Utah Mine Disaster Shows Flaws in Federal Oversight

Despite over two and a half weeks of rescue efforts, six coal miners still remain trapped in Utah in a tragedy that has also claimed the lives of three rescuers. The dangerous conditions apparent at the mine, as well as the treacherous rescue plan, call into question the quality of federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) procedures. MSHA approved the mine operation plan in June, just months after serious structural problems forced the operators to abandon work in an area that was only 900 feet from where the miners are trapped. 

Promoting Affordable Housing through State Policy

The effects of the sub-prime lending disaster are still being felt as the stock market has been rocked in recent weeks and many families find themselves locked out of the mortgage market.  As we highlighted in the past, the subprime mortgage market was largely aimed at economically-strapped families trying to find some way to afford homes.  For low-income renters who never had the money to even be in the game, rising rents have increasingly priced them out of their homes. 

Overcoming Racial Discrimination

Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin.  The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:

KY: Progressive Blogger Goes to Court Over Censorship

Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher picked the wrong blogger to fight with. host Mark Nickolas has filed a federal lawsuit against Fletcher and other state officials for arbitrarily censoring blogs following criticism of Fletcher and his administration's deeply held commitment to corruption.

Defining Down Decent Health Care

Some politicians have a simple way to deal with the challenge of providing health care to the uninsured: cut the funding for those currently receiving care and deliver half-rate care to more people. West Virgina and Kentucky legislatures both voted recently to cut benefits for existing Medicaid recipients, taking advantage of a new federal law that allows states to selectively cut benefits for different populations.

IN: Rushed Social Services Privatization Condemned

In Indiana, critics are condemning a rushed $1 billion privatization of the states' social services work -- despite the fact that the companies bidding on the contract have mismanaged similar contracts in other states and, more tellingly, no one even bothered to determine whether the companies could do the job cheaper than current state employees:

KY: Voters Want Fletcher to Resign Amid Scandal

A majority of Kentucky voters are calling for the resignation of Governor Ernie Fletcher, who was recently indicted -- yet another elected official caught up in the culture of corruption. (Hat tip -- Chris Kromm at Facing South)

KY: Governor Ernie Fletcher Indicted

The culture of corruption runs deep in many statehouses. Kentucky's Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) has been indicted for conspiracy, official misconduct, and political discrimination.

New Latino Voters May Change Political Map

"Today we march, tomorrow we vote!" - the chant at the recent immigration rights rallies -- may translate into a changed electoral landscape in many states across the country.

Blocking Attacks on Workers' Rights

Efforts to advance an anti-labor agenda died in recent weeks in both Indiana and Kentucky when workers and their allies in statehouses rallied opposition to the proposals. So-called 'right-to-work' legislation was brought up in both states. In Indiana, legislative leadership had indicated they wouldn't bring it up for a vote, but a representative moved it as an amendment. Hard work led to an overwhelming defeat of the measure 65-31. Union leaders who helped lead the victory said that number overstates their support. Once legislators realized that they were going to lose and look bad, many of them switched their votes to the winning side.