Tuesday Roundup: Protesting Patriot

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UMWA President Cecil Roberts was among 14 union supporters arrested peacefully Tuesday after staging a sitdown in downtown Henderson, Kentucky, the Gleaner reports. The arrests were part of the United Mine Workers’ protest over Patriot Coal’s cuts in retiree benefits.

Thousands of miners and their supporters flooded Henderson after a court ruling saying Patriot did not have to honor retiree agreements in its bankruptcy plans. Patriot Coal was created in 2007 out of portions of Peabody Energy Corp. and later Magnum Coal, a subsidiary of Arch.

Retirees and others say Peabody created Patriot with the express purpose of getting out of paying its obligations to retirees. In TheAtlantic.com, Matthew O’Brien, says the new trend makes him long for the good old days of the 1980s. Back then, corporate raiders took over companies and got rid of retiree pensions and health benefits. Now corporations themselves are getting out of obligations to retirees, he says.

“It might even make Gordon Gekko blush,” O’Brien writes, referring to Michael Douglas’ corporate raider character in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.”

Keystone II?  InsideClimate News reports that another Canadian oil company is planning a tar-sands pipeline that could carry more oil than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline: 

While all eyes are on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, another Canadian company is quietly building a 5,000-mile network of new and expanded pipelines that would achieve the same goal as the Keystone. In fact, the project by Enbridge, Inc., Canada’s largest transporter of crude oil, would bring even more Canadian oil into the U.S. than the much-debated Keystone project.

The proposal has escaped public scrutiny because Enbridge is seeking approval for the project in small segments and phases, rather than as one big project.

Rising Waters – Communities across the Midwest are bracing for rising waters . Volunteers in Dutchtown, Missouri, are stacking sandbags to hold off the Mississippi River, which has the potential to sink a third of the town and make the nearby town of Allenville an island.

The city of Grafton, Illinois, has been cut off from most outside contact after the road into town was closed and much of the city stands submerged.  “Grafton isn’t closed – just parts of it are underwater,” Police Chief Chris Sullivan said. “There’s 12 feet of water standing in large parts of town.” The Mississippi is expected to crest in the town of about 700 residents Tuesday morning.

“We Just Survived” – Residents of Moore, Oklahoma, are continuing to clean up in the wake of the tornado that destroyed much of the town.  An article in the Moore American written by Michael Kinney details the accounts of a few who survived the historic storm.  “It’s very stunning,” said Leesa Kniffen, a first grade school teacher. “It’s not even real. How in the world did we get out? We’ve had parents today tell us you are a hero. I tell them we just survived.”

Startling Stats – The suicide rate in New Zealand is on the rise, and the trend is worse in rural areas. The rural suicide rate is 15.9 per 100,000, compared to 10.8 per in urban areas. These figures mirror trends found in the United States and Ireland.

A piece in ThePress.com by Deborah Hart suggests that unresolved disputes with neighbors, banks and other institutions are part of the problem.

 

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