Saturday, December 19, 2009

News you should not miss

Here are some items that recently hit the news, but only lightly, and only somewhere buried deep inside the paper (and probably not at all in your local rag), which you might have missed:

The North Face has brought suit against The South Butt, a company started by a teenager to help pay for college, for trademark infringement on the ground that the names are so similar that it amounts to piracy of North Face’s “famous” trademark. Furthermore North Face complains about the similarity of the South Butt tag line of “Never Stop Relaxing” to North Face’s “Never Stop Exploring”. South Butt’s retort: “If you are unable to discern the difference between a face and butt, we encourage you to buy North Face products.” No comment on my part required here.

The federal government has agreed to pay $3.4 billion to settle claims that it mismanaged funds held in trust for certain Native American tribes. The Interior Department manages about 56 million acres of Indian trust land scattered across the country and handles leasing rights for mining, livestock grazing, timber harvesting and drilling for gas and oil. It then distributes the revenues to American Indians. In the 2009 fiscal year it collected about $298 million for more than 384,000 individual Indian accounts. The lawsuit accuses the department of mismanaging that money. I had no idea that there were that many Indians in the USA, but if you divide the annual amount collected by the number of accounts, it looks like each Indian will get about 78 cents, and about $88.54 each out of the settlement. You have to wonder just who qualifies as an “Indian”, and even then this settlement applies only to designated tribes, not all Indians.

On a matter which is not really at all related, The University of North Dakota is fighting to keep using the “Fighting Sioux” as its mascot in the face of an NCAA directive that member schools stop using Native Americans as mascots. One of the two Sioux tribal councils in the state agreed to continued use of the name by the university and brought suit to stop the other tribal council from scuttling the deal, asserting that many of the American Indians opposed to the Fighting Sioux nickname are simply from tribes other than Sioux and are jealous of the recognition. As one member of the tribe said, “I am full blood and I grew up on the reservation. I have to tell you, I am very, very honored that they would use the name.” See there, not all law suits are totally serious, some are just for fun.