See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Conservancy to sponsor presentation on loons July 28

(Loon photo © Jim Hay. Reprinted with permission.)

GRATIOT LAKE -- Gratiot Lake Conservancy (GLC) invites the public to attend a free presentation focusing on loons. Keren Tischler of Common Coast Research and Conservation will be giving a slide/talk titled "Sharing the Commons: A Natural History of Loons" at 8 p.m. next Tuesday, July 28, at the Eagle Harbor Community Building (M-26 in Eagle Harbor across from the Shoreline).

The presentation will follow the GLC members' business meeting. Visitors are encouraged to arrive by 7:45 p.m. for the talk, since it will start promptly at 8 p.m.

Protect the Earth 2009 to offer speakers, workshops, walk to Eagle Rock Aug. 1-2

Protect the Earth photos courtesy Teresa Bertossi of Save the Wild UP.

MARQUETTE -- Protect the Earth 2009 will take place on Saturday, Aug. 1, and Sunday, Aug. 2, with events on the campus of Northern Michigan University (NMU), in Marquette, and on the Yellow Dog Plains, near the town of Big Bay.

Events begin with speakers and workshops at Noon on Saturday in NMU’s Whitman Building, Rooms 122 and 124. Follow the signs. Please park in the Whitman parking lot just off of the Elizabeth Harden Drive.*

Saturday activities will feature speakers from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ontario and Utah including Flambeau Mine expert Laura Furtman, well-known Ontario writer and public health advocate Lorraine Rekmans, Great Lakes nature writer Eric Hansen, Utah student activist Tim DeChristopher, musician Bobby "Bullet" St. Germaine, global mining expert Professor Al Gedicks and more.

At 6 p.m. live music and Anishinaabe fancy shawl and hoop dancing by Megan Tucker will follow the Saturday presentations. Bobby "Bullet" St. Germaine, Ojibwe folksinger, will also entertain.

Protest against Rio Tinto, the parent company of Kennecott Minerals, whose potential gold and nickel mine near Marquette could cause serious environmental damage to trout streams and Lake Superior.

A demo screening of Yoopers vs. Giant Mining Corporation, a short film by filmmaker and composer Jeff Gibbs, will be held from 7:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. in the NMU Mead Auditorium, right across from the Whitman Building. Gibbs co-produced filmmaker Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 and did sound and field producing for Moore's Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine. Gibbs is currently working on a new project with Michael Moore, due out this fall.

On Sunday, Aug. 2, a roughly two-mile walk to Eagle Rock, on the Yellow Dog Plains, begins at the Clowry Trail at 10:30 a.m. From noon to 2 p.m. there will be speakers, including Fred Ackley, Fran Van Zile and Jerry Burnett from the Mole Lake Chippewa reservation in Wisconsin; Lee Sprague (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians); musician Bobby "Bullet" St. Germaine; Jessica Koski (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community) and others.

Bring your blueberry pails! (Rides will be provided back to your vehicles, and if you cannot walk the two miles please meet at Eagle Rock for lunch and speakers at Noon.)

At 2 p.m. on Sunday there will be a memorial ceremony for legendary area historian Fred Rydholm, who passed away this spring.

For any questions, please e-mail, call (906) 942-7325.

*View the event's website at for maps, the complete schedule and directions to Eagle Rock.

Calumet Theatre artists to celebrate Great Lakes July 27

CALUMET -- The Calumet Theatre is pleased to present "The Great Lakes -- Our Freshwater Seas, featuring Mike Deren and Lee Murdock, at 7 p.m. Monday, July 27. The event features two distinctly different artists celebrating what makes the lakes great!

Sail the Great Lakes delivering passengers and cargo to ports from Buffalo to Chicago. Join the crew! Raise the sails! Sing songs! Paddle the voyageur canoe! Learn about the beaver, lumber, iron, copper and fishing industries. Mike Deren is a historical interpreter presenting the past in person. Mike transforms himself into Captain Bill Thomas and takes the audience on a historical, musical, educational, participative journey on a Great Lakes schooner in 1875.

Lee Murdock has uncovered a boundless body of music and stories about the Great Lakes. The music is grounded in the work song tradition, from the rugged days of lumberjacks and wooden sailing schooners. Lee's fans have discovered a treasure in his songs about the Great Lakes, finding drama and inspiration in the lives of sailors and fishermen, lighthouse keepers, ghosts, shipwrecks, outlaws and everyday heroes.

General is seating $10, with a discount for Theatre members. Fun for the whole family.

The Calumet Theatre, Heartland Communications, and Range Bank present the Michigan Mondays Music Series. Starting July 20 and running through Aug 10, this series of concerts features performers from the State of Michigan.

Coming concerts include these:

Aug. 3: An Evening with Bob Milne, Ragtime Pianist

Aug. 10: Remembering Patsy and Other Country Greats

Tickets are available by phone or from the Calumet Theatre box office. Summer box-office hours are Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 2 ½ hours before show time. For more information, please call the Calumet Theatre box office at (906) 337-2610 or check our web page at

Events at the Calumet Theatre are made possible with the support of the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday night Movie Magic continues

Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital sponsors the Movie Magic Club at 7 p.m. every Tuesday evening through Aug. 18 at the Calumet Theatre.

Bring the family to watch movie classics, and all kids 14 and under who have a movie magic card will be entered into a drawing for a new bike! A bike is given away at every movie. Each time you attend a movie, show your movie club card get it punched for additional chances to win a bike. Movie Magic Club cards are available at the Calumet Theatre box office and all Aspirus Keweenaw facilities.

A card entitles all family members admission to each movie. Only children 14 years and under are eligible to win a bike. You must be present to win. Adult accompaniment is required for children under 10 years of age.

Coming movies:

July 28: Ghostbusters
Aug. 4: Antz
Aug. 11: Muppet Movie
Aug. 18: Shrek

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stupak on health care: Quality-based outcomes should replace fee-for-service system

By Michele Bourdieu

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak held a telephone press conference for Michigan reporters Thursday morning, July 23, just before heading off for another meeting on health care reform, as members of the U.S. House of Representatives work toward consensus on legislation that will meet President Barack Obama's challenge to "try to encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier."

Those were President Obama's words during his press conference held Wednesday evening, July 22, when he tried to explain to the American public that, if the health care system is not changed, the skyrocketing costs of health care could prevent the federal government from controling the increasing deficit; and more and more Americans could lose their health insurance, adding to the 47 million who are presently uninsured.

Stupak, like Obama, favors a choice that will include a national health plan, but he said he was not completely satisfied with HR 3200, the main topic of discussion and debate in Congress this week.

A senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Stupak is among a small group of House Democrats working with House leadership to help bridge the divides that exist within the Democratic Caucus on health care reform legislation.

"Most of the work has been health care, health care, health care," Stupak said. "My main concern is cost containment. How are you going to pay for this?"

The proposal before the Energy and Commerce Committee, he explained, according to the Congressional Budget Office, could cost more money in the next 10 years, as well as jobs. He and many of his colleagues find this "Medicare plus 5 percent" unsatisfactory as a proposal for a national plan, since it would just perpetuate the fee-for-service system, which, as President Obama has said, is broken.

In his talk Wednesday night, Obama said doctors and medical experts should be making decisions based on what works.

"That's not how it's working right now," Obama said. "Right now doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that's out there."

Stupak further explained how the fee-for-service system should be replaced by quality-based outcomes.

"So instead of providing doctors and hospitals with reimbursement based upon utilization, or fee for service as we call it, why don't we provide reimbursements to doctors and hospitals and health care providers through quality -- quality-based outcomes," Stupak noted. "Many of those quality-based outcomes have actually been developed in the Midwest -- and the northern Midwest."

(Obama has mentioned the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, which he visited today, as models that "free doctors, patients, hospitals to make decisions based on what's best for patient care.")*

Regional variations in Medicare reimbursements

Stupak gave examples showing Medicare reimbursements vary from one region to another, with the average Medicare patient in the country receiving about $8300, while in some parts of the country it's as high as $16,000. In Northern Michigan, he explained, the reimbursements are mostly below the national average. The Marquette area average is about $6100, compared to about $6600 in the Traverse City area.

"We're below average," he said.

Stupak questioned why all Americans can't be reimbursed the same for health care, based on the same quality throughout the country, in order to lessen utilization, not increase it.

"I would not want to see any kind of health care plan which actually hurts our reimbursement rates in the Upper Peninsula or northern Michigan. What I want to see is reimbursement rates based upon quality, based upon out-patient outcome, not who does the most testing. That's not the way we should do national health care. That's the broken system."

To a question on whether the new legislation would decrease Medicare benefits, he answered that the new plan would actually help senior citizens more by covering preventive testing (physicals, mammograms, etc.) 100 percent and by filling in the "donut hole" some seniors face in prescription drug coverage.

"The other thing I want to see is public disclosure," Stupak added. "If you're going to the hospital or a doctor's office, why don't you know ahead of time what it's going to cost you?"

He gave an example of one of his constituents for whom a cortizone shot cost almost $3700.

"That's just outrageous," he said.

People should be able to look on the Internet to find out the cost of a health care treatment and to check a quality-based index as well. This public disclosure would help bring down costs, Stupak noted.

Insurance companies are exempt from anti-trust laws, Stupak said; and for years he's been trying to get rid of that exemption in order to increase true competition. In the past few years the cost of health insurance has increased 78 percent, while real wages have only gone up 4.5 or 4.6 percent, Stupak added.

Stupak wants "conscience clause" added to bill

Stupak, who is anti-abortion, also said he was concerned about the "conscience clause" which means doctors and health care providers who are opposed to abortion do not have to perform it or be associated with it.

"That conscience clause is conspicuously left out of this legislation," he said, "and I'll be working to put it back in. And also I do not believe we should be using public funds for abortion."

In reply to a question on the conscience clause, Stupak said it was not "make or break" for him. He would look at the totality of the package.

Finally, Stupak said he would not play partisan politics with this important issue of health care reform. He is hopeful that both Democrats and Republicans can work together on this issue.

"If an amendment makes sense, no matter who offers it -- Democrat or Republican -- in committee, that helps provide affordability, accessibility and quality of care, I'm going to support it," he said.

Stupak said he would also be involved next week in an investigative hearing in Indianapolis, Ind., on insurance companies rescinding people's private insurance policies once they get sick -- based on what the insurance companies call "post-marketing review."

The companies insist they have a right to do this. The only way to stop this practice would be if there were a national health care plan, since you can't take the plan away.

Stupak said while he receives calls from people in states all over the country -- people who admit they were asked by special interests to call and ask for a vote for or against health care reform -- he believes his constituents are engaged in the health care issue -- on both sides. Many of those who have health insurance are afraid of losing it, and those who don't have health care are in favor of national health care.

"This is a pretty complicated issue," Stupak said.

Later today, Thursday, Stupak made this statement on the health care negotiations:

"It has been a frustrating week for those of us eager to pass a health care reform bill that provides quality, affordable, and accessible health care coverage for all Americans. But today I have seen the best progress yet toward addressing some fundamental concerns a number of House Democrats and I have raised with the proposal.

"We are engaged in productive discussions with House leadership in the hopes of reaching an agreement that will address regional discrepancies in Medicare reimbursement rates that will be used as a model for the public health care option. Tackling this issue is critical to reforming our health care system in a manner that emphasizes quality of care over quantity of care and in providing cost containment measures health care reform must provide."

*Editor's Notes: You can read the transcript or watch the video of President Obama's press conference Wednesday, July 22, on the White House Web site.

This is the second in a series of articles on the health care reform issue. See also our July 7, 2009 article, "Finland's health care, new bills in Congress, residents' views explored at local Health Care Forum."

Please send us your comments or let us know if you want to contribute an article or letter to the editor. Email us at

Gowtham photo published in National Geographic, Lake Superior Magazine

"Mystic River," a photo by S. Gowtham, Keweenaw Now contributing photographer, appeared in both National Geographic and Lake Superior Magazine. It is a view of the Presque Isle River in the Porcupine Mountains. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © Gowtham. Reprinted with permission.)

HOUGHTON -- Keweenaw Now is fortunate to have photos from S. Gowtham, one of our contributing photographers, who recently shared with us his photos of the Aura Jamboree. Gowtham has shared other photos of local events in the past.

We recently learned that the above photo, "Mystic River," appeared in the Your Shot section, p. 12, of the January 2009 issue of National Geographic. The photo also won an honorable mention in the Land/Lakescapes category of Lake Superior Magazine's 14th Annual Photo Contest and appeared in the February / March 2009 issue of the magazine.

To see the original photo and to read Gowtham's description of how he took it, visit his Web site.

MTU students to hold Car Wash / Raffle July 24-25

HOUGHTON -- The Michigan Tech University chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity are holding a Car Wash/Raffle fundraiser from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, July 24, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, at Sounds and Motion, 1208 Memorial Rd., Houghton.

The car wash is free, but donations are accepted. This is a fund-raising event. Donations will go toward the chapter's trip to its Regional Leadership Conference. Individuals donating $2 or more will be entered in a raffle for prizes valued from $10 to $100. The drawing will take place July 26, and winners will be contacted.

Gift awards are primarily provided by Sounds and Motion.

For more information, email Kingsley Iduma at or Perry Wilson at

Portage Library to host more summer events July 27, 30

HOUGHTON -- As part of the Summer Reading Program schedule of events, the Portage Lake District Library continues to offer programs that reflect the theme "Be Creative at Your Library."

Brian Rajdl, a local educator and naturalist who sings with birds, wanders through swamps, runs with deer, climbs trees, gets really dirty, eats wild plants and loves to be wild will present "Creative Games to Connect Kids with Nature" at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 27.

Rajdl invites children and parents to learn and play games that invisibly teach how to connect with one’s sense of place. Participants will go on a Field Guide treasure hunt, learn how to find their animal name, share in a nature story circle and let their imaginations go wild with games like Animal Track Mystery, Deer Bounding Challenge, Blind-fold Drum Stalk, Silent Fox Walking, Dancing Animal Forms, Seeing with Owl Eyes, Listening with Deer Ears, Sing Animal Noises, and Building a Nature Museum.

Non-readers will need adult help for a few games. Participants are asked to bring a personal nature encounter story or share something from their nature collection or both. Parents will have a packet to continue these games at home.

On Thursday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m., Sylvia Schourek will present "The Art of Henna." Schourek, a local dance instructor, choreographer and artist, will discuss the history of this Indian art, its uses and the art and symbolism behind it. She will explain how to make henna so participants can learn how to do this traditional art form themselves. Schourek will also do henna designs on participants at no cost.

Children are invited to Storytimes at 11 a.m. every Monday with Maria Sliva and at 11 a.m. every alternating Wednesday with members from the Houghton High School Key Club. These programs include stories and a project.

All library programs are free, and everyone is invited to attend. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Unitarian Universalists to offer workshop Sunday, July 26

HOUGHTON -- An introductory workshop to Unitarian Universalism will be presented by the Rev. Sydney Morris at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 26, in the BHK Conference Room, Waterworks St., Houghton. The workshop is open to everyone interested in the history and perspective of this liberal religious denomination. Childcare is available upon request.

"If you sense that celebrating the magnificent diversity of creation and a dedication to justice is far bigger than any one creed, welcome to Unitarian Universalism: A caring community that honors science, reason, doubt, wisdom and wonder from a range of spiritual traditions," Morris explains.

Information about the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is available at 482-5586 and on the web at

North Wind Books to host children's event, book signing July 23

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University ’s North Wind Books will host a children’s event with Lake Linden native and author Deborah Frontiera from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 23.

A retired elementary school teacher, Frontiera is the author of Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: A Visit with Canis Lupis, Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: The First Adventure and Living on Sisu: The 1913 Union Copper Strike Tragedy. Her Eric and the Enchanted Leaf picture book series presents concepts of biology and ecology through fantasy, the way young children learn best. Frontiera, who now lives in Houston, Texas, has been spending the summer in the Copper Country.*

Refreshments will be served.

* See our July 9 article listing Frontiera's upcoming book signing dates.

Lauri Anderson book signing

From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, North Wind Books will also host a presentation and book signing with author Lauri Anderson .

Anderson, a professor of English at Finlandia University, is the author of multiple U.P.-inspired short story collections, including his newest, Mosquito Conversations. He will give a short presentation about his work and sign copies of his books.

Refreshments will be served.

North Wind Books is located at 437 Quincy St. , downtown Hancock. For information, call 487-7217.

Mining expert to speak on Kennecott proposed sulfide mine in Big Bay July 22

MARQUETTE -- Mining engineer and expert Jack Parker of Toivola will speak on the proposed Rio Tinto / Kennecott sulfide mining project at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22, at Powell Township School Gymnasium, Big Bay, Mich.

Parker spoke last April at an Earth Day question-answer discussion on this mining issue held at Michigan Tech University. At that time he was releasing his report, "KEMC Eagle Project: A Fraudulent Mining Permit Application," which challenges the Kennecott application to mine nickel and copper on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette. Parker claims the application data contains serious errors, particularly in the crown pillar stability.

In the introduction to his report, Parker states, "After three years of studying the application and related documents my original opinion has not changed, but I would add a conclusion that either the writers and all of the reviewers were not experienced and competent in mining and geology, or that their intent was to deceive to ensure that permits would be issued without delay. Maybe both.

"The reader can soon discern that approving the application and granting the permits would endanger life, property and the environment, and thus be illegal."*

Here is a video clip of Parker's participation in the Michigan Tech panel:

Jack Parker, mining engineer and expert, speaks at an Earth Day question-answer session on sulfide mining held at Michigan Tech University on April 22, 2009. Also pictured on the panel are, from left, David Flaspohler, wildlife biologist and MTU associate professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science; Cynthia Pryor, executive director, Yellowdog Watershed Preserve; Stanley Vitton, mining engineer and MTU associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Michelle Halley, senior manager, National Wildlife Federation. Alex Mayer (not pictured), MTU professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, presented the panel. (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

The question-answer session followed the showing of the film Mining Madness, Water Wars: The Great Lakes in the Balance, underwritten by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and produced by Brauer Productions, Inc., and Summit Public Relations Strategies, LLC. This documentary describes scientists’, community activists’, and tribal officials’ views on the Kennecott project’s flaws, which could place workers in peril and jeopardize a Lake Superior tributary and its watershed, and the lack of responsiveness of the government agencies responsible for reviewing permit applications from the company proposing the mine.

Jack Parker's report is available online in pdf format at Lake Superior Mining News.

Read Rio Tinto's reply to Jack Parker's April 2009 report on Save the Wild UP.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners July 15 meeting available in online recording

EAGLE HARBOR -- A recording of the July 15 meeting of the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners has been posted on the Eagle Harbor Township Web site. To download and listen to the recording, go to the Township News (Home page) of the Web site and click on the link under Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners Meetings. In order to assure complete governmental transparency, Eagle Harbor Township is posting recordings of these meetings when they are available.

The official draft minutes of this same meeting are available on the Keweenaw County Web site, where minutes of meetings from July 2008 to the present are posted in pdf format. Visit the Keweenaw County Web site at

Art in Garden to offer tour of local gardens, music, art July 26

HANCOCK -- Art in the Garden -- an annual tour of Copper Country gardens featuring artists and musicians -- will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 26, rain or shine!

Photo © Stephanie Trevino. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

Art in the Garden is a chance for local gardeners to showcase their gardens while raising funds for the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock. Each garden will feature live music and demonstrating visual artists. All artists, hosts and gardeners are volunteering for this event.

This year's tour features six gardens in the Houghton/Hancock city limits and surrounding areas. Booklets with garden descriptions, maps and artist bios serve as your ticket to the event. Booklets can be purchased for $15 at the Community Arts Center, located at 126 Quincy St. in Hancock.

Hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Saturday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. On Sunday, July 26, the Arts Center will be open from 10 a.m. - noon. Call 906-482-2333 or e-mail for more information.

Hancock Tori to hold Summer Celebration July 25

HANCOCK -- Hancock's Tori -- farmers' market -- will hold a Summer Celebration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 25.

Tori member Martha Sohlden of Chassell regularly offers "Aunt Jane's" jams, jellies and bakery goods at the Hancock Tori. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

In addition to the usual food and craft vendors, there will be a table filled with prizes provided by Hancock merchants and business people and the Tori vendors.

Donate a canned food item and you receive a chance at the prize table items. The canned food will be given to a local church food pantry. The Lighthouse Church has assisted a member of the Tori family, and the Tori hopes to assist them in their community ministry.

Visitors can also purchase a can of food and donate it for a chance at a prize. Proceeds from the cash donations will go into the Tori general maintenance fund.

Carl Rahkonen will provide live music in the morning. Rahkonen, who holds a Ph.D. in ethno-musicology and folklore, will be in the area as a presenter at Finlandia University.

In the afternoon, local musician Dave Bezotte will entertain with his music. Bezotte, whose heritage is French Canadian, plays a variety of ethnic music, including Finnish.

Musician Dave Bezotte, pictured here performing at the Aura Jamboree this past weekend, will entertain in the afternoon on Saturday, July 25, at the Tori Summer Celebration in Hancock. (Photo © Gowtham. Reprinted with permission.)

"Dave has played his music at Tori in the past, and we all enjoy his good energy," said Jean Medlyn, Tori co-manager.

New vendors are always welcome at the Tori. The Community Garden table is open to local growers with a small amount of home-grown produce to sell. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer. The Tori is located in Montezuma Park, downtown Hancock, one block south of City Hall.

For more information contact Jean Medlyn at 482-1605 or Sandy Soring at 337-1391.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Aura Jamboree photos by Gowtham

Ana Gawboy and Pasi Lautala play a duet of Finnish tunes at the Aura Jamboree July 18, 2009. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © Gowtham. Reprinted with permission.)

HOUGHTON -- Keweenaw Now contributing photographer S. Gowtham has made available his slide show of musicians who performed this weekend at the Aura Jamboree. Visit his Gallery to see the slide show. Please note his requirements for using his photos. Thanks, Gowtham!

Moon Landing: 40th Anniversary

"Crescent Earth." The crescent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this spectacular photograph taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in lunar orbit during final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. (Photo courtesy NASA)

On July 20, 1969 -- 40 years ago today -- Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, recording the famous words, "It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Visit the NASA Web site to view the video clip of this historic event and more photos and videos of research and history of the NASA Space Program.