As the Sioux of Standing Rock persevere in their legal battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the promoters are resorting to violence to disperse peaceful protesters.

Energy Transfer Partners’s private security attacked the protesters with pepper spray and dogs on Saturday, near the camp set up by indigenous activists in Southern North Dakota. The same day, the company bulldozed sacred burial grounds on private land.

A video report from Democracy Now! shows a group of persons trying to disperse the crowd with dogs and pepper spray. We can see several protesters who have clearly been maced in the face and a man showing the bloody dog bite on his arm.

Activist Martie Simmons, who was present, tweeted that six protesters, including a pregnant woman were bitten. Four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured, according to the local Sheriff’s Office (Morton County). The nature of the injuries suffered by the dogs and the guards were undisclosed but eyewitnesses affirm that the dogs were out of control, and bit the guards too.

Police say they received no reports of injured protesters.The sheriff’s office confirmed there was no officers present at the confrontation.

Indigenous resistance to the DAPL

Standing Rock’s Sioux tribe has organized opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline ever since the project first became public two years ago. The trajectory of the pipeline is set to skim their reserve and cross the Missouri River twice, causing concerns about water contamination and protection of cultural heritage sites.

Thousands of indigenous people from the US and Canada responded to the call of the Sioux of Standing Rock and set up camps near the Missouri River. Over a hundred tribes are represented in what became known as the oil protest camps, what could be one of the biggest assemblies of Indigenous Peoples this century. Non-native activists also joined the ranks.

Meanwhile, the Sioux of Standing Rock are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for fast-tracking construction permits without consulting them.

The DAPL is a $4.88 billion pipeline that should conduct half a million barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline will be just under 1900 km long and run through four states.

According to the Chairman of the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock, Dave Archambault II, the pipeline threatens the lives of the people on the reserve and of the millions of people living downstream on the Missouri River, as well as ancestral Sioux sites.

“We never had an opportunity to express our concerns. This is a corporation that is bulldozing through,” Archambault told Democracy Now!.

His tribe is currently challenging the permits of Energy Transfer Partners in federal court on the grounds that the promoters did not adequately consult First Nations. They called for an emergency, temporary stopping of the construction on Tuesday, claiming that the company is already desecrating their burial sites. The federal court will announce its verdict on September 9th.

A Canadian Company

The DAPL is co-piloted by the American company Energy Transfer Partners and the Calgary-based Enbridge. Enbridge is no stranger to controversy, as it was recently forced by Canada’s federal court to give up on the Northern Gateway pipeline for similar reasons.

The $7.9 billion pipeline meant to export Albertan petroleum to the west coast had first been authorized by the Conservative government, despite the strong opposition of the native communities near its trajectory. However a federal appeal court revoked the permits in July, ruling that the Enbridge had not adequately consulted the affected aboriginal communities.

In 2015, Enbridge broke records by racking up $264 000 in fines from the National Energy Board, mostly because of safety and environmental hazards. However, the NEB ended up cancelling most of the fines due to lack of evidence.

Enbridge incidentally made the news today for acquiring Spectra Energy. The $37 billion transaction, if it is approved by appropriate authorities, could make Enbridge the biggest player on the North American market of energy infrastructure.

It looks like Donald Trump has gotten himself into some hot water, yet again! Since announcing his run for presidency, Trump has been flaunting his wealth and success non-stop on national television; but this isn’t the first time the multi-millionaire has hinted at a presidential run – the first one was back in 1987! This past Tuesday, the entrepreneur launched his campaign at his luxurious Trump Tower in New York City and all eyes were on him for a good 45 minutes. He described himself as the most successful person ever to run for office, and mentioned that even the Gucci store he owns is worth more than Mitt Romney (o….kay??). “I’m really rich,” he said as he looked at the crowd and added that his positive attitude is what America needs to make the country great again (o….kay?).

We all know the Donald is no stranger to controversy; from his feud with Rosie O’Donnell back in 2006, to his doubt over President Obama’s birthplace. (He actually asked him to release a copy of his birth certificate!) But the most recent one will have him running… period! During his speech, Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug-traffickers and rapists, which prompted Univision, an American Spanish television network, to pull the plug on the Miss USA pageant. How does this affect the Republican candidate you ask? Well, Donald Trump is the co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization and not only will the network not air the event, but they have decided to completely cut ties with Trump altogether.

After his comments went viral, a number of Latin celebrities took to the internet to express their anger, including actors Eugenio Derbez and Roslyn Sanchez who have both stepped down as hosts of the pageant. What was he thinking? Is he aware that half of the population living in the United States are Mexicans? What a great way to start your campaign!

Will Donald Trump ever be elected as president? I highly doubt it! After all of his foolish comments and bogus statements, he’s better off sticking to his day job. Just like his comb over, some things will never change.

So it looks like some people who have been downloading movies and TV shows illegally are going to get letters. That’s right, not even emails. Actual snail mail. Threatening snail mail at that.

Not sure if this will have any effect, given that our mail service is soon not going to be a door-to-door thing and also considering that these warnings are nothing more than that. There are no fines or jail time possible, they’re just toothless warnings.

But Canadians are, for the most part, a well-intentioned people. I’m sure we’d happily pay to support the shows we want if there was a way. That is, if there was a way that didn’t involve having to first pay for a cable service and then the content we’re looking for.

Such a thing exists south of the border, or rather it will exist soon. HBO is finally making it possible to purchase the GO platform, accessible through computers, smartphones, tablets and as an app on Smart TVs, without first having a cable subscription, but only in the US.

That’s right, all that fine HBO program… Yes, Game of Thrones, new season, because that and maybe True Detective is all we’re really after, right? The service should cost $12 a month and while that’s a pretty penny to pay for one show, it also may include quite a bit of the back catalogue, kind of like Netflix. That means Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, old episodes of Game of Thrones, pretty good deal, if you ask me.

I would gladly pay $12 a month for HBO legally, instead of “going to a friend’s house” (cause I’d never do anything illegal… and then admit it online). A lot of time, energy, talent and money went into these shows and I’d happily support them. Unfortunately, due to my geographic situation, I can’t. Instead, I’m free to support Canadian cable conglomerates that had no hand in creating the programming I want. I have neither the will or the funds to do that.

It’s time that Canadian media companies shifted focus away from fighting hard to reinforce a system that allows them to become rich by buying then re-selling content they didn’t make, through an outdated method, and instead creating some great content of their own and distributing it through apps and streaming services that the whole world has access to.

There has never been a better opportunity for Canadian-produced media to shine globally. Sure, Canadian companies don’t have the marketing or production budgets that Hollywood does, but that can change and will change if they stop focusing on distribution, and opt for a simple model, using something like a website and an app, and instead of buying US shows, pour that money into content production and promo instead.

Hollywood has a reason to fear the internet, Toronto doesn’t. We should let the full American version of Netflix come in without people having to be clever, same for HBO GO. Who cares what Canadian company owns what? We won’t be buying shows anymore, we’ll be making them.

The internet should have no national boundaries. Not only does that democratize things for smaller content producers, it also makes it possible for national media companies that aren’t American to get a leg up.

Unfortunately, for now, it looks like our media conglomerates are clinging to the old ways so much they’ve resorted to sending letters.

But honestly, guys, if you blow this chance, THE NORTH WILL NEVER FORGET!

We’re in the thick of it, there’s nothing else to say. All the international credibility gained out of Canada’s decision not to intervene in the Second Gulf War under Jean Chrétien’s leadership was lost in the blink of an eye, when Harper announced Friday that Canada would be sending its troops into combat (airstrikes specifically, no ground troops at this time). The thing is, Canada’s “official” intervention is only two days old, but it is already gearing up to be a disaster of gigantic proportions, and ultimately an utter failure that will only delay, but not prevent, the coming of another ISIS.

Canada might have given its green light for a full scale intervention only two days ago, but the coalition of the willing — which ironically includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the patrons of the radical interpretation of Islam promoted by ISIS — has been on the ground for around a month now. What are the conclusions that can be drawn? After one month, what is the future for this war? What new day is dawning on the horizon?

Well, to say the least, it’s a very dark one. The black clouds that arose from the ruins of the Kurdish bastion of resilience, Kobane, gave us, spectators, a little glimpse into the future of this mission.

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The women of Kobane have armed themselves to fight against ISIS.

As thousands of Kurdish fighters held back the reoccurring, never-ending assaults of ISIS against the town, Turkish tanks stood still — not much of a surprise —and Western jets flew on by. The battle of Kobane is a central one for the survival of the Kurdish struggle within northern Syria. Unfortunately the lightly armed Kurds are fighting against the much stronger ISIS forces, ironically, using American artillery and weapons to besiege the town.

The hypocrisy of the Western forces and of their Turkish allies is obvious. They most certainly see this so-called humanitarian intervention, first and foremost, as a means towards an end: the eradication of the PKK and any viable Kurdish autonomous authority in the region.

In one of my articles concerning the conflict I wrote extensively about the “revival” of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination and their project of asymmetric federalism. There, I referred to their struggle and to this project as an alternative form of governance for the peoples of the region and a strong vaccination against the rise of organizations such as ISIS. Three weeks down the path of war, and it seems like Kobane will fall within a matter of days, or even hours, even though this humanitarian intervention was supposed to prevent such a tragedy from happening.

One month into this humanitarian intervention, and the American State Department has already announced that it was anything but humanitarian anymore. The White House announced today that civilian protection policy does not apply to the airstrikes in Syria. Apparently, protecting civilians in areas under rebel control from the wrath and vengeance of Syrian government forces is not part of the plan either. Within the past month much of the ground that was lost during the past three years by Assad has been regained. The bloodthirsty and mad dictator, whom the interventional community vigorously condemned for the usage of chemical weapons against his own people, is on cloud nine.

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Can you believe it? The Americans are actually winning Assad’s war for him. Instead of mobilizing and building strong alliances with the secular and progressive sections of the Free Syrian Army, we actually bombed them last week. So much for wining “hearts and minds!” We’re actually losing them, as the ISIS ranks are filled with thousands, if not tens of thousands of young disenchanted Westerners, who turned to radicalism after years of discrimination and racism, and after years of seeing on the TV their Muslim sisters and brothers suffer excruciating pain in Iraq, Palestine or at the hands of any other Western backed dictatorial regimes.

Radicalism’s fuel is war, and unfortunately, through this war, we have swelled the reserves of hatred, of anger, of despair and of pain, everything ISIS was born out of, to last for a generation or two. If you believed the magical fairytale that whatever is happening was a humanitarian intervention, that we, the West, the ardent defenders of human rights, were on a courageous crusade against evil, that just like communism and fascism, this totalitarian evil of radical Islamism had to be quelled, you were wrong. Don’t be fooled. We are reviving ISIS. We created the conditions for it. We are reenacting them as we speak and what will come out of this third intervention in the Middle East might be more horrendous than anything our imaginations can grasp.

Every American general election that has taken place in my life time has come down to a choice between the lesser of two evils. Despite the first African American President’s several accomplishments, Barack Obama’s first administration has turned out to be more hype than hope.

Last week during the Democratic National Convention, Democrats made great speeches about Obama’s endeavors of the last four years and managed to belittle the Republican platform at the same time. While some of his accomplishments were significant, his shortcomings were just as important and obviously went without mention at the Convention.

Bush Uninterrupted

My first major disappointment with Barack Obama came shortly after he was elected when he said he would not pursue criminal charges or turn over the previous administration to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Obama appealed to the American people to leave the past in the past and instead look to the future.

Obama’s inaction has consequences greater than just letting warmongers and advocates of torture roam free, he paved the way for future presidents to do the same and get away with it. Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team is largely made up of the same chicken hawks that pushed for President George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq and supported the use of torture.

Gitmo Blues

Barack Obama promised to close the national embarrassment known as the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but failed to do so. As many as 775 detainees have had a stay at the military prison base in the last decade.

Most have never been charged with a crime, many have been subjected to torture and there is no telling how much longer the remaining 170 men will have to wait to have their fate decided. The unlawful detention and torture of potentially innocent men should not exist in a land that claims to hold civil rights in such high regard.

Corporate Healthcare

Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act might one day prove to be his biggest achievement, but only if it eventually leads to actual Universal Healthcare. Obamacare might protect millions of Americans who previously went without health insurance, but it benefits the middle men (the insurance companies) who will always put money ahead of their client’s wellbeing regardless of the law. Furthermore, the bill still leaves ten to twenty million Americans without any kind of coverage at all.

The failure here comes from the President’s inability to convince some Democrats to support universal health care. Obama enjoyed a majority in the House and Senate during his first two years in office, but could not use it to his advantage. Many of the president’s colleagues argued that they risked losing the next election if the supported national healthcare and Obama failed to convince them otherwise. In the end, many Democrat Representatives lost their seats in 2010 midterms anyway.

Drug War without End

The forty year old war on drugs has continued unabated under the Obama administration, in some ways it has even escalated. Innocent Mexicans continue to die in the thousands at the hands of drug cartels armed with American made weapons, countless Americans rot in prison without committing a real crime while the bankers who launder the money rarely get punished. It has gotten so bad that California now spends more on prisons than higher education.

Obama has done nothing new concerning the war on drugs apart from going after the legal medical marijuana shops. Lately the President has said he would be ready to re-examine the drug war during his second term, but expressed an unwillingness to even legalize or decriminalize pot, leading me to believe he’s all talk.

The Great Divergence

Thirty years of trickle-down economics, deregulation and free trade (among other things) has left the biggest wealth gap between the rich and poor since the 1920’s. Obviously, no president can repair the damage that’s been done to the middle class in only one term, but in this respect Obama is talking the talk more than walking the walk.

Fixing this problem will require years of planning, dialog, ideas and international cooperation, just to name a few. So far all we’ve seen through the President’s office is record corporate profits, continued Wall Street gambling and a stimulus package that contained mainly tax cuts.

Barack embraced the occupy movement of last autumn promising to do what he can to improve the ever increasing wealth gap, but an undertaking such as this is much more complicated than simply raising taxes a couple of percentage points now that we all partake in the global economy.

Assuming he’s re-elected, if Obama wants to be remembered as the man who ended the great recession or the man that ushered in a new age of equality, his second term better not look like his first….

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