U.S. considering rerouting N Dakota Pipeline

Obama says U.S. mulling alternate routes for N. Dakota pipeline

By Valerie Volcovici | WASHINGTON

President Barack Obama said the U.S. government is examining ways to reroute an oil pipeline in North Dakota as it addresses concerns raised by Native American tribes protesting against its construction.

Obama’s comments late on Tuesday to online news site Now This were his first to directly address the escalating clashes between local authorities and protesters over Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline project.

“My view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline,” Obama said in the video interview.


On Wednesday, protesters on the banks of the Cantapeta Creek confronted law enforcement, as they attempted to build a wooden pedestrian bridge across the creek to gain access to the Cannon Ball Ranch, private land owned by ETP, according to a statement from Morton County officials.

The U.S. Justice and Interior Departments along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halted construction on part of the pipeline in September due to protests by Native American tribes who contend the pipeline would disturb sacred land and pollute waterways supplying nearby homes. The affected area includes land under Lake Oahe, a large and culturally important reservoir on the Missouri River where the line was supposed to cross.

Construction is continuing on sections of the pipeline away from the Missouri River, one of the owners of the pipeline and a U.S. refiner Phillips 66 said.

The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline, being built by a group of companies led by Energy Transfer Partners, would offer the fastest and most direct route to bring Bakken shale oil from North Dakota to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

North Dakota officials are girding for a long fight. The state’s emergency commission on Tuesday approved another $4 million loan to support law enforcement during the protests.

David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, in a Wednesday statement lauded Obama’s comments and called on the administration and the Army Corp of Engineers to issue a stop-work order on the pipeline on federal land. He also called for a full environmental impact study.

“The nation and the world are watching,” he said. “The injustices done to Native people in North Dakota and throughout the country must be addressed. We believe President Obama and his Administration will do the right thing.”


Obama said government agencies will let the situation “play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of First Americans.”

Morton County Commission Chairman Cody Schulz, in response to Obama’s statement regarding the pipeline, said that letting the situation play out “affords the opportunity to the out-of-state militant faction of this protest to keep escalating their violent activities.”

The Now This video, however, suggests that Obama was talking about the review process, not the protests. The president later in the interview says that he wants to make sure that both protesters and law enforcement are “refraining from situations that might result in people being hurt.”

The fight against the pipeline has drawn international attention and growing celebrity support amid confrontations between riot police and protesters. More than 140 people were arrested when a protest was broken up by law enforcement nearly a week ago.

Some have said an alternative pipeline route could be a way to get over the impasse.

In North Dakota, gubernatorial candidate Marvin Nelson, a Democratic state representative, said in an interview with Reuters last week that moving the route 10 miles north could make a difference.

“It would take some time to do that, but it seems to me to be a much safer route and it wouldn’t need to cross culturally sensitive land,” he said.

Environmental group 350.org urged Obama to reject the federal permit for the entire project.

“There’s no reroute that doesn’t involve the same risks to water and climate,” said Sara Shor, a campaign manager for 350.org.

“President Obama breaking the silence on Dakota Access is a testament to the powerful resistance of Indigenous leaders, but he shouldn’t sit back while people are facing violent repression from militarized law enforcement on the ground.”

This is an improvement. President Obama needs to stop big corporations from building the pipeline at all. It puts the environment at risk. Yesterday we saw an explosion of the pipeline in Alabama. Stop the pipeline! Save American land. Save our environment! Stand with the Native Peoples who are courageously protesting the immoral stealing of their sacred land. Write to President Obama and tell him what you think. America for our Native People.



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The man stuffed and displayed like a wild animal

The man stuffed and displayed like a wild animal


This is one of the most unusual and creepy things I have heard of. I don’t like stuffed animals and stuffed humans is beyond the pale. But it is part of human history and one I hope we don’t repeat. I wonder, have we never had respect, kindness and compassion for each other?  We need to change this tendency in human nature.




An 1888 engraving of El Betchuanas

In the early 19th Century, it was fashionable for Europeans to collect wild animals from around the globe, bring them home and put them on display. One French dealer went further, bringing back the body of an African warrior. Dutch writer Frank Westerman came across the exhibit in a Spanish museum 30 years ago, and was determined to trace the man’s history.

WARNING: This story contains an image some readers may find disturbing

A decorative chain-link fence in the national colours – blue, white and black – marks the grave of one of the most famous, but least enviable sons of Botswana: “El Negro”. His resting place in a public park in the city of Gaborone, under a tree trunk and some rocks, is reminiscent of the tomb of an unknown soldier.

A metal plaque reads:

El Negro

Died c. 1830

Son of Africa

Carried to Europe in Death

Returned Home to African Soil

October 2000

El Negro's final resting place

His fame comes from his posthumous travels – lasting 170 years – as a museum exhibit in France and Spain. Generations of Europeans gaped at his half-naked body, which had been stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist. There he stood, nameless, exhibited like a trophy.

Back in 1983, as a university student from The Netherlands, I accidentally came across him on a hitchhiking trip to Spain. I had spent a night in the town of Banyoles, an hour north of Barcelona. The entrance of the Darder Museum of Natural History, behind a trio of leafless plane trees, happened to be next door.

Museu Darder

copyright Google – Museu Darder

“He’s real, you know,” a schoolgirl shouted at me.

“Who’s real?”

“El Negro!” Her voice blared out over the square – accompanied by the snorts and laughter of her friends.

The next instant an elderly woman stepped out of the hairdressing salon with a cardigan draped over her shoulders. A fragile lady with a pointy chin graced by a few single hairs, she turned a key ring around in her fingers like a rosary. Senora Lola opened up the museum, sold me a ticket and pointed in the direction of the reptile room.

“That way,” she ordered. “Then go through the rooms clockwise.”

As I was on my way to the Human Room, an annex of the Mammal Room, past a climbing wall with apes and the skeleton of a gorilla, my merriment gave way to a shudder. There he was, the stuffed Negro of Banyoles. A spear in his right hand, a shield in his left. Bending slightly, shoulders raised. Half-naked, with just a raffia decoration and a coarse orange loincloth.

El Negro turned out to be an adult male, skin and bones, who hardly came up to one’s elbow. He was standing in a glass case in the middle of the carpet.

This was not Madame Tussaud’s. I was not staring at an illusion of authenticity – this black man was neither a cast nor some kind of mummy. He was a human being, displayed like yet another wildlife specimen. History dictated that the taxidermist was a white European and his object a black African. The reverse was unimaginable. I flushed and felt the roots of my hair prickling – simply from a diffuse sense of shame.

Senora Lola didn’t have an explanation. She didn’t even have a catalogue or a brochure. She tapped a carousel postcard stand and stared at me through her glasses. I took a card of El Negro and read on the back: Museo Darder – Banyoles. Bechuana.


Senora Lola kept staring at me. Head back, chin jutting forward. “The cards are 40 pesetas each,” she said.

I bought two.

postcard front and back

Twenty years later I decided to write a book about El Negro’s extraordinary journey from Botswana (Bechuana) to Banyoles and back again.

The story begins with Jules Verreaux, a French dealer in “naturalia”, who in 1831 witnessed the burial of a Tswana warrior in the African interior, a few days’ travel north of Capetown, and then returned at night – “not without danger to my own life” – to dig up the body and steal the skin, the skull and a few bones.

With the help of metal wire acting as a spine, wooden boards as shoulder blades, and stuffed with newspapers, Verreaux prepared and preserved the stolen body parts. Then he shipped him to Paris, along with a batch of stuffed animals in crates. In 1831 the African’s body appeared in a showroom at No 3, Rue Saint Fiacre.

In a review, the newspaper Le Constitutionnel praised the fearlessness of Jules Verreaux, who must have faced dangers “amid natives who are as wild as they are black”. This article set the tone, and the “individual of the Bechuana people” attracted more attention than the giraffes, hyenas or ostriches. “He is small in posture, black-skinned, and his head is covered in woolly frizzy hair,” the newspaper said.

More than half a century later, the “Bechuana” popped up in Spain. On the fringes of the world exhibition in Barcelona in 1888, the Spanish vet Francisco Darder presented him in a catalogue as “El Betchuanas”, complete with a drawing in which he is seen wearing raffia finery and holding a spear and a shield.

An 1888 engraving of El Betchuanas

By the 20th Century, having been brought over to Banyoles, a small city at the foot of the Pyrenees, his origins had been largely forgotten – on his pedestal was mistakenly written “Bushman of the Kalahari”. In the decades that followed, the link to his Tswana origins faded even further and he became known simply as “El Negro”.

At some point, the revealing loincloth that Jules Verreaux had decked him out in was replaced by the Roman-Catholic curators of the Banyoles museum with a more demure orange skirt. His skin was given a layer of shoe polish to make him seem blacker than he was.

Standing in his display case, slightly bowed and with a piercing gaze, El Negro embodied in a poignant and harrowing way, the darkest aspects of Europe’s colonial past. He confronted visitors head-on with theories of “scientific racism” – the classification of people according to their supposed inferiority or superiority on the basis of skull measurements and other false assumptions.

As the 20th Century progressed, El Negro became more and more of an anachronism. Not only was there increasing guilt and awareness of the fact that his body and grave had been violated, but as a European artefact from the 19th Century he reflected ideas that had become universally untenable.

Everything began to shift in 1992 when a Spanish doctor of Haitian origin suggested, in a letter to El Pais, that El Negro should be removed from the museum. The Olympic Games were coming to Barcelona that year and the lake of Banyoles was the venue for the rowing competitions. Surely, wrote Dr Alphonse Arcelin, any athletes and spectators who visited the local museum would take offence at the sight of a stuffed black man.

Arcelin’s call was supported by prominent names such as the US pastor Jesse Jackson and basketball player “Magic” Johnson. The Ghanaian Kofi Annan, then still Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, condemned the exhibit as “repulsive” and “barbarically insensitive”.

But due to heavy resistance among the Catalan people, who embraced El Negro as a “national” treasure, it was not until March 1997 that El Negro disappeared from public view and “Object 1004” was put into storage. Three years later, in the autumn of 2000, he began his final journey home.

Following long consultations with the Organisation for African Unity, Spain had agreed to repatriate the human remains to Botswana for a ceremonial reburial in African soil. The first stage of his repatriation was a night ride in a truck to Madrid.

Once in the capital, his stuffed body was divested of its non-human additions, such as his glass eyes. El Negro was dismantled – as if the film of the preparations that Jules Verreaux carried out 170 years earlier was simply rewound.

His skin, however, turned out to be hard and crusty – it crumbled. Because of this, and because of the treatment with shoe polish, it was decided to keep it in Spain. According to one newspaper report it was left behind at the Museum of Anthropology in Madrid.

So the coffin, destined for Botswana, contained only the skull and certain arm and leg bones.

Religious leaders accompany the coffin, draped in the flag and carried by Botswana soldiers, on 4 October 2000

copyright REUTERS Religious leaders accompany the coffin, carried by Botswana soldiers to its final resting place, on 4 October 2000


The remains of the Tswana warrior lay in state for a day in the capital Gaborone, where an estimated 10,000 people walked past to pay their last respects. The following day, 5 October 2000, he was committed to earth in a fenced-off area in the Tsholofelo park.

It was a Christian burial. “In the spirit of Jesus Christ,” the priest said with his hand on the Bible, “who also suffered.” An awning, supported by two rows of tent poles, protected the guests of honour from the sun.

“We are prepared to forgive,” said the then-Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe to the assembled mourners. “But we must not forget the crimes of the past, so that we don’t repeat them.”

Blessings were pronounced, there was singing and dancing. Buglers wearing white gloves sounded a last salute.

Subsequently, the grave was neglected for many years, the field around it being used as a football pitch. Lately however, the Botswanan government has restored and enhanced the site with a visitor’s centre and explanatory signs.

But in 2016 it is still not known who this “son of Africa” was, what his name was, or exactly where he came from.

An autopsy, carried out in a Catalan hospital in 1995, nevertheless brought some things to light. The man who became world-renowned as El Negro lived to be about 27 years old. When alive, he stood between 1.35m and 1.4m tall (between 4ft 5in and 4ft 7in). He probably died of pneumonia.

Combat Flip Flops — Enlist in the Unarmed Forces

Many of us talk a lot about the eternal wars we seem to be involved in and that we want peace. Well, a peacenik friend send information about a company who is Paying It Forward. I did some research to see if it was authentic and it really is. Gift giving season is coming and this would be a way to put a check mark next to a name on your list and make a real difference.


I plan to join the unarmed forces and I hope that many of you will also join around the world. I am excited to share this company with you and that it will among other things help girls in Afghanistan get education.







To create peaceful, forward-thinking opportunities for self-determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict. Our willingness to take bold risks, community connection, and distinct designs communicate, “Business, Not Bullets”–flipping the view on how wars are won. Through persistence, respect, and creativity, we empower the mindful consumer to manufacture peace through trade.


As Army Rangers with several Afghanistan tours behind them, Griff and Lee saw a country filled with hard-working, creative people who wanted jobs, not handouts.

Flip flops were just the start. We’ve taken a product that people in nearly every country on the planet wear, and made it a weapon for change. Right now, all our flip flops are made in Bogota, Colombia, providing jobs and investing in people who desperately need it. We’ve done that with all the products we sell.

Our USA made Claymore Bag’s flip the script, on traditional weapons of war. Instead of carrying bombs, these bags act as a carry-all for business tools like iPad’s, laptops and more.

Our Cover and Concealment sarongs are handmade in Afghanistan by local women. Each one takes three days to make, and each sale puts an Afghan girl into secondary school for a week.

The Peacemaker Bangle and Coinwrap are sent to us straight from artisans in Laos – and they’re made from bombs. Each bracelet sold clears 3 square meters of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) from a region rocked by long-term war – saving lives and providing economic opportunity.


We do this because it’s our job to show others what’s possible, then encourage them to join us.



Their most popular product is their original, the AK47 flipflop:





They also make fabric scarves, called shemaghs, made in Kabul, Afghanistan.  The sale of each shemagh puts one Afghan girl into secondary school for 1 day.  According to their website, 103 girls have been enrolled in school for the full year since Janaruy 2016.

These are the shemaghs available (more are on the website combatflipflops.com)

cff_white_500_large green_whole_shemagh_500_large



What she needs is an education. We can help give her one.

What she needs is an education. We can help give her one.



This week, in honor of back to school, charitable donations are increased by 2x


The charity supported is:  Aid Afghanistan for Education (AAE)

“When we educate a woman, we educate a family. Unless we educate the Afghan population, there will be no peace.”

~Hassina Sherjan, Executive Director, Aid Afghanistan for Education.

Devastation, war, and violence in Afghanistan created a regressive, fundamentalist education system that prevented modern education for children, and denied opportunities for women to work and fend for their families. We believe education is the only vehicle to a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. Every Afghan has the right to be educated, create opportunity, and add value to their country’s future.

Since 2003, AAE has established 13 schools in 9 provinces that educate marginalized Afghans deprived of an education during the years of conflict in the region—or do not have access to a formal education system. Currently, 3,000 female and 104 male students are attending AAE schools.

Inspiration to Leave




Eloquent Mirror


Silk-enraptured angels

hide childish fears

from all these years.

By shadow of the eloquent mirror

that little girl is a warrior,

fighting with no turning back.

I”m still standing here today

after what you put me through.

It’d be easy to loathe you

but war paint wears off

when the rain falls down,

long after you’ve gone.

Some wounds never heal….


When I cried, you tortured me more

when I fought back you whispered:

“Don’t scream…”

No one would hear if I had been

trapped in a skeletal asylum.

Suffocated ghosts in the eloquent mirror,

haunting where you once stood

reaping the innocent soul…

watching me..taunting me…

ravaging silk savagely.


Petals drift whimsically,

innocence lives on through

violet ribbons in midnight skies.

Broken, crumpled,

screaming until you were finished with me.

Lying alone I was crying.

LIttle girls shouldn’t be warriors.

She shouldn’t have had t fight

to save her innocence,

to someday look in the mirror,

and despise what she shees.

She doesn’t giggle now.

She doesn’t bat her eyes.

She feels ugly.

She looks back at you,

shatters mirrors with bare hands.

She was never told she innocent

She is standing here today

but she still feels alone.

–Lavinia Thompson author of Melting Candles












The Slow Accumulation of Evidence






I have had much to say about the shoot down of Malaysian Flight 17.  The media is telling us a lot and some may not be true. Some things may be exaggerated or twisted up. There are some things I am certain of. This shoot down of a civilian plane is an act of war. Pure and simple. Nothing anyone says can change that fact. There were eighty children and 3 infants killed. How do parents and grandparents deal with this senseless loss? A hole has been punched into the family of man. I can only imagine what they must be enduring. I personally can’t see how they can survive this loss.


Only by a careful search of the crime scene will we ever have answers. But we have been told that people have been looting and removing items from the scene. A souvenir, really? That is what matters to these people? That is so sick and so wrong. There is no way to excuse this behavior. War is killing innocent children here and in the war between the Palestinians and the Israelites. War is no answer. War is only going to bring more hatred and violence. Thousands of years have passed and human beings have still not learned to live in peace. This is shameful.




stopkillingchildren                                                                                      Innocent people are killed in war…guns are being shot. Missiles bring down 

                                                                                      planes. Why? War? 


The other thing which disturbs me is that bodies are still lying on the ground. They are beginning to decompose and valuables are being taken. The Ukraine is not in charge of the land that the plane was shot down in. No one is in charge. No one is guaranteeing the dignity of the victims. This is unacceptable. Their souls have left but the families deserve to be able to bury their dead loved ones. Each corpse deserves to be treated with respect and sacredness. It doesn’t matter what their nationality or religion is. The people at the site need to treat these dead as they would their own loved ones.


“O Thou, the Cause and Effect of the whole Universe, the Source from whence we have come and the Goal towards which all are bound: receive these souls who are coming to Thee into Thy parental arms. May Thy forgiving Glance heal their hearts. Lift them from the denseness of the earth, surround them with the light of Thine own Spirit, Raise them up to Heaven, which is their true dwelling place. We pray Thee grant them the blessing of Thy most exalted Presence. May their lives upon earth become as a dream to their waking soul, and let their thirsting eyes behold the glorious Vision of Thy Sunshine. Amen.

—Hazarat Inayat Khan



In Memoriam to the passengers of Flight 17 Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

In Memoriam to the passengers of Flight 17 Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Planet Earth

Good choices for our million

Good choices for our planet, effect all of us.

” I love the beautiful world I live in.”  The earth is our very wise  and amazingly loving mother. She provides everything we need and things we just want. For instance, a diamond engagement ring.

There is water, food, air, companionship. We have millions of species of plants and animals. Mother Earth responds well to our love for her.

If we would be willing to do this we would save the life of our planet

If we would be willing to do this we would save the life of our planet


We have treated this planet terribly in the past decades. We are using up our valuable resources without plans to replenish what we have stolen from our Mother.

If we continue to trash the planet, there will be a dead planet and a population of dead plants, animals and fish. Oh by the way, we human beings will be dead too.

We need to focus our thinking on taking care of, respecting and loving our Mother. I spend time imagining our planet as she used to be. Lush, fertile and ripe with all kinds of animals, plants and food. I imagine a clear clean environment where people don’t  have to check the weather reports to see what the condition of the air is. I have breathing issues. More days every year are bad for sensitive people to go out. This is scary for us and for our planet.

Penguins in Antartica

Penguins in Antartica

We have the power to heal Mother Earth and the power to stop raping her of her resources. The problem is … do we want to stop?  Or will we only stop when we have killed this amazing planet. That is my fear. Taking the planets gifts brings much money to the people to live for money. Every day, many millions of people give back the resources and love this planet. It isn’t enough, but if we keep working on it, we may just loose enough selfishness to see how important our choices are for us and for our great grandchildren. We can love Mother Earth enough to stop killing her. We are capable of helping her to heal herself. We just have to want to. Do You?

The beauty of breaking waves

The beauty of breaking waves

It is up to all of the children of Mother Earth to face reality and love her and begin to protect her.

It is up to all of the children of Mother Earth to face reality and love her and begin to protect her.