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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

African Night to feature storytelling, dance, fashion Feb. 20 at Michigan Tech

Star Misskemi, a Nigerian model, designer and makeup artist from Lower Michigan, will be one of the guest performers at AFRICAN NIGHT this Saturday, Feb. 20, in the MUB on Michigan Tech's campus. (Photo © Raphael Goudy and courtesy Michigan Tech African Students Association)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's African Students Association will host AFRICAN NIGHT Saturday Feb. 20, in Michigan Tech's MUB Ballroom. Dinner is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a performance from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. This year's theme is "The African Market Experiences."

Featured performers this year are the following:

Madafo the Storyteller will offer laughter, stories and song at African Night Feb. 20. (Photo © Paul Morris and courtesy Michigan Tech African Students Association)
  •  Madafo the Storyteller -- Madafo tells classic tales for the young and elderly, recites poetry written by the masters and plays the music of the sage. The works of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Kahlil Gibran and other favorite authors are presented in this delightful and insightful program of timeless laughter, folk literature and song.
Bichinis Bia Congo Dance Theatre members will perform authentic Congolese Dance during African Night at Michigan Tech. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech African Students Association)
  •  Bichinis Bia Congo Dance Theatre -- Established in 1979 by Brazzaville Congo native Jean-Claude Biougilla Biza (Sompa), Bichinis Bia is a performance theater that promotes the preservation and practice of authentic Congolese Dance and African Culture.
  • Star Fashion Show -- Star Misskemi is a Nigerian model, designer and makeup artist based in Lower Michigan running House of Zuri, an African-inspired agency providing services in fashion designing, modeling, styling, photography and Makeup-artistry.
Other attractions are a photo-booth and souvenir store featuring African print apparels and accessories available for people to purchase. Tickets, which include both dinner and show, are $10 each and are available from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays in the Memorial Union Commons. If you are unable to arrange purchasing tickets on campus, call or text 906-370-6072 for assistance.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Guest article: A Postscript on the Political Project of MCRC v. EPA

By Louis V. Galdieri
Posted on his blog Feb. 15, 2016*
Reprinted with permission

A ProPublica investigation of dark money organizations lends context and additional color to some of what I had to say a a short while ago about the Marquette County Road Commission’s (MCRC) lawsuit against the EPA.

Sponsored by State Senator Tom Casperson, the Republican representing Michigan’s 38th district, the MCRC lawsuit is being funded by a non-profit organization called Stand UP. Stand UP is exactly the kind of dark money organization profiled by ProPublica: it’s a special kind of non-profit, a 501c4 "social welfare" organization that is not required by law to disclose the names of donors. It does not have to confine its fundraising and expenditures to the MCRC lawsuit or any other specific purpose. It is a trough of dark money that can serve any number of political efforts.

So, as I tried to suggest in a series of posts on the MCRC complaint (here, here, here and here), while the lawsuit is nominally over a haul road that will serve both mining and timber companies, it also appears to be part of a larger, coordinated effort to sideline federal regulators, stifle local environmental watchdogs, and arrogate the authority and power to direct economic development in the Upper Peninsula to a set of undisclosed actors and moneyed interests.

Now, as Robert Faturechi reports, with efforts in 38 states to make non-profit organizations like Stand UP more accountable and transparent gaining ground, powerful conservative groups are "coaching" allies on how to fight back against any new legislation requiring the disclosure of dark money sources. The tactics they recommend should sound familiar:

Get the debate to focus on an "average Joe," not a wealthy person. Find examples of "inconsequential donation amounts." Point out that naming donors would be a threat to "innocents," including their children, families and co-workers.
And never call it dark money. "Private giving" sounds better.

They urge dark money groups to claim the victim’s mantle and to see conservatives as "a persecuted class," according to one January 2016 memo Faturechi uncovered. It’s "all part of a plan to choke off our air supply of funding," they warn.

The documents presented by Faturechi were distributed at a conference held in Grand Rapids by The State Policy Network. The Network "calls pro-regulation activists 'enemies of debate,'" and generally takes the line that regulation quashes freedom and criminalizes belief -- a refrain often heard from climate change denialists -- and that transparency will only threaten privacy.

The State Policy Network brings together conservative and tea-party organizations from around the country dedicated to "advancing freedom and making a difference," so it’s well positioned to coordinate local efforts like the MCRC lawsuit against the EPA with other state, regional and national causes. In Michigan, the Network’s member organization is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Just last week, they ran a widely shared update (303 "likes" and counting) on the MCRC lawsuit in which Casperson crows about the progress they’ve made in the discovery phase of the suit and wails about prejudicial treatment at the EPA.

* Click here to visit Louis V. Galdieri's blog.

Inset photo: Guest author Louis V. Galdieri. (File photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Carnegie Museum to host "Keweenaw Wetlands" Natural History Seminar Feb. 16

Wetlands such as this one are the subject of the Tuesday, Feb. 16, Natural History Seminar by Michigan Tech Prof. Rod Chimner at the Carnegie Museum. (Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum)

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum will host "Keweenaw Wetlands" by Rod Chimner, Michigan Tech associate professor at the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16, in the ground floor community room. Refreshments and introductions are at 6:30 p.m.

Prof. Chimner has worked for over 20 years studying wetlands. He currently teaches a senior level wetlands class and graduate level courses in advanced wetlands and restoration ecology at Michigan Tech.

"Wetlands are unique ecosystems that provide many benefits, including protecting shorelines from wave erosion, filtering nutrients and sediments before they enter aquatic systems, storing enormous amounts of carbon, and providing habitats for a variety of species," Chimner says. "Despite the importance of wetlands, many wetlands have been destroyed or are in various states of degradation. I will present a brief overview of what a wetland is, adaptations for surviving in wetlands, types of wetlands in the region, and an overview of local wetland restoration."

This  February Natural History seminar is sponsored by Superior National Trust and Financial Services. All seminars are free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible.