Thursday

First Native American astronaut in space. A 13-day Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station, a trip including three spacewalks for Herrington totaling nearly 20 hours.

Fifteen years after that life-changing journey, Herrington decided to write a children's book, Mission to Space, rather than an autobiography, in hopes of showing children — especially Native American kids (he's an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation) — that dreams can come true, no matter where you start in life.

"I played astronaut as a kid. I used to sit in a cardboard box and dream I was going to the moon," Herrington recalls. That dream is what kids connect to, he says, and why he wrote a book full of colorful images of him on the shuttle, in space and training for the journey, as well as of Chickasaws celebrating the feat.

"This is not a stereotypical Plains Indian on horseback with a war bonnet," he says. "This is a Native person who's proud of where he comes from, who's gone through a collegiate career and professional career, but still honors where he came from."

A children's book is a natural step for the astronaut, who has spent much of the past decade working on children's and tribal issues. In 2008, he rode a bike cross-country, visiting reservations and NASA Explorer schools, and telling his story of self-motivation and supportive mentors pushing him to places he could never have imagined as a kid.

On the ride, he fell in love with a woman from Lewiston, Idaho, and he moved there in 2009. His passion for working with kids drove him to get a Ph.D. in education at the University of Idaho in 2014, and he's currently working with Rosetta Stone to preserve the Chickasaw language. In fact, the last two pages of Mission to Space — which he'll sign and discuss at Auntie's on Saturday — are dedicated to translations of Chickasaw terms for English words like "astronaut," "gravity" and "spacewalk."


Herrington's excitement about his space travels comes through in the book, and even more so in conversation. Asked how he describes walking in space to us Earth-bound folks, he describes how "your mind will play tricks on you in space."


"It will flip you upside down instantaneously in your brain, because gravity is not telling you which way is down anymore," Herrington says. "Your body doesn't have that sensation of being pulled down. So if you're looking at something, your mind will say, 'That's right-side up.' But you know full well you're upside down. The first time it happens, you go, 'Whaaaaa?' It's weird."


Herrington's space career was cut short when Columbia, the Space Shuttle mission after his trip, exploded and killed seven of his friends — including Spokane's Michael Anderson — a year later in 2003, putting the program on hold. Then he was diagnosed with osteoporosis, putting him at risk of breaking his back on the trip. A short dalliance with commercial space travel took him out of NASA, and its failure ultimately led to that cross-country bike trip. But the memory of space remains as fresh now as when he exited the shuttle for his first spacewalk.


"There are times during a spacewalk when you kind of stop and go, 'Wow, you are here. Hey, there are the Bahamas, right beneath me,'" Herrington says. "And then you go, 'Well, that was cool' and you get back to work because you're not there to sightsee."

His memories of his space travels are hair-raising and enthralling, and they may still make it into an autobiography for adults. Just not yet.


"My story is not really done, and I don't want it to be just a 'space book,' because then you end up on the 'space' shelf," Herrington says. "I want it to be a story about this journey that includes this segment of my life that changed my life, but also the things that came before and after, that made me who I am. And hopefully it's a story that resonates, not just on the 'space' shelf."
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The four-year-old pit bull was surrendered to the shelter because his family were moving and couldn't take him with them.

"He immediately let out this painful whimper once he realised this was really happening," a volunteer said on Facebook.

"He is so hurt and sad and he just wants them to change their minds.

"This sweet, sensitive soul needs help fast. He looks like he's been crying with tears."

Video of him crying in the shelter went viral after being posted to the Saving Carson Shelter Dogs Facebook page, having clocked up nearly 100,000 views and 2600 shares since the start February.

"His tears are my tears. Ugh," said ninaalenabeatty on Instagram.


Usually this happy guy loves kids, other dogs and even cats, but when he was left behind at the shelter his tail stopped wagging. Not even cookies would help, with the four-year-old refusing to take a treat.

But there is some good news. This little guy has been adopted.
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Wednesday

A controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) project planned for Canada's west coast has been cancelled. Pacific NorthWest LNG announced the project would not proceed "amidchangesin market conditions".

Canada authorised the project last September despite concerns over its potential contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The major energy project would have seen LNG exported to emerging Asian markets.

The cancelled initiative was one of the largest resource development initiatives in the country. Tuesday's decision was made by Petronas, the Malaysian oil and gas company leading the project, as well as its partners.

"We are disappointed that the extremely challenging environment brought about by the prolonged depressed prices and shifts in the energy industry have led us to this decision, said Anuar Taib, chairman of the Pacific NorthWest LNG board said in a statement.

Mr Taib also said Petronas and its partners will continue to develop natural gas assets in Canada.

The C$36 bn ($28bn/£22bn) project would have seen a natural gas liquefaction and export terminal constructed on British Columbia's northern coast, as well as a new pipeline.


The terminal would have been built on Lelu Island, which sits at the mouth of the Skeena river near Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

There were worries over the potential threat to an important salmon habitat alongside concerns over greenhouse gases.


The controversial project sparked protests by some of the First Nations in the region. Other communities supported the LNG terminal because it would have injected millions of dollars into the local economy and created jobs.
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Monday

Dozens of people, both Native Americans and supporters are riding on horseback from Colorado to South Dakota.

It's being done to bring support to the Lakota Sioux Indians, some of the proudest and poorest Native Americans in the nation.

They first gathered Saturday at Buffalo Bill's grave site five miles west of Golden to reconcile what they say is a history of "broken treaties and lost lands" of the Native American people.

"We've asked riders to come in with pledges," said David Ventimiglia, Executive Director of Tipi Raisers, a Colorado non-profit that aids native peoples.

They're going to ride 400 miles over 22 days to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home of Oglala Sioux.

"Pine Ridge is the poorest place in the United States and we're building homes on Pine Ridge. Some of the riders here are living in really difficult conditions," Ventimiglia said as he prepared riders to mount up.


"Right now we're just staying in a camper, it's a little 20-foot camper," said rider Waylon Belt who lives on Pine Ridge.

"My cousin helped me attach a tin shed."

"Get the word out to everybody that we're all human beings and if we can help each other out it would be a better world for a lot of people," said rider Steven Driver himself a Native American.


"Since my great, great grandpa was the Chief Red Cloud it just makes me feel like I'm more a part of my culture," said his daughter and rider Maria Driver.

Her mother said she is a direct descendant of the famed Lakota warrior Red Cloud who led the Oglala people for 40 years. But the ride will be anything but easy.


"You got to deal with the weather the hot weather it can drain a person but you still ... but you just gotta' put that out of mind and be strong and look towards other things," said Steven Driver who says he prays for most of the ride.

"In this day even with experienced riders 400 miles and three weeks on a horse is enormously challenging," Ventimiglia said.


They’ll be riding like some of their ancestors whose only support was the nature around them instead of the vans full of supplies following this group.


“I believe that indigenous wisdom can help us figure out how to live in a way that's more sustainable.”

The riders will reach Cheyenne, Wyoming July 29 to take part in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Parade. They arrive in Pine Ridge, South Dakota on August 12.
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VIDEO

Sunday

"We will not allow any damage to our forest, rivers, mountains, or biodiversity, which help regulate the global climate and are a source of life for our culture and spirituality."

Indigenous leaders Manari and Gloria Ushigua from the Sápara nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon delivered a letter this morning addressed to the Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China before the United Nations in New York, in which they call on its state-run oil companies to abandon drilling plans on their rainforest territory.

Their action occurs on the same day that Ecuador faces scrutiny from the U.N. Human Rights Council during the body's Universal Periodic Review of the country. The letter is available here (Spanish version here).

The Sápara are adamantly opposed to oil extraction in their territory, and they have long been a key voice for preventing previous drilling projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Andes Petroleum, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC) and SINOPEC (China Petrochemical Corporation), holds two oil concessions to blocks that overlap entirely with Sápara titled territory and at the headwaters of their extensive lands, which extend to the Peruvian border.

The blocks are located along the southern border of Yasuni National Park, widely considered to be the most biodiverse place on the planet, and also overlap the nomadic territory of two indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation.

To date, Andes Petroleum and the Chinese government have failed to respond to several letters denouncing oil extraction plans in Sápara territory and deeper into Ecuador's remote eastern rainforest.


"We were never consulted nor gave our consent for the drilling project slated for our territory by the Ecuadorian government. We have a right to say no, and we reject oil drilling in our territory. We will not allow any damage to our forest, rivers, mountains, or biodiversity, which help regulate the global climate and are a source of life for our culture and spirituality." said Manari Ushigua, President of the Sápara Nation.
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