Partisan politics and America’s culture wars have been on full display again in Austin at the Texas State Board of Education. According to a Friday report in The Dallas Morning News, Republicans on the board defeated a Democratic-backed proposal on Thursday to would have required that Texas students be taught the reason behind a prohibition of a state religion in the Bill of Rights. You can see the report here by The Dallas Morning News which has done some fine stuff on this and related subjects.
The seven social conservatives on the panel were joined by three moderate Republicans in rejecting the proposal, which was backed by all five Democrats on the board.
ARLINGTON, Texas (Reuters) – Ghana’s Joshua Clottey will target Filipino Manny Pacquiao’s body for punishment when the two clash in Dallas this weekend.
Seven-time world champion Pacquiao’s WBO world welterweight title is on the line and Clottey intends to soften up his opponent.
Karl Rove, the political operative widely credited with the electoral successes of former U.S. President George W. Bush, says in his new book that he did not choose gay marriage as a wedge issue but that circumstances thrust it his way.
Conventional wisdom, at least in some circles, has it that Rove masterminded gay marriage as an issue in the 2004 White House race in a bid to get conservative evangelicals — a key base for the Republican Party, especially during the Bush years – to the polls. There were ballot initiatives in about a dozen states that year to ban gay marriage (or, supporters of such measures would argue, to defend traditional marriage). Many political commentators have said such tactics are in keeping with the “Rovian” strategy of ginning up the base to clinch narrow victories.
DALLAS/WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – The iconic sage grouse that once roamed the western U.S. plains in great numbers needs protection, a move that will still curtail some energy development, the U.S. Interior Department said on Friday.
The bird will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act, but the department will put special emphasis on preserving the the chicken-sized bird on lands where oil companies want to drill and wind companies want to erect their massive turbines.
The bird which feeds off the sage brush in states such as Wyoming has lost about half of its habitat over the past several decades, with its numbers slashed by 90 percent to between 200,000 and 300,000.
Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, said the agency will review drilling permits that have already been approved.
"Certainly, we would be reviewing those applications with a lot more scrutiny in areas where we have determined they are major populations of sage grouse and as a result of that determination…we would likely attach some additional stipulations on that drilling," he said.
It was not immediately clear which projects will be affected, but efforts to protect the bird have already thrown some projects into uncertainty, including a 198-turbine, $600 million wind farm in Wyoming proposed by Horizon Wind Energy.
The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States said it was concerned about how energy development would be affected but was relieved that a full listing of the bird was avoided.
"We’re concerned that land managers will nevertheless implement this decision by introducing very restrictive policies that prevent companies from investing and creating high-paying jobs in local communities," the group said.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he wanted to move ahead with energy development while working with the states and private landowners to ensure the sage grouse thrives.
Republicans, who have branded President Barack Obama’s attempts to pass a climate change bill as a job killer, said efforts to protect the sage grouse was another example of a green agenda that was bad for workers.
"Wyoming is still left with a black cloud over our job market," said the state’s U.S. senator, John Barrasso.
With an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, the economy will be a politically charged issue in a congressional election year where Democrats are seen in trouble in many districts.
The bird did not attain full endangered status but as a candidate species, federal and state government agencies will be expected to work harder to protect its habitat, so industry could still face restrictions.
Wyoming had already taken steps to protect the bird in a bid to stave off an endangered species listing, which the sage grouse could still attain down the road.
The Bureau of Land Management in early January issued guidelines to protect the bird, which Wyoming officials and environmentalists say will effectively preclude wind power development in about 20 percent of the sprawling state.
According to National Geographic, the bird’s range is spread over 11 western states but is concentrated in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Nevada.
(Editing by Jim Marshall and Rebekah Kebede)
DALLAS, March 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. Interior Department will announce on Friday its plan to protect a threatened ground bird, a move that will have a huge impact on wind, oil and natural gas development and ranching in the American west.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce whether the greater sage-grouse will be afforded mandated protections with a listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Even without endangered species status, the department’s the Bureau of Land Management said it will publish later on Friday updated national guidelines to safeguard critical habitat for the chicken-sized ground bird. Any federal measures to protect the bird and its habitat will have implications for the energy and ranching sectors.
"The BLM anticipates issuing its national policy today and materials will be posted later today," a BLM spokesperson said.
The BLM guidelines could be modeled on those already laid down in Wyoming, which effectively preclude wind energy development in 20 percent of that state and restrict the oil and gas industries in some areas to one drilling site per square mile.
The national policy will cover the 10 other states where the bird is found. But the biggest impact on development will no doubt be found in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Nevada, the four states where it is most widespread.
Under a full endangered species listing, activities that require federal approval or funds that could jeopardize the existence of the species or adversely modify its habitat will be subjected to scrutiny from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The fact that the BLM is announcing its plans suggests the bird may not get an Endangered Species listing but could be given what is known as "warranted but precluded" status.
This would still include regulatory hurdles to protect the bird, whose population the National Audubon Society estimates has shrunk to around 200,000 from millions a century ago.
The bird, to some a symbol of the West, has seen its range area cut in half due to habitat loss and development.
During the consultation process, the Fish and Wildlife Service offers mitigations that if implemented will eliminate or reduce harm to the species or its habitat. If the mitigations are implemented, the activity proceeds.
Such a listing could also be politically explosive at a time of high unemployment ahead of November’s congressional elections.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by David Gregorio) (Dallas newsroom, +1 972 632 7041, email@example.com))
DALLAS, March 2 (Reuters) – Incumbent Rick Perry beat U.S.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in a bruising primary election on
Tuesday to decide the Republican candidate for Texas governor.
“I have called Governor Perry congratulating him on his
victory,” Hutchison said in televised remarks from Dallas,
after election results showed Perry with a commanding lead.
America’s conservative Tea Party movement may be on the boil, but the left is brewing up its own version in The Coffee Party USA.
The movement has launched itself on the social networking site Facebook where it has acquired more than 50,000 fans over the past month. You can see some news reports and commentary about it here and here and here.
DALLAS (Reuters) – Many Americans are skeptical about global warming and that makes it harder to get a bill through Congress.
“My personal leanings are that it’s more cyclical than a permanent trend,” said Jimmy Pritchard, a Southern Baptist pastor in a Dallas suburb.
One of the biggest expansions of U.S. gun rights in decades took affect on Monday – and it was signed into law by President Barack Obama, whom many conservative groups claim is plotting to disarm law-abiding Americans.
People can now take firearms into many of America’s national parks, provided they legally possess them under federal laws and laws that apply to the state where the park is located. You can see the National Park Service press release here. The usual prohibitions on hunting or discharging firearms within the parks still apply.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has just issued a report that examines issues of faith and culture among Americans between the age of 18 and 29 — a demographic group that has been dubbed the “Millennials” because most came of age around 2000. You can see our story here and the report here.
A couple of things come to mind. One is the finding that Millennials were far more likely than their elders from “Generation X” and the “Baby Boom” to be unaffiliated with a specific faith. In the context of recent American history, Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980, while Baby Boomers flooded the country from 1946 to 1964.