|"Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed--and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors..." - Ecclesiastes 4:1|
By Bob Weaver
A year has gone by since 29 West Virginia miners died at Upper Big Branch Mine.
Tuesday, memorial services paid tribute to them and platitudes were expressed by those in charge.
A new lawsuit has just been filed on behalf of Roosevelt Lynch, one of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster victims, claiming that some of the seven miners who were coming out of the mine last April were alive in the moments after the explosion.
The suit alleges that the lone surviving miner tried to put breathing devices on them to save their lives.
The suit claims two Massey Energy officials came upon the man trip as they were running into the mine.
It contends they were asked to help, but did not.
The two men are among the 16 Massey Officials who have now taken the 5th amendment, declining to comment.
With most mining disasters, politicians have always proclaimed a new era of accountability with new safety measures, while weeping tears of grief about the demise of heroic WV coal miners.
Most of the new group of candidates for WV governor are in the pocket of coal, including Earl Ray Tomblin, who wasted no time organizing a rally in support of mountaintop removal.
Sen. Robert C. Byrd's final bill to tightened the cat and mouse game played by the coal outfits, regulators and politicians, died quickly in Congress.
Massey, one of the nation's biggest offenders of environmental and safety regulations, has attempted to say the Upper Big Branch disaster was caused by external forces - an act of God.
They further went on the offensive saying regulators were trying to make a name for themselves.
Most recently, regulators have charged Massey employees with lying and destroying records related to the death of the 29 miners.
Even the regulators, under the Obama administration, have declined to issue expensive fines for violations.
Coal remains king, and smoke and mirrors is the name of the game.
That could bring some real tears.
And West Virginia is stuck with an industry that sucks billions from its ground, being left behind with the highest rate of poverty in America.
The history is clear, the stories told in Denise Giardina's books "The Unquiet Earth" and "Storming Heaven," and more recently in John O'Brien's Pulitizer-nominated book "At Home in the Heart of Appalachia."
A message of power and greed has long rolled across the mountains, and those who want change, have often been destroyed.
It is "learning your place," the impoverishment of oppression, being held hostage to a few thousand remaining jobs.
The poorest counties in West Virginia is where the greatest extraction of natural resources occurs.
The coal, oil, gas and timber barons of the 20th century and most of our political leaders have helped maintain the poverty.
With succeeding administrations in Charleston, their advantage has been how the last administration has been at fault.
John McFerrin, a Beckley lawyer, asked "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but loose his soul? What does it profit a state to loose its soul to be in 49th place?"
Hopefully, there are handfuls of people, even when demonized, who bear witness to the human condition and the justice people deserve.
The lessons of corporate greed are obviously ignored in Washington - the US financial industry, its corrosive relationship with politicians, academics and regulators, and the trillions of damage done to the American people (ie economic collapse), with not a single person being sent to prison for the offenses.
Overcoming oppression surely does not come from southern WV preachers, who comfort the sufferers but rarely speak out against the greed and behavior of King Coal and their political allies. They too are in the pocket.
Patience is a companion to wisdom, and the former is in great supply in the Mountain State.
Surely the oppression of those who live in our mighty mountains might be overcome with the help of the Great Spirit, who, after all, is really in charge.
See related stories
MASSEY - Oppression Done Under The Sun, Let The Blame Begin
MASSEY CHIEF SAYS REGULATORS WANT PUBLICITY - Manchin's New Standards Not Followed
MASSEY SHIFTING BIG BRANCH DISASTER TO 'ACT OF GOD'
MASSEY HAS WORST FATALITY-SAFETY RECORD IN USA
MASSEY FOREMEN NOT CERTIFIED TO DO SAFETY CHECKS AT UPPER BIG BRANCH
HOOPLA OVER NEW MINE SAFETY DIES QUICKLY IN WASHINGTON - Promises To Victim's Families Forgotten, Massey Can Continue Gaming System
MASSEY SECURITY CHIEF CHARGED WITH LYING, DESTROYING FILES - Upper Big Branch Disaster Killed 29