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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 9th December 2016 > WATER PROTECTORS AND WATER CANNONS


Behind the front lines of the long and occasionally violent standoff in North Dakota over a massive pipeline

ON THE night of November 20, in 25-degree weather, police shot water cannons into a crowd of activists huddled on a bridge on Highway 1806 in North Dakota. The activists, who call themselves “water protectors,” object to Energy Transfer Partners’s (ETP) plans to drill a segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under the Missouri River. The controversy has been burbling since the spring; the confrontation that night began when some activists attempted to remove a barricade of burned-out vehicles that has for months been blocking a road that leads to the construction site.

Some news reports claimed that activists had set fires and that the police were simply trying to extinguish them. But my social media feed, full of updates from fursthand observers, told a different story: It said police in riot gear were firing water cannons, along with tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades, to keep activists from crossing the bridge. These reports were later confi rmed by The Washington Post. A few people in the crowd might have been burning sage, which has ceremonial value to the Sioux and is thought to promote healing. Other accounts indicated that some protectors, trapped on the bridge by police vehicles, started small fires to protect their drenched companions from hypothermia. Police reportedly extinguished those fires as well.

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THE ROBOT ECONOMY Next time you stop for gas at a self-serve pump, say hello to the robot in front of you. Its life story can tell you a lot about the robot economy roaring toward us like an EF5 tornado on the prairie. Yeah, your automated gas pump killed a lot of jobs over the years, but its biography might give you hope that the coming wave of automation driven by artificial intelligence (AI) will turn out better for almost all of us than a lot of people seem to think.