SMCF grant will help fund study of Native American education

GRAND RONDE — The education status of Oregon’s Native American youth will be the focus of a new, one-of-a-kind study thanks to a grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

Aaron Newton, Polk County Itemizer Observer

Kathleen George
Kathleen George

GRAND RONDE — The education status of Oregon’s Native American youth will be the focus of a new, one-of-a-kind study thanks to a grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

The Chalkboard Project, a Portland-based education advocacy group, received a $71,000 grant from SMCF to study the state of education among Oregon’s Native American population.

The sweeping study will look into the achievement outcomes of K-12 students, graduation rates and higher education status in eight of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon.

This spring, the Chalkboard Project approached SMCF for a grant and SMCF staff saw it as an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

“This was an unusual and exciting request for Spirit Mountain Community Fund,” SMCF Director Kathleen George said. “After discovering it and looking into it, we saw that really this would be the first-of-its-kind study in the state.”

The Chalkboard Project, partnering with Pacific Northwest-based consulting firm ECONorthwest, has conducted similar studies — most recently publishing a report on Oregon’s K-12 education system — but none solely focusing on Oregon’s Native American tribes.

The eight tribes involved in the study are spread across Oregon, from Coos Bay to Burns and Klamath County to Umatilla County.

The divergent nature of Oregon’s tribes and its relatively low population has led to the general inattention when education is concerned, George said.

“I think they’re largely out of sight and out of mind for the education leadership of our state,” she said. “Our kids are widely dispersed across the state. You’ll have several hundred Warm Springs kids; maybe a hundred, maybe less in Burns Paiute.”

The Chalkboard Project’s goal for the study is to inform each tribal government on their students’ progress and achievements in the public school system.

Reports will be provided specifically for each tribe, with only data on their students, and a master report will be prepared for Oregon legislators at their 2014 session.

The study is now under way, but sifting through the data to produce quantitative information is where the trouble lies, said Dr. Andrew Dyke, economist with ECONorthwest.

“The big hurdle is figuring out who the population is, because of confidentiality concerns it’s not as simple as going to the tribes and asking who their kids are,” he said. “The next step is to quantify the high level outcomes and take that information back to each tribe for feedback.”

Anybody can help clean state’s beaches

Source: Energy Innovation Foundation

Washington coasts are included in an international coastal cleanup day set for Sept. 21.

The event depends on volunteers for success. They can select from dozens of beaches to help remove marine debris from Cape Flattery to Cape Disappointment.

Volunteers in Washington state will be joined by thousands of volunteers around the world, sharing the common goal of protecting the marine environment.

This is a worthwhile effort supported by individuals, families, nonprofit groups, businesses and government agencies, all under the banner of CoastSavers.

Keeping the beaches clean is more than just an exercise in aesthetics. Plastic debris in the water and on the beach poses a threat to marine mammals and birds. They can be fooled into thinking it’s food, ingest it and then suffer serious consequences, including malnourishment or even death.

Public awareness of marine debris may be at an all-time high in the wake of the March 2011 tsunami that swept an estimated 5 million tons of debris into the ocean from Japan. Some of the debris landing on state beaches since then has arrived from Japan, adding to the importance of these beach cleanups.

Volunteers who aren’t physically capable of patrolling beaches and lifting bags of debris still can help by serving as a registration station beach captain, assisting with registering volunteers and ensuring they fill out the paperwork and follow cleanup protocol.

For information on how to register for the event, what beaches will be cleaned, where to camp and other trip planning tips, go


34th Annual Puyallup Tribal Pow Wow, Aug 30-Sept 1


34th Annual Puyallup Tribal Pow Wow, August 30, 31 and September 1, 2013

Grand Entry Friday 7 PM sharp! Dance & Drum Competitions, Puyallup Tribal Royalty Contest, Native American Arts & Crafts, Native American Food Booths. Salmon Bake: Saturday 5-7 PM

Location: Chief Leschi Schools 5625 52nd St. E. Puyallup WA 98371

Information: Puyallup Tribe, 253.680.5730 or 253.405.2962 Mon-Fri 9am-4:30 PM



Fresh From the Farm to School Lunches: Navajo Pilot Program Proves Successful

Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today Media Network

Native schools on reservations with limited budgets often struggle to provide healthy, unprocessed and culturally relevant foods for their students. One possible and viable solution to address the severe conditions of poverty, social stress and health and nutrition problems in Native communities and schools is a Farm-to-School program in which local farmers supply produce to the schools directly within in their communities.

Though it may seem like a simple remedy, government regulations stand in the way of small farmers supplying such schools, because before a farmer can sell their wares, they must first gain certification by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The good news is that such an achievement is possible. Thanks to the efforts of the First Nations Development Institute (FNDI), a Navajo community-based charter elementary STAR School and a Navajo Farmer, a successful Farm-to-School program is more than just a theory.

RELATED: First Nations Development Institute Advances Food Sovereignty

In an effort to create similar Farm-to-School programs in Indian country, the FNDI has released a report that offers guidelines for other schools and farms to achieve success.

The report, entitled “Healthy Foods for Navajo Schools: Discoveries from the First Year of a Navajo Farm-to-School Program,” authored by Shawn Newell of Native American Development Associates, details how such a program, if implemented correctly, would be not only be a successful demonstration for any school wishing to undertake a similar project—but it would also be addressing how such issues as obesity and diabetes could be alleviated.

Dr. Mark Sorensen is the co-founder and Director of the STAR (Service To All Relations) School, an elementary charter school located near the southwestern edge of the Navajo Nation. The school is based on four values: respect, relationship, responsibility and reasoning that are rooted in Navajo Peacemaking, a traditional form of conflict resolution.

Students look how to cook in the Navajo Farm-to-School Program (Courtesy Louva Montour)
Students look how to cook in the Navajo Farm-to-School Program (Courtesy Louva Montour)


According to Sorensen, “The Farm-to-School program was initiated with the help of a grant from the FNDI and was supported from the idea that plants have sustained our families for generations. Our communities are really suffering from not having nutritious food grown locally—our area of the Navajo Nation is considered a ‘food desert’—and kids are not likely to start eating more vegetables unless they are personally involved in growing, harvesting, and tasting the food.”

“Our program involves interaction of students and local farmers as well as developing greenhouses on the school campus, all for the purpose of providing students with healthy, fresh, locally grown vegetables,” Sorensen said.

One of the main challenges, explained Sorensen, is that farmers need to meet the qualifications necessary to supply these foods to schools.

In the report, the author Newell states that creating a successful Farm-to-School program involves traversing a complex and evolving jurisdictional landscape because Federal, State and county regulations define school cafeterias and kitchens as food establishments and are subject to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food code.

This code mandates that such food establishments buy only from an approved source. In order to be an approved source, a farm needs to obtain certification. Unfortunately for small farmers, such certifications are not easy to obtain, the most common is the USDA Good Handling Practices/Good Agricultural Practices Certification or GHP/GAP.

Sorensen says this is the main reason for their efforts. “One of our purposes in this program is to help local farmers develop their food safety practices to the point of being able to regularly supply the school with food.  It is to fulfill this purpose that we wrote the Navajo Food for Schools Manual.”

In the meantime, Stacey Jensen (Navajo) the Farm Manager of The North Leupp Family Farms (NLFF) a community-based, non-profit, volunteer- driven farm supporting sustainable agricultural for more than 20 years – says they are working on such certification. In the interim they can’t supply food to the schools.

“We cannot sell our produce to STAR Schools without a certification. We are working and should have it in the next six months. This time next year we should have our 501(c) (3) so we will be able to go after the big grants. The farm is also working to get off our diesel generators this year and become completely solar,” says Jensen.

“This could be the best thing ever, I envision it to be that way but there are regulations and certifications and standards and so forth – which sort of negates our efforts to have this wonderful community come together as farmers and schools and students,” he says. ”It definitely is frustrating at times.”

Though he is frustrated with policy, he loves working with the STAR students and sharing his culture.

“The children are wonderful; I love children especially the STAR School students. I call them STAR kids because they have the philosophy where everything has a relationship to everything else and everything is in a cycle. The kids definitely enjoy it. One child came out that didn’t know where carrots came from until I pulled it out of the vegetable bed for him. You should have seen the expression on his face,” said Jensen.

Louva Montour (Navajo) is the Foodservice Manager/Home Economics Teacher and the Wellness Program coordinator at the STAR School. Montour speaks well of the Farm-to-School program but voices concern as to how government policy keeps locally available, healthy and culturally relevant foods from their school.

“The rules and regulations keep us from doing this program to the extent we want to do this,” said Montour. “We want to work with our own native farmers. That is the whole idea is that we would like our young kids to learn about and appreciate our cultural and traditional foods.”

“Last spring, there was a group of fifth and sixth grade students who went out and planted corn. They also helped with harvest, they brought it back and husked the corn. We made kneeling down bread, which is a Navajo recipe. Another class dried blue corn and later ground the corn. We also save the kernels for stew and we used it for winter food.”

The Navajo Farm-to-School Program emphasizes culturally relevant foods and cooking techniques. (Courtesy Louva Montour)
The Navajo Farm-to-School Program emphasizes culturally relevant foods and cooking techniques. (Courtesy Louva Montour)


“We teach a lot of cultural awareness, says Montour. “A lot of students are living in urban areas. They are not living in a ranch or farm setting. This (program) takes them away from their electronic games.”

Montour says that the program also teaches values that the students take away to share with their families. “The kids tell me that because of this, they help out more at home. They help their mother more with cooking. They helped their mom make bread. They use these foods in traditional ceremony and they will tell me they helped out.

Ultimately says Montour, “This is all hands on learning. We have a lot of fun.”

Raymond Foxworth, (Navajo) the FNDI’s senior program officer, told ICTMN how the success of the STAR School and the corresponding manual will serve to guide others in Indian Country.

“Farm-to-school has become an important model in urban areas as one mechanism to increase access to healthy and fresh food for kids. But in Indian country we only have a handful of successful programs and there are a variety of reasons for this. At the STAR School they are overcoming these challenges.”

“Food is an important part of Native identities and is always a part of social gatherings and celebrations,” says Foxworth. “This program really takes steps so that we can begin to ask questions about what we are eating, how the food we eat is prepared and where does our food come from,” he said.

“Moreover, this program starts with our kids so that we can grow future generations of healthy, strong, educated and health conscious Native children.”



MicroGREEN Polymers Raises $10M From Increasingly Active Tribal Investors



Benjamin Romano 8/29/13

The cup that holds your morning coffee is a seemingly simple item to be used and discarded. It probably hasn’t changed much over the years. No big deal, except that Americans go through 137 billion disposable beverage cups each, generating a tremendous amount of waste.

That looks like a huge opportunity toMicroGREEN Polymers, a company with a distinctly Pacific Northwest mix of technology, innovators, customers, and investors, now including two American Indian groups, which represent a new source of venture capital and private equity nationally.

The Arlington, WA-based manufacturer is raising $10 million from investors including theConfederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. The financing is part of a $20 million round, which began early this year with a $5 million investment from the Stillaguamish Tribe, and is expected to close with another $5 million investment, also from American Indian tribes, says MicroGREEN president and CEO Tom Malone. The company plans to use the cash to expand its line of recycled and recyclable hot and cold beverage cups, and to increase production capacity.

The Stillaguamish and Grand Ronde are part of a growing number of American Indian tribes putting their newfound casino wealth to work in more sophisticated ways, including through direct investment in local companies focused on long-term sustainability, among other values that match their own.

MicroGREEN aims to make up to 500 million InCycle cups a year—still just a drop in the bucket of the disposable cup market, which is expected to grow to 159 billion units by 2016, according to the company, which cites research from The Freedonia Group. That would generate around $25 million in sales, and the company forecasts it will turn profitable by mid-2014, “largely because this round of financing enables us to put in place the final production equipment to hit that full capacity,” Malone says.

It plans to nearly double its staff to 100 people by the end of the first quarter of 2014, with a third shift to be added “almost immediately,” he says.

UW Technology

MicroGREEN’s manufacturing process—developed by Greg Branch and Krishna Nadella as graduate students in the University of Washington mechanical engineering department more than a decade ago—injects food-grade carbon dioxide into recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic inside a pressure vessel. The polymer is then heated, allowing billions of tiny bubbles to form in the core of the plastic, expanding it into a material that can be made into insulated beverage cups marketed as InCycle.

The cups have 30 percent the density of solid plastic cups, Malone says, reducing the cost and global-warming impact of the end product. Moreover, the cup is easily recyclable at the end of its life—adhering to “cradle to cradle” design principles—unlike plastic-lined paper cups found in many coffee shops, which are difficult to recycle in most conventional municipal systems.

“All we’re doing is allowing recycled plastic to take another trip through the economy,” Malone says.

And since the MicroGREEN process gives the cups great insulation properties, there’s no need to grab a second cup or sleeve to protect hands from the hot drink inside.

“We can compete against all the legacy producers in a way that enables us to give the consumer what they’re looking for and for us to make a profit,” Malone says.

The company names customers including Redhook Brewery and Alaska Airlines, which will begin using InCycle cups for beverage service on flights beginning Oct. 1. Other airline orders are also in the works, Malone says.

The Alaska deal has helped expose the company to one of the world’s biggest users of disposable cups: Starbucks, whose coffee is served by Alaska and, according to Malone, has approved the InCycle cup to hold its brew. (Starbucks, which uses 4 billion cups a year globally, has a goal of making 100 percent of them reusable or recyclable by 2015. It’s actually a quite complex problem, as explained in this post updating the coffee giant’s progress.)

With this latest investment, MicroGREEN has raised $42 million. Earlier investors include WRF CapitalNorthwest Energy Angels, and Waste Management, the garbage giant.

Tribal Investment

The story of MicroGREEN’s investment from American Indian tribes starts with proximity. After receiving an order from the Stillaguamish-owned Angel of the Winds in Arlington, MicroGREEN invited tribal representatives to visit its factory.

Koran Andrews, CEO of the Stillaguamish Tribal Enterprise Corporation, took a tour last year and recognized an investment opportunity in keeping with her organization’s goals of economic diversification and long-term sustainability. Bill Lomax, president of the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA), says of the Stillaguamish: “For one of the smaller tribes in the country that maybe doesn’t get out into the national media as much, they’re probably one of the savviest.”

Malone says Andrews opened his eyes to the opportunity presented by the growing economic might of American Indian tribes. And it was the Stillaguamish who introduced MicroGREEN to the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde at a conference in Seattle earlier this year, says Titu Asghar, director of economic development for the Oregon-based group of 27 tribes and bands.

“MicroGREEN’s philosophy aligns with the tribe’s philosophy of returning back to the Earth, being ecologically sustainable, looking into green investments,” Asghar says.

Those goals inform the Tribe’s investment focus, along with a geographic concentration on historic lands forcibly ceded in the mid-19th century, which stretched from Northern California, through the mid-Willamette Valley, to southwest Washington.

The Confederated Tribes formed an economic development arm in 2011 as a way to diversify and invest revenues from casino and timber operations. It made direct equity investments in two other companies in 2012 and is exploring a few more opportunities currently, Asghar says. The Confederated Tribes target investments in the $5 million to $10 million range, in companies that are sustainable environmentally and economically, with stable management and cash flows. He would not disclose the size of the fund to be invested.

Rather than investing as a limited partner in an existing private equity or venture capital fund, the Confederated Tribes decided to keep their investing activities in house, performing their own due diligence and relying on existing legal, finance, and public relations capabilities. That’s part of being good stewards of tribal dollars, a responsibility the Tribal Council—which has final say in all investments—would never leave to outsiders, says public affairs director Siobhan Taylor.

Malone says companies seeking investment from tribes must be aware that each one is different.

“One step is getting to know the tribe, getting to know particularly the decision-making process and the leadership council,” he says. “It’s also an investment based not only on due diligence, but also on trust in the management team. Getting to know them, them getting to know us—that’s very important to both parties.”

While they may indicate the beginnings of a trend, the Stillaguamish and Confederated Tribes’ direct investments in a cleantech manufacturer remain relatively uncommon nationally, says Lomax, of the NAFOA. “We haven’t seen necessarily a lot of investments like that to my knowledge,” he says. “We’ve certainly seen a big interest in clean energy.”

In the past, few tribes had much extra money, so venture capital investing wasn’t relevant. “And then the casinos came along and that created wealth for a great number of tribes,” he says.

In 2012, Indian gaming revenue was $27.9 billion, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

“We’ve seen a real evolution in the tribal acumen when it comes to investing over the last 10 to 15 years,” Lomax says. Over that time, tribes have accumulated significant wealth from their casinos and associated businesses. They are now looking to broaden their portfolios beyond plain vanilla investments in stocks and bonds, he says.

One of the most sophisticated efforts is Growth Fund Private Equity, the Durango, CO-based business investing arm of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, which has invested in technology companies including Seattle-based RFID systems makerImpinj.

“I think generally, a lot of tribes are now starting to make allocation to passive private equity and venture-type investments,” Lomax says, though he cautions that tribes aren’t moving to this kind of investing en masse.

As in the case of MicroGREEN, tribes tend to focus investments locally, which makes them a promising emerging source to support local innovation, particularly in sustainability and cleantech, he says.

Obama administration to press case on Syria but support for strikes wavers

Congressional leaders to be briefed on chemical weapons evidence as White House resists comparisons with Iraq war

The briefings with congressional leaders would be given by the secretary of state John Kerry, and secretary of defence Chuck Hagel, officials said. Photo: Reuters
The briefings with congressional leaders would be given by the secretary of state John Kerry, and secretary of defence Chuck Hagel, officials said. Photo: Reuters

Paul Lewis and Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Senior US intelligence officials were seeking to persuade Congress on Thursday that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks, as the White House resisted comparisons with intelligence failures in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Leaders of key congressional committees were due to participate in “unclassified briefing” by telephone on Thursday, amid signs that some of the support for military strikes against Syria is fading.

A separate, unclassified report on the US intelligence assessment is being prepared for release to the public before the end of the week.

The UK released an intelligence assessment on Thursday that said it was “highly likely” that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical attack that killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb last week.

However, the document contained few specifics, and failure by the US and UK to say with absolute certainty that the attacks were conducted by the Syrian government have prompted challenging questions in Congress and led to signs of growing anxiety among traditional US allies.

It has also prompted comparisons with Iraq in 2003, when the US launched an invasion on the pretext of weapons of mass destructions that were never found. “As it relates to the situation in Iraq, I don’t agree these are similar situations,” deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday.

“What we saw in that circumstance that an administration was searching high and low to produce evidence to justify a military invasion, an open-ended military invasion of another country, with the final goal being regime change,” he said. “That was the articulated policy of the previous administration.”

Earnest said any strikes carried out by the US and its allies would be “discreet and limited”.

In a sign of the importance the White House is attaching to support from Capitol Hill, the briefings with “congressional leaders and the chairs and ranking members of national security committees” would be given by the secretary of state John Kerry, and secretary of defence Chuck Hagel.

Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice and director of national intelligence James Clapper will also participate in the briefing.

Separately, Obama personally briefed the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, John Boenher. A spokesman for Boenher said in a statement he had raised the question of the legality for any military strike and pressed him to consult further with Congress.

Republican senator Jim Inhofe, the ranking member of armed services committee, said he was opposed to using force in Syria when military resources are depleted and there was insufficient evidence of regional backing. “It is vital we avoid short-sighted military action that would have little impact on the long-term trajectory of the conflict,” he said. “We can’t simply launch a few missiles and hope for the best.”

Obama was criticised for failing to consult Congress sufficiently before air strikes in Libya in 2011. However, there is no sign the White House would seek a Congressional before launching strikes.

In London, prime minister David Cameron laid out Britain’s case for possible military intervention in a parliamentary debate, but doubts remain over whether the House of Commons would approve a joint action with the US. In an attempt to prevent a parliamentary defeat, Cameron committed to a second vote after UN inspectors have completed their report on the chemical attacks in Damascus.

France has also called for a delay to any military action until the UN inspectors complete their work.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, instructed the 20-strong inspection team in Damascus to leave on Saturday, a day before they had expected to leave. Ban also announced the team would report to him immediately on departure.

Military and foreign policy experts were split over whether the US would forge ahead with cruise missile strikes against Syria. Obama, who has long been reluctant to be engaged militarily in the Middle East, is now considering the prospect of taking military action with less international support than George Bush’s 2003 invasion of in Iraq.

However, Earnest, the White House deputy spokesman, seemed to confirm that was a possibility when he was asked whether the US would “go it alone”.

Earnest repeatedly said it was in US “core national security interests” to enforce international chemical weapons norms. “The president of the United States is elected with the duty to protect the national security interests of America,” he said. “The decisions he makes about our foreign policy is with our national security interests front and centre.”

Analysts said that with the Arab League condemning Syria but not backing military action, and no prospect of a UN security council mandate, reluctance on the part of Britain and France could prove a problem for the US.

Michael O’Hanlon, the director of foreign policy research at the Brookings Institution, said fading international support was “regrettable”, the Obama administration was unlikely to pull back from the brink at this stage.

Sean Kay, a Nato expert at Ohio Wesleyan University, said it looked likely that the US would attack Syria with or without the UK. “I think they’re trying to make it clear they’re determined to move forward,” he said.

Many in Washington believe military action is a fait accompli. UN weapons inspections were ordered to leave Syria ahead of schedule on Thursday ahead of schedule amid mounting anticipation of US-led military strikes. But others argue that doubts over intelligence and lack of support from key allies could delay or even lead to the abandonment of military action.

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, detected that “caution has grown” in the White House over the last 24 hours.

“I think they’ve found over the last couple of days both a lack of support at home, both among the American people and Congress, and then they look internationally and suddenly they don’t feel quite so surrounded by friends,” he said.

Bandow said that an “embarrassing backdown” by the US remained a possibility, and predicted that doubt in Britain, and lack of support elsewhere, would delay any strikes.

Britain’s joint intelligence committee (JIC) concluded it is “highly likely” that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapon attacks in Syria. But the assessment was mainly based on “open source” evidence such as video footage of the victims, and a judgment that the opposition does not have the capability to launch such an attack. It described the evidence base of a deliberate attack to clear opposition from suburbs in Damascus as only “limited but growing”.

Chairs and ranking members of key congressional committees, who have been briefed on the intelligence, have endorsed the view that Assad’s forces were responsible for the attack.

But all have stopped short of saying the evidence is unequivocal.

Citing “multiple US officials”, the Associated Press reported on Monday that there were gaps in the US intelligence picture, which was “thick with caveats”.

Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence analyst, said the Syria crisis reminded him of the one preceding the Iraq war. “There are enough similarities that it makes one very nervous,” he said. “This rhymes with what happened over Iraq WMD.”

One of the few voices of caution inside the US intelligence agencies when compiling the infamously erroneous 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, Thielmann said that post-Iraq intelligence reforms give him confidence that the spy agencies are not overstating their case.

But he raised questions about the seeming vagueness in the intelligence. “I would have thought there would be incentives inside the intelligence community to find out what’s going on that the US would have gotten some samples and established a chain of custody,” he said.

Ken Pollack, a former CIA analyst now at the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy, said that with continuing uncertainty over the intelligence picture, and no obvious legal mandate for military action, the US will be desperate to secure more international backing to argue intervention is “legitimate”.

“If the administration can’t even count of the full-throated support of our closest ally, the country that stuck by us even during the worst days of Iraq, that legitimacy is going to be called into question,” he said.

South Carolina officers in Oklahoma for Indian custody case


Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon sends deputies, SLED agent to Oklahoma in Veronica case


Glenn Smith The Post and Courier

August 29, 2013


Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon confirmed today that he has sent two of his deputies and a State Law Enforcement Division agent to Oklahoma in connection with the contentious custody case concerning 3-year-old Veronica.

Cannon confirmed the information in response to questions from The Post and Courier. He said the team, which left this morning, was dispatched as a precautionary measure in the event their assistance was needed in connection with upcoming court proceedings in the case.

The sheriff stressed that he has not been informed of any major development or action in the case. Rather, his office has been in ongoing contact with a variety of law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma and felt a responsibility to have some presence on hand to provide assistance, he said.

Cannon would not say when hearings in the case have been scheduled or what specific proceedings deputies planned to attend.

On Aug. 16, an Oklahoma judge barred attorneys and their clients from discussing the dispute pitting Veronica’s adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island, against her biological father, Dusten Brown of Nowata, Okla. A mediation agreement was reached during a three-hour hearing that day, but the details have remained under seal.

The Capobiancos flew to Oklahoma earlier this month and have remained there ever since. It appears they have been allowed to visit with the girl who lived with them for 27 months, but it’s unclear when or how often that has occurred, The Tulsa World reported this week.

The newspaper also reported that an attorney appointed to represent Veronica’s interests has asked a Cherokee County court to suspend those visits until further hearings can be held.

Adding to the confusion, Holli Wells, the judge who brought the two sides together for the April 16 hearing and imposed the gag order, recently filed an “order of recusal,” removing herself from the case, The Tulsa World reported.

Brown, a member of the Cherokee tribe, used the heritage he shares with Veronica to get custody in late 2011 through the Indian Child Welfare Act. The 1978 law was meant to keep Indian children connected to their native cultures.

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that the ICWA didn’t apply to him because he hadn’t been in Veronica’s life. He has argued that the child’s mother had refused his attempts to get involved when she brushed off his marriage wishes.

Courts in South Carolina later finalized the Capobiancos’ adoption of Veronica, but Brown has refused to give up the girl. His attorneys said he should be allowed to challenge the decree’s enforcement in Oklahoma, where Veronica has lived for the past 19 months.

Brown is wanted on a Charleston County custodial interference warrant for failing to turn over Veronica to the Capobiancos. His attorney has said he plans to challenge the legality of that warrant.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has said she would speed along Brown’s extradition to Charleston if he didn’t let the Capobiancos see the girl.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or

Colorado, Washington get OK from feds on marijuana

Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog

When voters in Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of marijuana possession for adults, it was a policy breakthrough, but there was a problem: the newly approved state laws conflicted with federal law.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, federal law bans marijuana use, so Colorado and Washington were left wondering whether the Justice Department would intervene and block the measures approved by state voters.

Today, as Ryan J. Reilly and Ryan Grim reported, Colorado and Washington got their answer.

The United States government took an historic step back from its long-running drug war on Thursday, when Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Washington and Colorado that the Department of Justice would allow the states to create a regime that would regulate and implement the ballot initiatives that legalized the use of marijuana for adults.

A Justice Department official said that Holder told the governors in a joint phone call early Thursday afternoon that the department would take a “trust but verify approach” to the state laws.

That last part is important. The DOJ is effectively letting the states know that they can proceed on their current course, but if federal law enforcement has reason to believe in the future that Colorado and Washington are failing to be responsible, the feds can revisit the new policy.

In the meantime, though, that means these states — and any others that choose to follow their lead — can move forward on legalization.

After watching the “war on drugs” move in only one direction for the majority of my life, this strikes me as a pretty amazing development. Up until fairly recently, it would have been unimaginable.

The Huffington Post added that Deputy Attorney General James Cole also issued a three-and-a-half page memo to U.S. attorneys outlining eight priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws. These are the areas where prosecutions will continue:

* the distribution of marijuana to minors;

* revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;

* the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;

* state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;

* violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana

* drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;

* growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;

* preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

But note that this leaves a whole lot of recreational pot use that federal prosecutors will no longer feel the need to pursue.

Undercover officers to patrol Seahawks games


August 29, 2013

The Associated Press


SEATTLE — Seattle police say they will deploy undercover police officers at Seahawks games this year after multiple reports of unruly fans last season.

The department says patrols will begin with Thursday’s pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders. Officials say police received complaints about fan-on-fan violence and harassment in and out of the stadium, some of which was witnessed by off-duty officers attending the games, last year.

One of those episodes involved two off-duty Bellevue police officers who used profanity at a uniformed Seattle police officer and stadium workers and were later escorted out.

Police officials say officers will be looking for people taking team rivalries too far.

Yurok Scientific Knowledge Sways Court Decision to Increase Klamath River Flows

Nanette Bradley Deetz, Native News Network

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA – On August 22, the Yurok Tribe received some excellent news. A federal court judge acknowledged the biological importance of supplemental water flows for Klamath River salmon. This was a far-reaching legal case between the Bureau of Reclamation, the Yurok tribe, as well as other tribes in the region against central California industrial agriculture.

Yurok Tribe

Yurok tribal members Pete Thompson and Bob Ray cast a drift net into the Klamath River on the Yurok Reservation.


The Yurok Tribe of Klamath, California is the largest federally recognized tribe in California and is the single largest harvester of Klamath River salmon.

The Yurok reservation spans one mile on both sides of the Klamath River for 44 miles. The tribe requested 2,800 cubic feet per second of water flow to be released. This is the same rate of water flow per second that the Yurok fisheries experts defended in their scientific case in a Fresno, California courtroom. Originally the Bureau of Reclamation (at the Yurok tribe’s request) made additional water available in order to avert another fish kill. In 2002 a large fish kill occurred on the Yurok reservation in river conditions eerily similar to this year’s.

Yurok Tribe

Above, Salmon is cooked in a traditional Yurok way. At least 272,000 Fall-run salmon are expected to return to the river.


“In 2002 more than 33,000 Chinook and Coho salmon died before reaching spawning grounds. It was heartbreaking to see the fish floating upside down on the river by the thousands. We learned from that tragedy. This year, when the water temperature was so high, and we knew we were expecting the 2nd or 3rd highest volume of returning salmon predicted in decades, we asked the Department of the Interior to increase water flow. But then the injunction was filed by agribusiness to stop it,”

said Yurok tribal Chairman Thomas O’Rourke, Sr.

In early August, Westlands Water District and San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority, which represent a large portion of California’s multibillion dollar agricultural industry, filed suit to stop the water flow from being released.

The Yurok tribe presented key science testimony to the court by two witnesses, Senior Fisheries Biologist Michael Belchik and Dr. Joshua Strange.

“Yurok science of the Klamath River basin is renowned not only in this nation, but abroad. This a western science that allows us to substantiate our claims,”

said Chairman O’Rourke, Sr.

At least 272,000 Fall-run salmon are expected to return to the river this year, almost 1.7 times the number that returned in 2002.

There is also a contingency plan in place. At the first sign that the salmon look diseased or distressed, the tribe will seek to have flows doubled for up to seven days. They will not allow the combination of low, warm river water and inadequate water flows to jeopardize the salmon.

“There is knowledge passed down from our ancestors to take care of our resources so that they will take care of us. We must ensure its continuance for future generations to come. The river is our lifeline,”

said Yurok Chairman Thomas O’Rourke Sr.