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New drilling techniques have made the US an oil exporter again: good for the economy; bad for the environment—and a nightmare for local culture. The sleepy town of Williston, North Dakota is one overcrowded boomtown with skyrocketing rents and new levels of violent crime. 18-wheelers are destroying roads built for pickups, wastewater is contaminating farmland and air pollution is causing health problems. When thousands of oil workers live in shipping containers in so-called “man camps,” what’s it like for women?

Also, Ottawa tries to recover from yesterday's shooting. Plus, US plans for training Syrian fighters: is there a “disconnect?”

Banner Image: An oil pumping unit in Williston, North Dakota; Credit: Lindsey G

A Day After Terror Strikes Canadian Capital 6 MIN, 30 SEC

Ottawa, Canada’s capitol city, is trying to get back to normal after yesterday’s deadly shooting that shut down both public agencies and private businesses for many hours. Prime Minister Stephen Harper opened Parliament today with a call for unity from otherwise partisan politicians. "We may sit across the aisle from one another,” Harper said, “But when faced with attacks on the country we all love and the things we all stand for, I know we will always stand together."

Ian Austen is in Ottawa for the New York Times.

Ian Austen, New York Times (@ianrausten)

Big Oil, Big Problems 34 MIN, 25 SEC

Because of the oil-drilling technique called fracking, North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation is producing more than a million barrels a day.

Laura Gottesdeiner is an independent reporter who spent a month in Williston—once a sleepy agricultural town of 12,000 people, now three times larger and still growing fast. On the website TomDispatch.com, her article was called, “Adrift in Oil Country.” It was republished in Mother Jones magazine.

Laura Gottesdiener, freelance journalist and author (@Gottesdiener)
Chuck Wilder, Books on Broadway
Michael A. Levi, Council on Foreign Relations (@levi_m)
Don Morrison, Dakota Resource Council (@DakotaCounsel)

I Worked in a Strip Club in a North Dakota Fracking Boomtown
N.D. oil production tops 1 million-barrels-a-day milestone
What the 2014 Oil Crash Means
North Dakota’s Oil Bonanza Is Unsustainable
Rent in Williston, N.D. tops averages in New York City and Los Angeles
A Year Later, Cleanup Still Going for ND Oil Spill
The 5-Year Bakken Outlook

One Month In, Training Syrian Rebels May Hit Snags 9 MIN, 1 SEC

The Pentagon plans to recruit some 5,000 refugees every year to be trained in Saudi Arabia and deployed in Syria. But some insiders say there’s a “disconnect” between the goal of creating a force to oppose the so-called Islamic State and the kind of training the recruits will be getting.

“Moderate Syrian fighters are deemed essential to defeating the Islamic State under the Obama administration’s strategy.” But plans call for training recruits only to defend territory, rather than seizing it back. That’s according to Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the Washington Post, where he’s senior correspondent and associate editor.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks (@rajivscribe)

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