NATIONAL NEWS BRIEFS (July 2017)

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ARIZONA METEORITE RECEIVES APACHE NAME

PHOENIX, AZ – A meteorite that landed on tribal land last year has been given the Apache name Dishchii’bikoh Ts’iłsǫǫsé Tsee. Apache tribal leaders suggested the name and it was approved by an international meteorite organization.

Called Cibecue Star Stone in English, the meteorite was named for the place where it was discovered, near the town of Cibecue on White Mountain Apache land.

Witnesses saw and heard the meteor fall, and sonic booms reverberated up to a100 miles away.

Cibecue is one of only four documented meteorite falls in Arizona history, meaning witnesses observed a meteorite’s descent.

DIRECTOR OF OFFICE OF INDIAN ENERGY DELETES OFFENSIVE TWITTER ACCOUNT

WASHINGTON, DC – The Trump administration’s director of the Office of Indian Energy at the Department of Energy deleted his Twitter account after The Washington Post asked about a series of offensive messages.

William C. Bradford called former president Barack Obama a “Kenyan creampuff” and described the internment of Japanese Americans as “necessary,” The Post reported. He apologized after admitting he shared these posts and other messages about women and minorities under the handle “Brute_Bradford.”

Bradford, a supporter of Donald Trump, claims to be a citizen of the Chiricahua Apache Nation and said he most recently served as its attorney general. The tribe at one point was recognized by the United States but lost its status during the Indian wars in the late 1800s.

Bradford joined the administration in early May.

SECRETARY ZINKE REMOVES PROTECTIONS FOR GRIZZLIES

WASHINGTON, DC – Just hours after promising to consult tribes before making any decisions that affect their interests, the new leader of the Department of the Interior heralded the removal of protections for grizzly bears.

Tribes with treaty rights and ancestral connections to Yellowstone National Park have unanimously supported the listing of the grizzly under the Endangered Species Act. But in June Secretary Ryan Zinke said the bear population is no longer in need of federal management.

The announcement came after Zinke told the House Committee on Natural Resources earlier in the day of his “obligation” to consult with tribes before taking action. He gave no hint of the fact that a decision had already been made on the status of the grizzlies.

Yellowstone grizzlies were first listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975 after their numbers dwindled to about 135, according to the National Park Service.

SUPREME COURT RULING POSES HURDLE FOR OPPONENTS OF RACIST NFL MASCOT

WASHINGTON, DC – A group of Native activists, led by Navajo Nation citizen Amanda Blackhorse, secured victory when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said the team’s symbols were “disparaging” to Native peoples. A federal judge agreed.

But the U.S. Supreme Court, in a complex ruling issued in June, changed the game. By a majority vote, the justices held that the federal law utilized by Blackhorse and her allies is unconstitutional.

The ruling came in Matal v. Tam, a closely-related trademark case. Blackhorse and her fellow Native activists, along with other tribes and inter-tribal organizations, submitted briefs to the Supreme Court in hopes of protecting the Lanham Act, the federal law at issue.

Justice Samuel Alito rejected those calls in an opinion that was joined by all of his colleagues. He cited the tribal brief no less than three times in explaining why the law violates the right to free speech promised by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate,’” Alito wrote for the court in the 25-page opinion.

Only eight justices heard Tam in January and all of them unanimously agreed with the basic premise: the Lanham Act’s “disparagement clause” is unconstitutional.

FEDERAL JUDGE HEARS ARGUMENTS ON CIG MARKETING

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Lawyers pursuing a federal class action against the makers of Natural American Spirit cigarettes argued in June that the company purposefully – and effectively –deceives customers into thinking their popular brand is safer and healthier than other smokes.

But at a hearing before U.S. District Judge James Browning, lawyers for Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, the company responsible for Natural American Spirit, countered that disclaimers on the cigarette packs and in print advertising show the company is not trying to mislead the “reasonable consumer.”

The disclaimer on the pack says, “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.” The message on print ads says “Organic tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.” Those warnings are the result of a consent order with the Federal Trade Commission in 2000.

The company is asking the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, consolidated from multiple complaints filed by a variety of plaintiffs in several states. After hearing more than four hours of arguments Friday, Browning scheduled another hearing for Aug. 1. The case is expected to go on for years.