Dakota Access pipeline work restarts amid tribe’s legal challenge: ‘It’s not over’ – Sam Levin in Cannon Ball, North Dakota – Thursday 9 February 2017 13.41 EST

Pipeline at heart of protests and legal action could be transporting oil within three months – but Standing Rock activists say they will stay put

Dakota Access pipeline workers have begun the final phase of drilling across the Missouri river despite massive international protests and a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The restarting of the drilling operation, which a pipeline spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday morning, began soon after the US government gave the oil corporation the green light to proceed on Wednesday. The controversial pipeline could be transporting crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois within three months.

At the Standing Rock camps in Cannon Ball – where activists have been stationed since last spring to fight the project – indigenous and environmental organizers vowed to stay put and continue opposing the pipeline.

“We’re adamant about standing up against the pipeline regardless of the push to get us out,” said Irina Lukban, a 22-year-old activist. Late Wednesday night, she and other demonstrators, who call themselves water protectors, gathered around a table of maps at Sacred Stone, the first camp set up in opposition to the pipeline, and discussed strategy.

“We have to unify in the face of this adversity,” said Lukban, who is from California and is a member of an indigenous tribe in the Philippines.

The construction is a devastating blow to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose fight against the $3.7bn pipeline became a flashpoint across the globe for indigenous rights and climate change activism.

Article continues:


Dakota Access pipeline moves to final stage in army corps approval process – Sam Levin and Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco Tuesday 31 January 2017 21.58 EST

The acting secretary of the army has directed the army corps of engineers to grant the easement necessary to finish the billion-dollar project

 North Dakota government spokesperson says the easement ‘isn’t quite issued yet, but they plan to approve it’. Photograph: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

North Dakota government spokesperson says the easement ‘isn’t quite issued yet, but they plan to approve it’. Photograph: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

North Dakota government spokesperson says the easement ‘isn’t quite issued yet, but they plan to approve it’. Photograph: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

The Dakota Access pipeline is in the final process of getting approvals to complete construction across the Missouri river, according to North Dakota senator John Hoeven.

The acting secretary of the army has directed the army corps of engineers to proceed with an easement necessary to finish the pipeline, Don Canton, spokesman for Hoeven, told the Associated Press. The easement “isn’t quite issued yet, but they plan to approve it” within days, he added.

A spokesman for the US army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jan Hasselman, lawyer representing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, cautioned in an email that the battle wasn’t over. “People are jumping the gun, no easement has been issued,” he said, adding that he had confirmed that with the justice department.

But Hasselman added: “I’d say it’s a near certainty that they go ahead. It will be illegal of them to do so, of course, so [we] will have to litigate that.”

The Standing Rock tribe, supported by indigenous activists and environmental groups across the globe, has long argued that the $3.8bn project threatens sacred lands and the regional water supply.

In his first week in office, Trump issued an executive order demanding the revival of the Dakota Access pipeline and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both of which Barack Obama had halted. The tribe vowed to fight the order, which it said is illegal and not backed by proper consultation with Standing Rock.

Trump signs order reviving controversial pipeline projects

Though many activists left Standing Rock after the Obama administration denied the company’s permits in December, some have remained camped out by the construction site through the harsh North Dakota winter.

Obama’s decision directed the government to conduct a full environmental review of the project, known as an environmental impact statement (EIS), which is a process that the tribe has long demanded.

In a statement released Tuesday night, the tribe said it would “vigorously pursue legal action to ensure the environmental impact statement order issued late last year is followed so the pipeline process is legal, fair and accurate”

Article continues:

Self-driving cars: Uber’s open defiance of California shines light on brazen tactics – Sam Levin in San Francisco @SamTLevin Friday 16 December 2016 06.00 EST

 Intense fight with the state, ignited after cars were caught running red lights, exposed illegal and unethical tactics the company has used for years, critics say


Uber’s open defiance of California regulators marks the latest case of a ‘sharing economy’ corporation ignoring government under the guise of ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’. | Photograph: Angelo Merendino/AFP/Getty Images

  Uber has launched an aggressive battle with California over its controversial self-driving cars, with regulators and consumer advocates accusing the corporation of flagrantly violating the law, endangering public safety and mistreating drivers.

The intense fight with the state – which ignited hours after numerous self-driving cars were caught running red lights in Uber’s home town – has exposed what critics say are the unethical and illegal tactics that the company has repeatedly used to grow its business.

The ride-sharing company, which launched semi-autonomous vehicles in San Francisco without permits this week, was ordered by the California department of motor vehicles (DMV) to immediately remove the cars from the road or face legal action.

But Uber, which has not publicly responded to the state’s demands, blamed the traffic light violations on “human error” and suspended the drivers who were monitoring the cars. This bold deflection of blame further highlights the corporation’s refusal to take responsibility for potential faults in its technology and raises questions about the dangers of prematurely rolling out self-driving vehicles.

Article continues:

Standing Rock: violence and evacuation orders raise spectre of showdown – Julia Carrie Wong and Sam Levin Tuesday 29 November 2016 07.46 EST

Apprehension and distrust pervade North Dakota protest site as promises from state that there are no plans to forcibly remove people does little to assuage fears

Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 1:34 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% Mute Police blast Standing Rock protesters with water cannon and rubber bullets – video

Current Time 0:00
Police blast Standing Rock protesters with water cannon and rubber bullets – video

Police violence against Standing Rock protesters in North Dakota has risen to extraordinary levels, and activists and observers fear that, with two evacuation orders looming, the worst is yet to come.

A litany of munitions, including water cannons, combined with ambiguous government leadership and misleading police statements, have resulted in mass arrests, serious injuries and a deeply sown atmosphere of fear and distrust on the banks of the Missouri river.

Statements by the US Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota state government that, despite their orders of evacuation, there are no plans to forcibly remove protesters opposing the Dakota Access pipeline have done little to assuage fears.

As the first snows have fallen and more protesters arrive in support, apprehension at the encampments about the coming days is running high.

“We’re going to hope for the absolute best,” said Linda Black Elk, a member of the Catawba Nation who works with the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council. “If they do attempt to remove people forcibly, we are certainly preparing for mass casualties.”

Article continues:

Dakota Access pipeline protesters see bias after Oregon militia verdict – Sam Levin Sunday 30 October 2016 10.42 EDT

Johanna Holy Elk Face couldn’t help but chuckle. The 63-year-old Native American was one of hundreds of activists gathered to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Thursday, when police with tanks and riot gear surrounded them and began making mass arrests


The situation was sad and frightening, she said, but there was a fleeting moment of levity when one officer on the loudspeaker warned the demonstrators not to shoot “bows and arrows”.

“We all laughed,” Holy Elk Face said, noting that she wouldn’t even know how to use a toy bow and arrow.

For some Native American activists, the officer’s comment was the latest sign that a highly militarized police force has little understanding of indigenous culture and is set on treating the protesters like violent rioters, regardless of their tactics.

The notion that the criminal justice system is biased against Native American protesters came into sharp view hours later, when a jury in Portland, Oregon, issued a verdict of not guilty for white militia leaders who staged an armed occupation of federal land to protest government policies.

The fact that protesters with guns were acquitted on the same day police arrested 141 “water protectors”, who have often relied on indigenous songs and prayers to convey their message, sparked a firestorm on social media about white privilege and police brutality against people of color.

At the Standing Rock camps in North Dakota, where the fight against the $3.8bn oil pipeline is escalating dramatically, Native Americans said the Oregon verdict was an infuriating and painful reminder that the law treats them differently – and that the odds are stacked against them in their high-stakes battle to save their land.

‘If native people were armed’

Article continues: