In the NYT

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In the January 25 New York Times, two items that caught my eye:

First, a front-page piece on the Tohono O'odham Nation of southern Arizona: "In Drug War, Tribe Feels Invaded by Both Sides" (by Erik Eckholm). The tribe is pressed by drug smugglers and by federal agents, a combination that has made their lives difficult indeed.

Linguists will recognize the group as the people formerly known as the Papago (a name given them by unfriendly outsiders), whose (Uto-Aztecan) language is familiar to linguists through the work of the late Ken Hale and his student Ofelia Zepeda. Reading about the trials of the Tohono O'oodham is like hearing distressing news about an old friend.

Then, back in the New York section of the paper, "For Transgender People, Name Is a Message" (by William Glaberson), on the work of Manhattan's Civil Court in managing name changes for transgendered people, a task made easier by two court rulings: one overruling a judge "who had insisted on doctors' notes giving reasons for name changes in transgender cases" ("no sound basis in law or policy", the court said) and one making "an exception to a general requirement that name changes and home addresses be advertised in newspapers" ("the safety issues for people in gender transition" are "obvious in a world that can be hostile"). Touching stories about people's pleasure in getting their new names, plus an (I suppose predictable) warning from an opponent of same-sex marriage that the courts might be "ahead of the public on gender issues" and advancing an agenda.

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