sure KXL Pipeline Stays Above Ground: Nebraska Watchdog’s Deena Winter visits a North Dakota field hosting about 230 miles of TransCanada pipeline lying in wait. Her latest piece profiles South Dakota rancher Bret Clanton who might see some the pipeline come through his ranch, and he’s none too pleased about it. For one, Clanton’s not happy with the shaky work of the surveyors being used to get the required easements and calls the lawyers called in to woo him and his neighbors “a piece of work.” He identifies with a “R” usually, but this issue has made him an opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline (or a terrorist, to borrow from TranCanada’s language for its opposition). Read more about what Clanton’s up to here.
CBO: Immigration Reform Will Trim Deficit: By about $700 billion in fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s Director Doug Elmendorf. In a blog summarizing his office’s analysis of the existing immigration reform bill in the Senate, Elmendorf said we could see as much come back to the government in increased revenues from the expanded workforce immigration reform would create. But we’re about 10 years away from those kinds of savings. In the immediate 2014 to 2023 period, federal budget deficits would decrease by $197 billion if the bill passes. Sources close to the debate say a vote on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act could come as early as next month. Get ready by reading more of the CBO’s analysis here.
Processed Food Makers Trying a New Trick to Make You Eat: Kraft and other purveyors of nutritional delivery vessels — we ought not dignify a plastic-wrapped cheese square as “food” — are making their stuff look more natural by letting a little imperfection get in so you forget it’s processed to the point of repulsion, Grist reports. Public health lawyer Michael Simon told the AP “Yhey can’t change the fact that they’re making processed product so they have to use these other tricks to pretend,” which is how you get crap like Domino’s artisan pizza (their regular pizza with uneven sides). How about Oscar Meyer’s artfully torn (by a machine) turkey breast? You can’t even taste the chemicals! Quick: go get an apple, then read this.
Number of U.S. citizens’ phone numbers tracked in 2012? Less than 300: That’s one of the finds of the intelligence briefings held Tuesday, which Mother Jones dutifully summarized. What else did we learn: if you are mistakenly targeted, the information gathered on you is destroyed, other countries aren’t as transparent as the good ole U.S. and the court order needed to conduct this work is actually just a report that gets sent off to the relevant judge. Huh. Bear in mind this is all coming from someone inside one of the numerous government organizations responsible for what civil liberties groups are calling a surveillance state. Read more here. Oh and Google is suing the federal government over the program, NPR reports.
York News-Times Op-Ed Slams KXL: The York County Commissioners will be asked to consider zoning regs for pipelines and York News-Times Publisher Greg Awtry wants to make sure you’re paying attention. The results of the county’s ruling could have significant impacts on biggest obstacle as progressive-thinking Nebraskans, the Keystone XL Pipeline. What’s the big deal about the pipeline, Awtry asks before listing a number of hazards that come with the pipeline: spills, health of water and people, false promises of job growth, etc. Nothing you’re not familiar with, but it’s nice to hear someone echo the sentiment, right? Awtry’s op-ed is also an invitation to attend their pipeline meeting at Chances ‘R’ in York at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 20. Read the editorial here.
Alberta Spill Releases 9.5 Million Liters of Wastewater: While it’s not TransCanada and it’s not the Keystone pipeline network, Texas-based Apache Corp.’s June 1 wastewater spill — which they didn’t fully report until June 12 — covering 1,000 acres is importantly connected because it highlights the weakness of pipeline promises. In this case, we’re missing the emergency shutoff devices and monitors that could have prevented all 9.5 million liters from leaking out. This pipeline was promised to last 30 years before it ruptured at five. In fact, TransCanada is skipping the Keystone XL pipeline safety measures recommended by the EPA, which could result in the project dumping 12,000 barrels a day — 1.5 percent of its 830,000 barrel capacity — before the existing systems signal the alarm. I think we’ve made it pretty clear we have no interest in having that on our land. Read more here.
More on Omaha’s Saturday Shooting: The Omaha World-Herald is continuing coverage of Saturday afternoon’s shooting by highlighting the Phil Lordemann and Virgil Patlan, the civilians who tailed the suspect before he engaged police in a fire fight where he was killed. The story has been updated and now includes audio from 911 distress calls related to the incident. No further information is available on the suspect. Read more here.
Cooper Nuclear Station Safety Failures Prompt Questioning from Federal Regulators:While in no danger of being shut down, authorities with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are more than a little curious why 13 deficiencies were revealed by inspectors at NPPD’s Cooper Nuclear Station. The maximum allowed by regulators is three such deficiencies. Both authorities and the utility stress that no one is in danger because of the missteps, but there will be a three-hour meeting in Texas between the two parties to mediate differences. For more on the report and details on how to teleconference into the meeting, check out the Omaha World-Herald’s coverage here.
About That Really Progressive Transgender Sports Policy: Lo and behold, it actually doesn’t exist. At least, not yet. The head of the Nebraska School Activities Association board supposedly passed a policy in December that allowed transgender students to participate with the gender most suitable to them. Executive Director Rhonda Blanford-Green said they’ll vote on that now in August backtracking comments reported by multiple media outlets including Nebraska Watchdog, NYT and your very favoritest news source. So, let’s see what this thing does in the fall. Read more on the about face here.
Still No ID on the Omaha Shooter: An autopsy was scheduled today for the gunman who killed two individuals and injured another two in a shootout Saturday afternoon before being killed in a firefight. Officer Coral Walker killed one of the shooters responsible for the South Omaha slayings. The other has fled in a stolen car. Read more here.
Slate Op-Ed: Smithfield Foods’ Is Communist Without Potential Chinese Takeover: With Shuanghui International possibly taking over effectively one quarter of the U.S. pork market by buying Smithfield Foods, some are balking at the communist company’s entry into our capitalist market. Slate’s Christopher Leonard argues this is actually more of business as usual. Smithfield has long since shut down open markets in favor of contracting hog farmers as glorified attendees for their animals. At a stunning pace, too. Contract farming was 5 percent of U.S. hog production in 1992, and grow to be 95 percent of the market’s business in 2010. Th typical hog farmer does not own their animal. They do not sell it themselves or in any other way participate in a capitalist enterprise. They just make sure hogs get fat and ensure a profit for Smithfield for a small cut of the action. Read the column, which appears in today’s Lincoln Journal Star, here.
Acting Against the KXL? You’re a Terrorist: At least that’s what TransCanada wants law enforcement to think. In a presentation to the FBI and other authorities, the Canadian oil giant noted that anti-terrorism laws can be used as a way to stop protesters standing in the the way of the Keystone XL pipeline construction, according to a document obtained by Bold through a Freedom of Information Act request. TransCanada spokespersons have defended the presentation saying the company was responding to requests for this information. The presentation, given last month, identified Anonymous as well as Nebraska activists as “potential security concerns.” Read more of the Omaha World Herald’s coverage here.
Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona’s Voter ID Law: In a 7-to-2 decision, the nation’s highest court has ruled Arizona’s law requiring additional identification to vote is in fact unconstitutional. The justices wrote that the the states may not supercede federal law in this matter, which currently checks that the voter is a U.S. citizen at the polling booth on the ballot form itself. The move compromises similar laws — which have also been enacted in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania — have been done in the name of stopping the outrageously overstated problem of voter fraud, but have only resulted in making it more difficult for people to vote. Go Supreme Court! Read more here.