Biden approves controversial Alaska drilling project – National & International News – TUE 14Mar2023


Biden approves controversial Alaska drilling project.

Autopsy: Atlanta “Cop City” activist had hands raised when shot.

Frustrated migrants rush border over “asylum” rumor.



Biden approves controversial Alaska drilling project

President Biden has approved a $8 billion Conoco-Philips oil drilling project in Alaska’s North Slope, the state’s northernmost region. Some in Alaska have welcomed approval for what’s known as the Willow project, hoping the project will bring jobs and growth to the region.  The Alaska Native groups who live in the North Slope territory have condemned the move. These groups depend on the local environment for their survival and fear pollution from potential spills. They also fear drilling activity at three sites will have a disruptive effect on local wildlife.

The White House has defended the approval, saying that Conoco-Philips had preexisting oil drilling rights in the region dating back to 1999. The administration feared a court order would eventually allow the oil giant to drill at the five sites they had prior permits for. Under the White House deal, Conoco-Philips will only drill at three sites. The deal also includes a moratorium on any new drilling on US government-held lands in the Arctic.

Environmental activists and climate scientists consider approval for the Willow project a betrayal of the climate goals Biden campaigned on. The Willow project will produce about 576 million barrels of oil over 30 years, up to 180,000 barrels a day at peak production. This means the project will carry on well beyond the point when climate scientists say we must significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change. Scientists predict that by 2030, the Willow project will produce twice the amount of carbon emissions that all the renewable energy projects on public lands would cut. 

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Autopsy: Atlanta “Cop City” activist had hands raised when shot

In January, activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (aka “Tortuguita”) was gunned down in a police raid of encampment on the future site of Atlanta’s “Cop City”. At least four law enforcement agencies were involved in the raid, and yet the Georgia Bureau of Investigation claims none of the law enforcement personnel were wearing bodycams at the time of the incident.

Law enforcement claim that Tortuguita fired on and wounded one of the officers before being gunned down. However, bodycam footage from just after the incident (which miraculously does exist) suggests that other law enforcement personnel at the scene believed the officer was wounded by friendly fire, or even by his own gun. GBI claims that ballistic evidence proves the bullet that wounded the officer was fired from a gun Tortuguita had legally purchased in 2020, but that analysis has not been shared publicly.

An autopsy commissioned by Tortuguita’s family disputes GBI’s account of the shooting. The Terán family’s lawyers said that, “both Manuel’s left and right hands show exit wounds in both palms. The autopsy further reveals that Manuel was most probably in a seated position, cross-legged when killed”. Tortuguita was shot at least a dozen times, probably by multiple shooters. 

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Frustrated migrants rush border over “asylum” rumor

This weekend hundreds of migrants, most from Venezuela, attempted to charge en masse through the US border crossing from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, TX. The crowd managed to break through Mexican security, but they were stopped at the US side by riot gear-clad Border Patrol agents, concrete barriers and barbed wire.

Some migrants told reporters that they’d heard a rumor that the US would be allowing migrants into the country that day to seek asylum because of a “day of the migrant” celebration. International Migrants Day is on Dec. 18, so it’s not clear what celebration they were referring to. Misinformation of this kind can spread rapidly in the encampments where migrants wait for months for their chance to cross over.

Others in the crowd were expressing frustration with a recently-launched app meant to allow asylum seekers to make appointments ahead of their arrival at the border. The app’s purpose is to streamline the asylum process. However, bugs and other roll-out issues have only succeeded in creating an additional layer of frustration for migrants hoping to enter the country legally.

Users cited a lack of appointments at various crossing points as well as a glitchy geolocation feature. Even more disheartening for some, users with darker skin frequently have photos required by the app rejected. Facial recognition software is often unreliable with darker-complected people. The Department of Homeland Security says its aware of these issues and recent update to the app should improve its performance.

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