LEXINGTON, Ky.: Miners march for health care, pensions

“There is something wrong in America when 40 million Americans lack health care, millions of children are living in poverty, 3 million good paying manufacturing jobs have left the country and management can screw up companies like Horizon Natural Resources and then walk away from their obligations for providing health care and pensions to employees and beneficiaries,” United Mine Workers of America union President Cecil Roberts thundered before 800 miners and their families marching on the bankruptcy court here. Horizon Natural Resources is the nation’s fourth largest coal corporations.

“It is not just Horizon but the entire system that is bankrupt!” Roberts continued. “The question I pose, is not why the United Mine Workers are marching. The question is why isn’t everyone in America marching?”

Miners rallied and marched June 30 to save their health care and pensions from the bankruptcy court ax. With one stoke of the pen, bankruptcy Judge William Howard can destroy hard-earned and hard-won benefits to 1,000 active coal miners and 2,300 retired miners.

“All they want to do is cut, cut, cut,” protestor Johnny Viars, a miner at Horizon subsidiary Starfire Mining, said. “We’ve had all the cuts we can take.”

Mining coal is not getting any safer. Since June, four miners have been killed at work bringing this year’s total to 14. On May11, 200 miners demanded increased safety enforcement by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration in Hueytown, Ala.

CHARLESTON, W.Va.: Bush, Cheney meet triple protest whammy

More than 1,500 people celebrated the Mountain State’s independence, July 4, in three rallies demonstrating against Bush campaigning in Charleston and Cheney in Wheeling. Speakers at the rallies vowed to deliver the state’s five electoral votes to the Democrats in November. Bush won the state in 2000 by 41,000 votes.

Charleston hosted two rallies. Hundreds of signs reading “Hail to the Thief” and “President Bush: al Qaeda’s Top Recruiter” greeted the presidential motorcade. There were also many “John Kerry for President” signs.

Scores demonstrated against Vice President Dick Cheney’s Wheeling visit. His bus had started in Parma, Ohio, and swung through Pennsylvania into West Virginia.

Two men were arrested in Wheeling for wearing dump Bush/Cheney T-shirts outside the cordoned off protest area. Both men were working in Wheeling for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), addressing recent flood damage.

HOUSTON: Community leader jailed for helping police

Community leader Quanell X, 33, was arrested on June 11 after working with police to facilitate the surrender of a shooting suspect.

Quanell X attempted to drive Derrick Forney, 24, to Houston police. Forney was suspected of shooting a police officer and wanted to surrender but was scared for his life. Quanell X agreed to drive him to jail and accompany him inside. Quanell X has a track record of assisting more than 20 people to surrender safely to Houston police.

Police, however, surrounded Quanell X’s vehicle and arrested both men on the spot. Quanell X said he thought the police were going to escort him to the station.

During the June 11 surrender, Quanell X was in cell phone contact with Executive Assistant Police Chief Chuck McClelland. “I did tell Quanell that I was going to attempt to contact the officers and see what was going on,” McClelland testified.

“I don’t know if I used the word ‘escort,’” McClelland said, but said he may have told Quanell X he’d provide “some assistance” in getting to the police station.

The police video showed Quanell X driving at a normal speed with his hazard lights blinking. He came to a stop after two police cars pulled in front of him.

But Judge Brock Thomas ruled on June 28 that police had probable cause. Prosecutors plan to take Quanell X’s case before the grand jury for indictment for evading arrest.

The Houston community is rallying behind Quanell X. Over 300 rallied at the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, which drew Muslim, Christian and Jewish clergy to support the activist.

“He tried to do the right thing,” Quanell X’s attorney Robert James told the crowd. “Those people … will look into their hearts to see nothing happened there.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Paul Hill of Houston, Texas, contributed to this week’s clips.

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