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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 09:20 AM
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In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness


Minnesota is home to some of the world’s most ancient rocks, as old as 3.5 billion years. Earth has been around for only 4.5 billion years. About 2.7 billion years ago, basalt lava flowed underwater near what’s now the state’s border with Canada; the lava hardened, and the creep of geologic time turned it into a bedrock of greenstone and granite. On top of it, a layer of sedimentary rock rich in iron ore formed nearly two billion years ago, when the region was ocean floor. Then a billion years ago, Earth’s crust cracked open, producing a 50-mile-wide fissure stretching from Lake Superior to Kansas. For the next 100 million years, lava bubbled up into what geologists call the Midcontinent Rift, forming a mineral deposit filled with copper and nickel. Settlers first made their way to the area in 1865 in a fruitless search for gold. What they did find was iron ore, and lots of it. Rails were laid for iron-ore transport, and the town of Ely was founded a few years later, in 1888.

Today Ely is home to a few thousand people, a place of long, hard winters that is, in the words of one resident, “not on the road to anywhere — we’re literally the end of the road.” People do not end up here by accident. For most of the town’s history, the main reason they came was to make a living off the rocks. The ore supported abundant mining jobs for generations.

For almost as long, however, people have been coming to this area for another reason, too: to visit America’s most popular national wilderness area, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, which encompasses roughly a million protected acres and thousands of lakes and welcomes 150,000 visitors annually. The “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is actually a land of 11,842 lakes, and that figure counts only those bigger than 10 acres. They are a legacy of the glaciers that retreated from the region about 10,000 years ago. As a result, the state has a significant fraction of the world’s supply of surface-available fresh water; 6 percent of Minnesota’s surface area is water, more than any other state.

Geological coincidence makes Ely — one three-square-mile town in the northernmost reaches of the continental United States — a focus of a national debate about the proper use of public lands. The place also distills the political fault lines in today’s America, pitting an angry working class against progressive activists. Just southeast of Ely, an international mining conglomerate has invested hundreds of millions of dollars during the past decade toward potential copper-nickel mines a few miles outside the Boundary Waters. The company — Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of the Chilean mining giant Antofagasta — has drilled 1.6 million feet of core samples out of 496 holes to explore the deposit from which it soon hopes to process 20,000 tons of mineralized ore a day. The company believes the area’s valuable metals — copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold and silver — can be extracted in an environmentally responsible way and can provide hundreds of jobs to the job-starved economy of Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region, along the northwestern coast of Lake Superior.

But there’s a generations-long rift in Ely — between those who believe minerals are the region’s greatest asset and those who believe clean waters are — that has been laid bare recently. In December the Obama administration denied a renewal of Twin Metals’ mining leases and put in place a moratorium while a two-year comprehensive federal study is being conducted on mining near the Boundary Waters. Depending on its findings, the stoppage could be a prelude to what conservationist groups here hope for most: a 20-year prohibition on mining in a 230,000-acre portion of the Rainy River Watershed that includes land surrounding the Boundary Waters. That could lead to a permanent end to mining around the Boundary Waters.

The article caused quite the to-do on both sides up here, and on both sides within the party.
Posted by WhiskeyGrinder | Sat Oct 21, 2017, 05:41 PM (0 replies)

Where my Fighting 8th at?

Nolan, Phifer, Sandman, Stauber and maybe Mills. As Minnesota Brown said, we're not unique anymore -- just your everyday scorched-earth swing district.
Posted by WhiskeyGrinder | Sat Oct 21, 2017, 05:37 PM (0 replies)

"Why didn't she say something?"

The thing is, she probably already did.

Maybe in kindergarten about the boy who wanted to show her his penis, but she was told to just look away.

Or it could have been in fifth grade about the kid who sat behind her and whispered things under his breath over and over again, she was told it's because he likes her and doesn't know how to show it. Did she try talking to him?

She might have said something in junior high about the boys who tried to grope her in the hallway, but was told she was trouble. There's a dress code, after all!

When she said something in high school about that one guy on the football team, she may have been told she was a slut or a bitch. Probably both.

In college, she might have mentioned the dropout who shows up at parties and hits on the freshman girls, at which point everyone wondered why she had to be such a fucking downer or so uptight.

At work she may have had the courage to ask about that guy in accounting who offers backrubs in the break room, at which point she was told he does that to everyone.

When she asked her guy friends for to do something about their friend who says the most inappropriate things when he comes over to watch football, they may have said it's hard for him since his dad died and they want to be there for him, you know?

It goes on and on. This is what rape culture looks like: disbelief of women's experiences. Putting men's feelings above women's safety. There are women who speak out. There are women who speak until they're heard -- and supported, and advocated for, and understood. But it can be hard.

I was thinking about this after reading this (long) advice column. It was so, so familiar to me and probably will be to many of you as well. Women need men to hear them the first time they say things about other men in their midst.

Posted by WhiskeyGrinder | Tue Oct 10, 2017, 03:26 PM (66 replies)

The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Dont Want To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment


Are you a man confused on how to treat the women you work with? Do you feel like if you can’t say or do *anything* you don’t know what to say or do at all? Well stress no more! This life hack will have you treating women like people in no time.

From Harvey Weinstein to like all of Uber, it seems each day a wealthy and powerful man is being brought down by accusations of sexual harassment or assault. And just today the New York Times reported that men are becoming less likely to mentor females out of fear.


While navigating professional relationships can often require that dreaded thing known as “any amount of work at all”, there is hope. You see, by following this one simple rule, you too can interact with women as people.

It’s as clear cut as this: Treat all women like you would treat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

I cackled. Having seen and heard sentiments along the lines of "It's gotten so you can't ________ anymore!" here and in other progressive circles, I thought this might be helpful to some.
Posted by WhiskeyGrinder | Tue Oct 10, 2017, 09:41 AM (46 replies)

Facing Facts: American Identity is Based on Alternate History


I studied this particular book for a full year—in a display of singular dedication to an idea, the teacher designed her entire district-approved curriculum around it. The premise of this particular alternate history was “what if everything was fine?”

This supposition was carried through the text with a level of meticulous finesse that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It permeated every facet of the built world on which the book was focused. What if, the book supposed, America had been entirely undiscovered prior to 1492? What if the Pilgrims had been a peaceful, God-loving people? What if they had worked together with the Native population, rather than slaughtering them and stealing their land? What if voyages of exploration were driven by a pure, heartfelt desire to expand the map of the world, and nobody had ever been interested in gold or drugs or slaves?

What if everything was fine?

What if the country wasn’t built on the backs of enslaved peoples? What if slavery was rare, and when it happened, the slaves were usually treated quite well? What if the founding fathers who did own slaves were good guys who should be admired and celebrated? What if sexual assault didn’t exist? What if the Trail of Tears was a mutual endeavor? What if the Civil War was driven more by dry economic and political factors than by a desire to perpetuate the subjugation of slaves? What if America never participated in eugenics? What if America was always staunchly anti-fascist and anti-Nazi?
Posted by WhiskeyGrinder | Wed Oct 4, 2017, 02:09 PM (3 replies)

They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants.


The worst day of Brad McGahey’s life was the day a judge decided to spare him from prison.

McGahey was 23 with dreams of making it big in rodeo, maybe starring in his own reality TV show. With a 1.5 GPA, he’d barely graduated from high school. He had two kids and mounting child support debt. Then he got busted for buying a stolen horse trailer, fell behind on court fines and blew off his probation officer.

Standing in a tiny wood-paneled courtroom in rural Oklahoma in 2010, he faced one year in state prison. The judge had another plan.

“You need to learn a work ethic,” the judge told him. “I’m sending you to CAAIR.”

Long read looking at the intersection of addiction, the way our "justice" system is built on punishment, the fetishization of "hard work," and economic exploitation
Posted by WhiskeyGrinder | Wed Oct 4, 2017, 02:04 PM (8 replies)

White men have much to discuss about mass shootings


Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African Americans be “held accountable.” Then, if an atrocity such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings took place and African American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.

But when the criminals and leaders are white men, race and gender become the elephant in the room.


If life were equitable, white male gun-rights advocates would face some serious questions to assess their degree of credibility and objectivity. We would expect them to explain:

What facets of white male culture create so many mass shootings?

Why are so many white men and boys producing and entertaining themselves with violent video games and other media?

Why do white men buy, sell and manufacture guns for profit; attend gun shows; and demonstrate for unrestricted gun access disproportionately more than people of other ethnicities or races?

Why are white male congressmen leading the fight against gun control?

If Americans ask the right questions on gun issues, we will get the right answers.
Posted by WhiskeyGrinder | Mon Oct 2, 2017, 09:20 AM (4 replies)
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