Each week, we scour the Web for the most interesting Okie-related news being reported both in the state and outside of it. We’re always looking for new links, so if you’ve read something you think we should see, let us know in the comments.
- National new sites are starting to pick up on the news that Oklahoma is moving toward legalizing horse slaughter and the processing of horsemeat for human consumption. Yahoo! News used the two bills that would change these laws, which both passed their respective houses, as evidence that Oklahoma “is still part of the untamed West.” The Associated Press reported on a demonstration by one of the bill’s authors, Skye McNiel, and other legislators—including House Speaker T.W. Shannon—along with “more than 100 members of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups” who convened at the Capitol this week to reinforce their support for these bills. Shannon, “who framed the issue in terms of property rights,” according to the AP, said: “This morning, we draw the line in the sand and say we are not going to be bullied.”
- The Los Angeles Times noted that federal legislation currently in the works—the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act—would “ban the export of American horses for slaughter, reinstitute a ban on slaughtering them in the U.S., and protect the public from consuming ‘toxic’ horse meat.” Oklahoma legislators remained undeterred. “We have to show the federal government this is an important alternative,” McNeil told the AP.
- Animal advocates have been vocal about their opposition to the bills. On Sunday, Pam McKissick, president and CEO of Williams & Williams Real Estate Auctions and a horse rancher, will host a radio show, “Pam McKissick Without Reserve: Horse Slaughter,” which will address questions about horse slaughter and the implications of the bills, if passed. Her guests will be horse advocate Stephanie Graham; journalist Vickery Echoff, who has published 15 in-depth exposes on the horsemeat trade for Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Forbes.com and The Huffington Post; and Mayor Paula Bacon of Kaufman, Texas, who says the horse slaughter industry in her town along caused pollution, crime, and economic decline. The show airs Sunday, March 17, on Oklahoma City’s KOKC 1520-AM at 9:00 a.m. and Tulsa’s KTSO 94.1-FM at 6:30 a.m. It’ll also stream online.
- The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill to “nullify” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the state, the Associated Press reported. House Democrats called it a waste of time and said the bill’s author, Mike Ritze, was just trying to make a statement. “Provisions were removed from the bill that would have made it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to enforce the law,” the AP reported.
- The House also approved three anti-abortion bills: “Two measures making it harder for young women to receive an abortion without notifying a parent and a bill that would expand the state’s abortion reporting law all won easy approval,” The Oklahoman reported. Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, a physician, said: “This bill is an example of a bill that we’ve gone too far … We keep doing stuff like this over and over and over again … pretty soon we’re going to start pushing the women in Oklahoma out of the Republican Party, because they’re going to say those guys really don’t have any respect for a woman, a woman’s independence and a woman’s right to determine her own destiny.”
- Those bills, along with efforts to cut income taxes at any cost, inspired the Tulsa World’s editorial board to call the 2013 legislature “one of the most partisan, least productive in memory,” accusing it of launching wars on reproductive rights, the poor, and public education. The Oklahoma Policy Institute detailed all of the bills targeting the poor, including one that would divert some welfare money to fund marriage promotion.
- Edmond, Oklahoma, is home to the next “Biblical revolution,” according to The Daily Beast. The pastor of LifeChurch.tv, headquartered there, has developed a Bible app, which “allows users—from curious readers to committed believers—to place the entire Bible on their tablets and smartphones, take notes, follow study plans, and hear it read aloud.” The app, available in 215 languages, and 450 different versions, has been downloaded by 83 million unique devices, the Beast reported. “Four million new users are installing the app each month … and collectively users spend more than 3 billion minutes reading scripture on the app monthly.”
- According to a map by BuzzFeed, Oklahoma had the sixth highest number of meth lab explosions in the U.S. in 2012—which is actually 221 fewer than the state saw in 2004. (Hat tip to KOSU Radio’s Ben Allen for this find.)
- Oklahoma musicians rocked Austin this week at South by Southwest. The Oklahoma Rock Newsblog offered a rundown of all the Okie acts, including some bigger-name bands with Oklahoma connections.
- There’s a new pope in town, and This Land intern/contributor and Notre Dame student Claire Spears, who’s been studying abroad this semester, was in Rome for the official announcement. She wrote about it at her blog, musing: “It was absolutely one of the most amazing experiences of my life to be in that square, to see Pope Francis, to wait with believers, with nonbelievers, with religious and lay. It was the biggest thing that I have been a part of, as a Catholic and as a person. I was there for history; but more so, I felt the promise for future religious life, future global life. Sincere love and solidarity. The square was full of sincere emotion last night. Genuine. And, that is something spiritual, or religious, or something. It’s rather indescribable.”
- The audio recording of Bradley Manning’s guilty plea in military court a couple of weeks ago has been released and offers reasoning for the leaking of some 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks. Daniel Ellsberg, another government whistleblower, wrote at Boing Boing: “Whoever made this recording, and I don’t know who the person is, has done the American public a great service. This marks the first time the American public can hear Bradley Manning, in his own voice explain what he did and how he did it. After listening to this recording and reading his testimony, I believe Bradley Manning is the personification of the word whistleblower.”
- The New York Times opined on the implications of the government’s effort to convict Manning on “aiding the enemy” charges, which he’s said he’s not guilty of, writing: “If successful, the prosecution will establish a chilling precedent: national security leaks may subject the leakers to a capital prosecution or at least life imprisonment. Anyone who holds freedom of the press dear should shudder at the threat that the prosecution’s theory presents to journalists, their sources and the public that relies on them.”