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How Did I Miss That? Ariana Grande Photoshopped and Second-Hand Smoke of Ceremony

While Trump tries tweet-vetting, Ariana Grande’s fake photo circulates. Plus, new studies on effects of tobacco in Indian country

Ariana Grande came to stardom at a tender age, but with a four octave singing range and acting chops beyond her years, it’s easy to see why. Success in this country seems to put a target on your back. Not so much in the John Lennon sense as in attracting trolls.

Within hours of the bombing of her concert in the UK, a photo was flying around cyberspace that purported to show Grande defiling the American flag.

Snopes handled the debunkery without breaking a sweat, coming up with the original photo before the singer’s face got added by Photoshop.

It’s unclear who faked the photo, but a user named Joe Abrahamson posted it on Facebook within 24 hours of the Manchester bombing. At the time Snopes debunked it, the fake photo had been shared over 40,000 times.



I’ve been harassing my Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller about quitting the GOP ever since I quit the Democratic Party back in 2008 over less cause that he would have now. I’ve seen how Trump upsets him.

This week, he made me watch several rants by former Republican congressman from Florida Joe Scarborough. Morning Joe has aired repeated complaints about people wrecking their reputations to serve Trump.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump White House intends to employ “a team of lawyers” to vet the presidential tweets. I attended a pretty good law school at the University of Texas but I must confess it did not offer a class in tweet-vetting.


Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron met with Vladimir Putin and at the obligatory post-meeting press conference—usually happy talk and photo op—Macron ripped Putin to his face for Russia’s meddling in the French elections.


The Washington Post reported at length on the tut-tutting over FLOTUS Melania Trump going along on her husband’s overseas mission to befriend autocrats and offend allies wearing a jacket that cost $51,500.

She’s a fashion model. Do you expect her to wear a jean jacket from Old Navy?


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a mouthful, so most people just call it Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the baseball hero felled by it. The disease is still wreaking havoc and still resisting the search for a cure. It was last in the news as the subject of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which caused literally thousands of people—famous and not—to allow themselves to be photographed having a bucket of ice water emptied over their heads.

The videos were then sent to friends and/or posted on line to challenge them to do the same. The objective was to get your friends and relatives to pay for the privilege of seeing you make a fool of yourself with the money to benefit ALS research. Silly as the whole thing may sound, it raised a cool (heh, heh) $115 million in eight weeks.

The ALS Association credits the Ice Bucket Challenge with a research breakthrough last year that identified a gene responsible for ALS. GOOD (the magazine) produced a “data visualization” of the first 30 days of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Now, GOOD reports, the creator of the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS sufferer Pete Frates, is being eaten alive by medical bills. The Boston Globe reports the costs to be over $1 million a year because he wants to live and die at home with his wife and two-year-old daughter. If he checks into a medical facility, insurance will cover that, but not his home health care.

Frates, a former basketball player for Boston College, won the 2017 NCAA Inspiration Award for his work on the Ice Bucket Challenge. His wife Julie believes being allowed to face this at home will extend his life, although Lou Gehrig taught us how this story ends even for gifted athletes. My recent bout with cancer tells me she is probably correct. My outlook changed big time when I was allowed to come home.

Frates is billed between $70,000 and $95,000 a month. I completely understand why he wants to be at home, even though I know some folks will say he needs to just have himself taken to a hospital where his insurance will kick in.


The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Terry Selwood, 73, was enjoying a bit of solitude fishing off the New South Wales coast when a great white shark suddenly leaped out of the water and joined Selwood in his boat. The nine-foot animal did not get teeth on Selwood, who was banged up a bit when the shark knocked him over. Selwood also suffered what might be called “shark rash,” from being rubbed by the creature’s rough skin during his close encounter.

After Marine Rescue returned from taking Selwood to a hospital, the crew discovered the shark had died and there was no tackle on board sufficient to move the shark out of the boat. After towing Selwood’s boat back to port, they removed the approximately 450-pound shark’s carcass with a fork lift.


Takuma Sato won this year’s Indianapolis 500. Sportswriter Terry Frei of The Denver Post turned Sato’s victory into an object lesson on the dangers of Twitter when he tweeted his immediate reaction:

Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.

After the Post fired him, Frei reflected:

72 years have passed since the end of World War II. Sato is 40 years old. There’s a chance even his parents were born after the war ended. Every country in the world has its share of ugliness in its past, and conflating that with a single race-car driver from 2017 is ridiculous.



Speaking of Twitter abuse, now that the POTUS is back from his first overseas trip, his staff let him have his Twitter machine back. And he used it to attack Angela Merkel.


The Washington Post reported that Brian Brandt, 40, of Reno, Nevada, stole an 18-wheeler and ran it though the front door of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in rural Lyon County. The attack came at 4 a.m., when five employees, 30 independent contractors (professional ladies), and ten customers were present. Nobody was hurt.

Brandt was wearing full body armor and a mask, but there is no report that he was armed. No motive has surfaced yet, but a TV station said they got a call from someone of the same name early in May complaining that he had a “bad experience” at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch 20 years ago.

Cousin Ray rolled his eyes and whistled. “Twenty years? That’s a long time to hold a grudge. Does he think anybody is working there who was doing the same 20 years ago?”

The only other clue was that Brandt had been fired from the company he stole the truck from for “inappropriate behavior.”

“Inappropriate?” Cousin Ray was LOL. “Do ya think?

The Post claimed that the scene of the crime is also the scene of a reality TV show called Cathouse.


Five of the ten poorest counties in the U.S. are Indian country, and CNN aired a report on the impact of the Trump budget, “The Forgotten Americans of Pine Ridge,” that added Indians to a long list of people who would give up federal funding of their safety net to fund a tax cut for Trump and his peers.

CNN said the approximately $45 million that goes to Pine Ridge every year would be cut by more than half. I remember one year when I was a baby professor I was appalled at an unemployment rate of 80 percent on Pine Ridge. According to CNN, that is no longer the case. Unemployment is now 89 percent, and a baby born on Pine Ridge has less life expectancy than a baby born in Iraq.


One of many reasons for the lower life expectancy on the rez is cancer.

Nicotine & Tobacco Research published a rare public health study directed at cancer prevention that studies two Indian populations, Northern Plains and Southwestern. There seems to be some support in the results for something I’ve thought for a long time about my own reaction to tobacco. I am allergic to cigarettes—eyes watering, nose running—but not to ceremonial tobacco. My theory has been that I’m really allergic to the chemical cocktail they put in cigarettes.


The study questioned Indians about cigarette smoking, ceremonial tobacco use, and exposure to second hand smoke. Then the researchers chased levels of cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine that is a handy biomarker because it remains in the body longer than nicotine.

Among the Northern Plains sample, traditional ceremonial tobacco use was associated with elevated cotinine levels only among those who smoked cigarettes. The connection with cigarette smoking was robust in both samples.

There were relatively high cotinine levels measured among non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke in both samples, and there is the primary policy implication for tribal governments.

There are already education campaigns aimed at cigarettes and ceremonial use—whether or not it’s less dangerous—is off limits for intervention in a tribal setting.

The findings about second hand smoke are not going to be controversial because there’s a lot more literature on it than there was back when the first smoke free places were being created by law. The research shoots down the “freedom” argument, because you can only claim the freedom to give yourself cancer and heart disease. Second hand smoke gives deadly diseases to others.

Getting tribal ordinances to follow the science is going to be a heavy lift, but no heavier than it was off the rez.