Tag Archives: New York Times

A Victory for Natives? … James Warren a repost


James Warren – James Warren is a journalist who worked for the Chicago Tribune, writes columns for the New York Times and Business Week and is a political analyst for MSNBC.

Jun 7 2010, 12:21 PM ET | Comment

Mistreatment of Indians is America’s Original Sin, and the narrative is consistent. They lose their land, get portrayed as caricatures of social maladies, and are ripped off by the likes of Jack Abramoff. So it’s no surprise that a tale with a very different ending, namely the righting of a horrible wrong affecting 500,000 Native Americans, proceeds with virtually no notice.Indeed, you’d think that even Tea Party diehards should rally to this cause, given their anti-government and pro-property rights passion. They might even want to pay homage to the intrepid female accountant-turned-banker, who inspired one of the most fiercely litigated disputes against the federal government in history. But they likely won’t. Who will? Not even many Indians believe that belated fairness is now on the way, given more than a century of government abuse and deceit whose undisputed facts strain credulity.The facts are these: Following the House’s approval, the Senate is considering whether to approve a $3.4 billion settlement of a 15-year-old lawsuit, alleging the government illegally withheld more than $150 billion from Indians whose lands were taken in the 1880s to lease to oil, timber, minerals and other companies for a fee. Back then, the government started breaking up reservations, accumulating over 100 million acres, giving individual Indians 80 to 160 acres each, and taking legal title to properties placed in one of two trusts. The Indians were given beneficial ownership but the government managed the land, believing Indians couldn’t handle their affairs. With leases for oil wells in Oklahoma, resorts in Palm Springs, and rights-of-ways for roads in Scottsdale, Arizona, some descendants of original owners receive six- and even seven-figure sums annually. But the prototypical beneficiary, now poised to share in the settlement, is a poor Dakotan who struggles to afford propane to heat his quarters and has been receiving as little as $20 a year. More than $400 million a year is collected from Indian lands and paid into U.S. Treasury account 14X6039.

The story turns on theft and incompetence by the Interior and Treasury Departments, with culprits including Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the same Minerals Management Service now at the center of the BP oil spill fiasco. Over the past 100 years, government record systems lost track of more than 40 million acres and who owns them. The records simply vanished. Meanwhile, documents were lost in fires and floods, buried in salt mines or found in an Albuquerque storage facility covered by rat feces and a deadly Hantavirus. Government officials exploited computer systems with no audit trails to turn Indian proceeds into slush funds but maintain plausible deniability.

The lack of accountability is confirmed in the government’s own reports and testimony dating to the early 20th century. Conclusions of “fraud,” “corruption,” “institutional incompetence,” “deficiencies in accounting,” “the accounts lack credibility,” “multifaceted monster,” “organizational nightmare,” “dismal history of inaction,” “criminal negligence,” and “sorry history of department mismanagement,” are found regularly between 1915 and the present.  Congress ordered an accounting in 1994 but interior secretaries in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations were held in civil contempt for not forking over records. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Texas Republican nominated by President Reagan who oversaw the case for a decade, called the whole matter “government irresponsibility in its purest form.”

I sat in Lamberth’s courtroom in 1999 when Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt both lost his cool and conceded that the government couldn’t provide accurate cash balances of most accounts and that “the fiduciary obligation of the United States is not being fulfilled.” But the dispute would not end, as the Clinton and Bush administrations fought unceasing adverse rulings in a case inspiring 3,600 separate court filings and 80 published decisions. No single case, including the antitrust action against Microsoft, has been as heavily litigated and defended by the government, say lawyers.

The government’s chief nemesis has been Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, the accountant-turned-banker who in 1987 started Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank on a reservation. With a very small team of attorneys led by a Washington banking specialist, Dennis Gingold, her suit has inspired 3,600 court filings and 80 published decisions. Not even the antirust action against Microsoft was as heavily litigated by the government.

The historic resistance melded with an unsympathetic appeals court often overruling the dispute’s two trial judges. It ordered removal of Lamberth, now the district court’s chief judge, due to harsh language toward the government. Last year, it threw out a ruling by District Judge James Robertson, Lamberth’s successor, that the Indians were owed $476 million, a pittance compared to the reduced, $48 billion they were seeking by then. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both urged settlement during the 2008 campaign.

A resolute Judge Robertson then hauled Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and plaintiffs into his chambers last year. He made clear to one and all that, in light of the latest appeals court ruling, both sides had the choice between spending maybe another 10 years in court or trying to finally settle. The initial atmosphere was not necessarily conducive to harmony. Career government employees in the Interior, Justice and Treasury departments felt burned after years of being belittled by both the plaintiffs and Judge Lamberth. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs had minimal trust in the government. But political appointees in the Obama administration, including Salazar and Attorney General Eric Holder, took their cue from President Obama’s own support of a settlement. Dozens of meetings ensued, with the many prickly issues including how far back in time one would go to try to determine who should benefit.

Ultimately, Judge Robertson prodded what, given all the legal setbacks, is an impressive $3.4 billion deal announced in December. Ironically, before the recent congressional recess, the House approved the deal and Robertson announced his retirement, meaning District Judge Thomas Hogan becomes the third, and hopefully final, arbiter in the case. He would oversee a so-called “fairness hearing” in which objections can be raised.

There is inherent complexity in wrapping up. If the Senate approves, there will be a media campaign throughout Indian Country, including direct mail, newspaper and broadcast public service advertisements. Garden City Group of Melville, New York, which handled the major class action against Enron, will be claims administrator. It will get computer lists from the Interior Department, with the account information of perhaps 500,000 Indians and then doublecheck names and addresses. How good are the records? Nobody is really sure.

The $3.4 billion will be placed in a still-to-be-selected bank and $1.4 billion will go to individuals, mostly in the form of checks ranging from $500 to $1,500. A small group, such as members of the Osage tribe who benefit from huge Oklahoma oil revenues, will get far more, based on a formula incorporating their 10 highest years of income between 1985 and 2009. As important, $2 billion will be used to buy trust land from Indian owners at fair market prices, with the government finally returning the land to tribes. Nobody can be forced to sell. As for the winning lawyers, their take is capped at $100 million, actually low by class-action standards, though Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon, has groused about the fees.

The fairness hearing will be interesting since many Indians have a hard time believing they’re not still being shafted. “This proposed settlement fixes nothing, the U.S. won by legal weaseling,” writes a member of the Upper Midwest’s Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe on a message board. He’s not alone. Like a family victimized by homicide, Indians may never experience enough healing to truly recover. But, finally, as hard as it is for them to believe, there really may be some justice.

P/CPoint edit…there were many responses to this article by Mr. Warren; but the one response  I had to add is…below;
from …ThomsMWabnum
My article was reference in yours. This is the complete article as posted in other websites. Thank you for posting it.First, I would like to thank Ms. Cobell for the strength and courage to fight the U.S. on our behalf for the past 13 years.
This proposed settlement fixes nothing, the U.S. won by legal weaseling. This lawsuit maybe settled but the mismanagement and corruption continues. The centuries old broken government trust is still broken. The IIM accounts are still not reconciled. Some IIM accountholders will get paid and some will not. OST has violated the Indian Preference policy and hire non-Indians in Indian positions. The Cobell and numerous investigations on DOI/BIA/OST by OIG, GAO and the courts that proved numerous times they are either unwilling or unable to fix their broken trust. They went unpunished and will continue to operate into the future as if nothing happened. As if Indian Affairs has not been ‘commissioned’ to death, this settlement adds another one.
If all Individual Indian lands are bought off and transferred over to tribal trust property, the same historical broken trust is there not to protect it or improve it. The same slumlord mentality, scalawag management and Judge Roy Bean justice prevails all because we are Native Americans.
The U.S. did send a message to Indians in Cobell. They will extend Indian claims in courts indefinitely until the claimants die, exhaust funding and cave into perennial stonewalling.
The historical damage done to Native people, their land and money goes unchecked and without consequence. Not one employee faced criminal charges, was removed or fired for deliberately wasting billions in taxpayer’s dollars in cover up schemes. The U.S. won’t even apologize for inflicting termination and terrorism on the people they are legally bound to protect. At least, Canada and Australia apologized to the Natives of their countries.
After the starting Judge and court appointed investigators proved that DOI/BIA/OST wasted billions of dollars trying to fix the broken trust they too were removed from the case. The U.S. were found in contempt of court for lying to a federal judge, filing false reform reports, destroying records and for 13 years of federal failure. Honest American federal employees who reported such fraud, waste and abuse termed “whistleblowers” were also squeezed out of service and replaced with puppets.
“On June 20, 1867, Congress established the Indian Peace Commission to negotiate peace with Plains Indian tribes who were warring with the United States. The official report of the Commission to the President of the United States, dated January 7, 1868, describe detailed histories of the causes of the Indian Wars including: numerous social and legal injustices to Indians, repeated violations of numerous Treaties, acts of corruption by many of the local agents, and culpability of Congress itself for failing to fulfill certain legal obligations. The report asserts that the Indian Wars were completely preventable had the United States government and its representatives acted with legal and moral honesty in dealing with the Indians.”
In short, this 1867 Commission also “recommended that the intercourse laws with Indian Tribes be thoroughly revised.” This sounds like trust reform to me.
Second, “But it is insisted that the present Indian service is corrupt, and this change should be made to get rid of the dishonest. That there are many bad men connected with the service cannot be denied. The records are abundant to show that gents have pocketed the funds appropriated by the government and driven the Indians to starvation.” And still today, the U.S. Courts, it’s investigators, GAO and OIG all exposed corrupt employees in Indian Affairs.
Third, “That Congress pass an act fixing a day (not later than the 1st of February, 1869) when the offices of all superintendents, agents, and special agents shall be vacated. Such persons as have proved themselves competent and faithful may be reappointed. Those who have proved unfit will find themselves removed without an opportunity to divert attention from their own unworthiness by provisions of party zeal.” This 1867 Commission told the President how to get rid of corrupt employees and even today it has not been done. Why?
Fourth, “We, therefore, recommend that Indian affairs be committed to an independent bureau or department. Whether the head of the department should be made a member of the President’s cabinet is a matter for the discretion of Congress and yourself, and may be as well settled without any suggestions from us.” This 1867 Commission told the President that there should be a Department of Indian Affairs separate from the Department of Interior.
Two other recommendations by this 1867 Commission talked about State encroachment on tribal sovereignty and shady traders.”
In 1973, Senator James Abourezk introduced Senate Joint Resolution No. 133 to establish a Federal commission to review all aspects of policy, law, and administration relating to affairs of the United States with American Indian tribes and people. The Senate and the House of Representatives both adopted S.J. Res. 133 and on January 2, 1975, the Resolution was signed into law by the President, thus establishing the American Indian Policy Review Commission [Public Law 93-580]. There are other Commissions in 1928, 1934 and 1992.
But after 141 years and Commissions, this proposed settlement still does not protect our land, money, fleecing or our natural resources and culture but promotes tribal sovereignty erosion and U.S. failure to enforce treaty rights and their federal trust responsibilities according to their own U.S. Constitution and Congressional obligations.
The U.S. can send a man to the Moon and maybe Mars, travel to the bottom of the deepest Ocean, fight wars on opposite side of the world, clone animals but cannot fix the broken trust problem with Indian services.
If the U.S. initially worked with earnest and full trust with Native Nations using their own money plus the promised federal appropriations, there would not be a financial burden on either party, national dishonesty or worldwide disgrace of American ideals.
It has been settled for me to forget all that happened within DOI and accept the $1,500.00 minus reserves/taxes (unknown amount) and attorney fee’s (unknown amount) as if nothing happened.
Thomas M. Wabnum
Prairie Band Potawatomi
Former Tribal Councilperson
Viet Nam Veteran
IIM Accountholder
BIA/OST retired
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In the Library ~~ Before Roe V Wade , by Linda Greenhouse&Reva Siegel


lindagreenhouse&revasiegel

Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (2d edition, 2012)

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion–but the debate was far from over, continuing to be a political battleground to this day. Bringing to light key voices that illuminate the case and its historical context, Before Roe v. Wade looks back and recaptures how the arguments for and against abortion took shape as claims about the meaning of the Constitution—and about how the nation could best honor its commitment to dignity, liberty, equality, and life.

In this ground-breaking book, Linda Greenhouse, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who covered the Supreme Court for 30 years for The New York Times, and Reva Siegel, a renowned professor at Yale Law School, collect documents illustrating cultural, political, and legal forces that helped shape the Supreme Court’s decision and the meanings it would come to have over time. A new afterword to the book explores what the history of conflict over abortion in the decade before Roe might reveal about the logic of conflict in the ensuing decades. The entanglement of the political parties in the abortion debate in the period before the Court ruled raises the possibility that Roe itself may not have engendered political polarization around abortion as is commonly supposed, but instead may have been engulfed by it.

Climate Change ~~~ the movement & struggle is real … join us


AvaazpixDearAvaazers,


Click to pledge so our movement to save the world can hit the streets on September 21st: $4    $6    $9    $14    $23

Pledge another amount

Scientists are screaming from the rooftops that climate change isn’t just a bit of warming and some more storms. No exaggeration, our actual *survival* is at risk — this is a fight to save the world.

Our biosphere is in a fragile balance. Warm it a bit, and feedback loops start to kick in. Warming melts the arctic ice that reflects sunlight, which means more sunlight absorbed, which means more warming, which melts more ice etc. etc. These feedback loops have begun, and they’re approaching ‘tipping points’ where they spin out of our control, threatening everything we love.

The UN understands this, and they’ve called an emergency summit of world leaders in New York to discuss action, even inviting our movement into the meeting! The problem is, our heads of state are politicians, not scientists, and they respond to public pressure. They see the polls, but they ask, “where are the protests?” Sept. 21st is our answer.

With thousands of organisations from unions to faith groups, and hundreds of thousands of people already signed up, we’re about to launch the biggest climate change mobilisation in history, with marches from New York to Paris to Rio. On September 21st, we need to shake the world. To get there, we need to mobilise thousands of organisers, saturate subways and airwaves with ads, and mount an effective media operation.

If 50,000 of us contribute just a small amount in the next 5 days, we can make it happen. It’s time to save the world, let’s launch the movement that can do it.

~~ Fact Sheet ~~ Climate Change


budgetblow2climate
 Obama knows that climate change is real
CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE
A study published in May 2013 found that 97% of
scientists agree that man-made climate change is a
reality.
The scientific consensus is that climate change is
occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and
poses significant risks for public health and welfare.
There is no significant scientific disagreement on these
facts.
[NASA, accessed 7/6/2013]
Climate change is caused by increased levels of carbon
dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, caused by human
activity like burning fossil fuels and land use changes.
CO2 traps energy from the sun, raising the earth’s
average temperature, and causing unpredictable—and
dangerous—effects.
[NASA, accessed 7/16/2013]
According to scientists, carbon dioxide levels in the
atmosphere are at the highest levels in 3-5 million years.
(New York Times, 5/10/2013)
Climate change is happening. The 12 hottest years on
record have all come in the last 15 years.  Severe storms,
the most severe drought in decades, and the worst
wildfires some states have ever seen have all occurred
in the past few years.
(NASA, 1/15/2013)
Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods are all now
more frequent and intense, and are projected to worsen
in the future.
(USGCRP, 2009)
Climate change could cause sea levels to rise between
one to six feet within the next hundred years, causing
grave damage to coastal cities and communities.
[NOAA, 12/6/2012]
Climate change will have other severe economic
impacts, causing disruptions across our economy,
including in the energy, agricultural, and transportation
sectors.
[USGCRP, 2009]
GET THE FACTS
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CLIMATE PLAN
PRINTED BY VOLUNTEERS
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CLIMATE PLAN
President Obama has said that we must respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure
to do so would betray our children and future generations. He called on Congress to take action, but made
it clear that if they won’t act, he will.
On Tuesday, June 25, President Obama laid out his vision for a common-sense plan to combat climate change
by reducing carbon pollution, preparing our country for the impacts of climate change, leading global efforts
to fight it, and putting America’s ingenuity to work. Details of the President’s plan can be found at barackobama.
com/climate.
As a nation of innovators, we will meet the challenge of climate change in a way that advances our economy,
our environment, and public health at the same time. We don’t have to choose between the health of our
children and the health of our economy. Taking action to reduce carbon pollution will spark new jobs and
industries building cleaner and more efficient American-made energy technologies.
OFA CLIMATE STRATEGY
1.
In order for the President to make the changes we
need to prevent the worst effects of climate change,
we need to change the conversation and the politics
on climate.
2.
OFA volunteers have a unique ability to advance
the President’s climate plan by raising the profile
of this important issue, taking on climate change
deniers in Congress, and advancing the clean
energy economy locally.
3.
Volunteers are organizing in congressional districts
across the country to work with supportive lawmakers
to lead on this issue, push lawmakers in the middle
who acknowledge the problem but have not supported
action on a solution, and take on the climate change
deniers whose extremism has been so damaging to
progress in Congress and to the public debate.
GET THE FACTS
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CLIMATE PLAN
PRINTED BY VOLUNTEERS
4.
Volunteers are helping educate Americans about
their ability switch to clean energy—from cities
and counties working to adopt clean energy, to
individuals making their own everyday choices
about how they use energy.
5.
Volunteers are working to build support for the
President’s plan in Congress, and build support
for the EPA actions that will help America meet its
commitments to reduce the dangerous pollution
that causes climate change.
6.
All of this organizing will continue to advance
the conversation on climate, and bridge the gap
between public support for action and what
Congress is willing to do

Silicon Valley’s narrative ~~~ On Black folks …ColorOfChange team


Silicon Valley has a problem.

Black Twitter

Tell Twitter to disclose its diversity data and host a public forum on making Silicon Valley more inclusive.

Take Action

 

Last year, when confronted with criticism about his appointment of an all-white, all-male Board of Directors, Dick Costolo – the CEO of Twitter – responded with a dismissive, joking tweet. 

“The whole thing has to be about more than checking a box & saying ‘we did it!’,” he later typed.1

It’s been months now since Costolo’s defensive response and although Twitter later added a white woman to its Board,2 the company has yet to publicly address the failure to appoint a single Black person despite data that confirms that Black folks make up a disproportionate share of Twitter’s user-base.

Much worse, in recent weeks as other Silicon Valley tech companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and LinkedIn took the historic first step to release depressing data about the racial and gender composition of their staffs, Twitter has remained silent — refusing to jump on the data-release-bandwagon.3

That’s why we’re joining with Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition to call on Twitter to do two things: 1) release its employee diversity numbers immediately and 2) signal its commitment to real inclusion by hosting a public community forum that addresses the company’s plan to recruit and retain more Black talent. Will you join us? It only takes a minute.

Twitter is unlikely to break any trends

To date, most of the data disclosures have confirmed that Silicon Valley prefers its workers to be male and either white or Asian.4, 5 And although Twitter is unlikely to break any diversity trends that have emerged, transparency and a public commitment to improving the recruitment and retention of Black employees are critical first steps.

Though its minority representation numbers may mirror other Silicon Valley tech companies, Twitter has a unique role to play in this national conversation about hiring discrimination. Via the cultural force known as “Black Twitter,” Twitter has been built off the creativity of Black people, though they’re not on the payroll. 6, 7, 8 As such, the company owes our community more — more transparency, and a more thoughtful, solutions-oriented approach that addresses its failure to be more inclusive without blaming Black people.

Shifting the blame

Unfortunately, many of the tech companies (and their pundits) have been quick to incorrectly blame a leaky “talent pipeline” for the extreme racial hiring disparities revealed by these disclosures; pointing to statistics about the dearth of computer science degrees awarded to Black men and women, and bragging about their own philanthropic-investments in tech education for minorities.  Silicon Valley apologists are working to divert blame. 

Completely ignoring the fact that Black people are also severely underrepresented in nontechnical Silicon Valley roles, these blame-shifting tactics are not only misleading, they also serve to reinforce the false and problematic narrative that Black people are simply “unqualified,” undeserving and not valuable — that Black-thought is unqualified, underserving, and not valuable.

We cannot allow a corporate culture that seems hell-bent on making excuses for its replication of tired “good ol’ boy” networks to malign the intellectual and creative capacities of Black people in the process. 

Will you join us in this fight?

Thanks and Peace,

–Rashad, Arisha, Matt, Aimee, Bhavik, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
July 17, 2014

References

1.”Twitter CEO Takes Fire Over All Male Board”, ValleyWag, 2013-07-10

2. “Twitter appoints first woman, Marjorie Scardino, to board of directors“, The Washington Post, 2013-11-15

3. “Some in Silicon Valley Publicize Diversity, While Others Shy Away“, U.S. News, 2014-06-18 

4.”Silicon Valley Firms Are Even Whiter and More Male Than You Thought“, Mother Jones, 2014-05-29 

5. “Status Update: Facebook not so diverse“, USA Today, 2014-06-26 

6. “Black Twitter: A virtual community ready to hashtag out a response to cultural issues“, The Washington Post, 2014-01-20. 

7. “Mama I Made It: Pew Poll Study Confirms The Existence of Black Twitter“, okayplayer, 2014-01-01

8. “Black Twitter FINALLY Gets Recognized…so that Twitter can Sell Ads“, ValleyWag, 2014-21-01