North Dakota pipeline protests reach boiling point - Sandy Tolan reports on KCRW's "To the Point"

 Dakota Access Pipeline protesters square off against police near the Standing Rock Reservation and the pipeline route outside the little town of Saint Anthony, North Dakota. Photo: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters square off against police near the Standing Rock Reservation and the pipeline route outside the little town of Saint Anthony, North Dakota. Photo: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

Native Americans and supporters from around the world are digging in against an oil pipeline near the Missouri River — despite being struck with batons, sprayed with Mace and charged with crimes. After the protesters lost a battle in court, the Obama Administration asked Energy Transfer, a Fortune 500 Company, to defer construction. But the bulldozers are coming. Protesters aren't the only ones being arrested, so are journalists perceived to be on their side. 

Sandy Tolan, University of Southern California / Los Angeles Times (@sandy_tolan
Deia Schlosberg, documentary filmmaker and producer (@deiaschlosberg)

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Living on Earth: Standing With the Standing Rock Sioux

  A rally led on horseback by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and their allies. (Photo: Robert Wilson)

A rally led on horseback by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and their allies. (Photo: Robert Wilson)

A rash of arrests at the Standing Rock demonstrations points to rising tensions between North Dakota state officials and the thousands that have allied themselves with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through ancestral lands and sources of water. Reporter Sandy Tolan visited the encampment that serves as a home base for the protestors, and explains to Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood that claims of protester “riots” are unfounded, based on what he observed.

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Dakota pipeline protesters confront the “black snake”: “We’re living by the fire”


"We're gaining strength": On the Standing Rock reservation, winter is coming — but protesters won't give up 


Near Cannon Ball, N.D. — From the edge of the road, near the banks of the Cannon Ball River, you could hear a prayer rise from the darkened bowl of land below. It was 7:30 on a Monday morning on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. A faint glow appeared in the east, widening slowly to reveal a large circle of perhaps 100 people, most standing, a few kneeling in the center, facing the light, singing their prayer then lighting long pipes and passing them around. Behind them, dozens of white tipis stretched across the flood plain, their tops catching the early sunlight.

A few months ago, this treeless clearing in the Missouri River flood plain was empty. Now, 1,200 people are camping here, a fraction of the 5,000 who gathered in the summer. They have come from Indian lands across the Dakotas; from 300 North American tribal nations; from Jamaica, Central America, Norway, the United Kingdom, France and Japan. Their common pledge: to kill the long black snake — also known as the 1,172-mile, 450,000-barrel-a-day, $3.78 billion Dakota Access pipeline — before it poisons the drinking water that millions of people in the Great Plains depend on.

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Dakota Pipeline fight heats up as the weather turns cold

The battle over the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, which pits indigenous peoples and environmental activists against the forces aligned with the $3.78 billion pipeline, may reach a head this week.  Dakota and Lakota indigenous leaders have erected tipis in the path of the pipeline, and state police and local sheriff's deputies have made dozens of arrests in recent days.  Reports indicate regular targeting of reporters covering the pipeline battle.  Sandy is traveling back to Standing Rock this week. Please check and follow Sandy on Twitter for more on the story this week.

Sandy Tolan on the Death of the Two State Solution for TomDispatch

The military alliance between the United States and Israel has long been at odds with the stated intentions of successive administrations in Washington to foster peace in the Holy Land. One White House after another has preferred the “solution” of having it both ways: supporting a two-state solution while richly rewarding, with lethal weaponry, an incorrigible client state that was working as fast as it could to undermine just such a solution..With its latest promise of military aid, the United States has essentially sanctioned Israel’s impunity, its endless colonization of Palestinian land, its military occupation of the West Bank, and its periodic attacks by F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters using Hellfire missiles on the civilians of Gaza. 

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U.S. Children of the Stone /Ramzi Aburedwan/Dal'ouna Musical/Literary Tour September 15-25, 2016

Hard to believe it was nearly 20 years ago that I was captured by a pair of images on a poster in the West Bank town of Ramallah that embodied so much of the hope and heartbreak of the Palestinian quest for freedom.  One showed an 8-year-old boy from a refugee camp hurling a stone at an unseen Israeli soldier.  The other showed the same child, 10 years later, pulling a bow across the strings of his viola.  

These were the images that would lead me to write the remarkable story of Ramzi Aburedwan in my award-winning book, Children of the Stone, which tells the story of Ramzi's dream to build a music school for children living under military occupation. 

This connection now brings Ramzi and his fantastic Dal Ouna Arab/French fusion ensemble to the U.S. for a national the Children of the Stone /Dal'ouna musical/literary tour. We hope you'll join us for one of our concerts. 

The U.S. National CHILDREN OF THE STONE/DAL’OUNA concert and book tour, September 15 - 25, 2016, celebrates Palestinian musician and educator Ramzi Aburedwan and his belief in the power of music and culture to transform lives and resist oppression.

Back by popular demand, the 2016-2017 tour corresponds with the paperback release of Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land (Bloomsbury, April 2015/paperback 2016) by Sandy Tolan, author of the international bestseller, The Lemon Tree.

TOUR DATES and LOCATIONS (list subject to change):

*denotes concert only

September 15 Le Poisson Rouge, New York City

September 16 @ 3:30pm William Patterson University, New Jersey (afternoon concert + discussion)

September 16 @ 8pm Clifton High School Auditorium, 333 Colfax Ave, Clifton, NJ*

September 17 @ 7pm Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, New York*

September 18 @ 11am Brunch mini-concert*, East Hampton; evening, Worcester, Massachusetts*

September 19  @ 730pm Follen Church, 755 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, Massachusetts*

September 20  @ 1230pm Tilton Hall, Clark University (950 Main Street Worcester, MA 01610)*

September 20  @ 7pm Alden Hall, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Rd, Worcester, Massachusetts*

September 21 @ 8pm Mahaney Arts Center, Middlebury College, 72 Porter Field Rd, Middlebury, Vermont

September 23  @ 8pm Ramallah American Club, 3130 Parental Home Rd, Jacksonville, Florida*

September 24 @ 8pm Dwight Hall Chapel, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut FREE

September 25  @ 4:30pm St. Peter's Lutheran Church, 310 Route 137, Harwich, Massachusetts* Get tickets here

September 26 @ 7pm University of Connecticut, 2110 Hillside Rd, Storrs, Connecticut* FREE 

*Ramzi & his ensemble will continue touring Sept. 27 - Oct. 2

Additional concert dates and venues will be announced soon. Please click here to donate now. Contributions are tax-deductible, through the non-profit Homelands Research Group, a production company I co-founded with public radio journalists in 1991. Thank you for your generosity.

Travel and the power to astound: On the road in Russia and Estonia

by Sandy Tolan

What beckons us to the road, far from home, removed from our culture and comfort zone? For me it is story, newness, connection, surprise: The beautiful, the stunning, the devastating, the far-flung narrative and its power to astound, even to transform. It’s the daylong rise out of the dripping 100-degree Amazon, into a snowstorm along the spine of its Andes. It’s the impoverished rickshaw driver in New Delhi, Raja Ram, the Lord King, with his haunting soliloquy on the meaning of life and death. Or the young taxi driver, late at night on a darkened South American road, making eye contact in the mirror, asking plaintively, Why don’t you have children?

It’s the sound of a violin in a Palestinian refugee camp. Mysterious lights flickering across a plain in West Texas. Beethoven’s Third Symphony, played at full volume as your car ascends the Wyoming Rockies, hitting its crescendo just as you top a mountain pass.

Such random surprise can happen every time, if you allow it. 

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How to tell your six-year-old about war

How to tell your six-year-old about war

It was one of those magical LA Sundays with our six-year-old son, Wyatt. At the edge of the Pacific, in Santa Monica, we practiced on his bike with the training wheels. On the beach, we dug “Orcaville” and “Barracuda Falls,” Wyatt’s plastic whales and fishes plunging into the holes as the waves crashed beside us.

Brexit’s ‘Meaning’? Globalization Sucks.

Brexit’s ‘Meaning’? Globalization Sucks.

For the past 35 years I’ve traveled as a journalist through the broken, impoverished back roads of globalization, from Mexico to Egypt, from Ecuador to Central America to Bulgaria to American Indian country, where the free trade wisdom of the political and investment class has brought precious little wealth, or even “stability,” whatever that means, to ordinary people on the ground. 

Ted Cruz Today, the Rapture Tomorrow

Ted Cruz Today, the Rapture Tomorrow

On a frigid day last December, 300 conservative preachers and other faithful gathered over brisket and prayer at a billionaire fracker’s rambling Texas ranch. The house was packed so full...that the billionaire, Farris Wilks, had to throw open his patio doors, and about 100 of the “faith leaders” spilled outside...

Farewell, Ben Carson—We’ll Always Have ‘Hummus’

Farewell, Ben Carson—We’ll Always Have ‘Hummus’

It was December 2014, and Dr. Ben Carson, considering a run for the presidency, sat in a first-class lounge at Newark International Airport, awaiting a flight to Tel Aviv, Israel. The neurosurgeon had never been to the Holy Land, but to burnish his foreign policy credentials, he knew he had to start somewhere. There was just one problem...