Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Obama Legacy On Keystone XL Pipeline Is New Environmentalist Appeal

Environmentalists seeking to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline's revised route are appealing to President Barack Obama's sense of history as much as to his devotion to the climate.

"What happens if you’ve got the Obama pipeline -- now it’s the Obama pipeline -- and it leaks?" asked activist and former White House adviser Van Jones on CNN Friday. "His legacy could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history."

The State Department on Friday released a draft environmental impact statement that claimed the revised pipeline proposal would have minimal impact on the climate. Environmentalists, after relentlessly campaigning on the environmental consequences of the pipeline -- arguing that tar sands oil requires a tremendous amount of energy and greenhouse gas emissions to refine into a usable product, that its extraction is creating an ecological nightmare in western Canada; and that an existing Keystone pipeline leaked a dozen times in 2011 -- are taking a different approach.

"If Keystone XL gets built, it will be known as Obama's dirty pipeline," said Jamie Henn, a spokesman for climate advocacy group "This fight has sent more people to jail and put more people in the streets than any other environmental issue in recent memory. No amount of half-measures or technical regulations could repair Obama's environmental legacy if he approves Keystone XL."

Environmentalists have seen their issues rise to national prominence in the months since Hurricane Sandy swept the East Coast, and many were encouraged by the president's pledge in his State of the Union address to take executive action if Congress fails to pass a climate bill.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, said that while there's still a long comment period to follow the pipeline environmental statement, the State Department document looks like a green light from the Obama administration, directly at odds with the president's soaring rhetoric on climate change.

Obama's fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, expanded in 2011 to include commercial trucks, vans, and buses built in 2014 to 2018, are a huge achievement, Slocum acknowledged. A White House report stated that the new standards “will raise average fuel economy to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, and save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles covered.” But unless Obama expands the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to include power plants and oil refineries, the president's record on the environment may be overshadowed, Slocum said.

"Unless he's able to do that, then Keystone threatens to be his legacy, which obviously would be a huge problem from a climate perspective," said Slocum.

Van Jones put it a bit differently.

"If after he gave that speech for his inauguration, the first thing he does is approve a pipeline bringing tar sands through America … the first thing that pipeline runs over is the credibility of the president on his climate policy," Jones told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday. "Has the administration made the decision they're going to give the right rhetoric to the environmentalists, but the desired results to big oil and big polluters? If so, the president may find himself trying to straddle something that may prove a very difficult thing for him in 2014. The Obama tar sands pipeline should not be the legacy of the president who gave that speech."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One before departing the Orlando International Airport on Monday.

President Obama has declined to answer questions about a report that Americans under attack in Libya on Sept. 11 were denied help, saying the entire incident is still under investigation.

When asked Friday by KUSA-TV of Denver if results of the investigation would be released after the election, Obama said: “The election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened. These are folks who served under me who I had sent to some very dangerous places. Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do.”

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of trying to cover up details of the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Fox News is reporting that “an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command – who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.”

ABC News reports “President Obama told KUSA-TV’s Kyle Clarke large that ‘we want to make sure we get it right, particularly because I have made a commitment to the families impacted as well as to the American people, we’re going to bring those folks to justice. So, we’re going to gather all the facts, find out exactly what happened, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again but we’re also going to make sure that we bring to justice those who carried out these attacks.’

“Clark pressed again.

“‘Were they denied requests for help during the attack?’ he asked.

“‘Well, we are finding out exactly what happened,’ the president again said. ‘I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. 
Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.’

“In response (to the Fox report), CIA spokesperson Jennifer Youngblood said, ‘We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi. Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night-and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Handley proves that seeing is believing

As I sat at my desk and later at a table Saturday afternoon witnessing Auburn get dismantled in Baton Rouge by LSU, the comparisons to the contest I’d seen the night before began to flow through my mind.

There was Auburn, the defending national champions, getting absolutely blasted on the road much in the same way Leeds, the 2010 Class 3A state champions, got it handed to them in a 46-0 loss to Handley in Roanoke. But Auburn’s beatdown was somewhat expected. (Note: Those of you who thought the outcome would be impacted by the absence of those three suspended players were tripping — hard.) Leeds going into Handley’s Wright Field was supposed to be the AHSAA’s version of what everyone is anticipating in November 5th’s matchup between LSU and Alabama will be in Tuscaloosa, or at least somewhat close to it.

It wasn’t. And it had more to do with how good Handley (9-0) is than it did with how Leeds (7-2, 5-2) played.

Witnessing the manner in which Handley handled or “manhandled”, as Green Wave coach Keith Etheredge described it, you got the sense that if the two teams squared off 100 more times the outcome wouldn’t be that much different.

The Tigers have a stable of backs, including Breyon Deberry, Duran Zachery, Quay Hunter, Chris Dillard and Herbert Staples who could compete for a starting job most anywhere in The Star’s coverage area.

That’s not to mention quarterback Trae Kyles, who’s just as good a runner as anyone he hands the ball off to. And they’ve all got gaping holes to run through with an offensive line led by 2013 Alabama commitment 6-foot-, 315-pound left tackle Bradley Bozeman.

I knew they were good but seeing them in person opened my eyes to their potential greatness. A radio show called me after the game and asked me how I thought a matchup between Handley and top-ranked Piedmont might go in the state title game if it happens. It’s something I’ve pondered before.

I couldn’t come to a conclusion: “Whoever gets Handley in the playoffs is going to have their hands full and whoever gets Piedmont in the playoffs is going to have their hands full,” I said.

• DEBERRY’S STATUS: Deberry, Handley’s leading rusher, carried the ball nine times for 91 yards in the first half against Leeds but went down with an injury on the first play of the second half and didn’t return.

Monday, Handley coach Mike Battles said Deberry saw a doctor on Saturday and the diagnosis was a sprained right ankle. Battles said he wasn’t certain that the 5-foot-8, 183-pounder would play Friday against Class 2A Lineville (7-2) but added “He’s going to be OK.”

• SCHEDULING CHANGE: Alexandria’s Week 10 matchup at Lincoln, originally scheduled for Thursday, has been moved to Friday. Alexandria (6-3) principal Ronald Chambless called The Star Monday to inform us of the change.

But don’t fret football fans.

There will still be plenty of action on deck Thursday.

Here’s Thursday’s local slate.

Briarwood Christian (8-1) at Anniston (7-2); Coosa Christian (2-6) at Weaver (6-3); Clay County (8-1) at Saks (6-2) Ranburne (4-5) at T.C. Central (3-6) and Spring Garden (2-7) at Sand Rock (5-4).

Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

With concerns about the lack of signings and the seeming inability to get rid of players we don't want it strikes me that the transfer market has become something of a no win situation for a club like ours.

We have problems getting the players we want because someone else can always offer more. As the Modric situation has demonstrated even when we get past that hurdle, either by finding a bargain or developing a talent, the sharks start circling. Again others can offer much higher wages. Even if we profit on the transfer fees it`s no way to build a successful team. That takes time, if there is a constant change of playing staff which is outside the club's control any kind of settled squad becomes impossible.

That's half the problem. The other half is getting rid of players you don't want. Some fans seem eager to spend big on dubious talent. But as Keane is now showing, an overpaid player becomes a real problem when he doesn't perform. Anyone who can afford his wages can buy better, anyone who might want him can't match what he's earning and he is entitled to see out his contract then walk as a free agent. The club is left trying to walk a tightrope. You need players who are good enough to move the team on while at the same time you don't want to lock in players on high wages for fear they may turn into future Robbie Keane's.

In the background is the threat that any talent you do sign will quickly become a target for someone with more money. We are between a rock and a hard place. There's no complete answer to this but a few things are obvious. One is that the more of your own talent you can develop the better, you will at least get a few seasons out of them before the sharks move in plus, if necessary, you will be able to move them on fairly easily.

Another is that a strong, workmanlike squad with no superstars is better than a squad with a few real talents and not much else. This is simply because it`s the superstars you can't hold on to if they succeed and who become overpaid dead weight if they fail. Instead focus on developing strength in depth and a team ethic, don't worry about beating the top teams, worry about beating everybody else.

This brings me to the third point, if we could do that we would have a very good chance of regular Champions League football which would automatically improve our chance of signing and keeping quality players. Without a bigger stadium we are trying to punch above our weight, something many fans seem reluctant to admit, if we want to do that we need to recognise the reality of our situation and just how difficult the transfer market is.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Liberty University's Johnnie Moore: Hell is Terrible, Believing It Exists Is Not

Everyone seems interested in Hell at the moment. Having to watch Charlie Sheen endlessly this week has certainly put us all through a bit of it.

It's fascinating to watch as Christianity's most abhorred doctrine has lit up the social network and sparked veritable wars in the blogosphere. People are sparring over the strangest kind of theology so passionately that you'd think people actually still care about spiritual things in modern America.

The truth is that they do, and this debate is evidence of it. It makes plenty of sense that people would be interested in Hell. The stakes are, after all, pretty high for all of us.

This isn't a conversation about whether you like your religion cerebral or celebratory, or whether you think Jesus would have voted for Barack Obama (or not). This is a conversation about whether you're going to be incinerated by God. This isn't religion for the faint of heart - no Deepak Chopra here.

I happen to be one of those who think God will eventually incinerate some people, and I'm sure you'd expect that from someone from Liberty University, but before I fall prey to your prejudice, let me explain who I am and my position.

I'm a young, twenty-something Christian.

I pretty well fit the external mold of this mysterious new ilk of "young evangelicals." I wear skinny jeans when I preach in a service that seems to some like a rock show. I sometimes work very hard at making my messy hairdo look like I did absolutely nothing to it, and a lot of folks think I don't care about the "gospel" because I also care about fatherless children in our inner cities and poor babies with bloated bellies in Africa and the abuse of women through sex slavery around the world. Neither the right-wingers nor the left-wingers quite know what to do with evangelicals like me.

I don't look the part of a harbinger for truth with a capital "T."

I'm happy, not angry, when I talk about Jesus or "truth."

I'm totally, obsessively pro-life but I don't like to use the word "murder" to describe abortion because I'm concerned about how that makes the young women I've met feel after they realize their mistake.

I believe in absolute truth but I don't wield it like a sword, because I know that I have a hard time following truth sometimes and I'm, like you, always a hypocrite in transition.

I believe preachers ought to be prophets to culture, but I'm the type of prophet that's more apt to "whisper" truth in a tender way than scream it from the mountaintops lest my voice crowd out the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, but I've had really wonderful, delightful conversations with Hindus and Buddhists in the Himalayan hometown of the Dalai Lama and in India's enshrined city of Varanasi. In fact, I prefer the generosity and hospitality of Muslims over many stuffy, reclusive evangelicals I've met, and I actually think that Jesus was a pretty nice guy who'd like us to follow Him and His example of loving others rather than erecting barrier after barrier of disagreement that divide us from Him. We sometimes call those barriers, religion. After all, as we were reminded in a recent popular book, those who follow Jesus "come from every system that exists."

I also believe that every person who doesn't trust in Jesus is going to Hell.

I'm not happy about that.

In fact, that realization is what motivates me everyday.

But it's my only option. I believe in Jesus. I trust what he said, and he spoke as much about the subject of hell as almost any other. Matthew, the former Roman IRS agent who converted to Jesus, recalled one particular moment when Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell." (Matthew 10:28)

This is why I spend so much of my time writing, teaching, and travelling around the world making sure that people have the chance to know the grace of a God whose death and resurrection has built a bridge from death to life. It the Apostle Paul who jested to King Agrippa, "Why should any of you think it incredible that God raises the dead?"

For me, it would be intellectual, spiritual cruelty for me to believe otherwise.

If you don't believe in Hell please understand, as an orthodox, evangelical that I'm not angry with you. I'm concerned about you, and like C. S. Lewis, the brilliant scholar and apologist, I believe that the gate to hell is locked from the inside, not from the outside.

I would do almost anything to get you to believe. I don't speak about hell because I'm mean and angry. I speak about it because I'm concerned for people, deeply, deeply concerned.

And here's what's even stranger ... if I'm wrong, it's ok by me. At least I've poured my life out for the good of others and I'll either way enjoy God's grace. And isn't that what Pascal suggested we should wager?

It's belief or damnation. That's an awfully big gamble.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

40 Bands not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Year after year a handful of musicians get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while dozens of equally-talented artists get snubbed. This year Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, and Neil Diamond were well-deserving choices, but it’s always hard for fans not to be upset about their favorite bands being left out -- and there are plenty of fans to be upset since the best bands not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame include these legends:


Kids today think Justin Bieber is the best thing to come out of Canada, oblivious to the awesomeness of this nerd rock band with hits like “Tom Sawyer.”

The Doobie Brothers

This swamp rock band with down-home hits like “Black Water” also is deserving of a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- some of their biggest fans back in the day were the Hells Angels, and they’re named after reefer. What’s more rock and roll than that?

Joe Cocker

How is this legend that performed at Woodstock not in the Hall of Fame? His performance of “With a Little Help From My Friends” is still chill-inducing to this day (an no rocker convulsed quite the way he did onstage).

Peter Frampton

And here’s another of the biggest names not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frampton ruled the world back in the 70’s with his talk box and songs like “Baby, I Love Your Way” (here’s a bit of trivia: Peter and Lois reveal that this is their song on “Family Guy”).


The ladies deserve some love, too, especially since it was quite a bit harder for them to make it in the world of rock. And no one rocked harder than the band behind “Barracuda.”

Electric Light Orchestra

This symphonic, supersonic band lives up to their psychedelic name with songs like “Strange Magic.”


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is as “Cold as Ice” for neglecting this “Hot Blooded” band, and it’s “Urgent” that they get inducted ASAP.


Sure “Don’t Stop Believing” gets butchered a little too much at karaoke bars around the world, but there’s a reason it’s so beloved.


The band behind the song that will forever conjure images of the open road, freedom, and choppers is still being kept down by the man (that’s what happens when you’re “Born to be Wild”).

Steve Miller Band

Apparently “Joker,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Jungle Love,” and “Rock’n Me” just aren’t enough to get this Heartland rock band on the list.


Has a band ever marketed itself better?

Cheap Trick

They want the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to want them.

Deep Purple

These heavy metal innovators are responsible for one of every aspiring guitar player’s favorite riffs in “Smoke on the Water.”

Bad Company

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t see the guys behind one of the most romantic rock songs ever, “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” as good company.

The Cars

You can thank The Cars for bringing to mind an image of a topless Phoebe Cates every time “Moving in Stereo” plays.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keeps saying no to this progressive rock band behind “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

The Moody Blues

This innovative band is responsible for the romantic song “Nights in White Satin” (maybe it’s a bit too romantic and moving for the Hall of Fame?).


If one of the biggest hit makers in the world (“25 or 6 to 4,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “Saturday in the Park”) can’t make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then who can?

Joan Jett

Another of the biggest women in rock has shown her love for rock and roll, but she’s getting none in return from the Hall of Fame.

Jethro Tull

When you can seamlessly blend a flute with hard rock music (as in “Aqualung”), you definitely belong in the Hall of Fame.

The Cure

Come on! Robert Smith defeated Mecha-Streisand!

Warren Zevon

For gals that don’t care for shirtless werewolves who fight over sickly-looking human girls with angsty vampires, check out a song about real werewolves -- the kind that from London that eat Chinese food and mutilate little old ladies.

Beastie Boys

You gotta love the way these boys rock their ‘staches and ‘80s sunglasses in the “Sabotage” video, as well as how the joke that was “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” went over every frat boy’s head. But they really deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame for combining rock and rap and being taken seriously.

Thin Lizzy

There would be no Metallica without Irish band Thin Lizzy and their “Whiskey in a Jar.”

Iron Maiden

Heavy metal bands with dark songs like “The Number of the Beast” aren’t getting much love from the Hall of Fame right now, but might in the future.

Todd Rundgren

Hello! Can’t this “Hello It’s Me” singer get a little love after inspiring so many to trade pencil pushing for banging on drums all day?

The Pogues

The band behind the best Christmas song ever definitely deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Johnny Ace

It doesn’t get more rock and roll than killing yourself during a game of Russian roulette. But Ace’s “Pledging my Love” is also as beautiful and romantic as a song can get.

George Thorogood and the Destroyers

The man behind one of the best bar bands ever needs to buy each of the powers that be responsible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer each while they listen to his entertaining tale.

Blue Oyster Cult

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is one of the darkest, most romantic love songs of all time, but it’s also got a guitar solo that the reaper himself could rock out to (however, it could always use more cowbell).

The Guess Who

American women everywhere should be outraged that this Canadian band isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

It's Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and he's a wild man, so bug off.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

This band recently became eligible, so it’s likely they’ll eventually get in.

Depeche Mode

How can you “Enjoy the Silence” with bands like this in the world?


It’s only logical that this band will get in the Hall of Fame some day.


“Groove” metal deserves a little love in the Hall of Fame, and nobody shredded better than Dimebag Darrell (you gotta love that the Cowboys from Hell were guest musicians on “Spongebob Squarepants”).

Stevie Ray Vaughn

One of the best blues guitarists in the biz is another late, great musician from Texas deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Judas Priest

Never has “Breaking the Law” sounded like so much fun.

Three Dog Night

When you think “Joy to the World,” you should be thinking of this band’s song (and you better be listening to your mama when she tells you not to go to that party).

Hall and Oates

Has there ever been a more cheerful love song than “You Make My Dreams?” And has there been a sweeter ‘stache than Oates’ lady tickler?

Of course, just as the Hall of Fame has let so many musicians fall through the cracks, there are probably some missing on this list, but these forty bands are a good start.