As Exxon Cleans Up Arkansas Oil Spill, Keystone Plan Assailed

Reuters | Reader Supported News | March 31,

Men wearing protective clothing survey cleanup efforts where an underground crude oil pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, 03/30/13. (photo: Reuters)
Men wearing protective clothing survey cleanup efforts where an underground crude oil pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, 03/30/13. (photo: Reuters)

xxon Mobil on Sunday continued cleanup of a pipeline spill that loosed thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude in Arkansas as opponents of oil sands development latched on to the incident to attack plans to build the Keystone XL line.

Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from Pakota, Illinois to Nederland, Texas, was shut after the leak was discovered late Friday afternoon in a subdivision near the town of Mayflower. The leak forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

The company did not have an estimate for the restarting of the pipeline, which was carrying Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude at the time of the leak. An oil spill of more than 1,000 barrels into a Wisconsin field from an Enbridge pipeline last summer kept that line shuttered for around 11 days.

The Arkansas spill drew fast reaction from opponents of the 800,000 bpd Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry heavy crude from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast refining center.

Read more


Will Congress Stop US Support for Honduras’ Death Squad Regime?

Mark Weisbrot | Guardian UK | Reader Supported News | April 1, 2013

Soldiers clashed with protesters in 2011, after Honduras' President Porfirio Lobo declared the demonstrations illegal. (photo: Reuters/Edgard Garrido)
Soldiers clashed with protesters in 2011, after Honduras’ President Porfirio Lobo declared the demonstrations illegal. (photo: Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

he video (warning: contains graphic images of lethal violence), caught randomly on a warehouse security camera, is chilling.

Five young men walk down a quiet street in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A big black SUV pulls up, followed by a second vehicle. Two masked men with bullet-proof vests jump out of the lead car, with AK-47s raised. The two youths closest to the vehicles see that they have no chance of running, so they freeze and put their hands in the air. The other three break into a sprint, with bullets chasing after them from the assassins’ guns. Miraculously, they escape, with one injured – but the two who surrendered are forced to lie face down on the ground. The two students, who were brothers 18- and 20-years-old, are murdered with a burst of bullets, in full view of the camera. Less than 40 seconds after their arrival, the assassins are driving away, never to be found.

The high level of professional training and modus operandi of the assassins have led many observers to conclude that this was a government operation. The video was posted by the newspaper El Heraldo last month; the murder took place in November of last year. There have been no arrests.

Now, the Obama administration is coming under fire for its role in arming and funding murderous Honduran police, in violation of US law. Under the Leahy Law, named after Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the US government is not allowed to fund foreign military units who have commit gross human rights violations with impunity. The director general of Honduras’ national police force, Juan Carlos Bonilla, has been investigated in connection with death squad killings; and members of the US Congress have been complaining about it since Bonilla was appointed last May. Thanks to some excellent investigative reporting by the Associated Press in the last couple of weeks – showing that all police units are, in fact, under Bonilla’s command – it has become clear that the US is illegally funding the Honduran police.

Read more

Scalia’s gay adoption claim: Even wronger than I thought

Ezra Klein | WonkBlog | Washington Post | March 29, 2013

On Wednesday, I wrote about Justice Antonin Scalia’s comment that “there’s considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not.”

It turns out Scalia’s comment was wronger than I thought — and wrong in a way that Scalia, in particular, should have known.

Antonin Scalia thinks that the idea that gay couples might adopt children is an argument against gay marriage. (Jewel Sawad / Getty Images)

Antonin Scalia thinks that the idea that gay couples might adopt children is an argument against gay marriage. (Jewel Sawad / Getty Images)

It relied, remember, on the idea that sociologists are, in some significant way, split on this question. That’s not what the American Sociological Association thinks. Here’s its official statement on the matter:

Read more

Supreme Court likely to advance gay marriage but stop short of broad ruling

Pete Williams | NBC News | March 29, 2013

After two days of highly anticipated courtroom arguments about same-sex marriage, a sweeping ruling on gay rights seems unlikely from the U.S. Supreme Court. But when decisions in both cases come in late June, the result may nonetheless be an important one for advocates of same-sex marriage.

Though it’s risky to predict how the court will rule based solely on comments by the justices during the oral arguments, one outcome seemed probable — a decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

“A decision saying that DOMA is unconstitutional because it discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation, and requiring the federal government to give full recognition to the existing marriages of same-sex couples, would be a huge victory,” said Paul Smith of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Jenner & Block

Read more

Op-ed: My Marriage Is Not an Experiment, Justice Alito

Robin Tyler | Advocate | March 29, 2013

Diane and I woke up at 5 a.m. in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. But having arrived a day earlier, we were still on California time. To us, it felt like 2 a.m. But we didn’t care because we were so excited. We’d been going to the courthouse in Beverly Hills with a small group of activists asking for a marriage license every year since 2001.

We became the first lesbian plaintiffs to challenge California’s ban against same-sex marriage. Then we were finally married June 16, 2008.

Then along came Proposition 8. We worked all summer speaking wherever we could, producing PSAs with celebrities, the majority of whom were people of color, because we felt those communities needed to be reached. That summer, 18,000 couples wed across the state.

But Proposition 8 passed the day President Obama was elected. That morning, our attorney for our marriage equality case filed a petition on behalf of Diane and me to overturn Proposition 8. And when we sat in the California Supreme Court and heard the justices say things like, “being equal doesn’t necessarily mean being equal in everything.” What? My stomach turned and I sat on my rage as justice after justice, with the exception of Justice Moreno, backtracked on what they had done granting us marriage equality. I knew we were going to lose and started to organize “day of decision.”

Read more

What might happen?

Erwin Chemerinsky | United States Supreme Court Blog | March 29, 2013

Oral arguments in high-profile cases rarely provide a clear sense of what the Court is likely to do.   Last year, after oral arguments, the conventional wisdom was that the Court was going to strike down the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act and uphold Arizona’s restrictive immigration law, S.B. 1070.   Those predictions were totally wrong and completely forgotten after the decisions.

But still it is impossible to not think about what might happen in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor.   There are two questions:  First, will the Court dismiss one or both cases without reaching the issue of whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marriage equality?   Second, if the Court reaches the merits what might it do?

Continue reading

Facebook: Marriage issue prompts 2.7 million profile picture updates

Chris Boyette | CNN | March 29, 2013

The many variations of the pink equal sign on top of a red background populated many Facebook profile pics this week.
The many variations of the pink equal sign on top of a red background populated many Facebook profile pics this week.

(CNN) — You may have noticed something different about your friends’ profile pictures as you scrolled through your Facebook feed this week. According to the social networking site, roughly 2.7 million users changed their profile image on Tuesday as the U.S. Supreme Court pondered the future of same-sex marriage in the United States.

The Human Rights Campaign started urging people on Monday to change their Facebook profile pictures to a pink-on-red equal sign to show support for same-sex marriage, and soon the top 10 terms trending on Facebook were all related to the subject.

To get a better idea of the potential amount of support for same-sex marriage on Facebook, researchers on the Facebook Data Science Team compiled information to find out how many U.S. users changed their profile photo.

Read more

Australia: Marriage equality poll vow

PHILIP HEYWARD | The Mercury | March 30, 2013

THE campaign for same-sex marriage is back in full swing, with activists hoping to play a decisive role in Legislative Council elections.

They plan to distribute how-to-vote cards to every household in the three electorates that go to the polls on May 4.

The cards target Independent Jim Wilkinson and Liberal Vanessa Goodwin in the southern electorates of Nelson and Pembroke. Both voted against the Same-Sex Marriage Bill last September when it was defeated by two votes in the Upper House.

On Thursday, Ruth Forrest introduced a motion in the Upper House to put the Same-Sex Marriage Bill back on the agenda — the first step towards another debate.

If approved, her motion would breathe new life into legislation which stirred passions on all sides last year.

Ms Forrest said last September many MLCs expressed concerns about the likelihood of an expensive High Court challenge if Tasmania voted to allow same-sex marriage before it became federal law.

“I think we can put some of those concerns to rest now,” she said.

Read more

NKorea says it’s in state of war with SKorea

SAM KIM | Associated Press | Yahoo News | March 30, 2013

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea issued its latest belligerent threat Saturday, saying it has entered “a state of war” with South Korea a day after its young leader threatened the United States because two American B-2 bombers flew a training mission in South Korea.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely and North Korea’s threats are instead aimed at drawing Washington into talks that could result in aid and boosting leader Kim Jong Un’s image at home. But the harsh rhetoric from North Korea and rising animosity from the rivals that have followed U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang’s Feb. 12 nuclear test have raised worries of a misjudgment leading to a clash.

In a joint statement by the government, political parties and organizations, North Korea said Saturday that it will deal with all matters involving South Korea according to “wartime regulations.” It also warned it will retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without “any prior notice.”

Read more

Pope refers to “Muslim brothers” on Good Friday

NICOLE WINFIELD | Associated Press | Yahoo News | March 29, 2013

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis reached out in friendship to “so many Muslim brothers and sisters” during a Good Friday procession dedicated to the suffering of Christians from terrorism, war and religious fanaticism in the Middle East.

The new pontiff, who has rankled traditionalists by rejecting many trappings of his office, mostly stuck to the traditional script during the nighttime Way of the Cross procession at Rome’s Colosseum, one of the most dramatic rituals of Holy Week.

With torches lighting the way, the faithful carried a cross to different stations, where meditations and prayers were read out recalling the final hours of Jesus’ life and his crucifixion.

Read more