Folks: Please Pray For The People In S.W. Columbia, Northern Ecuador And Northern Peru

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC AND REUTERS NEWS AGENCIES AND GETTY IMAGES)

Colombia landslide: Rescue teams race to reach survivors

Media caption The landslide struck in the early hours of Saturday

Rescuers are digging through mud and debris in the hunt for those missing after devastating mudslides in Colombia left more than 200 dead.

About 1,100 soldiers and police are involved in the relief effort.

Heavy rain flooded the city of Mocoa in the country’s south-west with mud and rocks burying whole neighbourhoods and forcing residents to flee their homes.

An army statement said there were at least 400 injured and 200 still missing in the capital of Putumayo province.

The exact death toll is hard to confirm with the rescue operation is still under way.

Some local media estimate up to 300 people have been killed, while the Colombian Red Cross has a total hovering above 200.

The Red Cross said it was working to help family members contact each other.

Video footage from the city showed residents crying over a list of missing children, along with their ages, pinned to a family welfare centre.

“We have lost a baby, who has gone missing,” one resident told reporters. “A little baby, we can’t find him anywhere.”

Media caption Dimitri O’Donnell: “The biggest hurdle… is trying to get access to Mocoa”

President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency in the region and flew in to oversee the rescue effort.

“We will do everything possible to help,” he said. “It breaks my heart.”

Lorries and trucks were thrown into the side of buildings by the force of the waterImage copyrightAFP / GETTY IMAGES
Image captionLorries and trucks were thrown into the side of buildings by the force of the water

A senior UN official in Colombia, Martin Santiago, blamed climate change, saying it had caused “tremendous results in terms of intensity, frequency and magnitude of these natural effects” in the region.

Others said deforestation has also played a role. “When the basins are deforested, they break down. It is as if we remove the protection for avoiding landslides,” said Adriana Soto, a Colombian conservationist and former environment minister.

The Colombian Air Force is bringing supplies to the area as the search operation continues.

With no running water in Mocoa, one resident told El Tiempo newspaper that they had been collecting rainwater. Power lines are also out across the area.

Tweet from @JuanManSantos, in Spanish: We guarantee health care in Mocoa. [The air force] moved 19 patients to Neiva, 20 will be evacuated in coming hoursImage copyright [email protected]
Image caption Colombia’s president said he would guarantee assistance to the victims

Photos posted to social media by the air force showed some patients being evacuated by air.

“Our heroes will remain in the tragedy zone until the emergency is over,” the army’s statement said.

Colombia’s director of the National Disaster Risk Management Unit told the AFP news agency that a third of the region’s expected monthly rain fell during one night.

Media caption President Juan Manuel Santos has declared a state of emergency

Although rainfall is abundant in the area, this downpour was unusually heavy and caused rivers to burst their banks.

The overflow then picked up mud and debris, creating a cascade.

Video footage of the aftermath showed currents so strong that abandoned lorries were propelled through the flooded streets.

Soldiers have been deployed to help local familiesImage copyright EPA
Image caption Soldiers have been deployed to help local families

Local resident Mario Usale, 42, told Reuters he was searching for his father-in-law.

“My mother-in-law was also missing, but we found her alive 2km (1.25 miles) away. She has head injuries, but she was conscious,” he said.

Rescuers seek people among the rubble left by mudslides following heavy rains in Mocoa, Putumayo department, southern Colombia on April 1, 2017.Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rescue workers searched among the rubble and fallen trees
A family wait outside their home damaged by mudslides following heavy rains in Mocoa, Putumayo department, southern Colombia on April 1, 2017Image copyright AFP
Image caption The debris totally destroyed many homes and submerged vehicles

Landslides have struck the region several times in recent months.

In November, nine people died in the town of El Tambo, about 140km (90 miles) from Mocoa, during a landslide that followed heavy rain.

A map showing Colombia and the locations of Mocoa, El Tambo, and Medellin - with neighbouring Ecuador and Peru also marked

Less than a month before that, another landslide killed several people near Medellin, almost 500km (300 miles) to the north.

And in neighbouring Peru, more than 90 people have died since the start of the year because of unusually heavy rainfall, which also caused landslides and flash floods.

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Beijing suspends last of its coal-fired power plants: China Goes To The Future: Trump, U.S. In Reverse

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

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Beijing suspends last of its coal-fired power plants

BEIJING’S last large coal-fired power plant has suspended operations, meaning the capital has become the first city in China to have all its power plants fueled by clean energy.

The Huangneng Beijing Thermal Power Plant came into operation in June 1999. It has five coal-fired units with a total installed capacity of 845,000 kilowatts and heating capacity of 26 million square meters.

Du Chengzhang, the plant’s general manager, said it is an efficient and environmental friendly plant with advanced emission treatment equipment. The plant has provided important support to the stable operation of Beijing’s electric power system and the heat-supply system, he said.

After the suspension of the plant on Saturday, about 1.76 million tons of coal, 91 tons of sulfur dioxide and 285 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions a year will be cut.

According to a clean air plan by Beijing from 2013 to 2017, the city was to build four gas thermal power centers and shut down the four large coal-fueled thermal power plants.

The other three plants which used to consume over 6.8 million tons of coal each year were closed in 2014 and 2015.

Du said Huangneng will prepare to serve as an emergency heat source for the capital’s heating system after operations cease.

Three of the four gas thermal power have already been built and are in use.

Beijing has 27 power plants, all fueled by clean energy with a total installed capacity of 11.3 million kilowatts.

Under the plan, Beijing will build no more large-scale power plants.

Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp Has Been Cleared

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Cannon Ball, North Dakota (CNN) A Standing Rock protest camp near the Dakota Access Pipeline has been cleared a day after a deadline to leave the area expired, authorities said Thursday.

Early Thursday, officials entered the closed Oceti Sakowin camp after the arrest of 10 people following Wednesday’s deadline. At least 23 people holding out in the camp were arrested Thursday, according to the North Dakota Joint Information Center.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department tweeted that the camp was cleared shortly after 2 p.m.
“You know that our big ask for tomorrow is anyone remaining in the camp, we want to make sure that they know they have an opportunity to voluntarily leave,” Burgum said Wednesday. “Take your belongings, remove anything that may be culturally significant and we’ll help you get on your way if you need to do that.”
The 10 people who were arrested on the highway Wednesday outside the camp had refused commands to leave the area, officials said. Authorities then closed the camp and did not allow vehicles to enter.
The arrests came at the end of a day without any major conflict after police did not enter the camp. About 100 protesters voluntarily left before the 2 p.m. state deadline set by Burgum.
Protesters chanted, waved flags and played drums as they left.

Native Americans march in 2016 to a burial ground site they say was disturbed by pipeline bulldozers.

Two people injured at the camp

At one point on Wednesday, a handful of tents were set ablaze.
Tribe member Kaooplus Enimkla Thunder and Lightning said some of the tents were frozen into the ground and had to be burned to be removed. Other tribe members said the fires are part of a tribal tradition.
Burgum said a 17-year-old girl suffered severe burns and a 7-year-old boy was injured from either an explosion or an out of control blaze in the camp.
Burgum said officials would enter the camp site Thursday around 9 a.m.
“Anybody that’s there is trespassing, so anybody that’s there is breaking the law,” he said. “Anyone who obstructs our ability to do cleanup will be subject to arrest.”

‘We knew this day was going to come’

North Dakota Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Tom Iverson said authorities had given a group of protesters who agreed to be arrested an additional two hours to leave on Wednesday but that group never materialized.
He said law enforcement were then confronted by “agitators” who approached the law enforcement line “provoking them.” Iverson said authorities were patient and gave people multiple warnings to back up and leave the roadway outside the camp entrance. Some people backed off, he said.
“We knew this day was going to come,” Iverson said, referring to the state deadline to close the camp for environmental and safety reasons.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has repeatedly asked protesters to leave.

Last week, Burgum signed the emergency evacuation order of the property to allow private contractors to remove waste from the Oceti Sakowin camp area, which officials say is in a flood plain.
The order said warm temperatures have accelerated snowmelt and increased the risk of flooding, and that those in the flood plain are at risk of personal danger.
Burgum’s order came as the project moved closer to completion after the US Army Corps of Engineers recently granted an easement for the last stretch of the pipeline bitterly opposed by Native Americans and environmentalists.
Oceti Sakowin was the main camp closest to where the pipeline will go underneath the Missouri River. At the peak of protests, the camp’s population climbed to as many as 10,000 people.

Assistance offered to protesters

North Dakota officials had strongly encouraged the remaining protesters to leave the camp.
Officials, including the North Dakota Department of Health, offered to bus protesters to a travel assistance center, where they would be able to receive water and snacks, health assessments, a hotel lodging for a night and bus fare home.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has also repeatedly asked protesters to leave for safety and environmental reasons. The tribe, which sued the US Army Corps of Engineers last July, has said the fight over the pipeline belongs in the court system.

A few protesters have remained at camps near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Project moving forward

The $3.7 billion pipeline is slated to stretch through four states — from North Dakota into South Dakota, winding through Iowa and ending in southern Illinois. It is expected to move 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day across the Midwest.
The project is completed except for the contested portion under North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, half a mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation.
Tribe members are concerned the pipeline would affect their drinking water supply and place downstream communities at risk of contamination from potential oil spills.
The pipeline moved forward last month after President Donald Trump signed executive actions advancing its approval. Trump’s actions cast aside efforts by former President Barack Obama to block the pipeline’s construction.
The order directed “the acting secretary of the Army to expeditiously review requests for approvals to construct and operate the Dakota Access Pipeline in compliance with the law.”
Soon after, the US Army Corps granted a final easement. The move was enthusiastically greeted two weeks ago by Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s developer. The company has said it’s ready to proceed.
But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies claimed then that the easement shouldn’t have been granted without the issuance of an expected environmental impact statement.

Legal action by Earthjustice

Last week, Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, filed a motion on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe questioning the legality of the Trump administration’s decision to issue the permit, according to Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice’s lead attorney for the tribe.
The motion asks the judge to rule on several unresolved legal questions, including whether the US Army Corps’ actions violate the tribe’s treaty rights.
The tribe has demanded a proper environmental impact statement to identify risks to its treaty rights, including its water supply and sacred places.
Hasselman said the Obama administration found “the Tribe’s treaty rights needed to be acknowledged and protected,” and other locations for the pipeline should be granted by the Army before granting the easement.
Trump’s reversal violated treaty rights, he said.
The tribe has said it plans to argue in court that the impact statement process was wrongfully terminated.

Heavy Smog To Hit Northern China Next 3 Days

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

http://www.shanghaidaily.com/nation/Heavy-smog-to-hit-north-China/shdaily.shtml

 

SMOG will hit China’s northern regions over the next three days, with visibility reduced sharply, the country’s meteorological authority forecast Saturday.

Parts of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Henan and Shaanxi will be covered by heavy smog from Saturday through Monday, the National Meteorological Center said in an online statement, while suggesting residents wear masks when outside.

Affected by an upcoming cold front, the smog is expected to disappear Monday night.

Winter typically brings the worst air pollution in northern China due to cold weather conditions and an increase in coal burning for heating.

Snow is forecast for parts of Xinjiang, Liaoning, and Jilin over the next two days, the center said.

Shanghai Air Pollution: Horrible Today Should Be Better By The Weekend

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

SHANGHAI suffered a second bout of pollution this week due to the accumulation of pollutants caused by a lack of wind as well as pollutants from neighboring provinces, said the environment authority.

Today is forecast to be heavily polluted and the situation will improve by weekend.

The city’s average air quality index had been rising since yesterday morning and reached 163, or moderately polluted, at 11am. PM2.5, tiny particles that are hazardous to health, was the major pollutant.

The peak came at 1pm when the index reached 172, with Jing’an and Qingpu districts reporting the worst situation with the density of PM2.5 surpassing 140 micrograms per cubic meter — more than five times the World Health Organization’s standard of 25.

According to Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center’s prediction, the air quality this morning is expected to be rated as heavily polluted with the AQI falling between 190 and 210.

The index will drop slightly to the level of moderately polluted this afternoon, but is expected to climb above 200 tonight.

Tomorrow will see a slightly polluted air quality with the AQI forecast to fall between 105 and 125, thanks to some easterly winds that should bring cleaner air in from the sea.

Citizens should enjoy a much better air quality over the weekend, according to forecasts.

This is the second round of pollution that Shanghai has endured this week.

On Monday, a blue-color air pollution alert, lowest of the four-tier system, was issued when the AQI hit 227, or heavily polluted, in the morning.

On Tuesday good air quality lasted until some high atmospheric pressure created poor dispersion conditions across the city.

Meanwhile, a slight drop of temperature is expected for the rest of this week.

The highest temperature is forecast to drop to 11 degrees Celsius on Saturday, compared with 15 degrees today, which will be sunny.

Two juveniles charged with arson in Tennessee wildfires that left 14 people dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST NEWS PAPER)

Two juveniles charged with arson in Tennessee wildfires that left 14 people dead

December 7 at 4:33 PM

What we know about the Tennessee wildfires

Tens of thousands of people have escaped a deadly wildfire in East Tennessee. Here’s a look at the aftermath of the disaster. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

Two juveniles have been charged with aggravated arson in connection with the East Tennessee wildfires that killed 14 people last week and left nearly 150 others injured, authorities said Wednesday.

During an investigation involving local, state and federal agents, “information was developed that two juveniles allegedly started the fire,” the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a news release.

Both were taken into custody Wednesday morning and are being held at the Sevier County Juvenile Detention Center.

The suspects are Tennessee residents, District Attorney General Jimmy B. Dunn said at a news conference in Sevierville. No additional information about the youths was made available, including their age and gender.

“I understand that you have a lot of questions,” Dunn told reporters. “However, the law does not allow for the disclosure of additional information at this time.”

He added that additional charges “are being considered” and said the juveniles could be tried as adults.

Two juveniles charged with arson in deadly Tennessee wildfires

Officials say two juveniles are being held on arson charges and additional charges are being considered in connection with the deadly wildfires that broke out last month in Tennessee. (Reuters)

The “Chimney Tops 2” fire was first reported Nov. 23 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, according to the National Park Service. The wildfire exploded on Nov. 28, as massive walls of flames spread down the mountains into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with shocking speed, according to those who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs.

The fires that engulfed the two tourist towns outside the park and shut down one of the country’s most popular natural attractions left more than 1,750 structures damaged or destroyed, most of them single-family residences. Additionally, thousands of wooded acres burned in the most-visited national park in the United States.

Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller called the devastation “unfathomable.”

Video shows firefighters driving through Tenn. wildfires

Lt. Steve Coker of the Sevierville Fire Dept. captured video of the wildfires burning in eastern Tennessee as his fire crew moved through the town of Gatlinburg on Nov. 28. (Twitter @alliecoker7)

Although wind gusts exceeding 60 mph caused the disaster to explode in Sevier County, fires had been brewing for months in this region. More than 150,000 acres have been charred in the Southeast by large fires, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and nearly 4,000 firefighters have been called into action to fight blazes that keep popping up.

The wind carried the flames from the nearby Chimney Tops fire across ground parched by a historic drought and into the surrounding towns. The fire moved too fast and too far to contain. “This is a fire for the history books,” Miller said last week. “The likes of this has never been seen here.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) called the fire the state’s worst in at least a century.

“To the residents of Sevier County: We stand with you and are committed to making sure justice is served in this case,” TBI Director Mark Gwyn said at the news conference Wednesday.

He added: “Our promise is that we will do every effort to help bring closure to those who have lost so much.”

The investigation, Gwyn said, is ongoing.

Gatlinburg, with a population of about 4,000 about 43 miles south of Knoxville, is surrounded on three sides by Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies, part of the Appalachian mountain range, straddle the border between eastern Tennessee and North Carolina.

Considered the gateway town to the Tennessee side of the park, Gatlinburg draws more than 11 million visitors a year, according to tourism officials. It is known for its mountain chalets and ski lodge — drawing honeymooners and other visitors all year-long.

Despite two days of heavy rains earlier this week, there are nearly 800 firefighters still battling the fires on the mountains. The fire is about 64 percent contained, authorities said Wednesday, and parts of the park remain closed.

But downtown Gatlinburg was spared, and property owners, business owners, renters and lease holders were allowed to return to full-time occupancy on Wednesday. The tourist destination is expected to reopen for business on Friday.

Angela Fritz and Peter Holley contributed to this post, which has been updated numerous times.

India Supreme Court Tells Government To Clean Up New Delhi’s Air: If People Can’t Breathe All Industry Will Stop

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

SC okays Centre’s action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR

INDIA Updated: Dec 03, 2016 01:02 IST

Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times
The grading system will ensure that certain steps can be automatically introduced. When air quality dips, the odd-even car rationing formula will kick in, along with closure of schools, a four-fold hike in parking fee, ban on entry of trucks, and halt in construction activities.The order came after the top court approved the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) “graded response action plan” that outlines measures based on air quality — moderate to poor, very poor, severe, and severe-plus or emergency. A separate set of action plan has been suggested for each category.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur asked the board to install real-time and manual pollution monitoring stations in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to check air quality for the graded response.

Smoke from farm fires, construction dusts, exhaust fumes from vehicles and factories, and firecrackers combined to shroud New Delhi and its satellite cities in their worst smog for 17 years after Diwali in November. The government was forced to take emergency steps such as closing schools and halting construction, while the judiciary too chipped in with stinging remarks against administrative inaction to clean up the Capital’s foul air.

“Do you want to wait till people start dying? People are gasping for breath,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Thakur said then.

The board, which the top court had pulled up for failing to make a roadmap to reduce air pollution, said severe and very poor air quality are common during winter: November to February.

The air quality index is measured on the basis of PM2.5 and PM10 in the atmosphere, which are tiny particles of dust that can cause grave respiratory disorder and damage the lungs.

The situation becomes severe or emergency when PM2.5 level is above 300 microgram per cubic meter or PM10 crosses the 500-mark. In such a scenario, authorities will close schools, stop the entry of diesel trucks into the Capital, halt construction activities, introduce the odd-even scheme for private vehicles, and hike parking fees.

The graded response fixes responsibility on the agency that has to enforce the measure.

Ban on diesel generators, construction and burning of garbage on landfill sites will kick in if the air index is very poor, with PM2.5 between 121 and 250.

When air quality is moderate or poor, the steps to be taken are ban on garbage burning, watering of fly ash ponds, closure of brick kilns and polluting industries, and mechanised sweeping of roads.

Chrysler Minivan Gets 84 Mpg Equivalent in Electric Mode

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler says its new gas-electric hybrid minivan will get the equivalent of 84 miles per gallon in electric mode and 32 mpg in city-highway mileage when in hybrid mode.

The redesigned Chrysler Pacifica minivan went on sale earlier this year, and the hybrid version is due in showrooms in December. The company says the Pacifica is the first hybrid minivan in the U.S. and the most efficient minivan on the market. It says the numbers have been confirmed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The hybrid can go 33 miles on battery power. After that it switches to the hybrid mode.

The hybrid Pacifica costs $41,995 before a $7,500 federal income tax credit. The price excludes shipping.

‘Where Evil Resides’: Veterans ‘Deploy’ To Standing Rock To Engage The Enemy — The US Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM ‘TASK AND PURPOSE’ WEBSITE)‘Where Evil Resides’: Veterans ‘Deploy’ To Standing Rock To Engage The Enemy — The US Government

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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.”

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters stand waist deep in the Cantapeta Creek, northeast of the Oceti Sakowin Camp, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Officers in riot gear clashed again Wednesday with protesters near the Dakota Access pipeline, hitting dozens with pepper spray as they waded through waist-deep water in an attempt to reach property owned by the pipeline's developer.

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.”

A Dakota Access pipeline protester defies law enforcement officers who are trying to force them from a camp on private land in the path of pipeline construction, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 near Cannon Ball, ND. Soldiers and law enforcement officers dressed in riot gear began arresting protesters who had set up a camp on private land to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

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.

Wes Clark Jr. on The Young Turks.

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.”

Michael A. Wood Jr.

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.”

Canada to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 to reduce carbon emission

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS PAPER)

Canada to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 to reduce carbon emission

    • AFP, Ottawa

|Updated: Nov 22, 2016 01:09 IST

Canada phase out its coal-fired power plants by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emission. (Reuters/Representational image)

Canada will shutter its coal-fired power plants by 2030 as part of its strategy to cut greenhouse gas emission under the Paris climate accord, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Monday.

The plants, located in four provinces, produce about 10 percent of Canada’s total CO2 emissions, and closing them will remove the equivalent in emissions of 1.3 million cars from roads, or five megatons of greenhouse gas emissions, she told a press conference.

“As part of our government’s vision for a clean growth economy, we will be accelerating the transition from traditional coal power to clean energy by 2030,” she said.

With an abundance of hydroelectric power, as well as nuclear, solar and wind power, 80 percent of Canada’s electricity production emits no air pollution.

McKenna said she aims to ramp that up to 90 percent by 2030. Citing National Energy Board figures, she noted that wind power-generating capacity increased twenty-fold in the past decade while solar capacity rose 125 percent.

The minister, however, added that carbon capture would be an acceptable substitute to closing a plant if Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Saskatchewan province wished to continue burning coal.

Saskatchewan has resisted strong climate action, which it says would harm its vast agricultural and burgeoning oil sectors.

It is testing the world’s first large-scale carbon capture and storage, built into a SaskPower coal-fired plant in the Canadian prairies.

Ottawa economics professor and energy policy expert Jean-Thomas Bernard, however, said efforts to capture and store coal have proven to be costly — Can $1.4 billion for the SaskPower Boundary Dam pilot project to produce 115 megawatts of electricity.

“We’ve been talking about clean coal for 20 years and it’s not yet realized commercially so there must be major difficulties with the technology,” he opined.

“Coal is a relatively small part” of Canada’s energy mix, he added.

Most of the coal plants in Canada are “quite old” and could be replaced with clean alternatives at “very reasonable costs,” he told AFP.

Hastening to clean economy

McKenna also set a new more ambitious goal of reducing total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.

Environmental activists and opposition parties had until now criticized the Liberal government for having kept the previous administration’s GHG emissions reduction target of 30 percent by 2030.

The move to accelerate weaning Canada off coal comes as Austria, Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands do the same.

It could, however, put Canada on a divergent path from the United States, its neighbor and largest trading partner.

Last year’s Paris Agreement set a goal of limiting average global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by cutting greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Countries including the United States have pledged to curb emissions under the deal by moving to renewable energy sources.

But US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to “cancel” the pact and boost oil, gas and coal, dismissing climate change as a “hoax” perpetrated by China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is due to announce in the coming weeks whether it will greenlight the construction of two new pipelines to bring oil and gas to tidewater in order to ship Canada’s abundant energy resources to new overseas markets.

Most of Canada’s energy exports currently go to the United States.

Critics questioned the government’s paradoxical support for the construction of new pipelines while championing climate action.

“It is our hope that Canada’s climate action plan will include corresponding measures to address emissions from oil and gas,” Citizens for Public Justice policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn said in a statement.

Trudeau has already spoken out publicly against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline for crossing the world’s largest coastal temperate rain forest in British Columbia.

Observers, however, believe the cabinet will support building a second pipeline alongside the existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Vancouver, as it looks to balance economic and environmental interests.

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