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Susan Sarandon joins Standing Rock Sioux protest against North Dakota pipeline

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Actors Susan Sarandon, Riley Keough and Shailene Woodley joined members of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe outside a courthouse in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to protest against construction of a pipeline they say would pollute water and desecrate sacred land.

About 100 members of the Native American group demonstrated outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia while others filled a courtroom inside where a legal battle unfolded over the $3.7 billion project.

The 1,100 mile (1770.28 km) pipeline, being built by a group of firms led by Energy Transfer Partners, would be the first to bring Bakken shale from North Dakota directly to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The group behind the pipeline, called Dakota Access, had planned to start operations in the fourth quarter of this year, but construction has been dogged since April by protests in North Dakota, and some work has been halted.

A Dakota Access spokeswoman said earlier this week that the company has “temporarily deferred grading activities” across a short section of the right-of-way, while “law enforcement works to contain the unlawful protests.”

Tribal leaders say it is they that need the protection of the law.

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“In our land, it was never protected, it was just taken and they strategically placed the dams so that tribal lands would get flooded,” said David Archambault II, chairman of the tribe, speaking outside the courtroom in Washington on Wednesday.

Dakota Access filed a restraining order against Archambault and other members of the tribe in federal court in North Dakota earlier this month.

In turn, the tribe has sought a preliminary injunction in Washington to halt pipeline construction, accusing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating historic preservation and environmental laws by approving the pipeline, which would cross just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

The Army Corps of Engineers declined comment on Wednesday.

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The tribe says the pipeline would leave it vulnerable to contamination from oil spills and would damage historic and culturally significant sites in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act.

Supporters of the pipeline have said in court filings that it would provide a safer and more cost-effective way to transport Bakken shale to the U.S. Gulf than by road or rail.

On Wednesday, District Court Judge James Boasberg held a hearing on the tribe’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and said he would announce his decision by Sept. 9. He set a status hearing for Sept. 14.

In the meantime, work on the pipeline will go no further, as Dakota Access waits for permissions to cross certain federal lands, which must be authorized by the Army Corps of Engineers and approved by Congress.

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Outside the court, Sarandon and other celebrities showed support for the tribe.

“I’m here as a mother and a grandmother to thank the people of the Standing Rock community for bringing our attention to this horrible thing that is happening to their land, which in turn will endanger all of us … because all of our waters are connected,” said Sarandon, the Oscar-winning actress known for social and political activism.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has 15,000 members throughout the United States with 6,000 to 8,000 living on tribal lands in North Dakota.

Other participants in Dakota Access include Sunoco Logistics Partners and Phillips 66. Earlier this month, Enbridge Inc and Marathon Petroleum Corp announced it would take a minority stake in the pipeline.

(Reporting by Ruthy Munoz; Additional reporting by Catherine Ngai; Editing by Bill Rigby)

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Informal Trump legal advisor urges potential witnesses to ‘spit in the face’ of House committee chairs

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Joseph E diGenova

On Monday, Politico reported that House Democrats, enraged at the White House's blanket use of executive privilege to stonewall all attempts to call witnesses in the investigation of possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, are weighing the idea of calling Trump associates who have never worked in the White House, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Trump campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski.

But according to Joseph DiGenova, a former federal prosecutor and Fox News commentator who represented two witnesses in former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe and gives Trump informal legal advice, these witnesses should just "spit in the face" of investigators.

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Donald Trump Jr torn to shreds for suggesting his dad has been treated worse than slaves and Native Americans

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Donald Trump Jr. thinks his father has been treated worse than any human in American history -- including slaves, Native Americans and presidents who have been assassinated while in office.

After President Donald Trump told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that "there's never been a time in the history of our country where somebody was so mistreated as I have been," Trump Jr. jumped on Twitter to defend his father and simply said that "he's right."

He’s right. https://t.co/ZRlenHkXrq

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The Vatican’s latest official document is an insult to LGBTQ people — and to history

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During the fourth-century, Sergius and Bacchus, two inseparable Syrian soldiers in the Roman emperor Galerius’ army, were outed as secret Christians when they refused to pay homage to the god Jupiter. The incensed emperor ordered them beaten, chained, and then, as their fourth-century hagiographer explained, paraded through the barracks with “all other military garb removed… and women’s clothing placed on them.” Both men were sent to trial; Bacchus refused to abjure his faith in Christ and was beaten to death by his fellow Roman soldiers as punishment. The night before Sergius was to be similarly asked to recant his Christianity, the spirit of Bacchus appeared before his partner. With his “face as radiant as an angel’s, wearing an officer’s uniform,” Bacchus asked, “Why do you grieve and mourn, brother? If I have been taken from you in body, I am still with you in the bond of union.”

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