After months of resistance and public outcry, on December 4, 2016, the Obama administration announced it would halt construction on the Dakota Access pipeline, and the Army Corps of Engineers soon started conducting a study on the potentially harmful effects it could have on the environment. But the effort didn't last long. In January, President Trump gave instructions to cease the study, which meant construction could begin again. Then, in February, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, citing safety concerns, issued an emergency evacuation order, giving protesters until the 22nd to leave their camps near Lake Oahe. Larry Towell, who has spent years documenting Native American issues in Canada and the US, made his third and perhaps final trip to the pipeline. There, at the Oceti Sakowin camp, he captured the remaining water protectors—the demonstrators, many of them tribal leaders and young people from around the country. The next day, police trucks and construction vehicles entered the camp, and some holdouts fled onto the frozen Cannonball River.
On April 1, 2016, a caravan of 40 horses and about 200 water protectors rode 30 miles from Fort Yates, North Dakota, to a newly formed prayer camp on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The camp, dubbed Sacred Stone, was already home to a few dozen activists, there to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that they consider a threat to their water supply.
Though the camp and its ensuing conflict with authorities became major news months later, at the time the caravan was covered by just two media outlets, the local Bismarck Tribune and a volunteer collective out of Minneapolis called Unicorn Riot. For almost a year, as water protectors held prayer ceremonies, established a school, and occasionally clashed with police, Unicorn Riot was on the ground, documenting it all.
In October and November, when Standing Rock activists faced mass arrests and harsh police tactics, the mainstream media had little to no presence there, but outlets such as MSNBC, Reuters, VICE, Mother Jones, and RT featured footage from Unicorn Riot, as well as from personal livestreamers and drone pilots, who documented law enforcement macing activists and spraying them with water canons in sub-freezing temperatures.
Unicorn Riot remained in the camps when thousands of veterans showed up one chaotic week in December, when the Army Corps of Engineers denied the company behind the DAPL the easement it needed to finish construction, when the Standing Rock Sioux tribe asked the water protectors to leave, when the decision on the easement was reversed under the Trump administration, and finally, when the camps were cleared in February. By then, national interest in Standing Rock had waned, and three Unicorn Riot reporters had already been arrested covering the protests.
On February 22, the official eviction date, large outlets like CNN, Buzzfeed, and ABC News were around to collect dramatic footage of Oceti, the main camp, burning, as activists destroyed structures before authorities could. However, police didn't enter Oceti that day. They arrested primarily journalists and legal observers standing on a state highway, rather than the activists remaining in camp.
The true clearing didn't begin until the following day. Bismarck's Fox affiliate, embedded with law enforcement, was able to film in areas where other journalists faced arrest. But the bulk of the February 23 footage came from citizen journalists with cell phones and the ever-present Unicorn Riot. During a four-hour livestream that's been viewed 2.5 million times, Unicorn Riot filmed 200 officers with automatic weapons flanking Oceti, so that activists were forced to crowd dangerously onto a frozen river or risk arrest.
Unicorn Riot footage from the eviction:
Unicorn Riot is part of an emerging movement of leftist, largely self-trained media outlets and voices. The collective's members value first-hand reporting—often in the form of unedited videos—and, while they strive to remain factual, they're unapologetic about ignoring old-school standards of objectivity. Their goal, per their mission statement, is to "expose the root causes of social conflict," often through documenting wrongdoing by American corporate and governmental interests. And as Standing Rock illustrates, there are times when groups like Unicorn Riot can be more effective than the larger, less nimble, establishment outlets whose narrative they compete against.
Other people who covered Standing Rock are indigenous themselves, like Myron Dewey, a 44-year-old member of the Paiute and Shoshone nations. As Digital Smoke Signals, he's posted hundreds of videos about the protest, including sky footage of the drill pads ("I caught DAPL working in the 20 miles that Obama told them not to," he said) and rambling livestreams in which he strolls through camps or conducts live Q-and-A sessions. He's been charged with stalking for tracking DAPL security by drone; he's also mentored another group of water protectors who, in December, formed Women's Indigenous Media.
Dewey has raised at least $58,000 through crowdfunding, and some of his clips have received a couple million views. His footage has been used by the Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, and Al Jazeera, but he doesn't consider himself a journalist in the "Western view."
"We grew up defending our land from birth. What does that make me?" he said. "I'm not an activist… I'm protecting the earth from climate change, destruction, and a way of life being lost from corporate profit."
Mark Trahant, a journalism professor at the University of North Dakota, believes that as resources for traditional newsrooms dwindle, Americans may have to rely on more passion-driven coverage.
"I don't think Unicorn Riot is propaganda or fake news. I think they're very valuable," he said. "That's something Americans haven't figured out, compared to other places in the world. You look at a country that has five right-wing newspapers and five left-wing and you tend to read between the lines."
Trahant remembers 1973, when the American Indian Movement occupied the town of Wounded Knee for 71 days. "Reporters were camped there. They set up small newsrooms. Resources have changed dramatically," he said. Big papers no longer have the staff to thoroughly cover every important protest, and local outlets have their own budgetary woes. That means the people covering these movements are often those who are sympathetic to them.
But although Unicorn Riot is comprised of former activists, the collective rejects the idea that they're "activist journalists."
"We're not saying these cops are so terrible, everybody go fight them," said 26-year-old producer Chris Schiano. "We're saying, here's what the police are doing… If the police are doing something that's objectively terrible, people make their own decisions about how to feel."
Members of the collective don't organize or participate in demonstrations, even if they did in the past, said producer Niko Georgiades, who has made a conscious effort to separate himself from demonstrators. "In the beginning I used to say, 'We are doing this. We are taking the streets,'" he said. "Then I was like, 'Dude, shut up. They are. You are documenting.'"
A Unicorn Riot clip from Standing Rock:
Unicorn Riot formed in early 2015. It was a dozen friends and friends of friends based in Denver, Minneapolis, Boston, and New York, who had documented Occupy, Ferguson, and other movements for other outlets and were frustrated at their lack of autonomy. "We didn't have control of editing or posting, and we were maybe contracting with other mainstream entities," Georgiades said.
So they held internet meetings, crafted bylaws, and filed for tax-deductible status as an educational nonprofit because, according to Georgiades, "We're not into collecting money from people's misery."
Unicorn Riot posts breaking news as soon as it can—a publish-first mentality that is widespread these days. More structured work, such as document-based articles and video packages, must be approved by two members before it goes online. Decisions are based on consensus and discussion, and the collective's 2017 budget of $80,000—garnered from grants and donations—will primarily pay travel and equipment expenses. Members volunteer their time, and cover what they want, from community gardening to criminal justice.
Unicorn Riot gained a local audience reporting the 18-day occupation of a Minneapolis police precinct following the killing of unarmed black man Jamar Clark. But it wasn't until Standing Rock that they "got over 100,000 likes on Facebook" and a huge boost in donations, according to Schiano. Their DAPL-related posts regularly receive hundreds of thousands of views.
"We report outside assumptions that people just take for granted," said Schiano. "I think a lot of media that people consider unbiased, it's still reproducing bias. It's just the bias that's central to how society operates, and a lot of people don't examine it. Even the idea that an outfit like the Morton County Sheriff's Department should have legitimacy is up for debate. They're on land that treaties show is stolen. Most media assumes that these entities are legitimate, and I would say that's a bias."
Robert Fraizer, an Iowa-based veteran who visited the camps during the Veteran's Stand in December, follows Unicorn Riot for what he calls "reliable news."
"They're more professional than a lot of people publishing news about Standing Rock, but I saw those guys arrested and harassed by DAPL security. I saw them personally in action. That gave them credence for me," Frazier said.
Watch the VICELAND documentary on Standing Rock:
Reporting alongside activists—and in many cases, living and marching with them—has its risks. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least ten content creators—either working independently or for established outlets—have been arrested while documenting Standing Rock. (Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now! was arrested and accused of "not acting as a journalist" by a prosecutor; a judge later threw the case out.)
Others have suffered physical injuries. A rubber bullet was shot through Unicorn Riot producer Lorenzo Serna's press pass. Eric Poemz sustained a broken pelvic bone when he was tackled by officers while livestreaming the Oceti eviction. John Ziegler, who's been tweeting and livestreaming from the camps since November under the moniker Rebelutionary Z, said he's $20,000 in debt following two surgeries, after his finger was nearly severed by a rubber bullet. He believes police tried to shoot his camera out of his hand.
Video Ziegler filmed while being shot in the hand:
Other media outlets with a prominent place at Standing Rock included Indigenous Rising, created under the umbrella of the more established Indigenous Environmental Network, and the informal Renegade Media Collective, which operated out of a tent in Sacred Stone and posted a combination of straightforward documentaries and heavily edited (slow motion, emotional music), pieces that proselytized as much as they informed.
Unlike Unicorn Riot, many livestreamers do consider themselves activists. "I was a water protector before I was media," said Brooke Wauku with Women's Indigenous Media. But several of these independent outlets have filmed clips that mainstream media has broadcast repeatedly (and sometimes without credit or permission).
According to Nikki Usher, a professor of journalism at George Washington University, even with more citizen journalists in the mix, "big newsrooms and big influencers" will continue to "call the shots."
"The first two days of the Arab Spring, a lot of people watched the footage of citizen journalists but by day three, Al Jazeera was on the ground and people were watching Al Jazeera-selected citizen journalism," she said.
When news breaks unexpectedly, often it's the independent livestreamers who are there to capture it. On November 20, the night cops used water cannons on Standing Rock protesters, both Renegade Media and Unicorn Riot came out with raw videos of the clashes between water protectors and the authorities.
The police initially claimed that they only used the water canons to put out fires, but according to Schiano, "We were able to put that video out right away, and they changed their story just like that."
Trahant admits that he was glued to livestreams that night. "Standing Rock has been a social media story," the journalism professor said. "Social media has carried it in a way that is unprecedented in this country."
A documentary from Renegade Media:
Unicorn Riot plans to continue telling stories on social media, but it also has more ambitious goals. The collective is cutting together a documentary about Standing Rock, and producers are tackling investigative pieces, such as a 15,000 word series on the trial of Allen Scarsella, the white supremacist who shot five people during the Jamar Clark demonstration.
"We expect to be at a $250,000 operating budget in a few years," said Georgiades. This means members will be paid, but they don't plan to change their horizontal structure or make more editorial decisions in a more traditional way.
The founders of Women's Indigenous Media hope it will mature into an educational nonprofit, teaching women to fly drones and become content creators. Core members of Renegade Media just moved into a shared living space and are focusing on making a documentary about government infringement on constitutional rights. They are also recruiting Renegade contributors in different cities.
Other livestreamers, particularly those who cut their teeth on Occupy and later covered demonstrations against police brutality, will go home and work day jobs and wait for the next mass movement.
For all of them, the goal is to create a truly independent media, with or without financial backers.
"We need our own platform," said Unicorn Riot's Schiano. "We don't want someone who isn't us controlling what comes out."
Cheree Franco is a writer and photographer, mostly working in Arkansas, Mississippi, New York, and Pakistan.
On January 24, President Donald Trump issued an executive order intended to speed up construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which the Sioux Indians consider the "black snake," a fulfillment of an apocalyptic prophecy. For months, the pipeline had been blocked by high-profile protest camps established by the Standing Rock Sioux and filled with activists who traveled from all over the world. Under Barack Obama, the Army Corps of Engineers had in December denied an easement needed to complete the pipeline's last unfinished bit, which came near the Standing Rock reservation—a proximity that the tribe said would infringe on their sovereignty and potentially pollute their water. Many "water protectors" saw this as a victory and left. But Trump's government rapidly reversed that decision: The easement was approved on February 7 and construction has already begun, despite the tribe's last-minute effort to block the DAPL in court.
The largest protest camp, Oceti Oyate ("the people's camp") is on land managed by the Army Corps, which has ordered the remaining 300 or so activists (down from a December peak of over 10,000) to leave by February 22. Any remaining campers may be charged with a misdemeanor that carries up to $5,000 in fines or six months in prison, according to an Army Corps spokesperson.
Some occupants plan to relocate to other camps, but many appear ready to defy the local authorities, the federal government, and even the Standing Rock Sioux themselves, whose leaders have been asking activists to leave for months.
"We've raised the vibration of this land so high, I think people would stay even if the pipeline is stopped," says Dennis Romaro, 25, a Chumash from California. "Everybody here is somehow disconnected from... modern society, money and currency... and we start to see a sense of unity throughout this dynamic. I have to stay here forever."
Currently there are five camps, which activists refer to as "prayer camps." There's still a Native presence in these places, but most of the remaining activists are young and white. Rosebud and Sacred Stone, both long-established, have roughly 300 people. The Cheyenne River camp has about 20 people, mostly veterans and Cheyenne River Sioux. The newest camp, Rise of the Seventh Generation, has about 40.
The unseasonably warm temperatures have turned Oceti into a shallow, slushy lake. Many structures are being relocated to higher camps (one set of compost toilets has gone to the Rise camp), but the kitchen will stay, says Brandi-Lee Maxi, a 34-year-old. "We'll still be here, feeding whoever's left in the resistance camp, the liberation camp. This is basically the front lines, and it is treaty territory. As a Lakota woman, I'd like to remain."
The lowland is dotted with skeletal teepees, half-built plywood sheds, and massive piles of abandoned tents, blankets, and clothes. The camps are about 70 percent cleared. The hum of circling helicopters competes with the rumble of bulldozers that shovel trash into piles and piles into dumpsters.
An activist from California, Senai (who refuses to give his last name), shouts at the Lakota men operating the bulldozers: "You're just doing this for money! You're selling out your land for money!"
"This is my home! Go back to yours!" one of them responds.
The bulldozers are funded by the Standing Rock tribe to clear the camp before spring floods wash trash into the river. But some activists think these fears have been overblown, and the National Weather Service says the flooding will likely be minor.
Activists have nicknamed Standing Rock chairman Dave Archambault II "DAPL Dave," and are angry that tribal leadership invited the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to help clear the camps. BIA agents have arrested camp leaders both in the camps and at the reservation casino, leaving many activists camera-shy and worried that federal agents are building cases around their social media footprints. On February 17, the BIA set up checkpoints outside of the camps, ensuring that no tents or building materials make it into Oceti or Sacred Stone.
Tribal representatives did not return requests for comment about clearing the camps, but the Standing Rock Sioux Facebook page has repeatedly mentioned concerns about flooding, escalating police tactics, and general safety and liability. Casino spokespeople have told the Bismark Tribune they are losing revenue due to the camps. And in a statement released February 1, Archambault said, "The fight is no longer here, but in the halls and courts of the federal government." He's been urging banks to defund the pipeline and promoting a Native-led March on Washington on March 10. In a recent interview, he told the Guardian that a continued activists presence may lead to further oppression of his people.
Sacred Stone, which contains a permanent dining hall and school, is on reservation land owned by LaDonna Allard and her family. On February 16, BIA agents delivered papers naming Allard a potential "co-trespasser" on her own land, giving both Allard and the activists ten days to either "show cause" that they are not trespassing or evacuate camp. The papers state that because the tribe has a 67 percent stake in the land, it must consent to all "occupancy." Via email, Nedra Darling, a BIA spokesperson, wrote that "without a lease or the consent of all landowners" anyone living on the land is trespassing.
But Allard believes that she has the required consent and that a tribal resolution passed in June authorizing the creation of Sacred Stone still stands.
For now, both Oceti and Sacred Stone remain, even though over the weekend the tribe's bulldozers were joined by Army Corps bulldozers, sent in to demolish Oceti—and despite a particularly brutal clash with police a couple of weeks ago.
The first night of February, following a vision in a sweat lodge, a handful of activists set up seven teepees on top of a hill legally owned by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind DAPL. (This move was not endorsed by the tribe; police later referred to them as "rogue" campers.) The next morning, a larger group of activists went up to bring breakfast and finish the work.
Ryan Flesh, from Washington State, was in Oceti digging a tent out of the snow when other activists ran past shouting, "They're breaking through the barricade!" Flesh estimates that more than 100 campers rushed up the hill to the Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806, the site of the most severe clashes with law enforcement in November.
"The police pushed us back and formed a line and... the National Guard steps in front of them with their riot shields, at which point we thought something more was gonna happen," Flesh says. "But what they were doing was just being sure... they could bulldoze a path to the western high ground camp, then drive the big trucks up there so that they could arrest everyone."
On the hill, 76 activists were surrounded by officers as they set up the final two teepees. When they finished, they linked arms and circled a fire, singing as officers tugged arms and hair and the backs of jackets. Eventually, officers kicked out the backs of their knees, forcing activists to the ground.
The activists say they were made to kneel in the snow, where many of them kept singing. Some were punched or hit with batons or had their faces held to the ground. They were loaded into vans and school buses, then transported to the Morton County jail, where they were caged and told to strip to their base layer. Their hands were zip-tied behind their backs and they boarded the buses again, with no heat and the windows open, for a ride that would deliver them to various prisons.
Ethan Petersen, 23, says he saw a woman urinate on herself after repeatedly asking to use the restroom. About a dozen activists were on the bus nearly six hours, all the way to Fargo, according to Donald "Duck" Longsoldier.
"They had some guys in zip ties real tight. The guy next to me, his hands were all purple, but I got out of mine early. But I didn't want to let them know I had them off," Longsoldier says. Other activists independently recount the same story of "the guy with blue hands," who cried and begged officers to loosen his ties.
Longsoldier moved to sit beside the man, taking the position next to the open window, and held his hands in his own. "I was just holding them, because I knew if I rubbed them, it'd hurt," he says. Then another activist moved to the other side of the man, sandwiching him in body heat, and took his hands so that Longsoldier could rub his back and chest. "He was freezing," Longsoldier says. "We kept telling the cops, and they didn't care." (The high was eight degrees that day.)
When they reached Fargo, Longsoldier was moved from the group holding cell to the solitary drunk tank. He says this happened because he told a corrections officer that he'd like to file a complaint about the transport procedure. He was kept in the tank for a few hours and forced to blow into a breathalyzer before rejoining the general population.
The activists who have been around for months say that, as tough as this treatment was, it was tame compared to earlier actions that involved water cannons, mace, and flash-bang grenades.
According to Rob Keller, public information officer for the Morton County Sheriff's department, they haven't received any official complaints.
"Until there's a report, which will be followed up, these are only accusations," Keller says. "When you are arrested, there are certain things that have to happen to process the person through the system, to ensure the safety of everyone."
Three times (twice under Obama and once under Trump), the American Civil Liberties Union has requested that the Department of Justice investigate suspected civil rights violations and send federal observers to Standing Rock.
The week following the arrests of the 76 activists on the hill, camp crews worked constantly to provide food, clean bathrooms, and dispose of human waste. But there were others who seem unsure how to spend their time.
People chain-smoked in enclosed kitchen tents (and wondered out loud why they can't shake the "camp cough") and streamed weeks-old Democracy Now! interviews. They discussed direct action for blocking pipeline construction—strategies that, with their dwindling numbers, seemed implausible. They debated various legal strategies, such as filing tort claims and, more dubiously, claiming that as a sovereign person under common law, a court without a jury does not have jurisdiction over them.
At Sacred Stone, about 70 veterans representing two veterans group, both originating from a highly publicized December campaign to bring vets to support the Natives, were building arctic shelters and a new kitchen on high ground. After the eviction notice, they stopped construction to plot their next move.
"If we're asked to leave, we're going to facilitate a safe exit for our members and any other veterans and community members," says Mark Sanderson, founder of one of the groups, VeteransRespond. "It's not good for veterans' well being to get involved in any sort of confrontation with law enforcement." (VeteransRespond's Facebook page now discourages more vets from coming.)
An eviction will leave some vets, such as Sharon Bates, at loose ends. Bates, 56, helps in the school and kitchen and had been planning to stay at Sacred Stone indefinitely. "I don't have a life anymore. I don't have anybody to go back to. I've even let my address go," she says.
Rosebud, just across the river from Oceti, lies on Army Corps land and reservation land. The Cheyenne River Camp is also on leased reservation land. So far, neither have received an evacuation date. Rise of the Seventh Generation is on 70 acres of privately owned reservation land, and its organizers plan to screen campers, to keep out both infiltrators and "antagonizers." According to its caretaker, Brandon Green, unlike at Sacred Stone, the tribe is not a majority owner.
"It takes disaster to learn a lesson, but in the process, we unify."
The situation is uncertain for the camps, but no matter what happens, Jean Paul Roy, 54, a tribal councilman with the Flandreau Santee Sioux, thinks there are victories in Standing Rock "that will probably never be out in the mainstream."
By this, he doesn't necessarily mean the defeat of the DAPL, which seems unlikely. But, he says, the movement, which was started by youth, has empowered young people growing up in a tradition that privileges elders: "It's given them purpose and the will to fight for the next generation to come."
Romaro echoes these sentiments. "If DAPL didn't start this whole pipeline thing, there wouldn't be any of this," he said. "It takes disaster to learn a lesson, but in the process, we unify."
To many—particularly those not on the ground at Standing Rock, those who don't call their friends "sister" and "brother" or mention "Creator" in casual conversation, those who haven't sipped the herbalists' fire cider to ward off a cold, or eaten fry bread in a tent kitchen, or posed questions to the sacred fire only to have it leap in a seeming response—this may seem like a hollow and high-priced victory. But to some people in camp, it's everything.
Cheree Franco is a writer and photographer, mostly working in Arkansas, Mississippi, New York, and Pakistan.
McConnell Silences Warren on Senate Floor
Senator Elizabeth Warren was stopped from reading a historic letter by Dr. Martin Luther King's widow about her colleague Jeff Sessions using his power to "chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens" on the Senate floor late Tuesday. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used an arcane rule prohibiting character attacks on fellow members of the chamber to prevent Warren from finishing Coretta Scott King's 1986 letter about President Trump's current nominee for attorney general.—CBS News
Yemen Halts Permission for US Ground Operations
Yemen will no longer allow American troops to conduct counterterrorism ground operations inside the country, according to US military and civilian officials. The ban follows a raid by Navy SEALS at the end of January in which several Yemeni civilians, including children, were killed. White House press secretary Sean Spicer nonetheless insisted the raid was a "highly successful" intelligence-gathering mission.—The New York Times
Dakota Access Pipeline to Get Final Army Approval
The US Army Corps of Engineers plans to grant the final permit needed for the Dakota Access pipeline any day now after canceling an environmental impact assessment ordered by the Obama administration. This clears the way for the company behind the pipeline to build under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River despite a likely renewal of protests at Standing Rock.—VICE News
Tornadoes Leave Dozens Injured in Louisiana
At least 31 people were injured in Louisiana and Mississippi when a series of tornadoes barreled through the region Tuesday. Several tornadoes touched down across the state, damaging buildings and wiping out power for thousands of residents in New Orleans, where a state of emergency was declared.—ABC News
Turkey Sacks Thousands of Government Workers
The Turkish authorities have ousted more than 4,400 civil servants over suspected ties to terrorist organizations and other groups "deemed to be acting against national security interests." Among the government workers dismissed in the latest post-coup purge were teachers, police officers, librarians, academics, and IT experts.—Reuters
Four Guards Killed in Attack on Somali Hotel
Armed gunmen from the al Shabab militant group attacked a hotel compound in the Somali city of Bosasso early Wednesday, killing four guards. The governor of the region, Yusuf Mohamed, said two of the gunmen had been killed, while a third attacker escaped. "Fortunately the attackers did not enter the rooms," he said.—Al Jazeera
Russian Opposition Leader Found Guilty in Retrial
Alexei Navalny, perhaps the leading figure of political opposition in Russia, has been found guilty of fraud in a retrial of a 2013 fraud case. The court ruling will prevent Navalny from running in the 2018 presidential election against Vladimir Putin.—AP
ELN Rebels Enter Peace Talks with Colombian Government
Members of the left-wing rebel group ELN have begun talks with the Colombian government in the hope of ending more than half a century of fighting. "We are willing to take responsibility for the mistakes we have made, but we expect the other side to do the same," said chief ELN negotiator Pablo Beltran.—BBC News
Joe Biden Gets New Job as Professor
Former vice president Joe Biden will take up a new position as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Biden has been named the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the school's not-yet-opened diplomacy center in Washington, DC.—The Daily Pennsylvanian
'Throw Shade' and 'Ghost' Added to the Dictionary
Merriam-Webster has added around 1,000 new words and phrases to its dictionary, including "face-palm," "throw shade," and the use of "ghost" as a verb. Editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski said they had "demonstrated frequent and increasing use in a variety of sources."—TIME
Daft Punk to Launch Pop-Up Store in LA
French music duo Daft Punk have announced its first pop-up store at Los Angeles' Maxfield. Special edition merchandise will be available alongside a "retrospective" of props, artwork, and robot helmets between February 11 and 19.—Rolling Stone
M.I.A. to Curate Meltdown 2017
M.I.A. will curate this year's Meltdown festival at London's Southbank Center, one of the UK's leading music events. M.I.A. said her chosen acts will be music's "best forward thinkers" and the June event will redefine "the concept of a melting pot."—Noisey
Shopify Faces Boycott Because of Breitbart Ties
Canadian e-commerce company Shopify is the latest to experience an anti-Trump consumer backlash. Shopify's hosting of the online store for far-right media site Breitbart, formerly led by Steve Bannon, has spawned the #DeleteShopify hashtag.—Motherboard
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Trump Expected to Order Mexico Wall, Block Immigrants from Seven Countries
President Trump is expected to sign a series of executive orders on immigration policy today, including moves to temporarily ban new refugees and suspend visas for people from seven countries. According to administration sources, anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen will be denied visas. Refugee status will also apparently be denied, at least temporarily, except for religious minorities fleeing persecution. Trump also teased an announcement on border security, tweeting, "We will build the wall!"—Reuters
Trump Orders Revive Oil Pipeline Projects
On Tuesday, President Trump signed executive orders designed to resurrect the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipeline projects. One order stated that the Army Corps of Engineers should review the Dakota Access Pipeline "and approve in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law." Another reversed the Obama administration decision to reject Keystone XL. Environmental campaigners protested outside the White House Tuesday night.—The Washington Post / VICE News
State Department Examines $221 Million Sent to Palestinians
The State Department is reviewing a decision by outgoing secretary of state John Kerry to send $221 million to the Palestinian Authority for aid and development projects in the West Bank and Gaza. Republican lawmaker Kay Granger of Texas said the decision "defied congressional oversight." The State Department said it was possible that "adjustments" to the payments might be made.—AP
Only Two in the Running for Supreme Court Justice, Report Says
The Trump administration has apparently narrowed its choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court to just two names: US Court of Appeals judge Neil Gorsuch and US District Court judge Thomas Hardiman. Both Gorsuch and Hardiman are viewed as firm conservatives, but the White House does not expect Democrats to fight hard to block either pick.—CBS News
Hotel Attack in Mogadishu Leaves at Least 15 Dead
At least 15 people have been killed in an attack on a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Attackers detonated a car bomb at the hotel gates early Wednesday morning, before armed men entered the complex and began exchanging fire with security guards. Militants from al Shabab are responsible for the attack, according to a radio station linked to the group.—The Guardian
UN Denounces Israeli Settlement Plans
The United Nations has criticized Israel's plans to build more homes in occupied Palestine. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said that "any unilateral decision that can be an obstacle to the two-state goal is of grave concern for the secretary general." On Tuesday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu approved the construction of 2,500 new homes in the West Bank.—Al Jazeera
South Korean President's Former Friend Claims Innocence
Choi Soon-sil, the woman accused of illegally influencing impeached South Korean president Park Geun-hye, has claimed she was forced to make a confession. "I am being forced to confess committing crimes jointly with the president," she shouted before leaving the Constitutional Court. The special prosecutor's office insisted the claim was "groundless."—Reuters
Three Convicted for $2.6 Million Taiwanese ATM Theft
Three Eastern European men have been found guilty of stealing $2.6 million from cash machines across Taiwan, having used malware to hack First Commercial Bank's ATMs. Latvian Andrejs Peregudovs, Romanian Mihail Colibaba, and Moldovan Niklae Penkov were convicted of causing public damage by breaching computer security in a court in Taipei.—BBC News
Nude Photo Hacker Sentenced to Nine Months in Prison
A Chicago man who used a phishing scheme to access the Apple iCloud and gmail accounts of 30 celebrities, eventually leading to nude photos being shared online, has been sentenced to nine months in prison. Edward Majerczyk, 29, was also ordered to pay $5,700 for counseling services for an unnamed victim.—Chicago Tribune
Orwell's 1984 Makes Amazon Bestseller List
George Orwell's novel 1984 has seen a sales spike since Donald Trump became president and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway introduced the idea of "alternative facts." The dystopian classic entered Amazon's top-ten best-seller list this week.—CNN
Academy President 'Elated' by Oscar Diversity
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has reacted to some diversity in the 2017 Oscar nominations, saying she's "elated about the inclusion." Six out of 20 nominated acting nominees are black.—Vanity Fair
WorldStarHipHop Founder Dies at Age 43
The founder of the WorldStarHipHop website and brand, Lee "Q" O'Denat, has died at the age of 43. The company issued a statement describing O'Denat as "one of the nicest, most generous persons ever to grace this planet."—Noisey
Badlands Park Twitter Shares Climate Change Facts
A former National Park Service employee gained access to the Badlands National Park Twitter account to share a series of facts about the speed of climate change. The service said the tweets were deleted according to current staffers' discretion.—Motherboard
World Not Ready for Next Epidemic, Says Health Experts
A new study by a team of international public health experts warns that the world learned little from recent Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks. The BHM journal report says we're "grossly underprepared."—VICE
The hits just keep on coming for the environmental community. On Tuesday, President Trump signed executive memoranda aimed at advancing construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, projects heavily protested by climate activists and members of Native American and Aboriginal tribes as potentially…
Donald Trump is expected to sign two executive actions Tuesday that would advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, Politico reports.
Both pipelines have faced intense opposition from environmental groups and Native American tribes concerned that construction could wreak havoc on the environment and continue the country's reliance on fossil fuels. Obama rejected TransCanada Corp's Keystone pipeline in 2015 and halted construction on Energy Transfer Partners LP's 1,000-mile Dakota Access Pipeline in December after enormous protests at the Sioux tribe's Standing Rock reservation.
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada, down to Texas and proponents believe could create more jobs. He also said he supported the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite the Standing Rock protests.
According to Bloomberg, TransCanada would have to submit another application to build the Keystone pipeline and would have to convince the new administration of its benefit to the US, despite already being vetted and rejected under Obama.
Trump outlined his views on environmental issues on Tuesday in a meeting with various auto executives, NBC News reports.
"I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist," he said. "I believe in it, but it's out of control."
We're tracking the laws and executive orders Trump signs in his first year in office. The updated list is here.
Anti-Pipeline Activists Stage Minneapolis Stadium Protest
Two anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters interrupted the Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears game Sunday, climbing the rafters to unfurl a banner urging stadium sponsor US Bank to "divest" from the pipeline project. Karl Mayo, 32, and Sen Holiday, 26, dangled down using rappelling gear before being taken into custody and charged with trespassing. - CNN
Chicago Murder Rate Hits 20-Year High
New figures released by the Chicago Police Department shows there were 762 murders in the city during 2016, the highest number in 20 years. There were 3,550 shooting incidents in total, described by the department as an "unacceptable rise in violence." New, district-based police intelligence centers will be set up in the city later in January. – NBC News
Russian Diplomats Leave the US
The 35 Russian diplomats expelled by President Obama have now left the US along with their families, according to the Russian embassy. Obama ordered the expulsion and imposed sanctions over the hacking and election interference that the White House and US intelligence agencies believe was ordered by the Kremlin. – The Guardian
Possible Missing Plane Debris Found at Lake Eerie
Officials in Ohio said possible debris from the small plane that went missing shortly after leaving Cleveland Thursday has been found washed ashore on Lake Eerie. It has not yet been verified as coming from the plane. Superior Beverage Company CEO John T. Fleming was piloting the plane, and his wife, their sons, and two close friends were also on board. - AP
ISIS Claims Responsibility for Istanbul Nightclub Shooting
ISIS has claimed it carried out the attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul in the early hours of Sunday that left 39 people dead. Turkish police are still searching for the gunman who burst into the club and shot those celebrating the New Year. ISIS described the man as a "heroic soldier." Another 69 people were hospitalized with injuries. According to Turkish media reports, 27 of those who died were foreign. – BBC News
Daughter of South Korean Presidential Advisor Arrested
The daughter of Choi Soon-sil, the South Korean president's former confidante accused of interfering in the country's political affairs, has been arrested in Denmark. Chung Yoo-ra, 20, was arrested on charges of staying in Denmark illegally. Special prosecutors in South Korea had sought Interpol's help in finding Chung after she did not return to the country to answer questions about the corruption investigation. – Al Jazeera
Migrants Attempt to Storm Spanish Border
A Spanish border guard lost an eye after more than 1000 migrants tried to clear a fence at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the North African coast. Only two migrants made it over the fence, but both were injured and hospitalized in the process. Five Spanish border guards and 50 Moroccan guards were injured in all. – AP
Car Bomb in Baghdad Leaves 16 Dead
A car bomb detonated in the Sadr City district of Baghdad has killed 16 people and wounded another 40. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but ISIS has regularly targeted civilians in the Iraqi capital. Separately on Monday, ISIS militants killed 16 pro-government fighters in military attacks north of the capital. – Reuters
Hollywood Sign Changed to 'Hollyweed'
Los Angeles' hillside "Hollywood" sign was creatively vandalized to read "Hollyweed," an apparent nod to California's legalization of recreational marijuana. Police said the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge if caught. – ABC News
Dick Clark Denies Mariah Carey Sabotage Claim
Dick Clark Productions has angrily denied Mariah Carey's claim her live New Year's Rockin' Eve performance was sabotaged. The company said the accusation it had "set her up to fail" after she struggled to sing with a pre-recorded track was "defamatory, outrageous and frankly absurd." - Variety
Ariana Grande to Star in Final Fantasy Mobile Game
Ariana Grande will feature as a character in the mobile video game Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius. She described her avatar, who wears black bunny ears, as "the cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life." - TIME
The XX Drop Track from New Album
British chillwave heroes the XX have released new track Say Something Loving from the forthcoming third album I See You. The band also tweeted a clip of themselves singing the new track at a karaoke bar in Tokyo. - Noisey
Researchers Discover Anti-Hunger Neurons
Harvard Medical School researchers have identified "anti-hunger" neurons in the brain that counter the neurons that urge you to eat. Activating the ARC glutamatergic neurons reduced the food intake of mice under study. - Motherboard
Nasty Women Exhibition Gives Proceeds to Planned Parenthood
January's "Nasty Women" exhibition in Brooklyn, which features artists' responses to Donald Trump, will donate all sales proceeds to Planned Parenthood. Co-director Roxanne Jackson said organizers wanted to channel "angst into something productive." – The Creators Project
The Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the Dakota Access Pipeline the right to drill under the Missouri River, amounting to a huge victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.