Tag Archives: cultural

Review finds flaws in environmental assessment of Dakota Access Pipeline

An independent expert hired by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the federal government’s environmental assessment of the pipeline’s impact was inadequate.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II now has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess its conclusion that the pipeline crossing will not affect tribal members.

“This underscores one of the fundamental deficiencies of the Final Environmental Assessment—it assumes, without foundation, that placing a massive oil pipeline just upstream from the Reservation presents no risk to the Tribe,” Archambault wrote in his letter to assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy.

An oil spill at Standing Rock would also impact an estimated 17 million people located down stream from the river, according to Richard Kuprewicz of Accufacts, Inc., a consulting firm that advises government agencies and industry about pipelines.

Accufacts analyzed the government’s environmental assessment on the pipeline and found the Army Corps of Engineers failed to address pipeline safety and the risk the pipeline poses to the waters of Lake Oahe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which draws its drinking water from that lake.

The analysis indicated the assessment significantly underestimated the risk of an oil spill into sensitive areas .

Additionally, the report documented:

• Shoddy pipeline construction

• The risks posed by landslides were underestimated

• Lack of proper safety constructions to contain spills

• Failure to review impact to residents and environment downstream of the site

• A risk review of industry spills and containment at similar sites that document problematic regulatory oversight of the industry in North Dakota

“Mr. Kuprewicz’s findings reflect the common sense point that was somehow lost in the Final Environmental Analysis—that pipelines leak, and that when they do so there are often devastating consequences, particularly when the leak contaminates water,” Archambault wrote in his letter to Darcy. “The public record is filled with examples which further substantiate this point.”

The failure of the Army Corps to adequately assess oil spill risks from the pipeline also raises significant questions about whether the Corp’s review is legally adequate, according to the Standing Rock leader.

“The law requires a full and transparent analysis of risks like oil spills prior to issuance of a federal permit. It’s clear that never happened here,” added Jan Hasselman, who represents the tribe in its litigation against the Army Corps. “We expect the Corps to give this new report close consideration as it determines whether to move ahead with the permits needed to cross the Missouri River—permits that Dakota Access didn’t have before starting construction of the pipeline.”

In light of the report and the deficiencies contained in the environmental assessment, Archambault asked for the government to reconsider its early decisions and disallow the easement for the pipeline crossing.

Minneapolis school board calls Utah-made books offensive

Minneapolis school board members are demanding an apology and a refund from a Utah-based publisher of educational books after a community backlash against what some called racial and cultural stereotypes in the material.

The books from Reading Horizons include a story about a black girl called “Lazy Lucy” and a stereotyped illustration of an American Indian girl in a book called “Nieko the Hunting Girl,” The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports

Board members said the Utah-based company Reading Horizons should return the $1.2 million the district paid for the books for children in kindergarten through third grade.

“Reading Horizons needs to step up to the table,” board member Carla Bates said. “I want them to bring me a check, bring you a check, bring the taxpayers of Minneapolis a check.”

The dust-up comes as critics say the school district isn’t doing enough to help students of color close a wide achievement gap.

The books are designed to help teachers reinforce reading lessons, but administrators acknowledged during a Tuesday meeting that they didn’t fully vet the material before buying the books, which have since been returned.

“We rushed the contract,” Interim Superintendent Michael Goar said. “Where we can hold people accountable, we will.”

The company is overhauling its teaching material to be more culturally sensitive, but Reading Horizons representative Laura Axtell said wouldn’t say whether it will issue a refund.

The titles were published in 2012 and have been used in other schools without complaints, Axtell said.

“That doesn’t matter to us, because as soon as we became aware of the concerns in Minneapolis, we took action,” she said, adding that the company takes responsibility for its role in the controversy.

Though the subject material may be questionable, the skills taught in the books do help kids learn to read, said Peter Sage, an elementary school reading specialist in Minneapolis. Students are falling behind, and faculty can’t afford to wait for new books, he said.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the North Salt Lake-based company is considering a voluntary recall of the series, which also includes a book about Kenya that says “Kenyans are able to run very fast.”

The books were purchased as part of a program designed to help close the achievement gap between white students and students of color.

The district will continue to use the Reading Horizons focus on phonetics and decoding words, though without the 54 books in the series, Goar said in a statement.

College tradition: Beloit releases Mindset List for Class of 2018

Each August since 1998, Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, has released the Beloit College Mindset List, offering a look at the cultural touchstones and experiences that have shaped the worldview of students entering their freshman year at colleges and universities.

So this week, the school released the list for the class of 2018 — many in the class were born in 1996, have always had The Daily Show to set them straight, always been able to secure immediate approval and endorsement for their ideas through “likes” on their Facebook page and have rarely heard the term “bi-partisan agreement.”

How old — or how young — is the class of 2018? You can get an idea from this: Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes Ciccone Leon, is a member of the class of 2018 and has enrolled at the University of Michigan, which mom attended.

And the Beloit College Mindset List, assembled by Ron Nief and Tom McBride at Beloit College and posted on the school’s website, includes, in part:

• During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.

• When they see wire-rimmed glasses, they think Harry Potter, not John Lennon.

• “Press pound” on the phone is now translated as “hit hashtag.”

• Celebrity “selfies” are far cooler than autographs.

• Hard liquor has always been advertised on television.

• Ralph Nader has always been running for President of the U.S.

• The water cooler is no longer the workplace social center; it’s the place to fill your water bottle.

• In their lifetime, a dozen different actors have portrayed Nelson Mandela on the big and small screen.

• Women have always attended the Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel.

• Pepsi has always refreshed travelers in outer space.

• Hong Kong has always been part of China.

• Courts have always been overturning bans on same-sex marriages.

• Bosnia and Herzegovina have always been one nation.

• Citizens have always had a constitutional right to a “dignified and humane death.”

• Nicotine has always been recognized as an addictive drug requiring FDA oversight.

• Coning has always been a fact, not science fiction.

• They never tasted the “texturally enhanced alternative beverage” known as Orbitz.

• There has always been “TV” designed to be watched exclusively on the web.

• The Unabomber has always been behind bars.

• Female referees have always officiated NBA games.

• Bill Gates has always been the richest man in the U.S.

• While the number of Americans living with HIV has always been going up, American deaths from AIDS have always been going down.

• They have no memory of George Stephanopoulos as a senior White House advisor.

• The rate of diagnosed diabetes has always been shooting up during their lifetime.

• Affirmative Action has always been outlawed in California.

• Their collection of U.S. quarters has always celebrated the individual states.

The complete list is online at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2018/.

Venice objects to St. Petersburg anti-gay law

Venice, Italy, is seeking to break off cultural relations with St. Petersburg because of the Russian city’s legislation curbing gay rights.

The city council invoked Venice’s “history, international prestige and conscience” in a motion unanimously approved this week asking the city administration to refrain from cultural exchanges as long as anti-gay laws are in place.

The motion states, “The city of Venice cannot ignore what is happening in the institutions” and asked officials to communicate the reason for the unilateral action.

The two cultural jewels, Venice and St. Petersburg signed an agreement in 2006 to pursue cultural and other exchanges.

St. Petersburg is one of a number of Russian cities that have passed laws banning what they call “homosexual propaganda.” The Kremlin also is pushing such a law.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration said it was pulling out of a civil society dialogue with Russia to protest the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent and new laws against nongovernmental organizations. It also harshly criticized Russia’s parliament for advancing the legislation against “homosexual propaganda.”