LJS Editorial: Life sentences are safe alternative to death penalty

From the Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board:

Nebraskans who want to keep the death penalty off the books in Nebraska took a proactive step last week to reassure Nebraskans that when a murderer is sentenced to life in prison, it means just that.

The anti-death penalty group included some Nebraskans who can speak with consummate authority.

Here’s what retired District Court Judge Ronald Reagan had to say:

“I want to make sure there is no legal confusion,” Reagan said. “Life imprisonment means life in prison, no chance of parole. Anything else is legal posturing and has no grounding in the legal realities.”

Reagan ought to know. He’s the judge who sentenced John Joubert to death. John Joubert, a sadistic serial killer convicted of stabbing two boys to death, died in the electric chair in 1996. He was one of the last people to be executed in the state.

“I have seen the worst of the worst cases in Nebraska and I have studied the laws very carefully,” Reagan said. “Let me be perfectly clear about what happens when someone is sentenced to life imprisonment in Nebraska – they die in prison.”

Read the full editorial.

Sen. Ken Harr: Planning is better than name-calling on climate change

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

Instead of engaging in demagoguery around climate change like (George Will in his April 25 column), Nebraska scientists and policy makers are taking steps to address climate change. This session I introduced LR455, which created a special legislative committee to address both the risks and the opportunities from climate change for Nebraska’s people. This committee is composed of seven members from all across the state representing a wide spectrum of political views. The committee will create the framework for a Nebraska Climate Action Plan based on a consensus of scientific evidence, including input from nationally recognized experts from UNL who assembled the 2014 report on the impacts of climate change in Nebraska (Climate Change Implications for Nebraska).

Read the full Local View op-ed.

Former Nader campaign manager: Revolution is difficult and necessary

From Theresa Amato writing for Vox:

Every four years, we come to this point: Dissatisfaction with the major party candidates cries for alternatives, and then reality comes crashing in. As an initial matter, the problem can be squarely laid at the feet of voters themselves as they are unwilling to take a risk outside the two parties once their nominees lose inside the two major parties.

I know because I tried twice to open up the system to candidacies outside the two parties: first, in 2000 as the national campaign manager for Ralph Nader when he was the Green Party nominee, and then again in 2004, when Nader ran on a potpourri of third-party and independent ballot lines.

Until we fix our Byzantine ballot access system, our partisan electoral administrations, our campaign financing system, our inexplicably exclusive Commission on Presidential Debates, and a media fixated on horse-race politics, it is a myth that anyone can run — successfully — for president outside of the two parties.

Read the full First Person essay at Vox.

Jill Stein: We Need a Constitutional Right to Vote

From Jill2016.com:

The 2016 primary season is exposing a crisis of democracy in America.

The prevalence of voter suppression, from voters forced to stand in line for five hours in Arizona to over one hundred thousand voters purged from the rolls in New York, is inexcusable.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, a federal judge has upheld new voting restrictions, including a voter ID law that will disproportionately block poor and minority voters from the polls.

It’s no secret that reducing voter turnout benefits the political establishment.

It’s time to bring real democracy to America by eliminating unfair barriers to voting and ensuring every vote counts.

Voter suppression across the United States has reached crisis levels, largely because the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee our right to vote. An explicit Constitutional right to vote would empower Americans to challenge systemic voter suppression and restore the integrity of our elections.

Stand with Jill Stein’s call for an explicit Constitutional right to vote today!

Read more and sign the petition.

Action Alert: Climate rally at Berkshire meeting April 30 in Omaha

From BOLD Nebraska:

Join former NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, Nebraska Peace Foundation, and Bold Nebraska on Saturday, April 30th outside the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting in Omaha to deliver our petition and urge shareholders attending the meeting to VOTE YES on the Climate Resolution. Introduced by Nebraska Peace Foundation, which owns a voting share in the company, the shareholder resolution asks the company to do a climate risk assessment.

The rally will be Saturday, April 30,  from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the CenturyLink Center, 455 N 10th St, Omaha.

Warren Buffett has urged shareholders to vote against the resolution. In his letter to shareholders, Buffett writes that he understands that climate change keeps people up at night, and he thinks people in low lying areas should move.

Said Buffett: “Call this Noah’s Law: If an ark may be essential for survival, begin building it today, no matter how cloudless the skies appear.”

Buffett sees climate change causing disasters, but he doesn’t see any risk of his insurance companies experiencing “significant losses” from them yet.

It’s time for Warren Buffett to build a #ClimateArk — starting with the climate risk assessment for his companies outlined in the shareholder resolution proposed by Nebraska Peace Foundation.

Read more from BOLD Nebraska and RSVP for the rally.

Action Alert: Help petition for ballot access at Earth Day events

Upcoming Earth Day celebrations provide opportunities to gather signatures and ensure that the Nebraska Green Party appears on the ballot for Nebraska voters in November:

Earth Day Omaha

  • Saturday, April 16
  • 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Elmwood Park
  • Contact markalanzimmermann (at) gmail.com to help.

Earth Day Lincoln

  • Saturday, April 23
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Union Plaza
  • Contact  mjberry (at) inebraska.com to help.

Lawmakers OK proposals to plan for climate change, boost wind energy

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

Environmentalists notched a pair of victories in the Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday, with measures aimed at boosting wind energy development and preparing the state for the effects of climate change.

More people are beginning to acknowledge climate change exists, said Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, a longtime champion of environmental issues.

“I think that’s progress,” he said.

Haar’s proposal establishing a special panel of lawmakers to examine climate change was adopted on a 28-3 vote. Because the resolution doesn’t carry the weight of law, it does not require approval from Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The wind energy bill sponsored by Omaha Sen. John McCollister overcame a filibuster for the second time to pass on a 34-10 vote, and now awaits the governor’s OK.

Both measures faced some opposition.

Read the full story.

LJS Editorial: The only way to “fix” the death penalty is to end it

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

Before voters go to the polls on Nov. 8 to vote on whether they want to put the death penalty back on the books in Nebraska, they ought to think about the learning process undergone by Christy Sheppard.

If voters are able to put themselves in her shoes, they too are likely to reach the same conclusion Sheppard did: the death penalty should be abolished.

Sheppard shared her story last week in appearances in Omaha, Grand Island, Kearney and Hastings.

Sheppard was a supporter of the death penalty when here cousin was raped and murdered in 1982.

She was a supporter of the death penalty when two men were arrested in 1987 and charged with murdering her cousin. Upon conviction, Ron Williamson was sentenced to death, and Dennis Fritz was sentenced to life in prison.

Then 11 years later DNA testing proved that Williamson and Fritz had been wrongfully convicted.

Read the full editorial.

Get involved in the campaign to end Nebraska’s death penalty once and for all.

Unicameral Approves Protections Against Fracking Waste, Reforms at Oil & Gas Commission

From BOLD Nebraska:

Bold Nebraska applauds the Nebraska Legislature today for approving LB 1082 by a 48-0-1 vote, a bill to reform the Nebraska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (NOGCC) and put stronger protections for our water and land in place against fracking waste.

Although Bold Nebraska believes the bill could have gone much farther, LB 1082 is a step in the right direction.

“Citizens stood up and demanded more transparency on risky fracking waste being dumped into our land and water,” said Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb. “Wastewater injection wells are the result other state’s reckless fracking practices and should be banned. While we did not achieve everything citizens think must happen to protect our land and water, we once again took a major step forward, because every day folks are standing up to Big Oil.”

Read more about the impact of LB 1082.

Join a discussion about the future of wind energy in Lancaster County

From the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters:

On Monday, March 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hardin Hall Auditorium (3310 Holdrege St., Lincoln), a coalition of community leaders will participate in a panel discussion about the benefits of wind power, and the anti-wind policies that have prevented wind development in Nebraska. The panel will discuss the recent vote taken by the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners that effectively prohibits the development of wind energy in Lancaster County. They will discuss the implications of that decision and how the coalition plans to get that decision reversed. The panel is hosted by the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters (NLCV) and is free and open to the public.

Those who are participating in the panel discussion include:

  • Senator Ken Haar, Nebraska State Senator for Legislative District 21
  • Lancaster County Commissioner Bill Avery, former State Senator for Legislative District 28
  • John Hansen, President of the Nebraska Farmers Union
  • John Markey, Business Manager and Financial Secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 265
  • Greg Schwaninger, Lancaster County Landowner
  • Eliot Bostar, Executive Director of the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters

Read more and register for the event.