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Charges against a Lakota Mount Rushmore protester have been withdrawn, according to the protester.

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Charges against a Lakota Mount Rushmore protester have been withdrawn, according to the protester.
Charges against a Lakota Mount Rushmore protester have been withdrawn, according to the protester.

Charges against a Lakota Mount Rushmore protester have been withdrawn, according to the protester.

 

A Lakota protester who was detained while leading a protest before former President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore last year said he has reached an agreement with prosecutors to have the charges against him dropped.

Nick Tilsen, the founder of the NDN Collective, an Indigenous advocacy group, told The Associated Press that he would engage in a jail rehabilitation program in return for the dismissal of all charges against him except one. He hailed the agreement as a win for Indigenous activists who have been campaigning for the return of public lands under tribal jurisdiction.

Tilsen declared, “It’s a win for the revolution.” “Any attempt to prosecute the movement’s founders and leaders is a ploy to disrupt the movement.”

Once he completes the program, the final penalty, simple assault on a law enforcement officer, will be dismissed, he said, adding that charges against other protestors will be dropped as well.

The State’s Attorney’s office in Pennington County did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation that the charges had been dismissed.

Tilsen had helped organize a rally near Mount Rushmore on July 3 to demand that the Black Hills, which had been taken from the Lakota despite treaties with the US, be returned to their jurisdiction. The region is sacred to the Lakota people and is known as Paha Sapa, which means “the heart of all that is.”

After using vans to create a blockade on a road leading to Mount Rushmore, law enforcement officers, including the South Dakota National Guard, confronted the demonstrators. As police approached the blockade, demonstrators fought back, and Tilsen grabbed a shield from one of the officers, according to the Rapid City Journal.

According to the Rapid City Journal, Tilsen was not charged with physically attacking police, but rather with using “physical menace or credible threat” to place them “in fear of immediate bodily harm.”

Prosecutors’ decision to dismiss most charges, according to Tilsen, demonstrated the success of a campaign coordinated by NDN Collective. According to Tilsen, they collected over 20,000 signatures on an online petition and submitted hundreds of letters and phone calls to the prosecutor’s office.

Tilsen said, “It’s wonderful that we’re having a social and racial reckoning in this country.” “It’s also about land for Indigenous people and the Lakota since Mount Rushmore is constructed on stolen land and carved by a KKK member.”

The monument was built in the 1920s as a tourist attraction for the new holiday craze known as the road trip. Doane Robinson, a South Dakota historian, persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to abandon his plans for the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial in Georgia, which was to honor Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson.

According to historians, Borglum was a member of the Ku Klux Klan when raising funds for the Confederate monument.

Tilsen’s calls for the closure of Mount Rushmore have enraged Gov. Kristi Noem and other top Republicans in the state. She has vociferously defended the memorial, which is so deeply ingrained in the state’s culture that it appears on almost all license plates.

This month, the governor told Fox News, “Those four men carved into Mount Rushmore are profoundly significant to our heritage.” “Earlier this year, there was a campaign to demolish them. They had to be safeguarded.”

The National Park Service, on the other hand, has announced that it would not allow the state to stage another fireworks show on July 4 this year, citing both safety concerns and local opposition. Noem, on the other hand, has stated that she will continue to fight for the Independence Day show.

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Parade of planets visible in the night sky this week

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Parade of planets visible in the night sky this week

ST. LOUIS – There will be a parade of planets this month. December 6-10 you will be able to see three planets and then on December 12 you will be able to see 5. There will be a crescent moon earlier in the month which will provide less moonlight, making it easier to see the planets.

The Missouri Department of Conservation shared this timeline for planet viewing:

  • On December 6th, the crescent moon will appear near Venus within 3 degrees in the early evening sky. Venus is the brightest planet.
  • On December 7th, the crescent moon and Saturn are about 5 degrees apart. Saturn is a fainter planet with a gold color. If conditions are right, you can see its rings with a telescope during twilight, and may even see its largest moon, Titan,
  • On December 8th, the moon approaches close to Jupiter, our largest planet. With clear conditions and a telescope, you may be able to see its four largest moons.
  • On December 10th, look for the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn forming a nice row in the sky.
Courtesy: MDC

The St. Louis Astronomy Facebook page says the best time to observe 5 planets together will be after sunset on December 12. Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and the moon will be visible to the naked eye. You will need a pair of binoculars or a small telescope to see Neptune, Uranus, Ceres (a dwarf planet), and Pallas (a large asteroid).

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Miner’s Candle fire burning near Idaho Springs is 100% contained

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Miner’s Candle wildfire forces evacuations near Idaho Springs

The Miner’s Candle fire burning near Idaho Springs is 100% contained, fire officials said Tuesday.

The wildfire started Sunday as a structure fire and it forced residents of about two dozen homes to evacuate. The fire, which destroyed two homes, a cabin and a small number of outbuildings, burned about 15 acres, according to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

Strong winds on Sunday and extremely dry weather fueled the fire. There were no reports of injuries or fatalities.

 

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This “bizarre” creature is a massive sunfish spotted near Laguna Beach

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This “bizarre” creature is a massive sunfish spotted near Laguna Beach

A pair of paddlers encountered a massive sunfish just a few hundred yards off Laguna Beach’s shoreline that could rival in size a Guinness World Record set in 1996.

Rich German and friend Matt Wheaton, both of Laguna Beach, set out on Thursday, Dec. 2, to enjoy the clear waters off the coast. They came across a massive mola mola, also known as sunfish, floating on the ocean’s surface.

“We were just paddling and all of a sudden we were like ‘Oh my god.’ That thing was massive,” said German, author of the book “Blue Laguna” and founder of the ocean conservation nonprofit Project O.  “Most of my encounters are with dolphins and whales, but you never know what you’re going to see.”

German, comparing to Wheaton’s 14-foot stand-up paddleboard, guessed the fish was close to 9 feet in length.

Once home, he found a Guinness World Record set in 1996 when a fisherman caught an 8-foot-11 mola mola that weighed 5,070 pounds off the coast of Japan. While that record was for the heaviest fish, which would be tough to compare with the sunfish the pair encountered off Laguna Beach, German said he thinks theirs could be longer in length and is hoping to consult with marine scientists to see if it could be measured based on the size of the board.

Julianne Steers, founding board member of the Beach Ecology Coalition, said the sunfish was larger than most seen here – she’s seen fish about 6- to 7-feet long. But whether it was a record-holder would be tough to tell.

“The only true way to know is if it was out and weighed and officially measured,” she said, noting that there’s some records up in Northern California of sunfish reaching 13-foot long. “But it does look much larger than what we typically see out here.”

She called the mola mola a “lumbering” fish that likes to lazily float on the ocean’s surface to bask in the sun, hence their nickname, eating jellyfish and salps.

The species looks like a mad scientist put them together with spare parts, Steers said. “It’s such an oddball kind of assembly of parts.”

The mola mola is also the largest fish in the world that has a skeleton structure, she said.

Scientists once thought the mola mola drifted with ocean currents, but they’ve been tracked in Southern California swimming 16 miles a day at a top speed of 2 mph, the Monterey Bay Aquarium says on its website.

“With its tank-like body, the mola was clearly not built for life in the fast lane. But it holds its own against faster and flashier fish and is able to live in almost all of the world’s oceans,” the aquarium says. “It’s known to spend time near the surface, but tagging shows that the mola is also a prolific diver and migrates long distances at depth.”

German said he has seen many mola molas through the years, but typically further offshore and about half the size of the one encountered just south of Main Beach.

“The first time I saw one, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a mutilated shark,” he said, noting the fish’s fin often stands up above the surface. “They are so bizarre looking. They just lay there.”

Even if it’s not an official record-setter, German is still soaking in the interesting encounter.

“I just know it was really big,” he said. “It was a unique and very cool thing to experience, and another example of why we need to protect the ocean and the amazing life that calls it home.”

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