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People power! Ukraine coal miners on strike, refuse to pay Kiev coup damages bill

protest-Ukraine
© Reuters / Alexander Prokopenko
Over 2,000 coal miners in Lugansk region have been on strike for the second day running, demanding higher wages and refusing to accept a pay cut to fund the restoration of Kiev, which suffered damage during the coup that overthrew the government.

Some 80 percent of miners from five coal mines belonging to "Krasnodonugol" enterprise in the city of Krasnodon have not shown up to work. The mines are all owned by one of Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov of the mining and metallurgical "Metinvest" corporation.

Angry miners are pressing for wage increases to match region's average pay, better social and living conditions and higher social bonuses. According to the strikers they get an average of 6,000 hryvnas ($520), while the average salary in the coal industry in the region is up to 10,000 hryvnia ($860).

Miners are also refusing to pay a 10 percent tax on their salaries, imposed by the post-coup authorities to restore the Maidan square in Kiev. The square and nearby buildings suffered significant damage during months of rallies and the violent standoff that led to a coup in February.

According to local media reports miners have seen around a 10 percent cut in their paychecks to restore the Ukrainian capital.

"I don't understand why are we involved!" one of the protesting miners, Stanislav Denisenko told Itar-tass. "It was not us who dismantled the stones and burned the houses down. I get about 900 hryvna a month, that is around 9,000 rubles ($260). I don't understand why they are taking away my salary."
Syringe

Divisive vaccine proposal abandoned in Colorado

vaccines
© CBS
An attempt to improve vaccination rates in Colorado failed Tuesday in the state Senate.

Instead, the Senate approved a bill to enhance vaccine education efforts - a watered-down version of a measure that would have made it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children. Colorado is among a handful of states that allow parents to sign "personal belief" exemptions from required immunizations, and last school year Colorado had the 6th-highest rate of immunization exemption in the U.S. at 4.3 percent.

The bill would have required parents invoking the "personal belief" exemption to watch a video about vaccinations or get doctor clearance for taking the exemption.

Democratic sponsors said the bill stood no chance of passage in the face of strong opposition from some in both parties. They called the watered-down bill the only viable option.

"At this point our decision is, are we happy taking the baby step ... or do we want to give it all up?" said Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, sponsor of the vaccine measure.

The bill still requires schools to disclose vaccination rates, a safeguard aimed at protecting kids with fragile immune systems. It also directs state health authorities to work on improved communication with parents about vaccines.
Alarm Clock

Greeley school parents' fury forces oil and gas driller to back down

greely school
© AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
State regulators and Greeley officials have allowed more than 425 wells inside Greeley, including these near Northridge High School. Mineral Resources has withdrawn its application to drill near Frontier Academy.
An oil and gas industry proposal to drill 19 wells within 900 feet of an elementary school in Greeley ignited such parent fury that company officials on Monday backed down.

Mineral Resources Inc. officials said withdrawing their application to drill by the Frontier Academy school is an example of listening to community concerns.

They made their decision as state regulators are investigating recent fires and explosions at industry storage tanks northeast of Denver - including one last week near a different elementary school.

"We're grateful. Now our children are safe," said Trisha Golding, head of the Frontier Parents' Group, who pressed their case Thursday with Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director Matt Lepore.

"And we're not going to rest until this city and schools make sure this doesn't happen again behind our school or any other school," Golding said.

The showdown began this month when parents found out about the project. Colorado last year made a rule requiring 1,000-foot buffer zones around schools and hospitals.

But Mineral Resources had proposed drilling 19 to 67 wells as close as 478 feet from the school's playground, 828 feet from the building, before the rule. The COGCC granted initial approval in May 2013.

Last week, an oil storage tank fire in Frederick, about 1,800 feet from Legacy Elementary, put teachers and students on orders to "shelter in place."

Comment: And, who decides what a safe distance is, and how is that determined?

New study links fracking to birth defects in heavily drilled Colorado

Book

Stay home! Michele Obama hit with 1,000-signature petition against speaking at high school graduation 'because it would overshadow the students' big day'

Brown v. Board of Education
© Google
A high school senior started a petition against Michelle Obama speaking at Topeka High School's graduation
  • Taylor Gifford, 18, started an online petition on Thursday with over 1,200 signatures asking that Michelle Obama not speak at Topeka High School graduation
  • Obama's speech is tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools
  • Some students feel that the speech would overshadow student accomplishments and others feel limited seating will be a problem
If expanding the guest list to include Michelle Obama at graduation for high school students in the Kansas capital city means fewer seats for friends and family, some students and their parents would prefer the first lady not attend.

A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate.

For others, it was the notion that Obama's speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student's big day.

A high school senior started a petition against Michelle Obama speaking at Topeka High School's graduation
Horse

Ammon Bundy: Harry Reid 'needs to be kicked out of office'

© George Frey/Getty Images
Rancher Cliven Bundy poses for a photo outside his ranch house on April 11, 2014 west of Mesquite, Nev.
The son of a Nevada rancher who battled the federal government over the roundup of his cattle believes it's time for Sen. Harry Reid to be kicked out of office.

"If he doesn't have enough moral fiber in his bones at all to see what happened, that we the people got together and made something right, then I don't think there's any hope for him and he needs to be kicked out of office, even if he is the Senate majority leader. It doesn't matter," Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, told Fox News, responding to Reid's comments that "it's not over."

Ammon Bundy says federal authorities used a stun gun on him.

Cliven Bundy, whose family has operated a ranch since the 1870s southwest of Mesquite a few miles from the Utah line, does not recognize federal authority on the land that he insists belongs to Nevada.
Wine

Congressional candidate demonstrates how to shoot down a 'government drone'

© Matt Rosedale
As a "government drone" hovers over Matt Rosendale, the Republican House candidate from Montana tells the camera what he thinks of government overreach, regulation, and "spying on our citizens."

Then, standing in front of an ATV, Rosendale coolly puts a rifle to his shoulder, looks up through the sight and "downs" the drone with a single shot.

"The federal government is too big and too powerful," Rosendale says. "I'm ready to stand tall for freedom and get Washington out of our lives," he says.

Rosendale is trying to stand out in a five-way primary for Montana's at-large seat in the House.
Stormtrooper

Civilians say they can't 'continue to pretend' they have power over Albuquerque police

police
© AFP Photo / Jewel Samad

Half of the commission that conducts oversight of the Albuquerque, New Mexico Police Department has resigned in protest follow a scathing report from the United States Department of Justice.

Oversight commission members Jennifer Barela, Jonathan Siegel and Richard Shine sent letters of resignation to Albuquerque, NM Mayor Richard Berry on Tuesday, leaving just three members of the nine-person panel to assess the police department's actions. Prior to Tuesday, only six people held seats on the Police Oversight Commission, or POC.

Tuesday's resignations were announced less than a week after the Justice Dept. accused the APD of what it determined to be excessive abuse force and a culture of abuse and aggression. According to the DOJ's findings, Albuquerque police have shot 37 men since 2010, killing 23.

"We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies - including insufficient oversight, inadequate training and ineffective policies - contributed to the use of unreasonable force," the Justice Dept. said. "Albuquerque's external oversight structure could do much more to address unreasonable uses of deadly force, and it is apparent from our review of documents and interviews that the failure to do so in the past has contributed to the pattern of unreasonable force that we have found."


Anger directed at the APD has rekindled in recent weeks after a video of a local police officer shooting and killing a homeless man caught illegally camping in a rural area went viral. Demonstrators responded with a series of rallies in Albuquerque, which the APD countered by using tear gas against activists and issuing arrests.
Bullseye

Imagine life under martial law

soldiers
© unknown
The U.S. Federal Government under both the Bush and Obama administration has made it perfectly clear that in the event of almost any major disaster scenario, including economic and environmental, they see the institution of Martial Law as not only viable, but inexorable. From legislative actions like the Patriot Act and the Enemy Belligerents Act (currently in committee) to continuity of government programs such as Rex 84 (formerly classified) and Presidential Directive PDD 51 (currently classified, even from Congress), all the "legal" precedents have been put into place to allow the Executive Branch to implement military oversight of civilian affairs, dissolution of Constitutional liberties, even the end of Miranda Rights and the right to a speedy impartial trial as protected under the Sixth Amendment. In some cases, government legislation allows for the rendition and torture of American citizens as combatants, all for the "greater good", of course...

Some in this country dismiss such bills and directives as abstract novelties that don't constitute any real threat to our freedoms or our daily life. People have a tendency to assume that the atmosphere we live in today will remain the same tomorrow and always. Many of us never consider that dramatic, even violent change in American domestic policy is possible on a moments notice. On the contrary, the continuity legislation now in place shows that our government under the direction of corporate globalists is not only prepared to implement a military lockdown of this country, they fully anticipate that such an event will occur in the near future.
Shoe

Duck, duck, shoe! Clinton, Bush, Blair learn about flying footwear

© Politico screen grab
Hillary Clinton — ducked a shoe.
Want to protest a politician? Throwing a shoe is a time-honored way of showing offense.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's brush with an orange and black shoe in Las Vegas on Thursday wasn't her first with flying footwear.

In 2012, then-secretary of State Clinton's motorcade was pelted with shoes and tomatoes during a visit to Egypt after Mohamed Mursi was elected president. Shoes and a water bottle landed near the Clinton delegation's cars in Alexandria. Clinton's vehicle wasn't struck. Protesters were chanting "Monica, Monica," in a reference to former president Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Others chanted, "Leave, Clinton," according to Reuters.
Chess

Putin says oil wars with Russia will make West bleed

oil russia
© Reuters / Henry Romero
Opportunities for the West to hurt the Russian economy are limited, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Europe cannot stop buying Russian gas without inflicting pain on itself, and if the US tries to lower oil prices, the dollar will suffer.

If the West tries to damage Russia's influence in the world energy market, efforts will likely backfire, the Russian President said during his twelfth annual televised question and answer session.

To really influence the world oil market a country would need to increase production and cut prices, which currently only Saudi Arabia could afford, Putin said.

The president added he didn't expect Saudi Arabia, which has "very kind relations" with Russia, will choose to cut prices, that could also damage its own economy.

If world oil production increases, the price could go down to about $85 per barrel. "For us the price fall from $90 to $85 per barrel isn't critical," Putin said, adding that for Saudi Arabia it would be more sensitive.

Also the President said that being an OPEC member, Saudi Arabia would need to coordinate its action with the organization, which "is very complicated."

Meanwhile, Russia supplies about a third of Europe's energy needs, said Putin. Finland, for example, is close to Russia economically, as it receives 70 percent of its gas from Russia.

"Can Europe stop buying Russian gas? I think it's impossible...Will they make themselves bleed? That's hard to imagine," the Russian president said.
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