Mountaintop Removal: Even a hero Doesn’t Get Used to This…
When he watched mountaintop removal mining raze the mountain all around his home and family’s land on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia, Larry Gibson became one of the country’s first people to speak out against this extreme and egregiously irresponsible mining practice. He has been inspiring people to fight against the unjust practice ever since. He has started a foundation, saved land, been in documentary movies, spoken at thousands of community meetings and shown thousands of people the destruction of mountaintop removal first hand by opening his property up visitors.
Mine helmets and painted crosses were placed at the entrance to Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine as a memorial to the 29 miners killed there.
Nearly three years after a deadly mine explosion in West Virginia, a former Massey Energy mine superintendent has been sentenced to prison and federal regulators have toughened a regulation that could have helped prevent the disaster.
Today in federal court in Beckley, W.Va., former Upper Big Branch coal mine superintendant Gary May was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
The sentencing was part of a plea agreement in which May is cooperating with federal prosecutors as they continue to investigate the April, 2010, explosion that killed 29 coal miners at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine.
May pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and admitted to ordering a company electrician to disable a methane monitor on a mining machine so it could continue to cut coal without automatic shutdowns. The monitor is a safety device that senses explosive amounts of methane gas and automatically shuts down mining machines when dangerous levels of gas are present. The incident was first reported by NPR in July, 2010.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says the sentence sends “a powerful message to this mine manager and other mine managers who would put profits over safety: if you violate mine laws and put miners at risk you will go to jail.”
May also pleaded guilty to deceiving federal mine safety inspectors and hiding safety violations.
The Progressive Democrats of America plan to bridge
the gap between Capitol Hill
and the progressive grassroots.
By Cole Stangler
January 15, 2013
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), the self-described “grassroots PAC operating inside the Democratic Party, and outside in movements for peace and justice” is gearing up for its third Progressive Central, a one-day gathering of politicians from the left wing of the Democratic Party and prominent activists from the labor, anti-war and environmental movements.
The “Peoples’ Inauguration” in Washington, D.C., scheduled for January 19, two days in advance of the more prominent inauguration to be held a few miles across town on Capitol Hill, is intended to kick off PDA’s lobbying and organizing efforts for the next four years. In a national political context dominated by talk of austerity, PDA is aiming to keep popular progressive demands on the agenda in Congress—issues like universal single-payer healthcare, ending the wars while slashing the defense budget, and implementing a financial transactions tax. Emblematic of the group’s “inside-outside mission” of translating the demands of existing social movements into action from sympathetic members of Congress, the event on Saturday will feature a mix of Democratic representatives and leaders.
Decaying infrastructure costing families $3,100 a year, engineers warn
By Jon Schmitz
Jan 16, 2013 – A leading organization of engineering professionals issued another warning Tuesday about the condition of the nation’s infrastructure, saying that current investment trends threaten millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic activity.
A report commissioned by the American Society of Civil Engineers said under-investment stretches across the spectrum of American infrastructure, including roads, bridges, power lines, water and sewer systems, ports and waterways.
"Deteriorating infrastructure has a cascading effect on our nation’s economy," said Gregory DiLoreto, ASCE president. "If we don’t invest now, all Americans will wind up paying more in the long run."
While the report, "Failure to Act: The Impact of Current Infrastructure Investment on America’s Economic Growth," was filled with figures in the millions, billions and trillions, one smaller item might resonate more: The spending deficiency will cost the typical household $3,100 a year by 2020 if present trends continue, it said.
Rep. Becerra to Obama, Democratic leaders: Don’t mess with Social Security
By Mike Lillis – 01/10/13 02:34 PM ET
Breaking with the White House and other Democratic leaders, the head of the House Democratic Caucus suggested this week that he’ll oppose any budget package that includes Social Security cuts.
Both President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have signaled a willingness to support a move to index future Social Security updates to the so-called chained consumer price index (CPI), which would reduce projected benefits over the long term.
But Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said that he’s not ready to back such a change, even as part of a much larger budget package.
“We know Republicans are interested in cutting Social Security and Medicare, [and] perhaps there are some [Democrats] who would say, ‘If that’s what it takes to reach a big deal, we’ll do that,’ ” Becerra said Thursday in an interview with C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “I’m not yet convinced that simply because Republicans want to cut Social Security and Medicare, even though there’s no justification for doing it … that we should do that.”
Pelosi raised eyebrows last month when she defended Obama’s support of the chained CPI as part of a broad “fiscal-cliff” deal. Although the provision was not included in the final agreement, liberal critics were irate that top Democrats were ready to accept some Social Security cuts as part of the package.
Becerra, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, was quick this week to praise Pelosi for her work in searching for a long-term strategy to rein in deficit spending. But he warned that he’s ready to break with her and other party leaders on the Social Security issue as the deficit talks progress.
Jan 10, 2013 – Malalai Joya has a simple message for US, NATO, and Afghan leaders: Get out.
‘Get out’ of her country, she tells those from the US and other western nations. And to the warlords, the Taliban, and the fundamentalists represented in the ruling government, she says ‘get out of the way’ of a peaceful and prosperous future for regular Afghans.
As Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepares to meet with Barack Obama on Friday and speculation swirls about the future US role as 2014 slowly approaches, one of Afghanistan’s leading peace advocates has a message that those in the US—increasingly cited for their war-weariness—rarely hear: Afghans themselves, caught between an occupying power and a corrupt government, are "fed up" with war, death and the destruction of their rights and aspirations.
"We are fed up with the so-called ‘helping hand’ of the US and NATO that is used to justify occupation," Joya said in an extensive interview with journalist Elsa Rassbach and published by Common Dreams Thursday.
Joya, who rose to international prominence as the youngest female member of the Afghan parliament in 2005, says the US-led war in Afghanistan—"waged under a fake banner of human rights and democracy"—has gone on far too long, and what most Afghans want is the complete withdrawal of US troops so that regular Afghans can reclaim their dignity and solve their own problems.
Responding to the Obama and Karzai meeting, Joya explained to Rassbach that agreements made in Washington between the two will do nothing to improve the lives of most Afghans.