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Whistleblower: EPA Didn’t Follow Normal Procedures In East Palestine

An EPA whistleblower has stepped forward, saying the Environmental Protection Agency deviated from normal procedures when testing for chemical contamination after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. On Feb. 6, 2023, officials in East Palestine, Ohio, vented and burned five tank cars full of vinyl chloride after a Norfolk Southern train derailed near the town. Three days later, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the all-clear for evacuated residents to return to the area. Immediately, people in the area began complaining of sickness and rashes. “I undressed to get into the shower, and I had a rash all over the side of my face on both sides and all over my chest,” said resident Katlyn Schwarzwaelder.

Carrying On Kent State’s Legacy Of Antiwar Organizing

If you grew up in Ohio, one of the first things that comes to mind when you hear “Kent State” is the saying “Kent Read, Kent Write, Kent State.” If you grew up outside of Ohio, the first thing you think of when hearing “Kent State” is the shootings on May 4, 1970. And if you were present for the protest on May 4, 2024, you heard, “Kent Read, Kent Write, Kent stop funding genocide.” As graduate students (one local, the other out of state), we grew up with different perceptions of Kent State. What united us is the decision to pursue our graduate studies at Kent State due to its long history of activism and the School of Peace and Conflict Studies — founded as a “living memorial” to the students who died on May 4, 1970.

A New Coalition Demands Healthcare And Justice For East Palestine

This Saturday, March 23, unionists and labor leaders, environmental justice groups, community organizers, community members from other “sacrifice zones,” and supporters from around the country are coming to East Palestine to join residents as part of the newly formed Justice for East Palestine Residents and Workers coalition. The coalition has come together in recent months and mobilized around the core objective of pressuring President Biden to invoke the Stafford Act and issue a major disaster declaration for East Palestine.

The Koch Network Is Killing Rail Safety

One year after a toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, inspired bipartisan legislation that would have made the nation’s railways safer for everyone, the bill has been all but killed — largely thanks to a familiar conservative foe: the Koch network. Koch Industries, the parent company of various petrochemical subsidiaries run for decades by Charles Koch and his now-deceased brother David, spent nearly $8 million in the past year lobbying on the legislation and other issues, as well as donated $1.4 million to Republican lawmakers who helped stall the legislation. The effort was part of nearly $200 million the conglomerate has spent in the past decade to persuade lawmakers and regulators to block railway safety legislation and other measures — including reforms that could have helped avoid the East Palestine disaster.

Is East Palestine Safe One Year After The Ohio Train Derailment?

If there hadn’t been construction planned for the bridge that crosses over Leslie Run, one of the creeks that runs through the middle of East Palestine, Ohio, Rick Tsai and Randy DeHaven might not have noticed the worst contamination they’d seen in the creek in weeks. A backhoe had hoisted a chunk of earth from the bank of the creek, leaving a pool about eight feet across and deep enough to come up to the knees of Tsai’s rubber fishing waders. What it also left, in Tsai’s words, was an opportunity for a sort of “geological sample” — evidence that oil and chemicals still lingered in the soil and in the creeks six months after a catastrophic derailment.

Public Ownership Of Rail Is On The Agenda

Nearly one year ago, on the night of February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Videos of the smoke and fire released by the nearly two-mile-long train went viral, and residents in the community reported severe health effects. The rail disaster triggered an outcry: Why did this happen, and what can any of us do about it? Soon, there were articles detailing the alarming state into which the country’s railroads have fallen: accidents are up, and oversight is hard to come by. Plus, there is a severe squeeze on rail workers, many of whom lack sick days of any kind and are effectively always on call.

University Suspends Student Group For Supporting Palestine

The student group of Central Ohio Revolutionary Socialists (CORS) has been suspended by Ohio State University. They were notified of the suspension following an event they did on campus entitled “Intifada, Revolution, and the Path for a Free Palestine.” The OSU administration sent a letter December 13 alleging that CORS’ “activities pose a significant risk of substantial harm to the safety or security of your organization’s members, other members of the university community or to university property.” How a meeting to discuss the struggle against a genocidal war by the Zionist state of Israel creates “significant risk of substantial harm” is anyone’s guess.

Activists Protest Jail Deaths, Demand ‘Care Not Cages’

Cleveland, Ohio - Four people have died inside Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Jail in 2023 — Nathan Myers in July, Elving Lopez in September, Freddie Tackett in October and most recently Rogelio Cubano on Nov. 16. Myers and Cubano were still in their mid-20s. Lopez was supporting a two-year-old daughter and Tackett had five children and three grandchildren. Myers reportedly suffered a drug overdose, and the other three supposedly died after experiencing a “medical emergency.” However, the Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition issued a statement after Tackett’s death raising the possibility of foul play, calling for an investigation.

Will The Clean Energy Auto Economy Be Built In Factories With Safety Hazards?

Thirty-year-old Rick Savage was among the first workers hired at Ultium Cells’ 2.8-million-square-foot battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, in April 2022. ​“I heard about the battery plant and how it was going to be technologically superior to all other manufacturing companies,” Savage remembers thinking. ​“The future of the automotive industry is going to be electric.” Ultium Cells was a high-profile joint venture between U.S. automaker General Motors and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution. The Lordstown plant — billed as the largest battery plant of its kind anywhere in the country — was predicted to cost some $2.3 billion and generate more than 1,100 new jobs.

Revitalized Union Power Helped Crush Attempts To Rig The System In Ohio

It is said that history is written by the winners. But when it comes to big wins by organized labor, the corporate news media, itself fighting unionization at all costs, tends to ignore unions even when they are shaping history. Missing from much of the coverage about Ohio voters’ rejection of the Republican legislature’s attempt to raise the threshold for voter approval needed to amend the state constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent — was the central role organized labor played in mobilizing and helping to defeat the scheme. In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the Republican legislature pushed through some of the nation’s most draconian restrictions on abortion.

Corporate Cash Derails Train Safety Bill

The company that manufactured the toxic chemicals that were released and incinerated in the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment this winter gave $2 million to the primary Senate GOP super PAC as bipartisan rail safety legislation stalled in Congress. The manufacturer, Occidental Petroleum, has been lobbying on rail and tank car safety, and its lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council — which also donated $250,000 to the main House GOP super PAC — had pushed for changes weakening the bill in committee. The railroad legislation, introduced in the immediate aftermath of the East Palestine disaster, was once seen as the first real shot at imposing new regulations on the railroad industry in years.

Doctors Emerge As Political Force In Battle Over Abortion Laws

In her eight years as a pediatrician, Dr. Lauren Beene had always stayed out of politics. What happened at the Statehouse had little to do with the children she treated in her Cleveland practice. But after the Supreme Court struck down abortion protections, that all changed. The first Monday after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling was emotional. Beene fielded a call from the mother of a 13-year-old patient. The mother was worried her child might need birth control in case she was the victim of a sexual assault. Beene also talked to a 16-year-old patient unsure about whether to continue her pregnancy. Time wasn’t on her side, Beene told the girl.

Activists Rally For East Palestine Residents To Get Free Health Care

Joy Marie Mann was not expecting a large crowd Friday night, but she was heartened that some of her close friends and fellow activists traveled from across the country to meet ahead of a health care rally in Ohio. "They're just very passionate people who are just very caring and support nationally improved 'Medicare for All' and believe in human rights," said Marie Mann, a health care activist from Harrisburg. In between interviews, speeches and a short candlelight vigil, Mann and the other activists at Schenley Park spoke to each other about their plans to attend a "Medicare for All" rally in Lisbon, Ohio.

What Ohio’s Co-Op Evangelists Learned From Spain’s Union Co-Op Network

For his 91st birthday three years ago, Bob Moore, the namesake behind the ubiquitous Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods brand, surprised his employees during a celebration of his 91st birthday. He unveiled an Employee Stock Ownership Plan that, as of April that year, turned his roughly 600 employees into co-op owners of a company that generated more than $50 million in annual sales in 2018. While Bob’s Red Mill might be one of the most high-profile examples of an employee-owned business in the U.S., it’s far from the only one—especially in Ohio. For more than a decade, Co-op Cincy has been working to both create new cooperatively-owned businesses and help current businesses transition to co-op models across the greater Cincinnati area.

Six Weeks In, Stock Dwindles At Struck Ohio Battery Plant

Four hundred auto workers have been on strike at vehicle battery manufacturer Clarios since May 8, rejecting two tentative agreements that fell short of their demands. “We’re not asking for the moon, we just want it to be a good place to work,” said Andrew Hoertz, a machine operator, citing the company’s decision to cut the piece rates—the incentives workers get paid per battery produced. The company has pulled out all the stops to prevent any hit to battery production, from stockpiling batteries to weaken workers’ leverage at the negotiating table to shifting production out of this plant, which is near Toledo, Ohio.
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