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The fossil fuel development industry has no shame when it comes to promoting their agenda. They will exploit every human need to feed their greed.

A cornerstone of their strategy has always been how good their industry is for jobs and the economy.  But why stop there?  Why not take advantage of another abundant natural resource:  the boundless optimism and energy of American youth?  

Why not give high school students an opportunity to use their innate desire and talents for making videos of themselves to serve the petroleum industry?  And who better to target for this effort than students whose desire for higher education is suddenly at odds with the reality of assuming a lifetime of college debt?

It's a genius idea, really.  Truly Don Draperesque.  I bet somebody got a nice bonus or promotion for this one.

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If you take your taxes to a tax-in-the-box service, beware.  I'm talking about those retail outlets in strip malls and department stores that are part of national chains. It doesn't matter which one you choose, they are all a bad idea.

I worked at a tax prep service for nine years, and the fee structure always troubled me.  I told myself that it was just part of the job, that all tax prep service tactics were the same. They are, but that doesn't make their unethical tactics okay.

The bottom line is that no matter what you pay for tax prep at these places, you are getting ripped off.  The service is designed that way. What I learned about how they operate is disturbing, and I think consumers ought to know.

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Our home sits on the Ogallala Aquifer.  All our water - for drinking, bathing, cooking and irrigating our gardens - comes from our well.  Everyone who visits says we have the most delicious water they have ever tasted.

The Keystone XL pipeline threatens the purity of our water, as we are just 70 miles from where the proposed route would cross the Platte, a national treasure and historically significant river that runs just a mile from our front door.

But the KXL fight isn't just about us.  It isn't just about Nebraskans. It isn't just about the First Nation people in Canada who are dying from pollution at the tar sands mining site.  It isn't even just about the Chinese, who will receive the vast majority of oil refined from those tar sands.

It's about all of us on the planet, even your uber-conservative pro-life Uncle Larry, who thinks KXL is a good idea.  Here's the shortest blog I can write to explain that to him.

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Nebraska State Education Board Member Pat McPherson is the founder of a rabidly anti-Obama screamingly radical right wing blog called (and I'm not making this up) the "Objective Conservative".  On that blog recently appeared an article calling President Obama a half-breed, among other things.

When called out for the racist post, McPherson denied writing it, disavowed the material and took down the post.  But he won't say who did write the entry or how it managed to pass the blog's editorial review.  McPherson is one of the blog editors, after all.

Hmmmm . . .

McPherson is not new to scumbaggery.  When he was a Douglas County Commissioner he was arrested and charged with fondling a 17-year-old girl.  

Oh goodie.  Just the kind of guy we want on our state board of education, right?  Some one who may be a child molester, is most likely a racist, and is undoubtedly an unhinged radical and wholly unreachable-by-logic Tea Bagger.

What could go wrong?

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Ever hear of a US senate candidate who doesn't take money from ANY business groups, special interest organizations or lobbyists?  Not even those from his own state?  Me either.

How about one who categorically refuses to run attack ads?  As in NOT ONE.

Or one who doesn't accept endorsements from any big-name politicos, regardless of who they are?

Yeah, me either.

I thought it wasn't possible in the US.  Not any more.

But I was wrong.

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Saturday, Sept 27 I attended the Harvest The Hope Concert nine miles north of Neligh, Nebraska.  This wasn’t any ordinary music concert.  It was a benefit headlined by none other than Neil Young and Willie Nelson, on behalf of a handful of grass-roots groups fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline in my home state of Nebraska.

The event was massive.  Over 7000 tickets were sold and many acres of cornfield were sacrificed on Art and Helen Tanderup’s family farm to allow for parking, vendors, stage and seating. Even with a  handicapped parking permit, my recent leg surgery meant I needed a little help from my friends to make it all the way to a location for our lawn chairs.

But I was on a mission.  I’d recently harvested my own hope:  a golden delicious bounty produced by the industrious little honeybees given to me by an elderly friend as a birthday gift. I had a handful of small bottles labeled with my apiary name, Bees Against the Pipeline, and I was determined to deliver them to concert organizers, and, if I could, the performers themselves.

So not long after settling in I decided I had better get busy.  I crutched my way up to the front, only to meet with the first line of security defense who demanded my badge to enter the preferred seating area in front of the stage.  I didn’t have one, but I had plenty of friends in that area.  As luck would have it, one of the most physically imposing and friendliest was near enough to hear me call him over.

My friend eventually talked the security guards into letting me pass, not only into the preferred seating area but all the way back stage.  He left me there and wished me luck.  The small open ground behind the stage was a busy place.  As soon as I recognized venue landowner Art Tanderup from his TV appearance on The Ed Show last week, I made a beeline to introduce myself to him.

Art Tanderup appears on the Ed Show flanked by Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska and Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Monday, Sept 22, 2014
Mr. Tanderup was every bit as sweet and kind a man as he appears.  When I presented him with my homemade token he was genuinely touched.  I thanked him for all he had done on behalf of the pipeline opposition, and he shared with me his personal experiences leading up to the day’s events.

A seemingly ordinary farmer, Art Tanderup had not had an ordinary year.  His small community had become a focal point for pipeline debate after he had agreed to cut a gigantic image of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a symbol of pipeline opposition, into his corn field. The project meant giving up arable cropland equivalent in size to 80 football fields – and with it a substantial part of his annual income – as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the anti-KXL pipeline movement.  It was a bold move, and one that had turned many in his community against him.

Art described how he and his wife were treated differently now.  Differently by the few who supported their cause, and very differently by those who disapproved of it.  Suddenly people they had known for years would no longer say hello, and the whole dynamic of just making the routine trip to town had changed.

Even getting ready for the concert had opened a fresh personal affront.  “I had a neighbor who was going to provide parking on his land,” he said.  “He agreed one day and then the next day he backed out.”

It had been a heartbreaking experience for them, but Art was adamant that he would not give in. Not to the local societal pressure to conform, and not to the big corporation who wanted to put a foreign product pipeline through land that had been in his family for 100 years, endangering the water supply on which his livelihood depended.  “We will never give up, no matter what,” he told me, as his eyes welled up.

I hugged Art and told him he was an honorable man.  I wished him well, and assured him that I and many others supported his fight.

Art is clearly made of sterner stuff than his big teddy bear appearance suggests.  As he walked away I wondered if I could do what he and Helen had done, and were now doing, in the face of such anger and hostility from lifelong friends and neighbors.

My leg was aching, and I was becoming acutely aware of the pressure my good foot was being forced to sustain.  So I found some one who agreed to pass my small offerings along to the three remaining intended recipients.

Knowing that once I left the backstage area I’d never be allowed back in, I looked for a handy spot from which to observe the activity before undertaking the long trek back.  It turned out to be a space behind the speakers to one side of the stage where my view of the performers was limited, but a clear view of those climbing the stairs to the stage was available.  So I settled in, hyper-aware that my obvious lack of a badge of any type could get me ejected without recourse.

Periodically I overheard the walkie-talkies of the crew moving about all around me erupt with disembodied voices hinting that the big performers were about to arrive.  I should stay here and just wait until Willie & Neil come, I thought, and then with any luck I might have a perfect camera angle to capture their arrival.  Luckily, no one bothered me, probably because I looked harmless enough with my gimpy leg, and the general vibe  in the area was busy but hospitable.

I waited for what seemed like a long time.  I knew I wasn't really entitled to be there, and I began to wonder about my friends back in the audience who had been so worried about my well-being and ability to get around.  It wasn’t exactly polite to leave them  like this, not really knowing where I was.  Willie’s sons Micah and Lucas went onstage, and while their performance was outstanding, I couldn't really see much.  I kept thinking that my chance to photograph and be just a few feet away from the great Willie Nelson and the hero of my youth, Neil Young, was only moments away, and I should stay just a bit longer.  

But suddenly, I realized, the experience had been enough.  I was too old to be behaving like a silly groupie anyway.

As I paused for a breather about half way back to my seat I recognized the unmistakable sound of Willie Nelson joining his sons on stage.  Yes, I had been only moments away from being close to a living legend, and possibly getting a photo of him.  A man who had made a name for himself not just in music, but as a big hero of the American farmer.

But it didn’t matter.  I had met the true hero:  Art Tanderup.  I had had a brief heart to heart talk with him and shared a friendly hug.  I’d heard first hand about his trials and his determination, and I’d offered him my support.  Art was the real hero of the day:  an easy-going, ordinary Nebraska farmer doing a very difficult and extraordinary thing.

I think both Willie and Neil would have agreed.

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Leg surgery in Omaha today.  Couldn't resist.  Maybe a new trend for those of us who can?  

Remember, the Palins LOVE publicity.  Let's give it to 'em!

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You know how the KXL pipeline has been called “Game Over” for climate change?  That’s because if it goes through, burning the tar sands oil it would carry would put so much carbon in the air so quickly that climate change would accelerate faster than we and most species will ever be able adapt to.  Ever.  Hell on earth will come even sooner than it already seems to be coming.

And do you know why we still don’t have a pipeline?  Because the northern leg is tied up in legal battles, thanks primarily to a grassroots bipartisan organization called Bold Nebraska.

Bold Nebraska got Dave Domina, Nebraska’s toughest trial attorney, to represent three landowners on the pipeline route.  Domina filed Thompson v. Heineman challenging the state governor's right to select and approve the pipeline’s route.  

And he won.

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Tea Party darling and Obamacare's arch-enemy in Nebraska, Ben Sasse, is running for US Senate. To create an image of himself as humane and likable, he just posted a video about his wife's aneurysm experience on FB. I posted this comment:

"Wouldn't it be nice if Ben wanted good health care like his wife got for everyone? But alas, he only wants it for his own, because he did not want the 7.1 million Americans who got healthcare under Obamacare to get it. Good Christian values there, Ben!"

Please go to Ben's FB page and like my comment, and maybe even post your own!

Let's publicly call out this "pro-life" Hypochristian on his shamelessness.  Nebraska needs better representation than this.

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Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 05:58 PM PST

Christmas Pipe Dreams

by Nancy Meyer

So on Christmas day this year we found ourselves sitting in a hot tub in Glacier, WA talking to a nice guy named Hugh from Alberta, Canada, who turned out to be a contractor to Keystone XL as a pipeline worker.

We told him we were from Nebraska.

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We spend a lot of time trying to right all the wrongs on this planet.  We look outside our own troubled, stressful, turbulent and demanding lives and worry about all the things that legitimately need worrying about.

Of course, we all know that there is one overriding problem that make all other problems seem quaint, even obsolete.  And we all know what that is, right?

And we're all doing something about it, right?  Right???!!!

There are people on the front line against climate change all over the planet.  They are pressuring government officials, releasing reports from international conferences, electing leaders who care, educating others and doing whatever small thing they can in their own back yards, all over the planet.

Some of these people are in rural red states like Kansas and Nebraska.

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My little brother's wife, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, died on United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001.  When I see photos of the memorial erected there, I am pleased that it is not festooned with a really big US flag, or dozens of small ones.

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