Standing Rock protesters evicted by police at gunpoint

February 24, 2017 by  
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Yesterday police in riot gear evicted Standing Rock protesters after an evacuation deadline passed. Though the majority of demonstrators left the Oceti Sakowin camp before the February 22nd deadline, about 50 Dakota Access Pipeline protesters remained. Most of these passive resistors – including veterans and tribal elders – were arrested at gunpoint by officers clad in full riot gear. The raid was livestreamed on Facebook over the course of 4 hours throughout the day. The initial evacuation was ordered on the pretext of protecting demonstrators from seasonal floods, which could potentially affect the area. While this is certainly a legitimate concern, the fact that over 200 police officers were sent to clear the area, armed with rifles and military-style equipment, makes it clear that the protesters’ safety isn’t Governor Doug Burgam’s main priority. Related: Judge throws out request to halt Dakota Access Pipeline construction Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier told ABC News in a statement, “I am very happy to say that we finally introduced rule of law in the Oceti camp. I am hopeful that this announcement brings us closer to finality in what has been an incredibly challenging time for our citizens and law enforcement professionals. Having dealt with riots, violence, trespassing and property crimes, the people of Morton County are looking forward to getting back to their normal lives.” For many of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe members, there is no “normal life” to get back to. Now that the pipeline construction is slated to go forward , they live in fear that a catastrophic oil spill could put their community’s access to clean water at peril. The “violence, trespassing, and property crimes” they’ve been subject to at the hands of police in the past year include being attacked by security dogs , blasted with water cannons at hypothermia-inducing temperatures, and having land they claim was granted to them as part of a 1851 treaty given away to oil companies by the federal government. Related: Trump claims he received no calls about the Keystone and Dakota pipelines Though the protests are Standing Rock have been ended by force, the movement to force banks to stop supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline continues. Oakland , Los Angeles , and New York City are just a few of the local governments urged to divest from the pipeline. Seattle has already voted to end all financial support of the project by moving $3 billion of the city’s funds from Wells Fargo. Via ABC News Images via Kelly Hayes , Unicorn Riot , Jamil Dakwar , Standing Rock Rising

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Standing Rock protesters evicted by police at gunpoint

See how banana trees are recycled into vegan leather wallets in Micronesia

February 24, 2017 by  
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Forget plastic and leather, your next wallet could be made from a more ethical and eco-friendly alternative—banana fiber. Kosrae, Micronesia-based startup Green Banana Paper tapped into banana tree waste, upcycling the unlikely material into stylish and sturdy vegan leather wallets. Green Banana Paper launched a Kickstarter to bring these eco friendly wallets to the global market and help improve the lives of local farmers. Bananas may be easy to eat, but the trees they grow on need a surprising amount of work. There are approximately 200,000 banana trees spread across the island and after harvesting, local farmers must cut down the plant every year to promote fruit production. The mass amounts of banana fiber waste are typically left on the ground to biodegrade, but Green Banana Paper saw an entrepreneurial opportunity with environmental and social benefits. Founded by New England native Matt Simpson, the social enterprise produces strong and water-resistant wallets with designs inspired by the coconut palms, ocean life, and people of Micronesia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSM_TYaT5Kg Related: Thai Building Facade Handmade From Natural Banana Fiber “Green Banana Paper wallets are not only ecofriendly; they are helping to provide a living wage to Kosraean families,” says the company. “Matt hopes to continue to scale up production, and get even more people on the island involved in this truly community-oriented business.” Green Banana Paper has launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for hiring more people and improving the quality of their products. Supporters of the project can also receive their own banana fiber wallet, which can be shipped around the world. + Green Banana Paper Kickstarter

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See how banana trees are recycled into vegan leather wallets in Micronesia

President Obama says Army is exploring rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline

November 3, 2016 by  
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Will President Barack Obama take action on the Dakota Access Pipeline ? In an interview with NowThis posted this week he said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is exploring “ways to reroute” the oil pipeline protested by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and their supporters in North Dakota . President Obama’s statement sounded hopeful but may not result in action soon; the president said he would let the confrontation “play out for several more weeks.” When asked if his administration would intervene in the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline, President Obama said, “We’re monitoring this closely and I think as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans . I think right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way.” Related: In surprise announcement, US government blocks the Dakota Access Pipeline Some people didn’t seem pleased with the president’s comments. In a statement, Morton County Chairman Cody Schulz said, “Rather than creating further uncertainty, the President should be sending us the support and resources necessary to enforce the law and protect people’s right to peacefully protest.” Energy Transfer Partners spokesperson Vicki Granado said they didn’t know of any reroute considerations and they still expected to obtain an easement to start building the pipeline portion that would pass beneath the Missouri River. When asked about treatment of the protesters, President Obama said, “I mean, it’s a challenging situation. I think that my general rule when I talk to governors and state and local officials whenever they’re dealing with protests – including, for example, during the Black Lives Matters protests – is there’s an obligation for protesters to be peaceful and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint.” He said he hoped everyone could have the opportunity to be heard with both sides avoiding situations where people could be hurt. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement, “We believe President Obama and his administration will do the right thing.” You can watch NowThis’s interview with the president here . Via NowThis Twitter and NPR Images via Nick Knupffer on Flickr and Sacred Stone Camp on Facebook

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President Obama says Army is exploring rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline

What is the Dakota Access Pipeline project? We explain…

September 13, 2016 by  
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Dominating the headlines this past week has been coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the ensuing protests by both Native American tribes and environmental groups who oppose the construction and operation of the project. The pipeline developers promise economic benefits and a reduced dependence on foreign energy, while native tribes, in particular, the Standing Rock Sioux , lambast the project for the threat it poses to sacred land and their drinking water supply . To understand what is happening with this rapidly developing situation, here are five things to know about the project and the people involved. What is the Dakota Access Pipeline project? The Dakota Access Pipeline would bring crude oil across 1,168 miles and four states from the oil-rich Bakken Formation area of North Dakota all the way to Illinois. Also referred to as the Bakken Pipeline, the project would carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil to refineries and markets each day, according to CNN . The Bakken Formation is a unit of rock spanning parts of Montana and North Dakota, as well as the Canadian territories of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Oil was first discovered underneath the formation in the 1950s and the US Geological Survey estimates an available 7.4 million barrels of oil lie in wait under just the US portion of land. Why is it being built? Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil, has developed the project as a way to lessen US dependence on foreign oil . By creating an underground pipeline, they claim the resource can be transported in a more environmentally responsible way, as compared to having to rely on railways and transporting by truck. Economic arguments for the project include the creation of an estimated 8,000-12,000 construction jobs, as well as the amount of money that could be made on the oil. An estimated $156 million could be made in sales and income taxes by state and local governments. This would, arguably, offset the $3.7 million undertaking to bring the pipeline to life. Who is protesting its construction? The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federally recognized tribe located on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, have filed a federal complaint against the pipeline project. They claim the construction and operation of the pipeline would destroy sites of valuable cultural and historic significance, as well as threaten “the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being.” There is also concern that digging underneath the Missouri River could impact the drinking water supply. Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, cited existing laws that require federal agencies to take these sacred sites into concern, yet that “the Army Corps has ignored all those laws and fast-tracked this massive project just to meet the pipeline’s aggressive construction schedule.” Other tribes, celebrities, and outraged citizens have joined the protests. A group of 30 environmental agencies, including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club , penned a letter to President Obama demanding he axe the project, like he did with the Keystone XL Pipeline . They say the Dakota Access project is “yet another example of an oil pipeline project being permitted without public engagement or sufficient environmental review.” What is happening at these protests? Many people are first hearing about the controversy after seeing footage of protests in North Dakota turning violent. Last weekend, demonstrators from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe encountered private security officers from developer Energy Transfer Partners. These officers threatened protestors with dogs , leading to multiple people – and dogs – on both sides becoming injured. The use of pepper spray on dozens of people was also documented. The Morton County Sheriff’s Office describes the scene as a “riot,” mentioning protestors breaking through a wire fence and entering the area where construction was taking place. Tim Menz, Sr., who helped the tribe start its Tribal Historic Preservation Office, stated the bulldozers had already destroyed an ancient burial site and members were denied the opportunity to search for disturbed human remains. The Sioux Tribe’s requested the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issue a temporary restraining order against the company, yet U.S. Judge James Boasberg declined the request on Friday. A surprise announcement by the U.S. government moments later, however, revealed an override of the court’s decision and a temporary block on the pipeline’s construction. A joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Army read, “Construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.” Why should we care? While an oil pipeline would provide construction jobs and a supply of domestic fuel, the implications of building and operating such a project extend much further. The risk of oil spills and the effects on local drinking water and larger aquatic ecosystems is enough for some to oppose a pipeline anytime and anywhere. Furthering our dependence on oil as an energy source, whether obtained domestically or abroad, also runs counter to environmentalists’ mission to grow sustainable and renewable forms of energy production. On a humanitarian level, the disregard for native people’s culture, historically significant sites, and land is a violation on an enormous scale. MSNBC’s Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell reminded viewers that the US is a nation “founded on genocide” and theft of Native people. He states, “And so we face the prospect next month of the descendants of the first people to ever set foot on that land being arrested by the descendants of the invaders who seized that land, arrested for trespassing.” Images via Wikipedia , Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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What is the Dakota Access Pipeline project? We explain…

The U.S. government temporarily blocks the Dakota Access Pipeline

September 10, 2016 by  
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A decision by the Obama administration to temporarily block construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline this Friday gave the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and hundreds of other protesters cause for celebration. Just minutes after a federal judge rejected the tribe’s request for an injunction, the surprise announcement was released and the project has been halted – for now. Earlier this week, the Tribe had requested a temporary restraining order to halt the construction of the pipeline. Judge James Boasberg of the D.C. district court acknowledged the “indignities visited upon the Tribe over the last centuries” in his ruling. Despite these considerations, the decision stated “the Court must nonetheless conclude that the Tribe has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here.” Despair turned almost immediately into delight when, according to The Atlantic , a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Army indicated the government had stepped into override the court’s decision. “Construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time,” said the statement. “We request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.” Related: Oil company sics attack dogs on Native American protestors in North Dakota The Army will also “reconsider any of its previous decisions” concerning the federal legality of the pipeline, including its regard for the National Environmental Policy Act. This July, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the pipeline, followed by a lawsuit from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The biggest concerns are the destruction of historical and cultural sites and the potential risk to the community’s drinking water , should the pipeline leak or break. A statement on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Facebook account reads, “This federal statement is a game changer for the Tribe and we are acting immediately on our legal options, including filing an appeal and a temporary injunction to force DAPL to stop construction.” The move comes just days after privately contracted workers released vicious dogs and used pepper spray on the unarmed protestors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfVCKXnZu58 Via The Atlantic Images via Joe Brusky ,  Flickr , Facebook

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The U.S. government temporarily blocks the Dakota Access Pipeline

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