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Daniel Gilbert won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories he did for the newspaper in Bristol, Virginia. He is donating $10,000 in prize money to help other rural journalists get the kind of training that made his stories possible. 

Gilbert is giving his prize money to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which is setting up a fund to help train rural reporters in using computers to parse data, which is what Gilbert did when he found that a fund set up to receive oil and gas royalty payments was not working. (See the stories here.) 

Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University of Kentucky, will be in charge of connecting rural journalists to Gilbert’s donation.

• Several thousand people gathered in Washington, D.C. (above), Monday to urge the Obama Administration to end mountaintop removal coal mining. As readers of the Yonder know, in MTR mining, the tops of mountains are pushed down into valleys (and streams) below as the coal is uncovered. The protestors moved on to the White House later in the day, where over 100 were arrested.

What strikes us about this protest is how long this fight against coal strip mining — and MTR is just the latest form of strip mining — has been going on. We received our September 1 edition of The Mountain Eagle in the mail. The Eagle is in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and has covered coal strip mining for decades. We turned to “The Way We Were” column, which pulls stories from earlier editions of The Eagle. Here is what was going on in Appalachian Kentucky on September 1, 1960:

“Petitions are being circulated in Letcher County this week asking Gov. Bert Combs to call the Kentucky Legislature into special session to prohibit strip coal mining in the Kentucky mountains. Raymond Rash of Cromona, a retired coal miner who owns a 38-acre farm threatened by strip mining, has taken the lead in efforts to see that something is done before his and others’ property is damaged or destroyed.”

Three generations later and the protests continue.

• Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, has been railing about the Pigford settlement, the federal government’s agreement with black farmers who claim the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against them. The U.S. agreed to pay farmers $2.3 billion.

“There is a growing firestorm over the allegations of massive fraud in the Pigford settlements,” King said in a press released. DTN’s Chris Clayton examines this claim and finds a “red herring.” 

“After all, other that Rep. King, (my congressman), and a couple of incredibly off-the-wall bloggers, I don’t see a whole lot of firestorm about the legitimacy of funding the Pigford settlement,” Clayton finds.

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