In North Dakota, Governor Jack Dalrymple has activated the National Guard ahead of Friday’s ruling on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the U.S. government over the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg will rule on an injunction in the lawsuit, which is challenging the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to issue permits for the pipeline, arguing it violates the National Historic Preservation Act. Thousands of people representing more than 100 Native American tribes have traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to resist the pipeline’s construction. On Saturday, September 3, the Dakota Access pipeline company unleashed dogs and pepper spray on Native Americans as they attempted to stop the company from destroying a sacred tribal burial site. The bulldozers and company security guards were forced to retreat. The company was also forced to halt construction on Tuesday after two indigenous land defenders, Victor Puertas and Julz Richards, locked themselves to heavy machinery. On Thursday, Governor Jack Dalrymple said the National Guard will be deployed Friday to a checkpoint along Highway 1806. As many as 100 additional guardsmen from the 191st Military Police Company will be on standby and could be deployed at any moment.
This comes as both Guatemala and Greece experience deadly rainfall and flooding. In Guatemala, at least 10 people have died in mudslides amid intense rainfall outside Guatemala City. Meanwhile, flash flooding in Greece has killed at least four people amid torrential downpours in the southern and northern parts of Greece.
In news from the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both spoke at a national security forum held on the Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, in New York City Wednesday night. This is Donald Trump.
Donald Trump: “I’ve always said: Shouldn’t be there, but if we’re going to get out, take the oil. If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil.”
Moderator: “How were we going to take the oil? How were we going to do that?”
Donald Trump: “Just you would leave a certain group behind, and you would take various sections where they have the oil.”
Trump also said U.S. generals have been reduced to “rubble.”
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton said she would not deploy ground troops into Iraq and Syria.
Hillary Clinton: “We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we’re not putting ground troops into Syria. We’re going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops.”
There are already thousands of U.S. troops currently in Iraq and Syria.
Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, has contradicted Trump, saying he does not question whether President Obama was born in the United States. Over the years, Trump has repeatedly made false claims that Obama was not born in the U.S. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Pence said, “I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. I accept his birthplace.” Donald Trump, however, did not revise his position during a Fox interview with Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday.
Bill O’Reilly: “Do you think your birther position has hurt you among African Americans?”
Donald Trump: “I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t even talk about it anymore, Bill.
Bill O’Reilly: “No, I know.”
Donald Trump: “Because, you know, I just don’t bother talking about it.”
Bill O’Reilly: “But it’s there, it’s on the record.”
Donald Trump: “But I don’t know. I guess—I guess with maybe some. I don’t know why. I really don’t know why. But I don’t think—very few people—you’re the first one that’s brought that up in a while.”
In Mexico, the finance minister has been ousted following Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico City, where Trump met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Finance Minister Luis Videgaray was the main architect of Trump’s visit, which sparked outrage across Mexico. Only hours after Trump and Peña Nieto’s meeting, Trump gave a fiery anti-immigration speech in Phoenix, where he pledged to deport 2 million people within his first hour in office.
Obama continues his historic trip to Laos, where he briefly spoke with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ahead of a dinner. The informal meeting came after Obama canceled a more formal sit-down with Duterte, after Duterte called Obama a “son of a whore.” Meanwhile, while taking questions at a news conference in Laos, Obama was asked about the Dakota Access pipeline by a Malaysian woman.
Malaysian woman: “My question is: In your capacity, what can you do to ensure the protection of the ancestral land, the supply of clean water and also environmental justice is upheld?”
President Barack Obama: “Well, it’s a great question. As many of you know, the way that Native Americans were treated was tragic. And one of the priorities that I’ve had as president is restoring an honest and generous and respectful relationship with Native American tribes. I can’t give you details on this particular case. I’d have to go back to my staff and find out how are we doing on this one.”
This comes as resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline builds across the United States. A group of nearly 20 canoes has launched from Bismarck and is making its way down the Missouri River on a three-day paddle to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. One of the canoe crews hails from the Tlingit and Haida tribes in Alaska.
In Minneapolis on Wednesday, dozens protested outside U.S. Bank, demanding it stop funding the pipeline. According to an investigation published by LittleSis, U.S. Bank has extended a $175 million credit line to Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline.
Meanwhile, Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate, human rights activist Ajamu Baraka, are facing misdemeanor charges in North Dakota after Stein spray-painted “I approve of this message” on a bulldozer, and Baraka spray-painted “decolonization” on another piece of equipment, during a protest Tuesday against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Baraka and Stein will only be arrested if they return to North Dakota.
More details may have emerged about the standoff on Saturday. While it is not yet known which security company working for Dakota Access was responsible for attacking Native Americans with dogs and pepper spray, it has emerged that one of the security guards on site may be an Air Force and Army veteran who now works with a security company called Torchlight USA, LLC. Torchlight was founded by a former Marine officer, Eric Kirsch, whose LinkedIn profile says he went on to do private consulting for the State Department. Internal company documents say Torchlight provides “consulting in direct support to US Government, NATO Coalition, and Corporate initiatives.” The security guard, Landon Steele, is listed on Torchlight’s website as a company officer and adviser. He appears to be the same man photographed multiple times at the site of Saturday’s conflict, at times holding a dog.
[UPDATE: After Democracy Now!’s broadcast, Torchlight founder Eric Kirsch confirmed in a Facebook post that Landon Steele was on the pipeline site in North Dakota and is a Torchlight advisor, but wrote “Mr. Steele was not on the job for Torchlight in ND.” Kirsch also contacted Democracy Now! and stated “Torchlight is not involved in any capacity in ND.”]
Britain and France have pledged to build a “big, new wall” in the French port city of Calais amid an increasing crackdown against the refugees living there, many of whom are seeking to reach Britain by stowing away on trucks and lorries headed through the Channel Tunnel. As many as 7,000 refugees are currently living in the Calais refugee camp, despite French authorities’ repeated efforts to attempt to close the camp. The proposed four-meter-high wall will seek to block refugees from entering the port’s main road. This comes as a new UNICEF report says 50 million children have been displaced worldwide. The number of unaccompanied children who have applied for asylum tripled between 2014 and 2015.
In Connecticut, a judge has ordered the state to fundamentally overhaul its public education system, saying Connecticut is “defaulting on its constitutional duty” and has “left rich school districts to flourish and poor school districts to flounder.” The ruling is a response to a decade-long lawsuit arguing Connecticut has failed to provide adequate funding for its poorer school districts. But Wednesday’s ruling goes far beyond school funding and instead forces Connecticut to change everything from teacher pay to graduation requirements, in addition to school district financing.
In California, the Oakland Police Department has fired four police officers and suspended seven others, amid a massive scandal in which multiple Oakland police officers are facing allegations of statutory rape and human trafficking after allegedly having sex with an underage girl. The revelations, which began in June, rocked the Oakland Police Department, forcing the ouster of three police chiefs within one week. Oakland city officials announced the firing and suspension of the police officers on Wednesday. However, none of the officers so far face criminal charges, despite allegations they engaged in statutory rape and human trafficking.
And on Wednesday, immigrants held a sit-in at the office of Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, in Manassas, Virginia. Among them were two women formerly held in family detention centers in Texas. They called on Kaine to take action to release 27 mothers who have been held with their children at the Berks Family Immigration Prison in Pennsylvania, in some cases for more than a year. Kaine’s office responded with a letter calling for five of the families at Berks to be allowed to live with relatives in Virginia. Activists say the letter is the first step toward a private bill that would automatically defer their deportations for the rest of the congressional session while they seek asylum. See our interview with one of the sit-in organizers.
In related news, children held at Berks say they will begin a strike against their studies on September 15 if authorities do not respond by then to an ongoing hunger strike by their mothers to push for their release. The date is celebrated as Independence Day in Central America, where many of them are from. In a letter signed by students from 7th to 11th grade who have been detained almost 400 days, they say, “It hurts to know that as the school year starts, we are here imprisoned … when one of the reasons why we left our countries is that we could not attend classes because of the threats that schools receive. … We have a hard time concentrating because of the frustration we feel to be here in jail as criminals when in reality we are not.”