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President Donald Trump on Tuesday is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly. Climate change is expected to be high on the agenda at this year's gathering.
As the world leaders meet, another major storm—Hurricane Maria—is gaining strength in the Caribbean and following a similar path as Hurricane Irma. The current forecast shows Maria could hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm as early as Wednesday. The U.S. Virgin Islands, which were devastated by Irma, also appear to be in line to be hit by Maria.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the Trump administration is considering staying in the Paris climate agreement, just months after the president vowed to pull out of it. The White House denied the report. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday signaled Trump may back away from the Paris accord, but National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster gave a different message on Fox News Sunday.
We speak with best-selling author Naomi Klein, a senior correspondent for The Intercept. Her most recent book, "No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need," has been longlisted for a National Book Award.
By Nadia Prupis
Water protectors in North Dakota filed on Monday a class-action lawsuit against Morton County, Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force the night of Nov. 20, when peaceful demonstrators were trapped on a bridge and assaulted with impact munitions.
Police spray a water cannon at peaceful water protectors on Nov. 20. Dark Sevier / Flickr
The lawsuit seeks to block the Morton County Sheriff's Department and other police agencies from using such weapons—including rubber bullets, water cannons, teargas grenades and other weapons—against the protectors. The suit, brought by the Water Protector Legal Collective, a project of the National Lawyers Guild, was filed on behalf of people injured on Nov. 20 and the early morning of Nov. 21 as police descended on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest camps.
Among the plaintiffs is Jade Kalikolehuaokakalani Wool, who was hospitalized after two flash-bang grenades exploded near her, sending shrapnel into her head. Another, David Demo, who was filming the raid, was blasted with a water cannon and shot in the hand with a munition, breaking several bones and sending him to the hospital for reconstructive surgery. Israel Hoagland–Lynn was shot in the back of the head with a munition and needed 17 staples for the wound. Many others were also sprayed with water cannons, tear gassed, and shot with munitions, and several were hospitalized.
A judge will now decide whether to approve class-action status for the lawsuit.
In a declaration to the court, Vanessa Dundon, a Navajo Nation member from Arizona, described watching protectors removing barricades erected by police to prevent pipeline opponents from reaching other camps and the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Bismarck and Mandan. As they worked to push the barriers out of the way, the police responded suddenly and aggressively, she said.
"I did not have time to move to avoid being hit by the [tear gas] canister," she said. "I instinctively closed my eyes and was struck in the right eye by the canister ... My eye was bleeding so much that I could not see and I was worried my eyeball was hanging out."
Water Protector Legal Collective lawyer Rachel Lederman said Monday, "The civil rights violations that night were deliberate and punitive. The Morton County Sheriff's Department's illegal use of force against the water protectors has been escalating. It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop."
Water protectors have been resisting the construction of the four-state, 1,170-mile-long oil pipeline since April, setting up long-term shelters along the project's route in North Dakota. The lawsuit came the same day Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered the protectors' expulsion. On Monday afternoon, Dalrymple called for an "emergency evacuation" of the DAPL camps, citing cold weather. Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault III called the order "a menacing action meant to cause fear."
"[T]he most dangerous thing we can do is force well-situated campers from their shelters and into the cold," Archambault said. "If the true concern is for public safety than the Governor should clear the blockade and the county law enforcement should cease all use of flash grenades, high-pressure water cannons in freezing temperatures, dog kennels for temporary human jails, and any harmful weaponry against human beings."
Bernie Sanders on the Dakota Access Pipeline and Treaty Rights Violations by U.S. Government
While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remained silent on the ongoing fight against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been a vocal supporter of the water protectors. As winter sets in and the water protectors continue their struggle to stop the pipeline, Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman asked Sanders about the Dakota Access Pipeline struggle at a sit-down interview at the Free Library of Philadelphia on Monday night.
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"This is a complete vindication of my right as a journalist to cover the attack on the protesters, and of the public's right to know what is happening with the Dakota Access Pipeline," said Goodman. "We will continue to report on this epic struggle of Native Americans and their non-Native allies taking on the fossil fuel industry and an increasingly militarized police in this time when climate change threatens the planet."
District Judge John Grinsteiner did not find probable cause to justify the charges filed on Friday, Oct. 14 by State's Attorney Ladd R Erickson. Those charges were presented after Erickson had withdrawn an earlier charge against Goodman of criminal trespass. Goodman had returned to North Dakota to turn herself in to the trespassing charge.
The charges in State of North Dakota v. Amy Goodman, stemmed from Democracy Now!'s coverage of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Saturday, Sept. 3, Democracy Now! filmed security guards working for the pipeline company attacking protesters. The report showed guards unleashing dogs and using pepper spray and featured people with bite injuries and a dog with blood dripping from its mouth and nose.
Democracy Now!'s report went viral online and was viewed more than 14 million times on Facebook and was rebroadcast on many outlets, including CBS, NBC,NPR, CNN, MSNBCand the Huffington Post.
On Sept. 8, a criminal complaint and warrant was issued for Goodman's arrest on the trespassing charge.
"These shifting charges were a transparent attempt by the prosecutor to intimidate Amy Goodman and to silence coverage of the resistance to the pipeline," said Reed Brody, an attorney for Goodman. "Fortunately, these bully tactics didn't work and freedom of the press has prevailed."
The pipeline project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of more than 100 other tribes from across the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning public television/radio news program that airs on over 1,400 stations worldwide. Goodman has co-authored six New York Times bestsellers and won many of journalism's highest awards in more than three-decades working as a reporter.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Democracy Now!
[For the latest on this case, click here.]
North Dakota has charged journalist Amy Goodman and filmmaker Deia Schlosberg for doing their jobs: reporting and documenting the peaceful protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This string of arrests constitutes nothing less than a war on journalism and a victory for fossil fuel interests that have banked on the pipeline.
We call on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to act to protect the first amendment rights of those attempting to tell the stories of the water protectors fighting the risky pipeline. The DOJ must investigate the arrests of Amy Goodman and Deia Schlosberg at the hands of North Dakota police.
The first amendment is not only a cornerstone of our bill of rights, but the right to free speech and freedom of the press is critical to addressing our climate chaos. We need brave journalists to tell the stories of injustice that are occurring at the hands of the banks and fossil fuel companies seeking to extract every last drop of fossil fuels for profit—no matter the cost.
We applaud Goodman and Schlosberg for courageously documenting the peaceful actions at Standing Rock and call upon Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate their arrests and act to protect the first amendment rights of those attempting to tell the stories of the water protectors fighting this risky pipeline.
On Saturday, hundreds of people temporarily stopped work at multiple construction sites at the site of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. One person reportedly delayed work for up to six hours by locking to an excavator. At least 14 people were arrested.
Democracy Now! began covering the action just after dawn, from the main resistance camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Watch here:
A federal appeals court recently rejected a bid by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to permanently halt construction on part of the Dakota Access pipeline, paving the way for the Dakota Access company to resume construction on private lands adjacent to Lake Oahe on the Missouri River.
A decision on whether the pipeline can proceed under the river rests with the Army Corps of Engineers. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argued that construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline is destroying cultural artifacts and sacred sites, including a sacred tribal burial ground that was bulldozed on Sept. 3, Labor Day weekend, when Dakota Access pipeline's guards unleashed dogs and pepper spray on the Native Americans. Since then, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others have set up a permanent encampment across the street from the bulldozed burial ground. They call it the Sacred Ground Camp and say they'll continue to fight the Dakota Access pipeline.
We are joined by Dave Archambault II, chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Watch here:
Democracy Now! is broadcasting live from Mandan, North Dakota, across the street from the Morton County Courthouse, where more than a half-dozen people will appear in court today on charges related to the ongoing resistance to the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. At least three people are due in court today on felony charges after locking themselves to heavy construction equipment.
Morton County also issued an arrest warrant for Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman on Sept. 8, five days after we released our on-the-ground video report from Labor Day weekend showing the Dakota Access pipeline company's security guards physically assaulting nonviolent, mostly Native American land protectors, pepper-spraying them and unleashing attack dogs, one of which was shown with blood dripping from its nose and mouth.
The original charge against Goodman was criminal trespass, but due to lack of evidence, State's Attorney Ladd Erickson has filed a new charge against Goodman: "riot." If Judge John Grinsteiner approves the new riot charge, she will be appearing in court today at 1:30 p.m. CT to challenge it. Watch here:
Reposted with permission from our media associate Democracy Now!
Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, charged with criminal trespassing for filming an attack on Native American-led pipeline protesters, will turn herself in to North Dakota authorities on Oct. 17.
Amy Goodman will surrender to authorities at the Morton County–Mandan Combined Law Enforcement and Corrections Center at 8:15 a.m. local time (CDT).
"I will go back to North Dakota to fight this charge. It is a clear violation of the First Amendment," said Goodman. "I was doing my job as a journalist, covering a violent attack on Native American protesters."
The charge in State of North Dakota v. Amy Goodman stems from Democracy Now!'s coverage of the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. On Sept. 3, Democracy Now! filmed security guards working for the pipeline company attacking protesters. The report showed guards unleashing dogs and using pepper spray and featured people with bite injuries and a dog with blood on its mouth and nose.
Democracy Now!'s report went viral online, was viewed more than 14 million times on Facebook and was rebroadcast on many outlets, including CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and the Huffington Post.
On Sept. 8, a criminal complaint and warrant was issued for Goodman's arrest.
Ironically, in the state's criminal complaint, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Lindsey Wohl, referencing the Democracy Now! video report in a sworn affidavit, stated, "Amy Goodman can be seen on the video identifying herself and interviewing protesters about their involvement in the protest." This is precisely the point: Goodman was doing the constitutionally protected work of a reporter.
The pipeline project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of more than 200 other tribes from across the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has said that the warrant is "a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest."
Steve Andrist, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, told The Bismarck Tribune, "It's regrettable that authorities chose to charge a reporter who was just doing her job."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Democracy Now!
Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Greg Palast led a four-continent investigation of BP PLC for Britain's television series Dispatches. From 1989-91, Palast directed the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding for Alaska Native villages.
Some deal. BP gets the gold mine and the public gets the shaft.
On Friday night, the lawyers for 120,000 victims of the Deepwater Horizon blow-out cut a deal with oil company BP PLC which will save the oil giant billions of dollars. It will also save the company the threat of a trial that could expose the true and very ugly story of the Gulf of Mexico oil platform blow-out.
I have been to the Gulf and seen the damage—and the oil that BP says is gone. Miles of it. As an economist who calculated damages for plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case, I can tell you right now that there is no way, no how, that the $7.8 billion BP says it will spend on this settlement will cover that damage, the lost incomes, homes, businesses and boats, let alone the lost lives—from cancers, fetal deformities, miscarriages, and lung and skin diseases.
Two years ago, President Barack Obama forced BP to set aside at least $20 billion for the oil spill's victims. This week's settlement will add exactly ZERO to that fund. Indeed, BP is crowing that, adding in the sums already paid out, the company will still have spent less than the amount committed to the Obama fund.
There's so much corrosion, mendacity and evil covered up by this settlement deal that I hardly know where to begin.
So, let's start with punitive damages.
I was stunned that there is no provision, as was expected, for a punishment fee to by paid by BP for it's willful negligence. In the Exxon Valdez trial, a jury awarded us $5 billion in punitives—and BP's action, and the damage caused in the Gulf, is far, far worse.
BP now has to pay no more than proven damages. It's like telling a bank robber, "Hey, just put back the money in the vault and all's forgiven."
This case screamed for punitive damages. Here's just a couple of facts that should have been presented to a jury:
For example, the only reason six hundred miles of Gulf coastline has been slimed by oil was that BP failed to have emergency oil spill containment equipment ready to roll when the Deepwater Horizon blew out. BP had promised the equipment's readiness in writing and under oath.
And here's the sick, sick part. This is exactly the same thing BP did in the Exxon Valdez case. It was BP, not Exxon, that was responsible for stopping the spread of oil in Alaska in 1989. In Alaska, decades ago, BP told federal regulators it would have oil spill "boom" (the rubber that corrals the spreading stuff) ready to roll out if a tanker hit. When the Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef, BP's promised equipment wasn't there: BP had lied.
And in 2010, BP did it again. Instead of getting the oil contained in five hours as promised as a condition of drilling, it took five days to get the equipment in place (and that was done by the US Navy on orders of the President).
This was more than negligence: it was fraud, and by a repeat offender. Now BP is laughing all the way to the bank.
And there's more. BP mixed nitrogen into the cement which capped the well-head below the Deepwater Horizon. BP claimed to be shocked and horrified when the cement failed, releasing methane gas that blew apart the rig. BP accused the cement's seller, Halliburton, of hiding the fact that this "quick-set" cement can blow out in deep water.
But, in an investigation that took me to Central Asia, I discovered that BP knew the quick-set cement could fail - because it had failed already in an earlier blow-out which BP covered up with the help of an Asian dictatorship.
The lack of promised equipment, the prior blow-out—it all could have, should have, come out in trial.
Think about it: BP knew the cement could fail but continued to use it to save money. Over time, the savings to BP of its life-threatening methods added up to billions of dollars worldwide. BP will get to keep that savings bought at the cost of eleven men's lives.
Other investigators have uncovered more penny-pinching, life-threatening failures by BP and its drilling buck-buddies, Halliburton and TransOcean. These include bogus "blow-out preventers" and a managerial system that could be called, "We-Don't-Care Chaos."
BP partners and contractors will have to pay $5.4 billion as part of the deal—and BP, not the victims, will keep the entire $5.4 billion. If TransOcean and Halliburton follow suit, BP could walk without paying another dime to victims.
BP had no choice but to pay proven damages and conceded as much. I have learned from inside the plaintiffs' legal team that this judge was just not going to allow punitive damages; and the Bush-burdened US Supreme Court is just as hostile. (The Supremes cut the Exxon Valdez punitive award by 90 percent.)
So BP walks without the civil punishment that tort law should provide and justice demands, grinning and ready to do it again: drill on the cheap with the price paid by its workers and the public.
But stopping a trial denies the public more than the full payment due: it denies us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There are 72 million pages of evidence from inside BP and industry files obtained by legal discovery in the case which are now likely to follow the rig to the bottom of the sea.
That's not good. We need the real story.
The lawyers for plaintiffs got all they could get for their clients given the rightward march of the law. Also, there is no doubt that the control of the “$20-billion” spill fund by Kenneth Feinberg, known here in New York as “The Reptile,” the back room choice of Obama and BP, shafted victims by the thousands. Getting the Fund out of his saurian hands is probably the best part of the settlement deal.
But we need to widen the idea of “victim” to beyond those measurably harmed individuals. We are all BP’s victims: because of BP’s and the industry’s addiction to safety fakery from Alaska to the Caspian.
The President has just opened up the arctic waters of Alaska for drilling, has reopened the Gulf to deepwater platforms, and is fiddling with the idea of allowing the XL Pipeline to slice America in half.
So we need to know: Can we trust this industry?
The states of Louisiana and Mississippi could still haul BP into court. Fageddaboudit: neither Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal nor Mississippi's Phil Bryant, both of the Grand Oil Party, will expose BP. The Obama Administration must be pushed to bring the case to trail in the public interest. Though the history of federal complicity and Obama's fear of looking like a whale-hugging drill buster suggests a sell-out is in the offing.
Without a trial in the Deepwater Horizon case, we may never get the answer, never get the full story of the prior blow-outs, the fakery in the spill response system, and other profits-first kill-later trickery that bloats the bottom line of BP and the entire drill-baby-drill industry.
For more on Palast's worldwide investigation of BP and the industry in Central Asia, the Gulf, Alaska and the Amazon, read Palast's new book, Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores at www.VulturesPicnic.org.
You can read Vultures' Picnic, "Chapter 1: Goldfinger," or download it, at no charge: click here.
On Jan. 31 family farmers from across the country took part in the first phase of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al. v. Monsanto court case. The case was filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and open farmers up to abusive lawsuits.
About 200 supporters met at Foley Square in Manhattan the morning of Jan. 31. In total, more than 300,000 people are represented by 83 plaintiffs from 36 organizations in the case against Monsanto.
As a result of aggressive lawsuits against farmers with contaminated crops, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. Farmers now have the opportunity to fight back and have their voices heard in a court of law.
The Federal District Court judge has agreed to hear oral arguments in this landmark case to decide whether or not the case will move forward. The judge has until March 31st to make a decision.
Occupy Wall Street Food Justice, Occupy Big Food and Food Democracy Now! assembled at Foley Square in solidarity with farmers on the front lines of the struggle against corporate domination of the nation's food system.
To learn more about the details of the case, click here.
For more information, click here.