Tag Archives: President Obama

Dakota Access Pipeline protest timeline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday turned down the request for an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to build under the Missouri River, after months of protests from Native American and climate activists.

The following is a timeline of the project:

December 2014

Energy Transfer Partners LP applies to build a 1,172 mile (1,885 km), 570,000 barrel-per-day pipeline to deliver crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields to Patoka, Illinois, crossing South Dakota and Iowa to the North Dakota Public Service Commission, kicking off a year of public hearings in the state.

January 2016

North Dakota regulators approve the pipeline unanimously

April 29

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers holds a hearing for Native Americans on the pipeline. At that time, there was heated opposition to the project from Native tribes.

July 25

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved three easements for water crossings for the pipeline at Sakakawea, the Mississippi River and Lake Oahe. Lake Oahe is an ancestral site for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

July 27

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sues the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia in connection with the pipeline, citing violation of multiple federal statutes that authorize the pipeline’s construction and operation, and seeks an emergency order to halt construction. The tribe also alleges the pipeline threatens their environmental and economic well-being and would damage and destroy sites of historic, religious and cultural significance. The Sioux Tribe say that because the pipeline goes underneath Lake Oahe, approximately half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation, leaks from the pipeline would be directly in the tribe’s ancestral lands.

Aug. 24

Celebrities including Susan Sarandon, Riley Keough and Shailene Woodley joined members of the Tribe outside a courthouse in Washington, D.C., to protest the pipeline saying that it could pollute water and desecrate sacred land.

Sept. 3

Private security guards hired by Energy Transfer Partners used attack dogs and mace after violence erupted at a private construction site along the pipeline route. Six people were bitten by dogs, a scene that was captured on video and broadcast widely.

Sept. 6

Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians, which represents more than 500 tribes, spoke to nearly a dozen of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet-level advisers at a Sept. 6 meeting of the White House’s three-year-old Native American Affairs Council. Cladoosby delivered an impassioned request to his audience: stand with Native Americans who have united with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Sept. 9

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington rejected a broad request from Native Americans to block the project. He, however, rules that no construction activity on the Dakota Access may take place between Highway 1806 and 20 miles to the east of Lake Oahe. Construction activity to the west of Highway 1806 may proceed. The tribe appeals the decision.

Sept. 9

Less than an hour after Boasberg’s decision, the U.S. Justice and Interior Departments and Army made an unprecedented move and ordered a stop to construction near Lake Oahe until the Army Corps of Engineers reviews its previous decisions and decides if it needs to conduct a fuller environmental and cultural review.

Sept. 13

Energy Transfer Partners told employees in a letter, provided to media, that the company was committed to completing the project. The midstream operator cited that the pipeline was 60 percent complete, and that it had already spent $1.6 billion so far on equipment, materials and the workforce.

Oct. 9

The U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit said that an administrative injunction related to the emergency motion of the Standing Rock Tribe would be dissolved, citing that Dakota Access has rights to construct on private land up to Lake Oahe.

Oct. 11

Environmental activists across four states disrupted the flow of millions of barrels of crude from Canada into the United States in a rare, coordinate action that targeted several key pipelines simultaneously. The protest group, the Climate Direct Action, said their move was in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. As a safety precaution, companies operating the pipelines shut off sections of the lines for several hours while they investigated.

Earlier in the day, Energy Transfer Partners said it looked forward to prompt resumption of construction activities east and west of Lake Oahe on private land.

Oct. 25

Government-to-government tribal consultations began across six regions on how federal government decision-making on infrastructure projects could better include tribal concerns.

Nov. 8

Energy Transfer Partners says it has built the pipe to the edge of Lake Oahe and reiterates its intentions to complete the project.

Nov. 9

Following the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, climate activists and the Standing Rock Sioux say they still hope President Obama will be able to kill the pipeline definitively. Analysts say the line is more than likely to go through.

Nov. 14

The U.S. government, in a joint notice issued by the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers, delayed a final decision on permitting. They said the permit had followed all legal requirements, but said more consultation with Native American tribes was needed.

Nov. 18

Energy Transfer Partners’ CEO Kelcy Warren told the Associated Press that the pipeline would not be re-routed. The statement came as protests grew more heated.

Nov. 20

About 400 activists gather on a bridge between the camp protest and the construction path and law enforcement officers respond by using tear gas and water cannons on them in freezing temperatures.

Nov. 26

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells protesters they need to leave the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the primary protest camp located on federal land, by Dec. 5. They later say they have no plans to enforce this order.

Nov. 28

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issues an evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin camp, citing harsh weather on the way. Officials the next day tell Reuters they plan on blockading the camp so supplies cannot get in. They later back off that plan to say they may just issue fines but retreat from that idea as well.

Nov. 30

A group of U.S. veterans announce they will bring more than 2,000 service members to North Dakota to stand as human shields between the protesters and law enforcement. They begin arriving over the next several days.

Dec. 4

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denies Energy Transfer Partners’ request for an easement to run under Lake Oahe, sparking a celebration amongst protesters. ETP says it will continue to fight for the line. The incoming Trump administration has said it supports Dakota Access, along with other pipeline projects.

Police forcibly remove Dakota Access pipeline protesters

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Transcript: President’s remarks at LGBT Pride celebration

The following is a transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks delivered June 9 at the LGBT Pride reception at the White House. The president delivered his remarks shortly after 5 p.m. in the East Room.

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Hello, hello, hello! (Applause.) Good to see you. Hello! Well, welcome to the White House.

Let me first of all — let me acknowledge some outstanding public servants who are here. We’ve got Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning is in the house. (Applause.) Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg is here. (Applause.) We’ve got some amazing members of Congress — no one who has done more on behalf of justice and equality than former Speaker and, perhaps soon to be Speaker again, Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) We love Nancy.

So this is the eighth Pride reception that we will celebrate together. (Applause.) I want to begin by saying thank you to all the people that — I’m looking out in the audience; I see some new friends but a lot of old friends, folks who have been with us through thick and thin. And I am grateful for all that you’ve done to work with us to accomplish some amazing transformations over these last seven and a half years. (Applause.)

So every year, we set aside this month to celebrate the ways that so many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have helped to make our union just a little more perfect. We honor the countless nameless heroes who paved the way for progress: The activists who marched. The advocates who organized. The lawyers who argued cases. The families who stood by their loved ones, even when it was tough. Every brave American who came out and spoke out, especially when it was tough. Because of them, because of all of you, there’s a lot to be proud of today.

Today, we live in an America where “don’t ask, don’t tell” don’t exist no more. (Applause.) Because no one should have to hide who they love in order to serve the country that they love. We live in an America that protects all of us with a hate crimes law that bears the name of Matthew Shepard. (Applause.) We live in an America where all of us are treated more equally, because visiting hours in hospitals no longer depend on who you are — (applause) — and insurance companies can no longer turn somebody away simply because of who you love.

Thanks to heroes like Edith Windsor and Jim — I always get Jim’s name — (laughter) — Jim knows I love him, but I never know where to put the emphasis — Obergefell — (applause) — generations of couples who insisted that love is love, we now live in an America where all of our marriages and our families are recognized as equal under the law. And that’s an extraordinary thing. When you talk to the upcoming generation, our kids — Malia’s, Sasha’s generation — they instinctively know people are people and families are families. And discrimination, it’s so last century. (Laughter.) It’s so passé. It doesn’t make sense to them. (Applause.) So we live in an America where the laws are finally catching up to the hearts of kids and what they instinctively understand.

So some folks never imagined we’d come this far — maybe even some in this room. Change can be slow. And I know that there have been times where at least some of the people in this room have yelled at me. (Laughter.) But together, we’ve proven that change is possible, that progress is possible.

It’s not inevitable, though. History doesn’t just travel forward; it can go backwards if we don’t work hard. So we can’t be complacent. (Applause.) We cannot be complacent. Securing the gains this country has made requires perseverance and vigilance. And it requires voting. Because we’ve got more work to do. (Applause.)

We still have more work to do when gay and bisexual men make up two-thirds of new HIV cases in our country. We have to work hard to make sure that jobs are not being denied, people aren’t being fired because of their sexual orientation. We still have work to do when transgender persons are attacked, even killed for just being who they are. We’ve got work to do when LGBT people around the world still face incredible isolation and poverty and persecution and violence, and even death. We have work to make sure that every single child, no matter who they are or where they come from or what they look like or how they live, feels welcomed and valued and loved.

So we’re going to have to keep on pushing. And that’s the work of all of us. The great and often unsung civil rights hero Bayard Rustin once said, “We need in every community a group of angelic troublemakers.” (Laughter and applause.)

And that’s what I see here tonight -– people who aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers in the name of justice and equality until we extend the full promise of America to every single one of us. And that’s always been our story — not just in Selma or Seneca Falls, but in Compton’s Café and the Stonewall Inn. It’s the story of brave Americans who were willing to risk everything –- not just their own liberty or dignity, but also doing it on behalf of the dignity and liberty of generations to come. They understood a truth that lies at the heart of this nation: When all Americans are treated equal, we’re all more free.

And that’s what should give us hope. Despite our differences and our divisions, and the many complicated issues that we grapple with, real change is possible. Minds open. Hearts change. America shifts. And if the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that people who love their country can change it.

One of the most special moments of my presidency was that warm summer night last June when we lit up the White House out there. (Applause.) It was a powerful symbol here at home, where more Americans finally felt accepted and whole, and that their country recognized the love that they felt. It was a beacon for people around the world who are still fighting for those rights. It was a reminder that when the change we seek comes, and when we move a little bit further on our journey toward equality and justice, we still have a responsibility to reach back and help pull up others who are striving to do the same.

So enjoy tonight. Have some champagne — some of you already have, I can tell. (Laughter.) Tomorrow, we get back to work. (Applause.) And by the way, we get back to work not just fighting on behalf of justice and equality for the LGBT community, but for everybody. (Applause.) Because one of the — if you’ve felt the sting of discrimination, then you don’t just fight to end discrimination for yourself, you’ve got to fight for the poor kid who needs opportunity. You need to fight for the working mom who can’t pay the bills. You’ve got to fight for some young woman on the other side of the world who can’t get an education. It can’t just be about us. It’s about we, and what we can do together. (Applause.)

So I’m very proud to have fought alongside you. We’ve got more miles in the journey, and I’m so glad that we’re going to be traveling that road together.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)


NAACP: The use of the n-word at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Cornell William Brooks is president and CEO of the NAACP. He issued the following  about remarks made at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 30 in Washington, D.C.

On The Nightly Show and in many other programs, Larry Wilmore is a thoughtful and courageous comedian who consistently makes us laugh by confronting the ugly contradictions we see in our government, media, and society.

I assume that Mr. Wilmore was sincere in humorously criticizing, commending and mocking the president during the dinner. Context, like race, matters.  The n-word has a long history of hate. It doesn’t matter whether the people listening are wearing tuxedos and gowns, the racist ugliness of it cannot be forgotten. Many in the audience clearly believed he had crossed a line in his final remarks.

In this election year, we have consistently reminded candidates that the words they choose have meaning and consequence. Even a seemingly “friendly” form of the n-word ending in “ga” rather than “ger” insults many in our nation even when meant to compliment our president.

While it may be common to use the n-word as a racial obscenity for effect with a crowd in a night club or among acquaintances in a locker room or a rhyme in a song, the n-word, as racist profanity, should not be in the same sentence or the same room as the President of the United States.

The fact that President Barack Obama is the first African-American to hold the highest office in this country should not be a license for undue racial familiarity or racialized disrespect.

For many years now, the NAACP has maintained that the n-word does nothing to foster real and meaningful conversations our country needs to have about race, class, segregation and tolerance in our nation and we are, once again, sadly disappointed by its perpetuation in our national dialogue. With a vocabulary of America’s aspirations, the NAACP strives for a day when the n-word refers to a ‘nation’ indivisible by race, class, color, creed or slurs.

On the Web…
At the dinner.

Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.


Robin Roberts thanks girlfriend in end-of-year post

Robin Roberts thanked her longtime girlfriend, Amber Laign, in a year-end post published on Dec. 29 on the ABC News anchor’s Facebook page.

The message, which follows Roberts’ battle with a life-threatening illness, is the first time the “Good Morning America” anchor has publicly acknowledged her 10-year, same-sex relationship with Laign, a massage therapist from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Roberts’ post was confirmed by ABC News spokeswoman Heather Riley.

Sunday was the anniversary of Roberts’ 100-day milestone following a bone marrow transplant in September 2012 for treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood and bone marrow disease.

In May, Grand Central Publishing announced Roberts, one of the most popular figures in morning TV news, will write a memoir about her battle with MDS and the life lessons she continues to gather following her return to “GMA” last February.

In May 2012, President Barack Obama first came out in support of marriage equality in an interview with Roberts.

Feds will not sue to stop marijuana use in Washington, Colorado

The U.S. government will not sue the states of Colorado or Washington to block state laws allowing the recreational use of marijuana.

The Associated Press reported on Aug. 29 that the Justice Department issued a national policy announcement that identified eight priorities for the enforcement of marijuana laws. Priorities include: preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing sales revenue from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels and preventing the diversion of marijuana outside of states where it is legal under state law.

In December, about a month after voters in Washington and Colorado backed marijuana measures, the president said it didn’t make sense for the federal government to go after marijuana users in states that had legalized the recreational use of small amounts of pot.

The Justice Department also will not intervene in the sales of medical marijuana in the states with laws allowing its use, as long as there’s no conflict with the eight enforcement priorities.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical marijuana.

Radical right’s growth exploded in 2011

The radical right grew explosively in the United States in 2011 and for a third consecutive year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama.

The SPLC, on March 8, said the ranks of extremist groups have grown to record levels, largely with the expansion of the “Patriot” movement.

“The dramatic expansion of the radical right is the result of our country’s changing racial demographics, the increased pace of globalization, and our economic woes,” said SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok.

He added, “For many extremists, President Obama is the new symbol of all that’s wrong with the country – the Kenyan president, the secret Muslim who is causing our country’s decline. The election season’s overheated political rhetoric is adding fuel to the fire. The more polarized the political scene, the more people at the extremes.”

The SPLC report details the growth of hate groups to 1,018 in 2011, up from 1,002 the year before and the latest in a series of increases going back more than a decade.

The most powerful growth came in the Patriot movement, which is composed of armed militias and other conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their primary enemy, according to the SPLC. Such groups saw their numbers skyrocket by 55 percent – from 824 in 2010 to 1,274 groups last year. In 2008, just before the Patriot movement took off, there were 149 Patriot groups, a number that metastasized to 512 in 2009.

Patriot groups have increased by 755 percent during the first three years of the Obama administration. Their number has now surpassed – by more than 400 groups – the previous all-time high set in 1996, when the first wave of the militia movement peaked shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead.

The SPLC said that with the rise in extremist groups there has been a rash of domestic terrorism, much of it aimed at government and the president.

In Michigan, members of the Hutaree Militia are on trial for planning to murder a police officer and then attack the funeral with homemade bombs in an effort to spark a war against the government.

In Georgia, four militia members are facing charges of conspiring to bomb federal buildings and attack four cities with the deadly ricin toxin.

In Alaska, four members of the Peacemakers Militia are accused of planning to murder judges and law enforcement officials as part of a plan to overthrow the federal government.

The hate groups listed in this report include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists.

Other hate groups on the list target LGBT people, Muslims or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust.

The SPLC report, contained in the spring 2012 issue of the organization’s quarterly journal Intelligence Report, can be read at www.splcenter.org. Readers will also find an interactive map showing where hate groups are located and comprehensive, state-by-state lists.

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Obama blasts GOP rivals at HRC dinner

President Barack Obama did not stake out any new positions during a speech Oct. 1 to the members of the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights groups. But the president did take on the Republicans who want his job, rebuking the candidates who did not defend a gay servicemember booed by the audience at a recent debate in Florida.

The commander in chief must support all U.S. servicemembers, Obama told an annual gathering of the Human Rights Campaign membership in Washington, D.C.

“You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient,” Obama said. 

Referring to the boos generated by an active-duty gay servicemember during the GOP presidential debate in Florida on Sept. 22, the president said, “We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens.”

Obama, in the speech, celebrated the end of the policy banning gays from serving openly in the Armed Forces and promised to fight for legislation to end workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The president said “every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law,” but he did not endorse marriage equality. On that issue, Obama repeatedly has said his thoughts are evolving.

None of the GOP candidates supports marriage equality, and most do not support other LGBT civil rights reforms.

The president, rallying an active donor base, asked the more than 3,200 HRC members gathered to join his re-election campaign. “This is a contest of values,” the president said.