The Keystone XL pipeline has been a source of controversy for environmental activists and oil enthusiasts for several years now. The pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries, would serve an economic importance for the United States. It would create a surplus of jobs and would also bring the country a valuable oil supply from a trusted source. It would also threaten to destroy wildlife and other elements of the environment, critics claim.
According to the AP, a Nebraska judge recently dismissed Gov. Dave Heineman’s law that would have allowed the pipeline to proceed through the state. This marks the first attempt by a state to block pipeline construction, as it has already been approved for the majority of its route by Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. If the judge's ruling stands, the pipeline might need to be diverted on a new route that coculd be more costly and take longer to build.
Although much of the arguments against the pipeline involve the environment, the reason the project was shut down in Nebraska is entirely different. Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy argued that the law would give TransCanada Corp., the builder of the pipeline, eminent domain, as the corporation would have to overtake properties from landowners throughout the state in order to construct the pipeline.
Stacy argued that Heineman did not have the authority to grant TransCanada such eminent domain powers, and that the decision should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission. Stacy’s ruling sides with the three Nebraska landowners that filed suit upon the approval of the pipeline’s construction.
Reports on Keystone XL’s environmental impact widely vary. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. State Department recently released an environmental assessment claiming the pipeline would have a limited effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental activists claim the opposite. President Obama has yet to take a firm stance on either side, and the project is seen as a test of his commitment to improving the struggling American economy, as well as his dedication to the environment.
A Nebraska toddler who is seen repeating profanities in an online video was taken into protective custody, Omaha police said Wednesday.
According to CNN, Omaha police said that the department’s Child Victim Unit and the Nebraska Child Protective Services removed four children, including the toddler featured in the video posted by a police union, from the home.
The Omaha Police Officers Association has faced criticism for posting the video, titled “The Thug Cycle,” on its website.
“We here at OmahaPOA.com viewed the video and we knew that despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in,” the union said in its post. It added that the footage came from “a local thug’s public Facebook page.”
Authorities found nothing criminal in the video, which shows the African-American child wearing only a diaper being barraged with obscenities and racial slurs from adults who encourage him to repeat vulgar phrases.
“Now while we didn’t see anything in this video that is blatantly ‘illegal,’ we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint,” the police union said.
Sgt. Jeff Wells, the union’s president, said one of the adults mentions a local street gang in the video.
Police did not reveal the names of any of the children or families or divulge their relationship to one another.
“That is why when we talk about the culture, the criminal culture, that this is to try to break the cycle and deal with the culture of violence and the culture of gang activity,” Wells said.
However, local civil rights activists say the union’s post “crossed a line” in a city where police officers’ treatment of minorities, who make up a quarter of Omaha’s resident, led to lawsuits, criminal charges against two cops and firings and reassignments of others in the past year.
“For them to take a video out of context — a 2-year-old who doesn’t have the brain capacity to know what’s going on — and to say that this child, because two adults acted inappropriately, is going to end up in a life of crime is totally inappropriate,” Willie Hamilton, president of Black Men United, said.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Tuesday that the department had nothing to do with posting the video and doesn’t have control over what the union posts, the Associated Press reported.
But the union has handed the video over to the department’s child victim unit for investigation with the help of child-welfare agencies.
“Hopefully, the impact is, it gives law-abiding citizens what law enforcement deals with on a daily basis, and it sort of throws back the blinders that these type of problems are going on,” Wells said.
The Omaha Police Officers Association in Nebraska posted a video to their website of a young African-American child using profanity as part of, what they call, “the thug cycle.”
The diapered child is seen in a video caught on a camera phone being antagonized by two adult relatives. They immerse the child in sexual and gang discussions, call him racial slurs and teach him to swear. The police department says the video is local and the adults aren’t breaking any laws, KMTV reported.
"…despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in," said the post on their website.
“Now while we didn't see anything in this video that is blatantly 'illegal', we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint,” the website says.
The post continues on to say that the public that they are “literally watching ‘the cycle’ of violence continue right in front of your eyes. A powerful cycle that must be broken if we ever hope to get a handle on violence in Omaha. A powerful cycle that the police alone cannot stop.”
Union President John Wells, a sergeant in the Omaha Police Department, told Gawker that the term “thug” is used as a “general term on our Facebook page,” but that it could be substituted by a variety of other terms such as “abnormal, antisocial, criminal.”
Wells compared the video of the toddler to the city’s street violence, saying that “a lot of these children end up dealing with law enforcement. I'm not saying that this kid won't grow up to be a productive member of society."
The post called the video’s creator, who is reportedly the toddler’s uncle, a “local thug,” but Wells said, "I don't know that he's a gangbanger... he mentions 29th Street, which is a local Bloods gang here."
The association is different from the police department, Wells told Gawker, because they have “a lot more latitude to be a little more edgy” and that edginess is needed to force a deeper conversation on the city's crime problems.
Wells says Omaha is ethnically segregated, and many residents brush off crime by saying “it didn't happen in my part of town, that's not a problem.”
Watch a report by KMTV below:
Valerie Dodds snuck onto the campus of her former Catholic school, Lincoln Pius X High School, in May to take nude photos of herself in retaliation against former classmates and teachers who disapprove of her career as an aspiring adult performer, "Val Midwest."
She posed with her breasts exposed on an athletic field, nude on the field and sitting naked on a concrete bench at the Lincoln, Neb. school, reported JournalStar.com.
“Everyone at my high school had something rude to say to me when I started my website and so this is my tribute to all of you lol,” Dodds wrote on her website where she posted the pictures. “I held nothing back I used my fingers, my toys and even my crucifix in my p----! I used every part of the school I could get into, payback is a b---- ha ha.”
As part of that "payback," Dodds was found guilty of trespassing and public nudity last month.
Last Friday, Judge Thomas Fox sentenced her to 45 days in jail, which includes 30 days for trespassing and 15 days for public nudity.
Dodds filed an appeal on Friday with the Lancaster County District Court and was released on a $75 bond, noted RawStory.com.
Dodds' attorney, Chad Wythers, claimed that first-time DUI offenders cause more danger “than parading around naked” and yet they get no more than a week in jail.
“I think she deserves jail for what she did,” countered local prosecutor Christine Loseke.
Nebraska Supreme Court Reinstates Appeal Of Sudanese Immigrant Forced To Obtain A G.E.D. In Order To Regain Parental Rights
When a young immigrant living in Nebraska lost her parenting rights, she was ordered by a state juvenile court to “actively pursue either a G.E.D. or a high school diploma” as part of the rehabilitation process required to reestablish her relationship with her children.
The woman, known through court records as Nyamal M, was raising two daughters while attending high school in the state when she lost her children due to accusations of neglect. Nyamal’s case was heard by a juvenile court due to her status as a minor at the time her children were taken from her.
When Nyamal initially challenged the juvenile court’s decision in the Nebraska Court of Appeals, her case was dismissed. “We conclude that the dispositional order is not an appealable order and, therefore, dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction,” the decision reads. The initial ruling had required Nyamal to “participate in therapy, seek part-time employment to provide financial support for her children, and cooperate with family support services,” in addition to continuing her education at Lincoln High School.
When Nyamal turned 19, she aged out of the legal requirement to attend school and obtained a full-time job. The state asserted that, because Nyamal was under 19 at the time of her ruling in juvenile court, she should have finished her education. Because she attempted to appeal the decision after already dropping out of school, she inflicted upon the court an “impermissible collateral attack on a prior judgment,” so the appeal was dismissed.
According to Court House News, Nebraska’s Supreme Court has reinstated Nyamal’s appeal, redirecting it to the lower courts for further consideration.
“The conditions for reunification with a parent’s child is a crucial step in proceedings that could possibly lead to the termination of parental rights. We therefore hold that such orders affect a parent’s substantial right in a special proceeding and are appealable,” Justice William Connolly wrote in the court’s decision.
Nyamal’s children are still living in foster homes.
A Cass County, Neb., man will not be prosecuted for fatally shooting his father.
Omaha.com reported that Cass County Attorney Nathan Cox ruled that 36-year-old David Bouzek acted in self-defense when he killed his 61-year-old father on June 16.
Cox says evidence showed that Gary Bouzek was armed with a hammer when he came at his son and that David Bouzek had no choice but to pull the trigger.
Gary Bouzek died of a single bullet to the head fired from David Bouzek’s .22-caliber rifle, Cox said.
In 1987, Gary Bouzek faced prison time for fatally stabbing a 25-year-old man in Omaha.
According to Guns.com, Cox says the elder Bouzek was estranged from his son for 27 years, but after the end of his parole and before the deadly shooting, Gary Bouzek began communicating with him again.
Following the release of Gary Bouzek from prison, he was invited to his son’s home in Murdock, Neb., Cox says. A dispute began between the two as David Bouzek was driving to his home with his father. That’s when David Bouzek told his dad to get out. On June 16, Gary Bouzek was hammering outside the home of the younger Bouzek, who told his father to stop. David Bouzek, armed with a rifle, shot his father when he came at him, Cox said.
According to Nebraska Radio Network, David Bouzek had borrowed the rifle from his neighbor because he was scared of his father.
Toxicology tests showed that there was alcohol in Gary Bouzek's system and that he had not been taking his prescription medication that prevents erratic behavior, Cox said.
Investigators have not been able to determine how Gary Bouzek traveled to Murdock from Lincoln, Cox said.
A recent Catholic Church investigation found two Omaha, Nebraska priests guilty of sexual abuse. The priests were relieved of their pastoral duties as the Catholic Church continues their effort to restore public confidence in the church’s willingness to punish sexually abusive priests.
The two priests are Rev. Alfred J. Salanitro and Rev. Franklin A. Dvorak. Salanitro was kicked out of the priesthood entirely. Dvorak remains in the clergy, but has been sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He will no longer be allowed to lead services or practice any public pastoral duties and has been told not to wear his clerical attire.
An investigative team consisting of church officials, childcare experts, attorneys, and law enforcement officials found the men guilty of sexual abuse.
Salantrino was deemed guilty of abusing a Carter Lake, Iowa man from the time he was 11 years old. Two other men came forward during the investigation and claimed they too were abused by Salantrino as children.
Dvorak, meanwhile, was determined to have repeatedly abused a young female parishioner from 1970-1972.
The investigation’s findings were reported to local law enforcement officials. The presiding police departments have not decided whether they will pursue formal legal charges against the men at this time.
The moves are in line with the staunch anti-abuse position the church has taken since Pope Francis’s arrival in March. The Associated Press reports that over 3,000 sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Church in America alone. Since 1950, the Catholic Church in America has paid over $3 billion dollars in sexual abuse lawsuit settlements.
A 20-year-old man in Nebraska is facing assault, terrorism and hate crime charges after allegedly attacking his own sister with a crowbar because he doesn’t approve of her being a lesbian based on their family’s Muslim beliefs.
Ahmed Mohammed Tuma was arrested on Nov. 8 along with an accomplice, 20-year-old Nathan Marks, who now faces charges of aiding and abetting terroristic threats and aiding and abetting the use of a weapon to commit a felony.
Reports allege that on Thursday evening, Tuma arrived at the home of his 22-year-old sister and her fiancée with a crowbar in hand.
“At first I didn't know who it was,” said the victim. “Then I finally realized it was my brother ... he had a crowbar in his hand, he tried to hit me with it.”
The victim and her fiancée fled as Tuma chased them with the crowbar, and the two were able to get into their car. Tuma, along with Marks, began to hit the vehicle with the crowbar and attempted to push the car into oncoming traffic, but his sister and her fiancée were able to get away.
“They were in fear for their lives,” said Officer Katie Flood. “Tuma had made some verbal threats to kill the sister.”
Tuma allegedly tried to attack his sister because she was in a lesbian relationship and it goes against their family’s Muslim beliefs. Tuma says that his sister is a disgrace to their family. He and Marks are now in police custody and face those serious charges.
FBI Agent Raises Issue As To Whether Off-Duty Officers Should Be Allowed To Carry Weapons In Nebraska Schools
A parent of a school located in Papillion-La Vista has proposed a question to the local school board that may have state-wide implications. At a recent school board meeting, the parent brought forth the issue of off-duty police officers and law enforcement agents carrying weapons in state schools after noticing an off-duty FBI agent carrying a firearm in a Papillion-La Vista school.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, the actions of the off-duty FBI agent exist in a legal-gray area within the state of Nebraska. Weapons are technically banned on school grounds, but may be brought to campuses by on-duty police officers. Whether or not off-duty law enforcement officials are able to bring weapons to the schools remains up for debate, as no judicial branch has made a ruling on the issue.
Many view the line between “off-duty” and “on-duty” as a thin one for law enforcement officials. La Vista Police Sgt. and Papillion-La Vista school board member Jeremy Kinsey told the Omaha World-Herald that he would expect any weapon-carrying officer, on or off-duty, to respond to a child-threatening situation were one to arise in a school.
“Personally I’m in support of any police officers, whether in uniform or plainclothes, being at the schools and being able to react to a situation if a situation came up. That’s what police officers are sword to do: protect,” Kinsey said.
However, concerns about off-duty officers bringing weapons into schools are also grounded in reality. If a parent sees a person in street clothes carrying a weapon into a school, his or her first reaction might be that the off-duty officer could have intentions to harm the children. Of course, it’s the opposite that parents, children, officers and school administrators would like to be true.
Although legislation regarding the issue does not yet exist in Nebraska, similar provisions have been proposed in other states. Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch sponsored a bill that would allow out-of-state, off-duty and retired police officers to carry concealed weapons in schools in his home state of Wisconsin. That bill, however, was struck down, and was not voted on by the state Assembly, WISN 12 reports.
Whether or not the issue of off-duty officers carrying guns in Nebraska schools will be brought before that state’s legislation remains to be seen, although discussion of the issue certainly appears to be heating up.
A Nebraska high school principal caused quite a stir after he announced to students on October 7th that they wouldn’t be reciting the Pledge of Allegiance that day.
The decision, he explains, was in response to the government shutdown. Alliance High School Principal Pat Jones says that his reason behind doing it was to educate the students about the shutdown and to get them talking about it. He insists that most of the students either knew little about what was going on, or didn’t even know there was a shutdown to begin with.
District Superintendent Troy Unzicker defended the reasoning behind the principal’s decision.
“It is kind of sad, because when you talk to our kids, they don’t understand the shutdown at all, some maybe not even knowing it existed,” said Unzicker to KOTA News. ”So it has opened up some great communication lines and it has actually had some positive outcomes.”
Still, despite good intentions, many student and parents were not happy. According to reports, one student decided to recite the Pledge of Allegiance anyway, defying the decision made by the principal.
Superintendent Unzicker claims that Principal Jones did not clear the decision with him prior to making the announcement and that he only heard about it after getting bad feedback from many parents.
Still, Unzicker claims that something positive came out of Principal Jones’s decision, although it may not have been the best way to go about educating students.
"There were some positive aspects that came out of it, but skipping the pledge is not something we will do again," Unzicker said.
Unzicker did not say if any disciplinary action was taken against Principal Jones. The government has been shut down since October 1st, and there is still no clear end in sight.