[imgcontainer] [img:Randy.jpeg]This sign is plastered all over Nebraska. Randy is rancher Randy Patrick, who led opposition in the state to the Keystone XL pipeline. [/imgcontainer]

NPR got it right.

Radio reporters Guy Raz and Brent Baughman did a report over the weekend on why the Obama administration turned down a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. They found the reason in rural Nebraska.

Remember that Jane Mayer of The New Yorker magazine said the credit for the defeat of Keystone (the pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast) should go to Vermont professor Bill McKibben and East Coast activists. 

NPR knew better. Reporters Raz and Baughman went straight to Nebraska, where ranchers and farmers first objected. They said the pipeline could damage the Ogallala Aquifer and, besides, they didn’t like the idea of a Canadian company taking land from U.S. ranchers.

See the story here.  We liked rancher Sue Luebbe, who chased away a helicopter surveying her land with a rifle and “some sign language.” And Randy Patrick, the rancher who has become the face of rural resistance to the pipeline. The sign above is plastered on hundreds of billboards across Nebraska.

Thompson told NPR that he thinks of his parents, who fought through the Great Depression and any number  of droughts to hold on to their land. Patrick said:

“I know what my folks went through to get a piece of ground. And these sons of bitches come along and they tell me we’re going to take this land away from you whether you want us to or not. They got a fight on their hands.”

• Kids in Western Kentucky are learning to play bluegrass music, according to Keith Lawrence at the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer. 

They are also finding out that bluegrass is not just for white musicians. The school kids are learning that one of the greatest influences on bluegrass musician Bill Monroe was Arnold Shultz, a black picker from Ohio County.

Shultz was a coal miner by day and a musician at road houses and barn dances at night. Monroe (who would later be credited with being the “father of bluegrass music”) joined Shultz’s band in 1924 as a mandolin player. Monroe’s uncle, Pendleton Vandiver (the “Uncle Pen” from Monroe’s song) played fiddle and Shultz played guitar.

Shultz died in 1931 at age 45 of heart disease, though the story has persisted that he was poisoned by a man who was jealous of his abilities.

• The Southern Baptists will vote this summer on changing their name to become “Great Commission Baptists.” We’ve all read the stories — about how Southern Baptists want to cut ties with a split in the church that began with slavery (with the Southern Baptists being on the wrong side of the issue).

Most stories don’t tell us what the Great Commission is, however. There is just some vague description (as in this story from this morning’s Austin newspaper). 

The Great Commission can be found in two bible verses. The first is Matthew 28:16-20:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” 

The second reference (with a more fundamentalist message) comes in Mark 16: 15-18. Here, Jesus orders his disciples to “proclaim the Good News to all creation…He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned.” 

That’s the Great Commission from the source.

• The Keystone XL pipeline comes in two parts. One is from Canada to Cushing, Oklahoma. The second goes from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. Only the first part of the project is stalled by the Obama administration’s decision to deny a permit for the pipeline to cross the U.S./Canada border.

The Washington Post reports this morning that the Canadian firm promoting Keystone will press ahead with the second half of the project, from Cushing to Port Arthur, Texas. 

• The AP is predicting a split in the Michigan vote in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary. The news service reports: 

Politically, Michigan is divided between the urban southeastern area around Detroit, where corporate executives such as the Romneys long have dominated party affairs, and the more rural and small-town regions in the west and north, where Christian evangelism and anti-government fervor abound.

• A majority of Iowans oppose a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, according to a Des Moines Register poll

The poll found that 38 percent favor a ban on same-sex marriage while 56 percent are against such a measure.

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