80,000 of us have already spoken up about a bill in Washington state, in which any protesters deemed “disruptive” could be charged with “economic terrorism.” But the idea is spreading — in Missouri, wearing a hood at a protest would be considered “criminal identity concealment”; in North Dakota, drivers would be allowed to run over and kill a protester with no legal liability, as long as it was done “negligently.”
These bills are an urgent threat to free speech and patriotic dissent. If we speak up now and raise the alarm, we can make them politically toxic and protect the right to protest.
No matter what your cause is, we should all have the basic right to speak out — and lots of people have been using it. But powerful and corrupt institutions are threatened by people getting together to make their voices heard, that’s why they want to silence them. So they’re trying to insulate themselves from the public by making it effectively too dangerous to actually use our constitutional right to free speech.
The ten states already considering these bills are Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, and Washington  — click through for links to each bill. Lawmakers seeing these bills fly under the radar could get the wrong idea. We’ve got to speak up now to make sure our ability to speak up on any issue is not silenced.
Authorities argue that these laws are necessary to protect the public from radical protesters. But these laws are not even written to do that — they’re so vague that they could criminalize completely nonviolent protest, or leave it to local authorities to pick and choose the groups they want to silence. Any one of these laws even getting serious debate in a state house is a threat to our freedom to express ourselves, online and offline, everywhere.
There is something sickening about a case the Supreme Court just heard about a boy with autism and what level of public education he — and other students with disabilities — deserve.
Here’s some background: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law requiring public schools to provide children with disabilities a “free appropriate public education.” Students in special education get “individualized education programs, or IEPs, or blueprints that spell out supports and goals for each child. The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that IEPs must lay out plans that provide some educational benefit, but it didn’t set a benefit standard, and lower courts have been divided over what it should be. Some have required a substantial — or “meaningful” educational benefit — while others require only a de minimis — or anywhere above trivial — educational benefit.
Now the Supreme Court — which held a hearing in the case Wednesday — is being asked to decide on a standard, which is essentially the same as deciding whether the United States really cares about providing all students a free and appropriate public education, and whether it is wholly committed to helping families that have children with disabilities.
These are the facts of the court case, which could affect millions of children with disabilities and the public schools they attend:
A boy named Drew was diagnosed with autism at age 2, affecting his cognitive functioning, language and reading skills, and his social and adaptive abilities. From preschool through fourth grade, he received special education services in schools in Colorado’s Douglas County district.
By fourth grade, his parents saw his behavior get increasingly worse. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which got involved in this case, said fourth grade was “especially rocky.”
Drew exhibited multiple behaviors that inhibited his ability to access learning in the classroom. In the past, he has climbed over furniture and other students, hit things, screamed, ran away from school, and twice removed his clothing and gone to the bathroom on the floor of the classroom.
Drew’s parents said that although they saw some progress in Drew, it was minimal, so they pulled him from the public school system and placed him in a private school that used interventions that experts consider effective for many children with autism. Reports about his progress under an intervention called ABA were very positive, with “great” behavioral gains that led to an ability to pay more attention in class, complete math and verbal skills work and interact with peers and teachers.
Under the federal law called the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents can seek tuition reimbursement from the school district and can win if several conditions are met. One of them is that their son wasn’t getting enough “educational benefit” from the public schools. Drew’s parents applied for reimbursement — arguing that the public district had not provided him with a free and appropriate public education. They were denied by the school system. That started a trek through the courts, leading to the Supreme Court, which is reviewing a 2015 decision by the 10th Circuit, which upheld the school system’s decision, using a very low standard for educational progress.
What is enough educational benefit? That’s what the Supreme Court is being asked to consider, and that, when you think about it, is where this case gets ugly.
Remember that we are talking about young people with disabilities — some of them so severe that a child might, for example, have the intellectual capacity of a 6-month-old, or have frequent disruptive seizures — and their families, some of whom have daily burdens that others can’t begin to imagine.
So is minimal educational benefit enough? You may not know exactly what “minimal” is, buy by definition, you wouldn’t want that to be the standard for your child. Is “some” benefit — which courts have said means progress that is barely above trivial — enough for your child — or somebody else’s? Or do students with disabilities deserve a standard requiring “meaningful” benefit and if so, what does “meaningful” mean? Should the standard be “appropriate”? During the Wednesday hearing, nine different standards were mentioned in the proceedings within a half-hour period.
Should children with any disability be at the mercy of a standard that depends on the federal appellate jurisdiction in which his school district is located?
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The Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed to be dissatisfied with the 10th Circuit’s ruling that public schools can meet IDEA requirements by providing an education to students with disabilities that is more than trivial, but there was no seeming direction indicated about what standard they do think makes sense.
In the IDEA legislation, Congress set a maximum target for the federal contribution to special education spending equal to 40 percent of the estimated excess cost of educating children with disabilities. Thus, if the program were “fully funded,” the states would receive their maximum grants, calculated at 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE) times the number of children with disabilities served in the school year 2004-2005, adjusted for population changes. Under the act, the count of children with disabilities cannot exceed 12 percent of the state’s total school population.
For FY 2014, IDEA federal funding covered 16 percent of the estimated excess cost of educating children with disabilities, less than in FY 2008 when federal funding covered 17 percent of the cost and well below FY 2009 when additional funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act covered 33 percent of the cost. IDEA Part B “full funding” for FY 2014 would have amounted to approximately $28.65 billion, or roughly $17.17 billion more than was actually appropriated. The shortfall in IDEA funding has been assumed by the states and local school districts.
Yet there is something chilling about some of the debate about this issue. The debate is being played out in legalese — there’s lots of talk about “procedure” — in the world of words rather than people. As Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said in Wednesday’s hearing: “What is frustrating about this case and this statute is we have a blizzard of words.”
A blizzard of words that seem to fly right over the actual people being affected. As Gary Mayerson, a civil rights lawyer and board member of Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization, said in this article by my colleague Emma Brown: “I can’t even believe that this is really a question for the court to wrestle with.”
After a month and a half of negotiations and consultations between the political parties, the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Fouad Fleifel announced the completion of the new line-up headed by Saad Hariri from Baabda Palace. Issued on Sunday evening, December 18, 2016, three decrees relating to accepting the resignation of the government of President Tammam Salam and the designation of Hariri as Prime Minister, and the lineup of the new government. The first two decrees signed by President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, while the third decree signed Aoun and Hariri.
The decree accepting the resignation
The broadcast decrees Fulayfel, it came in the text of the decree accepting the resignation of Tammam Salam government, which holds the number 1, as follows: “The President of the Republic, based on the Constitution, especially Section 5 of Article 53 thereof, and paragraph (d) of article 69, item one thereof, upon the resignation submitted by Prime Minister Mr. Tammam Salam, paints the following:
Article I: considered the government headed by Mr. Tammam Salam resigned.
Article Two: The decree of where needed and shall immediately upon its release. “
Baabda the president of the Republic, General Michel Aoun
Decree naming Hariri
According to the Decree No. 2 to nominate Mr. Saad Hariri as Prime Minister: “The President of the Republic, based on the Constitution, particularly Section 3 of Article 53 thereof, based on the Decree No. 1 date of December 18, 2016 included the government headed by Mr. Tammam Salam resigned considered, Decrees the following:
Article I called Mr. Saad Hariri as Prime Minister.
Article Two: The decree of where needed and shall immediately upon its release. “
Baabda, December 18, 2016
President of the Republic General Michel Aoun
Forming a government decree
The decree forming the government, which bears the number 3, the text of the following: “The President of the Republic based on the constitution, especially item 4 of Article 53 thereof, based on the Decree No. 2 of 18 December 2016 containing the designation of Mr. Saad Hariri, head of the Council of Ministers, on the proposal Prime Minister, paints the following:
Saad Hariri as Prime Minister
Ghassan Hasbani as deputy prime minister and minister of health
Marwan Hamadeh, Minister of Education
Talal Arslan, Minister for the Displaced
Ghazi Zaiter minister of agriculture
Michel Pharaon, Minister of State for Planning Affairs
Ali Qanso Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs
Ali Hassan Khalil and Minister of Finance
Mohammed Fneish and Minister of Youth and Sports
Jean Oghassabian Minister of State for Women’s Affairs
Yacoub Sarraf, Minister of National Defense
Gebran Bassil and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates
Hussein Haj Hassan, Minister of Industry
Salim Jreissati justice minister
Nihad Hanged Minister of Interior and Municipalities
Mohammed Kabbara Minister of Labour
Ayman Shakir and Minister of State for Human Rights
Jamal Jarrah and communications minister
Certain Almrobei and Minister of State for displaced
Ghattas Khoury, Minister of Culture
Pierre Raffoul and Minister of State for Aiash Republic
Nicola Tueni and Minister of State for fight against corruption
Tariq al-Khatib and Minister of the Environment
Care Izz al-Din, Minister of State for Administrative Reform
Joseph Fenianos minister Oachgal
Melhem Riachy Minister of Information
Pierre Abi Assi, Minister of Social Affairs
Ous Kadeneian Minister of Tourism
Cesar Abi Khalil and Minister of Energy and Water
Raed Khoury, Minister of Economy and Trade
According to the constitution issued a decree forming the government signed by the President and the Prime Minister, as the Constitution in its Article 64 provides that the government offer within a period of 30 days from the date of issuance of the decree forming, ministerial statement to the House of Representatives for a vote of confidence in order to direct its powers.
It is scheduled to take Minister commemorative photo with the president on Wednesday, to be followed by a session of the government headed by Aoun in Baabda Palace.
A recent opinion survey showed 78% of respondents supported her impeachment
Following six weeks of street protests and an approval rating that plunged to just 4%, South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached Friday by the nation’s National Assembly, signaling an ignominious end to a term that had become mired in a corruption scandal.
The impeachment vote required at least 28 of Park’s fellow Saenuri Party lawmakers to cross the aisle to make up the majority two-thirds of the 300-seat legislature. The final vote was 234 to 56 in favor of impeachment. Park is suspended with immediate effect although the vote needs to be ratified by the nation’s Constitutional Court within 180 days to become permanent.
The nation’s Prime Minister takes over Park’s responsibilities in the interim, though Park had already offered to resign if lawmakers voted against her. If she does, new elections must be held within 60 days. Crowds of banner-waving protesters greeted the verdict with cheers outside the chamber.
“President Park Geun-hye has not only forgotten her duty as the nation‘s leader and administrative chief but also violated the constitution and other laws concerning her public duties,” said opposition lawmaker Kim Kwan-young while presenting the impeachment bill.
Park is the 64-year-old daughter of former South Korean military dictator Park Chung-hee, who is credited with spearheading the East Asian nation’s rapid economic growth of the 1970s and ’80s. She is accused of sharing classified documents with her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil.
Choi, the daughter of the shaman-like cult leader who grew close to Park and her strongman father, has been charged with using her influence over Park to wrest almost $70 million from some of South Korea’s biggest companies, including LG, Hyundai and Samsung.
Crowds between 500,000 to 1.5 million have thronged central Seoul in recent weeks to demand Park’s ouster. Protesters see the corruption scandal as symptomatic of wider problems in South Korean society, including soaring income inequality, ingrained sexism and a lack of social mobility.
Park has yet to resign or formally comment on her impeachment and has not been seen in public since Tuesday, instead ensconced herself in the presidential Blue House despite the roiling demonstrations less than a mile away. “She really has been very tone-deaf to what the people want,” says Professor Sean O’Malley, a political scientist at South Korea’s Dongseo University.
As President, Park is constitutionally protected from prosecution other than for insurrection or treason, though prosecutors say she had a “considerable” role in Choi’s alleged transgressions. There are widespread calls for criminal charges against Park once she leaves office. Park has apologized for the scandal three times but insists nothing she did was for personal gain.
“My heart is crushed when I think I cannot resolve the deep disappointment and anger of the people even if I apologize 100 times,” she said in one tearful televised statement.
South Korea now faces a damaging period of political limbo. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is deeply unpopular among the opposition and protesters, who see him as too close to Park’s scandal-hit administration. The lack of clear leadership has consequences for regional security, with Seoul a vital ally to Washington’s efforts to curb the nuclear ambitions of rogue state North Korea.
However, O’Malley says there are signs the Choi scandal has had the positive effect of empowering the national prosecutors’ office. “I’m hopeful that they will be more aggressive in pursuing political corruption cases in the future,” he says, adding that the saga “may strengthen the legal system in the long run.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)
Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit
Source: AFP | December 6, 2016, Tuesday | PRINT EDITION
A man waiting to enter the public gallery waves a European Union flag outside the Supreme Court in central London yesterday ahead of a challenge against a court ruling that the UK government requires parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the European Union. — Reuters
BRITAIN’S Supreme Court yesterday began a historic hearing to decide whether parliament has to approve the government’s Brexit negotiations, in a highly charged case that could delay the country’s EU exit.
For the first time, all 11 Supreme Court judges convened to hear a challenge by the government against a ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek lawmakers’ approval before starting the process to leave the European Union.
The High Court ruled last month that the government did not have the executive power alone to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, formally starting exit talks which could take two years.
The decision enraged Brexit supporters and some newspapers who accused judges of thwarting the will of the 52 percent who voted “Leave” in the June 23 referendum.
The vote for Britain to become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc sent shockwaves across the world and emboldened populists in Europe and the United States.
Supreme Court President David Neuberger said people involved in the case had received threats and abuse and stressed that the judges would rule without any political bias after criticism from Brexit backers.
A parliamentary vote on Article 50 could open the door to pro-EU lawmakers delaying or softening Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.
Neuberger said the judges were “aware of the strong feelings” surrounding Brexit but “those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal.”
He told the court: “This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do.”
He said some parties involved in the case had received threats of “serious violence and unpleasant abuse,” warning that there were “legal powers” to deal with such threats.
Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government’s chief legal adviser, outlined the government’s case at the start of the four-day, live-broadcast hearing, with a judgment expected in January.
In his opening statement, he said there was a “universal expectation” that the government would implement the referendum result.
He argued that the government had constitutional authority over foreign affairs, including the right to withdraw from treaties, under so-called “royal prerogative powers.”
The royal prerogative is “not an ancient relic but a contemporary necessity,” he said.
If it loses, the government is expected to introduce a short bill — reportedly comprising just three lines of text — which it will then seek to push rapidly through parliament to authorize the triggering of Article 50.
May, who became prime minister after the Brexit vote, has insisted a parliamentary vote on the legislation would not disrupt her plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.
However, the opposition Labour Party delivered a blow to the government on Saturday when it announced it would seek to amend any bill, potentially delaying the process.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the amendment would ensure Britain retains access to the European single market and protect workers’ and environmental rights.
May faces a further potential complication from representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who will argue Article 50 also needs to be approved by the UK’s devolved parliaments.
Court Revives Lawsuit Against California Bullet Stamping Law
By SUDHIN THANAWALA, ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN FRANCISCO — Dec 1, 2016, 3:22 PM Est
Gun manufacturers have the right to present evidence supporting their claim that technology does not exist to comply with a California law requiring new models of semi-automatic handguns to stamp identifying information on bullet casings, a state appeals court said Thursday.
The ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeals in Fresno overturned a lower court ruling rejecting a lawsuit challenging the law by two firearms trade associations, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute. The appeals court sent the case back down for further consideration.
Supporters of the law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007 touted it as the first such law to go into effect in the nation and said it would help law enforcement solve gun crimes by allowing them to link bullet casings to guns. The law requires new handgun models to have a microscopic array of characters in two spots that identify the gun’s make, model, and serial number and that are transferred by imprinting on each cartridge case when the gun is fired.
Gun rights groups say it is not possible to “microstamp” two areas of a gun. Only the tip of the firing pin can be microstamped, and current technology doesn’t allow the stamp to reliably, consistently and legibly imprint on the cartridge primer from that part of the gun, they said.
“We are pleased by today’s ruling because it means we will now be able to prove in court that this ill-considered law must be enjoined because it is literally impossible to comply with its requirements, and the law never requires the impossible,” Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said in a statement.
A call to the state attorney general’s office for comment was not immediately returned.
The law was supposed to take effect in 2010, but was delayed because of patents on the technology, including at least one that had been bought up by a gun rights group to delay the law’s implementation.
It doesn’t impact guns already on the state’s official firearm roster. Only new or modified semi-automatic handguns sold in California must be equipped with the technology.
Keane said in an email that no new models of pistols have been introduced in California since the law took effect.
Tribal nations solidarity. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert
Published November 27, 2016
WASHINGTON – Greenpeace responded to the 10-day eviction letter given to water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp on Friday by the Army Corps of Engineers. The letter states that the lands will be closed to public access for safety concerns.
In response to this news, Greenpeace spokesperson Lilian Molina said:
“It is 2016, Thanksgiving weekend, and the Army Corps has decided to force the Standing Rock Sioux off of its own sacred land. This is an astounding and shameful move by the United States government. The United States has ignored Indigenous sovereignty for far too long, and Standing Rock is an opportunity for President Obama to do right for the Indigenous community and for the climate.
“If President Obama and the Army Corps truly want to ensure the safety of the water protectors, they will deny the easement for the Lake Oahe crossing and rescind all permits for the pipeline immediately. Fundamentally, this is about standing with an Indigenous community fighting for its own survival by protecting sacred land, water, and climate, or siding with a greedy fossil fuel company looking to destroy all of those things.”
Folks, I floated this idea by my wife on Election Night a couple of weeks ago and after giving it a lot of thought we decided that it sounds like a pretty good idea, now see what you think of it. When I was a kid and I first learned of the Electoral College I thought that it sounded like a horrible idea. Then after studying the history of the issue it really ticked me off. The Founding Fathers thought that ‘We The People’ were actually to stupid to elect our own Officials so they put in a ‘cheat formula’ sort of like the current day Democrats do with their ‘Super Delegates’. The Democratic leadership has proven that they have no interest in letting the people, Democrats or otherwise to get to elect their party’s nominee. In my honest opinion, this is why Donald Trump is the President-Elect today and not Bernie Sanders, it is the fault of the Elite who run the DNC. When I was a kid back in the 1960’s I remembered studying to find if the people had ever voted one way just to have the Electoral College vote another person into the Presidency. I was only able to find one time where it had happened and it was back in the early 1800’s, I remember thinking how irate the American people would be if this ever happened in these ‘modern’ times. I honestly thought that it never would, then the 2000 election came along and Al Gore beat George W. Bush by about half a million votes but the Supreme Court gave the election to Mr. Bush by one electoral vote. The people sat on their hands and did nothing. Now just 16 years later it has happened again. It looks like Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over two-million votes but she got her butt kicked in the Electoral College vote. You know, when the Founding Fathers set up our political system maybe they were right, the American people do seem to be ignorant sheep. Remember though that when they put in the phrase ‘All People Are Created Equal’ they were only referring to ‘White Male Landowners.’ You know, our ‘Founding Fathers’ had some serious issues.
Okay, now I will get to the meat of this article which is the idea about how to make the Presidential Elections more fair. I don’t like the Electoral system because I do not believe that it creates equality Nationwide. Yet if we only count the popular vote then Presidential hopefuls would only visit or care about the States with the biggest population centers, in fact they would only concern themselves with the biggest cities. Why would they bother wasting time and money on States like Wyoming, North or South Dakota or Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada or Utah? You can see where the current Democratic Party has been doing this in recent elections, this time, it cost them the White House. Here is my suggestion for your thoughts. So as to make the Presidential Elections much more equal and fair so that every State has equal representation like we all do with Federal Senators (2 each) no matter how big, small, or populated a State is, or not. Keep an Electoral College (sort of) but with this huge change, every State gets one vote. Whomever wins a State’s popular vote gets that State’s one vote. We have 50 States, if there is a tie of 25 each then and only then we look at the ‘popular vote’ to see who won the most votes Nationwide, then give the Election to the one who won the most total votes. If our political system ever gets to where we have more that the two big contenders let’s say a viable third, fourth or fifth political party to where their Candidate’s win States but no Candidate won at least the 25 States then one week later have another election with only the top two finishers on the ballot. I personally believe this system would be better than what some Countries do with their ‘Coalition’ Governments. That system is a train wreck because it causes too many elections and gives way to much power to a very small Party that happens to be part of the Ruling Coalition, they know that all they have to do is to threaten to leave the Coalition and they can bring down the whole Government. Okay folks, that’s it, what do you think of this idea?
On Dec. 4, if everything goes according to plan, hundreds of veterans will muster at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The mission: To stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“Most civilians who’ve never served in a uniform are gutless worms who’ve never been in a fight in their life,” Wes Clark Jr. declares. “So if we don’t stop it, who will?”
Clark Jr. is one of the most vociferous opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a controversial 1,170-mile project that, if and when it is completed, will shuttle an estimated 470,000 barrels of crude oil every day from North Dakota to Illinois. “It’s immoral, and wrong, and dangerous to us all,” Clark Jr. adds.
He doesn’t fit the traditional tree-hugger mold. He’s not a hippie. Nor is he a member of the Lakota or Dakota tribes, the two Native American group known collectively as the Sioux. He’s a former Army officer and the organizer of an upcoming three-day deployment of U.S. military veterans to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in southern North Dakota, the site of an escalating months-long standoff between law enforcement-backed security contractors and activists that has so far resulted in multiple injuries, more than 500 arrests, and a United Nations investigation of potential human rights abuses.
According to an “operations order” for the planned engagement, posted to social media in mid-November, “First Americans have served in the Unites States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans. There is no other people more deserving of veteran support.”
Clark Jr. is a 47-year-old writer, political commentator, and activist based in California. Joining him in the fight is Michael A. Wood Jr., a Marine Corps veteran and former Baltimore police officer who retired his badge in 2014 to become an advocate for national police reform. Earlier this month, the duo formed Veterans Stand For Standing Rock with the hope of drawing scores of veterans, as well as fire fighters, ex-law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel and others to the battleground for a three-day “deployment” in early December to “prevent progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline and draw national attention to the human rights warriors of the Sioux tribes.” Both men say they’re prepared to take a bullet, rubber or otherwise, for a cause they believe should be of critical importance to any patriotic American.
“… if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do…”
“This country is repressing our people,” Wood Jr. says. “If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was originally established as part of the Great Sioux Reservation under Article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of April 29, 1868. In 1877, the U.S. government initiated the still ongoing process of chipping away and dividing the land it had granted to the people of the Lakota and Dakota nations, with significant reductions taking place in 1889 and then again during the 1950s and 1960s, when the Army Corps of Engineers built five large dams along the Missouri River, uprooting villages and sinking 200,000 acres of land below water.
When the Corps of Engineers returned to Standing Rock in 2015, it was to assess whether or not it should approve a path for the Dakota Access Pipeline across the Missouri River, a project that would involve construction on some of the land that had been stripped from the Sioux, who still regard it as sacred — although, that fact seems to have been ignored, maybe even intentionally, in the assessment.
Because the Corps neglected to consult the Standing Rock Sioux, as it was required to do under the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106), the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the American Council on Historic Preservation all criticized the assessment, but the project was eventually approved. The decision was a major victory for Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based parent company of Dakota Access LLC, which estimates the pipeline will bring $156 million in sales and income taxes to state and local governments and create thousands of temporary jobs.
For the Standing Rock Sioux, the Dakota Access project poses two immediate threats. First, the pipeline would run beneath Lake Oahe, the reservoir that provides drinking water to the people of Standing Rock. (An earlier route that avoided native lands was ruled out in part because it posed a danger to drinking water.) Second, according to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the building of the pipeline would destroy the sacred spots and burial grounds that were overlooked in the Corps’ assessment. But as the protests have intensified, and more outsiders, including members of more than 200 Native American tribes from across North America, have become involved, Standing Rock has, for some, come to represent something much bigger than a struggle between a disenfranchised people and a government-backed, billion-dollar corporation. It’s a battle to save humanity from itself.
“Mother Earth’s axis is off and it’s never going back,” says Phyllis Young, a Sioux tribal elder. “And we have to help keep it in balance for as long as we can. I am a mother and a grandmother. Those are my credentials to ensure a future with clean drinking water — a future of human dignity, human rights, and human survival.”
Young grew up on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. She has been present at many of the protests and says she’s seen people brutalized at the hands of the security contractors and law enforcement officials guarding the land where the drilling is set to take place. It was Young who got Clark Jr involved. In late summer, she was in Washington, D.C., lobbying for the military to promote an alternative (and scientifically dubious) clean energy source called low-energy nuclear reaction, when she heard of a military veteran who was a forceful advocate for environmental conservation. Clark Jr. was eager to help. He spent weeks trying to assemble a legal team for the Standing Rock Sioux, and even contacted Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit organization that helps governments navigate complex diplomatic processes. “I pulled all of the levers, and none of them worked,” Clark Jr. recalls. Then, in early November, the plan dawned on him: He’d bring his fellow veterans. Lots of them. And they’d come prepared to put their lives on the line.
“We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone,” Clark Jr. says. “They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence.”
You may have heard of Clark Jr.’s father. Wesley Clark Sr. retired from the Army in 2000 as a four-star general. His career began in the jungles of Vietnam, where he was shot four times during an enemy ambush near Saigon, and culminated in a posting as Supreme Allied Commander Europe during the Kosovo War. In 2004, he ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination on platform that criticized the Iraq War and called for measures to combat climate change. Clark Jr., who was born in Florida while Clark Sr. was in Vietnam and grew up on military bases throughout the United States and Europe, seems to have inherited both his father’s commanding spirit and his progressive ideals.
Clark Jr. had just graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service when he joined the Army as a cavalry officer. He served on active duty from 1992–1996 — “nothing dangerous,” he says. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was living in New York City, and after seeing the towers fall, he decided to re-enlist. “I was like, ‘I’m going back in. I’m going to go in there and fuck people up,’” he recalls. It was Clark Sr., the decorated war hero, who convinced him not to. As Clark Jr. recalls, his father foresaw U.S. military intervention in Iraq and warned that as a soldier he would be fighting a war that had nothing to do with defeating al Qaeda. “He was right, but I’ll tell you, I’ve never felt worse about a decision in my life,” Clark Jr. says.
Clark Jr. may never have served in combat, but when he talks about Standing Rock, he sounds like a battle-hardened general. This isn’t his first foray into boots-on-the-ground environmental activism. He’s currently working with an organization called Climate Mobilization, which is focused on “building and supporting a social movement that causes the US federal government to commence WWII-scale climate mobilization.” But he’s perhaps best known as a co-host of the political web series The Young Turks. On the The Young Turks website, Clark Jr. is described as an Army veteran “currently trying to save human civilization from climate change.” The impending confrontation at Standing Rock, he says, will be “the most important event up to this time in human history.”
“We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone. They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence.”
Vets Standing For Standing Rock was announced via an official sounding letter formatted like a five-paragraph military operation order, breaking down the “opposing forces” — “Morton County Sheriff’s office combined with multiple state police agencies and private security contractors” — “Mission,” “Execution” and “Logistics,” among other things. A packing list virtually mirrors the ones issued to soldiers preparing to deploy to the field (minus the weapons). But there are also parts of the document that read like a revolutionary manifesto. Under the section titled “Friendly Forces,” for example, the op order states, “we are there to put our bodies on the line, no matter the physical cost, in complete nonviolence to provide a clear representation to all Americans of where evil resides.”
The document was accompanied by a link to a GoFundMe campaign that has raised nearly $20,000 of its $100,000 goal since it was created on Nov. 11. The money, Clark Jr. says, will only be used for helping volunteers with transportation costs and then bailing those who are arrested out of jail.
Wood Jr. says the op-order was Clark Jr.’s idea, but the two men agree that organizing like a military unit is the smartest approach, especially because most of the people expected to join them on the ground have served.
“It’s simple and we have clearly defined goals, so people don’t get caught up in the confusion,” says Wood Jr., who served with the Baltimore Police Department for more than a decade. “One of the issues the police are going to face is that our level of planning and coordination is vastly superior to theirs, so they may end up with a problem when it comes to that.”
“We’ll have those people who will recognize that they’re not willing to take a bullet, and those who recognize that they are.”
Here then is the plan: On Dec. 4, Clark Jr. and Wood Jr., along with a group of veterans and other folks in the “bravery business,” as Wood Jr. puts it — 500 total is the goal, but they’re hoping for more — will muster at Standing Rock. The following morning they will join members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, including Young, for a traditional healing ceremony. With an eye toward the media, old military uniforms will be donned so that if the veterans are brutalized by the police, they are brutalized not as ordinary citizens, but as people who once served the government they are protesting against. Then body armor, ear plugs, and gas masks will be issued to those who didn’t bring their own. Bagpipes will play, and traditional Sioux war songs will be sung. The music will continue as everyone marches together to the banks of the Missouri, on the other side of which a line of guards in riot gear will be standing ready with rifles, mace, batons, and dogs. Then, the veterans and their allies — or at least the ones who are brave enough — will lock arms and cross the river in a “massive line” for their “first encounter” with the “opposing forces.” The goal is to make it to the drilling pad and surround it, arm in arm. That will require making it through the line of guards, who have repelled other such attempts with a level of physical force Sioux tribal members and protesters have described as “excessive” — claims that recently prompted a United Nations investigation. Of course, that’s what the body armor and gas masks are for.
“We’ll have those people who will recognize that they’re not willing to take a bullet, and those who recognize that they are,” says Wood Jr. “It’s okay if some of them step back, but Wes and I have no intention of doing so.”
Of course, as most veterans know full well, even the best plans go out the window the moment the shit hits the fan. It seems probable that the group will be met by fierce resistance from those charged with keeping people out of the construction site. Despite a recent decision by the Corps of Engineers to delay further work on the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners is still hoping to complete the project by January. The segment that will cross beneath the Missouri at Standing Rock is the last major piece of the puzzle. Strengthening the resolve of the company’s executives is the fact that Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren donated more than $100,000 to elect Donald Trump, and Trump himself owns stock in the company. “I’m 100% sure that the pipeline will be approved by a Trump administration,” Warren told NBC News on Nov. 12.
Nonetheless, Clark Jr. and Wood Jr. remain undeterred. If anything, the likelihood of approval only makes them more determined. After all, this is war.
“The Joint Chiefs of Staff labeled the climate emergency as the number one security threat to the country, and they’ve been labeling it that for years,” Clark Jr. says. “All you need to do is put an overlay on any map in the world where there’s a water and crisis and you’re going to see massive political violence in that location. And unless we act, we’re going to be dealing with that exact same situation right here in the United States.”
truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.
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“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”~ Ronald Reagan.