Noteworthy Articles 

Standing Rock scores partial legal victory in suit against Dakota Access

Washington, D.C. - A federal judge has ruled the Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately consider the impacts of a spill from the Dakota Access Pipeline into the Missouri River.

Judge James Boasberg of the D.C. District Court said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's claim the Corps' failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act is true to some degree.

"Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial," said Boasberg in his ruling. Continue Reading

Trump To Sign Executive Order That Could Shrink National Monuments

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday that could end up shrinking — or even nullifying — some large federal national monuments on protected public lands, as established since the Clinton administration.

The move is largely seen as a response by the new administration to two controversial, sweeping national monument designations made late in the Obama administration: the new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah considered sacred to Native American tribes and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada near the Bundy Ranch, site of the 2014 armed standoff over cattle grazing on public land.

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What Trump cut in his 2018 budget

On Thursday, the Trump administration released a preliminary 2018 budget proposal, which details many of the changes the president wants to make to the federal government’s spending. The proposal covers only discretionary, not mandatory, spending.

To pay for an increase in defense spending, a down payment on the border wall and school voucher programs, among other things, funding was cut from the discretionary budgets of other executive departments and agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and the Agriculture Department took the hardest hits. The proposal also eliminates funding for 19 agencies.

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Trump is Hiring Lobbyists and Top Ethics Official Says ‘There’s No Transparency’

President Trump has stocked his administration with a small army of former lobbyists and corporate consultants who are now in the vanguard of the effort to roll back government regulations at the agencies they once sought to influence, according to an analysis of government records by the New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.

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'He Needs To Listen To Us.' Protesters Call On Trump To Respect Native Sovereignty

Members of American Indian tribes, indigenous communities and their supporters are demonstrating today in Washington, D.C., calling on the Trump administration to meet with tribal leaders and protesting the construction of the nearly complete Dakota Access Pipeline.

The protest is partly led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been battling the federal government for more than a year over an oil pipeline that members say endangers their drinking water and has destroyed sacred sites in North Dakota.

In drizzling rain and snow, people marched from the headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which handled route approval for a controversial section of the pipeline just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, to the White House. Read More

President Trump Accuses Obama Of 'Wire Tapping,' Provides No Evidence

In a string of tweets posted early Saturday morning, President Trump let loose a barrage of accusations at his predecessor. He alleged that former President Obama had his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower before Election Day last year, accusing Obama of "McCarthyism" and being a "bad (or sick) guy."

Trump, who is under significant scrutiny for his administration's contacts with Russia before he took office, offered no evidence to support his claims Saturday morning. The White House has not responded immediately to NPR's requests for comment.

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Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent.

Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.

SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

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Authorities move into Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp

As of late Wednesday, 10 people were arrested outside of the main protest camp, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said during an evening press conference.

The arrests occurred on the road at the main entrance to Oceti Sakowin protest camp, which is situated at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation near Cannonball, North Dakota. Those arrested were willingly outside of the barrier put up by protesters to block police from going inside the dwelling area, according to officials.

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Homeland Security Outlines New Rules Tightening Enforcement Of Immigration Law

The Trump administration is releasing more on its plans to crack down on illegal immigration, enforcing the executive orders President Trump issued in late January. Those orders called for increased border security and stricter enforcement of immigration laws.

The Department of Homeland Security issued the new rules on Tuesday, laid out in two documents signed by Secretary John Kelly.

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Federal appeals court rules 3 to 0 against Trump on travel ban 

A federal appeals panel has maintained the freeze on President Trump’s controversial immigration order, meaning previously barred refugees and citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries can continue entering the United States.

In a unanimous 29-page opinion, three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.

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Trial Balloon for a Coup?

Must Read Article

The theme of this morning’s news updates from Washington is additional clarity emerging, rather than meaningful changes in the field. But this clarity is enough to give us a sense of what we just saw happen, and why it happened the way it did.

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This Week In Trump's 'Alternative Facts

The Trump administration's push-back on easily verifiable facts is unprecedented and shows that the Trump we saw on the campaign trail and in debates — who was freewheeling with facts and assertions and often peddled wildly exaggerated claims — had not changed once he took the oath of office. And it's only week one.

Below we've rounded up some of the White House's assertions here that are exaggerated or just flat out false.

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Survival guides for Democrats

When George Orwell, an avid collector of political pamphlets, surveyed the blossoming literary form in 1943, he was unexpectedly unimpressed. “There is totalitarian rubbish and paranoiac rubbish, but in each case it is rubbish,” he wrote in the New Statesman. The war years had generated a rash of writings from all sides of the political spectrum, and Orwell preserved 2,700 of them for the record, including one titled “What are you Going to do About It?” from 1936, by avowed pacifist Aldous Huxley.  Read More

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

1. The Office of Government Ethics director publicly lamented, “we seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election.”

2. Three vendors have placed liens on the Trump hotel in DC for unpaid bills of over $5 million, in total.

3. The OGE similarly said they had not completed ethics reviews of Trump’s cabinet nominees. Leader McConnell said the Democrats need to “grow up”on Trump’s desire for speedy confirmations.

4. Sean Hannity endorsed a tweet which said “Make Russia Great Again” with the word, “Amen.” Hannity later deleted his tweet.

5. Meryl Streep used her Golden Globes lifetime of notable work speech to eloquently attack Trump, without mentioning his name.


Cabinet Nominees Will Face Scrutiny On Climate And Education Policy This Week 

The final few days before President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office will be filled with a flurry of congressional activity, as the Senate holds confirmation hearings for eight more of his Cabinet nominees.

Most are expected to be fairly routine, but a few could be hot-button affairs, including hearings for Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt, Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Read More

Trump Team: Top Adviser Talked With Russian Ambassador Before U.S. Hacking Response

The man tapped to be national security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, exchanged text messages and spoke with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in December — around the time of the Obama administration's response to Russian interference during the presidential campaign, a spokesman for Trump acknowledged Friday.

But Sean Spicer, the spokesman and incoming White House press secretary, insisted all of this contact happened before President Obama announced the retaliation, and, as a result, Obama's move to expel 35 Russian diplomats wasn't a topic of conversation. Read More

Dakota Access Pipeline Supporter Becomes Chair of Senate Indian Affairs Committee 

In a statement Thursday, United States Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) said he is “honored” to serve as the new chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Hoeven — a former North Dakota governor and vocal supporter of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines — was elected to lead the committee on Tuesday. Read More

Putin Ordered 'Influence Campaign' To Help Trump, U.S. Intelligence Report Says 

The intelligence report on Russia's interference in the U.S. elections concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" that aimed to help President-elect Donald Trump.

"Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency," the public version of the report from the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency states. "We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

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North Carolina Governor Signs Law Limiting Power Of His Successor

Pat McCrory, North Carolina's outgoing Republican governor, has signed a law stripping executive powers from his successor, Democrat Roy Cooper.

The Law removes the State Board of Elections from the governor's control by reducing the number of members on the board from five — three of whom could be from the governor's party — to four members, evenly split between the parties.

Read full story on NPR

Company: Equipment Didn't Detect North Dakota Oil Leak 

Electronic monitoring equipment failed to detect a pipeline rupture that spewed more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota creek, the pipeline's operator said Monday.

It's not yet clear why the monitoring equipment didn't detect the leak, Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for Casper, Wyoming-based True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche Pipeline, said.

A landowner discovered the spill near Belfield on Dec. 5, according to Bill Suess, an environmental scientist with the North Dakota Health Department.  Read More

Trump's cabinet choices

Want to know more about Donald Trump's Cabinet picks? Click the link below to find out more.

New York Times article

Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds

If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.

That's one implication of a new study from Stanford researchers that evaluated students' ability to assess information sources and described the results as "dismaying," "bleak" and "[a] threat to democracy."

As content creators and social media platforms grapple with the fake news crisis, the study highlights the other side of the equation: What it looks like when readers are duped.

NPR Article

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