Comment history

Torture report says little on Pat Roberts' role

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): Chairman of the Senate Cover-up Committee

As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Pat Roberts’s (R-KS) duty is “to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States” and “to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” But on the most important intelligence issues facing Americans – such as the manipulation of Iraq intelligence, warrantless domestic spying, and torture – Roberts has transformed his committee into a “Senate Coverup Committee” for the Bush administration.
Warrantless Domestic Spying
Iraq Intelligence
Intelligence Leak Hypocrisy
What Editorial Boards Are Saying

December 15, 2014 at 7:48 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Children's advocates call on Brownback to veto transfer of $5 million from children's programs to KBA

Tornado Alley too dangerous for pathogen research lab

Graphic images of utter devastation from the EF-5 tornado that slammed into Moore, Okla., are a stark reminder of the power of cyclonic storms in the Great Plains to destroy virtually all above-ground structures that lie in their path.

They should also be a warning of the folly of building a federal research lab handling the most dangerous pathogens on earth in the heart of Tornado Alley. And yet that is exactly what the Department of Homeland Security is planning to do in Manhattan, Kan., which in 2008 was struck by an EF-4 tornado similar to the one that leveled Moore, Okla.

The decision of the DHS to build the National Bio-and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, in Manhattan, Kan., is a classic example of politics trumping safety and the lengths that state officials and members of Congress will go to secure a billion-dollar federal project in times of economic hardship. Designed to replace the aging Plum Island lab on Long Island, the NBAF will conduct research in maximum containment labs on pathogens that represent a grave threat to humans and livestock, whether from terrorist attacks or natural outbreaks.

The decision to build the NBAF in Kansas was the result of a two-year site selection process in which 28 sites in 11 states were evaluated by federal officials. I chaired the consortium of San Antonio research institutions that competed for the site selection. The single most important criterion in the selection process was safety and the risk of a catastrophic event resulting in the accidental release of deadly pathogens. The fear of such a scenario was so great that heated public opposition caused many of the proposed sites to be withdrawn from consideration. In the end, the Kansas site was chosen in the waning hours of the Bush administration and soon afterward endorsed by the Obama administration.

May 8, 2014 at 7:46 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Not good news

Moody's downgrades Kansas Again

May 6, 2014 at 7:23 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Pulitzer-winning writer featured in Tuesday Lawrence library event on Keystone Pipeline

Keystone PipeLIES Exposed: The Facts on Sticky Leaks, Billion Dollar Spills, and Dirty Air

How Tar Sands Work

Tar sands oil bears little resemblance to anything most people would recognize as petroleum. In its natural form, it is not even liquid. Rather, it is solid or semi-solid bitumen, mixed with clay, sand, and water in a sticky sludge.

“It basically is a very tarry, asphalt-like substance that requires an enormous amount of energy to get out of the ground and an enormous amount of energy to move and to refine,” says Anthony Swift, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “It's a much lower grade of oil, almost liquid coal. There are many more impurities there are many more toxic substances in it” compared to conventional petroleum.

Tar sands extraction is generally done in two ways: surface mining and drilling.

Surface mining is similar to the commonly understood form of mineral extraction. Much like a gold mine or coal mine requires digging into the earth to uncover the valuable minerals held within, tar sands mining differs only in the vast areas that must be cleared and the vast amounts of earth that must be dug up to remove the bitumen.

Drilling for tar sands, however, is very different from any other form of oil drilling. Rather than poking a giant straw into an underground reservoir that then gushes up under pressure or is pumped to the surface, the bitumen locked in the soil is too thick to be pumped in a similar fashion.

Drilling for bitumen, typically undertaken when the tar sands are too deep beneath the surface for cost-effective mining, requires a multi-step process. First, a collection tube is drilled. And then above that an injection tube is drilled, which then forces superheated steam into the earth under extreme pressure, which heats and liquefies the bitumen which is been collected by the first tube.

Each process has its own significant drawbacks. Most obviously, surface mining requires a level of industrial activity on a delicate ecosystem that many people likely would find unconscionable.

“It's called the boreal forest. This is an incredibly rich ecosystem with the largest remaining intact ecosystem in North America and the tar sands would completely devastate that region,” says Kate Colarulli, associate director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign. “It would pollute some of the largest freshwater rivers in North America. The Athabasca [River] is facing tremendous pollution from this, and it would create huge amounts of toxic air emissions. So what we see at the production site is an environmental Armageddon.”

May 6, 2014 at 7:17 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Number of Kansans who signed up for insurance through marketplace exceeds government's expectations

Tim Huelskamps bogus claim that #Obamacare has boosted the number of uninsured

“It’s hard to get accurate numbers on anything. But the numbers we see today is that — as I understand them — we believe there are more people uninsured today in Kansas than there were before the president’s health-care plan went into effect. And I thought the goal was to bring more people into insurance.”

– Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), remarks at a town hall in Salina, Kan., April 14, 2014

“There are more folks uninsured today in our district, we believe, than were uninsured before Obamacare kicked in.”

– Huelskamp. remarks at a town hall in Hays, Kan., April 17, 2014

This column has been updated with a statement from Huelskamp

Rep. Tim Huelskamp is a tea party favorite who has long been a skeptic of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, but his recent remarks during a swing of town halls jumped out at The Fact Checker. He referred to “numbers” that showed that, even after all the hoopla about 8 million Americans enrolling on the exchanges, the number of uninsured in Kansas has actually risen since the law went into effect.

What is he looking at?

May 2, 2014 at 7:57 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Moody's Investors Service downgrades state bonds, citing Kansas' sluggish economy, tax cuts

In Kansas If tax revenues are off, it’s Obama’s fault?

It has been almost comical to hear the shifting responses by Brownback administration officials to changes in state tax revenue collections. When the March tax collections came in higher than projected, Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan boasted about how “we’re seeing the Kansas economic engine running.”

But when the April collections came in $93 million less than projections (which were made only two weeks ago), Jordan and Gov. Sam Brownback blamed President Obama and the national economy. Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Kansas’ state bonds, citing the state’s sluggish economy, budget problems and revenue reductions resulting from tax cuts. Is that Obama’s fault, too?

May 2, 2014 at 7:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kobach says Wisconsin voter ID ruling will have no impact on Kansas

Hey, Kris Kobach! Here’s a Hanky. Cry Me a River

A federal judge ruled that Wisconsin’s law requiring a government issued photo-id to vote places an undue burden on minority voters.

This was preceded by pro-voting-rights rulings in Pennsylvania by a state judge; and that was followed by Arkansas, where a judge said that state’s voter-id law violates the state’s constitution.

Sixteen states have laws on the books that restrict voter’s rights similar to the one in Wisconsin. Kansas is one of those states.

This is a huge win for those who understand that minorities DO have far more people who will be negatively affected by these voter-id laws.

One major fact: There has been almost NO voter fraud. So why suddenly, since President Obama was elected, are so many Republicans like Kris Kobach pushing for making voting by the poor much more difficult, if not impossible in time to vote this November?

May 1, 2014 at 7:21 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Brownback speaks to Leadership Kansas, avoids protesters

Sources: FBI examines lobbying by Brownback loyalists
Inquiry focuses on Medicaid, 'pay-to-play' formulas

April 28, 2014 at 7:45 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Brownback speaks to Leadership Kansas, avoids protesters

Running out the back door to avoid protesters. What a great show from the governor.

April 26, 2014 at 8:08 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: A blow to wind power

Kansas ALEC-Affiliated Legislator Leads Charge to Repeal Renewable Energy Standard

Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmful attack on Kansas’s wildly successful Renewable Energy Standard.

This year’s bill, Senate Bill 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas.

Operating and proposed wind farms in Kansas. Graphic credit: Kansas Energy Information Network

It is difficult to understand why these attacks on job-creating, investment-spurring, clean energy policies continue to pop up every spring like weeds in a (solar) garden. After all, the policy has helped to spur over $7 billion in new investment in the state and create 13,000 jobs in an otherwise struggling economy.

So it is no wonder that 91 percent of Kansans support doing more with clean energy and more than two-thirds would support increasing the Renewable Energy Standard from its current goal of 20 percent renewables to 25 percent by 2020.

Kansas is a major renewables powerhouse—literally. It has the second best wind resource in the country with the technical potential to supply enough electricity to supply all of the state’s energy more than 90 times over. The state already produces enough electricity from wind to power more than 840,000 American households, and Kansas is just beginning to scratch the surface of what can be done with solar power. That means Kansas wind provides more than enough electricity to meet the needs of the combined populations of Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka, Omaha, Nebraska and Tulsa, OK and still have enough left over for Minneapolis!

March 25, 2014 at 8:12 a.m. ( | suggest removal )