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.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

MTU News: Phi Kappa Tau cops First Place in Winter Carnival Statue Competition

Phi Kappa Tau's snow sculpture in Hancock took First Place again in the fraternity division of Michigan Tech University's 2013 Winter Carnival snow statue competition. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated)

By Dennis Walikainen, MTU News Senior Editor
Posted on MTU News Feb. 7, 2013

HANCOCK -- "The Incredibles" animated movie was the inspiration for Phi Kappa Tau's winning statue in Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival. The Hancock-based group took first in the fraternity division for their diorama that combined massive size with plenty of details sculpted in ice.

Statue builders at Phi Kappa Tau in Hancock, put finishing touches on the details of their creations in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Feb. 7, just a few hours before the judging of the snow statues for Michigan Tech's 2013 Winter Carnival. (Photo © and courtesy Dorn Dyttmer)

All the creations had to follow this year’s Winter Carnival theme: “Heroes and villains find their powers, in these frozen winter hours.”

"In this Snowy Winter Dream, a Super Family Becomes a Team" is the title of Phi Kappa Tau's winning snow sculpture. The scene is Metroville, under attack by the evil Syndrome (standing on wall at left) and his giant Omnidroid (creature crashing into wall) -- See photo below. The Incredibles are the super family/team that arrive on the scene to defend their fellow citizens.

For Phi Kappa Tau, windows, chains, a mailbox, baby in a high chair, and much more were all created in clear ice, accenting the large structure that showed a family working together as a team of superheroes.... Click here to read the rest of this article on the MTU News.

More photos:

Below the clocktower that soars over the city, cars on the city streets (along back wall) are caught in the crossfire of the fight. Violet (detail center in photo below) defends her family with a shield.

Details sculptured in ice include, from left, a high chair with child, chains and a mail box.

Elasta Girl grabs a manhole cover using her elastic powers. She stretches her arm around a light pole and prepares to launch the projectile.

To the right, hero Frozone skates into action on a wall made out of ice, while Mr. Incredible lifts a car (left, foreground) and aims at the Omnidroid.

This detail in ice re-creates a mirror image. Can you guess who it is?

Friday, February 08, 2013

Ski Club, Sons of Norway to host 6th Annual Barneløpet cross-country ski race for kids, families Feb. 10

Young skiers take off for the 2012 non-competitive Barneløpet ski race at Maasto Hiihto Trails in Hancock. (File photo © and courtesy Arlyn Aronson)

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club and Sons of Norway will sponsor the 6th Annual Barneløpet cross-country ski race for youth ages 3 through 17 on Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Maasto Hiihto Trails. This is a non-competitive event, and parents are  encouraged to ski with children if they wish. Ski for time or take your time!

Gromit the Trail Dog loves getting attention from kids. Here she is at the 2012 Barneløpet ski event. (File photo © and courtesy Arlyn Aronson)

Registration is at 1 p.m. Start Times are 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. All ages line up to race by 2 p.m., beginning with the youngest at 2 p.m. The Start is at the trailhead north of Houghton County Arena. Go north on Birch Street, west on Henderson Drive, Hancock.

During the 2012 race, more adventurous Barneløpet skiers head down the Maasto Hiihto trails toward the gorge trail along Swedetown Creek. (Photo © and courtesy John Diebel)

Near the Trailhead, the Chalet/Warming Hut with restrooms will be open. Hot chocolate and cookies will be available at the Chalet for all skiers after they finish.

Thanks to volunteers, skiers and parents enjoy hot chocolate and cookies in the Hancock Chalet after the 2012 race. (File photo © and courtesy Arlyn Aronson)

Skiers who register and finish will receive a large enameled color medal for participation.

Click here for the registration form. Questions? Call Wayne Stordahl at (906) 482-0292.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Backroom Boys to play for dancing Feb. 12, 13

The Backroom Boys will play traditional jazz and more for dancing on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Feb. 12, at the Michigan House in Calumet. They will also play at other venues next week. Pictured here, from left, are John Munson (clarinet, sax, and keyboard); Oren Tikkanen (guitar, banjo, mandolin and vocals); Bob Hiltunen (guitar and percussion); Belinda Mattfolk (bass); and, inset, Bob Norden (trombone and vocals). (Poster courtesy Backroom Boys)

CALUMET -- Next week, Fat Tuesday -- Mardi Gras -- Feb. 12, the Backroom Boys -- Keweenaw's best, and only, traditional-style jazz band -- will make their annual appearance at the Michigan House in Calumet! Tim and Sue are making sweet potato cakes and gumbo to warm you, the music goes from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and you are expected.

The next day, Wed, Feb. 13, is the Keweenaw Co-op's Owner Appreciation Day, with music from 12 noon on into the evening. The Backroom Boys' set will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. so come on down, dance in the aisles, get your 10 percent off if you are an owner, get your regular Wednesday 5 percent off if you are a "senior" and join in the merrymaking.

"Furthermore," says Oren Tikkanen, "There are secret negotiations in process at this time to arrange a special Backroom Boys Valentine's appearance at an undisclosed venue with the initials of CIBC for either Thursday, Feb. 14, or Friday, Feb. 15, probably from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m." (Watch for more details soon.)

Black Pearl dance band to play at Dance Zone Feb. 9 in Marquette

MARQUETTE -- This is to remind you that Black Pearl will play for your dancing and listening enjoyment at Dance Zone Marquette, beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9. Come and bring your friends for a fun time. $10 per person at the door.  Please do remember to bring clean shoes to protect your knees and this beautiful dance floor.

Note: No one needs to pay the full amount. If you want to buy a block of tickets ($30 for 5 tickets or $50 for ten tickets) Marge will have them available this Saturday. 

So, if you pay for two tickets, you can get an additional 3 tickets for only $10 more. This actually brings the price down.

If you want to expand your dancing horizons, check out the Dance Zone's Dancing News on their Web site.

Orpheum Theater to host music groups Feb. 7, 8

HANCOCK -- This Winter Carnival, the Orpheum Theater in Hancock presents two great shows! (And two completely different shows, too!) TONIGHT, Thursday, Feb. 7,  is Killer Kong and Friday, Feb. 8, is Chasin' Steel!

Tonight (Thursday) the Orpheum presents Killer Kong with special guests The Rest.  Killer Kong is extremely heavy modern Blues with touches of Black Sabbath, The Black Keys and the White Stripes. The Rest are from Houghton/Hancock and are similar, though a little more traditional in sound. Music starts around 8 p.m. and $5 gets you in.

Friday's show is Chasin' Steel, the UP's own top tier, nationally touring Bluegrass artists!  This show has been a long time coming and is the next installment in the Orpheum's Traditional Music series. Don't miss it!  Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and music starts about 8 p.m. $10 is the price for this one -- a steal for a band of this quality!

(And just as a little teaser...Seth and May will be here Feb 23!  Look for more info soon!)

Winter Carnival is underway at Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival is underway and will continue through Sunday, Feb. 10. This year’s comic book-inspired theme is  "Heroes and villains find their powers, in these frozen winter hours."

The All-Nighter began at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, and continues until 8 a.m., while students who have been working for a month on their statues share the music, food and fun of this night as they put finishing touches on their creations before the judging on Thursday.

In addition to the snow statues, Carnival activities and competitions range from basketball and hockey to skiing, curling, the Bigfoot snowshoe event, ice bowling, human dogsled races and more.

Saturday night wraps up with a torchlight parade down the University's ski hill, Mont Ripley, and the semi-formal Sno-Ball.

Click here for the schedule of events.

Parking for Winter Carnival

Parking is allowed without a permit in these areas:

Lot 9 (commuter lot by the Rozsa Center)
Lot 5 (graduate student lot by the Rozsa)
Lot 11 (near the Administration Building) Open at 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8
Lot 27 (pay lot between the Administration Building and MUB)

Overnight parking -- you may park in Lot 9, the commuter lot by the Rozsa.
Lastly, there will be free parking at all metered areas.

Transportation Services will also expand its operations during Winter Carnival. In addition to the regularly scheduled shuttle, an additional shuttle will be made available for rides between the SDC, MUB and Daniell Heights from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Additionally, the City of Houghton Transit will be on campus during Winter Carnival, or you can use their on-demand service.

For any questions or comments regarding Winter Carnival parking regulations or shuttle bus service, please call Transportation Services at 487-1441 or Public Safety and Police Services at 487-2216.

"Here I Am" exhibit of self portraits at Community Arts Center through Feb. 28

HANCOCK -- "Here I Am" is an exhibit of self portraits now on display in the Kerredge Gallery of the Copper Country Community Arts Center through Feb. 28, 2013. A potluck closing reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28. Please bring a dish to pass.

The call for entries, which was open to the public, welcomed all mediums. The theme was broadened beyond a literal self portrait to an approach on how the world looks from the artists' point of view.

Check out the Youth Gallery this month for art from Lake Linden - Hubbell Schools.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Hours are Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information call 906-482-2333.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

"Co-Existing with Wolves" presentation, petition signing Feb. 9 at Portage Library

HOUGHTON -- Nancy Warren, National Wolfwatcher Coalition Great Lakes Regional director, will present "Co-Existing with Wolves" from 1 p.m - 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, in the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. The event will also offer the public an opportunity to  learn about a Referendum to Public Act 520, recent Michigan legislation making the wolf a game animal and allowing a potential wolf hunting season.

Poster announcing the Houghton County Petition Signing Event and presentation by Nancy Warren, National Wolfwatcher Coalition Great Lakes Regional director, on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Portage Lake District Library. (Poster courtesy Portage Lake District Library)

Adam Robarge, founder of the Upper Peninsula Animal Liberation Defense, will be present at this event to discuss the Referendum and offer the public the opportunity to sign a petition and learn how they can help with this project of saying "no" to making the wolf a game animal.

"Why is it that some people think it cute to see a bear at a bird feeder and run for the camera, yet seeing a wolf in a distant field evokes fear for their personal safety?" Warren asks. "My program helps to put the fear of wolves in perspective and explore the ways we can co-exist with wolves on the landscape."

Warren, who lives near Ewen, Mich., is the Volunteer Speakers Bureau Coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance (TWA) -- a program of The North Lakeland Discovery Center, Manitowish Waters, Wis. TWA is committed to investigating the facts and relies on the growing body of scientific research to dispel myths and unfounded fears associated with wolves.

"Wolves, a natural part of our state’s heritage and ecology, are reclaiming their presence in the northland," Warren notes. "My passion began about 20 years ago when I learned that we had a handful of wolves in the U.P. I attended workshops, conferences and lectures and discovered that for wolves to survive there needs to be human tolerance. One way to improve human tolerance is by gaining a better understanding of wolf behavior through education."

Warren gives programs at schools and various organizations throughout Northern Wisconsin and the Western U.P. She has been a volunteer tracker for the Wisconsin Volunteer Carnivore Program since 1995, has conducted howling surveys and has assisted with the collaring of several wolves in Wisconsin.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information call the library at (906) 482-4570.

To learn more about the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, visit

Visit the Upper Peninsula Animal Liberation Defense on Facebook.

Wisconsin mining bill threatens genocide

By Barbara With*
Posted Feb. 3, 2013, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
Reprinted in part with permission.

[Editor's Note: In this article, journalist Barbara With points out historical reasons why Bad River Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr., at the Jan. 23, 2013, hearing on legislation intended to facilitate permitting Gogebic Taconite's proposed open-pit mine in the Penokee Hills, would amount to genocide for his people.] Photo, left: During the Jan. 23 hearing in Madison, journalist Barbara With testifies against the proposed mining legislation. (Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble)

MADISON -- January 23, 2013. The only public hearing on mining bill SB1/AB1 is taking place in Madison, Wisconsin. Next up in the queue is Mike Wiggins Jr., Chair of Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, whose reserve is 300 miles north of the state Capitol and six miles west of the site of a proposed 21-mile open-pit mountaintop removal iron ore mine.

Having faced a similar tribunal several times before, Wiggins looks slightly impatient with the new incarnation of yet another committee pushing the same corporate-
sponsored bill. Neither he nor any other representative of Wisconsin’s Native Sovereign Nations have been consulted.

Mike Wiggins Jr., right, Bad River Tribal chairman, speaking at the Jan. 23, 2013, public hearing on the proposed Wisconsin mining bill, calls the potential Gogebic Taconite open-pit mine that would be permitted under this bill "an act of genocide." Testifying with Wiggins is Frank Connors, Bad River Council member. (Photo © and courtesy Nicole Desautels Schulte)**

Even though he has the support of Federal law, state legislators, environmentalists, scientists, local and county governments, and the majority of the people likely to be directly affected by a mine in the Penokee Hills, Wiggins is once again being treated as a gullible child by the committee. He is also dealing with obvious racism playing out in the fight for a mine in his backyard.

Wiggins, who stands to lose more than anyone if the mine is built, was not invited to speak by the committee. He’s in good company, however; neither the Army Corps of
Engineers nor any scientists have been invited either. The mining company and their legislative advocates dominate the first four hours of the hearing; the pro-mining supporters bused in by the Koch Brothers’ astroturf group Americans for Prosperity and other Tea Party groups are next up. Wiggins, his fellow Bad River members and members of other Anishinaabe bands are pushed to the back of the line. Many are never given a chance to speak at all.

Wiggins is given two minutes to beg for the lives of the 7,000 members of his community.

For the fourth time (three other public hearings were held for AB426 in 2011 and 2012), proof is presented that iron ore mining in Minnesota has killed off wild rice in the St. Louis River for 100 miles and that an iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills will devastate the wild rice in the Kakagon Sloughs. For the fourth time, the committee expects Wiggins to plead for the sacred water and sustainable food production that his people are dependent on.

Instead of pleading, Wiggins warns:

Because we’re directly downstream and set to endure the impacts of this project, we view it as an imminent threat. This human threat really manifests itself in a form of genocide. Genocide.

The fact that the sulfate run-off from an iron ore mine in the Penokees will kill the wild rice rightly has Wiggins speaking the "G" word....

Click here to read the rest of this article, in which Barbara With offers examples from history that demonstrate Wiggins has a right to be concerned.

*Author Barbara With is a citizen journalist from La Pointe, Wis.

** Click here to see Nicole Desautels Schulte's video clip of Wiggins' testimony at the hearing.

Journey of Nishiyuu: Cree youth walking 1500 km to Ottawa

By Michele Bourdieu

The original walkers on the 1500-km Journey of Nishiyuu on Jan. 20, 2013. (Photo by Stanley Jason George)

CHISASIBI, QUEBEC --The Quest of Wisjinichu-Nishiyuu, Quest for Unity -- also known as the Journey of Nishiyuu -- is the ultimate "Idle No More" walk -- begun about two weeks ago by a group of seven young Cree men, mostly in their teens, with two guides, who intend to walk 1500 kilometers from Whapmagoostui on Hudson Bay to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to demonstrate the strength of Cree culture and unity among First Nations.

Robert Savoie posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook page this possible itinerary from Chief Stanley Jason George. Click on image for larger version.

According to their Facebook page, "This is a strong message to prove to other First Nations across Canada that the Cree Nation of Quebec are not sellouts, but keepers of
the Language, Culture, Tradition and more importantly: today, we still carry the sacred laws of our ancestors."

On Friday, Feb. 1, they arrived in Chisasibi, Quebec, where they were joined by 16 more walkers.

James Napash took this photo of friends, families and other supporters of the walkers as they set off from Chisasibi on Feb. 4 to continue the journey. "A lot of people came to the Elders camp to show their support for the walkers. Tears were shed, prayers were said, we hugged one another, we are united and together we stand," he says in his post on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook page. "Historic Journey, The Journey of Nishiyuu. A movement that will echo for so many years to come. Our Legends have awoken. Today was a powerful day! Breathtaking, truly an amazing sight to see." (Photo by James Napash)

In a radio interview that day on, former Grand Chief Matthew Mukash spoke to Melissa Natachequan about the challenges the walkers face. These include, he said, not only facing the elements -- extreme cold, especially at night, and storms -- but possible conflicts in human relationships and home sickness. Chief Matthew also spoke about the benefits of the experience. Walking on the land "gives you energy," he noted. The walkers may feel the land is communicating with them and helping them see more clearly and put aside negative feelings and thoughts.

"Picture taken earlier today as they went off into the woods to their next destination to the Cree Nation of Wemindji," writes James Napash on Feb. 4, 2013. (Photo by James Napash)

"This journey is not only about the Native people," Chief Matthew said. "It's ultimately about human survival ... on the importance of protecting the land, the environment and the way of life of people. ...We're destroying the environment at a pace that it's getting really, really dangerous -- and also because of the climate change."*

He said these young walkers understand this and have talked to their elders about it. The youth hope, by walking, to "wake up humanity."

The walkers left Chisasibi Monday, Feb. 4, to continue the journey.

Feb. 5, 2013, update from "As the Nishiyuu Journey gets larger, the chief of Whapmagoostui says people need to step forward to help support the walkers. When the Journey left Chisasibi on Monday, it had grown from 7 walkers to over 30."

* Click here to listen to the radio interview.

To follow the progress of the Journey of Nishiyuu and see photos and videos, visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Letter: What safety issue?

Stop. Look and Listen.

Anyone who's been raised with responsibility has heard those instructions when first learning to negotiate streets and car traffic to get to where they wish to go.

By now most of us early fastened our seat belts as passengers before the vehicle we were in moved. Later as drivers, after completing requirements to be a licensed driver, we routinely put on our seat belts and look before we drive. While driving we remain aware of the road, weather and traffic conditions as well as adhering to the speed limit.

While driving on hills and sharp curves we make adjustments, and in inclement weather we are advised to drive at least 5 miles below the speed limit. There are the signals of other drivers on the road as well as sounds of any sirens that must be taken into consideration.

Laws prohibit driving under the influence. Drivers of specialized vehicles must have a license to drive them. Pedestrians have the right of way by law. Every driver in a rural community knows to "take it easy and look out for deer crossings" -- for instance.

Also, there are the many individuals who often have the thankless job of patrolling the roadways and enforcing safety when needed. Anyone who's ever received a ticket or been given a warning later in retrospect realizes being stopped was for the good of all.

So, my question is -- given we have all of this in the 21st Century in our sophisticated, beautiful rural environment -- what safety issue are Rio Tinto and the MCRC (Marquette County Road Commission) concerned about?

Certainly concern for the safety of the natural existing wildlife was given short shrift while "pushing" for the 595 H road. To answer that question requires more than a click to vote or a visit to a website.

What will we leave to our grandchildren?

From near the shores of Gitchee Gumee/Lake Superior
Rosa Musket
Marquette, Michigan

Natural Resources Commission to meet Feb. 7 in Lansing

LANSING -- The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will hold its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 7, at the MSU Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, 4125 Beaumont Road, Lansing. All meetings will be held in Room 101 of the center.

The day will begin at 9 a.m. with a meeting of the Michigan State Parks Advisory Committee. The committee will receive an update on parks and recreation activities and an overview of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Leadership retreat, and discuss streamlining the general management plan process. The committee will also set goals and objectives for 2013.

At 2 p.m., the Policy Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries will discuss the survey of crossbow deer hunters, as well as receive reports from the Fisheries and Wildlife divisions.

At 3 p.m., the Committee of the Whole will receive Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh’s report and a legislative update.*

Beginning at 4 p.m., a Partners in Conservation Award, the Shikar Safari Club International Officer of the Year Award, and prizes to winners of the 2013 Pure Michigan Hunt drawing will be presented.

Immediately following the awards presentations, the NRC will hear comments from the public. Those wishing to make public comments before the NRC should contact Deb Whipple, executive assistant to the NRC, at 517-373-2352 or to register.

Eligible for action by DNR Director Creagh are orders to:
  • Regulate dip netting for smelt, suckers and other fish species, allowing anglers to net fish earlier in the year;
  • Regulate off-road vehicle use at Silver Lake State Park;
  • Regulate use of Grand Haven State Park by campers;
  • Regulate entry to the face of the limestone cliffs at Fayette Historic State Park;
  • Regulate the use and occupancy of the Lime Island State Recreation Area coal dock;
  • Repeal language regarding the possession and use of fireworks at state parks and recreation areas to conform to state statute;
  • Repeal language regarding the use of firearms in Grand Mere State Park and South Fox Island to conform to state statute.
In addition, three land transactions are eligible for action by Director Creagh.

For more information about the NRC, including the full meeting agenda, informational memos and past meeting minutes, visit

* A Natural Resources Commission Committee of the Whole Live Webcast will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, on the DNR home page:

Updates from 110th District State Rep. Scott Dianda

LANSING -- Michigan 110th District State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) has been busy in Lansing working on his priorities for Upper Peninsula constituents. Here are some updates on his legislative work.

Rep. Dianda co-sponsors bill to help teachers cover classroom expenses

Dianda recently co-sponsored legislation that would create a tax credit for Michigan teachers who use their own money to stock their classrooms with supplies. House Bill 4146 (2013) allows teachers to receive up to a $1,000 tax credit for a single return or $2,000 for a joint return on classroom supplies used specifically "for educational purposes that directly relate to the taxpayer's classroom coursework."

"Our schools have had to do more with less in the classroom after Republicans diverted $2 billion from the School Aid Fund over two years," said Dianda. "Our dedicated school teachers end up having to buy basic school supplies with their own salaries that are also dwindling. On top of the need to invest more in education in our state, we need to invest in our quality educators, and this tax credit will ease some of their added financial burden."

HB 4146 would apply to tax years after Dec. 31, 2012. It has been referred to the House Committee on Tax Policy and is awaiting a second reading.*

Rep. Dianda highlights home heating services

Rep. Dianda is letting his constituents know that services are available to those who need home heating assistance this winter.

"Everyone in the Upper Peninsula knows how bitter cold our winters can get, so I want residents to be informed of the help that is available to them," Dianda said. "We have many more cold months ahead of us, so if you are struggling with heating your home please take advantage of the services our state can provide."

The website provides consumers with easy access to federal, state and local home heating assistance programs. These resources are available to households throughout the state of Michigan. For example, in every county there are agencies that provide heating assistance, including the Michigan Department of Human Services and the United Way, which operates the 2-1-1 help line.

The website also provides weatherization information that can save homeowners money on their home heating bills.

Unfortunately, some people illegally adjust their propane tanks to try to save money while others allow their tanks to run completely dry or simply use illegal tanks. By getting home heating assistance, Michigan residents can avoid taking these dangerous risks. The website also provides information on home heating safety.

If residents need help with home heating assistance or have any questions about qualifications, please call Rep. Dianda's office toll-free at (888) 633-4031 or e-mail him at

Rep. Dianda Announces key House Committee assignments

Rep. Scott Dianda, elected last November and replacing former 110th District Rep. Matt Huuki, is now  serving on the Michigan House Transportation and Infrastructure, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Reform committees.

"Fixing our roads and infrastructure is a top priority for Michigan," said Dianda. "I'm fully prepared to tackle the big issue of funding our roads. I will use my spot on the committee fight for our middle-class families and make sure they aren't paying too much of the tab."

Rep. Dianda is a former transportation maintenance worker for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and is enthusiastic to bring the knowledge he gained in that role to the Transportation Committee.

"Serving on the committee for Natural Resources will also provide me the opportunity to work on policies that benefit the Upper Peninsula and the way we do things here. I will fulfill my campaign promise to promote the wise use, not non-use, of Michigan's natural resources," Dianda added.

* Click here to read the present version of HB 4146 of 2013.

Senate to vote on Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider and vote on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, S.47, today, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013.

Sponsored initially by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), the bi-partisan bill has 59 co-sponsors, including Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.*

The Senate stands in adjournment until 2 p.m. Monday. Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 5 p.m. with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.

Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.47, the Violence Against Women Act, with the time until 5:30 p.m. equally divided and controlled.

At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to S.47, the Violence Against Women Act.

According to an article on MSNBC, "Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., announced Thursday that he has built a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority to advance the Violence Against Women Act -- an 18-year-old measure protecting domestically abused Americans that lapsed at the end of last Congress when lawmakers failed to approve its reauthorization."

The article notes S.47 includes special measures of protection for LGBT and Native American women -- measures opposed by Republicans in the past.**

An article in the North Kitsap Herald in Washington state, "Violence Against Women Act provision would close a gap in justice," says the bill now being considered "would extend domestic violence criminal jurisdiction to Tribes that choose to assume jurisdiction."

This would include domestic violence crimes by non-Native men against Native women.

The article states, "According to U.S. Justice Department statistics, 86 percent of cases of sexual violence against Native women are committed by non-Native men. According to a 2010 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office, up to 67 percent of those crimes are not prosecuted."***

* Click here for the list of co-sponsors. If your Senator is on this list you may wish to call and thank him/her for support. If not, you may wish to encourage the Senator to vote for the bill.

** Click here for the MSNBC article.

*** Click here to read the article, "Violence Against Women Act provision would close a gap in justice."

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Al Gedicks: Mining Industry Targets "Prove It First" Law

By Al Gedicks*
Posted Feb. 1, 2013 by Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative

[This article was originally published in Z Magazine, vol. 26 no. 2, February 2013 © Al Gedicks.]

Editor's Note: In this article, Al Gedicks analyzes the repeated efforts of Wisconsin's Walker administration and legislators to pass a controversial mining law that would assist the mining industry in avoiding regulation. He also gives updates on recent mining projects in Michigan and Minnesota and an explanation of why the Flambeau Mine in Ladysmith, Wis. -- which Rio Tinto/Kennecott touts as "successful" under Wisconsin's "Prove It First" moratorium on sulfide mining -- is still not fully reclaimed and continues to pollute both surface water and groundwater.

LA CROSSE, WIS. -- Prior to investing in new resource colonies, multinational mining corporations frequently change a country’s mining laws to remove restrictions on foreign ownership, reduce taxes, ease environmental protections and guarantee access to water supplies needed for mining. During the 1990s, under pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, over 90 states in the Global South changed their mining laws to attract foreign mining investment. These neocolonial measures, often called "neoliberal reforms," are now being used to open up new mining projects in the Lake Superior region of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. (Photo, above, left: Al Gedicks speaks at Protect the Earth, Eagle Rock, 2009. (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently told his supporters in Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) that his top legislative priority in the January 2013 session of the legislature is the passage of the controversial Iron Mining bill that was defeated by one vote in the Wisconsin Senate last spring. To advance this agenda the governor has asked Tim Sullivan, his special assistant for business and workforce development, to bring together mining experts from around the world to compare Wisconsin’s mining regulatory framework with other states. Sullivan is chair of the Wisconsin Mining Association (WMA), a past director of the National Mining Association, and a former president, CEO, and director of Bucyrus International, the largest mining machinery company in the world, now owned by Caterpillar Corporation.
(Photo: Loading iron ore at an open pit mine. Photo courtesy Al Gedicks)

WMA hired Behre Dolbear, a global mining consulting firm that specializes in drafting mining laws to suit their corporate clients and "challenging" countries who are perceived to be hostile to the mining industry to change their policies.** In their report they criticize the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for allowing "public participation in technical meetings between the mining company and the WDNR prior to issuance of the EIS [environmental impact statement]. This has led to the process delay, uninformed debates and the process grinding to a halt." In other words, the problem is too much democracy and transparency in the mine permitting process.

The bill was written by lobbyists for Gogebic Taconite (GTac), part of the Cline Group, run by coal magnate Christopher Cline, who wants to extract low grade iron ore (taconite) from the Bad River watershed near Lake Superior. The entire rationale for separate legislation for proposed iron mining is based upon the misconception that iron mining is different from metallic sulfide mining and that therefore the existing sulfide mining laws do not apply to GTac. According to Sullivan, "We’re talking about digging a ditch, taking the iron ore, filling the ditch in. That’s as simple as what it is."

Not so simple. While the iron ore does not contain sulfides, there is a sulfide-bearing layer of rocks immediately above the iron formation that would have to be removed in order to get at the iron ore. ...Click here to read the rest of this article on the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative Web site.

* Al Gedicks is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Executive Secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council. He is the author of Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations, South End Press, 2001.

** Behre Dolbear is the company that did a technical report for Highland Resources, a Canadian mining company now doing exploration of copper resources in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. See our March 26, 2012, article, "Canadian company plans exploration project for Keweenaw copper."