In a persistent drizzle on 17 January, a group of protesters swathed in green ponchos unfurled tarps and sleeping bags on the sidewalk in front of Goldman Sachs’ high-rise building on the West Side highway in New York City. A few of them wore handmade swamp creature masks; others bore signs with the swamp creatures on them. A light-board sign declared the bank “Government Sachs”.
The protest was the beginning of a multi-day camp-out aiming to stay on the sidewalk outside the investment bank until the inauguration of Donald Trump, and to bring people affected by the bank’s policies to the doorstep of some of the world’s richest people – some of whom will belong to the Trump administration.
“It’s about highlighting the lie that was told to millions of people in this country, the lie that Trump was draining the swamp. If we really want the swamp to be drained, we have to do it ourselves and we’re doing it by going to Goldman Sachs,” says Nelini Stamp of the Working Families party.
Steven Mnuchin was called Mr Foreclosure. Do you want Mr Foreclosure to be secretary of the treasury?
As the crowd of about 100 people set up camp, the police erected barricades around them but mostly held off as the crowd moved from chanting “The swamp is getting deeper! The swamp is Goldman Sachs!” to a series of speak-outs from the crowd about the bank’s connection to payday lending, the economic crisis in Puerto Rico, foreclosures and more.
Erik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.
On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald Trump and Mike Pence watched the returns come in, including a close shot of Pence and Trump with their families. “We know some people who worked closely with [Trump] on his campaign,” DeLuke wrote. “Waiting for the numbers to come in last night. It was well worth the wait!!!! #PresidentTrump2016.” Prince’s sister, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and Prince (and his mother) gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.
In July, Prince told Trump’s senior advisor and white supremacist Steve Bannon, at the time head of Breitbart News, that the Trump administration should recreate a version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination ring that operated during the Vietnam War, to fight ISIS. Such a program, Prince said, could kill or capture “the funders of Islamic terror and that would even be the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities they’re in.”
The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians in northern Wisconsin voted not to renew an easement for a major oil and gas pipeline that passes through its reservation. In the wake of the successful protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, this decision is the latest example of Native American tribes using sovereignty rights to oppose fossil fuel projects.
The Bad River tribal council voted unanimously in early January to revoke rights-of-way that pass through the roughly 200-square-mile reservation and the decision could prove difficult to overturn. Pipeline companies often take ownership of private land through the use of eminent domain. But using Native American land typically requires tribal consent and easements are negotiated for a fixed period.
The pipeline in question, Line 5, spans 645 miles and is owned by Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge. It is used to ship as much as 540,000 barrels of fossil fuels, including crude oil and propane, per day from Superior, Wisc. to Sarnia, Ontario and is part of Canada’s largest export oil pipeline network. The resolution passed by the tribe calls for the decommissioning and removal of the pipeline from all Bad River lands and its watershed, which flows into Lake Superior.
Then it was time, and the women silently formed into a steam that would pass through the camps and onto the bridge. Moondrop said, “it was so powerful to feel the men so willing to step back and support us and stand behind us.” People silently joined them as they walked through both Rosebud and Oceti camps and the stream of women became a river. They met resistance from the council of young men who weren’t aware of what was happening, but Cheryl Angel had approval from the grandma elder, and ‘the feminine walked forth’, continuing. Another dam of male veterans resisted the woman again at the bridge, but they looked them silently in the eyes and conveyed that it was time to let the women lead, to trust them. LaDonna, the woman who started Standing Rock’s opposition to DAPL, joined at this time and Moondrop knew they were now unstoppable. The veterans acquiesced and helped by asking the Army Corps if the women could come to the front and do a ceremony. With thousands of people behind them in total silence, the elder women walked across the bridge through the former war zone, through broken glass, shells, dried blood and teargas-soaked clothing; to the edge of the razor wire where they knelt. They offered forgiveness, wept for the atrocities, wept for their ancestors, prayed for the hearts of the police, and begged for their compassion. “It was the most beautiful moment of my life to witness these women being so vulnerable in the face of armed guards with guns and tanks on the other side of a razor wire fence and to witness them so open and humble and weak, but so strong in their vulnerability. “It was like a radiative, thick blanket of peace washing over everything,” Moondrop recounted. A police officer offered to safely guide the elders down to the river to perform a water ceremony. It was the first time anyone had been allowed on the other side of the river. Afterwards, the supporting men back on the hill parted for the returning river of women who silently lead everyone back to camp. Moondrop felt like it was the rise of a matriarchy and the rise of women finding their voice and their power to create a peaceful outcome here. She could feel everyone’s thankfulness as they reentered camp. As she finished her story, I was struck by how much sense it makes to enact change in this peaceful, compassionate and feminine way. When fear is released, walls can come down and understanding can take place. I myself am extremely thankful to these women for leading the charge.
SOLAR WIND, INCOMING: A wide hole in the sun’s atmosphere is spewing a fan-shaped stream of solar wind toward Earth. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the canyon-like structure on Jan. 14th:
This is a “coronal hole” (CH)–a region where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. Material is flowing from this coronal hole at speeds exceeding 600 km/s (1.3 million mph). The high-speed stream could spark G1-class geomagnetic storms when it arrives on Jan. 18-19. Arctic sky watchers, mark your calendars!
With only days until Donald Trump takes office, the Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules that will let the NSA share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorization with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security.
The new rules allow employees doing intelligence work for those agencies to sift through raw data collected under a broad, Reagan-era executive order that gives the NSA virtually unlimited authority to intercept communications abroad. Previously, NSA analysts would filter out information they deemed irrelevant and mask the names of innocent Americans before passing it along.
The change was in the works long before there was any expectation that someone like Trump might become president. The last-minute adoption of the procedures is one of many examples of the Obama administration making new executive powers established by the Bush administration permanent, on the assumption that the executive branch could be trusted to police itself.