Donald Blankenship was the most powerful coal mogul in America, but he could soon be indicted, thanks to 14 years of work by two Pittsburgh lawyers. By Lawrence Leamer.
In February former Massey Energy executive David Hughart stood in a courtroom in Beckley, West Virginia and pleaded guilty to obstructing the work of federal safety inspectors. Massey’s chairman and CEO Donald Blankenship, the most powerful coal baron in the history of the American coal industry, ran the company with an iron fist in an iron glove. He had control over even the smallest detail and most likely would have told his subordinate what to do. Despite that, if events transpired the way they almost always have in the history of coal and power in Appalachia, Blankenship would not be touched or his name even mentioned in the criminal proceedings.
West Virginia State Police direct traffic at the entrance to Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Coal Mine in Montcoal, W.Va. after 29 miners were killed in an explosion in April 2010. (Jeff Gentner/AP)
And then an extraordinary thing happened. Judge Irene Berger asked Hughart who had ordered him to give miners advance word of inspectors. "The chief executive officer," Hughart replied.
In Bangladesh Friday, rescuers pulled a living woman from the rubble of a factory that had collapsed 17 days earlier. From the Chilean miners to ‘Baby Jessica,’ The Daily Beast rounds up more miraculous rescues.
Bangladesh Building Collapse - 2013
With more than 1,000 people dead, the eight-story garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh is an almost unparalleled tragedy. But Friday, 17 days after the disaster, a miracle emerged from the rubble. As onlookers cheered, workers pulled a survivor from the wreckage. Identified only as “Reshma,” the woman is in good condition after reportedly surviving on little more than water and dried fruit.
The death of the civil rights leader’s grandson marks the third generation in which the family has lost a member violently. Journalist and activist Herb Boyd, who first met Malcolm X in 1958, on the latest tragedy.
Since the first reports that Malcolm Shabazz had been killed, there has been a series of confusing accounts, and there are sure to be more as his death is investigated.
Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of political activist Malcolm X, leaves Family Court in Yonkers, N.Y., after a detention hearing on July 29, 1999. (Stephen Chernin/AP)
The latest reports from Talking Points Memo confirms the State Department’s report that a U.S. citizen was killed in Mexico on Thursday. While the State Department did not disclose the victim’s name, noted activist Terrie Williams, a close associate of the Shabazz family, told the Amsterdam News it was Shabazz who was killed.
Despite granting waivers to allow minorities to maintain their religious dress while serving, military policy still keeps most of them out. But the successes of the waivers have proved that ending the discrimination will give us stronger, more diverse armed forces.
The rash of hate crimes following the Boston Marathon bombings reminds us of the major challenges religious minorities face in this country. Last week a taxi passenger in Northern Virginia verbally and physically attacked his driver for being “a fucking Muslim.” The victim, Mohamed Salim, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq and currently serves as an Army Reservist, was left with a fractured jaw. This week in California, an 81-year-old Sikh man was brutally assaulted with a steel pipe in a suspected hate crime, from which he suffered a fractured jaw, punctured lung, and head injuries.
While the police investigate whether or not to charge the attackers with hate crimes, politicians and community leaders continue to explore ways to minimize hate-biased violence and facilitate the integration of diverse communities in modern America. The U.S. military has an opportunity to contribute in this regard by opening its doors to various religious minorities, many of whom remain marginalized.
The ‘end of journalism as we know it?’ The media’s hysteria over the bogeyman billionaires’ interest in buying Tribune Co. reflects our heretical politics.
When billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett forked over $142 million to purchase 63 newspapers last year, most other newspapers didn’t take much notice. Buffett’s decision seemed backward-looking but deserving of praise: to us journalists, anyone rich and reckless enough to assume the cost of operating a newspaper in this grim media environment was worth celebrating.
Traffic passes in front of the Los Angeles Times building on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005, in Los Angeles. (Reed Saxon/AP)
But absent from the scattered coverage of the Buffett mega-purchase was the usual finger-wagging and moralizing about media concentration and the potential dangers of a politically engaged owner interfering in his newspapers’ political coverage. Odd because Buffett is a political guy. He hosts fundraisers for President Obama, pens opinion pieces for The New York Times advocating a more progressive tax code (the so-called Buffett Rule, which the administration adopted in 2011), and pops up on Sunday political chat shows to expound on gridlocked Washington.
After 10 years in Cleveland’s house of horrors, the oldest kidnapping victim is finally free. Now all she has to do is get back to her family.
Loud cheers greeted Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus as they arrived at their homes Wednesday afternoon, almost one decade after they were abducted, subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse, and apparently bound with ropes and chains, in the Cleveland house of horrors.
Michelle Knight, seen here as a teenager in an undated photo, disappeared in 2002. (Knight family)
The happy homecoming came on the same day that 52-year-old Ariel Castro was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape, and police officers pulled out more than 200 items of evidence from Ariel Castro’s home on Seymour Avenue.
The alleged Cleveland kidnapper’s brothers are friendly drunks with no apparent jobs or girlfriends. They lived with their Jehovah’s Witness mom. And now they’re pariahs.
Of Cleveland’s three Castro brothers, it was the middle one, Ariel, 52, who seemed to have his life in order.
Neighbors describe the other siblings—Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50—as kind and polite but nearly always drunk. No one could remember how they earned a living. Ariel, on the other hand, who was charged Wednesday with the rape and kidnapping of three women he allegedly held hostage in his home for nearly a decade, worked a day job for 20 years as a schoolbus driver until he was fired in November. While his brothers got around town on bicycles, Ariel owned a motorcycle and cars, including a Jeep Cherokee and a red Toyota pickup. He had at one time filled in on bass in a local band, Grupo Fuego. He didn’t drink nearly as prolifically as his two siblings did.
From left: Onil Castro, Ariel Castro, and Pedro Castro. Ariel Castro, suspected of keeping three women captive inside his decrepit house for a decade, was charged May 8 with kidnapping and rape. (AP)
First reporters hounded them for interviews. Now the mother and father of the Tsarnaev brothers have been kicked out of Chechnya by its president.
The message to the parents of the Boston bombing suspects was clear and unmistakable: “pack and go.”
Anzor Tsarnaev, father of the suspected Boston bombers, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, speaks with journalists as a mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva (R) looks at him during a news conference in Makhachkala on April 25, 2013. (Sergei Rasulov/AFP/Getty)
And soon after the phone call from the Chechen authorities Tuesday, a car carrying government officials arrived to accompany the couple out of the republic.
See the best TV moments of Charles Ramsey.
We first met Charles Ramsey, the hero who rescued three Cleveland women from close to a decade of captivity, in this amazing interview. His plain white T-shirt counterbalanced his colorful personality, and Ramsey’s intensity and wit shone through as he described his decisive actions. But first, he mentioned his meal at McDonald’s. Delicious.
The interview made him an Internet celebrity. Before long, “Charles Ramsey” was trending on Twitter, YouTubers were paying him Auto-Tuned homage, and Antoine Dodson was welcoming him into the pantheon of hilariously expressive local TV interview subjects.
(Here’s the requisite Gregory Brothers auto-tune:)
Is an uptick in military sex assault just due to our hookup culture? That’s what an Air Force general said on Capitol Hill Tuesday, testimony Senator Gillibrand tells Eleanor Clift is ‘outrageous.’
If it was possible to make a bad situation worse, that’s what Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh managed to do at a Senate hearing Tuesday morning when he blamed an increase in sexual assault in the military on the “hookup” culture prevalent among young people. Welsh said 20 percent of female recruits report being assaulted before they joined the military. “They come in from a society where this occurs,” he said.
The Senate Armed Services Committee hears from top officials of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, right, and Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, left, during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 7, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/Getty)
Not only did Welsh’s remark seem to place blame on the victim, it also revealed a tendency to view sexual assault in the most benign way, as a date gone bad or a breakdown in communications rather than a violent act. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the first woman to chair the personnel subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, told The Daily Beast it was “outrageous testimony” that showed a fundamental misunderstanding about the violent nature of sexual assault. The senator is introducing a bill next week to take felony crimes out of the chain of command so that rape victims will feel more able to report violent assault without fearing repercussions from officers up the line.
In his immigration bill, Marco Rubio introduced a clause stipulating that immigrants become fully proficient in English before becoming American citizens. I guess he didn't realize that there are plenty of homegrown Americans who still haven't quite gotten the hang of it...
Obama’s appointment of Clifford Sloan to head the Office of Guantánamo Closure has many hoping the president finally means business. Miranda Green on whether Gitmo’s days are numbered.