Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word was one of few cable network news shows that distinguished themselves covering the water protectors at Standing Rock. This week, O’Donnell bid an on-camera goodbye to his Native American Journalists Association intern, Shea Smith of the University of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation.
Smith thanked O’Donnell for the experience, and in response to his question about her plans, she said she would return to Oklahoma to collect her degree and then hoped to return to New York and find work in television.
Cousin Ray Sixkiller and I are rooting for her, since the media generally often fail to rise above stereotype even when they mean well. “Lawrence O’Donnell,” Cousin Ray reminded me, “does not resemble that remark about stereotype.”
The Chickasaw Times reported that on July 24, the Chickasaw Cultural Center marked seven years of showcasing talent and culture that is mostly Chickasaw but has also been an outlet for other tribal peoples. The previous week, the Chickasaws rolled over 600,000 visitors.
These milestones were reached during the Holba' Pisachi' Film Festival, celebrating the tribal focus on making movies. Festival guests included actors Wes Studi (Cherokee) and Martin Sensmeier (Tlingit, Koyukon-Athabascan) and director Chris Eyre (Cheyenne-Arapaho).
The non-Indian side of celebrity news was less uplifting.
I gather from the context of the news coverage that Dukes of Hazzard was a TV show. I haven’t Googled it to find out when it was on because all TV shows are the same to me, existing in a parallel universe where there is no time.
It’s probably not on now because one of the characters, Luke Duke, was played by an actor named Tom Wopat, who is 65—too old to be a player for the demographic that interests TV sponsors. The tastes of that demographic—the people I used to teach when I was professoring—explains why TV does not interest me.
Early reports claimed that the aged-out TV star, Wopat, was wanted for putting his hands down a woman’s pants without permission. When Massachusetts police pulled him over to arrest him for indecent assault and battery, they found him to be in possession of suspected cocaine.
Wopat denied all but added that he’s working on his substance abuse problem.
A lively debate erupted under the report on TMZ over whether he put his hand down the victim’s pants or merely grabbed her butt. The President tweeted that if a Wopat were as famous as a Trump, he could do either one.
OK, I made up that presidential tweet, but what I made up was no weirder and a lot less dangerous than Trump’s real tweets this week. The POTUS took no position on whether Wopat put his hand down the victim’s pants or grabbed her butt.
Cousin Ray wanted to know if that’s what’s called a “legal technicality?”
Back in what passes for reality these days, the Boy Dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, demanded that if the Lakers did not name Dennis Rodman as a starter, the North Korean military would “turn California into a sea of fire.”
President Trump tweeted that the Lakers “will be met with fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before.” His opinion diminished in value when it came out he was bidding to acquire the Utah Jazz.
Trump wanted to ask the government ethics officer whether it would be OK for a sitting POTUS to own an NBA team, but no new ethics officer has been appointed since the last one left in a straitjacket, giggling hysterically.
On the fate of another government officer who left on a wave of unintentional humor, TMZ reported that Sean Spicer has turned down the opportunity to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. It remains to be seen how much harm his time as mouthpiece for The Donald has done to his employability, but he may need to change his mind about dancing for his supper.
The show provides a trained partner and dance lessons, so it’s unlikely Spicer could reach the level of humiliation from his very first presidential press conference, when he was required to hold up pictures of the crowds at the Trump and Obama inaugurations and tell people their eyes were lying.
In other ego news, USA Today reported, with pictures, that Vladimir Putin has once more contrived to make the news feeds with his shirt off when he vacationed in the Tuva region of Siberia and decided to go fishing. Everybody knows you take your shirt off to fish.
A guy as overweight as I am tries not to take off his shirt in public and I often hear that potato chips will kill me. Normally, though, the salty snack will not kill as quickly as a shipment of potato chips from Hong Kong reported by NPR.
Rodrigo Franco, 34, was facing 20 years in the crossbar hotel over a shipment by post office of what appeared to be three canisters of potato chips bound from Hong Kong to Monterey Park, California.
The first customs agent to open a canister was very lucky to get it quickly closed. Each canister contained a very alive and very deadly king cobra about two feet long. When the Fish and Wildlife Service undertook a controlled delivery to arrest Franco, they removed the cobras, but the shipment still contained three albino soft-shelled turtles.
NPR interviewed Ian Recchio, reptile curator at the Los Angeles Zoo, who said they were lucky nobody was bitten because the closest cobra anti-venom was in San Diego and he doubted a victim would survive long enough to get it if bitten in Los Angeles.
On the same day Franco was busted for the cobras, he mailed a package containing six turtles to the address in Hong Kong.
NBC reported an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River NOAA has been tracking since 1985 just reached 8,776 square miles, a new record. That area of the Gulf of Mexico is dead because there is not enough oxygen in the water to support life.
As with so many environmental hazards, climate change does not cause the dead zone directly but rather makes it worse. The cause is runoff from nitrogen fertilizers.
Climate change disrupts the air and water currents that distribute heat around the world, causing more collisions between cold dry air and warm moist air. Those collisions give us abnormal rain patterns—drought here and flooding there—and because the Mississippi bisects the U.S. north to south and its tributaries take in much of the nation east to west, there is often abnormal flooding somewhere, increasing the fertilizer load and growing the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
Cousin Ray was cracking wise about the government getting right on this problem when Wired reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has instructed employees to refrain from using the phrase “climate change.” They are to substitute “weather extremes.”
The New York Times, meanwhile, published a draft of the National Climate Assessment conducted by 13 federal agencies. Publishing the draft was an attempt to lessen speculations that the Trump Administration would bury the document that cites the highest temperatures in 1,500 years and calls attention to the unusual weather events that have resulted.
The draft published by the Times was already signed off on by the National Academy of Sciences, but it awaited action by the political shop in the Trump White House.
“Who would YOU believe?” Cousin Ray’s voice trailed away. I guess he had forgotten that Congress has declared U.S. politics to be a fact free zone.
‘When facts are outlawed,” he mumbled, “only outlaws will have the facts.”
DuffelBlog reported the Coast Guard received the personal thanks of the POTUS for a “daring rescue” of 100 golf balls in the water near the edge of the “Winter White House” at Mar-a-Lago. After conferring with his generals, Trump was distressed to learn that this kind of service did not qualify for a Medal of Honor or even a Silver Star.
Cousin Ray wanted to know if degree of difficulty counts toward a medal? He had been reading the transcript of Trump’s telephone conversation with the President of Mexico about the wall that Mexico will never pay for and it appears the U.S. Congress is reluctant to pay for.
“I gotta hand it to the Coasties,” Cousin Ray admitted. “After reading that transcript, I wouldn’t know where to start looking for Trump’s balls.”
CNN reported that a giant inflatable chicken with a Trump toupée appeared behind the White House. Part of a plot hatched by protestors demanding that Trump release his tax returns, the bird was on Twitter @TaxMarchChicken.
Cousin Ray claimed that the POTUS thought Kim Jong-un was calling him a chicken and he was entering the launch codes when his daughter Ivanka talked him down.
Wawatay News reported that the Canadian Army responded to a declaration of emergency by the government of Wapekeka, an Oji-Cree community of about 400, located about 375 miles north of Thunder Bay. The emergency was an epidemic of youth suicide. The First Nation asked for outside help after the third suicide by a 12-year-old girl this year and discovery of suicide pacts among some youngsters.
The Army sent a unit of Rangers—an all-indigenous unit of part time reservists—with an assignment to conduct night patrols and daytime activities for at risk youth.
Chief Brennan Sainnawap commented in extending thanks to the responding Rangers:
There were no suicides after the Rangers arrived. There were attempts but no suicides. The Rangers coming in helped our staff on the ground and the whole of the community to have a chance to rest. We were traumatized and exhausted. The Rangers gave us breathing room.
The Rangers did not approach the assignment as policing. They spread out in the community and tried to get to know the kids, but they did take custody of some suicide paraphernalia. They made lots of referrals to suicide counselors. A few kids were airlifted for emergency treatment.
As the government was able to bring in more civilian help the reservists withdrew as a unit, but individual friendships remain. If Chief Sainnawap’s evaluation is correct, the Rangers hit the sweet spot of signifying to the kids that the government cares without becoming an oppressive force.
Cousin Ray helpfully pointed out once more that the responding unit was indigenous, and it might have been harder for a unit made up of settlers to find the sweet spot even with the best intentions.