Archive: 02/2010

Unwelcome Strangers? Nebraskans' Reaction to Undocumented Immigration

Sascha Krannich

German citizen Sascha Krannich was an exchange student at Hastings College two years ago, and wrote his Master’s thesis about undocumented immigration to Nebraska.  Now he is doing research for his PhD. in Mexico. He offers a European perspective on the immigration issues facing our state. 

Immigration, both documented and undocumented, is on the rise in Nebraska, one of the New Immigration States in the U.S. It’s an issue and a problem that both Nebraskan citizens and their political representatives will have to continue to confront. Although the state policy has been lenient, it is now trending toward restrictive. How does Nebraska want to be represented in a national perspective: as a pioneer of hospitality, or as a closed door to those seeking opportunity? The impact of the private sector in this political debate is substantial, both through its role in forming public opinion and its lobbying influence in legislative process.  In any event, the working conditions of immigrants without the legal status to exercise their rights—and the disruption caused by deportations—demand a review of current policy.

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2010 Legislative Priorities

Nebraskans for Peace

On top of the 300-plus bills that carried over from last year’s legislative session, Nebraska state senators have introduced another 400 bills for 2010. With state tax receipts continuing to fall short of projections however (and another round of budget cuts looming), any of this legislation that requires new money will be pretty much dead on arrival in this short, 60-working-day session of the Unicameral. Given this economic reality, here’s a brief overview of some of the bills NFP will be supporting. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it provides a sampling of the kind of legislative priorities NFP will be advocating for in the next three months.

A dozen new bills dealing with renewable energy were introduced, but two that could dramatically reshape the energy landscape in Nebraska are LB 1048, the Natural Resources Committee’s ‘Big Wind’ bill that grew out of Sen. Ken Haar’s legislation from last year, and Sen. Heath Mello’s LB 1098. The Natural Resources Committee bill would help create the legal and infrastructural conditions necessary for large-scale wind development projects in the state that could ultimately make Nebraska an exporter of clean renewable energy to the rest of the nation. Sen. Mello’s bill, alternatively, would authorize Nebraska municipalities to establish “sustainable energy financing districts” to loan homeowners and local businesses the funds for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their properties. To make this program broadly accessible, the loans would be assessed against the property and paid back in the form of property taxes. The energy savings from the improvements, though, would largely offset the property tax increase, allowing everyone the opportunity to adopt a ‘greener’ lifestyle—and thereby reduce our dependence on foreign oil and domestic coal.

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Copenhagen Post-mortem

HENDRIK VAN DEN BERG 
UNL PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS

In December, 50,000 people converged on Copenhagen to attend, protest, lobby, observe or report on the global climate conference. The original purpose of this long-awaited summit was to complete a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012. However, instead of a new agreement, the 50,000 attendees, protestors, lobbyists, and observers were left with what Friends of the Earth described as a “sham agreement” that was agreed to by just five countries on the last evening of the two-week-long gathering. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso termed the accord a “commitment to the lowest common denominator.” 

The so-called “Copenhagen Accord” is indeed a sham of an agreement because it’s nothing more than a statement issued by the leaders of just five countries after a brief closed-door meeting to which the remaining 188 countries were not invited. Especially infuriating was the complete exclusion of the European Union (the only region of the world to have offered ambitious and firm measures to curb greenhouse gases) and the bulk of the world’s developing countries that stand to lose the most from global warming. So Copenhagen produced an Accord arrived at completely outside the normal participatory United Nations process. Worst of all, the Accord established no goals, targets, strategies or even a process for future negotiations. Amazingly, President Obama—one of the five leaders who put the Accord together in a couple of hours (the leaders of Brazil, China, India, and South Africa were the others)—acted as if he’d engineered a breakthrough.  

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StratCom: The Fulcrum for Drone Warfare

Loring Wirbel, Citizens for Peace in Space
Colorado Springs, Colorado

MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

The speed with which Unpiloted Aerial Vehicles have transformed the face of war-fighting is almost as dazzling as the technology itself. Five years ago, these robot planes were still pretty much generally regarded as the stuff of science fiction. Today, however, unarmed reconnaissance drones (ranging in size from a dragonfly to almost the size of a two-seat Cessna) and the rarer armed drones (equipped with missiles or smart bombs) are staples of the Pentagon’s war-making efforts—their numbers and uses destined only to increase.

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Stop StratCom's Drone Attacks

TIM RINNE
STATE COORDINATOR

A version of this article originally appeared in the February 13, 2010 Lincoln Journal Star.

Unpiloted Aerial Vehicles (or ‘drones’) are more and more becoming the weapon of choice for waging America’s international ‘War on Terror.’  The ‘Predator’ and the ‘Reaper’ models in particular have become so popular that, in its 2011 budget, the Air Force is actually requesting more drones than piloted combat aircraft. 

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