Saturday, February 28, 2009

KBIC proposes stringent mining law; "Splash" articles highlight health dangers of Rio Tinto/Kennecott's proposed sulfide mining

MARQUETTE -- The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) has proposed a law to assert responsible local control over mining practices and create one of the most stringent mining laws in the world.

In an article in the March 2009 issue of Save the Wild UP's The Splash, titled "KBIC Law Would Ensure Protection," Gabriel Caplett, a Marquette County-based freelance writer, reports that, if approved, the KBIC ordinance would be stricter than Michigan's Part 632 regulations for nonferrous metallic sulfide mining and even stricter than Wisconsin's moratorium on sulfide mining.

"If the KBIC ordinance passes," Caplett writes, "a mining company will have to prove that it has successfully operated a mine, similar in design and location to that proposed, without polluting groundwater or surface water, degrading the environment, natural resources, health or welfare of the public or culturally significant sites for at least 10 years and that the same mine has been closed, and has followed the same criteria, for a period of at least 20 years."*

Two other articles by Caplett in The Splash discuss the economic and health effects of mining such as the proposed sulfide mining Eagle Project of Rio Tinto/Kennecott.

In "Economist: U.P. Economy No Longer Built Around Mining," Caplett quotes economist Thomas M. Power on the fact that Minnesota's historical dependence on metal mining is not a good guide for a more diversified economy needed today. Caplett relates Power's comments to the present "promises" of jobs by Rio Tinto/Kennecott for their proposed sulfide mine near Marquette.

"According to Power," Caplett writes, "part of an intelligent economic strategy is recognizing that protection of the environment is a central component of an area's 'economic development strategy.'"**

Caplett's third article, "Kennecott's Cherry Avoids Mention of Severe Pollution and Health Hazards at Humboldt Plant," discusses a presentation by Jon Chery, Rio Tinto's Eagle Project manager, at a Jan. 12 public meeting about Kennecott's plans for disposing of mine tailings at Humboldt Mill. These include depositing waste material into a pit on-site and discharging treated wastewater into wetlands that feed into the Escanaba River. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has said mercury discharges may be a serious issue at this site. Some Humboldt Township residents at the meeting said previous milling by the Callahan Mining Company left part of the community with undrinkable well water.

"Cherry was unable to explain which toxic chemicals were planned for the milling process," Caplett writes. ***

An article by Teresa Bertossi of Save the Wild UP, "How Industry Decisions Influence Your Health," points out several of the health risks posed by Acid Mine Drainage, which can cause heavy metals (aluminum, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel and zinc) to pollute water that may be consumed by humans or fish. In fact, she writes, 117 physicians in the Marquette area, concerned about health risks, have signed a resolution opposing the proposed Rio Tinto/Kennecott sulfide mine.*

In this same current issue of The Splash is a letter from Michelle Halley, Attorney for the Lake Superior Project of the National Wildlife Federation.

"There is no doubt that Kennecott seeks to develop a sulfide mining district in the Lake Superior basin spanning from the UP all the way into northern Minnesota. The thorough and strong record we developed during the contested case hearing last summer shows that the proposed Eagle Mine is unsafe," Halley writes.

Halley points out that the Eagle Mine, if approved, would lead to other mines now in the planning stages for the Western U.P., including at least six more sulfide mine prospects west of the Salmon Trout River.

"The Great Lakes are at a crossroads, and the largest source of fresh water on our planet is imperiled," she writes. "It is likely that acid mine drainage from metallic sulfide would irreversibly foul rivers and wetlands near each site with heavy metals and toxic runoff, which would ultimately flow into Lake Superior or Lake Michigan. Once begun, acid mine drainage is impossible to contain or reverse. Kennecott has already violated Michigan's laws by pumping water out of the Salmon Trout River, and I don't expect it to stop with one violation if sulfide mining takes hold."****

The Editorial section of The Splash includes a moving article, "Words of Wisdom from a Miner's Daughter," by Carol "Junebug" Cook, one of 11 children born to a coal mining family. Cook remembers the effect on her community when the mines shut down in her West Virginia town of Hiawatha. Her family eventually moved to lower Michigan when her father, who suffered from black lung disease, got a job with the auto industry. She talks about returning to her beloved West Virginia mountain, destroyed by mining, and seeing "rivers that were a reddish color."*****

Cook says she visits the U.P. because her daughter lives here. She calls it "heaven, with its trees, wildlife, and clean water."

Cook adds, "It's Michigan's one-of-a-kind place. We need to keep its waters pure, so our children can stay healthy and happy."

Save the Wild UP's latest edition of The Splash, a newsletter reporting the real risks of sulfide and uranium mining, is published as an insert in the March 2009 issue of the Marquette Monthly, available for free in various restaurants and businesses here in the Keweenaw. Click here to read The Splash on line in pdf format.

Editor's Notes:
*See page 1 of The Splash.

** This article is on page 2 of The Splash.

*** This article is on page 3 of The Splash.

**** Read Michelle Halley's complete letter on page 9 of The Splash.

***** See pp. 10-12 of The Splash for Editorials and learn how you can contribute your own mining story to Save the Wild UP.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rozsa Center to host African Children's Choir Mar. 2, 3

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Center and Opus 3 Artists are proud to present the world-famous African Children’s Choir in Journey of Hope at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 2, and Tuesday, Mar. 3.

African Children's Choir. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.)

Founded in 1984 by human rights activist Ray Barnett as a response to the plight of starving, orphaned children in Uganda, the African Children’s Choir’s inspiring message of strength, survival and hope has reached millions of people world-wide. Their moving stories of courage and determination have enabled the group to raise substantial sums of money to fund their many educational and support programs throughout Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. The efforts of these extraordinarily talented children are making a significant and positive impact on their communities, which will be felt for generations to come.

The choir is comprised of some of the most vulnerable and under-privileged children in Africa, most of whom have lost one or both parents to the abject poverty, disease and violence plaguing their homelands. Participation in the choir, and its parent organization Music for Life, provides these children a way to break free from the desperate cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

The education and experience they receive from their participation in the Music for Life schools, and while touring with the choir, provides them with an understanding of the world around them and a profound sense of confidence and accomplishment. Their visually stunning performance of traditional, contemporary and gospel music includes songs, stories and dances that celebrate the people, culture and life of Africa. In addition to performing for international dignitaries and world leaders like Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, appearances on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, and most recently, American Idol, have expanded their audience and helped create the awareness needed to promote their message of "hope for the future through education."

The overall education and choir training these children receive is absolutely life-altering for them. Many go on to receive formal degrees and find success in various professions. The chaperones and adult performers are all former members of the choir who have remained with the group to help continue the legacy of hope.

Bring your family and join us for this extraordinary experience. Share the inspirational stories and sheer joy of these amazing and talented children. The African Children’s Choir’s Journey of Hope is far more than musical entertainment – it’s truly a triumph of the human spirit.

Sponsored by the Katherine M. Bosch Endowment and Minnesota Public Radio.

Ticket prices for the general public are $25 and $20; MTU student prices are $20 and $15 (MTU student ID required).

To purchase tickets contact the Rozsa Box Office at 487.3200, the Central Ticket Office (SDC) at 487.2073, Tech Express (MUB) at 487.3308 or go online at tickets.mtu.edu. No refunds, exchanges, or late seating, please.

Salolampi scholarships available for U.P. youth

HANCOCK -- Salolampi Foundation announces that there are scholarships available for Upper Michigan young people interested in attending Salolampi Finnish Language Camp in Bemidji, Minnesota, this summer.

There are two Salolampi scholarships designed exclusively for residents of the Upper Peninsula. The first is the Upper Peninsula scholarship: Students from the 497, 498 or 499 zip code areas can apply for scholarships ranging from $150 to $450, depending on the length of time the student will be attending the camp. These scholarships will be given on a first-come basis until a total of $2,000 is expended.

The other U.P.-exclusive opportunity is the Harold W. Wiitala Memorial Scholarship. Two $250 scholarships will be awarded to U.P. students who submit a 100+ word theme about "Why I Wish to Attend Salolampi." That essay, along with the application form, should be submitted by March 10 by mailing it to Harold W. Wiitala Scholarship, Salolampi Foundation, PO Box 14480, Minneapolis, MN 55414. The deadline for applying for this scholarship is March 10, 2009.

Applications for the U.P. scholarships can be downloaded at www.salolampi.org or obtained by writing to the Salolampi Foundation at PO Box 14480, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

For more information about either of these scholarships, or Salolampi in general, call (800) 222-4750.

Photo of Salolampi participants courtesy Salolampi Foundation.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to offer sailing, boating safety classes starting Mar. 4

DOLLAR BAY -- The Coast Guard Auxiliary, Coast Guard and qualified guest speakers will be teaching boating skills and seamanship and sailing skills and seamanship parallel classes starting Wednesday, Mar. 4, at the Coast Guard Station in Dollar Bay.

Cost of any of the classes will be $30 for individuals or $45 for couples sharing a textbook. Each additional family member will be charged $5. The Classes will start at 6:30 p.m. and last two and a half hours. Classes will run for nine weeks and end with a certificate of accomplishment that is honored by most insurance companies for a reduced boat insurance rate.

A complimentary one-year Boat US membership is also offered. This membership gives discounted prices in both Boat US and West Marine catalogs and stores.

Classes offered to both sailors and power boaters will be Marine Radio Operation, Navigation, Lines and Knots for your Boat, Marine Engines and Boating Safety, just to name a few. There will also be separate skill-related classes that pertain to just sailors or power boaters.

For more information and registration call Dave Boutin, Coast Guard Auxiliary, at (906) 482-0026.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stupak: Comments on President Obama's speech to Congress

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) issued the following statement following President Barack Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress tonight, Feb. 24, 2009:

"President Obama clearly laid out the challenges we face as a nation as we work to recover from the current economic crisis. He was honest with the American people about the current state of our economy, the tough choices that lie ahead and the responsibility each of us has to help our country move forward.

"The President spoke a great deal about jobs tonight. While the 11 million unemployed Americans might find the President’s words encouraging, they also need his ideas to work. Working together with President Obama, Congress is working every day to address the economic crisis and the underlying problems in the housing and financial sectors.

"The vision President Obama outlined of a retooled auto industry is vital for Michigan’s economy. As with most ideas in a speech of this scope, I expect more details will be put forward in the coming days. But the fact that this sector of our economy would make such a prominent appearance in the President’s first address to Congress underscores the importance of the auto industry for the health of our entire economy.

"The President spoke tonight of fiscal discipline and his goal to cut our nation’s deficit in half by 2013. I am eager to see more details on his proposal when his first budget is sent to Congress later this week. In some cases, this will mean tough choices and a review of every aspect of federal spending. Congress stands ready to work with the President to accomplish this goal and help ensure our nation’s fiscal future.

"The challenges we face domestically have led many to forget the sacrifices being made every day by the men and women of our armed forces who are fighting in not one but two conflicts on the other side of the world. I was pleased to hear the President speak tonight of his recently-announced plan to provide our troops in Afghanistan the resources they need to complete their mission, and of his plan to drawdown troops in Iraq. I expect to hear more in the coming days of the President’s plan for an orderly withdrawal from Iraq, which will bring our troops home and redirect billions in resources to our needs here at home.

"Some have suggested, even before the President’s address, that his young administration is attempting to tackle too much. But the critical issues facing our country are too important to ignore. The real danger lies in doing too little."

Editor's Note: For a transcript of President Obama's first speech to a joint session of Congress, visit The New York Times Web site.

First Annual Glide-N-Gorge ski at Maasto Hiihto Mar. 1

Snow mushrooms in Swedetown Creek are part of the scenic Maasto Hiihto Gorge Trail. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos © 2009 Arlyn and Sandy Aronson. Reprinted with permission.)

HANCOCK -- Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) presents the 1st annual Glide-N-Gorge for fine food in Swedetown gorge! From noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 1, three tables will offer homemade fare for hungry skiers along the Maasto Hiihto Gorge Trail.

The event starts and ends at the chalet at the Houghton County fair grounds in Hancock. All proceeds go for trail equipment. Tickets are $10 until Friday, Feb. 27, or $20 at any of the food tables that day --NO REFUNDS. Tickets are available from any KNSC board member or normal ski pass business outlets.

Sandy Aronson enjoys the well marked striding trails along Maasto Hiihto's Swedetown Gorge River Trail. Photographer Arlyn Aronson is also the chief groomer for the trails.

More Details: The well-marked course of just 3.5 miles (extra loops available to work up your appetite) will guide you to the first food stop near Tomasi road. This hors d’oeuvre table will feature fine cheeses and much more. After this "warm-up" we’ll descend along the Swedetown Creek on one of the prettiest trails in the Keweenaw! The next stop will be serving piping hot chili and Finnish pea soup at a scenic spot along the creek. After noshing here, you’ll continue down the creek towards some delectable desserts, which will be served at the top of Sisu hill. At this final station you can celebrate the circumnavigation of the gorge!

The Swedetown Creek River Trail meanders through the woods, right in Hancock, providing a scenic cross-country ski experience at Maasto Hiihto.

After you ski back to the chalet, hot drinks will be available, so stay awhile and socialize. Or listen to RHYTHM 203 performing in the chalet!!

Proudly sponsored by; Down Wind Sports, Cross Country Sports, The Library Restaurant and the Keweenaw Co-op.

Black History Month concludes with speakers, poetry, cuisine, music, dance

HOUGHTON -- A host of events is scheduled for this last week of Black History Month at Michigan Tech University.

At noon on Thursday, Feb. 26, Lt. Col. Otha Thornton, a former leader of Tech's Army ROTC program, will speak on the role of African Americans in the military.

Thornton earned a master's degree in rhetoric and technical communication from MTU in 2001. He was commissioned in 1990 and serves as director of human resources at the White House Communications Agency and also as presidential communications officer.

Beginning at 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 27, G. S. Giscombe will read poetry and host a reception in Walker 134. Giscombe, described as a "major figure in contemporary African American letters," is the author of several books of poetry, including his latest, Prairie Style, copies of which will be available for purchase and signing.

Giscombe also wrote a memoir, "Out of Dislocation," and is the editor of Mixed Blood, a poetry journal. He teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.

The concluding event for Black History Month is "African Night," which includes a dinner featuring African cuisine at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28, in the Memorial Union Ballroom. A performance featuring African dance and music will follow at 8 p.m. in the Rozsa Center. It will include guest performers from the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts.

Tickets for "African Night," for both dinner and the performance, are $10 for students and $15 for nonstudents. They are available at the Rozsa Box Office, the Memorial Union and Fisher Hall.

Other presentations this week on the MTU campus include:

Noon, Wednesday, Feb. 25, Memorial Union Ballroom B1 -- "Taking Inventory: Africa's Mineral and Agricultural Resources and Their Impact in Today's Global Economy," by undergraduate Haki Kiema.

6:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26, Memorial Union Ballroom B1 and B2 -- "Beats of Africa: African Drumming and Dance Lessons," by undergraduates Nana Manteaw and Kingsley Iduma