Keystone XL, Back in the Pipeline – February 17, 2017

A Major Coup for Trudeau

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline, Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017.

Given the strong opinions about Keystone XL that have formed on both sides of the debate, one might think that the project would fundamentally change the face of North America’s pipeline network. In fact, it would merely serve as an alternate route for the oil sands and crude that already travel within preexisting pipeline infrastructure, from Alberta due east to Manitoba, and then, following a 90 degree turn, southward into the American Midwest. Keystone XL would effectively be a giant hypotenuse that extends into a more or less straight line directly from eastern Alberta into Steele City, Nebraska.

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We Spoke to de Lima Before Defying Duterte Landed Her in Jail: VICE News Tonight on HBO – Published on Mar 15, 2017

One of the only politicians in the Philippines to vocally oppose President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs was arrested last week on bribery charges. Leila de Lima, a senator who led the senate’s Justice and Human Rights Committee, faces allegations of taking bribes amounting to the equivalent of $100,000 from drug lords during her tenure as Justice Secretary. Duterte has publicly said that she should hang herself.

De Lima denies the charges and believes they are meant to deter other critics of Duterte’s intimidation. “They say they are going to destroy me within the year. So I tell them, if I have to go down, I have to go down fighting,” she told VICE News in an interview before her arrest.


The Trouble With Medicaid Work Requirements – VANN R. NEWKIRK II MAR 23, 2017

The new Republican provision to allow states to deny health assistance for lacking employment will only make the program worse.

What are work requirements good for?

Stretching back to the establishment of welfare in the United States, politicians have debated both the practical and moral utility of requiring people to work in order to receive government benefits. Since welfare reform in the 1990s gave states wide latitude to create work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash-assistance program, Republicans have hankered for a chance to extend those requirements to other safety-net programs, as part of their push to “require everyone who can to work.”

The purpose of work requirements in welfare, according to the Congressional Research Service, is “to offset work disincentives in social assistance programs, promote a culture of work over dependency, and prioritize governmental resources,” in addition to helping lift people out of poverty.

Now, Republicans could take one step closer to having that chance, thanks to a last-minute manager’s amendment that was attached to the GOP’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill by House Speaker Paul Ryan. In a fashion similar to TANF, the amendment would give states authority to mandate that “non-disabled, non-elderly, [and] non-pregnant” individuals enrolled in Medicaid engage in some amount of hours of “work activities.”

This Climate Denying Lawmaker Has Proposed a Bill to Protect Climate Deniers – NATHALIE BAPTISTE MAR. 23, 2017 4:51 PM

He doesn’t want to prosecute on the basis of “climate change policy preferences.”

A Maine lawmaker has introduced a bill that will safeguard political speech—with a special focus on climate change deniers.

Republican Rep. Lawrence Lockman, who told the Associated Press that whether or not human activity is causing global warming is an open question, proposed legislation that would ban the state from prosecuting people for their “climate change policy preferences.” The measure prohibits the state from discriminating against climate change deniers with respect to employment and hiring, and bars any state agencies or departments from refusing to purchase goods and services, or awarding grants and contracts, on the basis of a person’s opinion regarding climate change.

According to NASA, 97 percent of scientists acknowledge that our planet is getting warmer due to human activity.

The bill is in response the lawsuit filed by a group of state attorneys general, including Maine’s Janet Mills, against Exxon Mobil in 2016. The suit alleges that the oil giant misled the public about global warming and should pay a financial penalty.

Lockman told the Associated Press that the bill wasn’t just for climate deniers, because it would protect the free speech of others as well. “I don’t want to see a Republican attorney general issuing subpoenas for the records of progressive or liberal think tanks or public policy groups to chill their free speech,” he said.

But Democratic lawmakers do not seem convinced. Lois Galgay Reckitt, a Democrat in the state legislature, said that the entire Democratic caucus would oppose the bill, as would some Republicans.

“The issue for me is I’m a scientist and I live near the ocean,” she said to the Associated Press. “It’s absolutely clear to me that climate change is happening and it worries me. I will fight this tooth and nail.”

A public hearing is scheduled for April 6.