North Dakota pipeline protests see peaceful Thanksgiving

— While plenty of Americans gathered Thursday for a Thanksgiving that meant family and football, hundreds of protesters gathered in several sites to rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Some demonstrators said Thanksgiving was not a day to celebrate.

“To many people Thanksgiving is a holiday for being thankful but, for many natives, especially me being a Mohegan. … it’s really a day of pain for a lot of natives. But we’re here to pray,” James Smith told CNN affiliate KXMB during a demonstration in Mandan, North Dakota.

Police said about 170 protesters blocked an intersection in the town for several hours before dispersing.

Two people were arrested, one of whom would be charged with felony reckless endangerment, police said.

“I do think this (protest) is effective. On the street, in an area that brings attention,” said Shawn Greene, who traveled more than 800 miles from Chicago.

There also were protests in Portland, Oregon, and at two locations in Morton County, North Dakota.

Rain in Portland didn’t prevent about 350 people from their planned rally.

“The idea of celebrating Thanksgiving while people are getting shot with water cannons and rubber bullets for trying to protect their water makes us really sad,” Brady Bennon told The Oregonian. “We wanted to make our voices heard in support of the Sioux tribe and in opposition to the pipeline.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota believes the pipeline would affect its supply of drinking water and place downstream communities at risk of contamination from potential oil spills. Their tribal lands are near the project’s path.

The proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, which is set to cost $3.7 billion, would start in North Dakota, stretch across parts of South Dakota and Iowa, and end in southern Illinois. If completed, the pipeline would allow crude oil to be transported to oil refineries along the Eastern Seaboard. Construction has stalled as the Army Corps of Engineers engages in talks with Native American leaders.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said protesters in his area were trying to distract law enforcement with multiple demonstrations Thursday.

At one, protesters built a small wooden bridge across a creek to a place where burial sites are located. Police stood in a line across a Turtle Hill during the afternoon until protesters left. There were no arrests.

The other protest was at Backwater Bridge, where one demonstrator was seriously injured Sunday and nearly lost an arm. On Thursday, about 150 to 200 protesters gathered and a tractor-trailer backed into the bridge, police said. The day’s events were peaceful.

Actress and activist Jane Fonda came to support the demonstrators and to share dinner at the Standing Rock High School gymnasium.

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian and Max Blau contributed to this report.

Five things: Ravens owner disputes scathing ESPN report

It was obvious that Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti didn’t like his organization’s integrity being questioned.

On Monday, he sat down (didn’t use a lectern) to talk with sports reporters about last week’s ESPN report that implied the Ravens’ top brass knew early on how bad the Ray Rice domestic violence case was and the team tried to influence Roger Goodell to give the running back a light penalty.

While denying that was the case, Bisciotti did admit again that he and the team should have done more to get the video that led to Rice being axed by his Ravens and suspended by the NFL.

Bisciotti spoke for 47 minutes, at one point telling a media relations person who wanted to end the news conference that it was OK to keep going.

Here are five key points we learned from the owner’s candid discussion and the letter to fans that the Ravens issued tackling 15 points from the ESPN report that it disputed.

Who were the sources for the story?

Bisciotti told reporters that he believed Ray Rice’s people were most of the unnamed sources for the story as part of their attempt to get his indefinite suspension overturned.

“Almost everything in (the article) is anonymous but it’s clear from the subject matter it’s Ray’s attorney, Ray’s agent and Ray’s friends. They are building a case for reinstatement and the best way to build a case for reinstatement is to make everyone else look like they’re lying.”

The Ravens owner said he wished the reporters for ESPN — which issued a statement: “We stand by our reporting” — had acknowledged to readers how big a role Rice’s camp played in the story.

In its report it said: “‘Outside the Lines’ interviewed more than 20 sources … team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice.”

Bisciotti claimed some of those friends “started making things up.”

ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta appeared on “Outside the Lines” after Bisciotti made his claims and said they were false.

“It’s an assumption he’s making … but it’s unfortunately just not true,” he said.

When did the Ravens know what was on the in-elevator video?

It’s the damning piece of evidence that got Rice fired and suspended indefinitely. He is appealing through the players’ union. The video from inside the elevator at a New Jersey casino shows Ray Rice in the early morning hours of February 15 knocking out his future wife with a vicious punch to the head. TMZ Sports posted what it says was a cleaned up version of the recording. ESPN reported that Ravens Director of Security Darren Sanders knew within hours of the incident what was on the video, through a report given to him by a police officer in Atlantic City.

This conflicts with what the Ravens have said about when they knew what was on the video.

Through the team’s statement, Sanders said it was 10 days later when a police official described the video.

“The officer could not tell from the video whether Ray slapped or punched her, but Ray told me very clearly that he did not punch her,” Sanders said, without elaborating when Rice described the incident to him.

The Ravens stopped pursuing the video when the charge against Rice was elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. Bisciotti said it was a mistake to defer to prosecutors investigating the case and that at some point the Ravens should have demanded the video from Rice’s attorney.

What did Ray say happened?

It’s a key point of contention. ESPN cited sources in this report and another that Rice told the Ravens and NFL officials that he punched Janay Palmer, his fiancee whom he married a month after the incident.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said his original two-game suspension of Rice was in part based on the player’s misleading testimony during a June meeting.

The Ravens also said Rice wasn’t forthcoming.

“It was our understanding based on Ray’s account that in the course of a physical altercation between the two of them he slapped Janay with an open hand, and that she hit her head against the elevator rail or wall as she fell to the ground,” Bisciotti said in the team statement.

Sanders said Rice denied punching his fiancee. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome was quoted in the Baltimore Sun that the video showed that Rice didn’t lie to him. He said Monday that he had only asked Rice if he had hit Palmer and Rice said he had.

“I later said Ray didn’t lie to me because he told me he hit her, and that is what the video later showed — although the video was much more violent than what I had pictured,” he said in the Ravens’ release.

Did the Ravens ask prosecutors and the NFL to go easy?

Team President Dick Cass said that Sanders was the only person from the team to make contact with anyone in the New Jersey judicial or law enforcement investigations. The only thing anyone from the team did outside of requesting the video was to write a letter in support of Ray Rice that was included in his application for a pretrial intervention program.

Bisciotti was upset by the implication that he and Goodell are buddies who share a love for golf and that the owner used a connection to ask for a favor.

“I know and like Roger Goodell, but it is inaccurate to call us ‘good friends,'” he said in the statement.

The owner said his communication with the commissioner consisted of a brief conversation at an owners’ meeting.

“One time I saw Roger at the NFL meetings, and I said, ‘Where are we with this?’ and he said, ‘Nowhere until the police investigation is concluded.’ That’s the extent of what I did at that time,” Bisciotti said.

Could Rice rejoin the Ravens?

Yes, but not on the field, Bisciotti told reporters.

He talked about text messages he sent to Rice on the day the Ravens let him go:

Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.

When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.

The ESPN report indicated Rice thought the job offer was a bid to have Rice go along with the Ravens’ version of events. Bisciotti said it was an honest attempt to bring back a player he thought would have a retribution story to share with young players.

“People that redeem themselves are the best ones to lead others,” he said. “I believed that this was Ray’s one terrible moment.”

Bisciotti said he believed that Rice would be a “great asset” counseling with rookies and telling his story of personal redemption.

5 favorite moments from Wednesday at the Sochi Olympics

— Does anyone know how to say “Did that really just happen?” in Russian? Who can predict how the women’s figure skating will turn out? Who just won his record-setting 13th medal?

It’s in the nyet

What a strange day if you are a Russian Olympics fan. The hockey team got knocked out; amazing figure skater Julia Lipnitskaya tumbled during her short program; and you saw a home-nation gold medal from a foreign-grown snowboarder.

The country is in shock over the hockey team’s 3-1 loss to Finland. Remember the Russians (or Soviets) used to own the gold medal, but they haven’t won one in 12 years.

More than one hour after the loss, a Sochi bear mascot sat in the empty hockey arena stands, head in paw.

The media ganged up on Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov at the news conference.

Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, said two of the best early questions were “How guilty are you feeling?” and “Is it a catastrophe?”

“I take full responsibility for our team’s performance,” the coach said, according to a translator.

It’s hard to say the Games have been ruined for a country that has won a second-best 22 medals, buuuuuuuuuut …

At least in the case of Lipnitskaya, she didn’t fall out of medal contention. She has the ability to lift the nation’s spirits if she can perform magnificently in Thursday’s free program and get a bronze or silver. Gold seems out of reach, but it is up to the judges.

And there’s probably a little bit of pride in the husband-and-wife combination of Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina. They competed 15 minutes apart in the parallel giant slalom with Wild, who became a Russian citizen two years ago, winning gold. His wife won bronze in the women’s event.

“It was incredible to win with Alena. We are together all the time. If one of us has success and the other doesn’t it’s great but it’s not that great, but for both of us to have success on the same day is a dream come true. Maybe I will wake up soon,” he said.

Within reach

South Korea’s Yuna Kim has a lot to think about. This is her last Olympics. She has skated only a few times in competition since winning a gold medal in Vancouver, leading to constant questions about her trying to repeat as champion. She’s also trying to inspire young figure skaters in the country that will host the next Winter Olympics.

And now she’s less than a point ahead of two other skaters after the short program in women’s figure skating.

Adelina Sotnikova of Russia and Carolina Kostner of Italy are second and third, respectively.

Kim, who has only skated in four international events since winning in 2010, is retiring after these Games. She will skate last on Thursday. It’s not a position she likes.

“But I have had this experience before. It won’t be a big problem,” she said.

U.S. skaters Gracie Gold, who is six points behind and fourth, and Ashley Wagner have outside chances at medals.

“Tonight was definitely nerve-racking, I’ll be honest about that. But I’m set up well for the long program,” said Wagner, who is in sixth and trails by nine points.

Hot diggity, Ligety!

They call Ted Ligety “Mr. GS.”

It should be amended to “Mr. Golden GS.”

The overwhelming favorite in the men’s giant slalom gave the opposition no chance at winning Wednesday with a sizzling first run and a steady, self-assured second run that had the crowd congratulating him before he even reached the finish.

“This is really awesome. This is the event I wanted the most. This is the event I have been putting so much pressure on myself to win, so to pull through is an awesome feeling,” he said.

Ligety became the first American man to win the event and joined Andrea Mead Lawrence as the only two U.S. skiers with two golds in alpine skiing.

The 29-year-old led by almost a full second after the first run, but wasn’t totally comfortable with such a huge margin.

“If you blow out taking too much risk, you look stupid. If you go too easy and blow your lead, you look even more stupid.” he said.

We would say you looked stupendous instead. Hope you ski as well in the slalom.

Hope you mess up — but not much

Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers are friends. Meyers even invited her Canadian rival to her wedding in April.

But as Humphries stood with her teammate Heather Moyse at the bottom of the bobsled track Wednesday, waiting for Meyers to make her final run, she did hope for her pal to have a bobble here or hit there.

“I never wish bad on people, but I was thinking, ‘Just make a few mistakes, please,’ ” she told reporters.

And in a sport where it takes four runs to crown an Olympic champion, it was a tenth of a second that came between the winning Humphries and Meyers. It was a hit at the top that Meyers blamed for the loss.

“I know I’m going to get crap, and people will say it’s a disappointment, but I’m not disappointed,” said Meyers, who along with teammate Lauryn Williams led after three runs. “I couldn’t be prouder. I’m glad for silver, I didn’t deserve the gold medal today.”

Williams became the fifth Olympian to medal in the Summer and Winter Games.

“This has been the most exciting experience of my life,” she said of her recent immersion into the sport. “I am so happy to have fallen into bobsled. Who would have thought six months ago I would be bobsledding, let alone on the podium at the Olympics?”

Eight golds, four silvers, one bronze

He won his first medal in 1998 in the biathlon sprint. Four Olympics later he is still adding to what is now a record-setting personal medal table.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won his 13th Olympic medal Wednesday, putting him alone atop the all-time individual medal table for the Winter games. His eight gold medals are also a record.

He raced the third leg in the new mixed relay competition and put Norway far ahead, where it stayed, beating the Czech Republic by 32 seconds.

“I’m really grateful for this victory,” he said, in typical understated fashion. “I’m happy for my team.”

Is there one more podium in the bag? The men’s relay is Saturday.


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You won the big one, now what?

— Somebody might wake up Wednesday a whole lot richer. Heck, some of us are going to stay up to see if we’re the lucky one or two who hits Tuesday night’s $586 million Mega Millions jackpot.

People who play the lottery love to dream about the things they’d do if they won the big one. Telling the boss off might top your list (not mine, oh no, not mine). Maybe a new mansion and a fancy car and a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater (right, Steve Martin?).

But let’s think about it. There are a few important things you should do before you go out and blow your winnings.

1. Sign the ticket.

You didn’t already? Are you crazy? What if the roommate “claims” it? What if your significant other isn’t as significant as you thought? What if you are showing it to someone, say over a beer or 10, and it goes missing? What if you forget it on your desk and you suddenly have the richest cleaning person in the U.S.? Sign it — if you didn’t when you bought it — because whoever has an unsigned ticket when it gets turned in can call dibs on it.

It’s also time for a selfie. With you and said ticket. It might even be a good idea to run to the drug store and buy a camera with actual film in it.

And then find a hiding place for that ticket. A safe deposit box is probably, yes, safest. Or go get a portable home safe. Remember, this ain’t Canada; no one is going to track you down to hand you your millions.

2. Contact people who have dealt with large sums of money before

And we don’t mean your Uncle Eddie who says he’s doing great with his online stock portfolio or a cousin who just passed the bar. Start with one experienced attorney and look for a seasoned certified financial planner. You don’t want to contact more than a few people, lest the word get out before you even get the big cardboard check.

Your biggest decision right now is whether to take the cash prize (the actual money in the pot) or take an annuity (the estimated value of the cash option plus whatever interest it will earn over 30 years).

It seems like a no-brainer to get it all up front and do your own investing, but a bright financial mind will help you see if it’s best to get 30 checks over time or one check.

The lawyer you pick will also need to hook you up with specialists in subjects like estate planning, taxes and such. You might want to know if it’s best to buy mom a house or just give her some cash each year or set up some sort of trust fund. I vote to buy the house and let her live there. Wait, is that OK? Need a lawyer.

3. Figure out if you can stay anonymous

Chances are, you can’t. Only a few states like South Carolina allow it, so you may want to hire a media consultant or a PR flak. Let someone else plan your appearances after you claim your coin. And remember, you don’t have to make your decisions right away. You might have as long as 180 days to claim your prize, but check state rules while you’re looking to see if you can remain anonymous.

But it would be best if you didn’t have to give out your name, some former winners say.

If you can’t, lie low for a while. If you can’t lie low, it might be prudent to hire a bodyguard. We don’t want you to end up like the winner in Florida who ended up buried under a driveway.

4. Plan a trip

Speaking of staying out of sight, it might be a good time to head to South America. We hear it’s nice this time of year. Or some place like the U.S. Virgin Islands if you don’t have a passport.

One set of winners went straight from the news conference to the airport. They were gone for weeks. If it were me, I might have the news conference at the airport, in front of the private jet.

If you do duck out for a few weeks, you probably won’t come back to find the news media parked in front of your house and people won’t recognize you in stores.

Now there probably will be a pile of mail and e-mails from relatives you never knew you had and messages on the answering machine (if you still have your phone connected).

5. Don’t give up just because you didn’t win the top prize

Every year a few of the people who match five numbers and win the measly runner-up prize fail to collect their winnings. So check those tickets again to see if you might have won $1 million. You don’t want to be among the 2% of people (OK, it’s like one or two) who threw away a million bucks. Last year there were $800 million in unclaimed lottery prizes. That’s everything from $1 prizes to the $1 million prize (that can be even bigger if you play the multipliers).

It might be, for instance, the guy I talked to at a sandwich shop in the CNN food court who says he only plays when the jackpots are huge. He checks to see where the big winner lives and if it’s not here, he tosses his tickets.

But if you do get a piece of the top prize, you’ll be in rare territory. Tuesday’s jackpot is the second-largest in U.S. history. (The biggest was a $656 million Mega Millions prize, shared by three winning tickets in March 2012.)

Tuesday’s drawing is at 11 p.m. ET. Good luck!