Wednesday, August 24, 2016

So That's Why They're Selling Irish Butter at My Corner Grocery

The U.S. Government Is Buying 11 Million Pounds of Cheese

Mad cheddar. iStock

Behold: cheese mountains. No longer mere tasty figments of your most sumptuous daydreams, giant stockpiles of cheese have been amassing all over the country for months. And now, the U.S. government is going to buy them.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cheese surplus is “at its highest level in 30 years.” Why is there so much cheese?  As Slate’s Jordan Weissmann explained in May, “U.S. dairies have been losing sales to competition from Europe, where an oversupply of milk has driven down the price of cheese and butter and a falling euro has made exports more competitive.”
So desperate, in fact, is the cheese situation, that the USDA said it “received requests from Congress, the National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau and the National Milk Producers Federation to make an immediate dairy purchase.” The cheese buy is valued at $20 million.

"We understand that the nation's dairy producers are experiencing challenges due to market conditions and that food banks continue to see strong demand for assistance," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, adding that the cheese will be donated to food banks. He said: "This commodity purchase is part of a robust, comprehensive safety net that will help reduce a cheese surplus that is at a 30-year high while, at the same time, moving a high-protein food to the tables of those most in need.”

The cheese surplus is over. Long live the cheese surplus.

Support the People - Oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline

Massive oil spill fuels protests in Lakota Territory

Without water there is no life, and this is our main source.’ Photograph: Megan Mitchell/NBC North Dakota News

By Talli Nauman  Native Sun News  Health & Environment Editor 

RAPID CITY –– A massive, new spill from a bitumen pipeline in the tar-sands oil fields of Alberta, Canada’s Athabascan territory fueled a series of pipeline protests by Native Americans and allies across South Dakota, beginning July 24.

Taking part in the protests were the Yankton and Rosebud Sioux tribes, members of Indigenous Environmental Network and the No KXL Dakota Coalition, including: Dakota Rural Action, South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, BOLD Nebraska, Ihanktonwan Treaty Council, Kul Wicasa Treaty Council, Oyate Wahacanka Woecun, and many others.

They paraded a banner through the streets of Rapid City on July 24, to represent a black snake, their nickname for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL Pipeline.

On July 26 in Ft. Pierre and Pierre, they staged the Four Directions Resistance Ride, March and Rally to precede state Public Utilities Commission evidentiary hearings set for July 27 on TransCanada’s permit renewal application.

Daily pickets of the commission’s hearings were organized to follow.

The Canadian company wants to build the Keystone XL tar-sands crude-oil conduit across 314 miles of Lakota Territory, through the South Dakota counties of Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp.

In the latest tar-sands crude-oil pipeline snafu, the Chinese-owned Plains Midstream Pipeline dumped more than 1.5 million gallons of toxic diluted dilbit (diluted bitumen) south of Ft. McMurray before a leak could be stopped July 17, according to The Associated Press.

The volume of the spill surpasses that of the largest inland oil spill ever in the United States that of Enbridge oil spill, which polluted the Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, and is still the subject of cleanup efforts.

The Chinese-owned company responsible for the Ft. McMurray spill, China National Offshore Oil Corp. Ltd., is also responsible for the May 19 pipeline rupture near Santa Barbara, California, which dumped 100,000 gallons of oil, closing Pacific Ocean beaches for a month.

As the Alberta spill soon became one of the largest ever in Canada, Native Americans and landowners in the path of other potential accidents from the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline urged the Public Utilities Commission to deny TransCanada Corp.’s application.

Participants in the Keystone XL Resistance Ride and March on July 26, 2015. Photo courtesy Dallas “Muscle” Goldtooth

Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) founder Debra White Plume, one of the promoters of the actions to prevent pipeline expansion, submitted testimony to the commission, noting that all the tribes in South Dakota have said “no” to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“Now it is your turn to say no,” she said. The line would cross many important parts of the Mississippi watershed, as well as community water supplies, she said.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), representing the people near the recent Canadian oil spill, immediately lashed out against the escalating mining and transportation of tar-sands crude-oil in its ancestral territories, including the boreal forests of Alberta.

The nation “is concerned that without addressing the current poor environmental standards coupled with increasing development in the region will only result in more spills and incidents. These types of incidents are seen as leading causes of degradation of the environment and ultimately the rights and title of First Nations in the region,” it said in a written statement calling the accident “the largest recorded spill in Canadian history of toxic water, bitumen and sand.”

The Alberta Energy Regulator and Nexen’s Long Lake Oil Sands Project, which are investigating the spill, said it flowed into a large area of mossy swamp, known as muskeg, creating concern among the First Nation population.

“A spill this size into the muskeg, which is an important part of the eco-system in the region and houses many of our medicines, berries and habitat for species our people rely on for sustenance, is extremely serious,” AFCN Chief Allan Adam stated. “The muskeg are a part of the basin and feed into the groundwater system,” he said. “The location of the spill is dangerously close to the Clearwater River that flows directly into the Athabasca River,” he noted. 

“The repercussions from the incident could potentially be felt far and wide by those that rely on the Athabasca Basin,” he added.

Plains Midstream has been the subject of repeated spills, investigations, and calls for better regulation.
AFCN noted that reclamation is still incomplete on a 2011 Plains Midstream pipeline dilbit spill into the muskeg near the community of Little Buffalo.

“There is no way to clean or reclaim the muskeg,” said AFCN Communications Coordinator Eriel Deranger. “Destruction and contamination like this that directly affects key component of our eco-systems is affecting First Nations ability to access lands and territories for hunting, fishing, gathering and trapping rights, rights protected by both the constitution and our treaties. 

“Yet, incidents like this continue to occur with little regard to the long term implication it has on our communities and our rights,” Deranger commented.

First Nations across Canada, including the ACFN, have been challenging various resources extraction applications, proposals and in production projects citing violations of treaty and aboriginal rights as defined by Section 35 of the Canadian constitution and treaty agreements throughout the country.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recent report highlighted a need to "develop a holistic vision of reconciliation that embraces all aspects of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, and to set the standard for international achievement."

The report referred to the need to consider the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes recognition of the right to free, prior and informed consent, a model Canada has been unwilling to entertain.

Adam said it’s time for the government and industry to “come to terms with the fact that the rights and title of First Nation people are interdependent with flourishing, clean and healthy eco-systems. If we continue to accept that these types of incidents are the status quo of development we are also accepting the illegal abrogation of the rights and title of First Nations,” he warned.

The ACFN has been critical of poor regulation of the industry in the tar-sands region, calling on the government to implement stronger policies and processes for enforcement. 

“This shouldn’t just be a concern for First Nations,” Deranger said. “Muskeg is not just important to the eco-system and First Nations but it’s also one of the planet’s richest carbon sinks, something the government should be very concerned about given their commitments to addressing climate change in the province.”

Adam stressed the climate change issue on which U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to base is decision on federal permitting of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“Climate change, declining water tables exacerbated by dewatering from industry and drought, increased human activity and an increased incident of spills, ruptures, and blow outs in the region are creating a dire situation,” Adam said.

“We are reaching a point where our members may not be able to meaningfully exercise their treaty and aboriginal rights,” he said.

Gary Dorr, an activist fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline made a similar point, calling on Obama to cancel the project on the grounds of treaty rights.

“Now is the time for President Obama to step in, recognize that this process is flawed and acknowledge the treaty reserved rights of the Oceti Sakowin in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868,” he said. 

(Contact Talli Nauman at
Copyright permission Native Sun News


In North Dakota, Native American Tribes Protest Against Oil Pipeline That Would Traverse Their Land

From The Guardian: via  The Intellectualist  April 02, 201
Dozens of tribal members from several Native American nations took to horseback on Friday to protest the proposed construction of an oil pipeline which would cross the Missouri river just yards from tribal lands in North Dakota.

The group of tribal members, which numbered around 200, according to a tribal spokesman, said they were worried that the Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed by a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, would lead to contamination of the river. The proposed route also passes through lands of historical significance to the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Nation, including burial grounds.

“They’re going under the river 500 yards from my son’s grave, my father’s grave, my aunt who I buried last week,” said Ladonna Allard, a member of the Standing Rock nation and the closest landowner to the proposed pipeline. “I really love my land, and if that pipeline breaks everything is gone.”

“We must fight every inch of our lives to protect the water,” Allard said.

A “spiritual camp” will be set up starting Saturday at the point where the proposed pipeline would cross the river, and the tribal members plan to stay and protest indefinitely.

The group is composed of members of the Standing Rock nation as well as others from North and South Dakota nations, including the Cheyenne River Lakota and the Rosebud Sioux. They joined together to ride, run and walk from the Tribal Administration Building north to Cannonball, North Dakota, on the reservation’s northern edge.

The Missouri river is the primary source of drinking water for the tribal reservation, according to Doug Crow Ghost, a spokesperson for the Standing Rock Sioux and the director of the tribe’s water office, who joined the protest on Friday. Tribal members also fish in the river, he said.

“Because we are going to be fighting this giant, all the rest of the nations came on horseback to say ‘we support you’,” said Allard. “That is why this horse ride is so important to us. Because we’re not alone in this fight. All of our nations are coming to stand with us, and all our allies and partners. This pipeline is illegal.”

The pipeline is currently waiting on a decision from a colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers, who oversees such projects, on whether Dakota Access will be granted a permit to proceed, according to Dallas Goldtooth, a Keep It In The Ground campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. The tribes are petitioning for an environmental impact study, which has not at this point been done, into the pipeline.

Goldtooth is optimistic about the tribe’s chances of stopping the pipeline. “It infringes on the tribe’s water rights, which are guaranteed by treaties, and the protocols associated with those rights were not followed,” he said. “The tribes have a really strong standing-point on this issue and we’re confident that we’ll see a whole environmental impact study enacted.”

“Although we do live on a reservation, the land that [the Dakota Access pipeline is] going to be crossing is on original land that was given us by treaty,” said Dakota Kidder, a member of the Standing Rock nation. “This is where it gets people fired up when you talk about broken treaties.”

“Without water there is no life, and this is our main source,” Kidder added. “It’s not just our issue. Everybody downriver of us is going to be affected, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. We’re not just looking out for ourselves; we’re looking out for all people.

The Guardian  8/18/16
'For as long as it takes': Native American protesters defy North Dakota pipeline construction

Hundreds of Native American and environmental activists descend on the site where a $3.7bn pipeline is being constructed, and 18 have been arrested so far
Native Americans protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline on Friday near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in southern North Dakota. Photograph: James MacPherson/AP 

Joey Montoya, like other protesters near Cannon Ball, at the northern boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, sees himself as not just protecting the local community from a new oil pipeline – but also the country and the earth.

“Native communities are always just the first to be affected. We’re always at the front lines when oil companies come in.”

Montoya, a 22-year-old member of the Lipan Apache tribe from San Francisco, is part an influx of Native American and environmental activists from all over the country who have gathered in the remote part of the state to take a stand against the $3.7bn North Dakota Access Pipeline, which tribal members say threatens to pollute drinking water and damage sacred sites. 

Though people have been gathering on the site since the proposal was announced in April, hundreds descended on the site this week as construction began – and 18 people have been arrested. 

On Monday night, protesters say pipeline workers were instructed to leave their equipment after protesters walked onto the work site and surrounded the machinery, in an action led mostly by women in the group. Cody Hall, of the Red Warrior Camp who joined the movement this week, said women had “jumped fences” to get closer to machinery in order to obstruct it. On Tuesday and Wednesday construction continued to be suspended. It is still unclear when work will resume.

If and when the pipeline is completed, it will transfer fracked crude oil from the Bakken field in the north-western part of North Dakota. It will run south-east across that state and then through South Dakota and Iowa before joining with a pipeline hub in Patoka, Illinois. According to its website, Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company behind the project, is the largest pipeline operator in the US by volume.

Although the pipeline will run outside the formal boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, tribal members have argued that it will disturb sacred sites, and that consultation on this point was inadequate. These arguments failed to stop the approval, which was granted in late July. 

'We are protectors, not protesters': why I'm fighting the North Dakota pipeline     

Kandi Mossett, an organiser with the Indigenous Environmental Network explains: “There are sacred sites out here, there are midden pile sites, historic sites. That is the main concern along with the protection of the water.”

At 1,172 miles long, it is only seven miles shorter than the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, which the Obama administration finally rejected last November. It has received less national attention that that pipeline, but that may be changing.

Tensions intensified on 10 August, when Dakota Access workers, accompanied by armed security guards, arrived to start construction of an access road for heavy machinery needed to complete the pipeline crossing of the Missouri. Workers were initially met by 15 to 30 protesters, but those numbers grew over succeeding days. According to filings made in Dakota Access’s successful application for a restraining order against protesters, by Friday, there were upwards of 350 protesters at the site. 

Eighteen protesters were arrested on Friday, including Standing Rock tribal chairman, Dave Archambault II. The Guardian sought comment on the pipeline and the restraining order from Energy Transfer partners, but they did not respond before deadline. 

People at the rallies uniformly reported that 400 to 500 people had gathered at the blockade site over the last two days, with 700 people camping in solidarity. Mossett says that food and other supplies are being brought to the camps, and facilities set up because “we anticipate that it’s going to grow”.

Morton County sheriff Tom KirchMeier said it’s difficult to tell exactly how many people have assembled. “The current numbers are unknown. We are assessing regularly as the numbers change hourly, and daily,” he said. North Dakota Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Iverson said extra traffic control had been dispatched to the area to cope with the large number of vehicles arriving at the site.

According to Mossett, the immediate goal for activists is to prevent construction until 24 August, when an application for an injunction by the Standing Rock Sioux will be heard in Washington DC. 

If Dakota Access will not suspend construction until then, the protesters are determined to force them to do so, at least at this point in the pipeline. This weekend, protesters are planning to take to the river in canoes and other watercraft. 

In the longer term, Hall says they will be there “as long as it takes”.

In recent years, there have been a string of indigenous actions against oil pipelines in the US and Canada, but this one is already attracting especially broad support. On Facebook, Jon Eagle Sr, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at the Standing Rock Reservation, affirmed that the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux Nation – representing all Sioux groups – had come together for the first time since 1876 over this issue. Tribal chairman Archambault called in a statement for “my fellow American citizens (to) stand with my people”.

Mossett thinks that Native American pipeline activism may be at a crossroads. “This is the first time that the tribes have been coming together in recent history.”

Pay Attention and Watch It 'Till the End


Traction is an awkward comedy about first dates, race, and racism.

Screenings include: Mill Valley Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Florida International Film Festival, New Orleans International, Hollyshorts, Edmonton International, DC Shorts Film Festival, FLICKERS' Rhode Island Roving Eye International Film Festival, Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, Broad Humor Film Festival, Williamsburg Independent Film Festival, Dances With Films, La Femme Intl. Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival (Audience Award)...

5 minutes Watch it HERE
Andy: Rory Uphold
Jake: Ahmed Bharoocha
Waitress: Jackie Singer
Hipster DJ: Baron Vaughn

Writer/Director: Rory Uphold
Producer: Lije Sarki
Production manager: Jacqueline Beiro
Production Assistants: Kenny Laubbacher; Cristina Benavente
Cinematography: Randy Wedick
Gaffer: Julien Janigo
1st AC: Rene Sans
Grip: Ryan Girkins

On set digital tech: Joel Knoernschild
Sound: Nicholas Ronzio
Wardrobe: Suzanne Block
Art Direction: Casey Burr
Editor: Matt MacDonald
Color: Bobby Maruvada
Post Sound: Rian Balvin