News and media focused on art and activism

Category archive

Policy

When Pier 1 Phased Out Toxins

in Blog/Health/News/Policy by

(Watch at the highest quality!)

Something we collectively may not always think about when we are shopping for furniture and decorations for our home is if the materials and mediums have known harmful toxins in them.

The truth is, they do. Lightbulbs have mercury, which is neurotoxic. Many comforters, pajamas, pillows, couches, beds and so on have flame retardants in them. Flame retardants are a “possible” human carcinogen.

How do we make sure these chemicals don’t get into our homes and into our heads? By creating and enforcing policy!

How does that happen? In this case, through the hard work of a non-partisan, environmental non-profit called Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Through their efforts, Pier 1 effectively phased out all toxins from all products on their store shelves.

Yes, it really happened. And it is because people in the community got involved on an issue that they care about.

And I was lucky enough to catch footage of it actually happening!

Please enjoy this original video and audio of empowered citizens taking part in democracy 🙂

Sharing is…Caring?

in News/Policy by

Hello, Texan-born Fort Worth resident here! As you may have noticed by my previous articles and content, I am interested in sharing with proactive readers true and unbiased information.

That being said, we all know that sharing is caring; this article is about what Texas and South and Central America are sharing right now.

I would have to say that the most important thing shared has got to be…tacos! I love me some street tacos.

I’m not talking about Taco Bell y’all. I’m talking about tacos that you find pretty much exclusively either homemade, or if you’re lucky, around the corner at the gas station.

For those of you who haven’t had street tacos, imagine: Yummy corn or flour tortillas filled with your choice of meat, diced onions, topped with freshly made salsa and cilantro.

img_20150220_172352580

Find an establishment that serves more authentic tacos, and you can sometimes choose lengua (tongue) or tripe (stomach) as a meat if you can “stomach” it. These are options you won’t see at your typical Tex-Mex joint. You can of course still find barbacoa, beef, and chorizo, which I personally am a bit more used to. If you find a place that gives you all of these options, thank the lucky stars that you got the chance to try a real taco.

Tasty cuisine is one thing that is shared to America. On the flip side, one thing the U.S. shares with Mexico doesn’t leave quite as good of a taste in the mouth. Christopher Ingraham, writer for The Washington Post, quotes a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Ingraham writes, “More than 70,000 guns recovered from crime scenes in Mexico could be traced back to the United States…. That represents 70 percent of all crime guns recovered and traced in Mexico during that period.” Mmm, tastes like…lead.

Shoot, in Texas, gun laws are already very loose.
-Any Texan that is 18 or older is allowed to purchase a gun.
-There is no state registration of firearms.
-Open carry is allowed.
-Felons are allowed to purchase firearms that are kept in their homes, as long as it is 5 years after the sentence was discharged.

These loose rules apply to retailers selling firearms and ammunition. At gun shows, nearly anything goes. There is no background check required, and you are allowed to purchase as many guns as you want.

These loosey goosey policies are what allows so many guns to enter Mexico and beyond. How? The local folklore tells the tale of Texas residents being paid off to go into gun shows to purchase guns, then selling them to individuals (who are usually waiting in their car or truck in the parking lot) who cannot purchase them because they do not have American citizenship. Some of these folks re-sell the guns for the extra cash; some are threatened into it.

guns-467710_1920

You’ve gotta think that if there’s a need for guns, there is something being protected by them. In this case, it’s drugs, which another thing shared between countries.

Typically whenever drugs are sold en masse, gangs, cartels in this case, are formed in order to monopolize on the insane amounts of capital that is gained.

There are so many key individuals and events to talk about when it comes to drugs, which is what led to cartel presence in America. So, I have created a timeline to keep it neat.

Pay special attention to the people and events that are in bold.

History lesson, go!

*1960s: USE OF SEVERAL DRUGS ARE WIDESPREAD IN THE US

dsc03420-b3

Quoted from DEA’s own documentation of the history of the DEA, “In 1960, only four million Americans had ever tried drugs. Currently, that number has risen to over 74 million.”

During their early years, before criminalization, this is what drug use looked like in America:

The potential medicinal use for LSD was explored by scientists in laboratories in the UK and the USA in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Whenever no credible medical use was found, the drug seeped from labs onto the streets, helping fuel the counterculture of the time period.

Methamphetamine was used during the Vietnam War by soldiers in nearly every country involved; including American soldiers. Meth and dextroamphetamine were prescribed legally at that time to the public for anything from depression to weight control. Again, the drug seeped out of the realm of research or medically controlled use, and into the hands of the layman.

Heroin was allowed to be prescribed medically in the early 1910s, and it was criminalized in 1924.

Cocaine was said to be used primarily by the black communities in the early 1900s, until it spread to the disco culture in the ’60s-’80s. After that, it was common in nearly every subculture and socioeconomic group.

Marijuana was widely used, and not seen to be as dangerous as most other synthetic drugs. However, the film entitled Reefer Madness – 1936 (watch the original version for free here). This hilarious dramatization was created by a church group for parents so that they could warn their children of the “dangers of smoking pot.” Weed has long been the most accepted illegal “drug” in America however.

*JUNE 18, 1971: NIXON DECLARES WAR ON DRUGS

nixon

President Richard Nixon (served 1969-1974) declared his plan to fight a global “War on Drugs” during a press conference on June 18, 1971. (Watch as Nixon heatedly declares this war in a horribly monotone voice here.)

This “war” was declared because soldiers in Vietnam were revealed to be struggling with addiction.

The irony of the situation is that the soldiers were being given the equivalent of clean methamphetamine BY the United States Military.

Apparently the war on drugs was a pick and choose your favorite kind of war where Nixon got to pick on the existing drugs he didn’t like while leaving some totally legal.

*JULY 1, 1973: THE DEA IS FORMED

e4904a3d540495dd1d2cb09b5fb2092f

President Richard Nixon reorganizes his plans for the War on Drugs and creating the Department of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under the federal Department of Justice. This department has grown both in employees and in income since its beginning, yet drug use has continued to grow.

The DEA follows structure and methods of preceding agencies.

Those include The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD). The BNDD was formed after the merging of The Bureau of Narcotics and The Bureau of Drug Abuse Control. The two original agencies dealt with different types of drugs, whereas the BNDD dealt with all drugs. The BNDD was focused primarily on law enforcement rather than having much to do with education or rehabilitation.

Whenever the DEA was created, it took on the roles and responsibilities of the BNDD, which was then eliminated.

CARTELS

mexico-drug-cartel-infographics

*1930s: THE GULF CARTEL BEGINS IN MATAMOROS, TAMAULIPAS, MEXICO

Founders: Juan Nempomuceno Guerra, Cardenas Guillen, Juan Garcia Abrego

Current Leadership: Check out more info here.

The Gulf Cartel is possibly the oldest cartel in Mexico. This cartel began during the Prohibition of alcohol in America when Juan Nempomuceno Guerra started smuggling alcohol into the states. Guerra’s nephew took over the family business in 1984 and shifted towards smuggling drugs instead.

This cartel has strong international ties, as well as being allied with the Cali Cartel since the early days of its existence. The Gulf and Cali Cartels had a business arrangement that worked well for both of them. The Gulf Cartel was headquartered in a town right near the Mexico-Texas border, Matamotos. So, the Cali Cartel would bring shipments of cocaine from Columbia up to Matamoros, and the Gulf Cartel would distribute it to sellers in Mexico and on in to the U.S. from there. In the 1990s, it was estimated that the Gulf Cartel was worth over $10 billion.

The Gulf Cartel stills reigns supreme in many areas.

*EARLY 1970S: MEDELLIN CARTEL FORMS IN MEDELLIN, COLUMBIA

Founders: Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder, along with brothers Juan David Ochoa, Jorge Luis Ochoa, and Fabio Ochoa

Current Leadership: Could not find.

Medellin is pronounced, “med-uh-yeen.” Not like “medallion” as in the pirate treasure, which is what I thought at first. Although they DO have a lot of coin…

In 1975, Medellin, Columbia based drug-trafficker Fabio Restrepo (the head honcho of the area at the time) was murdered. Pablo Escobar is purportedly behind this murder. After that event, Escobar quickly began his ascension to being one of the most well-known drug smuggling king-pins ever in the world.

The founders of the Medellin Cartel teamed together and formed the group called M.A.S. (“Muerte a Secuestradores,” “Death to Kidnappers.”) The Columbian military, Texas Petroleum, small business owners, and rich farmers allied with the M.A.S. in orderto protect themselves and their assets.

The M.A.S. was formed by criminals for criminals, in order to protect existing cartel members and their families from being kidnapped by rivals.

Through this organized network, the members found the wealth and resources to become one of the most powerful cartels ever to exist, the Medellin Cartel.

This Cartel rose to power in the mid-1980s. By this time, “Escobar controlled more than 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States. More than 15 tons of cocaine were reportedly smuggled each day, netting the Cartel as much as $420 million a week.”

The Medellin Cartel had created a business in the spirit of the American dream. With all of the wealth floating around the states, especially in comparison to the poverty in Columbia, they saw much opportunity for their type of entrepreneurship.

The Medellins first used planes and the unguarded coastline of Florida to smuggle drugs into the U.S. The kingpins of the cartels even had their own private airstrips, warehouses, and party mansions in their own countries, to make smuggling easy and glamorous; especially as seen by the great amount of poverty that existed in those countries.

The Cartel was mostly smuggling cocaine, marijuana, and heroin into Florida. However, after the South Florida Task Force began cracking down on drug and cartel-related crime with help of the U.S. Military, the cartels simply began using a different route, choosing to go through Mexico.

This business made not only the Cartel, but also distributors in the US very, very rich.

Some things to note about how Escobar operated: He established the first smuggling routes into the U.S. He was a thief and scam artist in his early years, before he began the ultimate drug smuggler.

Escobar was known for being really, really good at bribing people to get what he wanted. The phrase “plata o plomo” was created in association to him. It means silver or lead.” Those were the options he gave those whom he was bribing; take either some money or die. It’s like he was a superhero with his own catchphrase!

Escobar is seen sort of like a superhero in Columbia. This is because he rose to power and made his own wealth in an area of poverty and simple living. He also built many schools, hospitals, and churches in the area where he grew up, and was elected into the Chamber of Representatives in Columbia as a member of the Columbian political party.

Escobar was eventually killed by the Columbian police when he was 44 years old. His death allowed other Cartels to come into power. The superhero of smuggling was not immortal, it turns out.

I would highly recommend the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, and Cocaine Cowboys 2. They are free on Netflix, and feature interviews with some of the original members so you get a firsthand account of how everything went down.

*ALSO EARLY 1970S: THE CALI CARTEL FORMS IN CALI, COLUMBIA

Founders: Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, Jose Santacruz Londono (aka Chepe), and Helmer Herrera (aka Pacho).

Current Leadership: Could not find.

The city of Cali, Columbia is where the Cali Cartel has its origins.

The crimes of the Cali Cartel began with kidnapping of laymen, as well as important political figures. They were also heavily involved in marijuana smuggling.

However, once the cartel realized that there was more money in cocaine, they switched their focus to selling cocaine.

The cartel sent Pacho to New York City to establish a distribution center in 1970. It is believed that this was the first time a cartel member came to the U.S. in order to set up shop for their business.

While the Medellin and Cali cartels worked together a number of times, they became rivals competing over territory and the control of the cocaine flow. Just, just bust a flow! No, not that kind. Ahem, anyway.

The Medellin Cartel dissipated sooner the Cali Cartel, which led to the Cali’s full height of power being in the mid-1990s, when the organization was raking in multiple billions of dollars per year.

*****

The original cartels were formed in Columbia, where the most coca was originally grown. However, when the Columbian Cartels began going through Mexico to smuggle drugs into the U.S., Mexican Cartels began to form and rise to prominence.

Now, the most coca is farmed in Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia.

*1989: THE SINALOA CARTEL FORMS IN CULIACAN, SINALOA, MEXICO

Founders: Joaquin Guzman (El Chapo), Hector Luis Palma Salazar

Current Leadership: El Chapo, Salazar, and Ismael Zambada Garcia

The Sinaloas are the number one Cartel presence in the U.S. right now. They have centers in every major city in the U.S., according to the DEA.

If you have heard anything about the Sinaloas, it is probably due to El Chapo.

El Chapo was born to a poor family in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. Guzman started his career in organized crime early. His uncle, Pedro Aviles Perez, was the one of the first to use aircraft to smuggle drugs into the U.S. back in the ’60s.

Since those days, the Sinaloa Cartel only became more powerful. It doesn’t hurt that heir base of operations is in an area that grows much of the country’s marijuana and opium.

El Chapo has made famous and perfected the Cartel practice of digging tunnels underground in order to transport drugs and weapons to and from the U.S. El Chapo has escaped from prison twice now, using these tunnel systems.

Not only that, it should be known that there are hundreds and hundreds of tunnels along the border of America and the U.S. It seems that every time officials on either side of the border discover one tunnel, more pop up.

Trump’s plan to build a wall won’t work so well against people who are going underground to get into the U.S.

Currently, El Chapo is in prison in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The world sits and waits to see if he will successfully attempt another escape. Until then, he is running the Cartel from inside of the prison.

*LATE 1990S: LOS ZETAS (THE Z’s) CARTEL BEGINS IN NEUVO LAREDO, TAMAULIPAS, MEXICO

Founders: Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, Arturo Guzman Decena

Current Leadership: Omar Trevino Morales

The Los Zetas are considered by the American government to be the most technologically advanced and therefore most dangerous of the Mexican Cartels.

The Los Zetas began as a branch of the Gulf Cartel. The original Zetas were recruited by Osiel Cardenas Guillen to be his personal body guard and then later mercenaries. Guillen partnered with Arturo Guzman Decena. Decena recruited over 30 men to join. These men had previously worked with the Mexican Army’s elite group, the GAFE, and then deserted the military. They were trained killers, and in a position to gladly accept the salary that the cartel was willing to offer them.

The role of the Los Zetas expanded from bodyguards and mercenaries into more violent jobs such as kidnapping, extortion, securing routes for cocaine smuggling, and  murder.

The Zetas became too powerful for the Gulf Cartel to handle, so they split off after a brutal civil war and became their own faction.

As of 2012, the Zetas had control of over 11 states in Mexico, giving it the most territory of any of the cartels. Their rivals, the Sinaloas, lost some territory to the Zetas. About 1/3 of the original members are now fugitives, and the rest are either dead or were caught by Mexican military.

Check out a free documentary on YouTube about the Los Zetas here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now that we have looked through the history of Cartels, let’s take a peek at the impact they are having in the great state of Texas.

In only one week, reports show that one retired Army Sargent from San Antonio admitted to furnishing weapons to Cartels, and two fishermen were shot by Cartel members while fishing on Falcon Lake in Texas.

The reality of Cartel presence in Texas and all over the U.S. backs up the legend of the ruthlessness and determination of the Cartels to perpetuate their status as the biggest and baddest on either side of the border.

Check out this map made by the DEA to see what Cartels are operated in what areas.

Photo: DEA
Photo: DEA

There is too much information about the Cartels for me to be able to be able to share it all. If you are interested in learning more about the relationship between the U.S. and South & Central America when it comes to cartels and smuggling, I would definitely recommend doing a little bit of research on the role that cartel leaders play in the politics of their respective countries.

Many of the leaders rose to a position of prominence in their governments, typically through coercion. These organizations are not only ruthless and lawless, they also have their hands in the governments of the countries in which they are operating.

skull-1193784_1920

Now that we’ve talked about what we do share, good and also dangerous, let’s talk about what we can share. One may argue (I would), that prohibition is a huge failure. I like to think of a government using prohibition as a similar sort of thing to when a parent prohibits their child from trying drugs or alcohol. That citizen, or that child, is going to be exposed to drugs and alcohol, and they will have a decision to make that is all their own. The citizen/child ought to possess the knowledge of the effects the drugs and alcohol are going to have on their body and mind so that they are equipped to make good decisions.

However, whenever prohibition comes into effect, entire subcultures, systems, lingo and so forth are formed so that those who are set on consuming drugs and alcohol will still be able to consume them. Which they always do and always will.

Remove that prohibition and replace it with education and treatment, and you will eliminate some of the “fun” and mystery that makes drug and alcohol related experiences so appealing for so many people.

portugal-1489214_1920
Country of Portugal

Why not share Portugal’s recent change in policies when it comes to drugs? In 2001, Portugal decriminalized (to different degrees) ALL drugs in their country. This doesn’t mean that they are now legal, it just means that the punishments and fines (especially for possession) are now much lighter. Since the decriminalization, rates of use and death have both gone down.

Again will I quote Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post: “Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the U.K., al lthe way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The E.U. average is 17.3 per million.” This information comes from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Now that sounds like some wisdom that the United States could definitely stand to share in. Decriminalizing is shown to reduce death aassociated with use.

Not only that, the heat on the coca farmers who are farming as they have been in their culture for generations would be significantly reduced.

The coca farmers are often forgotten in our dialogue about decriminalization. They receive very little of the money that their coca leaves end up producing, yet they are the targets of several governed tbe destroying their farms while calling them drug dealers.

Decriminalization would likely lead to less use, less protection needed for smuggling routes, and less deaths all around.

Tacos, drugs, and policies are all things that cannot be kept inside of a country, wall or no wall. That being the case, our increasingly small world should find a way to embody the phrase “Sharing is Caring” in a way that is healthy for everyone involved. I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit more about the streets. Now you know how to look out for delicious tacos, and to be mindful of the presence of some of the biggest organized crime organizations ever to exist in the backyards of every major city in the U.S.

Dallas Unites Against DAPL

in Business/Current Events/News/Policy by

Smart business will invest in renewable energy!nodaplme

 

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

I have been wanting so badly to be able to go to North Dakota to stand with the protesters there against the Dakota Access Pipeline. A trip to North Dakota just isn’t in my budget though. That’s not true of a lot of folks; even several celebrities have gotten involved, bringing a lot of media attention to the issue. They include Jackson Browne, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock, Bernie Sanders, and many more. This article shows an extensive list of big names who are showing their support for the Standing Rock Tribe.

Little did I know, Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for the building of the pipeline, is headquartered in Dallas! I lived in Dallas for about a year, and am staying in Fort Worth now, about 45 minutes south and mostly west of Dallas. Whenever I heard that some local groups and individual activists were organizing protests at the headquarters, a rush of excitement and opportunity rushed through me. Protesting at the headquarters was the next best thing to actually being at the front lines in North Dakota.

My activist friend who I met through working with Texas Campaign for the Environment was the one who told me about the protest. There have been several and several more are planned. The one I went to was held at the Klyde Warren park. The park was funded by Klyde’s father, Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. These organizers are really covering their bases.

background-text

In this one battle of many against the looming and devastating effects of climate change, I wanted to catch a glimpse of why folks in Dallas were dedicating their time and energy to a fight that is so far away. I was able to speak with a lot of inspiring warriors, and a few let me video their responses.

I asked them to introduce themselves and state why they were there protesting. Watch the video, and in this article, I would like to elaborate on some of the points that were made in the video, for those who want to dig deeper and do more research on the issue. The numbered list below cites information that corresponds with the different speakers in the video, consecutively.

Thank you so much for reading and watching.

If you are currently in North Dakota fighting, just know that there are folks worldwide, all the way from the UK to good ole Dallas, Texas, who are fighting with you. Don’t give up!

In love, Monica Leigh <3

  1. I am a proponent of peaceful protest. I do not believe that violence or any sort of rampant emotions will lead to peace. However, I do possess the empathy to understand why some protesters would lose their cool and get out of hand during this protest. As a trained protester, I would like to say that those who begin to yell and insult and become violent may not have had the training that some protesters have had. Either way, violence has occurred, and hopefully more violence can be avoided.
  2. Here is the Facebook page of the group this young lady mentions.
  3. Pipelines spill. Here is the website of a reputable organization that goes into a little more detail about how often pipelines spill, how many lives they take, and how much money it costs.
  4. European countries are taking the lead in operating using renewable energy. Germany is currently redoing its entire energy infrastructure to be ran off of renewable energy. There are cleaner, smarter, more efficient ways to consume energy than pulling toxic goop out of the ground and transporting it across our earth.
  5. The government granted federally protected land to the tribes in North Dakota and the surrounding regions. Check out these sites for more info on those treaties.
  6. I would direct you to the last section of my first blog post about this issue to look more into how renewables MUST be the way of the future.If we do not begin investing in renewables, we will see global catastrophic events. Entire island countries underwater, coastlines receded miles inland, the number of climate refugees seeking refuge in safer countries climbing. Smart companies WILL invest in renewables.

I hope this video and article has been entertaining and informative.

Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think.

I’ll believe in you if you’ll believe in me, ya? 🙂 <3

love

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL): WOT? Why??

in Business/Current Events/News/Policy by

You may have been catching glimpses in your newsfeed or on the radio or television (but probably on your newsfeed) about something about North Dakota and Native Americans and the DAPL from the pesky oil companies who are at it again…always. You may NOT know exactly what is going on. That’s okay; it’s really quite an exciting tale. Sit it on down and let me break it down into “wots” and “whys.”

WOT: is North Dakota?

It is the state directly north of, you got it, South Dakota! (Haha) I didn’t know much about the state whenever I started writing this article, so here is what I found for you.

Simple Googling reminded me what I learned in grade school, that Bismark is the capital of the state dominated by plains. I was surprised to find that the whole state had a population of only about 740,000 as of 2014. That’s close to a tenth the size of New York City. Alright cool, there’s a lot of open space and not many people. Turns out, a lot of the people living there are Native Americnas, many of them living on reservations. Besides that, what most of the open space is used for is to farm most of the grains that are farmed in our country. Like wheat and barley. Also flaxseed, for you yuppy health nuts (like me!). Think literally, amber waves of grain. And thank North Dakota for the flaxseed oil in your expensive soaps and shampoos. *Thanks, North Dakota!*

2field-summer-countryside-autumn

The other important natural resource that North Dakota boasts is the Little Missouri River, where the state shares a border with Montana. This where the scene of our story takes place. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe inhabits North Dakota and they are the heroes of this tale. As well as many other tribes we sadly have probably never heard of, such as Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Yanktonia, Sisseton, Wahpeton, and Hundpapa.

WHY: All the Fighting?

You’d think a peaceful state full of Native Americnas and open fields wouldn’t have a reason to be so controversial. Reason is, put simply, Energy Transfer Partners, the natural gas company worth billions is one contender, and the Native peoples of North Dakota, primarily the Standing Rock tribe, is the other. The state turned into a battleground whenever ETP decided they had plans to put a 1,170 mile pipeline through North Dakota, all the way to Illinois, where it will be joined up with a network of pipelines and distributed from there. This is not the only pipeline (the word “pipeline” keeps ironically trying to auto-correct to pimple before I am finished typing it; I think I’m just going to stick with that hehehe), they are planning on building. In fact, it is but one cluster of pimple-lines of many. You can view their plans laid out in this PDF of their analyst meeting for 2015.

They are quite the opportunists, and these plans for new (totally unnecessary) infrastructure may be born of necessity. According to a stock analyzing website called ‘The Motley Fool,

Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP) isn’t off to a great start in 2016. That is evident by looking at earnings across its business segments, which in aggregate are down 2.6% resulting in a 13% decline in distributable cash flow.”

To an unseasoned analyst such as me, it seems that they are probably hoping that these new plans of miles and miles of new pipelines (plus the new gas processing plants in Ohio and already built in West Texas) will bring their bottom line back up. This one section of pipeline being fought over is but one piece of a much larger, pimplier PI…peline.

2300-ndpipelinemap-v2

The Standing Rock tribe is holding true to its name, standing up to this company whose plans never include keeping the environment clean and fresh, free of pockmarks. The Tribe’s federally protected reservation is only a half of a mile away from where this “pimple-line” is planned on being built, while the land is actually owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The tribe’s concern is this: in case you did not know, pimple-lines often burst, and the spills leave devastating scars when they do. Check out a briefly compiled list of spills here if you really want to know more about the environmental and economic harm that the pimple-lines bring about when broken, which often happens because of a lack of proper cleanliness and maintenance.

The Standing Rock Tribe has been battling against this pimple-line since the beginning of April when members of the Tribe began camping out in a prayer circle. They want to scrub away the gunk and protect their sacred source of water and their federally-granted and protected land. Their water and land is supposed to be protected by the Oceti Sakowin Treaty, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The treaties call for the “absolute and undisturbed” use of the area. This portion of they Little Missouri River is the same source of water their people have been using for 15,000 years.

So, in an act to keep their land and water blemish-free, this Native American tribe sued the Army Corps of Engineers (who typically grants permission for such activities on federal or federally protected land), in an attempt to remove permissions from ETP from continuing to build the pimple-line on this land. Normally, (and I did not know this until writing this article) the oil and gas companies do not even need to have any kinds of permissions to build and terrorize the land, unless it is federally or privately owned. The land that is being disputed is technically owned by the Corps, so they are the ones who were able to give permission. Which they did.

Then, the Tribe sued the Corps in order to protect their ancestral, sacred lands from potential, some would say inevitable, harm.

WOT: Is Happening Now?

As the Tribe remained gathered in between the machines to be used to dig into the land to build the pimple-lines, more and more folks showed up. Everyone, from members of other tribes, journalists, environmental activists, and plain old folks who care about human rights. They camped peacefully, waiting for the court’s ruling on whether construction would be allowed to continue.

In the meantime, there were reports of ETP using…more force than necessary, in order to try and rid the land of those pesky things (men, women, children, horses) in the way of construction. Attack dogs and mace were used to keep the people away as they bulldozed right through land that they had no right to.

Thanks to the Democracy Now! for the following video which has *LANGUAGE NSFW* . This video of the front line of this battle is what pulled at my heartstrings enough to write this article. The protesters were surprised then angered that the construction had began. As I understand it, at this point, the construction was supposed to be at a standstill as the protesters and companies were awaiting the final court ruling.

The ruling finally occurred on Friday, September 9th U.S. District Judge James Boasberg issued a ruling denying the injunction request to stop or halt the construction. However, three different government agencies, the Department of Justice, of the Army, and of the Interior reacted by immediately issued a joint statement to stop the authorization of construction on federally controlled lands. Click here to read the exact wording of the ruling.

What the ruling actually states is,

“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.”

All this really does is put off how much time it is going to take for this pimple to pop.

If even federally protected land is not not actually protected against the company with the biggest bottom line, you can bet your bottom dollar that no one’s is.

Not to fear-monger. We just deserve to know. Make some noise.
Karma comes around, and we the people are sick of being run over by the 1%.

Why: Keep Fighting?

Because the news and media tend to look a little negative, let’s focus on the positive. There are people, thousands of people, who are special simply because they care enough to demonstrate their power. Some reports have said that there were over 4,000 people gathered at one time. This issue struck me particularly whenever I had a couple of activist friends make the journey to North Dakota to stand with the tribes. Remember, there are people who care, who are brave and compassionate enough to do what needs to be done. Which sometimes, is just to be there, and be making an effort.

windrader-1639567_1920

Why this tiny battle on the larger scale of climate war is so important? Because we are running out of time. At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference which happened in Paris, some actual important mandates were made. Whether or not you believe in climate change, the leaders of the world do; leaders from the 196 countries who attended the conference do, in fact. What came of this meeting is the understanding that if we don’t curb climate change, there will be significant catastrophic effects worldwide. Some of these are: entire island countries disappearing like unfortunate Atlantis underwater; coastlines receding miles inland, of course ruining entire cities; more and more extreme climate occurrences, like hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.

There are real numbers involved here. If we warm up the planet more than 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 14 or so years, that will be our new global reality.

That is why these warriors on this seemingly unimportant open field somewhere in North Dakota are so important to the future of, well, everyone.

It makes no sense to continue building infrastructure for what must soon, very soon, be an extinct industry.

ETP, you need to ask yourself WOT in the world you are doing.

Then, let’s turn inward and ask our collective-selves, what small things on a day-to-day basis can we be doing to make a difference?

Go to Top