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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Community Arts Center's Shaft exhibit continues through Dec. 5

Cutting Copper, acrylic, by Kevin Breyfogel, is one of the entries in The Shaft exhibit, which continues through Dec. 5 at the Community Arts Center. The public is invited to cast a vote for Public Choice cash awards. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- The 16th annual Shaft exhibit is currently on display in the Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery. The community exhibit on mining includes 31 pieces by nineteen local artists: Leona Blessing, Daniel C. Boyer, Kevin Breyfogel, Cynthia Coté, Linden W. Dahlstrom, Bob Dawson, Tammy Toj Gajewski, Sue Hamilton, Charles Eshbach, Phyllis Fredendall, Joyce Koskenmaki, Margo McCafferty, Eric Munch, Clyde Mikkola, Ron Gratz, Mary Ann Predebon, Barbara Simila and Peter Oikarinen, and Jack Oyler.

The exhibit includes art depicting workers, lifestyles, buildings and landscapes as well as conceptual art in such media as photography, painting, pencil, mixed media, clay, fiber, collage and found objects. Artists were invited to submit work inspired by mining in the Copper Country, the physical signs of its presence or the effect it has had on the area and its people. Members of the Quincy Smelter Association, guided by Sean Gohman, provided photographic and field sketching opportunities for artists in October.

The exhibit will remain in place through Dec. 5. Viewers are invited to cast their vote for public choice. Cash awards will be presented at the close of the exhibit. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. For more information call 482-2333.

Editor's Note: See our slide show with some of the entries in The Shaft and Junior Shaft exhibits (See upper right corner on this page or click here). Photos were taken at the Nov. 12 Opening Reception for these exhibits in the Kerredge and Youth galleries at the Copper Country Community Arts Center, Hancock.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NPR report on Afghanistan strategy echoes Sen. Levin on training Afghan forces

WASHINGTON, DC -- News today, Nov. 24, that President Obama plans to announce his new strategy for Afghanistan next week included statements by Obama quoted by National Public Radio (NPR) that recall a speech by Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, to the RAND Corporation's event "U.S. Policy in Afghanistan: Basic Questions, Strategic Choices," on Oct. 29, 2009.

The Nov. 24 NPR report, in part, states the following:

"Obama did offer some hints about where the strategy is headed, including an expected emphasis on boosting the pace of training for Afghan security forces.

"'It's going to be very important to recognize that the Afghan people ultimately are going to have to provide for their own security,' Obama said. 'And so we'll be discussing that process whereby Afghan security forces are properly trained and equipped to do the job.'

"He also said that there will be important civilian and diplomatic components to his planned strategic shift," the NPR report states.

On Oct. 29, 2009, Sen. Levin stated, in part, the following opinions:

"I agree with Gen. McChrystal on the need for a counter-insurgency strategy with a focus on protecting the Afghan people. Gen. McChrystal himself has said that what’s getting most of the attention these days -- troop levels -- is of less importance than the need for a fundamental change in our military strategy to a counter-insurgency campaign that makes the security of the Afghan people paramount. 'The key takeaway' from his assessment, the general writes, 'is the urgent need for a significant change to our strategy and the way that we think and operate.' And Gen. McChrystal said explicitly in his assessment: 'Focusing on force or resource requirements misses the point entirely.' The media is sure missing the point. I’m confident the president won’t."

Levin continued:

"In furtherance of a counter-insurgency strategy, my recommendation has been that we and our NATO allies take urgent steps to accelerate the growth and capability of Afghan forces before we consider committing any additional U.S. combat troops to Afghanistan, beyond those now in place or on their way. I have proposed an increase in the Afghan army and national police to about 400,000 troops, roughly doubling their current numbers, and that this be completed by 2012, a year earlier than now planned. Meeting that goal will require a substantial new commitment of U.S. and NATO trainers and other enablers, such as logistics support and intelligence assets.

"It will also require a major infusion of new equipment. The National Defense Authorization Act that President Obama signed yesterday (Oct. 28, 2009) opens the way to transfer useful equipment now in Iraq, currently scheduled for return to the United States, to Afghanistan instead."

For a YouTube video of this speech by Sen. Levin and the rest of the accompanying text from which this excerpt is taken, visit his Web site or see and hear the speech on his official YouTube channel:

For the complete article posted today on NPR, visit their Web site.

To contact Sen. Levin's office with your views, call 202.224.6221 or go to his email and contact page:

Photo: Sen. Carl Levin's official press photo provided by his Web site.

Stupak bill to limit phosphorus in Great Lakes

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) has introduced legislation to limit domestic cleaning products, such as laundry detergents and dishwasher soap, from containing more than 0.5 percent phosphorus. H.R. 3946 would help protect the Great Lakes by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide Congress with recommendations on how to address the problem of high levels of phosphorus in the water system.

"Healthy Great Lakes ecosystems are vital to the economic and cultural well-being of the state of Michigan," Stupak said. "As too many nutrients, including phosphorus, are dumped into our waters the Great Lakes suffer harmful effects such as algae blooms. This legislation ensures a comprehensive plan to address high levels of phosphorus and protect our Great Lakes for generations to come."

At the proper levels, nutrients including phosphorus are essential to aquatic ecosystems. However, excessive amounts of phosphorus are currently entering the Great Lakes from a number of sources. When too much phosphorus enters the waterways it causes excessive growth of algae, which in turn robs the water of the oxygen aquatic life needs to survive.

H.R. 3946 would require the EPA to analyze all of the accumulated data from federal agencies researching harmful algae blooms and send Congress a set of recommendations on how to address the problem in the Great Lakes. This information is critical to understanding how to combat algae blooms caused by excessive nutrient dumping in the Great Lakes.

The bill would also amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to limit domestic cleaning products, such as laundry detergents and dishwasher soap, from containing more than 0.5 percent phosphorus. While several states have already enacted similar bans with success, Stupak’s legislation is necessary to ensure comprehensive protection of the Great Lakes.

Reports on water quality conditions indicate that phosphorus and nitrogen are the leading causes of impairment in lakes, ponds and reservoirs and the second leading cause of impairment to bays and estuaries. In the Great Lakes, states have indentified nutrient contamination as a major cause of water impairment.

"Evidence shows efforts to reduce the flow of excessive nutrients into the Great Lakes can be successful," Stupak said. "Efforts to date have been piecemeal, but this legislation will allow the federal government to do more to helps states combat this problem in a comprehensive manner."

Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI) is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3946. Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced a companion bill to H.R. 3946 in the U.S. Senate.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Angel Mission Free Store in Calumet offers food, usable items at no cost

By Michele Bourdieu

These colorful toys are just waiting to make some child happy. The Angel Mission Free Store in Calumet has a room in the back with free toys and books for children. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- The Angel Mission Free Store at the corner of Fifth and Portland streets in Calumet is a great place to find anything from jackets and coats to shoes, clothing, household items and kids' toys and books. Groceries are also available on request from its food pantry.

You might just stop in to say hi to a volunteer friend, as Bob LaBonté of Calumet did recently, and find a surprise treasure like the Green Bay Packers jacket LaBonté discovered right in the front of the store.

Angel Mission Free Store volunteer Rena Kurburski of Tapiola helps Bob LaBonté of Calumet choose a Green Bay Packers jacket from the Free Store's rack of second-hand coats and jackets.

Not only did it fit, but it was free!

"Rena is a very good friend," LaBonté said of Rena Kurburski of Tapiola, who volunteers in the Free Store on Thursdays. "She spends a lot of time at our house."

LaBonté said he and his wife, C. J. LaBonté, occasionally take items from the store "only if needed," because they're aware that other people may have more needs.

The Angel Mission Free Store is filled with used clothing as well as household items like those pictured here on the shelves. It's a great place to recycle something you never use that just might be another person's treasure.

Kurburski said many people volunteer at the Free Store, which is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The volunteers wait on customers, sort items, remove garbage, etc. People can donate re-usable items or non-perishable food for the pantry.

"We also take monetary donations because we have rent and utilities to pay for," Kurburski explained.

The monetary donations also allow the mission to help people who can't pay their utility bills.

During the summer the store was open on Saturdays; but so far no one has replaced the Saturday volunteers, who have gone south for the winter.

"If somebody wants to volunteer for Saturdays, we would be happy to have them," Kurburski said.

Donations of used and usable children's toys and books are always welcome at the Free Store.

Now at Thanksgiving time, the Angel Mission would appreciate donations of non-perishable food items or cash to supplement their $100-a-month food budget. Although food items are not displayed on the shelves, customers can ask for a bag of groceries and a staff member will give them one from the food pantry.

"The more donations we have, the more people we can feed," Kurburski noted.

Another project for the holidays is the Angel Tree in the window of the Free Store. Anyone can take an angel ornament representing a needy child in the community and buy a couple of gifts for that child.

The Angel Tree welcomes donors willing to purchase holiday gifts for needy boys and girls of various ages.

The angel indicates the age and sometimes the size of the boy or girl so that donors can purchase new Christmas gifts and bring them to the store by the second week in December to be delivered to that child on Christmas. The gifts can be wrapped or unwrapped.

The Angel Mission Free Store is at 201 Fifth St. in Calumet (at the corner of 5th and Portland streets). Donations of used items can be taken to the store. Cash donations can also be offered inside the store or sent in the form of a check or money order to the Copper Country Christian Fellowship (CCCF), 301 Sixth St., Calumet, MI 49913 -- sponsors of the Free Store.

CCCF to hold Thanksgiving Community Dinner Nov. 26

The Copper Country Christian Fellowship will hold a Community Dinner at 4:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day -- Thursday, Nov. 26, at 301 Sixth St., next to Newman's Appliance in Calumet. All are welcome. Please RSVP if you wish to attend by calling 337-3864 and stating the number coming.

CCCF holds services at 6 p.m. every Sunday at this same location, 301 Sixth St.

The Fellowship is a Presbyterian-based, ecumenical storefront church next to Newman's Appliance.