Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moving house: True's new domain

True is moving to a new domain. Alas, all the 550-plus old posts will have to stay behind but friends can always come back here to to enjoy them all over again or use the labels to look up all entries under a topic of interest.
In future, you can also look to more changes, such as hiring an editor and spending more time on research and investigation as we seek alliances with other progressive blogs and websites across Minnesota and nationwide.
This sea change began after True attended the National Conference on Media Reform in Minneapolis in June and was inspired by Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Arianna Huffington, Naomi Klein, Louise Erdrich, Amy Klobuchar, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Jonathan Adelstein, Medea Benjamin, Byron Dorgan, Keith Ellison, Amy Goodman, Caroline Fredrickson, Robert Greenwald, Joel Kramer , John Nichols, and a hundred more progressive media luminaries who came together with 3,500 bloggers and activists to generate a truly independent and free press on the Internet as the print media is dying, strangulated by big corporate owners. The Owners have two agenda items: 1) suck the newspapers dry to feed huge proft margins and 2) get rid of all the best, most experienced journalists and replace them with Infotainment and Lite News so that nobody out there can possibly get any real news.
So, please, old friends, keep in touch with the New True at as we work toward an improved web site and more news coverage.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thankful for Harbor Friends

True, a card-carrying charter member of Harbor Friends, is thankful for the selfless hard work by the dedicated founders. These folks have virtually single-handedly saved the Grand Marais Harbor as well as the RV Park and Campground from a takeover by misguided folks who would rather see a Bayfield-style marina in our tiny harbor than an eclectic shared space for campers, boaters, birders, rock skippers, hikers, and everybody else who loves Grand Marais. It wasn't an easy struggle and the Friends got grant support to show that a mega-marina was not likely to be successful based on a study of other marinas around Lake Superior.
Some recent letters about the Friends in the papers have delegated the level of public dialogue to somewhere near the scum layer in my septic tank. So, you didn't like the anti- snowmobile- skipping campaign by the Friends? Hmm, neither did True. But, that's only one issue and not a biggie at that, not like devastating the Grand Marais harbor with a mega-marina that would eat up all the RV Park and campground space for boaters' parking and send all revenue to the DNR. Not like allowing the city to dump toxic landfill in harbor wetlands or overturning the conservation easements adopted to protect the harbor permanently....
All of this, the Harbor Friends have saved us from, us being a public interest that reaches far beyond the nearsighted few who put dibs on the "process" and refused to allow any other public input.
One writer this week brings his old grudge forward as if it is relevant to snomo skipping, sniping at the Friends even though the marina issue has now been resolved by the city in a good way that benefits everybody. The writer conveniently forgets that the process was deeply flawed by rejecting public input, and that there would have been no Harbor Friends without a great outpouring of concern and longing to protect the harbor beloved by city, county and statewide residents.
Another letter writer who doesn't like the Harbor Friends decided to attack the lifestyle of its president, Lonnie Dupre. How mean-spirited, how petty, how unkind, and how inappropriate. Stick to the issues, folks, and stick to the facts.
Public dialogue needs to be respectful and thoughtful. Most newspapers recognize this and have standards for publishing letters. True doesn't only blame the letter writers; the papers ought to have more sense than to publish letters that exceed the bounds of decency and fair play and ignore or deny the reality of a broad public consensus regarding the harbor that belongs to all of us who love it.
Thank you, Friends.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cleveland-Cliffs & Northshore Mining, for shame

Where the rain never falls and the sun never shines,
It's dark as a dungeon, way down in the mines.

Nothing, but nothing, epitomizes the greed of big corporations more than the innocuous-sounding "surface mining" that is destroying Appalachia just to pull more tons of filthy coal from the mountains. Filthy coal, that sends megatons of carbon emissions into the air along with other pollutants, filthy coal that Minnesota Power burns at Taconite Harbor and releases into our airshed, filthy coal that could within a decade or two choke all of us trying to breathe. This we knew, or at least True knew.
But the merger of Cleveland-Cliffs with the Appalachian coal mining company with the Orwellian name of Alpha Natural Resources makes us accomplices. Last year alone in Kentucky, 50 million tons of coal were dredged from the surface of the Appalachian mountain range by, among other methods, cutting off the tops of the mountains and throwing them down into the valleys. The mountaintops are called "overburden." I shit you not.
Compare this with the five million tons of magnetite pellets being produced annually by Northshore Mining, a subsidiary of Babbitt-based Cleveland-Cliffs, now to be known as Cliffs Natural Resources, "A Leading Diversified Mining and Natural Resources Company."
It is time for residents of northern Minnesota to admit their culpability. The mountaintop leveling now supported by the merged company surely ranks right up their with the proposed Polymet copper-nickel mine that will create dead zones in our watershed.
Where is your outrage, North Shore citizens? What will you leave of earth, water and air to your children? Here's a link to the Duluth Tribune story that conveniently glosses over the devastating truth:

Duluth News Tribune | Cleveland-Cliffs announces merger with Appalachian coal company in $10 billion deal

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Be nice, if you please

The guest is God.
- Hindu proverb

The guest is a jewel resting on the cushion of hospitality.
- Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe

If ever there was any doubt that summer residents at the RV Park are considered to be second-class citizens, that issue was put to rest by the rude and insulting letters published in both papers last week in response to a reasonable request by park resident Norm Larsen. Norm was speaking on behalf of many others who are themselves expected to quiet down after 10 p.m. but find sleep impossible due to loud music from the Birch Terrace and the Gunflint Tavern.
What insults they were subjected to, simply for a noise complaint that even in rowdy Minneapolis would have resulted in a visit from the police asking that the noisemakers tone it down. Grand Marais is currently considering adoption of a noise ordinance and I Truly hope they will despite "noise" from people who must never have lived in a big city where such ordinances are routine.
Many others besides Norm and the park "guests" (who according to the letter writers don't deserve a voice since they don't pay taxes) either live in or visit Grand Marais because of the beauty of the harbor, the nearby lakes and woods, the shops and art galleries, the folk school, the hiking trails, and a rather endless list of sports and attractions other than late-night entertainment.
As a tourist some years ago, staying at a cottage on the hill in town, I was kept awake by some musicians jamming outside, behind the present-day Gunflint Tavern. In my nightclothes, I followed the noise to the source and to their astonishment, burst in on them wild-eyed and said, "I can't sleep, so could you please STOP."
Why is this not okay? Those who break the peace and silence that most "guests" come to enjoy ought to be the ones to compromise. Surely there is a way to mitigate sounds: keep doors and windows closed, don't use loudspeakers, quiet down at a reasonable hour OR install soundproofing. This didn't used to be a problem. True himself has attended concerts at both venues that did not impinge on the surrounding tourists and resident families.
Lots of families with young children all over the residential parts of town can hear open-air noises from near the lake; sound carries. The burden is on the noisemakers; the great majority of "guests" or tourists or summer residents want quiet enjoyment and don't need to stay up half the night partying. That's not why they come to the North Shore.
As for locals all their lives who want to exclude those "guests" they don't like, hello? You are truly cutting off your own noses, my friends.
And the 86-year old lady who sleeps through the night? Hmm. Like many young people whose hearing has been decimated by loud decibels, the elderly commonly have some hearing loss.
But True is most appalled by Stephan Hoglund's jibe about "poverty level" rents paid by RV park visitors. Even were it True it is not NICE, and it would not be said of boat slip renters who pay even less (about $900 per year).
Assuming that the 50 or so RV renters who return year after year stay an average of four-and-a-half months, they pay $500 per month for their space alone, without the house or the electrical hookup. All of those dollars go into the Grand Marais City coffers... If that is "poverty" level, many of us who are year-round residents might be the target of Hoglund's ire for not having enough money to matter.
But it needs to be reiterated that locals don't have the only say in what happens here; if the tourists don't like it they won't come back.
Norm has gotten signatures from 60 or more residents of the RV park as well as neighbors around the Birch Terrace. Let's face it, most people don't like to stay up carousing all night. Surely 10 or 11 p.m. is a reasonable hour to quiet down. Those who want to party on through the night, let them stay indoors.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My house is my castle: Barack's betrayal

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and ther persons or things to be seized."
-The Fourth Amendment, US Constitution, 1789

Barack Obama won the joyous support of progressives not so very long ago when he promised to FILIBUSTER any attempt by Congress to provide retroactive immunity for telecoms against spying on Americans.
His spectacularly disastrous reversal in the Senate vote today calls into question all of the ways that progressives have believed in Barack, because we wanted so desperately to believe. Even Hillary Clinton voted against telecom immunity today.
Yes, all politicos have to be strategists, as an old campaigner True knows all about that.... But, we Loved Barack because his strategy seemed to be telling the truth and generating support from the vast majority of Americans who have suffered under the lies of the neocons. It diminishes his campaign when he caves rather than stands up for what is right, and what can be more right than the Fourth Amendment?
The MSM have contrived to make it appear that government surveillance without a warrant applies only to the very baddest guys. Barack knows that this is not so but he also suspects that most people don't realize this and so he can get away with reversing a stand that brought him huge support from the Democratic wing of the Dim Party.....
And not only them; the 3,500 journalists at the National Conference on Media Reform believed in Barack's promise to protect the Fourth Amendment. Every single one of us understood what was at stake and we all believed Barack would stand up for the Constitution even if he had to cave on some issues in order to get elected.
Every single one of us who were there, from Bill Moyers down to the lowliest journalist like True, feel betrayed. Barack had a chance to stand up and be counted for something that the vast majority of Americans believe in: the sanctity of privacy, the home as castle.
The Repug neocons have sold the FISA surveillance by telecoms in several ways, mostly by denying that surveillance creeps into our homes in ways never imagined by the founders, but also by insinuating that anybody who is spied deserves to be, and that YOU and I have NOTHING to HIDE.... depending on who raises or lowers the bar. Who is listening and to whom? The answer, well-documented though you will NEVER see it in a MSM story, is that the National Security Agency is listening to EVERY conversation that you and I make by phone or email. Yes, modern technology permits them to do this.
True doesn 't care, True follows Her mandate to peaceably address grievances in the First Amendment and takes Her role in a Free Press very seriously.
So, who cares? Well, friend, you ought to, perhaps. You have been led to believe that only the bad guys are spied on and even if you are spied on, you have nothing to hide, right?
Don't be so sure. They go by code words in your phone conversations: did you ever say you are sick of America these dahys? Or anything mildly critical?
It never was intended -- OR EVEN IMAGINED -- that every single phone or email conversation would be monitored by paid spies of the government.
Bushcos are bragging that they WON a big victory and it is True.

Barack is/was our leader and we adored him, but we adored him BECAUSE he spoke truth to power in this essential, critical issue of the Fourth Amendment. When he doesn't do that, how can we trust him to do all the other things he promises?

Free press in Cook County?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
-First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
called the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1789

"Go now, and tell it on the mountains and in the cities. From your Web sites and laptops,tell it. From the street corners and the coffee house, tell it. On campus and at the mall, tell it. Tell it at the synagogue, sanctuary, and mosque. Tell it. Tell it where you can, when you can, and while you can. Tell America what we need to know--and we just might rekindle the patriot's dream."
-Bill Moyers, keynote address
National Conference on Media Reform
Minneapolis, June, 2008

Cook County is blessedly free of corporate-dominated media. Oh ya sure, the News Herald is owned by a media group but it's not Fox, not Murdoch, not even a very big player in the control-of-information game that was invented by the neocons who now control all three branches of the U.S. government--at which the founders would turn over and rise up from their grave to peaceably assemble and protest.
Lucky, yes, but well-served for the 21st century? True says no. Mind you, True is only a humble, ragtag collective. But She formed in response to a gap between the grapevine and the published Word a couple years back when Grand Marais was being invaded by Big Developers. That issue was happily resolved, to the benefit of most if not all.
New issues emerge, however, in our 21st century where technology daily changes the nature of the "press" even as most information is not now printed but rather published in cyberspace. And our backward local "press" have not joined the free and open Internet where anybody, anywhere can google something like "Poplar River impairment" and get all the published news articles from the local angle. Well, once we could get it from the News Herald but now it has gone private and you have to sign away your life story and pay money just to see an article. As for the Star, they are SO 20th century, you just have to save a copy of every paper.
And even here in our cozy little county our media have more serious limitations than Internet access. Let's name them:
The Star, the News Herald and WTIP are beholden to advertisers. Once the News Herald did editorials about issues in Cook County but now, nobody does.
WTIP is the emerging leader in comprehensive and substantive news coverage. They do a great job, covering issues and meetings that neither paper seems to manage to attend or explore.
But nobody gives us a big picture, nobody tries to put it all together (even inadequately, which would be a start), nobody fills in the gaps between the gossip mill and the deep truth.
Outsiders, even summer residents, can read and listen to every word but they still can't figure out what is really going on. That's partly because covering meetings, the basic stuff of the three branches of media, doesn't tell the stories but only describes the meetings.
OK, let's get specific, with a couple of examples.
1) The new major issue in Cook County is the big plans for development of Lutsen Mountain into an Aspen-like monstrosity. While this huge proposed travesty of the Cook County development ordinance looms large as an even greater threat than turning Grand Marais into a huge marina with Disney condos, there is scarcely a peep about it in the news.
2) Directly related to the Mountain Megalomania is the impairment of the Poplar River and the big misinformation being disseminated freely in both papers by--you guessed it--the OWNERS of Lutsen Mountain, who call themselves the "Poplar River Mangement Board." The irony here is that although these guys could well afford to BUY a page in both papers, they got it for free, in direct conflict with the policies that opinions and letters be strictly limited in word count. True will be exploring the Poplar River issues, trying to sift Truth from Sediment, in future posts.
But the point is, nobody else is looking at the big picture here, or taking any kind of a stand. Certainly not the county board which dances around and dodges with silly stuff about the legality of a special tax district that would force other Poplar River landowners to pay for the damage wreaked by the Lutsen Mountain owners, or the Lutsen Town Board that agrees to anything they want.
And here is the great failing of the media: what the Founders feared most when they wrote the First Amendment: that people can't make informed decisions without all the information. Both papers have printed full-page ads purporting to be "facts" by Lutsen Mountain owner Tom Rider. NOBODY has bothered to do any fact-checking.
Editorials have two purposes: one, to engage a public discussion and two, to bring a truthful perspective to the slipshod, piecemeal and disconnected stories that make up the daily news. We badly need them here, even without Rupert Murdoch's blockade of any facts at all.



Need your help!! Please publish and broadcast to our community

AARP/MN estimates that there are 64,000 Minnesotan's who are eligible
to claim the Stimulus payment from the Federal government and have
not yet done so.

Please, if you know someone, who is retired or is living on a limited income,
and for this reason does not normally file a Federal Tax return,
have them contact Harriet Walsh (387-1367) or Chuck Flickinger (475-2776)
so that we may help you with this matter -

Many people who do not earn enough income to file and pay taxes think
they do NOT qualify
for the Stimulus payment, however
* BUT all you need to qualify is $3000 of earned income, OR,
* $3000 of social security, disability, SSI, or
Veteran benefits to qualify

Thank you all for your help
I am Chuck Flickinger
187 Whippoorwill Lane
Hovland MN 55606