Archives For December 2013

1) Africans Settled China, Showing That We’re All Related

2) Obama Authorizes Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act

3) Cherokee Nation Joins InterTribal Buffalo Council

4) 10 Environmental Victories and Triumphs of 2013

5) A Triple Threat Against Obesity: NB3 Foundation, IHS and Let’s Move! in Indian Country Form Unprecedented Partnership

Courtesy IHS, NB3F

6) Thanks for the Laughs: 8 Must-Watch Clips of the Late Charlie Hill

7) Top 10 Sports Stories in Indian Country From 2013

8) ‘Redwashing’ Panel Follows Academic Associations’ Boycott of Israel

The panel, called “Redwashing: Israeli Claims to Indigeneity and the Political Role of Native Americans,” will take place during an international conference at the American University Beirut (AUB) Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) January 6-9.

9) Indigenous Brazilian Community Burned & Attacked for Retaliation

10) Cherokee Nation Takes First Step to Acquire Bison

Now that the Cherokee Nation has joined the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the tribes hopes to acquire bison and then will consult experts about developing a business plan most suitable to the tribe.

11) Navajo Nation Finalizes Sale of BHP Billiton Mine

The Navajo Nation is officially the new owner of the BHP Billiton Limited coal mine as of December 30, 2013, the tribe announced on December 31.

12) Pow Wow Comedy Jam Farewell Letter to Charlie Hill From Marc Yaffee

Scott Olson / Getty Images

The incandescent light bulb, center, is about to be turned off for good as LED, left, and compact fluorescent bulbs take its place.

By M. Alex Johnson, Staff Writer, NBC News

If you want to shed some light on 2014, you’ll have to do it with one of those ghostly halogen or fluorescent bulbs, thanks to a new federal law banning production of the familiar incandescent light bulbs — just one of hundreds of new rules and regulations taking effect across the U.S. with the new year.

Many of the new laws have fundamental and far-reaching effects, like the quiet elimination of the incandescent light bulb familiar to Americans for more than a century.

U.S. companies stopped making 100- and 75-watt incandescent bulbs a year ago, but New Year’s Day flips the switch on the second phase of controversial federal legislation, banning production of 60- and 40-watt bulbs.

The government wants you to use more energy-efficient alternatives, like halogen or compact fluorescent bulbs.

“I think the customer doesn’t realize what’s going on,” said Fussell Hughes, manager of Hughes Hardware in Albany, Ga.

“You used to go and buy a 40-watt bulb or 60-watt and knew what light it had and how bright,” Hughes told NBC station WALB of Albany. “The problem you’re going to have now is you’re going to have to learn about lumens, which is the amount of light put out by a bulb.”

Al Grillo / AP file

Oregon and Illinois will no longer allow teens to use tanning beds unless they have a doctor’s note.

Incandescent bulbs aren’t the only lights going out in the new year.

In two more states — Oregon and Illinois — teens won’t be allowed to use tanning beds unless they have a doctor’s note. (The ultraviolet light the beds put out can be helpful treating psoriasis, acne and other skin diseases — thus the medical exemption.)

Oregon and Illinois join Nevada, New Jersey, Texas and West Virginia, which already have similar laws — a trend that the Indoor Tanning Association says threatens to take away “very basic parenting decisions such as this.”

“Is the next step to ban teens from sunbathing at public beaches and pools?” the association says in a position statement.

Vending machines are also transforming, thanks to new federal regulations requiring them to provide calorie counts for the snacks inside.

Vending machines will begin posting calorie counts to help you make smarter food choices. But will it work? NBC News’ Joe Fryer reports.

Manufacturers say the rule will force them to cut jobs to make up the cost of reconfiguring their machines, but the Food and Drug Administration says the savings in health care costs will dwarf any economic impact on the front end.

And Obamacare kicks in for real Wednesday, as new insurance bought through health exchanges will begin covering patient treatments.

Many more new laws will affect the residents only of the states where they were passed.

California, for instance, will become the first state to require websites to tell users how they track and share personal information Wednesday, while Oregon will begin banning employers and schools from requiring job applicants to turn over the passwords to their Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts.


  • Gourmets in Delaware won’t be able to get shark fins for their shark fin soup — the demand has forced sharks into endangered species status.
  • In California, students will be allowed to use bathrooms and join sports teams “consistent with their gender identity” — even if that’s not what it says on their birth certificates.
  • In Illinois, it becomes illegal for animal rights activists to use drone aircraft to monitor hunters and fishermen.
  • Illinois will start publishing the names of drivers who stiff tollbooths if they owe more than $1,000.
  • Mothers in Oregon will be finally be allowed to take their babies’ placentas home with them.

Overall, the National Conference of State Legislatures,which tracks such things, says all U.S. states, commonwealths and territories passed nearly 40,000 new laws in 2013. via AFP – Getty Images, file

Russia’s top Islamist leader Doku Umarov, left, in an undated video posted on July 3, 2013.

By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

trio of deadly bombings in Volgograd ahead of the Winter Olympics has focused new attention on notorious Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, who has claimed responsibility for a wave of similar terrorist attacks in the name of Islam and vowed to stop the Sochi Games.

In a video statement this summer, the self-proclaimed emir of Caucasus declared that holding the global sports spectacular in the Black Sea resort amounted to “demonic dances on the bones of our ancestors” and said his band of rebels would “use all means” to derail the event.

A security clampdown at Sochi makes a major assault at the actual Olympic Games unlikely, some analysts say, but Volgograd — some 600 miles northeast of Sochi — is the biggest city in the region and a transit hub. Two of this week’s bombings have targeted public transportation, which may give travelers from across Russia and around the world the jitters.

“The most likely suspect is either Umarov or some group connected to him,” said David Satter, a Russian scholar at the Hudson Institute. “It’s all very worrisome.”

No one has taken credit for the Volgograd carnage, and it’s not clear how much direct control Umarov, who is about 49, exercises over the loosely knit coalition of autonomous Islamist groups in the so-called Caucasus Emirate that could be to blame.

But experts say the cabals under his umbrella share a common goal — global jihad — and he has become the camera-ready face of that ideology in the region.

His early history is murky — he claims his parents were part of the Chechen intelligentsia and there are reports he got an engineering degree or did prison time — but he joined the insurgency against the Russian Federation in 1994 and fought in the second war that began in 1999.

He rose through the ranks of the Chechen independence movement until he split off from some of his old political allies in 2007 and announced a new religion-based mission: to unite Northern Caucasus into a single Islamic state ruled by Sharia law.

“Today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Palestine, our brothers are fighting,” he said at the time. “Everyone who attacked Muslims wherever they are are our enemies, common enemies. Our enemy is not Russia only, but everyone who wages war against Islam and Muslims.”

Sergei Karpov / Reuters

Flowers placed at the site of an explosion on a trolleybus in Volgograd.

Although he had rejected terrorism in a 2005 interview, in his new role he soon embraced sabotage and attacks on civilians, arguing it was justified by the government’s brutal crackdown on separatists.

In August 2009, a group linked to him claimed it had bombed the Sayno-Shushenskata hydro-electric plant in Siberia, killing more than two dozen people, though the government later insisted it was an accident.

Three months later, Umarov’s separatists said they had orchestrated a blast that derailed the high-speed Nevsky Express train between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, killing 27 people.

That was followed by the March 2010 suicide bombings of the Moscow subway, which killed 39 people. Umarov said it was retribution for the death of four garlic-picking villagers at the hands of security forces.

His message to Russians at the time: “I promise you that war will come to your streets and you will feel it in your lives, feel it on your own skin.”

Umarov also claimed he ordered the suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport, which killed 36 people in February 2011.

“More special operations will be carried out in the future,” he said in a video posted on the Internet.

“Among us there are hundreds of brothers who are prepared to sacrifice themselves. … We can at any time carry out operations where we want.”

The father of six — who retired as emir in 2010 only to change his mind days later — was even allegedly behind a plot to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin that was reportedly foiled in 2012.

Andrew Kutchins, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Umarov has not been definitively tied to some of the attacks and “sometimes he may be talking more game than he has.”

“He hasn’t been able to establish the authority over a network as successfully as someone like Osama bin Laden,” Kutchins said.
“He’s kind of a publicity hound for sure. Just how operationally effective he has been is impossible to say.”

Several times, Russian and Chechen officials have claimed Umarov was dead. But despite taking a bullet to the jaw and stepping on a landmine, he survived to to make his most audacious threat in July — that he would stop the Sochi Games.

“Sochi has been under virtual lockdown and to penetrate that is going to be very, very difficult,” Kutchins said. “But to create a sense of terror in Russia and outside Russia about the Games could very well likely be the goal.

“We may be seeing the beginning of a series of terrorist attacks to terrorize the country — to lead some delegations to think about not attending the Games, to cast a dark shadow over Vladimir Putin’s leadership and his claims he has brought security and stability to Russia.”


Rush-hour blast kills 14 in Volgograd, Russia; 3rd deadly attack in four days

By Elisha Fieldstadt, Staff Writer, NBC News

The family of a 13-year-old girl declared brain dead by three doctors received an extension from a judge on Monday to keep the 8th-grader on life support until Jan. 7.

Courtesy of McMath Family and Omari Sealey via AP

Jahi McMath,13, had her tonsils removed on Dec. 9 and was declared brain dead three days later.

With an hour to spare, Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo reinstated a restraining order preventing an Oakland, Calif., hospital from removing Jahi McMath from life support at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET) on Monday.

“We are hopeful that one of these actions will forestall the hospital’s rush to extinguish Jahi’s chance at life,” said McMath’s uncle, Omari Sealey.

McMath underwent a tonsillectomy and other operations to alleviate her sleep apnea on Dec. 9. She started bleeding profusely and went into cardiac arrest shortly after.

The young girl’s family has been in a legal battle with Children’s Hospital in Oakland since doctors at the hospital declared her brain dead three days later.

The family already had won a restraining order preventing doctors from removing the girl from a ventilator keeping her alive, but Grillo revoked her order Tuesday after hearing testimony from an independent physician who said McMath met “all criteria for brain death,” according to NBC Bay Area.

Grillo said in that ruling that Children’s Hospital could remove Jahi from life support unless the family filed a formal appeal, which they did on Monday.

McMath’s parents have insisted that their daughter is alive, regardless of doctors’ opinions that her condition is irreversible.

“I would probably need my child’s heart to stop to show me that she was dead. Her heart was still beating, so there’s still life there,” McMath’s mother, Nailah Winfield told the Associated Press on Friday.

But David Durand, chief of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, said administrators did “not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice.”

Stephen Lam / Reuters file

Omari Sealey, left, uncle of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, and Sandra Chatman, grandmother of McMath speak to members of the media after a court hearing in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 24.

In efforts to keep Children’s Hospital from removing the girl from the machine that was supporting her basic life functions, her family tried to move her to two other facilities in California. But doctors at both facilities refused to treat someone who had been declared dead.

But Sealey, the girl’s uncle, said Monday that an unidentified hospital in New York had agreed to admit Jahi and on Monday, the family was organizing for an air ambulance to transfer the teen across the country.

On Friday Winfield wrote on a fundraising page, “My family and I are still striving to find a location that will accept her in her current condition … Let us pray that some one (sic) will have the heart to accept her despite what Children’s Hospital says. So that we can get her air lifted away from this place as soon as possible.” On Monday, donors had contributed over $25,000 to Jahi’s cause.


Brennan Linsley / The Associated Press

Arapahoe High School students hug at a tribute site for severely wounded student Claire Davis, who was shot by a classmate during a school attack six days earlier at Arapahoe High School, in Centennial, Colo., Thursday Dec. 19, 2013. On Thursday, students were allowed back into school to retrieve their belongings.

By Daniella Silva, NBC News

On the morning he walked into Arapahoe High School and shot a schoolmate in the head before killing himself, Karl Pierson went bowling.

That detail — offering a chilling connection to the 1999 Columbine High massacre just eight miles away — and others about the Dec. 13 school shooting in suburban Denver were shared Monday at a morning news conference.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Pierson, 18, planned and carried out the shooting on his own, likely motivated by a dispute with his former debate team coach.

“There is no question that this was a very deliberate and planned event,” he said, adding that evidence thus far in the investigation did not suggest any “direct or indirect co-conspirators.”

The sheriff said Pierson began the day as he normally would and “gave no indication that anything was amiss,” adding that Pierson took the time to eat breakfast and go bowling alone before heading to the school.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson says suspected gunman Karl Pierson “took time to eat a meal and go bowling” before opening fire inside Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13.

That detail prompted comparisons to the Columbine High School shooting 14 years earlier. The shooters, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 13 people and injuring 24 others before committing suicide on April 20, 1999. They originally were alleged to have attended a bowling class in the hours before the attack — an action made infamous in Michael Moore’s documentary, “Bowling for Columbine.”

Investigators later found the shooters had not attended the class that morning.

Robinson said there was no direct evidence Pierson was inspired by or had interest in the Columbine massacre.

After making a final stop to purchase more ammunition, Pierson arrived at the school and entered through a door set ajar that was supposed to be locked, but usually was not.

Robinson urged that this was standard protocol at the school and that Pierson would likely have found a way to enter the school regardless because he was “intent on executing his violence and his evil.”

Upon entering the school on its north side, armed with a shotgun, machete, 125 rounds of ammunition and three Molotov cocktails, Pierson fired one round randomly into the hallway of the school before shooting a fatal second round that killed senior Claire Esther Davis, 17.

Pierson then fired another random shot before making his way into the school’s library and media center. Robinson said Pierson then fired one round into the area surrounding the office of school librarian and debate team coach Tracy Murphy, believed to be his intended target.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson says the door suspected gunman Karl Pierson used to enter the school was supposed to be locked but rarely is because it’s inconvenient.

He then ignited a Molotov cocktail in the center of the library, setting a fire that burned four book shelves and created a large amount of smoke. He then fired a fifth round and took his own life with a single gunshot to the head.

The sheriff took time to praise the actions of the school for implementing a lockdown quickly and effectively, as well as the actions of an armed school resource officer and unarmed school security guard.

The officer, Deputy Sheriff James Englert and security guard James Mauler, both ran to the library after hearing gunshots.

“I believe strongly the reason this incident took less than one minute and 20 seconds was the result of a very effective lockdown protocol in collaboration with the immediate and timely response by the armed school resource officer and unarmed security guard,” he said, adding that he was confident Pierson knew Englert and Mauler were in his immediate area.

“Deputy James Englert is a hero, there is no question James responded heroically and he saved lives,” Robinson said.

The sheriff said that while police were still investigating, a disagreement between Pierson and the debate team coach was likely “a primary motivator and element that was critical to the murderer’s plan.”

The sheriff also extended his condolences to the Davis family.

“Claire has left an impact on my life and the life of this community,” he said.

Jeremiah Oliver missing since September

FITCHBURG, Mass. —A third employee of Massachusetts’ social services agency has been fired for her involvement in the case of a 5-year-old boy who has not been seen for months and is feared dead.

The commissioner of the state Department of Children & Families said Monday that an area program manager was fired after an investigation found she failed to ensure any follow-up after multiple reports of abuse and neglect in Jeremiah Oliver’s Fitchburg home.

A social worker and supervisor were dismissed earlier this month. In addition, Commissioner Olga Roche said another manager was given a three-day suspension without pay and removed from a decision-making position.

Watch full report

She said an internal investigation by the agency found staff missed multiple opportunities to engage with the Oliver family through home visits and sometimes went months between meetings with the family.

The boy disappeared in September, but police didn’t learn that until earlier this month. They are treating the case as a possible homicide.

The boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., have been arrested. They have pleaded not guilty to child endangerment, abuse and other charges.

Roche said that the supervisor entered false information including that the children were well cared for and the apartment well furnished.

“This information was never available to them because they never visited the home,” she said. Roche said the supervisor knew that the home visits were not being conducted by the social worker.

She said the fired social worker had a comparable workload as another social worker who had worked with the family at a different DCF office and visited them regularly after they first became involved with the department in September 2011.

The care declined when the family moved to Fitchburg and their case was transferred to the DCF’s North Central Area Office in January 2013. The new social worker assigned to the family “failed to do the basic responsibility of a social worker,” Roche said.

She said months went by when the social worker, who had five years of experience on the job, failed to make visits and failed to follow up on reports.

The report released by the department Monday chronicled a breakdown in oversight of a troubled family.

According to the report, the last time anyone from the department spoke to the 5-year-old was on May 20, when an agency investigator described the boy as “precocious, talkative and articulate.”

The report said the social worker failed to conduct home visits in June or July despite reports of abuse or neglect. There was also no record of a home visit in August and the social worker said she didn’t conduct a visit in September or October.

In November, the social worker spoke with the oldest sibling at school who said Jeremiah was living with their “other family” who he didn’t know. The social worker made an unannounced home visit, but no one answered the door.

On Dec. 10 the department obtained custody of the three children, but Elsa Oliver refused to disclose the location of her youngest child.

The Boston Globe also reported Monday that the fired social worker was promoted on Nov. 27 and received a 5 percent pay hike in pay as part of a statewide, merit-based promotion given to 239 social workers.

Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement Monday that the “failure to appropriately monitor the family and respond to multiple warning signs is simply unacceptable.”

A union representing social workers said Monday that the department has to address the issue of overloaded caseworkers.

Roche said Monday she is also directing staff to investigate all allegations involving children under the age of 5 with young parents or parents with a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues or unresolved childhood trauma.

Kenneth Edelin dead at 74

AP Photo

Edelin’s wife confirmed that he died Monday morning after suffering from cancer.

View: 2013 Notable Deaths

Edelin made national headlines when he was convicted of manslaughter in 1975 for performing an abortion. That was two years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the procedure with its decision on Roe v. Wade.

According to NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Massachusetts Supreme Court later overturned Edelin’s guilty verdict. The LDF says Edelin went on to become an outspoken activist and spokesman for reproductive rights.

He also served as a chairman of the board of Planned Parenthood. Edelin joined the LDF’s senior board in 1986.

BOSTON —A worker was killed near a Logan Airport cargo terminal Monday night, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said.

The incident occurred on the tarmac, but it did not appear the worker, a 59-year old Melrose resident,  was struck by a plane.

Watch NewsCenter 5’s report

“The preliminary information is that an employee on the tarmac suffered fatal injuries after being hit by a truck as it was traveling in reverse in the area of a plane,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for the district attorney.

“It does not suggest that he was struck by a plane,” said Wark.  The death, near a Miami Air charter plane,  appears to be an accident.

The driver of the truck, 47, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of stress.

“He showed no obvious signs of impairment. but will be tested for drug and alcohol use,” Wark said.

State Police detectives along with troopers from the Logan barracks are investigating.

The victim’s name was not immediately released.

Rescue crews, divers search for person in Sluice Pond

Car submerged in Lynn pond
Stan Forman/WCVB

LYNN, Mass. —Rescue crews responded Monday night to a submerged car and a report of a person in the water at Sluice Pond in Lynn, officials said.

Dive teams from Beverly and Cambridge were called to assist. There was no sign of anyone inside the car.