Ted Schwinden, who served two terms as Montana governor, dies at age 98

BILLINGS, Mont. — Ted Schwinden, a wheat farmer and Word War II veteran who gained national attention for keeping his home phone number listed during two terms as Montana’s governor, has died. He was 98.

Schwinden died Saturday in Phoenix at his daughter’s home, son Dore Schwinden said Monday. The cause of death was “old age,” his son said: “He went to sleep in the afternoon and didn’t wake up.”

Ted Schwinden was a Democrat who served as Montana’s 19th governor from 1981 and 1989.

He and his wife, Jean, opened the governor’s mansion to the public for the first time and often welcomed the public tours in person.

The governor periodically drew national attention because he answered his own, listed telephone. Radio talk shows throughout the nation would call him at home for impromptu interviews.

“When Ted was on the phone, it was impossible to tell if he was talking to the governor of Oregon or a custodian at the Capitol. Every caller warranted his respect and full attention,” his children wrote in Schwinden’s obituary.

Schwinden was born Aug. 31, 1925, on his family’s farm in Wolf Point on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. After graduating as high school valedictorian, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Europe and the Pacific.

Returning home he married Jean Christianson, whose family had a farm about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from his own. The couple had known each other most of their lives.

Schwinden went to the University of Montana on the G.I Bill and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In the early 1950s the couple returned to the Wolf Point area to help on their family farms after Schwinden’s father fell ill.

He served on the local school board then in the state legislature, including as House minority whip in 1961, before becoming president of the Montana Grain Growers Association.

He was named commissioner of state lands and then elected lieutenant governor under Gov. Thomas Judge in 1976. Four years later, saying his boss had “run out of steam” Schwinden successfully challenged Judge in the 1980 Democratic primary before going on to win the general election.

He won a second term in a landslide, with 70% of the vote and then chose not to seek reelection in 1988, saying he wanted to concentrate more on his farm and family and after earlier pledging to serve only two terms. He stayed in Helena but kept returning to the family farm in Wolf Point to help during harvest time until 1998, his son said.

In recent years, Schwinden did volunteer hospice work in Arizona, where he had been living for much of the year, his son said.

Schwinden is survived by three children, six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Jean Schwinden died in 2007.

No public funeral services are planned. A private family gathering will be held at a later date, Dore Schwinden said.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Harvard student organizations blame Israel for attack by Hamas

More than 30 Harvard University student organizations released a joint statement saying that the “Israeli regime [is] entirely responsible” for the surprise attack from Hamas that has killed hundreds of Israelis.

The letter titled “Joint Statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine” was signed by 31 university clubs, including the school’s Amnesty International affiliate, Harvard Jews for Liberation and the Harvard Islamic Society.

“We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” the letter read.

“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum,” it continued. “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison.”

The student organization’s letter said that the “apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”

“Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years. From systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings, Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of death, both slow and sudden,” the letter continued.

They wrote, “Today, Palestinian ordeal enters into uncharted territory,” and they called on the Harvard community to “take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.”

The letter and Harvard’s silence about it was quickly met with criticism, including from Harvard alumni.

Economist Larry Summers, who served as Secretary of the Treasury and director of the National Economic Council, wrote on X: “The silence from Harvard’s leadership, so far, coupled with a vocal and widely reported student groups’ statement blaming Israel solely, has allowed Harvard to appear at best neutral towards acts of terror against the Jewish state of Israel.”

“Instead, Harvard is being defined by the morally unconscionable statement apparently coming from two dozen student groups blaming all the violence on Israel,” Mr. Summers, a past president of Harvard, continued. “I am sickened. I cannot fathom the Administration’s failure to disassociate the University and condemn this statement.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York Republican and Harvard alum condemned the groups.

“It is abhorrent and heinous that Harvard student groups are blaming Israel for Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attacks that have killed over 700 Israelis,” Ms. Stefanik wrote on social media. “Any voice that excuses the slaughter of innocent women and children has chosen the side of evil and terrorism.”

Political scientist Ian Bremmer said he “can’t imagine who would want to identify with such a group.”

“Harvard parents — talk to your educated kids about this,” he wrote on X.

The Washington Times has reached out to Harvard University.

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WATCH: U2, Bono change lyrics during Las Vegas Sphere show to honor Israeli victims of Hamas attack

U2 changed the lyrics of their 1984 song “Pride (In the Name of Love)” dedicated to civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hamas Sunday at the Sphere in Las Vegas to honor Israeli victims of the recent Supernova desert dance festival assault.

Bono sang, “Early morning, Oct. 7, the sun is rising in the desert sky/Stars of David, they took your life but they could not take your pride.”

The original lyrics of the song read “Early morning, April four/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky/Free at last, they took your life/They could not take your pride.”

While on stage, Bono told the crowd “Sing for our brothers and sisters — who they themselves were singing at the Supernova Sukkot festival in Israel. “ He continued: “We sing for those. Our people, our kind of people, music people. Playful, experimental people. Our kind of people. We sing for them.”

On Saturday, backed by a barrage of rockets, Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns, killing dozens and abducting others at the Tribe of Nova music festival in an unprecedented surprise attack during a major Jewish holiday.

The attack will go down in Israeli history as the country’s worst civilian massacre. As of Monday, Israel’s rescue service Zaka said paramedics had recovered at least 260 bodies. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel has “only started” a fierce offensive in the Gaza Strip in response to an unprecedented Hamas attack. Netanyahu delivered the pronouncement in a nationally televised address as Israel pressed ahead with a third day of heavy airstrikes in Gaza.

“We have only started striking Hamas,” he said. “What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations.”

Israel increased airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and sealed off the Palestinian territory from food, fuel, and other supplies in retaliation for a deadly incursion by Hamas militants, as the toll rose to nearly 1,600 dead on both sides.

Hamas mounted its own escalation on Monday, pledging to kill captured Israelis if its attacks targeted civilians without warnings.

During the performance, Bono also said, “In the light of what’s happened in Israel and Gaza, a song about non-violence seems somewhat ridiculous, even laughable, but our prayers have always been for peace and for non-violence… But our hearts and our anger, you know where that’s pointed. So sing with us… and those beautiful kids at that music festival.”

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Indigenous Peoples Day rally urges Maine voters to restore tribal treaties to printed constitution

AUGUSTA, Maine — Several hundred people rallied on the state’s fifth Indigenous Peoples Day in support of a statewide vote requiring tribal treaties to be restored to printed versions of the Maine Constitution.

The march and rally outside the State House on Monday came as Native Americans seek to require portions of the original Maine Constitution that detail tribal treaties and other obligations to be included for the sake of transparency and to honor tribal history.

“They have been removed from the printed history, and we want to put them back. And it really is that simple. There’s no hidden agenda. There’s no, you know, secrets here. It’s just about transparency, truth and restoration of our history,” Maulian Bryant, Penobscot Nation ambassador and president of the Wabanaki Alliance, told the group.

The group gathered for music and to listen to speakers before marching to the front of the State House to encourage support for the amendment, which is on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Maine inherited the treaties from Massachusetts when it became its own state in 1820. The language still applies even though references were later removed from the printed constitution.

“To have a constitution in the state of Maine that has a whole section about the tribes being struck out, for absolutely no good reason, is unconscionable,” said Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson.

Jackson said people often “wrap themselves in the Constitution” during political debates. “We should wrap ourselves with the whole Constitution,” he said.

Maine voters will have a busy ballot despite it being an off-year election.

There are four statewide ballot initiatives including a proposal to break up the state’s largest investor-owned electric utilities and replace them with the nonprofit Pine Tree Power and an elected board. The proposal to restore tribal treaty language is one of four constitutional amendments on the ballot.

The tribal treaty vote comes as Native Americans in Maine are seeking greater autonomy. In recent years, lawmakers have expanded tribal policing authority, returned some land and allowed the Passamaquoddy Tribe to work with the federal government to clean up water, among other things.

In January, state lawmakers will once again take up a proposal to expand sovereignty of Native Americans in Maine by changing the 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims Act to allow the tribes to be treated like the nation’s other federally recognized tribes.

The settlement for the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Maliseet, along with a 1991 agreement for the Mi’kmaq, stipulates they’re bound by state law and treated like municipalities in many cases.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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South Carolina nuclear plant gets yellow warning over another cracked emergency fuel pipe

JENKINSVILLE, S.C. — Federal officials have issued a warning about a substantial safety violation at a South Carolina nuclear plant after cracks were discovered again in a backup emergency fuel line.

Small cracks have been found a half-dozen times in the past 20 years in pipes that carry fuel to emergency generators that provide cooling water for a reactor if electricity fails at the V.C. Summer plant near Columbia, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The agency issued what it calls a preliminary “yellow” warning to plant owner Dominion Energy last week.

It is the second most serious category and only seven similar warnings have been issued across the country since 2009, nuclear power expert David Lochbaum told The State newspaper after reviewing records from federal regulators.

The commission’s ruling is not final and Dominion will have a chance to explain what happened, utility spokesman Darryl Huger told the paper in an email.

Dominion has already started to put in place a plan to improve the reliability of the backup system, Huger said.

A crack first appeared on a diesel fuel pipe in 2003, and similar pipes have had other cracks since then.

During a 24-hour test of the system in November, a small diesel fuel leak grew larger, according to NRC records.

The agency issued the preliminary yellow warning because of the repeated problems.

Virginia-based Dominion hasn’t been the only owner of the plant. SCANA built and started the plant in 1984. The South Carolina company had plans to build two more reactors, but billions of dollars of cost overruns forced it to abandon the project in 2017 and sell to Dominion.

Dominion has recently requested to renew the license for the nuclear plant for an additional 40 years.

Longtime nuclear safety advocate Tom Clements told the newspaper the pipe problems should mean a lot more scrutiny by regulators.

“This incident serves as a wake-up call to fully analyze all such systems prior to a license-renewal determination,’’ Clements said in an email.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Three teen boys charged with creating 'hit list' that targeted Florida high schoolers

Three teenage boys in Northern Florida are accused of creating a pair of hit lists that authorities said threatened to harm and kill the high school students who were named.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said the three boys — Nikita Calantropo, 15; Ron Quinones, 14, and Kiryl Nerad, 14 — were arrested Friday and charged with felonies for penning what police called a “hit list” and “lethal hit list” that targeted students at Creekside High School.

The sheriff’s office said deputies discovered group text messages between the teenage suspects where the faces of specific students were circled and the accused boys talked about using guns. 

Sheriff Robert Hardwick also said that some of the targeted students had their addresses listed in the text messages.

“Nothing is more important to me than the safety of our children and this is another example of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office commitment to protect the more than 50,000 students who attend classes on a daily basis,” Sheriff Hardwick said. “I am proud of the youth services deputies assigned to this investigation, who acted quickly on the information that was provided and prevented a potential tragedy.” 

None of the boys are currently behind bars, according to statewide jail records.

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Mexico to send diplomatic note protesting 'irresponsible' Texas border truck inspections

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president said Monday he is going to send a diplomatic note to the United States to protest Texas truck inspections that have caused major delays at border crossings.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed Monday that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to enforce additional truck inspections was “very irresponsible” and politically motivated.

Mexico’s national freight transport chamber said Sunday that 19,000 trucks were delayed at the border. The freight association claimed the delayed trucks were carrying about $1.9 billion in goods.

It said in a statement that the delays were “severely affecting” cross-border trade.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said it had started “enhanced commercial vehicle safety inspections” on Sept. 19 in crossing around El Paso and Del Rio, Texas, “to deter the placement of migrants and other smuggling activity” and detect unsafe vehicles.

López Obrador claimed it was about politics.

“We are going to send a diplomatic note today to protest the Texas governor’s attitude of putting up obstacles to free transit on our borders without any reason, but rather with political motivations,” López Obrador said. “He is using the immigration issue to play politics.”

Bridge closures and train delays because of the influx of migrants crossing the border have also affected freight traffic in recent weeks.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Study: Less than half of clinically depressed adolescents got treatment amid COVID lockdowns

Less than half of all adolescents with clinical depression during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic received mental health treatment as lockdowns kept them home, a study has found.

Four researchers based in Massachusetts published the study Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. They examined the data of 10,743 12- to 17-year-olds who responded to a national health survey Jan. 14-Dec. 20, 2021.

About 1 in 5 adolescents were clinically depressed during the first full calendar year of the pandemic, the study found. It reported that 33.3% of Asian adolescents, 39.5% of Blacks, 29.2% of Latinos, 45.0% of White adolescents and 22.1% of mixed-race adolescents received treatment such as psychiatric medication or talk therapy.

“The high levels of [major depressive disorder] and the low levels of mental health treatment access may in part be attributed to COVID-19 restrictions,” the researchers wrote.

The study noted that 42 states and territories issued stay-at-home orders that impacted 73% of counties nationwide from March 1 to May 31, 2020.

Symptoms of major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, include at least two weeks of persistent bad moods, low self-esteem and a loss of interest in favorite activities. People with it often experience sleeplessness, social withdrawal, lack of appetite and suicidal thoughts.

According to the researchers, unmet care needs surged amid “increased feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and loneliness among adolescents due to social isolation, virtual school, and lack of peer interaction” during the pandemic.

They pointed to earlier data showing that national rates of major depression among adolescents doubled between 2009 and 2019, setting the stage for disaster as lockdowns deprived young people of healthy social outlets.

In the study published Monday, racial and ethnic minorities experienced the lowest treatment rates. Researchers noted that these adolescents were also more likely than White children to live in poverty, have public health insurance, reside in large urban areas and report poor or fair health.

The study found that Asian and Latino adolescents had lower rates than White adolescents of virtual mental health treatment. Additionally, Blacks and Latinos had lower rates than White adolescents of mental health care appointments transitioning to telehealth.

“These findings suggest that US federal policy should target adolescents as a whole, and racial and ethnic minority populations in particular, to ensure timely and equitable access to high-quality mental health treatment,” the researchers concluded.

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