Will West Virginia’s Senator Manchin be indicted over Upper Big Branch before or after the state’s coal-fired media re-selects him?

Editor’s note:

Before you read Mr. Estep’s diatribe, I suggest that you listen to the following short video. It isn’t an ad, it’s an admission of guilt by former governor Joe Manchin at the 2008 Coal Symposium. Note the audio evidence that WV senator Rockefeller witnessed Manchin boasting that he’d told his safety regulators to relax enforcement of violations in the mines:


In Estep’s article below he includes the link to the full motion, full length video of Manchin’s Coal Symposium presentation.

Will West Virginia’s Senator Manchin be indicted over Upper Big Branch before or after the state’s coal-fired media re-selects him?

by Cesco Estep

ON June 18, 2012, Ken Ward Jr. reported that U.S Attorney Booth Goodwin praised Alpha for ‘great strides’ addressing ‘systemic problems it inherited’ from Massey Energy.

What I want to know is when will Goodwin charge former WV governor Manchin with manslaughter for his deadly “Retail Government” policy? What I’m also wondering is when will West Virginia’s major newspapers report the whole truth for once? It is certainly newsworthy that Manchin actually was recorded telling mine operators that he’d instructed his mine safety regulators to go easy when they saw repeated violations and to not shut down the mines.

Isn’t it worth at least one headline that then-governor Manchin was pulling down a huge paycheck as a coal broker when Upper Big Branch exploded due to (in part) his policy of relaxed regulations? Yet the corporate-owned media remains silent, obviously hoping to squeeze just one more giant payday out of Manchin’s multinational extraction industry backers in the form of campaign advertising for his second run for U.S. Senate.

If you think Manchin wasn’t personally invested in cranking out as much coal as possible out of Upper Big Branch and all the other mines in West Virginia, then its likely because the Charleston Newspapers Group (who should have been reporting this connection all along) has never gotten around to letting voters know that at the time of the explosion he was raking in more cash as a coal broker than he was pulling down as governor -due to his lax policy of enforcement by his top mine safety regulators!

From the New York Times:

“In the 19 months before winning his Senate seat in a hard-fought special election, Manchin reported operating income of $1,363,916 from Enersystems. His next disclosure showed $417,255 in Enersystems income.”

Although his son is now supposedly running Enersystems (which is listed primarily as a coal brokerage), because at some point in time Manchin reportedly placed his interest in a “blind trust”. Nonetheless it is a little hard to swallow that Manchin was acting on behalf of the people of West Virginia when he told those coal owners that he’d instructed “his people” to lay off his industry whenever they saw safety or health violations!

Lest you believe that Manchin didn’t have a major conflict of interest at the time, current presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed what he knows about how a “blind trust” actually works. He should know, not just because he’s an extremely successful businessman, but because he also served as the governor of Massachusetts,:

That, along with the video of Manchin’s admission of guilt prior to the Upper Big Branch explosion, is pretty strong evidence that most any politician can be caught on camera speaking the truth, eventually.

Let’s review 3 facts:

1. ALL of the official reports stated that the explosion at Upper Big Branch would have been avoided if mine inspectors would only have simply enforced existing laws and regulations. That assessment was also included in the press release for U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s plea agreement with Massey. So it appears that at the very least, mine inspectors and their agency heads are just as guilty as Massey because they didn’t enforce existing laws.

2. THE VERY FIRST OFFICIAL REPORT published after the disaster, which was authored by former MSHA director Davitt McAteer, stated unequivocally that the disaster took place because of a “too cozy” relationship between the coal company and politicians!

He did it quite eloquently, stating,

“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.”

How could this situation have developed into the “norm” unless mine regulators were either bribed by Massey or else instructed by their superiors to ignore? Stopping just short of naming names, McAteer’s team pointedly explained,

“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.“

In other words, by undercutting the mandate of entire agencies that had been upheld for DECADES, Manchin’s “Retail Government” fostered a culture that very likely resulted in state-sponsored MANSLAUGHTER.

McAteer’s report branded the inability of the state of West Virginia (while under governor Manchin) to protect the lives of miners as “a political failure – a failure by the state’s government to nurture and support strict safety standards for coal miners.

But McAteer didn’t stop there, he went on to say, “If miners’ lives are to be safeguarded, the cozy relationship between high-ranking government officials and the coal industry must change, as must the relationship between the enforcement agency and the industry it regulates”.

To easily check my quote within the context it was originally used, you can download the pdf version of that report from the source found at this link, and then using your pdf search engine enter the searchword: cozy. It’s found in Chapter 12, titled The Normalization of Deviance which is found at this link.

http://www.nttc.edu/programs&projects/minesafety/disasterinvestigations/upperbigbranch/chapter12.asp

Unbelievable as it may seem, Manchin was actually recorded admitting to having instructed his regulators to go easy and not shut down the mines whenever they saw a violation. While at the podium before the 2008 Coal Symposium Manchin’s exact words were:

“Hey John, you’ve got a problem here, now before I write you up with a violation, here’s what I think you ought to do to fix it.”

There were reports that the “John” that Manchin was directly addressing was his pal John Raese, a coal mine owner and WV media mogul who was in the crowd at the time. This was in 2008, well before Raese had declared his intentions to stage his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Anyway, Manchin went on to say,

“Let’s get together, get our people together. I’ll come back in a week or a month or whatever the rotation time would be. Then if you’ve made those changes, tried to make the changes, we’re working in the right direction. Rather than going out with a ball bat and a cease and desist order and fines, I’d rather you spend the money to fix what’s wrong, try to make it safer, than give the money to government. I guarantee you we won’t fix it.“

Don’t take my word for it, though. Check it out at this link

At the top of this report I called for a review of 3 facts but only listed 2, so here’s the last fact, which really ties it all together:

3. Back when he was riding around in Massey’s corporate jet Manchin was raking in more cash being a coal broker than he acting as our governor.

For the sake of justice someone should let the unfortunate relatives of those who died at Upper Big Branch know that while Manchin may proclaim to be a “Friend of Coal”, his cozy Retail Government relationship with Don Blankenship was at the root of what got those men killed. Don’t count on the mainstream media to do it, because Manchin’s Coal Symposium pals have pitched in millions for his campaign war chest, AND HE SURE AS HELL WON’T SPEND IT ADVERTISING IN ANY WHISTLE BLOWER MEDIA.

I’m betting that John Raese’s WV MetroNews corporate holding* will never cover it, nor will Bray Cary‘s West Virginia Media, which broadcasts and whose flagship is “The State Journal”. Chilton’s Coalpatch Daily Flail may eventually mention Manchin’s holdings, but it’s a pretty safe bet neither paper will ever get around to connecting how his cashing in while maintaining a deadly Retail Government policy set up a situation which caused the deadliest West Virginia mine blast since the Farmington disaster of 1968. Why it’s not emblazoned across both of Chilton’s papers is a mystery.

In an effort to look “fair and Balanced” in the blog that the Charleston Newspapers provides him, Ken Ward has actually reported Manchin’s personal ties to the coal brokerage EnerSystem, but he has never tied Manchin’s company earnings to the former governor’s culpability at Upper Big Branch, and the fact that Manchin is a coal broker has never been published in the Gazette.

*Johnh Raese’s father passed several producing coal mines down to him. He also owns 25 radio stations across West Virginia and is the founder of the METRONEWS network, which has 56 affiliates that reach every nook of the state. He is Vice President of the West Virginia Newspaper Publishing Company, which publishes The Dominion Post, Morgantown’s daily newspaper. Rease also serves as Chairman of the West Virginia Radio Corporation, and has announced his intention to run against (Dinocrat) Manchin a second time, again on the Republican ticket.

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Small “D” Democracy? In America?? It could happen…

National polls have revealed that the general public knows full well that America’s two-party system is broken. The sorry turnout at elections all across the country confirms that voters don’t believe that their interests are being represented by the candidates produced by either of the two major parties. One poll just this past January revealed that more than two-thirds of Americans would consider voting for a third-party presidential candidate,

Although there are other national parties, the media rarely, if ever, mentions them, and for good reason. Corporate media is cashing in on the system in place. Though major party candidates muse from time to time about the need for reform, neither major party truly supports clean election laws or full public funding of campaigns. As a result, huge amounts of cash are shoveled into advertising accounts.  Corporations and corporate media get the elevator while America’s middle class and the poor get the shaft.

One simple solution is to turn America into a democracy (with a small “d”). Below, my good friend GaryZ explains how.

It’s The Electoral System, Stupid
by Gary Zuckett – Economic, Health & Environment
Justice Coordinator, Southern Appalachian Labor School

Who can ever forget the irony and unfairness of the November/December election of 2000? The whole world watched us, the bastion of Democracy, elect a president with a couple of hundred votes selected from one state with lousy ballots. To rub salt in the wound, the winner lost the popular vote by nearly a half a million ballots and the Supreme Court snuffed the counting of uncounted ballots spit out by those notorious punch-card machine counters. Former President Jimmy Carter indicated in a recent public radio interview that an international observation team (many of which he attended) would probably not certify these results. Many are offering solutions to this fuzzy voting problehm. Here’s mine: Proportional Representation in the Electoral College, and Instant Runoff Voting within the states.

Fair Electoral College Voting:

Maine and Nebraska have figured it out (without the need for a constitutional amendment). Electors to the Electoral College should not be chosen by states in a winner-take-all manner. In these two states the statewide winner gets only two electoral votes. The rest are allotted to the winner of each congressional district (one vote per district). This would result in an electoral vote count that more closely reflects the popular vote even in elections like November 2000.

In a small state such as West Virginia things wouldn’t change much, but large states with significant regional differences could split tickets two or three ways. In addition, candidates could no longer afford to ignore small states or write off states secure in either their own or opponents courts because every Congressional District would be up for grabs. If the 2000 election had been counted in this manner who would have been our president? I haven’t done the math but I’d bet his name wouldn’t have a “W” in it.

Instant Run-Off: No Vote Is “Wasted.”

In our winner-take-all system, the winner in a three-way contest can win with less than 50% of the vote. This happened in ’92 when the Reform Party grabbed double-digit percentages and Clinton won with only 43% of the popular vote. In many states today it’s possible to win multi-candidate elections with 25% or less. This is a Democracy in name only.

What if you could vote for not only your first choice, but a second (and even third) for political candidates? You could if we used Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV). This is how the Parliament in Australia and the President of the Republic of Ireland are elected. It works like this: each voter has only one vote, but ranks candidates in order of preference #1, #2, #3 etc. The counting of the ballots simulates a series of runoff elections. If no candidate receives over 50% in the initial vote, the one with the least number of #1 votes is eliminated and citizens who voted for the eliminated candidate have their #2 choice voted. This “instant runoff” is repeated until someone wins a majority of votes. Thus a (begrudging) mandate is created for the eventual winner, unlike the mess we’re faced with now.

Under this system, Ralph Nader (or Denise Giardina) supporters could vote their conscience knowing their votes could still be counted toward a potential victory for their second choice. This would negate the need for Nader “vote swapping” (which I did with a friend of a friend in Texas) and effectively eliminate the “lesser of two evils” argument against voting for third parties. How many #1 votes would Nader or Giardina have gotten under IRV voting? Easily double or triple if people voted their values. Would this send a message to the eventual winner? You can count on it. The Center for Voting and Democracy (www.fairvote.org) is a wealth of information on how to upgrade our voting system from an ENIAC (the first vacuum tube computer) to a Pentium IV. Its not rocket science, but since the American Political Science Association uses IRV to select its President, there must be something to it…

Two simple and constitutional reforms of our voting system could put us back on track toward fair and representative elections.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

Adapted from an article in the January/February  2001  SALS JOURNAL, a quarterly publication of the Southern Appalachian Labor School , a regional grass-roots organization dedicated to social & environmental justice and workers rights.

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Coalocracy

by One Citizen
This is adapted from a piece originally published on Wed Jan 27, 2010 at 05:39:03 AM EST on a supposedly “Progressive Democratic” website that has since banned the author altogether for attempting to reveal the corporate hijacking of both major parties in West Virginia

If you live in West Virginia, whether you realize it or not, you live in a war zone. Wealthy corporations in the form of robber-baron businessmen declared all-out class war on the citizens of the state around a century ago. It has been waged both openly and subversively ever since.

Although there has been no small amount of consternation in the progressive blogosphere about the Supreme Court’s decision to open the floodgates for the outright purchase of lawmakers everywhere, the lack of reporting by the mainstream media about the strain it puts on our democracy is pretty solid proof that the U.S. mainstream media is anything but “liberal”. Corporate-owned media has always been self-serving because corporations by their very nature are primarily self-serving entities. In fact if corporations are “persons”, then the largest corporations likely grew that way because they have a predatory predilection built right into their DNA.

Despite an apparent news brownout on what the Citizen’s United case can, or will, unleash here, to observe the textbook example of the devastation that corporate-run state leadership has wrought one need look no further than the true, unfiltered history of West Virginia. The stranglehold that King Coal has had on our political process long before Citizens United is legendary, and its unfortunate outcome very tangible. Although the landmark decision is yet to change how democracy works in other states, because West Virginia has long-established a corporate dynasty which rules both major parties, the new national political dynamic under Citizen’s United really won’t effectively change much here at all.

Despite the fact that our public schools have never taught the reason why mine workers and their families were compelled to take up arms to throw off the oppression and depravity in coal company communities all across southern WV, it’s no secret that wealthy corporations and individuals have always “invested” huge amounts of cash specifically to influence those who run our state government. The obvious reason is so that they may continue to reap windfall profits while killing anyone foolish enough to try to survive the widespread and wanton industrial holocaust wrought under the extraction industry collective.

In West Virginia, our corporate-owned media has long had a vested interest in never reporting the full truth, not just because fossil-fuel backed politicians have always been able to spend incredible amounts of cash on advertising. In West Virginia’s extraction industry dynasty entire media chains have long been literally owned by coal operators and others who are personally invested up to the hilt.

Most everyone has heard the old adage about history repeating itself, but few understand why it’s true. History, at least as it’s been taught in West Virginia, has purposely been crafted to repeat itself. The industrialists that have long controlled both our media and our state education system have constructed a virtual firewall specifically to prevent voters from ever learning certain details of events. Nowadays, according to surveys rarely revealed to the public, more and more folks are suspicious of the media. For good reason.

Many suspect that our education system is “broken” as well, but few understand why. State and county education administrators, hand picked (or bought off), purposely see to it that certain subjects are never taught. Ask any member of the state’s Golden Horseshoe Society what they learned in public school about the Battle of Blair Mountain or about any of our rich labor history here in the Mountain State and then ask them what they were taught about the Hatfield and McCoy feud. The reason no one knows about the fight to throw off the oppression of the combined forces of the state and corporations is because it wouldn’t serve the vested interests of those in power if voters were being taught that our political leaders -from both major parties- have always supported the oppression of the state’s populous to enrich their wealthy political benefactors.

Since its inception, West Virginia has always been recognized as having within its borders the some of the greatest energy producing resources of all the states, yet the childhood poverty here has always been rated as one of the worst in the nation. Have you wondered why the full story behind the march to Blair Mountain has never been a part of any curriculum in any of West Virginia’s public schools? Or why, in its coverage of the commemorative march CNN completely skipped the history of state-sanctioned atrocities against its laborers and their communities all across our coalfields? Although the Battle of Blair Mountain is widely recognized by state-paid “historians” as the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War, what they don’t people to realize is that it was by far the largest armed uprising of the people against any state government. It’s because they don’t want us to ever figure out how corrupt our politicians were because then it would be far more difficult for them to continue corrupting them, generation after generation.

For over a century now there has been a secret strategy to keep voters from ever learning that our elected leaders, from the governor on down, have been profiting from the oppression of laborers, their families and their communities. As far as any soulless multinational corporation is concerned we surface-dwellers are no more than a liability, to be controlled or otherwise eliminated, just like the strikers and their families were back when scrip (a.k.a. counterfeit money anywhere else in the U.S.), yellow-dog contacts and systemic rape were all fully supported by the state and passively sanctioned by the fed -until the march to Blair in 1921.

To this day coal operators are able to pull the strings of our puppet politicians because we, as children, were never taught the horrific legacy foisted, by both industry and state, upon our own fore bearers Robber barons have blossomed into multinational corporations by pitting laborer against laborer, both nationally and internationally once trade barriers were dropped several decades ago. While West Virginia exports record amounts* of the highest grade metallurgical coal in the world, the counties where that coal is extracted rank among the highest poverty rates in the nation.
*in man-hours spent per ton produced.

Those in power can only continue to destroy for us as long as we re-elect those who support this evil dichotomy. And that power will be possible only for as long as they continue to trick us into believing that our collective votes will never count as much as the amount of money they can spend for each election.

A VIDEO BLAST FROM THE NOT-SO-DISTANT PAST

In the online video below, witness West Virginia’s top coalocrat, former governor Joe “Retail Government” Manchin literally panting as he embarrasses us all with his plan to honor “The Coal” in the same manner that we now honor our war veterans. Then watch him publicly give his pal the ol’ reacharound (politically speaking) as he makes a number of outrageous claims which are so contrary to the facts that they’re utterly ridiculous. Finally, after listening to him play the patriotic card to sanctify “the Coal”, wonder in amazement how Manchin avoids getting whiplash as he immediately goes from patriotic pandering to criticizing America for making us “energy unsecure” by not subsidizing the coal industry even more than it already does!

It is important to note that although Manchin’s nearly breathless pandering was taped prior to the Citizen’s United decision, yet after he had served as the state chairman for the extremist multinational American Legislative Exchange Council(“ALEC”) (-PDF FILE). Since that time ALEC is known to have drafted, and then pushed legislation through many statehouses all across the nation. One major legislation is that which is fully supportive of Corporate Personhood and the Citizen’s United decision. (see pdf file at this link).

ALEC has not needed to push that particular law in West Virginia because there is already a well-established stranglehold on our political system.

While political leaders all across the nation have marveled at our state’s leaders ability to take pre-Citizen’s United pandering to a whole new level, the corporate media’s local brownout on the following spectacle back in 2009 was so complete that Joe Manchin (D-Coalocrat) was elected by a majority of unwitting voters, and now openly represents only his corporate backers in the U.S Congress.

All video and audio sources used in the making of the above video editorial are in the public domain and therefore are not prohibited by copyright laws.
The original interview was produced by the State of West Virginia’s Library Commission Video Services around October 2009 (ref. no. c 122.07).

Although the video takes a lighthearted look at the former governor, his lies are not only substantial they are obviously intentional. Despite Manchin’s lack of any pretense whatsoever regarding the pandering that he’s doing, West Virginia’s corporate-owned media somehow manages to never reveal the man. At the same time they let himget by with never addressing the fact that thousands of people have died and are dying due to virtually unregulated coal operations across West Virginia. However, try as they may, the argument by the coal operators and their land companies that leveling mountains will attract businesses is extremely hard to accept since those of us who live here know that only about three percent of the land razed by surface mining has ever bbeen truly developed. That was around fifty years ago, when literally thousands of deep miners were laid off, only to be replaced by far, far fewer folks who now extract the same coal as drag bucket operators and dozer jockeys.

If you’d like to check the video source for the quoted Forbes magazine article citing their editors who voted West Virginia the most polluted state in the nation, just go to Forbes.com: Home Page for the World’s Business Leaders where they noted that West Virginia ranked at #50 (see chart at this link), “suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way.”

If you’d like to check out the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report that failed WV’s air quality while Manchin was lying about it, you can download this PDF FILE

If you doubt that the water quality in West Virginia is a major problem here, then you probably missed this New York Times article. Note that I had intended to link to a particular article by the Charleston Newspapers about this subject, but curiously its editors decided to wipe it from easy internet access.

Then there are those ever-increasing warnings (now also known as “advice”, notably for the first time ever) from WV’s Department of Natural Resources about eating fish loaded with toxic substances.

Regarding the pollution of water by coal operations in WV, note that not after much delay the WV DEP (also known as the WV Department of Everything Permitted) finally reported to the WV legislature that it just didn’t have enough information to conclude that coal slurry injection at some point ended up poisoning rural community water wells in and around the WV coal fields. In WV, regulations require the coal operator to monitor the slurry sites, but somehow the WV DEP just never got around to making sure they were. The surprising result was that our coal-powered legislature has still never prohibited coal slurry injection.

Unfortunately, the WV DEP gets by with employing engineers who apparently can’t comprehend even one the most basic laws of physics (entropy) any better than WV lawmakers wish to recognize established federal testimony about toxic waste containment.

Top EPA scientists recorded their understanding of entropy on pg. 28315 in the FEDERAL REGISTER on May 26, 1981, when stating:

“Since disposing of hazardous wastes in or on the land inevitably results in the release of hazardous constituents to the environment at some time, any land disposal facility creates some risk.” [pg. 28315]

Our regulators and lawmakers obviously have never seriously considered that the RELEASE OF HAZARDOUS CONSTITUENTS TO THE ENVIRONMENT is INEVITABLE when they left it up to the coal owners to monitor coal impondments for leaks.

Pg. 28324 records EPA’s top experts establishing that “The longer one wishes to contain waste, the more difficult the task becomes. Synthetic liners and caps will degrade; soil liners and caps may erode and crack. …EPA is not
aware of any field data sh owing successful long-term containment of waste at facilities which have not been maintained over time.”

The EPA also states that “Ultimately, waste reduction and resource recovery probably provide the best alternative to land disposal,” [pg.28325] although the neither the WV DEP nor the coal-powered WV legislators will ever pass legislation to make THAT happen. Unless we force them.

We here in West Virginia have all been portrayed as inbred and uneducated buffoons because the multinational corporations want us to be written off. Our beautiful forests and mountains, and our very homes are in an industrial sacrifice zone. Those who live here are being poisoned or starved out due to lack of jobs. Resident and activists Maria Gunnoe and Bo Webb testified before a U.S House subcommittee hearing recently that coal companies were bringing busloads of Mexican workers into the heart of our southern coal patch. It’s not a question of whether they’ll work for less money than we will. The plain fact is undocumented workers are far more expendable, and far less likely to report atrocities than Appalachian-Americans. Plus, when the mine is played out, they can be bused back across the border. In the meantime after local communities are poisoned or starved out, their land is bought for a pittance and their homes and neighborhoods
bulldozed to oblivion. Eliminating property-owners eliminates potential whistle blowers when the mine site and surrounding environment (including the water table) goes through the “reclamation” process.

There are alternatives to allowing the wanton destruction of our state. We can get politically active, and support only candidates with a platform that will protect you and yours. Stop voting straight-ticket D and straight ticket R and start supporting third-party alternatives. And for God’s sake stop voting for the “lesser of two evils” when all both major parties have been offering are two sides of the same filthy coal company scrip!

You could do as most of West Virginia’s registered voters do most of the time and boycott politics entirely. And that’s fine, just so long as you understand that the act of not voting has always been a vote for the status quo. The sad turnout at our elections is clear evidence of how effective the corporate media is at alienating and confusing potential voters. Their strategy is to get all but the wealthiest voters to simply hunker down and accept the idea of being nothing more than collateral damage, and to never question the integrity of our political system.

If you get a chance, read Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid And Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia by Allen H. Loughry and you’ll begin to understand how and why the Citizen’s United decision changed very little in how West Virginia is run.

BTW Originally a registered Democrat, Loughry is currently running as a Republican candidate in the 2012 election for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. He changed parties when West Virginia’s Democratic Party essentially threw him out for revealing too much. Needless to say, WV’s Republican Party doesn’t seem too thrilled that a truth-teller is running in their party, either.

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Blame Democratic Party Hijackers Not the People of WVA Shocking Exposé by Charlotte Pritt

The following is a full and complete Op-Ed piece exactly as it was sent to me before it went to the editors of the Charleston Newspapers. In an obvious attempt to “bury the lead,” the Gazette editorial staff watered down her original title (above) to Charlotte Pritt: A few to blame for Judd’s 41 percent.

“Burying the lead” is a device which has been used by coal-powered media across Appalachia for years to suppress news that doesn’t suit its purpose (like preserving the corrupted two-party system dominance in WV so it can keep cashing in through those overly expensive malevolent campaign ads.)

Gazette editors apparently also redacted many key facts, including Pritt’s mention of former Governor Joe Manchin’s controversial affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful secretive organization that’s rapidly grown to become what many believe is an Americanized  Fifth Reich.

For twisting her words, Statehouse Beat reporter Phil Kabler and his his editors at the Charleston Gazette both owe a public apology to author Pritt, who happens to be the former Democratic gubernatorial nominee, former state senator, former delegate and former member of the state Democratic Executive Committee, so she knows more than a thing or two about Democratic politics in the Mountain State. HOWEVER Pritt shouldn’t hold her breath because, as I demonstrate below her article, the Gazette’s editorial board has apparently also been hijacked.

Blame Democratic Party Hijackers Not the People of WV -Charlotte Pritt

The misrepresentation of my perspective in Phil Kabler’s piece: “How did Judd get 41% of vote?” must be addressed because it implies that I blame Republicans for the incident and I don’t. I agree with GOP Chairman Mike Stuart, the Young Republicans and Betty Ireland, the Democratic Chair Larry Puccio and Natalie Tennant should have taken action like the 13 other Secretaries of State that kept Judd off the ballot. Although I relayed the speculation that some people felt that Karl Rove-types were bankrolling the Keith Judd incident, I made it very clear that my outrage was with the right wing “corporatist” of the democratic party who have hijacked the Democratic Party in WV. The Karl Rove part belonged to someone else, but I did say that it takes organization to carry 10 counties. Carrying a county doesn’t just spontaneously happen. Since I had talked with both Jim Haught and Paul Nyden May 9, before I had talked with Phil Kabler, they can corroborate that my outrage was with Republicrats Senator Joe Manchin and his appointed Chair of the Democratic Party Larry Puccio, whom I feel are responsible for the incident for the following reasons:

Inaction by the Democratic Party Chair and Anti-Obama comments before the May 9 election by WV’s highest ranking Democrat Officials: Senator Joe Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Like Boone County Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Ann Zickefoose, I also “wondered why the Democratic Party of the Secretary of State hadn’t done more to avoid the embarrassment of Judd on the ballot.” My first call May 9 was to the Secretary of State’s office to be told that they had alerted the Democratic Party Headquarters of Judd’s filing early on so that they could take action. My second call on May 9 was to Democratic Headquarters to find out why they were caught sleeping at the wheel. When I asked what the party had done in response to the call from the Secretary of State’s office they said “they asked the Secretary of State not to allow the filing.” When asked if they had filed a lawsuit or if they had sent out press releases to alert the public, the answer was no. When asked if there was any paper trail of anything that they had done to alert the public they said no. In effect they had done nothing. When I asked for the name of Obama’s contact person in the state, I was told that she (they couldn’t remember her name) had been in the state for a couple of weeks before the election and they thought she was someplace in the northern part of the state but they didn’t have her number!

The Pre-Primary timing of the anti-Obama comments by Senator Joe Manchin (coal broker) and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (heavily backed by coal companies) which stated that they didn’t know if they were going to vote for Obama shortly before the election set the stage for what happened in the 10 counties (which were either 100% or 98% counties controlled by extractive multinational coal, timber or gas and oil).

When I researched “Joe Manchin’s connection to ALEC, I discovered that ALEC is funded by the Koch brothers and other multinational corporations. ALEC was described as “basically a right-wing Republican organization….but there are a few reactionary Democrats who have been involved…maybe 1%” Joe Manchin was the first on the list of Congressional Democrats with ALEC ties.
Joe Manchin’s support of Republican candidates against democrats is legendary in the WV among people in the know. Since 1996 when Joe started democrats for Underwood and successfully helped the Republican candidate win, the democratic party has been continually raided with right wing candidates. The traditional values of the democratic party of choice, environment, worker’s rights have not been represented by the democratic candidates since Joe Manchin ran for governor and appointed Larry Puccio chair. The democratic party leadership under Joe in WV is similar to a mini-ALEC in that “real democrat” candidates like Virginia Graf, who ran against twelve year incumbent Republican Shelly Moore Capito, Arch Moore’s daughter and a Joe Manchin family close friend, received no support from the democratic party.

Senator Joe Manchin’s comments on Fox news referring to ”President George W. Bush as my President” while becoming bolder and bolder in his anti-Obama comments have added fuel to the coal company and multinational industries who have continued an all-out war on Obama in West Virigina since the beginning of Obama’s presidency.

I am an unashamed liberal Democrat and the only person to ever defeat right-wing conservative Joe Manchin, even while he outspent me two to one. When people of West Virginia have access to the truth (through the media) or their own experience, they will make choices that reflect their interest. Unfortunately, when they live in a state controlled by multinationals, when they are fed misinformation, have no candidate reflecting their interests, battle with triggered voting machines and other irregularities at the polling site, they give up in dismay, especially if they think that there is no one expressing their reality or defending their cause. The Democratic Party leadership, Manchin and Puccio, left unchecked by Secretary Tennant, has failed us.

Betty Ireland is Right: Natalie Tennant’s Excuses don’t measure up

I agree with Betty Ireland and the Secretaries of 16 other states who successfully kept Keith Judd off the ballot. The same federal law that Natalie said superseded state law applied to the other states. Keith Judd has had to sue the Secretaries of State in other states to get on the ballot. Judd’s filed 22 cases in 17 states, PLUS 41 additional circuit court cases in 19 different circuits for a total of 63 court filings! I haven’t yet found 1 where he was ultimately successful, including in WV. the ballot. If you want to check the research, go to

http://dockets.justia.com/search?query=Keith+Russell+Judd&noscat=5

Even though Judd seems to have consistently run as a democrat, Republican Secretaries of the State in several other states protected the people of their state from the embarrassment that WV experienced. Republican Secretary of State in Louisiana court document filed this year February 20, 2012 Case: 11-30920 states on page 2 “This appeal is without arguable merit. It is dismissed as frivolous. Judd has a history of vexatious and frivolous litigation in this court and many other courts.” So Natalie could have refused to let Keith Judd on the ballot using the same tactics as Secretaries of numerous other states and forced him to sue to get on the ballot.

The right wing hijackers of the Democratic party, Senator Joe Manchin and his appointed chair of the Democratic party Larry Puccio, have shown by their affiliation to “the corporate party” of ALEC and multinational companies controlling the state, by their comments against Obama and their continued lack of support for democrats with traditional values and by their inexcusable inaction are responsible for this embarrassing incident with Keith Judd. The embarrassment West Virginia and all of her citizens have had to endure since the May 9 election could have been prevented if Natalie, Puccio and Joe had not rolled over and played dead or in Joe’s and Earl Ray’s case added fuel to the fire.

        -Charlotte Pritt

To add insult to injury the Gazette published Who’s behind the Judd campaign? to back up Kabler’s original deception. In it the reporter weakly attempted to answer his own question through a long-winded explanation about how Judd purportedly sold a commercial property worth $170,000 back in July 14, 2007. Although that explanation may account for how Judd raised the $2500.00 filing fee, it doesn’t explain how an out-of-state inmate managed to carry ten (10!) West Virginia counties without spending any more cash and without any boost from his Party.

By exposing the fact that the WV Democratic Party didn’t raise a ruckus about an out-of-state inmate running on the Democratic ticket here, and that our current Secretary of State (D-ManchinTool) didn’t challenge Judd despite knowing that he was in federal prison, Ms. Pritt  gave a bleak picture of not just a hijacked political party, but West Virginia’s overwhelmingly dominant party.

Unfortunately Pritt’s exposé does not satisfy other relevant issues.

I want to know why Kabler, an experienced statehouse reporter, so readily swallowed Tennant’s lame explanation as to why she didn’t challenge Judd in court, particularly after all those other states had successfully kept the felon off their ballot -for years. I want to know where Judd really got his $2,500 filing fee, since he’s on record as having filed numerous lawsuits against various Secretaries of States, and in each one qualified to file as a pauper both before and after the sale of his $170,000 property.

And I really would like to know how a jailed non-resident received all those votes in a state where virtually nobody knew him and without spending any cash other than his filing fee?

In our rural state it has historically taken a concerted grassroots effort for resident candidates to win even a single county outside their own. Pritt knows this quite well, yet somehow Kabler seemed completely oblivious to the mystery.

Perhaps the most incisive question is just why would the Gazette pay Kabler to be its statehouse reporter yet never expect him to push for who ordered Tennant to roll over and let that stumblebum make a laughing stock out of our state?

Additional commentary by Cesco Estep..

UPDATE: In an obvious move to further deceive the public, the Gazette has removed Pritt’s rebuttal from public access online while leaving Kabler’s misleading articles easily accessible at their original links.  

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Former WV Governor Joe Manchin Could Still Be Facing Charges Over His Retail Government Policy

There still may be an outside chance that justice may be rendered on behalf of the victims of the explosion at Upper Big Branch. WVANEWS reported Monday, April 2, 2012, that the investigation of Manchin is still open regarding Manchin’s use of Massey’s corporate jet due to the explosion at Massey’s UBB mine at Montcoal, WV.

Manchin’s plane trip in and of itself is small potatoes. Hopefully to those investigating him it will indicate the former WV governor’s “cozy” relationship with the owner of a mine where 29 men lost their lives just because governor Manchin personally had ordered his own state regulators to not shut down that operation over obvious and repeated safety violations. But you don’t have to take my word for it because you can hear Manchin indict himself on the following short youtube presentation below:

Upon hearing Manchin’s incredible statement on that video, I personally checked out the pre-edited version at this link, and sure enough, prior to the explosion, and after 12 miners died at Sago, WV, Manchin personally admitted to instructing “his people” to go easy on fines and to not shut coal operations down when they saw repeated violations!

Of course Manchin could never have predicted the dire result of his cozy “Retail Government” policy while he was pandering to his fellow “Friends of Coal”, even though the 12 who died at Sago during another blast prior to his pandering did so also while he was running WV. Should we all forgive him for a temporary lapse of judgement and endorse him for his next run for office, as did the WV Chamber of Commerce, the Charleston Gazette, the WV Chamber of Commerce and the United Mine Workers of America?

In his report, former MSHA-head J. Davitt McAteer, the head of Manchin’s own Independent Investigation into the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster officially (and quite bravely) branded the inability of the state of West Virginia (while under governor Manchin) to protect the lives of miners as “a political failure – a failure by the state’s government to nurture and support strict safety standards for coal miners. But McAteer didn’t stop there, he went on to say, “If miners’ lives are to be safeguarded, the cozy relationship between high-ranking government officials and the coal industry must change, as must the relationship between the enforcement agency and the industry it regulates”.

That 120-page report may be found at this link To easily check my quote within the context it was originally used, you can download that report and in the pdf search engine apply the searchword: cozy
. That will take you straight to McAteer’s scathing indictment of Manchin’s role in the deaths of those men, especially in light of my own full report which may still be found at this link.

Not included in my earlier report was why Davitt McAteer raised hell about Tomblin’s lame attempt to cover up Manchin’s role when their cadre of cowards at the statehouse passed a so-called “mine safety bill”. If you’d like to review Ken Ward’s coverage of McAteer’s courageous public pronouncements, take a gander at this link

Ken Hechler, a true WV statesman, literally wrote the book on mine safety. Besides drafting the original bill, in his book “The Fight for Coal Mine Health and Safety: A Documented History,” Hechler addressed the political struggle that was waged to pass his landmark 1969 legislation. Hechler has since been quoted stating unequivocally that “If the 1969 law had been enforced, those miners would have been saved.” All of the government and independent reports subsequent to the explosion at Upper Big Branch have agreed with my friend Ken on that point.

There can be little doubt that Joe Manchin implemented his lethal Retail Government policy to benefit his rich and powerful coal industry pals. Reflecting only on the results of that policy, UMW president Cecil Roberts and the UMW tagged it as “Industrial Homicide“. Considering the fact that more miners died while on Manchin’s watch than any others since 1969 (after Hechler’s mine safety bill was implemented), Senator “Retail Government” now appears to have blood on his hands.

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Cheney Gets Heart: No Word Yet When Other Republican Leaders Will Get One

by Pat LaMarche

Originally Posted: 03/25/2012 8:15 pm over at the Huffington Post

Dick Cheney has once again beaten the odds. He’s one of very few heart transplant recipients over the age of seventy. And he’ll need his luck to continue because older patients don’t do as well post-surgery as younger folks do. It’d be a real shame if he got to use this heart even less than he used his last one.

Timing is everything. And the irony of Cheney’s heart transplant — missing the 10 year anniversary of the Iraq War by only a few days — should remind us of the hearts stopped by his “shock and awe” policy in that country. An undisputed architect of the War in Iraq, he and the other hawks of the George W. Bush administration presided over the senseless killing of tens of thousands of innocents who did the U.S. no harm.

The New York Times reports that the Cheney family is grateful to the donor as well as the doctors and staff at George Washington University Hospital. Cheney and his family are no doubt appreciative that his life was saved regardless of his limited odds and advanced years. How fortunate for them that the decision was made to give him that donor’s heart.

And though the former vice president can easily afford the million dollar commitment he has made to keep the donor heart beating in his chest, you can’t help but wonder if all this sacrifice and expense to save his one life can jump start any sort of epiphany for Cheney or his colleagues when it comes to wasting the lives of others.

And if thinking about the death toll in Iraq is just too overwhelming or you are still wrestling with the notion that war is hell and those deaths are somehow justified — then take a minute and think about the lives lost in the United States because of the Cheney-like policies put forth by he and his Republican successors.

Harvard University conducted a study in 2009 which stated that 45,000 of Cheney’s fellow Americans die each year from a lack of health insurance. And the 2010 U.S. Census says that the number of people lacking health insurance is on the rise indicating that Harvard’s next study will show the number of deaths going up too.

Imagine if it were 45,000 Dick Cheney’s that were dead. In fact, in nearly every case, the only difference between Cheney and all those dead uninsured people is that what they had wrong with them would have been a lot less expensive — not to mention a lot easier — to cure. Oh, and they weren’t millionaires.

Cheney’s original ticker’s been on the fritz since 1978 when he had his first heart attack. He’s had every manner of medical intervention to keep him alive from by-pass surgery to artificial pumps – and now someone else’s beating heart. The accumulated expense of keeping Cheney around all these years while his policies have cost the lives of so many illustrates better than any othe-r example the misplaced role money plays in the U.S. healthcare system. And — quite frankly – it also proves exactly how heartless those policies and their supporters are. If there’s enough money to give Cheney the care he needs, there should be enough to give necessary procedures and medicines to every American.

As the 2012 presidential race drags on — with the unending arguments over prescription drug coverage for women or the pros and cons of mandatory insurance — it becomes excruciatingly clear that the Republican leadership has no intention of treating one common U.S. citizen’s life as though it were worthy of saving.

Of course President Obama’s Affordable Care Act proves that the Democrats have enough heart to save more U.S. lives, but that they lack the guts to save them all. See, the argument that Americans pay more for health care than anyone else in the world even though they don’t live as long as folks in nations with universal health care never got heard over the louder voices of the for-profit insurance industry. Alas, the Republicans aren’t the only ones needing an organ transplant. The Democrats need the stomach to fight for the American people.

Lastly, and frighteningly, rumors swirl around the blogosphere that the pre-transplant Cheney supported U.S. military involvement in Iran. Let’s hope that if that’s true, his new heart tells him otherwise.

Former Green Party vice presidential candidate Pat LaMarche lives in the upper Appalachian region (Maine) where she’s a radio broadcaster on The Pulse Morning Show which can be heard weekdays from 6 to 10 am at this link.

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INDELIBLE –

The Art Emporium will feature the creative photographic works of T. Paige Dalporto in a show titled “Indelible,” on Monday. The opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The slide show is of the photographs in INDELIBLE which I have taken since 2007 around Fayette County, West Virginia mostly on Gauley Mountain. They owe a lot to the physicality, the mountains, of this area of West Virginia five miles from my home. They are a celebration of these mountains, nature, life, and really do speak to me: “This life is worth preserving. At all costs.”

TPaige’s Kickstart blog may be found at this link.

The Art Emporium, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 823 Quarrier St., Charleston; www.artemporium.net or 304-345-2787.

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What we don’t know could hurt us worse

I’ll say one thing about today’s politicians: They have given whole new meaning to the term “stimulus package.”

Democrat or Republican, gay or straight, our public leaders seem to have a proclivity for unseemly and costly behavior. And when I think of the shenanigans they’re pulling and the lies they are telling their families, I do wonder how so many powerful public figures can be simultaneously so self-absorbed and so astonishingly stupid.

And as for these same leaders appropriately handling our public trust and our financial issues, it comes as little surprise that our representatives think the best way to fix a problem is to throw money at it. It is, after all, the single best way to get the attention of an Argentinean beauty or a high-priced New York call girl.

Remember Eliot Spitzer and the paper trail he left on the money he spent? That paper trail is how they caught him hiring his very expensive consorts. New invasive measures passed through the Patriot Act created a legal form of spying on our banking business done here in the United States, even though that business involves U.S. citizens. So the Big Brother department of the federal government monitored Spitzer’s ATM transactions. I’m sure I don’t know much about the $5,000 sex trade, but the government watching our everyday private financial dealings is what I find obscene. Still, you would expect that a former New York governor and New York state attorney general — whose business it was to know what legal traps exist — would have known better.

As for the most recently exposed dimwit in office, we can easily read every word of his sappy juvenile Harlequin-esque love letters. Jeepers, it’s hard to tell which is a worse way to get caught — the feds following the money trail until they find that a famous powerful man can have sex with beautiful, sexually skilled women, but only if they pay large sums of money for it, or a local newspapers reprinting your lovesick, star-crossed testimonies to marital infidelity.

But really stupid, arrogant men desiring sexual gratification and adoring lovers is not as amazing to me as the fact that the press has such an easy time accessing the documentation to prove their foolhardy philandering. That easy press access coupled with an unhealthy congressional preoccupation with private sexual exploits — a la the Clinton impeachment trial — makes me wonder what type of really bad things must be going on in the offices that the media can’t access and Congress lacks the courage to investigate.

You know, like the offices of the big coal companies.

While you know all about the stain on Monica Lewinsky’s dress and her dalliances in the Oval Office, you know absolutely nothing about the conversations between President Obama and top coal executives who met with him earlier this month, even though they, too, rendezvoused in the Oval Office.

And while no law enforcement officials hassled the reporters and photographers covering the Lewinsky, Spitzer or Sanford affairs, both a reporter and a photographer covering a mountaintop removal coal-mining protest were arrested, their equipment was ceased and they have now been charged with trespassing as well as conspiracy.

Conspiracy? Conspiracy to do what? Inform the American people about the exploits of companies that manipulate our elected officials and plunder our natural resources?

Now you can argue that blowing those mountains sky high in order to easily access the coal inside is the prerogative of private ownership. But one could make the same argument about former President Clinton’s private parts. For some reason the press and Congress think we have the right to supervise Clinton’s little treasures but not the majesty of an entire mountain range. And the same protections given to Newsweek when they collected evidence in the Clinton-Lewinsky affair were not afforded to Paul Corbit Brown and Kurt Mann when they covered the protests at Massey Energy Mine.

We know a little bit about the coal companies and President Obama. The president campaigned against mountaintop removal. He has since entertained coal executives privately at the White House. And he no longer opposes it. If the media wants a story about unfaithful men, they should cover this one.

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.

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Chrismas Bailout Hearing

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This is what democracy looked like on K street today!

Busloads of protestors from all across the U.S. including West Virginia jam D.C. to focus on Crony Capitalism!

Today, thousands of 99 Percenters marched on K Street in Washington, D.C. as part of the “Take Back The Capitol” action which was aimed directly at the lobbying firms that corporate interests use to influence the federal government.

In case the corporate media pretends it doesn’t know why these Americans decided to take their anger out on K Street, a report recently released by Public Campaign reveals how crucial it is for Americans to reclaim our democracy by directly battling the special interests of mega corporations. Public Campaign’s research exposes thirty giant corporations which spent more money lobbying our lawmakers than they spent in taxes. For example, one of the top 10 most profitable companies in the world — General Electric — got a net tax rebate of $4.7 billion from 2008 to 2010. Which is a whoppin return on the $84 million it spent lobbying the federal government during that same period.

The full list of the 30 corporations and what they paid in federal taxes as opposed to lobbying is available at this link.

For on-the-ground live observations check out the twitter log at this link

The following is provided courtesy of the SEIU Blog at this link and OccupyCharlestonWV.org at this link
3:10 PM Eastern – Wednesday, December 7, 2011
“We Are The 99%!” March on K Street (Live Blog)
By Kate Thomas

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Day 3 of Take Back The Capitol kicked off with lots of rain….but nothing can put out this fire!

Remember–even if you can’t be in DC with us this week, you can still make an impact.

Send Congress a message here and we’ll deliver it for you.

LIVE UPDATES as the actions unfold below. You can also stay in the know via hashtag #99indc.

UPDATE, 3:00 PM: 99er’s in DC have mostly headed back to the People’s Camp near the National Mall.

During today’s #99InDC action on K Street, 11 people were arrested; 8 men and 3 women. The group was primarily made of unemployed 99er’s and clergy.

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PHOTOS: Check out many more great action shots from today on Flickr here.

1:45 PM: Marching on New York Street now.

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1:28 PM: Protesters now marching East on K Street.

1:20 PM: Arrests taking place. Exact number TBD. More details to come shortly.

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Captured one clergy member being arrested below:

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1:10 PM: BREAKING: DCPD warns 99er’s to clear K Street.

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12:49 PM: No amount of rain can faze those battered by the storm of economic injustice & corporate greed (h/t @IWJ)

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A long view of K Street:

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12:28 PM: Video of K Street scene.

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12:27 PM: Actions at 15th & K Street.

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12:18 PM: Breaking: Activists shut down 16th and K St.

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From 2008 to 2010, 30 Fortune 500 companies spent more on lobbyists than they paid in taxes. Can you think of a better reason to shut down K Street than that?

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12:13 PM: Letting K Street know we’re here loud & clear.

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12:05 PM: One of the last stops on the way to K Street: building w/ General Electric (GE) lobbyists.

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12:00 PM: Crowd breaks into “The people, united, will never be defeated!”

11:57 AM: Outside Verizon offices protesting corporate greed on 13th and I Street, chanting “Shame on Verizon!”

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11:47 AM: Swarming Wells Fargo on 13th Street.

Chanting “banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”

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11:31 AM: Thousands surge down the street, chanting “We Are The 99%! We Are The 99%!)

Watch a live stream of the actions happening at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/iwilloccupy.

11:21 AM: Activists break off into 4 marching lines and begin to converge on K Street.

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11:11 AM: Walking from natl mall to downtown

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11:00 AM: Thousands of enthused 99er’s gather on the People’s Mall before marching to confront lobbyists on K Street.

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10:00 AM: Bringing the People’s Mic to K Street lobbyists:

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Lobbyists, beware! The 99 percent is marching to K Street today with mud on our boots & democracy in our hearts.

About Service Employees International Union:

SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. Focused on uniting workers in three sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide

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