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“Reality.” The word has a comfortable, solid sound to it, doesn't it? Good old reality. Dependable, like the North sunrise. But, is it actually like that? Are you sure that it isn't just a bunch of ideas planted in your head. Really?

On the other hand, “brainwashing” has such a sinister sound to it. Evil. Malevolent. Sneaky. Who would do such a thing? And just how does brainwashing differ from, say, education? Maybe it's all in the point of view of the recipient of the process.

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I'd like to provide some logical, scientific information about the open pit iron mine proposed for the Penokee Hills in Ashland and Iron Counties of Wisconsin. The first and most important thing to understand is the difference between the old style shaft mines that have operated in the past around the Ironwood/Hurley area and the open pit mine that is now being proposed for this region.

The tailings piles that people keep referring to that are located adjacent to the Montreal River are tiny compared to the mountains of waste rock that would be generated by the Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) operation. In just the first phase of its operation, the GTAC mine would be the world's largest open pit iron mine. Period. We are talking a hole four miles long, a half mile wide and 1,000 feet deep. When I said mountains of waste rock that was no exaggeration. We are talking billions of tons of the stuff. And, they propose a total of three phases, extending through a 100 year time span.

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Originally posted in Namekagon Notebook on Sept. 4, 2012, a reminder of the history we tend to forget: how we have devastated Iraq twice.
With the Republican National Convention now in the history books, it behooves us to cast our minds back to previous administrations. Did you notice that no previous Republican president spoke at the RNC? They had a couple of Georges to choose from, both H.W. Bush and W. If the Repubs were so proud of what they had “built” during their heroes' administrations, why not bring one of them forward to tout how great they were?

I mean, there were videos of George 1 and George 2, although #1 did most of the talking. And, their fair ladies also made video appearances. But, no talk of all they had accomplished from 1988 to 1992, and from 2000 to 2008. Why?

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This is not a matter of mere ideology. Let us deal here in facts, in documented history. Corporations in America were not always as powerful as they are now. We had a revolution here in order to overthrow the king of England, George III. The point of this revolution was that we the people of the United States did not want a sovereign king dictating our affairs. In modern language, the king of England was a dictator.

In 1776 we the people of the United States became a sovereign body. We have never legally given up that powerful status. With force of violence the citizenry of this country seized the reins of power in the British colonies, throwing out the king of England and his chartered corporations that had ruled here with an iron fist.

Wait, back up a minute. Corporations? What corporations? Each colony formed by King George III in North America was a chartered corporation. That is how they were governed remotely from across the Atlantic Ocean. Governors of these colonies were appointed by the king. He vested in them a chip off the block of his sovereignty. Their job was not to be explorers, or to create communities of happy people. Their job was to make a profit for the monarch by turning natural resources into the coin of the realm. Nothing more, and nothing less.

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We knew it would happen. On Friday, March 8, 2013 the corrupt, crooked Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature passed the mining deregulation bill written at the behest of coal mining magnate Chris Cline. By a 58 to 39 party line vote in the Wisconsin Assembly, the giveaway of our resources to that greedy bastard from West Virginia was a done deal.

The bill will be will be signed into law by Governor Scott Walker Today in ceremonies held at Rhinelander and Milwaukee, far away from the area in northwestern Wisconsin where the claimed jobs from the proposed open pit iron mine would be created. One would think that they would want to exult in their victory and celebrate the purported prosperity that will flourish in Iron and Ashland Counties.

So, why not sign the bill in  Hurley? I'm sure the Silver Street crowd would pour out in adoring numbers. I'll tell you why. It's because the Ojibwas, the  Citizens Concerned About the Penokee Mine, the Bad River Watershed Association and people of good heart from around the region would be there to demonstrate under the banner of Idle No More.

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We were lucky this year. The weather was perfect for the 40th American Birkebeiner Ski Race from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin. The snow depth was knee deep, and temperatures hovered just below the freezing mark all day. You could say that it was a nicely average winter day in late February.

A group of citizens concerned with keeping things that way filled the Park Theater on Thursday night to hear environmental author Bill McKibben speak on the topic of Preserving Winter. He is the leader of the worldwide movement to combat global warming, who just a week earlier had gathered 50,000 people together in Washington D.C. to protest the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

This worldwide topic was prominent at the world class Birkebeiner ski race in northwest Wisconsin. READ MORE BELOW THE FOLD.

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I am deeply concerned about the most pressing crisis of our time: anthropomorphic (man made) climate change. The most prominent activist in this regard is Bill McKibben, founder of He has been instrumental in organizing mass demonstrations aimed at creating greater awareness of this problem. The point of focus for his efforts has been a call to President Obama urging him to block the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada through America's heartland down to the Gulf Coast.

 On last Sunday, a rally in Washington, D.C. drew over 40,000 people to the shadow of the Washington Monument. Leading up to the massive rally was a demonstration the previous Wednesday where McKibben, prominent activists and others were arrested. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and civil rights leader Julian Bond, were arrested Wednesday after tying themselves to the White House gate to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune also was arrested — the first time in the group’s 120-year history that a club leader was arrested in an act of civil disobedience.

Now McKibben will "chill out" in Hayward, Wisconsin, the home of America's largest cross country ski race, the American Birkebeiner. Prior to the race he will speak at the little town's Park Theater on Thursday night, Feb. 21. Then on Saturday the 23rd Bill will ski the 55 kilometer marathon from the nearby town of Cable through northwest Wisconsin's snowy woods south to downtown Hayward.

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There are hidden reasons why the Cline Mining Group wishes to create an open pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. For starters, there is more than just low grade iron ore to be found in the Penokee Range. The so-called waste rock, a.k.a. the Tyler Shale formation, is rich in phosphate. Although America already has about 100 years worth of iron ore available, there is only about a five year supply of phosphate on tap. This mineral is one of the essential three components in commercial NPK fertilizer, and it is the scarcest one at that. It is also a terrible pollutant that has been banned from laundry detergent for decades.

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Much of my environmental education goes back to early writers on the topic. Foremost among them is Paul Erlich, author of The Population Bomb.  In this seminal book, Erlich made a case for the fact that, with it's exponentially rising numbers, the human population of planet Earth would of necessity run up against the stumbling block of resource limits.

To put it bluntly, he said that when our numbers rise high enough, we will run out of food, fuel and water. When the book was written in 1968, humanity numbered 3.5 billion people. Now, our population is double that at 7 billion. We are there and, yes, we really are running out of food, fuel and water. These trends will accelerate as the results of our running rampant over the environment pile up with increasing speed

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