[imgcontainer][img:arrested_rancher.jpeg][source]Photo by Mary Anne Andrei/Bold Nebraska[/source]Randy Thompson, Nebraska rancher, face of the pipeline campaign in Nebraska “Stand with Randy,” arrested in D.C. as part of a civil disobedience action, leading up to Sunday’s Forward on Climate rally.[/imgcontainer]

Activists opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline — including actress Daryl Hannah and several Nebraska ranchers — were arrested outside the White House yesterday. The pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada across the Great Plains to the Gulf Coast. 

The Obama administration must approve the pipeline. That decision should be made fairly soon.

Nebraska ranchers oppose the pipeline because it crosses the Ogallala Aquifer and individual ranches. 

Randy Thompson, a Nebraska cattle buyer who was arrested with the group, explained why he opposes the pipeline:

I am a Nebraska cattleman and landowner. I am fighting against the KXL pipeline for two very basic reasons. First of all, I feel very strongly that this pipeline represents an assault on the individual property rights of American citizens. There is something inherently wrong about the idea of American landowners being forced to subsidize the private enterprise of a foreign corporation with land that their families have earned through generations of hard work and determination. Secondly, I feel that the KXL presents a real threat to some of our nation’s most valuable natural resources, especially our rivers, streams and underground aquifers. These are priceless American assets that no amount of oil money, foreign or otherwise, could ever replace.

Unemployed in North Carolina — Followers of the Yonder’s monthly unemployment reports know that North Carolina has a large number of unemployed people living in rural counties. So we note today a story in the Washington Post saying that an estimated 170,000 jobless workers in N.C. will lose their jobless benefits in July under a new state law that reduces state aid and forces people off federal benefit rolls. 

North Carolina, with 9.2 percent unemployment (the nation’s fifth highest), can’t afford its people. The new bill reduces the maximum weeks someone could collect state benefits from 26 to 20 and reduces the average weekly benefit from about $296 to the low $200s.

Over the last few years, 35 states have exhausted their unemployment insurance funds and have obtained loans from the federal government. Now those loans are coming due, so at least 8 states have moved to cut benefits.

North Carolina is the only state, however, that has passed laws that will disqualify is citizens from receiving federal unemployment benefits, too. The federal benefits allow the jobless to collect up to 47 weeks of additional aid.

Cuts Close Rural Clinics — Cuts aimed at Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas have hit other providers of health care to poor women, particularly in rural areas, Mary Ann Roser reports in the Austin newspaper

Post Office — A new Gallup poll finds, “Sixty-three percent of Americans favor eliminating residential mail delivery on Saturdays as a way for the U.S. Postal Service to address its financial problems. A majority also favor reducing the number of days post offices are open.” 

Meanwhile, the Postmaster General is pleading with Congress not to block his plan to drop Saturday delivery. 

And members of Congress are NOT pleased

Ocean Wind Power — The same company developing the Cape Wind project off Massachusetts’ Cape Code may bid on rights to develop wind energy in a 133-square-mile area off Virginia Beach.

Dominion Virginia Power and seven other companies have also expressed interest

Eating and Sequestration — Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said his agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service “will have no choice but to furlough its employees in order to stay within the budget Congress has given it.” But Vilsack says that meat inspectors would be the last to go.

The American Meat Institute is worried and has told the USDA it has a legal obligation to provide meat inspections

This leads us to wonder about coal mine safety inspectors….. Will they be furloughed, too? Ken Ward Jr. at the Charleston Gazette tells us that the federal mine safety agency hasn’t said yet how it will deal with sequestration.

FarmersOnly.Com — Yes, true love can be found on a rural-only dating site. Happy Valentine’s Day

Opinion From Kearney, Nebraska: This from an editorial from the Kearney Hub

It is frustrating when we rural Americans hear our leaders say ignorant things about our way of life. When they know so little about what we need to make a living and contribute to the nation’s wealth, how can we expect them to enact legislation and policies that don’t harm us?

To combat climate change they’ve suggested planting more trees and fewer crops, and switching how we produce our electricity by using wind and natural gas, not coal. This sounds like wise advice to the urbanites, but to us it’s unfathomable to plant trees instead of crops. Likewise, it seems crazy to just abandon the long-term energy investments we’ve made in favor of trendy new approaches.

Sometimes what we hear from our nation’s leaders stings and hurts, as when Barack Obama dismissed us two years ago because we rural folks cling to religion and guns, or when he suggested if farmers want to make more money they could plant lettuce.

Ironically, the recession that still leaves two in every 10 Americans out of work has revealed the fundamental strengths in rural America. We don’t spend more on government than we pay in taxes. It’s an old-fashioned approach, and it prevents the kind of staggering problems facing more populous states that allow deficit spending.

City folks could learn a thing or two from rural Americans. We’re in the mood to talk if ever they’re in the mood to listen.

Oregon May Help Rural Docs — Oregon may put $4 million in the next budget to fund a loan repayment program to help doctors who work in rural areas. 

Chicken Lady — We buy chicken from Jane at Dewberry Hills Farm near Lexington, Texas. She sends out alerts each week to tell buyers which markets she will attend — and to keep people up-to-date on the latest farm news

Lately, she and husband Terry have “adopted” a stray dog, Pete. They were trying to find another home for Pete, but now it appears Pete is a permanent resident. Jane writes about her love of dogs:

I know some fine, upstanding folks that don’t get dog people. Some of my nearest and dearest friends can’t fathom why we’d want to share our living space with something that drools, sheds and tracks dirt–and that’s on a good day. We won’t even mention the mornings when you step into a puddle of cold dog unmentionables before you’ve even had a cup of coffee.

Our dogs don’t serve any real ‘useful’ purpose that our friends can determine either. They don’t hunt, they’re lousy guards because they like everybody, and they definitely don’t do cute tricks.

If I had to summarize succinctly why I love dogs, I’d say this: 1) Watching Pete run full bore across the pasture is such a profound example of sheer joy that it takes my breath away. When he tumbles exuberantly, picks himself up and tears off again, he reminds me that it’s ok to fall ass-over-teakettle just for the fun of it; 2) all the broken, abused, scared and starving strays we’ve adopted healed remarkably quickly with just a soupcon of love and attention. I wish it worked like that for broken people but it doesn’t; and 3) nothing and nobody like you as much as your dog. They might say they do but I flat out don’t believe them.

We’ll be at both markets this weekend. Come help support the Pete fund by buying a bird.

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