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There are more than a few Yonder readers with a thing for coal, coal miners and coal communities. For them, we can recommend a new site, Coal Tattoo. It’s written by Ken Ward, Jr., a reporter for the Charleston Gazette.

Coal Tattoo is the quickest place to catch up on coal news. Sen. Robert Byrd met with some Obama Administration folks about coal policy, we see. There are reports on the causes of some recent deaths of mine workers. And Ward keeps up day-to-day on the incredible story taking place on Coal River Mountain, where protesters are trying to stop a giant mountaintop removal project. Activists in Southern West Virginia say the mountain is uniquely suited for wind turbines and that this possibility would be destroyed by mining. Last week, they blocked mining equipment (above), leading to their arrest by the state police.

Coal Tattoo is the name of a song written by Billy Ed Wheeler (also author of Coward of the County and The Rev. Mr. Black)  Coal Tattoo was written in the early 1960s when a group of miners in Eastern Kentucky went on strike against both the coal operators AND the United Mine Workers. The UMW, at the time, was colluding with the industry and had agreed to strip workers of their health care insurance. Ken has a YouTube of Kathy Mattea singing Coal Tattoo on the site right now.

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