Nun With A Bad Habit
June 11, 2021
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“No Statue of Liberty ever greeted our arrival in this country…we did not, in fact, come to the United States at all. The United States came to us.” — Luis Valdez
“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” — Madeleine L’Engle
So many well-worn adages came to mind after Wednesday’s announcement that the Keystone XL Pipeline extension project (KXL) had been terminated: “It ain’t over till it’s over,” “Elections matter,” and “Keep on keepin’ on” among them.
The idea behind the KXL extension — proposed in 2008 by TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) — was to get the planet’s dirtiest fossil fuel from Canadian tar sands to U.S. markets faster. It was intended as an expansion of the company’s existing Keystone Pipeline System, which has been operating since 2010 and already sends tens of thousands of barrels daily of carbon-heavy crude oil extracted from Canadian tar sands to various processing hubs in the middle of the U.S. By providing a shorter route, the KXL extension would dramatically increase capacity to process the crude oil encased under Alberta’s boreal forest — by daily transports of 830,000 barrels or more of sludgy, sticky, nasty petroleum deposits to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
One big problem with the shorter route was that construction was planned to go through a fragile ecosystem in the Nebraska Sandhills region that supplies drinking water for nearly 2 million Americans and irrigation for a good portion of croplands. And the original pipeline had had leaks from the beginning of its operation in 2010, which made it difficult to believe those early State Department impact statements that claimed KXL would have limited effect on the environment.
Opposition to the pipeline expansion grew, from environmental activists and organizations, Indigenous communities, religious leaders, and farmers, ranchers, and business owners along its proposed route. In 2012 President Obama rejected the KXL expansion, but allowed construction to proceed on phase three of the original Keystone pipeline — the so-called southern portion from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico. In 2015 Obama vetoed legislation that would have permitted construction of the KXL to proceed. But once in office, President Trump signed an executive order expediting approval of both the KXL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline. In November 2017 KXL pipes leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota as a result of construction damage.
In 2018 Native American groups in Montana sued; the federal district court issued an injunction against TC Energy halting further construction of the KXL pipeline. The injunction was upheld in March 2019 by a federal appeals court. Trump immediately issued a presidential permit allowing TC Energy to proceed. In October 2019 the original Keystone pipeline system leaked 383,000 more gallons of oil in North Dakota, prompting a plethora of lawsuits throughout 2020.
On January 20, 2021, the day President Biden took office, he revoked Trump’s 2019 presidential permit. Two months later 21 states led by Texas filed suit challenging Biden’s revocation of Trump’s permit. On May 28 a Montana federal court ruled the suit could continue even though Trump was no longer president and Biden had revoked the permit.
TC Energy had the good sense to stop the madness. As Winston Churchill said in 1941: “This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” (NYT, NRDC, Harvard Law, WaPo)
Tragedy At Humanitarian Camp
- The HALO Trust is a non-political, non-religious British charity and American non-profit organization founded in 1988. Its mission is to remove debris left behind by war, particularly land mines. Princess Diana raised awareness of the mission in January 1997, when she walked through a live minefield in Angola, and called for an international ban on landmines. Forty years of conflict has left Afghanistan littered with landmines and other explosives, but HALO says it has helped make almost 80 percent of the country’s recorded minefields and battlefields safe.
- On Tuesday, 110 men from local communities in northern Afghanistan finished their work on nearby minefields and returned to one of the humanitarian organization’s de-mining camps. According to a statement issued by HALO, just before 10 p.m. an “unknown armed group” entered the camp in Baghlan Province north of Kabul, rounded people up, and opened fire, killing 10 and wounding 16 others. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying its gunmen fired automatic weapons on people after locking them up in two rooms. (NBC News)
Cartel The Truth
- The third wife of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, appeared in a Washington, D.C. federal court Thursday morning and pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana for importation into the U.S.
- 31-year-old Emma Coronel Aispuro, a former beauty queen, was born in California and has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Mexico. She was arrested in February by U.S. officials as she arrived at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Court documents claim Coronel controlled a immense wealth earned from the sale of vast quantities of illegal drugs, and that for years when her husband was on the run or temporarily behind bars, she served as a go-between and messenger for him and leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, El Chapo’s notoriously brutal, multi-billion dollar drug empire.
- After El Chapo’s 2017 capture and extradition to the U.S., Coronel attended his trial nearly every day. The 64-year-old is serving a life sentence at the Supermax prison in Colorado. Coronel’s father was a high-ranking lieutenant in El Chapo’s organization. The couple married when she was 18 and he was 50, and they have twin girls. Coronel will be sentenced on September 15. (NPR)
Additional World News
- Ex-Mongolian prime minister Khurelsukh wins presidential election in landslide (Reuters)
- Canada proposes to settle indigenous lawsuit after discovery of children’s remains (Reuters)
- South Korea building collapses onto bus during demolition, killing 9 (CNN)
- Singapore to start easing COVID-19 restrictions after infections fall (Reuters)
- Aung San Suu Kyi formally charged with corruption by Myanmar military junta (Axios)
- Covid: India posts global record deaths after state revises data (Guardian)
- China passes law to counter foreign sanctions (Reuters)
Legacy Marred By Abuse
- Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler Jr. was the legendary head football coach for the University of Michigan Wolverines from 1969 to 1989. Michigan’s football facility in Ann Arbor is named Schembechler Hall, and a bronze statue of Bo stands out front. But in 1969, when Bo’s 10-year-old adopted son Matt told his dad the university’s doctor Robert Anderson had molested him, Bo went berserk, yelled “I am not going to hear this,” and punched the fourth-grader in the chest. Matt said he was abused again by Anderson at age 16 during a physical.
- At a news conference Thursday, Matt Schembechler, now 62, stood beside two former Michigan football players who also said they’d been repeatedly molested by Anderson. Dan Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson said they too had told Bo about the abuse, but he did nothing. Both said Anderson’s actions had long-term impacts on their trust in doctors and their personal relationships.
- They said players frequently joked about Anderson in the locker room when teammates returned from treatment. Johnson said he recalled assistant coaches telling players that if they didn’t work hard, they would have to go have a visit with Anderson. The men are among hundreds of victims suing the University for failing to stop Anderson, who preyed on athletes and other young men over a period of decades. (clickondetroit, ABC News, WaPo)
Nun With A Bad Habit
- A retired California nun has agreed to plead guilty to stealing $835,339 from a Catholic elementary school where she was the principal for 28 years — in part to fund her gambling habit. The Justice Department announced Tuesday that Mary Margaret Kreuper, 79, is charged with one count each of money laundering and wire fraud.
- She admitted to embezzling money from St. James Catholic School in Torrance to gamble at casinos and pay her credit card bills. Kreuper also directed St. James school employees to destroy financial records during an audit. She faces a maximum prison term of 40 years. (NPR)
Additional USA News
- Kyrsten Sinema gets her make-or-break moment with Republicans (Politico)
- GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot (The Hill)
- Here’s What Critics Say Is Wrong With The Electoral College (NPR)
- Truck driver gets 16 years in crash that killed five bicyclists (NBC)
- Hoover Dam reservoir hits record low, in sign of extreme western U.S. drought (Reuters)
- Biden administration buys 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses for global use (CBS)
A Polarizing Theory
The Ohio statehouse held a hearing this week to bolster support for legislation that would block vaccine requirements in schools and other locations, stop businesses from denying service to unvaccinated people, and outlaw any obligation to disclose whether someone’s been vaccinated, among other measures.
To assist in that effort, Republicans on the House Health Committee invited doctor and known conspiracy theorist Sherri Tenpenny to speak. Tenpenny is the author of “Saying No to Vaccines.” During the hearing, she claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine could make people “magnetized,” and that vaccine doses include particles that can connect with 5G wireless technology.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized,” she said with a straight face. “You can put a key on their forehead, it sticks. You can put spoons and forks all over and they can stick because now we think there is a metal piece to that.” The claim is, of course, untrue.
Lawmakers then had another witness, an unnamed woman who was identified as a nurse by the Ohio Capital Journal, take the stand and attempt to give a practical demonstration of the conspiracy.
“So I have a key and a bobby pin here,” she said, proceeding to put a key on her chest, where it stayed. “Explain to me why the key sticks to me.” Then she put the key on her neck, where it fell off. Next she tried a bobby pin and it fell off. Everybody saw it happen, but the woman continued, completely unfazed: “It sticks to my neck too. Yeah so if somebody can explain this, it would be great. Any questions?” We definitely have a few. (Yahoo News)
- Fact check: Gohmert’s attempts to connect moon orbits and solar flares to climate change (CNN)
- The Pandemic Put an End to Rush Hour. What Happens Now? (Wired)
- ‘It got me’: Joe Biden swats away cicada as he boards Air Force One (Guardian)
- Physicists find “definitive evidence” of mechanism behind brightest auroras (Ars Technica)
- Outside Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, a Black activist ensures women are not alone (NBC)
- Europe will join the space party at Planet Venus (BBC)
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