TIME States

Native American Fishing Activist Billy Frank Jr. Dead at 83

Billy Frank Jr.
Billy Frank Jr. poses for a photo near Frank's Landing on the Nisqually River in Nisqually, Wash. Ted S. Warren—AP

Renowned campaigner who fought to secure fishing rights for Native American tribes in the Northwest and led civil-disobedience campaigns during the Fish Wars of the 1960s and '70s passed away Monday at age 83

After fighting for decades to persevere the fishing rights of Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest, activist Billy Frank Jr. died this week. He was 83 years old.

“Billy dedicated his life to protecting our traditional way of life and our salmon. For more than 60 years,” read a statement by the Nisqually tribe Monday.

“Billy was in the center of action on behalf of the Nisqually people and of Native Americans throughout our country.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee remarked that the state had “lost a true legend.”

“Billy was a champion of tribal rights, of the salmon, and the environment,” Inslee wrote online. “He did that even when it meant putting himself in physical danger or facing jail.”

After being arrested in 1945 at the age of 14 while trying to catch salmon, Frank would go on to be taken into custody more than 50 times over the course of his life for illegally fishing in waters his ancestors had relied on for centuries.

“We ceded all this land to the United States for a contract to protect our salmon, our way of life, our culture,” Frank told the Associated Press during an interview in 2012.

“We’re gatherers and we’re harvesters. And they forgot about us. They built their cities, they built their university. They built everything, and they forgot about us tribes.”

Frank’s resistance to state-imposed limits on fishing led to a historic civil rights struggle, known as the Fish Wars, from the dozens of Northwest tribes who demanded that the treaties their ancestors first signed with white settlers be honored and their way of life persevered.

The movement was vindicated in the mid-1970s when a district court declared that 20 tribes in the Pacific Northwest were privy to half of the region’s annual fish harvest.

TIME States

Gay-Marriage Advocates Eye Conservative Oklahoma for Latest Push

There's no question about same-sex marriage on the ballot in Oklahoma, but advocates are still targeting it for their latest push, just as a federal appeals court considers a challenge to the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions

For all the strides same-sex marriage advocates have made in recent years, a deep-red state with nothing on the ballot about the issue this year seems at first glance like an odd target for activists to set in their sights. But that’s exactly what they’re doing in Oklahoma.

A pro-gay-marriage group deployed a statewide advertising campaign in Oklahoma on Monday. Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a group helping to fund the campaign, said the absence of urgent public debate makes this the perfect time to reignite a conversation in Oklahoma that can be very emotionally charged, on both sides.

“What we want to do is take this out of the political back and forth and just have a heart to heart conversation at a time when people have a chance to just take a deep breath and think it through,” Wolfson told TIME. “They’re being asked to open their hearts and think about real people and real values, such as the golden rule, and think about who gay people are in Oklahoma.”

The ad tells the story of the Cuyler family and their ranch near Fort Sill in rural, southwestern Oklahoma. At the ranch, decorated Vietnam veteran Ed Cuyler and his wife Robbie live with their daughter Deedra, her partner, Amber, and their three kids. Deedra and Amber were married in Massachusetts in 2011, but their marriage isn’t recognized in Oklahoma due to the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriages.

With its rural aesthetic and the appeal to family values, the ad is designed for a wide swath of the state’s population, including people outside of the urban centers of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, a demographic not generally assumed to be sympathetic to arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.

“We’d talk to legislators who would say, ‘There’s no gay people in my district,’” said Troy Stevenson of the Freedom Oklahoma coalition, which produced the ad with Freedom to Marry. “Well we know that’s not true.”

Stevenson met the Cuyler family in February during his group’s annual lobbying day at the state capital. Deedra and Amber came with their twins. Stevenson said after learning more about the family—with the kids, the ranch, and the father’s personal journey toward accepting his daughter’s family—he knew he’d found a couple for a TV spot.

The ad comes as 10th Circuit Court Appeals is expected to rule within weeks on a challenge to Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban, which was overturned by a federal judge in Tulsa in a landmark ruling last January. In recent months Freedom to Marry has also run similar ads in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, where a legal challenge to that state’s same-sex marriage ban is also being weighed by the 10thCircuit. The ads are part of Freedom to Marry’s national effort to cultivate support throughout the country for same-sex marriage in advance of the next time the Supreme Court takes up the issue, with the hope the court will find public opinion has shifted and Americans are ready for a sweeping decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

The conventional wisdom says proponents of same-sex marriage face a steep uphill battle in Oklahoma. The Atlantic used aggregated polling data from the region in 2012 to find that 35 percent of Oklahomans support same-sex marriage, but reliable, up-to-date polling on the question doesn’t appear to exist. Freedom Oklahoma intends change that with a statewide poll after the ad run, with the goal of having data to sort through within the month.

“It’s been an uphill battle all over the country,” Stevenson said. “Here in Oklahoma there’s a perception it’s going to be much harder. In talking to Oklahomans every day. I think there’s a lot more support than people understand.”

TIME

States That are Cheating Death

Where you live can help determine how long you'll live.

+ READ ARTICLE

The only sure things in life are death and taxes, and now your home state might control both of them. A report in the Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report this week analyzed premature deaths from the five leading causes – heart disease, cancer, lower respiratory illnesses, stroke and unintentional injuries – by state and found that 40% of them were preventable.

The fact that we can do better in avoiding early death isn’t news, given that we’re fond of some unhealthy habits, including smoking, eating lots of fat, sugar and salt and not exercising enough, but what’s surprising is that where you live plays such a large role in determining how likely you are to die early from a preventable cause. Living in states in the southeast, for example, can increase your chances of dying prematurely from each of the five leading causes than living in certain western states. Different regional lifestyles certainly play a part, but the availability of health-related programs such as screening for cancer and blood pressure, and safe places to exercise, can also help to bring preventable death rates down. Living healthy is half the battle in avoiding an early death, and living in the right state can be the other.

TIME States

Florida Inches Closer to Passing Immigrant In-State Tuition Bill

Florida senators voted in favor of a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for the same in-state tuition rate at public universities that U.S. citizens do. Representatives are due to approve several minor changes before Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign it into law

Florida is on track to be the latest state to offer the children of undocumented immigrants residential rates on tuition at public universities, after a bill cleared the senate on Thursday.

Following a highly charged debate on the floor where lawmakers quoted the likes of Langston Hughes and Aristotle, Florida senators voted 26-13 in favor of the legislation, according to the Associated Press. If the bill is signed into law, Florida would be the 20th state in the Union to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.

Governor Rick Scott called the passage of the bill through the senate “historic.”

“It’s an exciting day for every student that dreams of a college education,” he said at an impromptu press conference. “Children who grow up in this state now get the same tuition as their peers.”

Scott is up for re-election at the end of the year but currently lags 10 points behind his Democratic opponent and former governor Charlie Crist, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday. Analysts say he is attempting to curry favor with the state’s large Latino population.

And more than a dozen fellow Republicans were less than enthused about potentially losing out on an estimated $50 million if the bill is implemented.

“I know it feels good giving benefits away,” said Republican Senator Aaron Bean. “We are giving so many benefits to noncitizens … Does it matter even being an American citizen anymore?”

The bill is now headed back to the house, where representatives will vote to approve the minor changes in the senate before it is sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

If approved, undocumented students would pay the same tuition rates as residents if they have attended a Florida school for at least three years prior to graduating from high school.

[AP]

TIME States

Mass.gov Apologizes for Tweeting ‘Sexual Assault Is Always Avoidable’

The tweet, which came at the end of Sexual Assault Awareness month, said that "sexual assault is always avoidable." Many accused @MassGov of victim blaming, but a state government official said there was "no malicious intent behind the tweet"

Massachusetts officials apologized Thursday for an offensive tweet about sexual assault sent from the government Twitter account.

“Sexual assault is always avoidable,” the Wednesday night tweet from @MassGov read, according to ABC. Many accused @MassGov of victim blaming. “The only person to blame for rape is the rapist,” one woman wrote on Twitter.

The tweet was later deleted.

On Thursday, the twitter account posted a series of tweets apologizing:

The Mass.gov director Geoffrey Kula issued a statement Thursday explaining how exactly the tweet went out and what action would be taken against the tweeter:

In this instance, the author of the sexual assault awareness tweet did not send this tweet to the editorial gatekeeper for review, and instead scheduled the tweet independently. Having spoken with the author this morning, it is clear there was no malicious intent behind the tweet; the tweet inaccurately summarized the content in the linked-to blog post, which discussed services available for victims of sexual assault. The tweet author agrees that perpetrators of sexual assault are always at fault, and it was never the author’s intent to blame victims for crimes perpetrated. The author has agreed to participate in sexual assault awareness training.

The incident comes at the end of Sexual Assault Awareness month and just when the Obama administration is doubling down on efforts to prevent sexual assault on campus. Today, the Department of Education released the names of 55 colleges facing Title IX sexual assault investigations.

TIME States

Gas Explosion at Pensacola Jail Kills 2, Injures More Than 100

A gas explosion ripped through a Florida correctional facility after severe rains deluged the southeast, killing two and injuring more than 100 inmates and staff. More than 400 other inmates were transferred to jails in neighboring counties

A gas explosion at a Pensacola jail killed at least two and injured more than 100 inmates and correctional staff Wednesday night — one day after historic floodwaters devoured roads and ruined homes across the panhandle.

The explosion reportedly erupted at about 11 p.m. local time near the facility’s book center, causing part of the structure to collapse, according to the Associated Press. There’s no word if the accident was caused by the week’s heavy storms, which did flood portions of the jail.

The injured were taken to hospitals and more than 400 uninjured inmates were transferred to jails in neighboring counties.

On Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 counties and called on state and local agencies to respond rapidly to the needs of affected families.

“We’re continuing to work with local leaders on the ground to give them the support they need to keep families safe and get them back on their feet,” he said in a statement.

“To support our local leaders, early this morning I instructed the National Guard to deploy 24 high-water vehicles to the impacted counties to assist with rescue and recovery operations.”

At least one woman in Pensacola, Florida, died after her car was swept into a drainage ditch, according to authorities.

On Tuesday night, more than 15 in. of rain fell before midnight at Pensacola Airport — setting a new record for the rainiest single day in the area.

“We’ve seen flooding before, but never flooding that washes the back of a house away,” said CNN iReporter Matt Raybourn of Pensacola. “There are no words for what we are seeing here.”

Elsewhere in Escambia County, local officials responded to 281 emergencies while fire rescue teams answered more than 266 pleas for help on Wednesday. According to the county’s official website, the local 911 dispatch received more than 4,000 calls between the start of the emergency at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The behemoth three-day storm system cut through large swaths of the Great Plains and South as tornadoes, hail and floods left more than 30 people dead.

TIME Drugs

Rocky Mountain High: Colorado Symphony Unrolls ‘Classical Cannabis’ Series

Denver Marijuana Celebration
Partygoers dance and smoke pot on the first of two days at the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver on April 19, 2014 Brennan Linsley—AP

In a bid to attract a new and younger listenership, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is staging special summer concerts at which the audience will be encouraged to roll up and toke on the state’s now legal marijuana

In a bid to attract a new and younger listenership, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is staging a summer classical-music series in Denver at which the audience will be encouraged to toke up on the state’s now legal weed while enjoying the orchestra’s beautiful repertoire.

Billed as “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series,” the program is being sponsored by a number of companies hailing from the state’s burgeoning, four-month-old marijuana industry.

Organizers point out, however, that pot will not be sold at the shows, which are strictly Bring Your Own Cannabis.

Promoters are hoping the BYOC events will give a financial boost to an orchestra that has been long plagued by financial setbacks.

“Part of our goal is to bring in a younger audience and a more diverse audience, and I would suggest that the patrons of the cannabis industry are both younger and more diverse than the patrons of the symphony orchestra,” CSO executive director Jerry Kern told the Denver Post.

However, some classical-music fans are not quite as convinced that bud and Beethoven make appropriate bedfellows.

“I know that the symphony needs new sponsors, and they are trying to go after a younger group,” local-event organizer Judith Inman told the Associated Press. “I just don’t think this is the way to go about it.”

Maybe not. But then again, marijuana has often been used to make very long, complex pieces of music more palatable. Just ask any Grateful Dead fan.

TIME States

Lone Mississippi Abortion Clinic Fights Closure

The Jackson Women's Health Organization is fighting a Mississippi law that would shutter the state's last standing abortion clinic

The operators of Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic appeared in federal court Monday to fight a 2012 state law that would force its closure—which would make Mississippi the first state in the 41 years since Roe v. Wade to not have an abortion provider.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization is challenging HB 1390, which stipulates that all physicians in the state who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals. Although doctors at the bright-pink colored clinic have repeatedly applied for privileges, they have been denied for reasons ranging from religion to desire to avoid controversy.

“Some we received no response from, but the ones that we did, they made reference to the fact that because the care we provide is related to abortion, they felt it might be disruptive to the internal politics, as well as the external politics, for the hospital,” Dr. Willie Parker, a plaintiff in the case, told NPR. Parker files to Jackson from Chicago every week to be one of two doctors to perform the abortions.

A different three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar law in Texas last year, causing one-third of its clinics to close.

Lawyers on both sides have been arguing about the constitutionality of the law.

“Women across the state will be plunged back into the dark days of back-alley procedures that Roe was supposed to end,” Julie Rikelmann, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights fighting on behalf of the clinic, said in a statement. “This is a blatant violation of women’s constitutional rights and an imminent danger to their health and well-being.”

“It seems to me you’ve got a steep hill to climb when you say the only clinic in the state is closing,” Judge E. Grady Jolly told attorney Paul Barnes of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, the Associated Press reports. But Barnes told the three-judge panel that while the Supreme Court says the constitution allows for the right to an abortion, it doesn’t allow for the right on an unsafe one.

[AP]

TIME States

Minneapolis to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day On Columbus Day

The city will commemorate the country's indigenous natives on the second Monday in October, the same day as Columbus Day, in order to honor the "more accurate historical record" of Columbus's 1492 discovery

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted on Friday to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the same date as Columbus Day in the future.

The federal, state and city governments will continue to recognize Columbus Day on the second Monday in October, according to the resolution, but now the city will also recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the same day.

Christopher Columbus is frequently credited with discovering America, though his arrival to what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1492 — Columbus never landed on present-day continental United States — led to the enslavement and extermination of millions of native Taino people.

Plans for a holiday dedicated to celebrating indigenous people began in 1977, when a United Nations delegation of native nations first proposed the idea.

“For me, it’s been almost 50 years that we’ve been talking about this pirate [Columbus],” civil rights activist Clyde Bellecourt told Al Jazeera America.

Minneapolis is the first city in the state to officially recognize an alternative to Columbus Day.

TIME States

Another States Moves to Criminalize ‘Revenge Porn’

Annmarie Chiarini, Jon Cardin, Danielle Keats Citron
In this Oct. 30, 2013 photo (from left), anti-revenge-porn campaigner Annmarie Chiarini, University of Maryland law professor Danielle Keats Citron and state Rep. Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, are silhouetted during a news conference to announce a bill that would criminalize revenge porn in Baltimore. Chiarini got behind the cause after an ex-boyfriend took to the Internet to post nude images that she shared with him privately over the course of their relationship. After California and New Jersey passed laws outlawing revenge porn, an increasing number of states looking to follow suit. Patrick Semansky—ASSOCIATED PRESS

Colorado joins some two dozen other states working on legislation that would criminalize the nonconsensual online publication of sexual photos of a person specifically to humiliate or blackmail them

The ranks of states seeking to criminalize “revenge porn” has grown now that Colorado has embarked on the same path.

A bipartisan proposal from Colorado lawmakers sailed through the House Judiciary Committee with an 11-0 vote this week, setting the stage for a debate in front of the House, Reuters reports. Revenge porn refers to the posting of sexual images of a person online without their consent, in order to humiliate or blackmail that individual — often after a divorce or painful break-up. At least two dozen other states are currently working on legislation that would criminalize the practice.

In accordance with Colorado’s proposed law, publishing revenge porn would be categorized as a class-one misdemeanor.

“I’m pleased that Colorado is taking steps to protect victims of cyber crime,” said Republican Representative Amy Stephens, who sponsored the bill.

Last year, California became the first state to pass legislation that criminalizes revenge porn. New Jersey has since followed suit.

[Reuters]

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