Reality of Standing Rock


Published on Nov 22, 2016

Be a Creative Activist – http://www.jill2016.com/create

“The mainstream media is lying about what is happening at Standing Rock. As someone who was there, I confirm what the water protectors have been going through. We need water and we are done with big corporations hurting and destroying our environment for financial gain. This is not moral what’s so ever. People do terrible things to each other for money. Our world is being destroyed for money.” #NoDAPL #StandingRock

Credit: Normadic Sky
http://www.nomadicskye.com

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Legalize marijuana for the state’s sake


legalize-marijuana-leaf-red-white-blue-flag-300x300

Editorial Board

In 1996 California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Since then 28 more states have approved the drug for medical use, with another eight, including California, allowing adults to use the drug recreationally. Unfortunately, Kentucky has been slow to adapt, despite the many benefits legalizing the drug would provide.

Back in the day, Kentucky used to thrive growing tobacco. That same land, rich for growing tobacco, is ideal for growing marijuana, which can also be used to produce hemp, a versatile product which can be manufactured into paper, textiles, clothing, food, plastic, and a multitude of other products. 

Marijuana would also be useful as a medical alternative for many in the state who are dependent on prescription drugs. 

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the highest cancer rates of any state in the country, largely due to our large dependence on the coal and mining industries, which has left countless hard-working Kentuckians with lung cancer. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has said that marijuana kills cancer cells along with alleviating the nausea and other symptoms associated with chemotherapy, which poses a much more effective alternative to prescription drugs. 

With so much of our state crippled by a dying coal industry, legalizing marijuana would be an enormous jobs creator for people looking to farm the crop and others looking to get into the business side of the industry with dispensaries. 

While stigmas still exist surrounding the drug, the issue of marijuana legalization is slowly becoming more of a bipartisan issue that draws support from both Democrats and Republicans, including Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who has said in the past that he plans to sign a medical marijuana bill into law during his time in office.

 

It has become a trend in the mainstream media to avoid one of the most pressing issues, not …

States that have approved the drug for recreational use, such as Colorado, tax the drug, and use the money in a variety of ways, from helping the homeless, to improving infrastructure and education. In 2016 alone, Colorado is expected to bring in over $1 billion in tax revenue from marijuana. 

If a similar system of policy was applied in the Bluegrass, money could be used for better education throughout the state, a hot-button issue under Bevin’s administration due to his proposed, but unsuccessful, cuts to higher education. Revenue could also go towards helping revitalize eastern Ky. along with infrastructure, homeless, and veterans, following in the footsteps of Colorado’s successful endeavor with the green. 

According to a 2012 poll by Kentucky Health Issues, 78 percent of Kentuckians support the legalization of medical marijuana. It’s time for our lawmaker’s throughout the state to come together and enact a policy to reflect the will of the people. The longer we wait, the more potential tax revenue we miss out on that could go to benefitting Kentuckians in need. It’s time to

“Make Kentucky Green Again!”

Email opinions@kykernel.com

CONTINUE READING…

A STATEMENT FROM "ACE HARDWARE"


Victory: ACE Hardware commits to no ban on Standing Rock sales

 

“Melissa Byrne”

 

Victory! In the wee hours of yesterday morning Ace Hardware (1) affirmed that their stores near Standing Rock will continue selling propane and materials to the water protectors.

This is because you took action by joining to support their brave actions.

This is a long battle for justice. Please keep calling your Members of Congress and Senators with a strong #NoDAPL message. 

You can use 202-221-3121 to be conntected to your representative. 

Keep following on the ground organizers and stay ready to support them at a moments notice.

Together, we will defeat the pipleline by supporting Standing Rock.

– Melissa

1. http://newsroom.acehardware.com/ace-hardware-statement-on-north-dakota-protest-and-product-sales/

The US Army Corps of Engineers will not grant permission for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe


 

The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota,” said a statement on the US Army website, citing the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy.

According to Darcy, it was “clear” they needed to address concerns of tribal leaders who expressed concerns over the potential environmental impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and “the best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
“The consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis,” the Army statement said
.

Standing Rock Sioux chairman Dave Archambault II has issued a statement expressing his gratitude to the Obama administration for enabling the “historic decision” to re-reroute the pipeline.

“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” he wrote.

The news is a massive win for the Sioux tribe that established the protest camp at the site in April and has gained huge support in recent weeks.

Military veterans joined activists, who call themselves water protectors, at Standing Rock this week, with more than 3,500 pledging to join the demonstration.

Some 26 activists were injured in a November 20 confrontation when police fired water cannon in below-freezing temperatures. Rubber bullets and tear gas were also reportedly used against the water protectors on site.

Around 564 people were arrested during the protests, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

CONTINUE READING…

 

Additional Information:

Army denies Dakota pipeline permit, in victory for Native tribes

 

U.S. Climate Plan@usclimateplan 1h1 hour ago Pennsylvania, USA

#NoDAPL VICTORY! A powerful and humbling statement from @StandingRockST Chair. Thanks to @POTUS for decision to #StandWithStandingRock.

How A Psychedelic Drug Helps Cancer Patients Overcome Anxiety


December 3, 20167:00 AM ET

Robin Marantz Henig

 

Psychedelic drugs could provide relief for anxiety and depression among advanced cancer patients.

The brilliantly-colored shapes reminded Carol Vincent of fluorescent deep-sea creatures, and they floated past her languidly. She was overwhelmed by their beauty — and then suddenly, as if in a dream, she was out somewhere in deep space instead. “Oh, wow,” she thought, overwhelmed all over again. She had been an amateur skydiver in her youth, but this sensation didn’t come with any sense of speeding or falling or even having a body at all. She was just hovering there, gazing at the universe.

Vincent was having a psychedelic experience, taking part in one of the two studies just published that look at whether cancer patients like her could overcome their death-related anxiety and depression with a single dose of psilocybin.

It turned out they could, according to the studies, conducted at New York University and Johns Hopkins and reported this week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. NYU and Hopkins scientists gave synthetic psilocybin, the hallucinogenic component of “magic mushrooms,” to a combined total of 80 people with advanced cancer suffering from depression, anxiety, and “existential angst.” At follow-up six months or more later, two-thirds of the subjects said their anxiety and depression had pretty much disappeared after a single dose.

And about 80 percent said the psilocybin experience was “among the most personally meaningful of their lives,” Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and leader of the Hopkins team, said in an interview.

That’s how it was for Vincent, one of the volunteers in Griffiths’ study. By the time she found her way to Hopkins in 2014, Vincent, now 61, had been living for six years with a time bomb of a diagnosis: follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which she was told was incurable. It was asymptomatic at the time except for a few enlarged lymph nodes, but was expected to start growing at some undefined future date; when it did, Vincent would have to start chemotherapy just to keep it in check. By 2014, still symptom-free, Vincent had grown moderately anxious, depressed, and wary, on continual high alert for signs that the cancer growth had finally begun.

“The anvil over your head, the constant surveillance of your health — it takes a toll,” says Vincent, who owns an advertising agency in Victoria, British Columbia. She found herself thinking, “What’s the point of this? All I’m doing is waiting for the lymphoma. There was no sense of being able to look forward to something.” When she wasn’t worrying about her cancer, she was worrying about her son, then in his mid-20s and going through a difficult time. What would happen to him if she died?

Participating in the psilocybin study, she says, was the first thing she’d looked forward to in years.

The experiment involved two treatments with psilocybin, roughly one month apart — one at a dose high enough to bring on a markedly altered state of consciousness, the other at a very low dose to serve as a control. It’s difficult to design an experiment like this to compare treatment with an actual placebo, since it’s obvious to everyone when a psychedelic experience is underway.

The NYU study used a design similar to Hopkins’ but with an “active placebo,” the B vitamin niacin, instead of very-low-dose psilocybin as the control. Niacin speeds up heart rate but doesn’t have any psychedelic effect. In both studies it was random whether a volunteer got the dose or the control first, but everyone got both, and the order seemed to make no difference in the outcome.

Vincent had to travel from her home in Victoria to Baltimore for the sessions; her travel costs were covered by the Heffter Research Institute, the New Mexico nonprofit that funded both studies. She spent the day before each treatment with the two Hopkins staffers who would be her “guides” during the psilocybin trip. They helped her anticipate some of the emotional issues — the kind of baggage everyone has — that might come to the fore during the experience.

The guides told Vincent that she might encounter some hallucinations that were frightening, and that she shouldn’t try to run away from them. “If you see scary stuff,” they told her, “just open up and walk right in.”

They repeated that line the following day — “just open up and walk right in” — when Vincent returned to Hopkins at 9 a.m., having eaten a light breakfast. The treatment took place in a hospital room designed to feel as homey as possible. “It felt like your first apartment after college, circa 1970,” she says, with a beige couch, a couple of armchairs and some abstract art on the wall.

Vincent was given the pill in a ceramic chalice, and in about 20 minutes she started to feel woozy. She lay down on the couch, put on some eye shades and headphones to block out exterior sights and sounds, and focused on what was happening inside her head. The headphones delivered a carefully-chosen playlist of Western classical music, from Bach and Beethoven to Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” interspersed with some sitar music and Buddhist chants. Vincent recalled the music as mostly soothing or uplifting, though occasionally there were some brooding pieces in a minor key that led her images to a darker place.

Your Brain On Psilocybin Might Be Less Depressed

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Your Brain On Psilocybin Might Be Less Depressed

With the music as background, Vincent started to experience a sequence of vivid hallucinations that took her from the deep sea to vast outer space. Listening to her describe it is like listening to anyone describe a dream — it’s a disjointed series of scenes, for which the intensity and meaning can be hard to convey.

She remembered seeing neon geometric shapes, a gold shield spelling out the name Jesus, a whole series of cartoon characters — a fish, a rabbit, a horse, a pirate ship, a castle, a crab, a superhero in a cape — and at some point she entered a crystal cave encrusted with prisms. “It was crazy how overwhelmed by the beauty I was,” she says, sometimes to the point of weeping. “Everything I was looking at was so spectacular.”

At one point she heard herself laughing in her son’s voice, in her brother’s voice, and in the voices of other family members. The cartoon characters kept appearing in the midst of all that spectacular beauty, especially the “comical crab” that emerged two more times. She saw a frightening black vault, which she thought might contain something terrifying. But remembering her guides’ advice to “just open up and walk right in,” she investigated, and found that the only thing inside it was herself.

When the experience was over, about six hours after it began, the guides sent Vincent back to the hotel with her son, who had accompanied her to Baltimore, and asked her to write down what she’d visualized and what she thought about it.

Griffiths had at first been worried about giving psychedelics to cancer patients like Vincent, fearing they might actually become even more afraid of death by taking “a look into the existential void.”

But even though some research participants did have moments of panic in which they thought they were losing their minds or were about to die, he said the guides were always able to settle them down, and never had to resort to the antipsychotic drugs they had on hand for emergencies. (The NYU guides never had to use theirs, either.)

How LSD Makes Your Brain One With The Universe

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How LSD Makes Your Brain One With The Universe

Many subjects came away feeling uplifted, Griffiths says, talking about “a sense of unity,” feeling part of “an interconnected whole.” He adds that even people who are atheists, as Vincent is, described the feeling as precious, meaningful or even sacred.

The reasons for the power and persistence of psilocybin’s impact are still “a big mystery,” according to Griffiths. “That’s what makes this research, frankly, so exciting,” he says. “There’s so much that’s unknown, and it holds the promise for really understanding the nature of human meaning-making and consciousness.”

He says he looks forward to using psilocybin in other patient populations, not just people with terminal diagnoses, to help answer larger existential questions that are “so critical to our experience as human organisms.”

Two and a half years after the psychedelic experience, Carol Vincent is still symptom-free, but she’s not as terrified of the “anvil” hanging over her, no longer waiting in dread for the cancer to show itself. “I didn’t get answers to questions like, ‘Where are you, God?’ or ‘Why did I get cancer?’ ” she says. What she got instead, she says, was the realization that all the fears and worries that “take up so much of my mental real estate” turn out to be “really insignificant” in the context of the big picture of the universe.

This insight was heightened by one small detail of her psilocybin trip, which has stayed with her all this time: that little cartoon crab that floated into her vision along with the other animated characters.

“I saw that crab three times,” Vincent says. The crab, she later realized, is the astrological sign of cancer — the disease that terrified her, and also the sign that both her son and her mother were born under. These were the three things in her life that she cared about, and worried over, most deeply, she says. “And here they were, appearing as comic relief.”

Science writer Robin Marantz Henig is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the author of nine books.

CONTINUE READING…

The Tyranny at Standing Rock: The Government’s Divide-and-Conquer Strategy Is Working


 

Image result for standing rock

 

 

By John Whitehead

What we’re witnessing at Standing Rock, where activists have gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline construction on Native American land, is just the latest incarnation of the government’s battle plan for stamping out any sparks of resistance and keeping the populace under control: battlefield tactics, military weaponry and a complete suspension of the Constitution.

Militarized police. Riot and camouflage gear. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Drones. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Concussion grenades. Arrests of journalists. Intimidation tactics. Brute force.

This is what martial law looks like, when a government disregards constitutional freedoms and imposes its will through military force.

Only this is martial law without any government body having to declare it.

This is martial law packaged as law and order and sold to the public as necessary for keeping the peace.

These overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear.

What Americans have failed to comprehend is that the police state doesn’t differentiate.

In the eyes of the government–whether that government is helmed by Barack Obama or Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton–there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, between blacks and whites and every shade in the middle, between Native Americans and a nation of immigrants (no matter how long we’ve been here), between the lower class and the middle and upper classes, between religious and non-religious Americans, between those who march in lockstep with the police state and those who oppose its tactics.

This is all part and parcel of the government’s plan for dealing with widespread domestic unrest, no matter the source.

Divide and conquer.

For too long now, the American people have allowed their personal prejudices and politics to cloud their judgment and render them incapable of seeing that the treatment being doled out by the government’s lethal enforcers has remained consistent, no matter the threat.

The government’s oppressive tactics have not changed.

The same martial law maneuvers and intimidation tactics used to put down protests and muzzle journalists two years ago in Ferguson and Baltimore are being used to flat-line protesters and journalists at Standing Rock this year.

The same infiltration and surveillance of ranch activists opposing the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Nevada over the past several years were used against nonviolent anti-war protesters more than a decade ago.

The same brutality that was in full force 20-plus years ago when the government raided the Branch Davidian religious compound near Waco, Texas–targeting residents with loud music, bright lights, bulldozers, flash-bang grenades, tear gas, tanks and gunfire, and leaving 80 individuals, including two dozen children, dead–were on full display more than 50 years ago when government agents unleashed fire hoses and police dogs on civil rights protesters, children included.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Next Page 1  |  2  |  3

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. His concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization in Charlottesville, Va. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson. His thought-provoking commentaries call people to action and address a wide range of contemporary issues from faith to politics and television to constitutional rights. He is also a frequent commentator on a variety of issues in the national media, as well as the editor of the award-winning pop culture magazine, Gadfly. Whitehead’s book A Government of Wolves will be published in June 2013. Please visit On Target to view Whitehead’s weekly video commentaries. He also blogs daily about the emerging police state at http://agovernmentofwolves.com/

Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly


Link to video: https://youtu.be/rye7J6jnVeE
Produced By Navdanya International and FINCA
Direction, footage and editing by FINCA and ESC

The Monsanto Tribunal and the People’s Assembly were held in The Hague from 14th to 16th October 2016.
Over the last century giant agribusiness interests which came out of the war industry have poisoned life, our ecosystems, destroyed our biodiversity and pushed farmers off the land. As these corporations become bigger, they gain more power, more immunity and more rights.

Using free trade neoliberal policies and deregulation of commerce to enlarge their empires, these corporations are attacking life on earth and biodiversity. They have broadened their control over our seed, our food and freedom, robbing us of our human rights and democracy. They have established monopolies and threatened farmers’ rights to seed and people’s rights to affordable medicine through patents and IPRs.
Across the world people are rising, democratic governments are responding to stop this ecocide and genocide. These giants have responded by attacking laws and policies of governments that take action in response to people’s movements and call to protect the earth and people’s rights.

The process of holding the Poison Cartel accountable for its crimes is the culmination of 30 years of scientific, legal, social, and political work by movements, concerned citizens and scientists. Since the ground for the tribunal was laid by the movement, a parallel People’s Assembly was created to allow for movements from across the world to gather together, sharing problems, political strategies and visions of the future for a sustainable agriculture. This is the coalition that has got together to organize the Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly.

The Tribunal aimed to synthesize the existing crimes and violations for which Monsanto is in courts across the world— in India, Europe, US, Mexico, Argentina, as well as to expand the scope of criminal activity to include the crime of ecocide, the violation of the rights of nature. The judges will issue an advisory opinion, they will verify whether Monsanto’s activities are in compliance with the laws as they exist in the UN, along with other legal instruments. It is an educational tribunal, that can influence international human rights law.

The People’s Assembly was a gathering of movements, seed savers, seed defenders, farmers and growers and civilians to address the crimes against nature and against humanity perpetrated by chemical and biotechnology corporations. The People’s Assembly included different aspects of the movements defending the corporate assault as well as positive people’s stories of the movements building the alternative.
After listening to witnesses and lawyers from the Tribunal, as well as to organizations, farmers, activists and common citizens from the People’s Assembly, the evidence is clear: “The poison cartel, which includes toxic makers such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, and the like, are together destroying both our bread and our freedom. They are corrupting governments, violating nations’ sovereignty and imposing on our planet a model of greed, poison and corruption”. Monsanto and the Poison Cartel are guilty of crimes against our planet and against humanity. This is the verdict from the People’s Assembly stated in the final press release.
Dr Vandana Shiva: “If you consider the attack on nature and the rights of nature that’s what’s called ecocide. If you take attacks on human beings in large numbers knowing that you chemicals will cause disease, knowing that your patents and royalties collection will create debt and farmers will commit suicide, in the UN definition that is called genocide.”

Andre Leu: “The reason why we have a People’s Assembly as well as the Tribunal is because while the Tribunal is a proper legally constituted trial, the real punishment is the one of public opinion.”

Nnimmo Bassey: “Coming to the People’s Assembly and the Monsanto tribunal is very important for me because we are going to build a platform for actually getting people to stand for their own rights and to fight against industrial toxic agriculture based on genetically engineered crops and toxic chemicals.”

Marie-Monique Robin: “This is really like a nightmare to be quite frank. When you see how toxic these products are and what Monsanto did to maintain its products on the market, it is really very difficult to believe. Along with the total lack of sense of responsibility and the impunity that is going on.”

Hans Herren: “Good food, quality food for the long term it’s absolutely not in the picture of these corporations. It is actually a scandal and it’s very tragic that short term profit – and the example is in all these mergers – trumps over long term sustainability and survival for humanity. We know for sure that we can produce enough quality and diverse food to nourish a populations of 10 billion with sustainable agriculture practices”

Ronnie Cummins: “Now we’ve got these massive corporations like Monsanto who are trying to control everything, including our food, our health and if we work together internationally, we can make it, we can be much more powerful.”


www.peoplesassembly.net
www.monsanto-tribunal.org
www.seedfreedom.info

 

SOURCE

U.S. veterans build barracks for pipeline protesters in cold


By Ernest Scheyder and Terray Sylvester | CANNON BALL, N.D.

U.S. military veterans were building barracks on Friday at a protest camp in North Dakota to support thousands of activists who have squared off against authorities in frigid conditions to oppose a multibillion-dollar pipeline project near a Native American reservation.

Veterans volunteering to be human shields have been arriving at the Oceti Sakowin camp near the small town of Cannon Ball, where they will work with protesters who have spent months demonstrating against plans to route the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, organizers said.

The Native Americans and protesters say the $3.8 billion pipeline threatens water resources and sacred sites.

Some of the more than 2,100 veterans who signed up on the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock group’s Facebook page are at the camp, with hundreds more expected during the weekend. Tribal leaders asked the veterans, who aim to form a wall in front of police to protect the protesters, to avoid confrontation with authorities and not get arrested.

Wesley Clark Jr, a writer whose father is retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, met with law enforcement on Friday to tell them that potentially 3,500 veterans would join the protest and the demonstrations would be carried out peacefully, protest leaders said.

The plan is for veterans to gather in Eagle Butte, a few hours away, and then travel by bus to the main protest camp, organizers said, adding that a big procession is planned for Monday.

Protesters began setting up tents, tepees and other structures in April, and the numbers swelled in August at the main camp.

Joshua Tree, 42, from Los Angeles, who has been visiting the camp for weeks at a time since September, said he felt pulled to the protest.

“Destiny called me here,” he said at the main camp. “We’re committed.”

“GO HOME”

The protesters’ voices have also been heard by companies linked to the pipeline, including banks that protesters have targeted for their financing of the pipeline.

Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) said in a Thursday letter it would meet with Standing Rock elders before Jan. 1 “to discuss their concerns related to Wells Fargo’s investment” in the project.

There have been violent confrontations near the route of the pipeline with state and local law enforcement, who used tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses on the protesters, even in freezing weather.

The number of protesters in recent weeks has topped 1,000. State officials on Monday ordered them to leave the snowy camp, which is on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, citing harsh weather, but on Wednesday they said they would not enforce the order.

“There is an element there of people protesting who are frightening,” North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said on Thursday. “It’s time for them to go home.”

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier spoke by phone on Friday with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, but assistance for law enforcement and a timeline for a resolution to the situation were not offered, the sheriff’s office said.

Lynch said in a statement that the U.S. Department of Justice has been in communication with all sides in an effort to reduce tensions and foster dialogue. She said senior department officials will be deployed to the region as needed.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday he supported the completion of the pipeline, and his transition team said he supported peaceful protests.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said on Wednesday it was “probably not feasible” to reroute the pipeline, but he would try to rebuild a relationship with Standing Rock Sioux leaders.

 

On Friday, Morton County Commission Chairman Cody Schulz said his office has been working in conjunction with the governor’s office to meet with tribal leaders soon.

FREEZING COLD

Since the start of demonstrations, 564 people have been arrested, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said.

State officials never contemplated forcibly removing protesters, and Dalrymple said his evacuation order stemmed mainly from concerns about dangerously cold temperatures.

The temperature in Cannon Ball is expected to fall to 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius) by the middle of next week, according to Weather.com forecasts.

The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline project, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP.N), is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

Protesters, who refer to themselves as “water protectors,” have been gearing up for the winter while they await the Army Corps decision on whether to allow Energy Transfer to tunnel under the river. The Army Corps has twice delayed that decision.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago and David Gaffen in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler)

CONTINUE READING….

The Stakes Are High As DEA Reconsiders Waging War On The Herb Kratom


11/30/2016 04:03 am ET

Those who use and study the plant say an outright ban could do serious harm.

Seven weeks after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officially withdrew its plan to ban kratom, the federal government is once again set to decide the fate of the herb and the people who rely on it for pain relief and other treatment.

The DEA had initially planned to use its emergency scheduling power to push through the ban without input from the public, despite concerns from lawmakers and scientists ― as well as kratom users ― that the move would do more harm than good. In October, however, the DEA opened a public comment period allowing individuals to weigh in on the agency’s decision to place mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, two active compounds in kratom, in Schedule I. Substances in this category include heroin and LSD and are considered to have no known medical benefit and a high potential for abuse.

With the comment period set to close on Thursday, the DEA will now have to take into account the nearly 9,000 submissions from people who wanted to voice their opinions about this proposed expansion of the war on drugs.

But kratom isn’t in the clear yet. The DEA is currently awaiting the results of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration analysis on the potential harms and health benefits of the herb, which will determine if kratom truly poses an “imminent hazard to the public safety,” as the agency initially claimed in August.

The DEA doesn’t know when it will get the results of the FDA’s review, Russell Baer, a spokesperson for the agency, told The Huffington Post.

“We’ve asked the FDA to expedite their analysis, but they’ve not given us any indication as to when that may be done, other than as soon as practical,” said Baer. “They’re involved in an exhaustive scientific review and evaluation, so these things do take time.”

Although Baer said he expects the DEA to wait for the FDA’s analysis before deciding on an appropriate schedule for kratom ― or whether it should be scheduled at all ― he noted that the agency could still proceed with emergency scheduling even in the absence of more concrete scientific evidence.

The DEA’s next steps will have huge implications for people like Joshua Levy. In the video above, Levy explains that he turned to kratom after struggling with dependence on the opioid painkillers he’d been prescribed following a hit-and-run accident. Like many kratom users, he says the herb gave him back the life that had been taken from him by addiction and other side-effects of narcotic painkillers.

“Since I started taking kratom, since I had gotten off of the pain pills, my life has basically opened up dramatically,” Levy told HuffPost. “I got a new job. I’m building a friendship up with my sister that I haven’t had in a long time. I’m not lazy anymore. I don’t want to isolate myself. I want to go out, I want to be out of the house.”

The kratom community is full of success stories like Levy’s. But together, they form only anecdotal evidence of the herb’s benefits, which is not enough to support a more official confirmation of its medicinal value.

Experts like Andrew Kruegel, an associate research scientist at Columbia University, hope the DEA will allow kratom to remain legal so they can keep working to unlock the herb’s potential.

Kruegel’s studies have shown that kratom can be used to alleviate mild pain, and that the plant’s negative side effects are relatively minor.

“As a scientist, I try to be as objective as possible and not overstate the promise of kratom,” said Kruegel. “We just don’t know that much about the plant yet.”

But Kruegel also has bigger hopes for kratom, which he believes can be used to aid in the development of safer alternatives to the prescription opioids that claimed more than 18,000 lives in the U.S. in 2014 due to overdose.

“Of course, if it’s in Schedule I, historically that greatly limits the ability to do research on it,” he said.

CONTINUE READING…

An effort to get ecstasy FDA-approved is entering a key final test


Ecstasy tablets

After veteran Tony Macie came back from Iraq in 2007, he learned he had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Macie went to the VA “on and off” and tried the standard therapy.

“And then I kind of just fell off the radar, secluded, and did my own thing and got really dependent on a lot of the meds,” Macie explains in a video by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

The retired sergeant then became part of a clinical trial organized by MAPS that was testing an unusual substance in an attempt to heal people who hadn’t responded to traditional therapies for PTSD.

That substance, MDMA, commonly referred to as “Molly,” is the pure form of something commonly thought of as an illegal party drug — ecstasy. (Most nonresearch substances that are sold as ecstasy or Molly are not actually pure MDMA and can be significantly more dangerous.) The trial pairs MDMA with psychotherapy.

“One of the first things I said when it kicked in was, ‘This is what I’ve been looking for,'” Macie says in the video. “I reconnected with myself and did a lot of internal work, and afterwards it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

The trial Macie was involved in and other Phase 2 clinical studies conducted by MAPS have been so effective that the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday agreed to allow large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials — the third and final in the three sets of human trials required before the FDA will consider a new drug for approval — to go forward, according to a report in The New York Times.

If those trials continue to show that MDMA effectively treats PTSD, ecstasy could enter clinical use as soon as 2021, fitting the timeline that MAPS has been working toward for some time now.

And so far, MDMA has consistently been very effective.

One of the early studies conducted by MAPS showed that 83% of the study participants no longer showed signs of PTSD two months after treatment, and long-term follow-ups conducted an average of four years later showed that most of those benefits stuck. That was a proof-of-concept study, with just 20 participants, all of whom had psychotherapy as well. (Twelve were given MDMA, and eight were given a placebo; 25% of those on the placebo improved, too.)

Though small and preliminary, the results were encouraging enough to help lead to Phase 2 clinical trials, which MAPS announced were coming to an end last March. These trials consisted of at least eight studies that Brad Burge, the director of communications for MAPS, recently told Inverse treated 136 people using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

Those trials dealt with patients who were struggling with PTSD from a variety of sources. They included military veterans, people who had been sexually assaulted, firefighters, and police officers, all who had not responded to traditional treatments.

The data released from those studies so far is very promising, with a large percentage of patients not showing any signs of PTSD more than a year after completing the therapy.

“We can sometimes see this kind of remarkable improvement in traditional psychotherapy, but it can take years, if it happens at all,” Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist involved in the research, told The Times.

The final tests will involve hundreds of people and must be conducted before the FDA decides to approve a new medication. MAPS has applied for “breakthrough” therapy status, which could speed up the approval process.

“Phase 3 starts around 2017, and it will take four to five years to finish,” Burge has previously said. “So that will put it at early 2021 for FDA approval.”

MAPS is mostly raising money itself to fund what it describes as a roughly $20 million plan to complete these trials, which are largely not of interest to pharmaceutical companies since the patent on MDMA has expired. That will mean significant fundraising is required.

Last year the organization reported $9.1 million in assets, more than $5 million of which was a bequest from a longtime board member that has been earmarked specifically for those Phase 3 trials. In fiscal-year 2015, MAPS raised a combined $2.99 million from 2,500 donors. It said in its most recent annual report that “substantially increasing our donor base” would be necessary to move forward with Phase 3 trials.

It’s only after those trials wrap up that we’ll know for sure whether using MDMA to treat PTSD is safe and effective. MAPS calls making that happen its “top priority.”

The group is also conducting research testing the efficacy of MDMA-assisted therapy to treat social anxiety in autistic adults and to treat anxiety associated with life-threatening illnesses like cancer.

“It’s a really interesting and a very powerful new approach,” Thomas Insel, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s not just taking MDMA. It’s taking it in the context of a treatment that involves improved insight and increased skills and using this in the broader context of psychotherapy.”

As Macie says in the MAPS video, “this tool, it may not be the end all, but it [could] be a tool that can help a lot of people drastically.”

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