Capito caters to coal

Someone needs to remind Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) that that the biggest blow to the mining industry occurred before President Obama was born (“West Virginia candidates feud over coal, economy in debate,” Oct. 7). In 1951, the leaders of the United Mine Workers of America and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association lifted their opposition to the mechanization of the mining industry. In 1940, West Virginia employed 135,457 miners. In 1968 it was 41,573 and today it’s 22,786. The job losses over the last 50 years are dwarfed by job losses during an era when neither the president nor Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) existed. 

The president also has never cut black lung benefits. Republicans allowed sequestration to make automatic cuts to the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Capito has yet to support Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D.W.Va.) new bill to address the backlog of 14,000 black lung cases. She also doesn’t support the Healthy Employee Loss Prevention (HELP) Act, proposed by another state representative to protect coal workers who lose their jobs. The longer coal-corrupted electeds like Capito wait to help workers find new jobs, the harder life will be for miners in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the country. People are dying in West Virginia coal mines and Capito is angry at the White House for “killing” jobs.

In 2012, the Treasury Department estimated that eliminating three tax breaks for coal would save $2.6 billion between 2013 and 2022. Why can’t these funds be used to promote workforce retraining and clean energy? Because Rep. Capito makes her money catering to coal companies. The EPA’s limit on carbon dioxide for existing sources is the only way to make states like West Virginia consider energy alternatives, specifically energy sources that don’t kill people every year.

From Russell Zerbo, Clean Air Council, advocacy coordinator, Philadelphia

Women in Iraq, Syria need our help

The Oct. 3 opinion piece by Tala Haikal on The Hill’s Congress Blog (“ISIS and Sexual Slavery”) exposes the terrors perpetrated on women and girls in Iraq and Syria.

In addition to raising awareness and working to stop these horrendous acts, donor nations, particularly the United States, have a responsibility to help these women.

President Obama stated recently at the United Nations General Assembly, “Mothers, sisters, daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon of war.”

At the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), we are committed to seeing Obama follow up his concern with executive action that allows post-rape care, including safe abortions, for women who become pregnant. 

The shocking events in Haikal’s op-ed lead us to one conclusion: immediate help for these women and girls is paramount. That help must include comprehensive healthcare and access to safe, voluntary abortion services. The United States should take the lead, and the president should use his executive authority to direct our government to help.

These women deserve no less.

From Serra Sippel, president, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), Washington, D.C.

Don’t delay move from strip to chip

It’s a sad testament to the dismal state of urgency surrounding cybersecurity initiatives that our legislators are not expected to address the thorny issue until next year, as The Hill points out (“Lawmakers push cyber law after JPMorgan hack” Oct. 3).

If the recent breaches at Home Depot, Michael’s and Target were insufficient to raise hackles, one would surmise that the attack on JPMorgan Chase would at least shake some sense into our government leaders. 

Lately, it appears that the odds are not in any consumer’s favor in the United States. As larger household brands routinely come under attack, the risk of being victimized is greater than ever. 

One key measure that needs to be adopted — when our legislators get around to it — is establishing mandatory deadlines for our financial institutions to transition from the traditional magnetic striped credit cards to chip-and-signature (or PIN) technology.

For half a century, U.S. consumers have been accustomed to swiping and signing when making credit card purchases. But the U.S. is the last major market in the world to embrace this transition, and while some companies have recently shifted to the new chips, it’s been a snail’s pace process.

As other markets revolutionized their systems, criminals continue to set their sights on the U.S. because of our weakened technology. Our financial institutions have an obligation to embark on a comprehensive public education campaign to ensure a smooth transition, and to avoid further delays. Our government leaders need to wield stiff penalties against those institutions that don’t adopt stringent measures to not only prevent such attacks but to properly notify the public if their data is compromised.

This is a war being fought at the ATM, the gas pump and at every retailer large and small, at the intersection of street crime and tech crime. The transition to chip-and-signature boils down to cold cash and common sense.

From Warner Johnston, head of ACCA USA, New York

Tags Jay Rockefeller Shelley Moore Capito

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