20 May 2011

Upper Big Branch Mine Report: ‘Deviant Practices’ By Massey Energy

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Untitled by u?, on Flick"][/caption]


Davitt McAteer was commissioned to lead an independent investigation into the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, an explosion in the Massey operated mine in Raleigh County, W.VA that killed 29 miners last April. McAteer and his team finished their investigation and released the information to the families of the miners who perished in the disaster. What they found was staggering, but to many it wasn’t surprising. Many believed, as I have pointed out previously and thus subscribed to, that Massey Energy was to blame for the explosion. Massey ran a non-union mine (to which former-CEO Don Blankenship proudly proclaimed) in Raleigh County, and appeared to disregard many safety regulations that culminated in the worst coal-mine disaster that the United States has seen in 40 years. Coal Tattoo has provided a lot of information about the investigation panel’s findings and the subsequent reactions from the press etc. The McAteer investigation team produced a lot of information that was compiled over the past several months, but the bottom line of the investigation clearly sticks out.

The bottom line in McAteer’s report:

The explosion was the result of failures of basic safety systems identified and codified to protect the lives of miners.

The disaster at Upper Big Branch was man-made and could have been prevented.

(Source: Coal Tattoo)

The bottom line: It could have been prevented. Massey Energy’s negligence was a key player leading into the deaths of those West Virginia miners. In a press release provided by the Coal Tattoo blog, McAteer’s investigation panel had this to say:

Such total and catastrophic systemic failures can only be explained in the context of a culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable, where deviation became the norm. In such a culture it was acceptable to mine coal with insufficient air; with buildups of coal dust; with inadequate rock dust. The same culture allowed Massey Energy to use its resources to create a false public image to mislead the public, community leaders and investors — the perception that the company exceeded industry safety standards. And it became acceptable to cast agencies designed to protect miners as enemies and to make life difficult for miners who tried to address safety. It is only in the context of a culture bent on production at the expense of safety that these obvious deviations from decades of known safety practices makes sense.

This is a quickly developing story with more information to come soon.

14 May 2011

WV Gubernatorial Primary Results: Live Updates

Update 9:06 PM EST: Associated Press’s Lawrence Messina reports that AP projects Bill Maloney will win Republican nomination in WV special gubernatorial primary (twitter: @lmessina) Update 9:00 PM EST: From West Virginia Metronews: Tomblin 40%, Thompson 22%, Tennant 19%, Perdue 13%, Kessler 6%, Moltis 0%.   45% of precincts reporting Metronews reports

11 May 2011

Racism and Sexism: West Virginia Politics At Its Worst

I generally try to avoid the stereotypes of West Virginia (inbred, racist, un-educated, etc.) because for the most part they perpetuate a myth that the state itself doesn’t live up to. We are not inbred redneck white-supremacists like a lot of the common jokes and stereotypes suggest. However, much to my disappointment, racism is still alive in West Virginia. It comes as no surprise because, frankly, you are bound to find racism anywhere in the United States (thankfully not to the extent of what the U.S. saw during the civil rights movement). I’d like to believe that we live in a post-racial America, but sadly this is far from fact. Our country has gotten better, and racism is detested for the most part by the rational portion of our population.

Even if someone is what one would describe as “racist,” they typically aren’t outwardly voicing this belief (we’ll leave out the skinheads etc. since they are in a league of their own for this). However, sometimes people just let it slip. One man vying for the GOP nomination to West Virginia’s Gubernatorial election did just that.

Larry Faircloth (R-WV) is one of several people gunning for the GOP nomination, and may have just killed his chances of winning. Faircloth spoke at a candidates forum hosted by We the People of Hampshire County, an Eastern Panhandle Tea Party-affiliated organization. Faircloth touched on the subject of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and decided to try his hand at a comedy. Not the best idea Faircloth has had.

Faircloth referred to Pelosi as a “bimbo.”

“Is she not one?” Faircloth said in a Tuesday evening telephone interview. “I mean, a lot of people think she is a bimbo; that’s why they replaced Congress with Republicans, and they removed her as speaker. I don’t find that as anything different than a political poke at her.”

He also referred to Obama as a “Sambo,” a term many consider racist.

(Charleston Daily Mail)

10 May 2011

Bashar al-Assad: Crimes Against Humanity

Syria jumped on the revolutionary bandwagon January of 2011, and the protesters that comprise the movement have witnessed one of the most brutal authoritarian crackdowns in the country’s history.  Recently, the United States and European Union have initiated pretty meaningless sanctions in order to “put their foot down” and encourage

09 May 2011

Little Love For Gays Or Women From West Virginia’s GOP

Its been a long time since I’ve written for MyFDL, since December 24th, 2010 actually. Its been too long! I thought I would make my return an amusing one and introduce the FDL world to the “wild and wonderful” GOP field of candidates for the West Virginia Gubernatorial election (We’ll see how many get that pun).

The GOP field for West Virginia’s special election gubernatorial race is full of people just itching to win over the conservative electorate in the Mountain State. It should come as no surprise to the MyFDL readership that there is a supreme lack of sympathy or compassion for pro-choice rights and LGBT rights from any GOP contenders, and West Virginia is unfortunately no exception. A recent voters guide, published by the Charleston Gazette, profiled the Republican candidates for governor in the 2011 election.

One of the primary questions asked by the Gazette was “Would you sign bills restricting abortion if passed by the Legislature?” I challenge you to guess what their answers might have been. Well if you couldn’t muster a guess, we’ll take Clark Barnes for example. He is a small business owner that currently serves in the West Virginia State Senate.

“Absolutely. I believe in the sanctity of human life and that life begins at conception.”

No shock. Boasting pro-life status is the equivalent to rapping about street cred in West Virginia Republican politics. Larry Faircloth, another fine example of GOP brawn in West Virginia, touted his endorsement by West Virginia for Life (which totaled 24 years). Every single GOP candidate for West Virginia’s gubernatorial election is pro-life, no big surprise here. However, looking at gay rights is another story.

Candidates were also asked the question “Do you support adding sexual orientation to the state’s existing civil rights laws? Why or why not?” The answers were a mixed bag of awful, stupendous, marginally accepting, and awkwardly political. Take Bill Maloney’s answer to the question (Maloney is a Drilling Consultant running on the GOP ticket).

No, I’m 100 percent pro-traditional marriage, between one man and one woman.

Maloney must have been confused. The question didn’t state “Do you support gay marriage?” No. The question simply stated whether or not civil rights laws should protect someone based on sexual orientation in order to protect their rights where laws explicitly do not cover them. Maloney is trying to play his cards correctly among the potential voters of West Virginia. The Mountain State has gone red in the past few national elections, and is known to be socially conservative. One glance at Maloney’s website and you know what audience he is addressing. Under the “Why I Am Running” page of his campaign site, one facet particularly sticks out. I’m 100% pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. I’ll fight to protect our Second Amendment rights.

And this is the story of many Republican candidates in the great state of West Virginia. They cater to guns, fetus rights, and gettin’ rid of the gays.

24 Dec 2010

Don’t Believe Fox News – It’s Okay to Say Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Merry Winter Solstice, Happy Kwanza, Happy Birthday, Happy…. end of 2010. Don’t be afraid to be politically correct — and culturally sensitive — it’s a good thing to do.

22 Dec 2010

Don Blankenship’s Coal-Dust Covered Golden Parachute

Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship announced his retirement rather suddenly earlier this month, much to the pleasure of environmental activists in West Virginia.  Though the realist in me believes his successor will be a carbon-copy of him, I’m grateful nonetheless that this truly despicable man is out of the head spot at Massey.

21 Dec 2010

Democratic Senator Skips DADT and DREAM Act Votes for…A Christmas Party!!

Joe Manchin is an epic disappointment already. He was the only Democratic senator to vote no on a DADT repeal earlier in the month, and then refused to even show his face for the vote on Saturday for the DREAM Act and DADT. SO what pressing engagement had him so tied up that he couldn’t muster an appearance during one of the biggest voting days this Congress has seen thus far?

A Christmas Party, of course!

09 Dec 2010

DINOsaurs in West Virginia: Joe Manchin Was Lone Democrat to Vote Nay on DADT Repeal.

Rawwwrrrr!  It didn’t take long for the Conservadem to show his true colors in West Virginia.  The newly-minted Senator in West Virginia, Joe Manchin, was your maverick stand-out Thursday during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal vote.  So what side did he vote with?  Of course, the Republicans! Senator Joe

05 Dec 2010

Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks While Assange Calls for An Obama Resignation

The US Government isn’t too fond of WikiLeaks, that much is obvious.  However, the US government isn’t the only one going crazy over the newest cable dumps with the Australian government up in arms as well.  Any chance of shutting down WikiLeaks?  Doesn’t look like its going to be possible.