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05 Dec

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Judge Mark Goldsmith has rejected an effort by state officials to delay the hand-counting of about 4.8m ballots

Election lawyers who appeared on behalf of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign address the Michigan Board of State Canvassers regarding the recount.Nagy/Lansing State Journal via AP)

Election lawyers who appeared on behalf of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign address the Michigan Board of State Canvassers regarding the recount.Nagy/Lansing State Journal via AP) Photograph: Julia Nagy/AP

Michigan must begin its presidential recount at noon on Monday, a federal judge ruled in a late-night order that could make it more likely the state will complete the count ahead of a 13 December deadline.

In his ruling on Sunday night, judge Mark Goldsmith rejected an effort by state officials to delay the hand-counting of about 4.8m ballots.

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein argued that a law is unconstitutional that requires a break of at least two business days after the Board of Canvassers’ final action on a recount request. Goldsmith found that Stein had “shown the likelihood of irreparable harm” if the count was delayed even by two days and rejected the state’s arguments about the cost to taxpayers.

Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes, or two-tenths of a percentage point, in Michigan. Stein received about 1% of the vote.

Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Trump campaign and super PACs have filed separate lawsuits asking state courts to prevent the recount, arguing that Stein, as the fourth-place finisher, is not “aggrieved” because she has no chance of winning in a recount.

The Green Party also wants recounts in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Stein has argued, without evidence, that irregularities in the votes in all three states suggest that there could have been tampering with the vote, perhaps through a well-coordinated, highly complex cyberattack.

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Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, handing a major win to environmental activists

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The McGlynn

This really was an against the odds victory and its was achieved by considerable will and courage over months and in the face of bitter police repression.
Standing Rock, the abuses suffered by Native Americans, police repression and violence, the amorality of major finance, and above all climate change all found expression in one place and one broad movement of people. Began by Native Americans and supported by Veterans and others.  Our appreciation to all.
This is exactly what will have to happen in the coming years, hopefully leading to the sort of structural changes that will be required to save our country and world.

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Protesters at Standing Rock respond to news that the Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river. Environmental activists gathered to celebrate their win after a months long campaign to block the pipeline

The Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, the army announced on Sunday, handing a major victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after a months-long campaign against the pipeline.

Assistant secretary for civil works Jo-Ellen Darcy announced the decision on Sunday, with the army saying it was based on “a need to explore alternate routes” for the crossing.

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said in a statement. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

The army corps will undertake an environmental impact statement and look for alternative routes, the tribe said in its own announcement.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama administration for this historic decision,” tribal chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement.

While the news is a victory, Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the tribe, cautioned that the decision could be appealed.

“They [Energy Transfer Partners] can sue, and Trump can try to overturn,” Hasselman said. “But overturning it would be subject to close scrutiny by a reviewing court, and we will be watching the new administration closely.”

“We hope that Kelcey Warren, Governor [Jack] Dalrymple, and the incoming Trump administration respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point,” Archambault said.

The announcement came just one day before the corps’ deadline for thousands of Native American and environmental activists – who call themselves water protectors – to leave the sprawling encampment on the banks of the river. For months, they have protested over their fears that the pipeline would contaminate their water source and destroy sacred sites, and over the weekend hundreds of military veterans arrived at the camps in a show of support for the movement.

As word spread in the main camp, protesters broke out in jubilant celebrations, and with nightfall a few fireworks burst above the tents and campfires.

“I just cried when I heard the news,” said Sylvia Picotte, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who travelled to Standing Rock every weekend since August. “We have been stepped on for so long, all I could do was hope.”

Many gathered around the central fire to sing and cheer, while others marched through camp carrying mirrored shields above their head.

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Opinion

The defeat of an energy company by indigenous activists shows what nonviolent unity can accomplish. There are lessons here as we enter a challenging new age

Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016.

Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The news that the US federal government has refused to issue the permit needed to run a pipeline under the Missouri river means many things – including that indigenous activists have won a smashing victory, one that shows what nonviolent unity can accomplish.

From the start, this has been an against-the-odds battle. Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, is as wired as they come: its line of credit links it to virtually every bank you’ve ever heard of. And operating under a “fast-track” permit process, it had managed to win most of its approvals and lay most of its pipe before opponents managed to mount an effective resistance.

But that opposition finally did arise, and it centered on the last place the pipeline would have to cross: the confluence of the Missouri and the Cannonball rivers. It wasn’t standard-issue environmental lobbying, nor standard-issue protest, though there was certainly some of both (lawyers took the company to court, activists shut down bank branches). At its heart, however, in the great camp that grew up along the rivers, this was a largely spiritual resistance. David Archambault, the head of the Standing Rock Sioux who demonstrated great character and dexterity for months, kept insisting that the camp was a place of prayer, and you couldn’t wander its paths without running into drum circles and sacred fires.

As a result, overlapping epochs of sad American history were on display. When native American protesters sat down in front of bulldozers to try and protect ancestral graves, they were met with attack dogs – the pictures looked like Birmingham, Alabama, circa 1963. But it went back further than that: the encampment, with its teepees and woodsmoke hovering in the valley, looked like something out of an 1840s painting. With the exception that this was not just one tribe: this was pretty much all of native North America. The flags of more than 200 Indian nations lined the rough dirt entrance road. Other Americans, drawn in part by a sense of shame at this part of our heritage, flooded in to help – when the announcement came today, there were thousands of military veterans on hand.

Indigenous organizers are some of the finest organizers around the globe – they’ve been key to everything from the Keystone fight to battling plans for the world’s largest coal mine in Australia. If we manage to slow down the fossil fuel juggernaut before it boils the planet, groups like the Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth will deserve a great share of the credit. Right now, for instance, Canada’s First Nations are preparing for “Standing Rock North” along the route of two contested pipelines out of Canada’s tarsands. But in the Dakotas it’s been particularly special: they’ve managed to build not just resistance to a project, but a remarkable new and unified force that will, I think, persist. Persist, perhaps, even in the face of the new Trump administration.

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Pro-European Alexander Van der Bellen increases his lead after narrow win in May election was annulled

Left-leaning Alexander Van der Bellen and his message of moderation and tolerance prevailed in Austria’s presidential election on Sunday, with preliminary results showing him with an unbeatable margin over right-wing rival Norbert Hofer. Van der Bellen said that his victory has sent “a red and white signal of hope” to the European capitals as he pledged to be a president for Austrians who had voted for him and against him

Austria has decisively rejected the possibility of the EU getting its first far-right head of state, instead electing a former leader of the Green party who said he would be an “open-minded, liberal-minded and above all a pro-European president”.

Alexander Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent, increased his lead over the far-right Freedom party candidate, Norbert Hofer, by a considerable margin from the original vote in May, which was annulled by the constitutional court due to voting irregularities.

Hofer conceded his defeat within less than half an hour of the first exit polls on Sunday, writing on Facebook: “I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen for his success and ask all Austrians to pull together and work together.” The 45-year-old, who said he was “endlessly sad” and “would have liked to look after Austria”, confirmed that he would like to run again for the presidency in six years’ time.

The Freedom party secretary, Herbert Kickl, who has acted as Hofer’s campaign manager, said: “The bottom line is it didn’t quite work out. In this case the establishment – which pitched in once again to block, to stonewall and to prevent renewal – has won.”

Speaking in front of international press at the end of the evening, a visibly emboldened Van der Bellen said the election had not just been a repeat, “but a new election after the world around us has changed” with the Brexit vote in June and Donald Trump’s win in November. Referring to the colours of the Austrian flag, he described the result as “a red-white-and-red signal of hope and change to all the capitals in Europe”.

Werner Kogler, a Green party politician, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”.

The endorsement of the retired economics professor was particularly emphatic in urban areas, with all of Vienna’s 23 districts showing up in Van der Bellen’s green than Hofer’s blue at the end of the night.

In May, Van der Bellen had won the election by only 30,863 votes and most commentators had expected a similarly close result this time around, with some predicting that a final outcome would not be determined until as late as the middle of the week.

In the end, the outcome of the almost year-long election campaign was clear within 10 minutes of the last polls closing.

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