20+ Proposed Pipelines Threatening Indigenous Communities
By Joe Catron
As completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline remains on standby after the Army Corps of Engineers announced on Dec. 5 that it would not authorize the development company to drill under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, similar projects continue to encroach on indigenous communities across the U.S.
Standing Rock Celebrates as Army Corps Denies Key Permit, Halts Project https://t.co/2gR870B9Em @FoEAustralia @OhioEnviro— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1480976409.0
"There are probably 20 or so pipelines being protested in various ways at any given time, and they affect many more reservations and traditional homelands than that," Aaron Carapella, a Cherokee cartographer in Warner, Oklahoma, told MintPress News.
Carapella recently designed a map showing how pipelines under development in the U.S. cross dozens of indigenous territories, many of which are the sites of contemporary Native communities.
"There are tens of thousands of existing pipelines throughout the land, so I chose to focus on those projects that are not quite completed, that are being resisted or that are only in proposal stages," he said.
No Resistance Equals Always Losing
Carapella, whose maps illustrate the past and present indigenous presence in the Americas, combined them with new information from various sources.
"I used the government's own proposed pipelines lists and maps, as well as activist and tribal websites, and overlaid them onto my existing map," he said.
He added that a task of this nature is difficult to complete.
"I need to include more pipelines on my map, like Comanche Trail and Pecos, both of [which] are being protested," he said.
"There is one running through a remote part of the Navajo Nation at the Chuska Mountains that is being protested, as well as several across the Great Lakes."
But he hopes that his project will help to magnify the scale of a continental conflict between Native communities and pipeline projects that, when it breaks into the headlines, is usually framed as a singular issue at a particular location.
"We won some victories and lost some good causes, but no resistance equals always losing, so resistance is necessary," he said.
"Campaigns to get out the word are necessary."
Endangering the Water of Millions
In one little-remarked struggle, the Ramapough Lunaape Nation, a small community nestled among the Ramapo Mountains chain of the Appalachians in northern New Jersey and southern New York, face the looming threat of the Pilgrim Pipeline.
Members of the Ramapough Lunaap demonstrate during the Clean Energy March in Philadelphia on July 24.Mark Dixon / Flickr
"The Pilgrim Pipeline is another of the many needless pipelines running through the Lunaape homeland which is endangering the water of millions, while it appears to be criminally circumventing federal law," Ramapough Lunaape Chief Dwaine Perry told MintPress.
The Ramapough Lunaape have long been the targets of outside attention, ranging from innocent curiosity to racist invective, due to their traditional life—seemingly paradoxical to some—centered 25 miles from New York City amid the suburbs of New Jersey.
Despite the long record of Lunaape contact with European settlers, dating to Giovanni da Verrazzano's 1524 voyage into the Hudson River, the Ramapugh Lunaapes' relative isolation throughout much of colonial and U.S. history lent the group an air of mystery, with their very existence more likely to be mentioned as legend than fact until the 20th century.
A map of the controversial 178-mile-long parallel Pilgrim pipelines proposed for New York's Hudson Valley/Northern New Jersey. FracTracker Alliance
"Is this logical, you ask yourself, that here so close to Times Square, several thousand people like these live and have their being?" an irate local historian wrote in 1941.
"No it isn't logical at all, it's 150 years and across the world."
They Bribed, Threatened, Even Murdered
Over the ensuing decades, the harsh logic of a surging industrial economy would reach deep into the Ramapough Lunaapes' mountain enclaves.
Most destructively, Mafia-controlled haulers operating on behalf of the Ford Motor Company's nearby Mahwah Assembly plant dumped millions of gallons of toxic paint sludge before the facility closed in 1980.
"An analysis of public records and interviews with truckers who hauled Ford's waste shows mob-controlled contractors dumped anywhere they could get away with it," an investigative report by NorthJersey.com found in 2009.
"They bribed, threatened, even murdered to maintain control of Ford's trash."
Ford's lucrative contracts sparked clashes between rival mobsters that at times turned deadly.
In a notorious incident that spurred a rare federal investigation of the Mafia's stranglehold on industrial waste disposal, Genovese crime family figure Joseph "Joey Surprise" Feola "was lured to a garage in 1965 and strangled as a favor to the notorious godfather Carlo Gambino," NorthJersey.com reported.
"His offense? Stealing the Mahwah stop"—located in the heart of Ramapough Lunaape territory—"from a Gambino-controlled company."
Government at all Levels
Despite this momentary attention, the regional news portal also found that "[g]overnment at all levels shares the blame" for Ford's colluding with the mob and poisoning the Ramapough Lunaape and other communities near the plant.
"For years, it allowed mobsters to turn New Jersey into a toxic dumping ground."
Toxic Legacy, an investigative series conducted by the Bergen Record in 2005, explored the deadly effects of Ford's deposits in the old Ringwood Mines landfill site on the surrounding Ramapough Lunaape.
The newspaper's soil tests found levels of lead, arsenic and xylenes at more than 100 times the recommended maximums, while nearby levels of both health disorders, ranging from nosebleeds to cancer, and learning disabilities had skyrocketed.
Their hands forced by the specter of a possible Ford bankruptcy, 633 individual plaintiffs accepted one-time payouts between $4,368 and $34,594 each.
"It's probably a vacation for a CEO for a week with his family," lead plaintiff Wayne Mann told NorthJersey.com.
"A healthy family."
The Very Same Watershed
Steeled by the legacy of Ford, today the Ramapough Lunaape confront the threat of Pilgrim.
A proposed 178-mile, double-barreled pipeline, project would run from Albany, New York, to Linden, New Jersey, transporting Bakken crude oil south and refined petroleum products north.
"We are adamantly opposed to any pipeline that has no internal market and endangers all of our water, including one of only seven sole source aquifers in the United States," Perry said.
In July, the Ramapough Lunaape mobilized to Philadelphia, where more than 100 helped to lead the March for a Clean Energy Revolution during the Democratic National Convention.
"Pilgrim is proposing to cut through the very same watershed lands where Ford dumped paint sludge into the shafts of the abandoned iron mines once worked by our ancestors," Perry wrote at the time.
"Learning from our long history of struggle against the toxic effects of environmental injustice, we are now organizing with the broader community to stop Pilgrim's dirty pipelines before they're built."
We Need Help Now
The word 'Hate' was scrawled, along with other hateful graffiti, on the sacred home of the Ramapough Lunaape.Chief Dwaine Perry
In recent months, the Ramapough Lunaape have joined their struggle with that of the Sioux water protectors at Standing Rock, even offering the Split Rock Sweetwater Camp as a smaller reflection of the massive gatherings blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline half a continent away.
Perry calls it a "site that we have been using for Native American ceremony for over a quarter of a century, and have invited all to enjoy the land and to share in our culture."
"Currently, the prayers of Split Rock have been directed toward Standing Rock."
But like Standing Rock, the camp is surrounded by threats.
"Recently the Split Rock Sweetwater Camp has come under a great deal of duress, both from the local Polo Club community, of whom we are the largest landowners, and the Mahwah municipality, in an apparent push to deny us the right to open air prayer and the right to assembly," Perry said.
He added that opposition has come not only from local police and other public bodies, but also racist vigilantes.
"We have had swastikas and the word 'hate' drawn on our sacred home, and an eleven-car police raid on two of the land guardians for charging their phone."
While the backlash against indigenous self-determination that has included attack dogs, concussion grenades, pepper spray and water cannons in North Dakota takes different forms in New Jersey, it nevertheless seems familiar.
Perry has appealed online for supporters to gather at the site on Friday, when he says it faces the threat of "eviction" by police, days after Mahwah officials warned in a letter that use of the indigenous land as a "place of public assembly" requires zoning approval from the local government.
"In effect Split Rock Sweetwater is now under the same kind of duress as Standing Rock," Perry told MintPress.
"We need help now, legal and tangible, to help us keep and occupy our own land through this threat."
Resist One Pipeline at a Time
As similar struggles develop across the U.S., the effects of the unprecedented Native mobilization at Standing Rock and its overwhelming public support remain to be seen.
By all accounts, Dakota Access garnered such massive opposition not because of the development's exceptionality, but rather its familiarity.
And with a historic, if provisional, victory under its belt, many expect a burgeoning indigenous movement to intensify its resistance to similar projects elsewhere.
"This is an ongoing problem, and we are probably going to have to resist one pipeline at a time for many decades to come, and maybe longer," Carapella, the cartographer, said.
"This is one victory in a very long battle, a battle that has gone on for 500 years," he added of the permit denial at Standing Rock.
"We are very aware of the next steps forward."
Cherokee cartographer Aaron Carapella's map of pipeline development of tribal lands:
Reposted with permission from our media associate MintPress News.
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By Ana Maldonado-Contreras
- Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
- Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
- New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.
You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
How Do Resident Bacteria Keep You Healthy?<p>Our immune defense is part of a complex biological response against harmful pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. However, because our bodies are inhabited by trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria, virus and fungi, activation of our immune response is tightly regulated to distinguish between harmful and helpful microbes.</p><p>Our bacteria are spectacular companions diligently helping prime our immune system defenses to combat infections. A seminal study found that mice treated with antibiotics that eliminate bacteria in the gut exhibited an impaired immune response. These animals had low counts of virus-fighting white blood cells, weak antibody responses and poor production of a protein that is vital for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1019378108" target="_blank">combating viral infection and modulating the immune response</a>.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184976" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In another study</a>, mice were fed <em>Lactobacillus</em> bacteria, commonly used as probiotic in fermented food. These microbes reduced the severity of influenza infection. The <em>Lactobacillus</em>-treated mice did not lose weight and had only mild lung damage compared with untreated mice. Similarly, others have found that treatment of mice with <em>Lactobacillus</em> protects against different <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/srep04638" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">subtypes of</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">influenza</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008072" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">virus</a> and human respiratory syncytial virus – the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39602-7" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">major cause of viral bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children</a>.</p>
Chronic Disease and Microbes<p>Patients with chronic illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease exhibit a hyperactive immune system that fails to recognize a harmless stimulus and is linked to an altered gut microbiome.</p><p>In these chronic diseases, the gut microbiome lacks bacteria that activate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">immune cells</a> that block the response against harmless bacteria in our guts. Such alteration of the gut microbiome is also observed in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1002601107" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">babies delivered by cesarean section</a>, individuals consuming a poor <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12820" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">diet</a> and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11053" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elderly</a>.</p><p>In the U.S., 117 million individuals – about half the adult population – <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">suffer from Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease or a combination of them</a>. That suggests that half of American adults carry a faulty microbiome army.</p><p>Research in my laboratory focuses on identifying gut bacteria that are critical for creating a balanced immune system, which fights life-threatening bacterial and viral infections, while tolerating the beneficial bacteria in and on us.</p><p>Given that diet affects the diversity of bacteria in the gut, <a href="https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/melody-trial-info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">my lab studies show how diet can be used</a> as a therapy for chronic diseases. Using different foods, people can shift their gut microbiome to one that boosts a healthy immune response.</p><p>A fraction of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, develop severe complications that require hospitalization in intensive care units. What do many of those patients have in common? <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Old age</a> and chronic diet-related diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p><p><a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.12.019" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Black and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease</a>, all of which are linked to poor nutrition. Thus, it is not a coincidence that <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6933e1.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these groups have suffered more deaths from COVID-19</a> compared with whites. This is the case not only in the U.S. but also <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/blacks-in-britain-are-four-times-as-likely-to-die-of-coronavirus-as-whites-data-show/2020/05/07/2dc76710-9067-11ea-9322-a29e75effc93_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in Britain</a>.</p>
Discovering Microbes That Predict COVID-19 Severity<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired me to shift my research and explore the role of the gut microbiome in the overly aggressive immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection.</p><p>My colleagues and I have hypothesized that critically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients with conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease exhibit an altered gut microbiome that aggravates <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-may-help-reduce-risk-of-deadly-covid-19-complication-ards-136922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acute respiratory distress syndrome</a>.</p><p>Acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening lung injury, in SARS-CoV-2 patients is thought to develop from a <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cytogfr.2020.05.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fatal overreaction of the immune response</a> called a <a href="https://theconversation.com/blocking-the-deadly-cytokine-storm-is-a-vital-weapon-for-treating-covid-19-137690" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cytokine storm</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">that causes an uncontrolled flood</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of immune cells into the lungs</a>. In these patients, their own uncontrolled inflammatory immune response, rather than the virus itself, causes the <a href="http://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-05991-x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">severe lung injury and multiorgan failures</a> that lead to death.</p><p>Several studies <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.08.004" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">described in one recent review</a> have identified an altered gut microbiome in patients with COVID-19. However, identification of specific bacteria within the microbiome that could predict COVID-19 severity is lacking.</p><p>To address this question, my colleagues and I recruited COVID-19 hospitalized patients with severe and moderate symptoms. We collected stool and saliva samples to determine whether bacteria within the gut and oral microbiome could predict COVID-19 severity. The identification of microbiome markers that can predict the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 disease is key to help prioritize patients needing urgent treatment.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.05.20249061" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">We demonstrated</a>, in a paper which has not yet been peer reviewed, that the composition of the gut microbiome is the strongest predictor of COVID-19 severity compared to patient's clinical characteristics commonly used to do so. Specifically, we identified that the presence of a bacterium in the stool – called <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em>– was a robust predictor of COVID-19 severity. Not surprisingly, <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> has been associated with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2011.05.035" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chronic</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9440(10)61172-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inflammation</a>.</p><p><em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> collected from feces can be grown outside of the body in clinical laboratories. Thus, an <em>E. faecalis</em> test might be a cost-effective, rapid and relatively easy way to identify patients who are likely to require more supportive care and therapeutic interventions to improve their chances of survival.</p><p>But it is not yet clear from our research what is the contribution of the altered microbiome in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. A recent study has shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.11.416180" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers an imbalance in immune cells</a> called <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/imr.12170" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">T regulatory cells that are critical to immune balance</a>.</p><p>Bacteria from the gut microbiome are responsible for the <a href="https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.30916.001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">proper activation</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of those T-regulatory</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nri.2016.36" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cells</a>. Thus, researchers like me need to take repeated patient stool, saliva and blood samples over a longer time frame to learn how the altered microbiome observed in COVID-19 patients can modulate COVID-19 disease severity, perhaps by altering the development of the T-regulatory cells.</p><p>As a Latina scientist investigating interactions between diet, microbiome and immunity, I must stress the importance of better policies to improve access to healthy foods, which lead to a healthier microbiome. It is also important to design culturally sensitive dietary interventions for Black and Latinx communities. While a good-quality diet might not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, it can treat the underlying conditions related to its severity.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ana-maldonado-contreras-1152969" target="_blank">Ana Maldonado-Contreras</a> is an assistant professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Ana Maldonado-Contreras receives funding from The Helmsley Charitable Trust and her work has been supported by the American Gastroenterological Association. She received The Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She is also member of the Diversity Committee of the American Gastroenterological Association.</em></p><p><em style="">Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-healthy-microbiome-builds-a-strong-immune-system-that-could-help-defeat-covid-19-145668" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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