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, January 31, 2014

Letter: Michigan’s Inaugural Wolf Hunt Not Justified

Photo of wolves courtesy Reprinted with permission.

Last week Adam Bump, Michigan DNR (Department of Natural Resources), claimed 17 of the 23 wolves killed during last fall’s wolf hunt happened in places within known territories of packs repeatedly attacking livestock or pets and exhibiting fearless behavior around people. Once again, DNR has stretched the facts.

Data released this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that no wolves were killed near either of the two farms in the U.P. with the greatest livestock losses to wolves.

Most wolves killed during the hunt were far from any perceived or actual threats to humans, including a male and female wolf killed just outside the boundary of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The female was a collared research animal.
Another collared wolf was killed near Prickett Lake, within the Ottawa National Forest. Two wolves were killed in the Superior State Forest, one of which was collared.

Other wolves killed in remote areas include one within the Sturgeon Gorge Wilderness area; five within the Baraga State Forest; and another within the boundary of the Black River National Scenic Byway. Three wolves were killed along the East Branch of the Ontonagon River within the Ottawa National Forest.

This data reveals that the recent wolf hunt was not justified because most wolves killed were not involved with verified conflicts with livestock or humans during 2013.

Upon federal delisting of wolves in January of 2012, livestock and pet owners were allowed to kill any wolf in the act of attacking their animals. Further, the DNR began issuing permits to landowners to kill any wolf on their property if they experienced a prior confirmed wolf attack on their animals. Eleven wolves were killed in control actions by government officials and private citizens. The numbers demonstrate that these actions were effective. In Wolf Management Unit B (Ontonagon, Houghton, Baraga Counties) verified livestock losses by wolves in 2013 were down 89 percent prior to the hunt.
In addition to the 23 wolves killed during the 2013 hunting season, the DNR also reported that 14 wolves were killed illegally.

The DNR should emphasize the value of wolves to the ecosystem through education and outreach, as recommended in Michigan’s Wolf Management Plan, instead of trying to find ways to kill non-problem wolves through a recreational hunt.

Nancy Warren
National Wolfwatcher Coalition
Ewen, MI

Finlandia's Young Women's Caucus for Art to hold "Soup and Art" fundraiser Feb. 1

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University's Young Women's Caucus for Art will hold a "Soup and Art" fundraiser -- all-you-can-eat soup and a silent art auction -- from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, in Room 323 of the Jutila Center in Hancock.

Soups will include Finnish fish soup, Thai soup, Black Bean Chili,  Cheese and Brocolli and more!

$8 donation at the door.

Finlandia's Jutila Center is at 200 Michigan Street in Hancock. For more information call Phyllis at 487-7376.

New Groundwater Discharge Permit proposed for Lundin Eagle Mine: Analysis by Michelle Halley

[Editor's Note:  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is seeking to renew the Lundin Eagle Mine’s Ground Water Discharge Permit. MDEQ has extended the comment period and will soon announce a public hearing on the permit. According to Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), the renewal permit contains significantly weakened environmental regulations. SWUP has posted an analysis of the proposed permit by attorney Michelle Halley for Freshwater Future, an organization working to ensure the healthy future of waters in the Great Lakes region.]

By Michelle Halley for Freshwater Future*
Posted on Save the Wild U.P. Jan. 29, 2014
Reprinted in part with permission

Exceedances and MDEQ’s Failure to Act and Backwards Regulation

During the current permit period, the mine has exceeded it limits at least 47 times, in at least the following constituents and characteristics:
  • pH;
  • arsenic;
  • copper;
  • lead;
  • molybdenum;
  • silver; and
  • vanadium.
MDEQ has taken no enforcement action. In fact, the mine has exceeded its vanadium limit more than 20 times. Instead of enforcing the limit, in this renewal permit, MDEQ is easing the limit.** This is completely backwards. The MDEQ’s role is regulator, not conciliator. The limits were set, supposedly based upon sound science, as MDEQ strenuously argued during the months-long contested case that encompassed the current groundwater discharge permit. Now, rather than protecting water quality, the draft simply increases the limits to industry’s preferred levels. The facility’s performance should be required to meet the regulatory standards rather than the regulatory standards being adjusted to meet the facility’s performance. ...
Click here to read the rest of this analysis on Save the Wild U.P.

Editor's Notes:
* Michelle Halley, former National Wildlife Federation attorney and senior manager, is also the author of a 2012 report titled "Sulfide Mining Regulation in the Great Lakes Region: A Comparative Analysis of Regulation in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario." Learn more about Freshwater Future on their Web site.
** See also "DEQ proposes new groundwater discharge permit for Eagle Mine; public hearing to be announced."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hancock celebrates Heikinpäivä 2014 despite frigid weather

By Michele Bourdieu

David Maki, staff member of the Finnish American Reporter and Finnish American Heritage Center, as this year's Hankooki Heikki, rides the giant kicksled in the 2014  Heikinpäivä Parade and reigns over the festivities held on Jan. 25 in Hancock. (Photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HANCOCK -- Undaunted by the sub-zero temperatures last Saturday, Jan. 25, Hancock celebrated its mid-winter festival, Heikinpäivä 2014, a celebration of Finnish American cultural heritage. Here are a few video clips of the parade, thanks to Keweenaw Now's Allan Baker, and photos by Allan and also by Arlyn and Sandy Aronson, borrowed with their permission from Gromit the Snow Dog's blog, Trail Mutt Reports.

Gromit the Snow Dog (Lumi Koira), decked out in her January booties, joins a friend in the 2014 Heikinpäivä Parade in Hancock. (Photo courtesy Arlyn and Sandy Aronson. Reprinted with permission from Gromit's blog, Trail Mutt Reports.)

To see all the photos, click here and then on slide show or on any photo in our slide show posted in the right-hand column.

Here are two video clips of some of the hardy participants in the 2014 Heikinpäivä Parade:

Spectators comment as some of the favorite parade characters pass by -- the Suomi Lion of Finlandia University, Heikki Lunta the snow god (calling for "more snow") and the graceful Swan from the Kalevala, the Finnish epic poem. (Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

More characters from the Kalevala, Finnish Theme Committee members, Finlandia University students, members of the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club, the Brrr Maids and the Michigan Tech Pep Band parade down Quincy Street in Hancock during Heikinpäivä 2014.

The Wife Carrying competition follows the parade. Hankooki Heikki (David Maki) presides over the event as Jim Kurtti, Finnish American Reporter editor, takes photos. 

A sign near the Heikinpäivä Tori (indoor market), held in the First United Methodist Church on Quincy Street, announces hot homemade chili and soup, Finnish bread (rieska), and hot drinks for warming up after the parade. 

At the Tori in the Methodist church, people shop for hand-crafted items, warm up with hot drinks and snacks and listen to live music.

Be sure to check out our slide show for more Heikinpäivä 2014 photos.

Save the Wild U.P. seeks to hire Regional Organizer

MARQUETTE -- Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), a dynamic grassroots group based in Marquette, seeks to hire a Regional Organizer to increase their advocacy work protecting the Upper Peninsula’s unique culture, environment, and communities from the hazards of sulfide mining.

As Regional Organizer, the ideal candidate will join SWUP in educating the public on the hazards of sulfide mining -- and in engaging more people in the work of demonstrating how sustainable economies, our unique culture, and our environment are all linked together.

SWUP is a nonpartisan organization that reaches out to people across the peninsula to communicate the region's need to move beyond a dependence on mining for the good of our economies and communities. Activities as Regional Organizer include training activists to speak out at permit hearings, writing email blasts for the group's next free hike, scheduling volunteers, disseminating evidence-based research and education, and much more.

To learn more about the position and to apply on line, click here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From The Shalom Center: Pete Seeger: Our Loving Admiration

[Editor's Note: Pete Seeger -- folk singer, song writer, musician and activist for peace, human rights and the environment -- passed away on Jan. 27, 2014. We received this photo of Seeger from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center and permission to publish it with part of his article about an environmental project Seeger shared with his neighbors in Beacon, NY.]

In 1998, The Shalom Center and the Elat Chayyim spiritual retreat center co-sponsored a "liturgical/spiritual protest" against the poisoning of the Hudson River by the PCBs that the General Electric Corporation had poured into it. The protest was held at Beacon, NY, on the banks of the Hudson -- and Pete Seeger (right, on banjo), who lived in Beacon and was a lover of the river, joined in the protest/celebration. Pictured at left is Rabbi Arthur Waskow with his daughter Shoshana. (Photo courtesy The Shalom Center. Reprinted with permission.)

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Posted Jan. 28, 2014, on The Shalom Center Web site
Reprinted in part with permission

The occasion was the seventh day of Sukkot, the harvest festival -- the day traditionally celebrated as Hoshana Rabbah, with seven dances of the Torah Scroll; many prayers for healing of the Earth from locusts, drought, famine; and beating willow branches on the ground at the banks of the river.

We added prayers, petitions, and protests to save the Earth and the river from PCBs, and we brought seven great banners to honor the seven dances as the seven days of creation -- bright yellow for the sun and moon, blue for the oceans, red for red-blooded mammals, white for Shabbat. One of those who gathered was an elder of the Iroquois, who had heard about the action and knew he belonged in any effort to heal the river of his people. We invited him to carry the Torah for the first processional dance. A dozen Catholic nuns from convents along the Hudson joined. Three hundred Jews came -- hailing from a long stretch of the River -- Kingston to Manhattan, where students of the Jewish Theological Seminary were especially drawn to this moment.

And Pete Seeger. He thanked us for blessing the Hudson and confronting its poisoners. He told us about the sloop Clearwater he had created as an activist educational center about the Hudson. He said his voice was almost gone, but he could croak a version of  "Hinei Mah Tov u’Mah Nayyim"  if we would do the singing for him. We did. He did.... Click here to read the rest of this article.*

* Click here to read about The Shalom Center's CD that includes Pete Seeger and other well known musicians and singers performing songs of peace, justice, and healing of the earth.

Sens. King and Levin pen New York Times Op-Ed on Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Carl M. Levin (D-MI) penned a New York Times op-ed, "Don’t Undermine the Iran Deal," published yesterday, Jan. 27, 2014, urging their colleagues not to seek further sanctions on Iran while negotiations proceed to ensure the country can’t develop nuclear weapons.

"For us to impose additional sanctions under these circumstances (or threaten in law to impose additional sanctions) could be an 'I told you so' moment for [Iranian government and military] hard-liners, providing the very excuse they’re looking for to kill the negotiations and, with them, what is probably the best chance we have of resolving this incredibly dangerous situation without resorting to military action," write Senators King and Levin.

Click here to read the New York Times Op-Ed.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Iranian Community at Michigan Tech to hold memorial service for victim of domestic assault

Poster courtesy Iranian Community at Michigan Tech.

HOUGHTON -- The Iranian community at Michigan Tech, with support from International Programs and Services and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, will host a memorial ceremony for Sanaz Nezami, a newly admitted graduate student who passed away after falling victim to domestic assault in Dollar Bay. The service will be held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28, in MUB Ballroom B on the Michigan Tech campus.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, ""Nezami's family gave permission for her heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small intestine to be donated, and after her death they were transplanted to seven people in the United States, a rare occurrence, according to the Associated Press."

According to the article, Nezami had planned to pursue a doctorate in environmental engineering at Michigan Tech.

Click here to read the Huffington Post article, ""In Her Tragic Death, 'Miracle' Allowed Sanaz Nezami To Give Life To Others," updated Jan. 23, 2014.

See also this Huffington Post article of Jan. 1, 2014, "Nurses, Family Bond Online As Sanaz Nezami, Iranian Woman, Dies In US Hospital," including a video interview with nurses who cared for Nezami at Marquette General Hospital, where she passed away.