You can help Haiti; the EPA allows the expansion of a West Virginia mine; the Democratic Party sees ideological fights ahead.



As we go to press, there are no accurate counts of casualties from the earthquake that devastated Haiti on Janu- ary 12. President

René Préval

has called the toll “unimaginable” and reported that the Parliament building, schools and hospitals had collapsed. Even before the quake, Haiti had been plagued by natural and man-made disasters–hurricanes, deforestation, HIV/AIDS and IMF-imposed structural adjustment policies that opened the country up to rice-dumping from the United States, which in turn helped create massive food shortages.

We’ll continue to publish more on the crisis in Haiti online and in our next issue, but for now we appeal to readers to donate as much as they can to the following organizations:

Partners In Health

has been in Haiti since the mid-’80s and operates clinics in the Central Plateau and Artibonite regions. With hospitals and a highly trained medical staff in place, PIH is mobilizing resources to bring medical assistance and supplies to areas that have been hardest hit. Immediately after the quake, PIH’s clinical director in Haiti,

Louise Ivers

, sent this desperate appeal for assistance via e-mail: “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS… Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.” You can donate online at

The women’s group


has also worked in Haiti for many years, supporting community-based organizations, and has activated an emergency response through its partner organization,

Zanmi Lasante Clinic

(run by PIH). MADRE’s partners are experts at reaching those in crisis and stretching resources to meet the myriad needs facing Haitian women and families (

Teams from the group

Doctors Without Borders

were already working on medical projects in Haiti and immediately began treating quake victims. Gifts to the group’s new

Haiti Earthquake Response

will help support that emergency medical care (

Despite heavy damage to its offices in Port-au-Prince, the UN relief organization


is coordinating donations of things like blankets, toothpaste, canned food and other staples. Call (800) 4UNICEF or go to for information.


The EPA ushered in the new year with a dark reminder of the coal industry’s sway over the Obama administration. On January 4 the agency approved the

Hobet 45

mine expansion in West Virginia, the largest mountaintop-removal operation in Appalachia. The decision was announced only days before a group of environmental scientists released a long-awaited peer-reviewed study in the journal


denouncing mountaintop-removal mining and calling for a moratorium on new permits.

The Hobet mine has already cleared a swath of land larger than Manhattan and left the nearby

Mud River

ecosystem on the “brink of a major toxic event” from strip-mining discharges, according to testimony in 2008 by a selenium expert. The


attempted to spin its decision as a compromise that would limit environmental damage, but few observers saw the move– which will bury more than three miles of healthy streams beneath toxic mine waste– as anything other than a payoff to the

United Mine Workers

, which is poised to gain hundreds of union jobs.

The administration handed Big Coal another victory on January 8, when the

National Park Service

announced the removal of West Virginia’s

Blair Mountain

from the National Register. Blair Mountain was the site of the largest armed labor insurrection in US history: the 1921 struggle in which thousands of unionized coal miners and World War I vets fought to liberate non- union coal camps from ruthless absentee coal companies. Like the Hobet 45 mine, Blair Mountain is now slated for additional mountaintop-removal operations.

St. Louis-based coal giants




saw their stocks skyrocket the day of the EPA announcement, prompting coalfield residents to wonder whose side the agency is on. According to West Virginia activist and radio broadcaster

Bob Kincaid

, who has led local delegations to Washington to plead their dire case to EPA officials, the administration has only two choices: “side with science and besieged American citizens in Appalachia by ending mountaintop removal now, or choose the toxic, cynical politics of Big Coal and seal Appalachia’s doom.”   JEFF BIGGERS


Much is being made about how Republican primary battles between mainstream conservatives and candidates favored by tea party activists could define the direction of the GOP. But ideological fights are playing out in Democratic primaries as well. One of the most intense of these races is in California’s 36th Congressional District, where veteran progressive activist

Marcy Winograd

is mounting a savvy, well-organized “Jobs, Not Wars” challenge to incumbent

Jane Harman

, a favorite of neoconservatives who backed the Iraq invasion. Harman has championed expanding the war in Afghanistan (although she recently reversed course) and favors “leaving the military option on the table” for an attack on Iran. Add to that Harman’s alliances with Republicans on intelligence, trade and economic issues, and it is no surprise that Winograd, who is backed by

Progressive Democrats of America

(PDA) and the Southern California chapter of

Americans for Democratic Action

, is running on the slogan “A Real Democrat for the People.”

What is surprising is that prominent antiwar House members, including

Congressional Progressive Caucus


Lynn Woolsey

, are not just backing the incumbent but agreeing to headline fundraising events for her. An open letter to Woolsey from longtime allies in PDA urges the Congresswoman to reconsider her choice: “Given your longstanding and exemplary leadership on a wide range of peace and justice issues, it would be counterproductive to aid Rep. Harman’s re-election efforts,” it explains. Recalling the victory of

Donna Edwards

over pro-war Democratic Congressman

Al Wynn

in a 2008 Maryland primary, the letter declares: “The reason that we have Rep. Donna Edwards in the House today as a stalwart advocate for peace and justice is precisely because of her successful primary campaign that unseated a non-progressive Democratic incumbent. Surely such victories are in the interests of all progressives.”   JOHN NICHOLS

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