By this time, I’m sure you know my fatal flaw: I’m a warmth-seeking optimist. Not a crazy one, really, but my spirit gazes outward at a humane future.
This is undoubtedly why I have no interest in dystopian films or fiction. Give me a post-apocalyptic world and I’m not going there. (Indeed: I just had a genuine struggle over typing “apocalyptic” and that damn spell checker red line kept screwing around with me til I got it right. I’m exhausted.)
It’s not really my fault. That is, I’m not conscious of looking actively for good news. But when I spot it, my heart beats a little faster, and a healthy blush comes to my computer-paled cheeks and superior cheekbones.
In yesterday’s national section, the New York Times had on one page (19) two encouraging news stories, one on top of the other.
First, in case you’ve been worried about the (apocalyptic) explosion of earthquakes in Oklahoma since fracking took off, so is the Pawnee Nation. And they are suing:
The tribe, exerting its sovereignty, brought the case over property damage caused by a 5.8-magnitude quake in September likely caused by fracking.
There are a number of curiously marvelous things about this lawsuit. First, the Nation is bringing it in Tribal Court, not federal court. And there are some substantial advantages to Tribal Court. For one big thing, if the oil companies lose, they can’t appeal, anywhere. Because the Pawnee Nation is sovereign.
Lawyers representing the 3,200-member tribe in north central Oklahoma say the lawsuit is the first earthquake-related litigation filed in a tribal court. If an appeal were filed in a jury decision, it could be heard by a five-member tribal Supreme Court, and that decision would be final.
“Usually tribes have their own appellate process, and then — and this surprises a lot of people — there is no appeal from a tribal supreme court,” said Lindsay G. Robertson, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma who specializes in federal Indian law.
Once a tribal court judgment is made, it can be taken to a state district court for enforcement just like any other judgment, Professor Robertson said, but that enforcement action would not subject the judgment to any appeals in state court.
As my father used to say, “Oh ho!“
If you too want to feel better about life, read the whole story.
Second, look at this one:
Not only did they get prison, they got long, real sentences:
The child’s birthday party was going strong in Douglasville, Ga., during the summer of 2015 when the convoy of men and women waving Confederate battle flags drove up. The partygoers, most of them black, were grilling and celebrating. Then the people in the pickups pulled out a shotgun, prosecutors said later at trial.
“Members of the group pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at the victims,” District Attorney Brian Fortner said in a statement. “They used racial slurs and threatened to kill some of the partygoers. They even threatened to kill children at the party.”
Mr. Fortner added, “This is behavior that even supporters of the Confederate battle flag can agree is criminal and shouldn’t be allowed.”
This week, Judge William McClain of Douglas County Superior Court sentenced one of the men and a woman among the group to lengthy prison sentences for their part in the confrontation. He said, “Their actions were motivated by racial hatred,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The couple, Jose I. Torres, 26, and Kayla Rae Norton, 25, were each found guilty last month of making terroristic threats and of violating Georgia’s street gang law; Mr. Torres was also found guilty of aggravated assault.
Norman Barnett, an assistant district attorney, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that Mr. Torres received a sentence of 20 years: 13 to be spent in prison and the remainder on supervised probation. Ms. Norton got 15 years: six in prison and the rest on probation.
This happened in Georgia, remember–and not Atlanta, Georgia. It’s sheer racist Georgia. And it was a Georgia jury that found them guilty.
Steps forward, steps forward.
Hope you feel a little better now.