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Morning Feature: Quick Hits – An Apology to Obama, Record Fine in Mine Disaster, U.S. Promotes LGBT Rights

December 14, 2011

Morning Feature

Morning Feature: Quick Hits – An Apology to Obama, Record Fine in Mine Disaster, U.S. Promotes LGBT Rights

The Affordable Care Act, Massey mine disaster findings, and U.S. diplomatic support for LGBT rights. (More)

Here are a few stories that we’d like to briefly highlight:

A Formerly-Disillusioned Obama Supporter Apologizes:

The L.A. Times yesterday had an interesting op-ed from a Californian named Spike Dolomite Ward, a 2008 supporter of President Obama who had become disillusioned because she felt the President had not done enough to help the middle class. Then Ms. Ward was stricken with breast cancer, lost her employer-based insurance coverage, but was able to get insurance through the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created by President Obama’s health care reform legislation. As Ms. Ward explains:

Which brings me to my apology. I was pretty mad at Obama before I learned about this new insurance plan. I had changed my registration from Democrat to Independent, and I had blacked out the top of the “h” on my Obama bumper sticker, so that it read, “Got nope” instead of “got hope.” I felt like he had let down the struggling middle class. My son and I had campaigned for him, but since he took office, we felt he had let us down.

So this is my public apology. I’m sorry I didn’t do enough of my own research to find out what promises the president has made good on. I’m sorry I didn’t realize that he really has stood up for me and my family, and for so many others like us. I’m getting a new bumper sticker to cover the one that says “Got nope.” It will say “ObamaCares.”

Record $209 Million Fine For Coal Mine Disaster:

In April 2010, a major explosion killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia that was then owned by Massey Energy. Recently, the new owner of that mine, Alpha Natural Resources, agreed to a $209 million penalty, including $1.5 million to each of the victim’s families and $80 million for safety investments in the company’s coal mines. The settlement of the federal government action against the company is by far the largest ever in a mining accident case, and it came on the same day that the federal Mining Safety and Health Administration issued a 1,000 page report detailing numerous shoddy safety practices and the steps that Massey took to hide those practices from federal government inspectors.

Promoting LGBT Rights Overseas:

The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration has announced its intent to use the power of American diplomacy to promote LGBT equality throughout the world:

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that the United States would use all the tools of American diplomacy, including the potent enticement of foreign aid, to promote gay rights around the world.

In a memorandum issued by President Obama in Washington and in a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton here, the administration vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct, abuse gay men, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered people, or ignore abuse against them.

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct,” Mrs. Clinton said at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, “but in fact they are one and the same.”

The Presidential memorandum can be found here and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech announcing the policy can be found here.

  • NCrissieB

    Thank you for these stories, Winning Progressive. The Obama administration’s strong stance on LGBT rights worldwide is an important step. I also hope we’ll see more stories like Ms. Ward’s, as more people learn about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. The Massey fine and the MSHA report are stark testament to the dangers faced by miners … and the fantasy that the free market alone can ensure adequate workplace safety.

    Good morning! ::hugggggs::

  • LI Mike

    I copied the LA apology story to the OFA leadership on LI. Easy to get lost in the ACA weeds, as in, where to start to understand this law, but the critics have overloked important components. apparently, some supporters, too.

    • winterbanyan

      There are a growing number of such stories, Mike, and I’ve begun to hear a few of them.

      A dear friend of mine died of cancer a decade ago. The last seven years of her life not only involved the horror and pain of cancer, but retaining an attorney to prevent her insurance from being canceled. So as she fought for her life, she spent much of her last years fighting an insurance company as well.

      As one who suffered rescission as well simply because I had a test (a test which proved nothing was wrong with me) I can testify to the fact that most people don’t even begin to grasp what insurance companies were doing to the ill. If ACA accomplishes nothing else, preventing insurance companies from cancelling policies the minute you need them for something significant will have been a big victory.

  • Gardener

    Thank you Winning Progressive!

    Re: Massey Energy and Upper Big Branch. I am guessing that the sale agreement between Massey Energy and Alpha Natural Resources called for Massey to shoulder any and all fines stemming from the Upper Big Branch industrial mass murder.

    I have written my one good US Senator Dick Durbin, and asked him to convene a Senate investigation of M.S.H.A. and to try and find out why they failed to stop this very preventable disaster. For a coal mine to explode in such a fashion, there had to be numerous law violations. Very fine coal dust does not appear overnight. It is depositied slowly. The Feds should’ve been dust sampling in the return air courses…. This is basic stuff.

    I encourage each and every one of you to write to your Senator(s), and ask for an investigation into M.S.H.A. It appears that “The Reluctant Policemen” have struck again!

    Sincerely, Gardener

    • winterbanyan

      It will be interesting to read how Massey “covered up” the problems. I agree, this never should have happened, and it damn well better not ever happen again. Coal mining is dangerous enough without ignoring highly explosive dust.

    • LI Mike

      M.S.H.A. the evil twin of the Minerals Management Service that rubber stamped deep oil drilling permits. MMS changed its name, wonder if it changed its bureaucracy.

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