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Police begin removing protesters from Dakota pipeline encampment

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Police in North Dakota began clearing a group of Native American and environmental protesters from an encampment near an oil pipeline construction site on Thursday in a move that could escalate tensions in a standoff that has lasted several months.

The police moved in on the protesters camped on private property near the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline about 11:15 a.m., according to a statement from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

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Police were also removing roadblocks set up by the demonstrators, but Donnell Preskey, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, said protesters had lit some blockades on fire.

Law enforcement used a sound cannon in a effort to force protesters to move, Preskey said by telephone. There had not been any arrests on Thursday and the number of protesters at the site was unknown, Preskey added.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a statement on Thursday that authorities had been forced to respond after protesters “escalated unlawful behavior” over the weekend, which he said included setting up illegal roadblocks, trespassing and establishing an encampment.

Photos from the sheriff’s department showed a line of dozens of heavily armed police standing alongside two armored vehicles.

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

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Supporters say it would be safer and more cost-effective than transporting the oil by road or rail.

But the pipeline has drawn the ire of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental activists who say it threatens the water supply and sacred tribal sites. They have been protesting for several months, and dozens have been arrested.

On Monday, Native American protesters occupied privately owned land in the path of the proposed pipeline, saying they were the land’s rightful owners under an 1851 treaty with the U.S. government.

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Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Thursday to oppose the pipeline. She has so far not taken a public position on the issue.

The Federal Aviation Administration has suspended aircraft from flying over the area affected by the protests. The restriction, issued on Wednesday, bars any aircraft other than those belonging to law enforcement from flying within a radius of 4 nautical miles of Cannon Ball, located about 50 miles (80 km) south of the state capital, Bismarck.

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(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Paul Simao and Peter Cooney) 


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace erupts over GOP attempt to question Vindman’s loyalty: ‘I’m constantly shocked by the bottomlessness’

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During a roundtable discussion on MSNBC this Tuesday, host Nicolle Wallace slammed Republicans' apparent attempts to call into question Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's patriotism during his testimony in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

"This is the smear campaign against Lt. Col. Vindman," Wallace said. "It is active, it is live, and today it spilled out in this public hearing."

"I am constantly shocked by the bottomlessness of the Republicans' cravennesses in trying to defend Donald Trump," she said later in the segment. "This is an active duty military person sitting there in his uniform talking about his story, but it does not put any brakes in the system on a line of questioning clearly intended to insinuate that he has duel loyalties."

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Trump mounts sexist attack on Pelosi during impeachment hearing: ‘I think the woman is grossly incompetent’

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President Donald Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from the White House on Tuesday.

As impeachment testimony was underway in the House, Trump told reporters in a Cabinet meeting that Pelosi is "grossly incompetent."

The president also said that Republicans are "killing it" in the impeachment hearings.

But Trump took a shot at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an expert on Ukraine who was testifying at the time.

"I don't know him. ... I never saw the man," he said. "I understand now he wears his uniform when he goes in. No, I don't know Vindman at all. What I do know is that even he said that the transcript was correct."

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‘You ran out of a book signing!’ Donald Trump Jr torn to shreds for questioning Vindman’s heroism

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Donald Trump Jr. questioned the military service of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and was sprayed with venom.

The president's eldest son posted a link to a Federalist article suggesting Vindman is not a dedicated military officer and public servant, a line of questioning which Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) also pursued during an impeachment hearing.

"Let’s Stop Pretending Every Impeachment Witness Is A Selfless Hero," Trump Jr. tweeted, quoting the piece's headline.

Let’s Stop Pretending Every Impeachment Witness Is A Selfless Hero https://t.co/f2Jq7SdxO9

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