Archives For President Obama

Zeituni Onyango fought deportation, granted asylum in 2010

BOSTON — Zeituni Onyango, the aunt of President Barack Obama who fought deportation, has died, the office her immigration lawyer Margaret Wong, said Tuesday.

Onyango died Tuesday at a rehabilitation hospital after being treated for cancer and respiratory ailments, according to Wong’s office.

Onyango was granted asylum in 2010 after her first asylum request in 2002 was rejected and she was ordered to be deported in 2004.

She did not leave the country and continued to live in public housing in Boston. Her status was revealed just days before Obama was elected in November 2008.

At the time, then-candidate Obama said he did not know his aunt was living there illegally and that he believes laws covering the situation should be followed.

Onyango’s funeral arrangements are pending.

Miriam Carey killed after car chase in Washington, D.C.

Miriam Carey

WASHINGTON — The attorney for the family of a Connecticut woman killed by police on Capitol Hill six months ago says her autopsy found she was shot multiple times from behind, including a shot to the back of the head.

Attorney Eric Sanders said on his law firm’s website that the autopsy found Miriam Carey was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Carey was shot to death after a car chase that went from the White House to near the U.S. Capitol in October of last year. The report from Sanders said the “Carey family is understandably upset.”

Calls to Sanders’ office and to U.S. Capitol Police were not immediately returned late Monday.

Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist, tried to ram her car through a White House barrier on Oct. 3 before leading police on a chase that ended with her being killed. Her 1-year-old daughter was in the car but escaped serious injury.

Carey’s relatives have challenged law enforcement accounts that she was delusional and raised questions over whether police used an appropriate level of force. Sanders has said he believes officers who shot Carey mishandled the encounter and should be prosecuted.

Carey, who had been diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis, told officers who responded to her Stamford, Conn., apartment prior to the Washington incident that President Barack Obama communicated with her and had set up cameras to record her life for national news outlets, police said.

In an interview Monday with the National Journal, Sanders portrayed the autopsy findings as bolstering his theory that Carey’s shooting was not justified.

President Obama Hosts Champion Red Sox

BALTIMORE – Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz acknowledged Wednesday that he has a promotional deal with Samsung but insisted that his selfie with President Barack Obama on Tuesday was spontaneous and not a marketing stunt.

“When people went crazy over that, you don’t get to see anything like that every day,” Ortiz said in the clubhouse before the Red Sox took on the Orioles at Camden Yards. “It wasn’t anything promotional, anything like that. I mean, who knows that you’re going to take a picture with the president? How many people can guarantee that? It was something we don’t even have to talk about.”

Upon being handed an honorary Red Sox jersey by Ortiz at Tuesday’s World Series celebration at the White House, the president pulled Ortiz close to him and motioned toward photographers to “get a good picture.”

After the two posed and photographers started snapping away, Ortiz reached into his pocket and asked, “Do you mind if I take another one, with my own?”

“He wants to do a selfie. It’s the Big Papi selfie,” Obama joked, getting laughs from players and spectators in attendance.

Embedded image permalink

Ortiz said Wednesday it was a genuine once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“It just came out right in the moment when I gave him the jersey and he asked to take pictures,” Ortiz said. “It was like, ‘Oh, wait a minute, let me see if I can get away with this.’ I was lucky that I was right there. It was fun. It was something I’ll never forget.”

Shortly after Ortiz tweeted the photo, which went out to his more than 630,000 followers and was retweeted nearly 40,000 times, Samsung retweeted it as well. The company later told the Boston Globe it “was an honor to help [Ortiz] capture such an incredible and genuine moment of joy and excitement.”

Manager John Farrell, who found himself in the background of the photo, right between the heads of Ortiz and Obama, said he didn’t find out until Wednesday that the moment might not have been as organic as it appeared.

“At the time I didn’t know it,” Farrell said in his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “No one can get closer to the president [than Ortiz was]. When David was on stage and kind of put his arm around [Obama] and put up a phone, it was only a moment that David Ortiz could seemingly pull off.

“I read about it this morning that this was maybe a little brought along by Samsung. … That didn’t take away from a pretty special day.”

Was Ortiz afraid the Secret Service might pounce on him as he reached into his pocket for his smartphone?

“We were talking about that afterwards,” Ortiz said. “I think it was super cool how everybody at the White House was, how friendly, the person we see on TV, the president we all know, seeing how humble and how cool he was. Every single one of us. It was a great experience. It doesn’t get any better.”

Samsung famously had viral success during the Oscars last month when host Ellen DeGeneres took a star-studded selfie with her Samsung phone. The comedian gathered a gaggle of A-list stars and had Bradley Cooper take the photo of the group, which she captioned, “If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars”

Less than an hour after she posted it on Twitter, DeGeneres’ photo surpassed the previous record of 780,000 retweets of an Obama tweet after his re-election in 2012. The instantaneous surge even caused technical problems for Twitter.

In March, the president teased DeGeneres about her selfie, calling it a “pretty cheap stunt.”

State leaning toward hiring new vendor

BOSTON — Massachusetts planned to cut ties with the contractor for its hobbled health care insurance website, state officials said Monday.

CGI Group, a Montreal-based information technology firm, was also the lead contractor on the troubled federal health care website. The state hired the company last year to create a website to facilitate the state’s transition from its first-in-the-nation universal health insurance program to the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act.

“We have made the decision that we are parting ways with CGI,” said Sarah Iselin, a health care executive who was hired by Gov. Deval Patrick to oversee a fix for the website.

Iselin told a meeting of the board of directors of the state’s health connector that negotiations had begun with CGI on a transition, but it was not immediately clear when the state contract would formally end and how much the company would ultimately be paid.

Officials said last month the state had paid about $15 million of CGI’s original $68 million contract slated to run through September.

“CGI has worked tirelessly to deliver a health insurance exchange for the residents of Massachusetts. We will work with the Commonwealth to ensure a smooth transition to the next phase of exchange deployment, allowing for the best use of system capabilities already in place,” the company said in a statement Monday.

Iselin said the state was leaning toward hiring a new vendor to fix the website, but added her team had ruled out a complete rebuild of the current site, a “start from scratch” option that was deemed unworkable.

Another possible solution, the purchase of technology from states with smoothly functioning insurance sites, was shaping up as a less viable option because of the complexity of the Massachusetts system, she added.

The goal was to have a fully functional site by the start of the second federal enrollment period, scheduled to begin in November.

“The picture we are painting is that we have a long way to go,” Iselin said. “We are not going to sugarcoat anything.”

A report released last month by the consulting firm MITRE said the Massachusetts site suffered from infrastructure and data stability necessitating a series of manual workarounds as the connector tried to enroll or re-enroll applicants in federal-compliant health coverage.

The technical glitches created a massive backlog of 50,000 paper applications, a pile that officials said had since been whittled to 21,000 with the expectation that it could be completely eliminated by the end of March.

The state so far has been able to move 84,000 residents with subsidized health coverage into temporary Medicaid coverage so they would continue to have access to health care coverage.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreed to give Massachusetts an extension from the nation’s March 31 federal health care enrollment deadline until June 30.

The state is likely to seek an additional three-month waiver through the end of September, Iselin said Monday.

Optum, a health care technology firm hired by the state to help facilitate short- and long-term solutions for the website, was to be paid at least $16.4 million through the end of March, the connector board was told.

The Obama administration announced in January that it planned to part ways with CGI after the shaky rollout of

President to be in Cambridge, South Boston

BOSTON — President Barack Obama will be in Boston Wednesday to raise money for the Democratic Party while drumming up support for hiking the minimum wage.

Watch Report

Road closures and traffic tie-ups are expected in the Harvard Square area Wednesday afternoon.

Obama is set to attend a round-table discussion fundraiser Wednesday for the Democratic National Committee with about 25 supporters at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge.

Obama is then scheduled to headline a DNC dinner in Boston at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter with about 70 backers. The event is also intended to raise money for the party.

Obama’s visit follows a stop at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain to renew his push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

During his stop in Connecticut, Obama will appear with Democratic governors, including Gov. Deval Patrick.

Massachusetts is debating a minimum wage increase. The Senate has approved a bill and a minimum wage question is heading to the November ballot.

1. Palestine Without Smears: Why Israel and Natives Aren’t Natural Allies

2. Yakama’s ‘Bittersweet’ Moment: Gaining Some Criminal Jurisdiction

Courtesy Office of Gov. Jay Inslee
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee approves the Yakama Nation’s request for the return of jurisdiction over certain civil and criminal matters, January 17. From left, state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, who sponsored the legislation establishing the retrocession process; Yakama Nation Vice Chairwoman Terry Goudy-Rambler; state Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Lacey, who co-sponsored the legislation; Yakama Tribal Councilman Raymond Smartlowit, Yakama Tribal Councilman Gerald Lewis, Yakama Chairman Harry Smiskin, Yakama Councilman Virgil Lewis, and Yakama Councilman Sam Jim Sr.

3. Going Off! Shoni Schimmel is Hot, and College Hoops Player of the Week

Associated Press
Shoni Schimmel

4. 10 Ways to Tell You Might Be Native American

Does your email address resemble this guy’s? You might be Native American

5. Climate Change Gets Passing Mention in State of the Union Address

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
President Barack Obama famously dabbed sweat from his brow while giving a climate change speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., last June, above. His State of the Union address of 2014 was not nearly so evocative.

6. Humetewa Close to Becoming First Female Native on Federal Bench

7. Video: Idle No More in the Motor City

8. A South Dakota Town’s Love/Hate Relationship With Dancing Girls

9. Young Medical Researcher Strives to Create Vaccine to Fight Bacterium Affecting First Nations People

Shawn Bell
Dr. Eli Nix, a post-doctoral fellow at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Thunder Bay, has received a $92,000 grant for a research project in First Nations communities of Northwestern Ontario.

10. Finally! Indian Country Gets Its Labor Force Report

11. Long-time Denver Bronco Fan Wins Super Bowl XLVIII Tix

Courtesy Kimberly Godwin Jefferson
Tom Godwin, and his daughter, Kimberly Godwin Jefferson, at Super Bowl XXI in California in 1986.

12. Big, Icy Marble Space Photo Shows Arctic Chill Blanketing Turtle Island

Winter cloaking Turtle Island, as seen from space on January 28, 2014. Yup, it’s cold.

13. The Intricate Beadwork of Jackie Larson Bread [10 Pictures]

Image source:
Beaded bag by Jackie Larson Bread (detail)

14. Starting Indian Kids on English Is Like Inviting Custer Into Your Home

15. A Lifetime Journey: Alabama-Coushatta Name New Chiefs

Courtesy Alabama-Coushatta Tribe
Mikko Colabe III Clem Fain Sylestine, right, and Mikko Skalaaba Herbert Johnson Sr., left, the first and second chiefs of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe listen to advice from clan elders during their inauguration.

16. Native History: ‘The Lone Ranger’ Debuts on Detroit Radio, Introduces Tonto

John Todd came on as the first Tonto soon after ‘The Lone Ranger’ first aired.

17. Video: More Winter Weather Whackiness, With Spinning Ice Disks

AP Photo/George Loegering
A spinning ice disk that was captured on video in November 2013.

18. NezPerce Tribe Asks Idaho School District to Change Mascots

Sacajawea High School
The Braves is the mascot for the Sacajawea Junior High School in Idaho.

19. High-Ticket Renovation of Pechanga Resort & Casino Expected to Improve Economy

20. Original Seattle Seahawk Found! (No, It’s Not Steve Largent)

21. Video: TransCanada Gas Pipeline Explodes, 4,000 Lose Heat in Frigid Manitoba

Via Environmental News Service (ENS)
Bystander photo of an explosion that occurred in a TransCanada natural gas pipeline on January 25, 2014.

22. Juggling Mushing and Diapers, New Dad Preps for 2014 Iditarod

Courtesy Mike Williams Jr.
Mike Williams Jr., Yu’pik, participates in the ceremonial start to the 2013 Iditarod, in Anchorage. He and his team will set off on their fifth Iditarod on March 1.

23. A Year of Action for Indian Country

Documents outlines budget proposal from the National Congress of American Indians.

24. Watch Neil Young Sing ‘Mother Earth’ as Tar Sands Mining Ravages Her

1.  Idle No More Lives On: Rifles vs. Songs

2. Circling Raven Golf Club Director Named PGA ‘Merchandiser of the Year’
Circling Raven Golf Course in Worley, Idaho

3. 6 New Year Nomination Battles for Obama’s Native-Focused Nominees

Pictured clockwise, from top left, are: Brad Carson, Michael Connor, Keith Harper, Yvette Roubideaux, Vince Logan, and Diane Humetewa.

4. New Congressional Budget Reimburses Tribal Contract Support Costs

5. To Finance a Community Farming Project, Michigan Tribe Taps Indian Land Capital Company

6. Devery Jacobs, Cara Gee Lead Native Nominees for ‘Canadian Oscars’

Devery Jacobs photo by Thosh Collins; Cara Gee photo courtesy Gary Goddard Agency
Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, left, and Cara Gee are nominated for Canadian Screen Awards.

7. IHS Confused Whether Indian Diabetes Funding Faces Another Sequestration

8. Tester, in Line to Be SCIA Chair, to Introduce Indian School Language Bill

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) is introducing the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act.

9. ‘Stop Racism’ Headdress Stirs Appropriation Debate at Fashion Week


10. Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall to Visit Canada in May

Associated Press
Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles

11. Native Innovation Delcares Tech Lawsuit Dismissal a Victory

Native Innovation/Facebook
A community member listens to Jerome Tsosie as he explains how the Diné Keyboard works on an Android OS device across social networks and email.

12. ‘Redskins’ Player Says Team ‘Probably Should’ Change Name

Associated Press
‘Redskins’ Cornerback DeAngelo Hall

13. Washington State Bill Would Help Clear Fish Wars Convictions

Ted S. Warren/AP
Nisqually Elder Billy Frank Jr., left, and Quinault member Ed Johnstone display a photo from the late 1960s of tribal fishermen Frank and Don McCloud on the Nisqually River during the Fish Wars. The two are standing on Frank’s Landing, the Nisqually elder’s family home north of Olympia and a hub of the fish-ins of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Reynolds Allen Wintersmith sentenced for crack cocaine

WASHINGTON —President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight people he said were serving unduly harsh drug sentences in the most expansive use yet of his power to free inmates.

One of those prisoners is the first cousin of Obama’s friend, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Reynolds Allen Wintersmith Jr., 39, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in Illinois in 1994 of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.

His sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1998.

All eight who were commuted by Obama were sentenced under old federal guidelines that treated convictions for crack cocaine offenses harsher than those involving the powder form of the drug.

Obama said those whose sentences he commuted Thursday have served at least 15 years in prison, many under mandatory minimums that required judges to impose long sentences even if they didn’t think the time fit the crime.

“If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” Obama said in a written statement. “Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.”

Wintersmith’s relationship to Patrick was first reported by

A White House spokesman, who asked not to be named, said Wintersmith’s relationship to Patrick had no bearing on the president’s decision and said that Patrick had not contacted the White House.

A spokesman for Patrick said the governor has “no recollection” of meeting Wintersmith, noting a difference in their ages, and learned of the commutation only from media reports.


Onyango Obama wants to stay in United States


BOSTON —An Boston immigration judge has allowed President Barack Obama’s Kenyan-born uncle to stay in the United States, saying that Onyango Obama is of “good moral character.”


The above is a breaking news update on the story below:


President Barack Obama’s Kenyan-born uncle was expected to appear at a deportation hearing to argue that he should be allowed to stay in the United States despite a 21-year-old order to leave the country.

Onyango Obama, the 69-year-old half brother of the president’s late father, had a hearing scheduled Tuesday in U.S. Immigration Court in Boston.

He has lived in the United States since the 1960s, when he came here as a teenager to attend school. Obama, a liquor store manager, was ordered to leave the country in 1992, but remained.

His immigration status did not become public until his arrest for drunken driving in 2011 in Framingham, just west of Boston. After his arrest, he allegedly told police, “I think I will call the White House.”

Earlier this year, the Board of Immigration Appeals sent the case to the Executive Office for Immigration Review for reassessment.

Margaret Wong, Obama’s Cleveland-based immigration attorney, called him a “wonderful older gentleman.”

“He has earned his privilege to stay in the United States. He has been here for 50 years,” she said Tuesday before the hearing.

The White House has said it expects the case to be handled like any other immigration case.

In the drunken driving case, Obama admitted to sufficient facts, meaning he did not plead guilty but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him. A judge continued the case for one year without a finding, saying the charge would be dismissed if Obama did not get arrested again during that time. Wong said Obama has successfully completed that program.

In the president’s memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” he writes about his 1988 trip to Kenya and refers to an Uncle Omar, who matches Onyango Obama’s background and has the same date of birth.

He is the second Obama family member to be found living illegally in the United States. His sister, Zeituni Onyango, the president’s aunt, made headlines when she was granted asylum in 2010 after her first asylum request in 2002 was rejected and she was ordered deported in 2004.

She did not leave the country and continued to live in public housing in Boston. Her status was revealed just days before Obama was elected in November 2008. At the time, then-candidate Obama said he did not know his aunt was living here illegally and that he believes laws covering the situation should be followed.


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