Beyond the Bricks: Week of September 12
by Frankie James Albin | published Sep. 16th, 2016
Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline Halted by Federal Government:
Last Friday, the federal government halted the construction of the North Dakota oil pipeline in the wake of protests carried out by thousands of people.
The announcement came after multi-week protests, during which clashes between protestors, sheriffs, private security, and the contractors of the pipeline started to ramp up.
At the forefront of the protests were complaints by the Standing Rock Sioux (and other tribal nations) about the damage to their water supplies and ancestral cultural sites that would result from the pipeline. In announcing the halt, the Justice Department called for “serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”
The tribes protesting called the announcement “a game changer.”
The federal government will now invite tribes to consultations on how they can work together on decisions involving their land. They also implored the company that was going to build the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, to pause all construction for 40 miles around Lake Oahe, the main source of water for the tribe. However, pipeline construction not within 40 miles of the lake is still set to continue at this time.
Google Creates Plan to Stop Aspiring ISIS Recruits
Jigsaw, formerly Google Ideas, is a technology incubator owned by Google that has been working for about a year on a program called the Redirect Method, which aims to dissuade potential ISIS recruits from joining the group.
The program places ads on pages and search results containing keywords and phrases determined to be common to people attracted to ISIS.
The advertisements link to YouTube channels consisting of videos that help dissuade potential ISIS recruits. These videos include testimonials from former members, imams denouncing ISIS’ corruption of Islam, and videos from inside the group itself.
“The Redirect Method is at its heart a targeted advertising campaign: Let’s take these individuals who are vulnerable to ISIS’ recruitment messaging and instead show them information that refutes it,” stated Jigsaw’s head of research and development, Yasmin Green.
During a smaller-scale test from earlier this year, over 300,000 people visited these ISIS-debunking YouTube channels over a two-month time period, almost four times as successful as a normal ad campaign.
Inmates Strike Nationwide Over ‘Slave Labor’ Working Conditions
Inmates from multiple states launched a nationwide strike with the help of outside activists and organizing groups last Friday. The strikes are against what they believe are slave labor conditions consisting of the unsanitary and inhumane environment in the prisons and the labor they are forced to complete.
The strike occurred in upwards of 24 states and was tipped by organizers to be the largest prison strike in U.S. history.
The Industrial Workers of the World union released its call to action back in April, stating, “This is a call for a nation-wide prisoner work stoppage to end prison slavery. They cannot run these facilities without us.”
Inmates in federal facilities can make between 12 and 40 cents per hour in compensation for their labor, with some state facilities offering lower or even no wages. However, the strikes are not just about the low wages, it is that many prisons would not run without the forced labor of the inmates for tasks such as cleaning, cooking and maintenance. Not only that, but government and companies contract work to inmates. Tasks include answering calls for the DMV, or sewing underwear.
Prisoners also demanded an opportunity for education and rehabilitation. While inmates across the nation are protesting a myriad of issues — from being served moldy food to being confined in concrete cells reaching temperatures over 100 degrees — the labor issue is the most prevalent through the various strikes.