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In an emerging public relations nightmare for Washington University officials, the sit-in against Peabody Energy ties entered a historic third week, as students continued to press demands after a faltering statement released yesterday by Chancellor Mark Wrighton.

Few people understand the historical impact of coal mining like acclaimed poet Barney Bush in Shawnee hills of southern Illinois. The French, in fact, stumbled on coal outcroppings near the Shawnee in Illinois in the 17th century, launching the first coal industry on the American continent. 

Entering its second week, the inspiring Washington University sit-in against Peabody Energy has already gone beyond its goals to cut school ties with the St. Louis-based coal giant, and forced the rest of the nation to ask themselves an urgent question in an age of climate change and reckless strip mining ruin: Which side are you on?

While coal mining families in West Virginia and across the country mourned the fourth anniversary of the tragic Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster last week, hailed by US Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II as "a conspiracy to violate mine safety and health laws," the Illinois state legislature rolled out the red carpet for Big Coal and voted to keep a notorious "coal education program" for schools that has been widely denounced by former coal miners and educators as inaccurate industry propaganda.

Washington D.C., Apr 1 - For the first time, members of Congress today called upon EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to “investigate and address the water contamination” in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Parker County, Texas; and Pavillion, Wyoming. In all three communities, EPA has previously withdrawn investigations into water contamination and stopped providing affected residents with clean drinking water. Eight Representatives, led by Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-17), made the request in a letter to Administrator McCarthy.

What happens when government regulators fail to uphold coal mining laws, in a state of constant violations?

No one knows better than residents in Illinois: Today marks the March 25th anniversary of the tragic Centralia, Illinois coal disaster, when government inaction on a violation-ridden coal mine led to an explosion that needlessly took the lives of 111 miners.

UPDATE: Rocky Branch Road Peaceful Blockage Stops Peabody 11:30 am CST

Facing off with the world's largest coal company, which literally sank its first historic mine nearby in 1895, Rocky Branch farmers, residents and supporters fighting to protect their Shawnee Hills community against a violation-ridden and potentially devastating strip mine set up a road blockade this morning.

With mounting violations and administrative errors, will Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan finally intervene in the most controversial strip mine in southern Illinois?

Are you feeling frustrated by the lack of action in Washington on the biggest problems facing the nation, such as economic inequality and climate change? Are you tired of watching a moderate Democratic president stuck in stalemate with Republicans in Congress?

Gov. Jerry Brown faced protests at the state Democratic Party convention Saturday from crowds of progressives opposed to fracking, even as he attempted to make the case that California has led the country on climate change and renewable energy issues.

"The challenge facing California is not just drought today; it's climate change, now and forever," said Brown, as dozens of party activists holding "Another Democrat Against Fracking" signs rushed to the front of the hall and stood in their seats at the Los Angeles Convention Center, yelling their opposition to the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to expand natural gas production.

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Latest News from the Taj Campaign

  • Learned about Taj (letter to the editor)
    Learned about Taj (letter to the editor)

    I was anxious to attend the League of Women Voters Candidate Night because like so many other people in the new 11th District, I knew little about either of the major party candidates. I sat with more than 100 other voters and waited for Kerry Bentivolio to arrive.

    Written on Thursday, 01 November 2012 22:15 Read more...
  • Blue America Preview: Dr. Syed Taj
    Blue America Preview: Dr. Syed Taj

    With the open seat, Dr. Taj has a more than favorable chance to win. His opponent is Kerry Bentivolio, reindeer rancher, failed business owner and part-time actor who has never held elected office. He has strong ties to libertarian financiers and Tea Party activists but has been ostracized by the Republican Party establishment, having taken large donations from Liberty for All Super PAC, affiliated with Ron Paul.

    Written on Sunday, 21 October 2012 12:48 Read more...
  • Syed Taj: Democrat hopes voters will put a doctor in the House
    Syed Taj: Democrat hopes voters will put a doctor in the House

    He may be a Democrat in a largely Republican town, but don't tell that to Canton voters.

    Dr. Syed Taj finished fourth out of six candidates in 2008 to win a seat on Canton's Board of Trustees -- the first Democrat elected to the board in recent memory and the only Democrat on the seven-member board.

    Written on Monday, 15 October 2012 19:17 Read more...
  • Interview with Mark Maynard
    Interview with Mark Maynard

    We also talk economics and tax policy. We can’t just continue to cut our way to prosperity, Taj says. We continue to fire public employees, he says, and that not only impacts quality of life, but it negatively impacts consumer spending.

    Written on Sunday, 14 October 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Syed Taj Says He's "on the radar"
    Syed Taj Says He's "on the radar"

    The sudden resignation of Rep. Thad McCotter led to a tumultuous Republican primary in Michigan's 11th District, but the fallout may also mean a competitive general election for a seat thought until recently to be safely in the GOP column. At least, that's what Syed Taj is counting on.

    Written on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 00:00 Read more...

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