HELENA, Mont. – After nearly 17 years of courtroom arguments, congressional negotiations and Indian Country bickering, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans could see the first payments of a $3.4 billion U.S. government settlement by the end of the year, plaintiffs’ attorneys said Monday.
The settlement over more than a century’s worth of squandered and mismanaged land trust royalties became final Friday.
One of the largest U.S. government settlements in history began with a lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. The Blackfeet leader observed that those who leased Indian land made money from its natural resources, while the Indians themselves remained in poverty with no accounting of the royalties from that land that were held in trust for them by the government.
Giffords’ in-law to spend year in space
A former space shuttle commander whose twin brother is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will attempt the longest spaceflight ever by an American.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend an entire year aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2015. Both men already have lived aboard the space station for six months.
Moon rocks stashed away in Minnesota
The Minnesota National Guard said Monday it found a few small fragments of the moon’s surface in storage in a state building in St. Paul. They’ll be turned over to the state Historical Society on Wednesday.
The moon rocks came from the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. U.S. states and territories and 135 countries each got tiny samples encased in plastic. Authentic moon rocks are considered national treasures and can’t legally be sold in the U.S.
Joseph Gutheinz, a former NASA investigator who leads an effort to find missing moon rocks, said Minnesota’s discovery leaves 11 states, including Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin, missing their Apollo 11 moon rocks.
Roach-eating death caused by choking
A Florida man choked to death after downing dozens of live roaches to win a contest earlier this year in which the grand prize was a python, according to an autopsy released Monday.
Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach died as a result of asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents, according to the report released by the Broward County medical examiner’s office. It said his airway was obstructed by the roach body parts, which caused him to be unable to breathe.
US defends efforts at climate meeting
Anticipating an onslaught of criticism from poor nations, the United States claimed enormous strides in reducing greenhouse emissions at the opening of U.N. climate talks Monday, despite failing to join other industrialized nations in committing to binding cuts.
The pre-emptive U.S. approach underscores one of the major showdowns expected at the two-week conference as China pushes developed countries to take an even greater role in tackling global warming.
Accord reached on Greek bailout loans
The 17 European Union nations that use the euro have struck an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a program to reduce Greek debt and put Athens on the way to get the next installment of its much-needed bailout loans.
This was the third time in the last two weeks that finance ministers from the eurozone had tried to hammer out a deal on the next installment of bailout money – $57.8 billion.
Rebels defy calls to leave Congolese city
Congolese rebels widely believed to be backed by Rwanda and Uganda held their positions in Goma, the key eastern city they seized last week, letting a midnight deadline for their withdrawal expire in early today.
Earlier in the day, the M23 rebels announced that they plan to move their headquarters to the city of 1 million later this week, another sign that they do not intend to respect the demands of mediators.
The government acknowledged it was in talks with rebel representatives in Kampala, the capital of neighboring Uganda.
Syrian rebels seize hydroelectric dam
Syrian rebels on Monday captured a hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates River in the country’s north after days of heavy clashes, carting off boxes of ammunition from defeated regime forces in the latest in a string of recent strategic advances for opposition fighters, activists said.
Also Monday, activists said rebels and pro-government Kurdish gunmen struck a truce to end days of fighting in the town of Ras al-Ayn near the border with Turkey that opposition forces entered earlier this month.