The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory yesterday in its battle with Energy Transfer Partners, the company looking to complete a $3.7 billion oil pipeline through tribal lands.
The Department of the Army announced that it would not allow the pipeline to be drilled under a dammed section of the Missouri River, and would look for alternate routes instead.
"Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it's clear that there's more work to do," Army's Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said in a statement. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."
It is a substantial victory, but a fragile one, say the protestors.
Though the Army’s decision will likely trigger an environmental impact review that could take months or years to complete, the company building the pipeline has clearly indicated that it is not giving up its plans. “[We] are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way,” said Energy Transfer Partners in a statement.
The incoming Trump administration is more favorable to the pipeline builders, so both sides are now in a waiting game until January. President-elect Trump owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners but has said that his support has nothing to do with that investment.
For now, the protestors are continuing the fight. The organizers have declared every day in December “a day of #NoDAPL action,” and are maintaining a list of solidarity actions.
And despite the harsh winter, the encampment continues to grow, a living symbol of collaborative organizing in divisive times.
“We know that the next presidency stands to jeopardize our work but we are by no means backing down. We will continue protecting everywhere we go and we will continue to stand for all our relations,” said Eryn Wise of the International Indigenous Youth Council in a statement.
“We say Lila wopila [many thanks] to everyone who has supported the resurgence of indigenous nations. This is just the beginning.”
The Supreme Court revisits race and redistricting
On the hot seat are two districts in North Carolina. Over the past 25 years, the opponents of the redistricting scheme, which has been described as "unexplainable on grounds other than race," have flipped. Until 2010, the Republicans objected; now that they are the majority in the North Carolina state legislature, the Democrats are raising concerns. The Supreme Court will review this case, and a similar one from Virgina, today.
The Mall of America has hired its first black Santa in its 24-year history
Larry Jefferson is a retired U.S. Army veteran, and he is awesome. “I’m just a messenger to bring hope, love and peace to girls and boys,” he says. Although the arrival of black Santa has riled some, there’s currently a waitlist for a photo with him. He’s blazed new yuletide trails before: He was the first black member of the Lone Star Santas, a group of more than 350 Santas, which also donates toys to kids. He was also the only black santa at a St. Nicholas convention this summer, where he caught the attention of the owner of the photo studio inside the mall who hired him.
How empathetic is your company?
According to the newly-released Empathy Index, you can actually measure it. The researchers take into consideration a long list of variables, from CEO approval ratings from staff and the number of women on boards, to data points designed to measure ethics, leadership, company culture, brand perception, and public messaging. They even measure carbon footprint. The most empathetic company? Facebook. Interesting, right? Google, LinkedIn and Netflix are right behind.
The evil in the algorithm: When biases scale
This chilling long read shows how white supremacists have gamed internet search to create an alternate reality where Muslims are evil, Judaism is satanic and women, by nature, are gold-digging whores. These days, Google, Facebook, YouTube and others are operating as amplification mechanisms for some very troubling disinformation, and they’re largely ineffective at making it stop. “[I]t seems the implications about the power and reach of these companies is only now seeping into the public consciousness,” says journalist Carole Cadwalladr.
A man fired shots into a pizza place after believing a fake news conspiracy theory
He had driven from North Carolina to D.C. to “self-investigate” a bogus election-related conspiracy theory, he told police. The fake news: Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief had been operating a child sex ring out of the restaurant’s back room. The shooter entered the popular restaurant with an assault rifle and opened fire. The owner, staff and their kids had been receiving threats for weeks. “What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences,” said the owner, who has been working with the FBI and Facebook to remove the stories. There were no injuries.
Twitter is the only tech company saying it would refuse to cooperate with a Muslim registry
Others, like Facebook, Google, Apple, and IBM have yet to comment. Of course, they may never need to; the Muslim registry that PEOTUS once promised is very much in flux. But the very idea of a registry offers yet another interesting exercise in technology, surveillance, transparency, and government. “Any technology company should resist a government request for assistance that targets a customer on the basis of race, religion, or national origin,” says the ACLU. So what does it mean that some voters and shareholders want the tech companies to comply?
The Woke Leader
How business can address inequality and poverty
The editors of Fortune and Time presented Pope Francis with a lengthy report from their Global Forum in Rome on Saturday, the work product from the select Fortune 500 CEOs, philanthropists, religious leaders, labor experts and researchers who attended the gathering. The 21st century Challenge: Forging a New Social Compact highlights 20 solutions that major institutions and corporations can adopt to help end poverty. It’s a detailed treasure trove of information.
A part of civil rights history that some folks would like to forget
Undone, a brand new podcast from Gimlet Media, has quickly become one of my favorites. It promises to dig behind the scenes of the news – things that we thought were over, but really, were just beginning. Their most recent episode, The Deacons, tells the story of a group of black men in Louisiana called the Deacons for Defense and Justice, who successfully went fought the Klan in the 1960s. But a small museum planned by one of the Deacons’s daughters is dredging up uncomfortable feelings and familiar violence. Don’t miss it.
Remembering Sammy Lee, the first Asian American athlete to win the Olympic gold
Back in the day, he was just another “colored boy,” only allowed in the nearby Pasadena pool on Wednesdays, after which the pool was drained and refilled for the white kids. But standing on the high dive during the London Olympics, Sammy Lee was a champion. It didn’t last. Lee, a Korean American doctor and a decorated Army major in the Korean War, couldn’t find a home or open a practice in Orange County when he returned. A national scandal ensued after the Eisenhower White House pledged to help. “I said Americans had their shortcomings, but they had guts enough to advertise them, whereas others try to cover them up,” he once said.