'Pray': Armed Police Descend on Water Protectors at DAPL Site

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by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

'Pray': Armed Police Descend on Water Protectors at DAPL Site

Hundreds of water protectors attempted to cross footbridges built over Cantapeta Creek to reach construction area

Police descended on water protectors in North Dakota on Wednesday, as images on social media showed a dramatic standoff along a creek that borders a construction site for the long-opposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Jordan Chariton, a political reporter with The Young Turks network, posted this video dispatch after covering events just east of the main camp, where Standing Rock Sioux tribal members and their allies were set upon by law enforcement officers in full military gear:

Amidst the standoff one peaceful demonstrator said she was telling officers that she "Loved them" when they began shooting her in the face with mace.

And filmmaker and journalist Josh Fox, also on the scene, decried the violence by authorities, telling Chariton, "These people from the North Dakota police force and the United States government has lost legitimacy in every respect today."

According to independent media outlet Unicorn Riot, which was also on the ground in the town of Cannon Ball, hundreds of water protectors attempted to cross footbridges built over Cantapeta Creek to reach the DAPL construction area on the other shore, but the police in riot gear reportedly pulled the bridges apart and forcibly kept people from crossing onto the opposite bank.

#NoDAPL Tweets

One protector said the walkways had been built to help elders reach the construction area to pray for sacred sites.

The Bismarck Tribune writes that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which lays claim to the land along the shoreline, gave Morton County the orders to arrest protesters and break down the bridge.

According to Grand Forks Herald, law enforcement officers used a boat to pull the bridge apart, and many protectors proceeded to swim across the river.

People on the ground said women and children were being evacuated from the protest camps, multiple people had already been maced, and police had fired rubber bullets, injuring at least one person.

Native American tribes and activists from all over the country have been resisting DAPL's construction for months, saying it threatens their access to clean water and violates treaty rights.

    White residue floating on top of water is from the variety of chemical weapons used against #NoDAPL water protectors. pic.twitter.com/HObv9xlPCV

    — Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) November 2, 2016

    Just coverered disturbing standoff bw ND police and protectors-police pepper sprayed, shot rubber bullets @ point blank range #NoDAPl

    — Jordan (@JordanChariton) November 2, 2016

    Journalist, congressional candidate, @ErinSchrode shot in back w rubberbullet #StandingRock protest. I was right next 2 her. #nodapl shes ok

    — Josh Fox (@joshfoxfilm) November 2, 2016

    Happening at Standing Rock now. Pray. #NoDAPL pic.twitter.com/l7EeSWCq7A

    — Ruth Hopkins (@RuthHHopkins) November 2, 2016

    Multiple people have been maced. They're evacuating women and children from camp. #NoDAPL

    — Ruth Hopkins (@RuthHHopkins) November 2, 2016

    Barrier of logs and rope has been constructed, placed the water by #NoDAPL water protectors. More officers arriving, lining up on the shore. pic.twitter.com/LY4TbioL6z

    — Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) November 2, 2016

    #NoDAPL

    Currently happening... pic.twitter.com/oy6cTFxKi3

    — Native Life ☄#NoDAPL (@_Native_Life) November 2, 2016

    Protester shot in back, not live bullet. Medic says may have injured lung, coughing up blood, being rushed to clinic. #noDAPL

    — Jason Patinkin (@JasonPatinkin) November 2, 2016

Protectors have vowed to remain vigilant against the pipeline. In recent weeks, police and private security teams have raided the camps, assaulted peaceful protesters with pepper spray and attack dogs, and made hundreds of arrests. Reports of abuse and excessive criminal charges became rampant. One documentary filmmaker faces up to 45 years in prison for her role in the coverage. The United Nations last week sent human rights observers to the site to monitor the situation.

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'Repugnant': On Top of Trans Ban, Trump DOJ Tells Employers They Can Discriminate Against LGBTQ Workers

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, July 27, 2017 Common Dreams

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'Repugnant': On Top of Trans Ban, Trump DOJ Tells Employers They Can Discriminate Against LGBTQ Workers

"In one fell swoop, Trump's DOJ has declared that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people may no longer be protected by landmark civil rights laws."

 

Just hours after President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that transgender people would no longer be permitted to serve in the armed forces, the Department of Justice on Wednesday launched what is being characterized as a separate attack on the LGBTQ community, this time by arguing in a legal brief that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay workers from discrimination.

"Attacks against the LGBTQ community at all levels of government continue to pour in from the Trump-Pence administration."

—Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign

James Esseks, director of the ACLU's LGBT and HIV Project, said in a statement that Wednesday "will go down in history as Anti-LGBT Day" and denounced the Justice Department's brief as a "gratuitous and extraordinary attack on LGBT people's civil rights."

"The Sessions-led Justice Department and the Trump administration are actively working to expose people to discrimination," Esseks added. "Fortunately, courts will decide whether the Civil Rights Act protects LGBT people, not an Attorney General and a White House that are hell-bent on playing politics with people's lives."

The Justice Department's filing was aimed specifically at a case that "kicked off in 2010 when Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, filed suit against his employer in federal court in New York, alleging the company terminated him for his sexual orientation in violation of Title VII" of the Civil Rights Act, reports Buzzfeed's Dominic Holden.

Holden adds that the DOJ's involvement in the case is abnormal because "the department doesn't typically weigh in on private employment lawsuits." Futhermore, the department is not a party to the case.

Nonetheless, the Justice Department—headed by Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose voting record on issues affecting the LGBTQ community has been described as "deeply disturbing"—issued forth its contention that sex discrimination barred by the Civil Rights Act does not extend to sexual orientation.

    Unacceptable: @TheJusticeDept under AG Jeff Sessions is arguing against gay rights in a major federal case. https://t.co/76Puj04p8c

    — Civil Rights (@civilrightsorg) July 26, 2017

    I don't even have words left. I am exhausted. What a repugnant administration. https://t.co/xiFgcan1VJ

    — Calvin (@calvinstowell) July 26, 2017

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an independent federal agency, previously ruled in Zarda's favor, arguing that Title VII bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

"EEOC interprets and enforces Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation," the agency's website states.

"The Sessions-led Justice Department and the Trump administration are actively working to expose people to discrimination."

—James Esseks, ACLU

Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which slammed Trump's transgender ban as an "all out assault on service members," said in response to the Justice Department's filing that "attacks against the LGBTQ community at all levels of government continue to pour in from the Trump-Pence administration."

"In one fell swoop, Trump's DOJ has provided a roadmap for dismantling years of federal protections and declared that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people may no longer be protected by landmark civil rights laws such as the Fair Housing Act, Title IX, or Title VII," said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow. "Today's filing is a shameful retrenchment of an outmoded interpretation that forfeits faithful interpretation of current law to achieve a politically-driven and legally specious result."

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'Sheer Reckless Folly': Trump Destroys Obama-Era Climate Rules

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by Nika Knight, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

'Sheer Reckless Folly': Trump Destroys Obama-Era Climate Rules

"Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump's effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions"

President Donald Trump on Tuesday set about aggressively dismantling Obama-era climate policies with an executive order decried as "sheer reckless folly," which will increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis.

"Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump's effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions," said David J. Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen's Climate Program, in a statement.

"This day may be remembered as a low point in human history—a time when the world's preeminent power could have led the world to a better future but instead moved decisively toward catastrophe," Arkush added.

The order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would have limited the emissions of coal-powered power plants. It also lifts the moratorium on federal coal leasing, repeals limits on methane emissions from fracking, and directs the agency to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and the National Environmental Policy Act guidance on greenhouse gas emissions.

"The EPA's rollback of basic environmental rules demonstrates that when it comes to the health of our children, our communities, and our climate, this is an administration of lawlessness and disorder," said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the grassroots sustainability group UPROSE, in statement.

"Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused."

—Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

"For frontline communities, those of us impacted first and worst by the extraction economy, this means an escalation of public health crises, from asthma to cancer. It means an utter disregard for those of us most vulnerable to climate disasters," Yeampierre added. "It means a  world of volatility and exploitation for our children and grandchildren."

Environmentalists, local and state leaders, and advocacy groups are vowing to resist.

"The best way to fight against these executive orders is to take to the streets," as 350.org executive director May Boeve put it.

"President Donald Trump tearing apart the CPP is an act of aggression and violence against the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky," said Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement. "Our indigenous prophecies and teachings tell us that Life as we know it is in danger. The atmosphere and the environment cannot absorb anymore concentration of greenhouse gases. As Indigenous peoples, we still understand our responsibility as guardians and the need to take action as defenders of the Earth. Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused."

"As a member of the climate justice movement, we stand defiant in the face of these orders and are prepared to hold the line," Yeampierre said. "We will meet these violent policies with a deeper commitment to a Just Transition away from fossil fuels, toward renewable energy, local resiliency, and a regenerative economy worthy of leaving our children."

The climate movement has numbers on its side, groups observe. "Millions of Americans have called for strong climate action, submitting more than 8 million comments asking the EPA to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants," noted Environment America. Recent polling confirms that a vast majority of Americans support climate action.

Moreover, despite the Trump administration's dubious claims of job creation, the Department of Energy showed that renewable energy jobs have already overtaken fossil fuel industry jobs, and the trend shows no sign of slowing.

As the federal government gives up its role in the climate fight, many now see local and state leaders taking up the charge.

"The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science."

—Washington Gov. Jay Inslee"[A]s our most successful climate programs face attack on the federal level, it is incumbent on states to double down on their climate commitments," Environment America wrote. "We are calling on our governors to keep leading the charge and push the progress we need to tackle the climate crisis and get 100 percent renewable energy."

West Coast politicians are already uniting under the umbrella of the Pacific Coast Collaborative to battle the federal government's rightward turn on climate.

"As the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California and the mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, we speak today in support of the Clean Power Plan," the Pacific Coast Collaborative wrote in advance of the executive order. "We speak in unified opposition to the idea of any decision by the President to limit our region's economic opportunities or our commitment to doing what's right to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for future generations."

"The West Coast is going to move forward to beat climate change," said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, according to Northwest Public Radio. "The West Coast going to move forward to build clean energy jobs. The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science."

"It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House."

—David J. Arkush, Public Citizen

"Many states and cities in the West will continue to lead on clean energy because it makes economic sense, and those states that tie their fate to Scott Pruitt’s doomed strategy of delay and deny face an increasingly risky future," said Bill Corcoran, Western campaign director for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.

And despite the frightening actions of the Trump administration, states and cities are already taking strong action to fight climate change. California last week passed the nation's strictest methane regulations, and on Monday the Maryland state senate passed a statewide fracking ban. Maryland's Republican governor has already signaled his support for the ban.

People nationwide are also ready to rise up and march for climate justice.

"Even as Trump dismantles environmental protections to shore up the fossil fuel industry, support for action to stop global warming is at an all-time high," said 350.org's Boeve. "Now it's up to communities to bring our vision of a healthy climate and a just transition to renewable energy to life."

Those who support climate action and oppose Trump's fossil fuel-friendly administration will gather for the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, as well as the March for Science in D.C. and elsewhere on April 22.

"From the upcoming congressional recess through the Peoples Climate March and beyond, we'll be putting pressure on lawmakers to defend the climate and building power to stop the fossil fuel industry for good," Boeve said.

"Now is the time to come together and build an economy where investments are made to benefit workers, communities of color, women, and low-income folks, not the fossil fuel industry," said Rae Breaux, lead climate justice organizer for the People's Action Institute, in a statement.

Public Citizen's Arkush added: "It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House."

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'The Right Thing to Do': Kamala Harris to Co-Sponsor Bernie's Medicare for All Bill

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

by Jake Johnson, staff writer, August 31, 2017

commondreams.org

'The Right Thing to Do': Kamala Harris to Co-Sponsor Bernie's Medicare for All Bill

"There's certainly momentum and energy around" single payer, Harris said

 

At a town hall Wednesday night in Oakland, California, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced that she will co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) Medicare for All legislation, which is reportedly set to be introduced mid-September. 

"Thank you Kamala Harris for your support. Let's make healthcare a right, not a privilege." 

—Sen. Bernie Sanders"I'll break some news: I intend to co-sponsor the Medicare for All bill because it's just the right thing to do," Harris, the first Senate Democrat to publicly endorse Sanders's legislation, told an audience of around 700 people at the Beebe Memorial Cathedral church.

Harris added in an interview with the Sacramento Bee that "there's certainly momentum and energy around" single payer.

The crowd reportedly "roared and cheered in applause" as Harris—who is viewed as a likely 2020 presidential candidate—made the announcement.

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Support for Medicare for All among the American public has soared since the Republicans began their effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. A recent AP/NORC poll found that 62 percent of the public believes it is "the federal government's responsibility to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage."

In the face of this grassroots enthusiasm and pressure, "the Democratic Party has moved swiftly to the left on healthcare," notes Vox's Jeff Stein. "Most key 2020 contenders—including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.J.), and Corey Booker (D-N.J.)—have said they support the idea of single payer without necessarily backing Sanders' bill or an existing bill. More than half of House Democrats now support Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) single-payer bill—a historic high."

In Harris's home state of California, the executive board of the Democratic Party voted unanimously earlier this week to endorse SB 562, the Healthy California Act.

"Thank you Kamala Harris for your support," Sanders wrote on Twitter as news of Harris's announcement broke. "Let's make healthcare a right, not a privilege."

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'This Is Sick': Unscripted and Unhinged Trump Reverts to Defending Neo-Nazis

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

by Jake Johnson, staff writer, August 15, 2017

www.commondreams.org

'This Is Sick': Unscripted and Unhinged Trump Reverts to Defending Neo-Nazis

David Duke among white supremacists thanking president for standing up for "the truth" on Charlottesville

After largely sticking to the script on Monday, President Donald Trump "showed his true colors" once again at an impromptu press conference Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he suggested that white supremacists and counter demonstrators were both to blame for the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, and argued that torch-wielding neo-Nazis were merely expressing peaceful disagreement with the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. 

"The president of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate. This is sick." 

—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

In what many observers characterized as an "unhinged" display for a president, Trump repeatedly assured reporters that he watched the events that unfolded over the weekend "very closely," and came away with the conclusion that anti-racist protesters—who Trump claims "came charging in without a permit"—were "very violent," and argued that there were many "good people" among the white supremacists who participated in the so-called "Unite the Right" rally on Saturday.

"I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it," Trump said of the violence that left one woman dead and dozens injured.

The president also defended his delayed response to the white supremacist violence, saying he likes to "wait for the facts before commenting"—a rule that is evidently suspended when the perpetrators are thought to be Muslim.

"Making the statement when I made it was excellent," Trump said.

In an echo of Saturday, when Trump was praised by neo-Nazis for blaming "many sides" for the violence in Charlottesville, David Duke—former grand wizard of the KKK—thanked Trump following the Tuesday press conference for telling the "truth" about "leftist terrorists."

Among non-white supremacists, the reaction to Trump's comments was a mixture of horror and dismay. MSNBC commentator Chuck Todd said the press conference gave him "chills," and the Anne Frank Center called the president's remarks "nauseating" and "racist."

"This is unconscionable," concluded The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

"Trump is on camera right now defending the white supremacists at Charlottesville. Saying many were good people. No joke," wrote activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King. "It's disgusting."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), writing shortly after the press conference came to a close, expressed similar outrage.

"The president of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared on Twitter. "This is sick."

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