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Political Matters
Political Matters: PolyMet and the race for auditor
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgEnd of an era

In a recent email from Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle’s editor, I was reminded that this edition of the newspaper would include Jim Northrup’s valedictory column. He’s leaving these pages after 25 years of enlightening and entertaining us with “Fond du Lac Follies.” So, we’ll have to look for his next book or elsewhere to learn about his travels, his family in Sawyer and his chronicles of the Ojibwe lifeway: ricing, sugar bush and the language camp keeping alive Ojibwemowin.

I and many others will miss Jim’s writing in The Circle. But it was a good long run. Mazal tov! (as we say).

PolyMet and the race for auditor

The controversy over copper-nickel mining has entered a Minnesota electoral contest – the race for state auditor, of all things. The incumbent, Rebecca Otto, is being challenged by Matt Entenza, who registered at the last minute to run in the DFL primary. Previously, in 2010, Entenza placed third in the DFL primary for governor, with 18 percent of the vote.


Political Matters: The Iran Connection
Monday, July 07 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgIn my column last month, I wrote about a multinational corporation, Glencore Xstrata, which has compiled a remarkable history of environmental pollution, labor and human rights abuses and corruption of elected officials. As it happens, Glencore is the major investor in Canadian-based PolyMet Mining Corp., which is seeking government approval for its NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals mine near Babbit, in northeastern Minnesota.

As I have noted in columns over the past several years, the proposed mine and mill are within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory. The Ojibwe bands in the region – Fond du Lac, Bois Forte and Grand Portage – are participating in the environmental review process. The bands are concerned that toxic mine wastes could migrate into lakes, rivers and groundwater and destroy wild rice beds, etc.

This is not wild speculation: hard rock mining across the West has been a catalog of environmental disasters. The National Wildlife Federation says: “The mining industry is the single largest source of toxic waste and one of the most environmentally destructive industries in the country. Today’s massive mining operations involve blasting, excavating, and crushing many thousands of acres of land and treating the ore with huge quantities of toxic chemicals such as cyanide and sulfuric acid. The mines that produce our gold, silver, copper, and uranium are notorious for polluting adjacent streams, lakes, and groundwater with toxic by-products.”

Political Matters: It takes a pillage
Monday, June 09 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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The global conglomerate Glencore Xstrata operates a copper mine in Mufulira, Zambia, which allegedly is poisoning nearby residents with extremely high sulfur dioxide emissions. The Facing Finance website (facing-finance.org) relayed a recent SRF (Swiss Radio and Television) Rundschau report from Zambia, where “the mine’s activities have had a negative impact on local communities, causing breathing difficulties, asthma, and even deaths.”

Normally, a report from remote Africa about environmental pollution wouldn’t be fodder for a “Political Matters” column; however, the company involved now owns a 29 percent stake in Canadian-based PolyMet Mining, which is seeking government approval for its NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals mine near Babbit, in northeastern Minnesota. The proposed mine and mill are within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory; and the Ojibwe bands in the region – Fond du Lac, Bois Forte and Grand Portage – are “cooperating agencies” in the environmental review process.

Political Matters: Indigenous Peoples Day in Minneapolis
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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"In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two,

Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

But everything else in the childhood rhyme,

Ignores the historic details and genocide."

— From “Fourteen Hundred Ninety-Two (The Rewrite),” by Dana W. Hall


Where should we start? In 1492, Cristoforo Colombo, an explorer from the Republic of Genoa (now part of Italy), sailing under the flag of the Crown of Castile (now Spain), set off to find the fastest route to the gold and spices of the Orient. He set off westward in the Atlantic Ocean, and ended up in the Caribbean, quite a long way from East Asia.

On his first voyage, Christopher Columbus, who was wrong in nearly all of his geographic suppositions, came ashore on an island in the present day Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Historians are not sure of which island in the Bahamas corresponds to the island that the Italian explorer called San Salvador.

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