NEWS STAND: Hot Copenhagen, Indian Gangs, NY Guv Closes the Purse, Paris Drug Parlors
Our daily roundup of news.
The divide widens between rich and poor in Copenhagen, Native American gangs on the reservation, New York governor closes the purse, and Houston's gay mayor.
The talks are heating up between the haves and have-nots at the Climate Change summit in Copenhagen. Discussions on how to share the costs of reducing emissions were suspended for a time on Monday when the African nations walked out of negotiations, according to the Financial Times. They returned after claiming they had won some concessions.
Tensions have risen in the past week between the leading industrialized nations and developing countries over whether elements of the Kyoto protocol -- a 1997 international climate agreement -- should be retained in a new deal or completely replaced. Developing countries like China, India and Brazil want to maintain Kyoto because it legally binds the major powers to the agreement. On the other side, the rich countries say Kyoto doesn't require the developing countries to do anything.
And the U.S. has pushed for an agreement that sets tougher goals for the developing countries. The U.S. has also forcefully rejected the argument by poorer countries that the rich countries should pay for changes in developing countries that will reduce emissions.
The Root's Dayo Olopade has explored these issues in depth in several articles this past week.
THE RES IS A GHETTO
Native American Crips? Apparently, gangs have come to South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and they're taking a brutal toll. A New York Times story today says some 5,000 young men in the Oglala Sioux tribe are involved in 37 gangs with names like Indian Mafia, Wild Boyz, TBZ and Nomads. Many of the youths attracted to gangs come from families ravaged by drugs, alcoholism, and unemployment.
"It's just like living in the ghetto," says Richard Wilson, a school dropout. "Someone's getting beat up every other night." He has been a pallbearer for at least five of his "homeboys" in the North Side Tre Tre Gangster Crips, the newspaper reports.
Conditions for youth on Indian reservations are tough, with a suicide rate among teenagers three times the national average. Elders worry that Native American young men are trading in their culture for another. "They're into the subculture of African-Americans and Latinos," says Melvyn Young Bear, a tribal leader. "But they are Lakota and they have a lot to be proud of."
New York's embattled governor, David Patterson, escalated his war with his state legislators Sunday by tightening the purse strings. Patterson, who has been unable to get the state legislature to tackle a projected $3.2 billion budget deficit, announced he would unilaterally withhold $750 million in scheduled payments to schools and local governments.
Democratic politicians have questioned whether the governor has the authority to withhold funds that have been voted by the legislature but Patterson insists that "we are well within the bounds of legal authority."
Patterson, New York's first black governor, inherited the job when Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned after being caught up in a call-girl scandal. His poor handling of the selection of a successor for Hillary Clinton' s U.S. Senate seat and the sense that he is a lame-duck who cannot get re-elected have damaged his standing with the voters -- and reduced his clout.
A GAY MAYOR FOR HOUSTON
Houston elected its first openly gay mayor this weekend. Annise Parker, a Democrat, beat Gene Locke, an African-American who had support of the business establishment. Ms. Parker, who spent six years on the city council and another six years as city controller, emphasized her experience in becoming the first openly gay mayor of a big American city.
Locke, an attorney who had made money brokering stadium deals in Houston was labeled as a lobbyist and, yes, lawyer by his opponent. He was late running TV ads and at the end tried to build a coalition of African-Americans and conservative Republicans who might object to Parker on religious grounds. But efforts by some anti-gay advocates to highlight Parker's sexual preference apparently backfired on Locke, although he claimed he was not involved in that campaign. Locke failed to mobile Houston's large African-American community while gay and lesbian activists were fired up by the historic moment.
Dayo Opolade points out the broader significance for African Americans in her blog today.
PARIS DRUG PARLORS?
Paris officials have proposed creating drug parlors as safe environments for addicts providing clean syringes and pipes and other paraphernalia. Counselors on site would also attempt to educate users about the dangers of drug use or offer access to treatment programs. The parlors would not provide the drugs to the addicts but monitor their ingestion for adverse effects, according to the French newspaper, Le Figaro.
Some 80 such government-sanctioned drug parlors already exist in Europe but up to now none have been set up in France. Proponents see a way of reducing drug consumption and lowering AIDs and hepatitis passed through shared needles. Opponents say that drug use is declining in Europe and that such sites would encourage addicts. One other benefit of the drug parlors would be to take such activities off the streets in poor Paris neighborhoods with large numbers of users.