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Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters With Dogs and Mace
By Andy Rowell
The contrast could not have been greater. Over the weekend, speaking on the eve of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, history was made as President Obama and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, announced that the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases would formally ratify the Paris agreement on climate change.
"We have a saying in America that you have to put your money where your mouth is," said Obama at the news conference, watched by the world's press.
One way to do that is to stop building fossil fuel infrastructure in order to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
And to stop it now. As Obama has been at the G20 summit, over the weekend construction work continued on the proposed route of the North Dakota Access pipeline, which, if built, will transport 570,000 barrels of fracked crude a day across the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
For months First Nations, led by the Standing Rock Sioux, have been trying to stop the building of the pipeline, as it crosses the Missouri river twice, which is the tribe's man source of drinking water, as well as more than 200 smaller rivers and creeks.
Over the last few weeks, as preliminary construction has begun on the route, tensions have risen immeasurably. The Standing Rock protest site, now home to several thousand protesters, is fast becoming an international symbol of grassroots rebellion against the fossil fuel industry.
This is becoming one of the defining moments in recent history of anti-oil protests. And how the American oil industry and its contractors react is being closely watched from around the world too.
On Saturday, as protesters were marching near the proposed route they saw diggers at work.
"We were walking up to the flags on the highway to sing and pray, then we found out they were starting to build again," said Ursula Young Bear, Oglala Lakota, from Porcupine, South Dakota.
What happened next is shocking as private security firms started using dogs to intimidate the anti-pipeline activists, including women and children. Several people were then attacked and bitten by the dogs being controlled by around eight private security personnel. The protestors were also attacked with pepper spray.
In response the First Nations shouted: "We're Not Leaving."
One activist who took photos of the attacks was Tomas Alejo. He recalls "Today private security contractors hired by the oil companies attacked the water defenders with strike dogs and pepper spray as they attempted to halt construction on sacred land."
Footage from Democracy Now on Saturday, showed people crying from the effects of the spray, with pipeline security personnel pathetically attempting to deny using the spray. An estimated 30 people suffered temporary blindness.
The disturbing footage shows the security personnel letting go of their dogs, who then attack protesters, some of whom had bite marks from the dogs. Eventually the dogs were removed from the protest.
When asked by Amy Goodman, the presenter, why the struggle was important, the simple response from one protester, who had been maced twice and bitten said, "Because water is life … I wish they would open their eyes and have a heart."
The violence by the contractors is deeply worrying on many levels.
Firstly, it is state-sanctioned violence against peaceful protesters. The police stood idly by and did nothing.
"The cops watched the whole thing from up on the hills," said Marcus Frejo, Pawnee and Seminole, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "It felt like they were trying to provoke us into being violent when we're peaceful."
This is also sliding back into its America's repressive past, something that you would think would appall President Obama.
As the New York Daily News reported recently about the height of the civil rights protests:
In May 1963, the "nation bore witness" as police in Birmingham, Alabama, aimed high-powered hoses and "snarling dogs on black men, women and even children who wanted just one thing—to be treated the same as white Americans."
The paper said these days "tore at America's conscience."
Indeed, as Sarah Manning, a reporter and First Nations activist tweeted over the weekend:
The scenes on Saturday should tear at America's conscience too.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.