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Actress Ashley Judd, a long time opponent of mountain top removal, has found an ally in American journalist Chris Hedges.

In his newest book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” Hedges talks not only about slavery that is taking place in Florida today, but also about the Sacrifice Zones such as the Appalachian Mountains where coal mining is taking place.

In researching material for the book Hedges spent some time in the coal camps. What he saw there, he said in a CBC interview, was terrifying. Like Judd, he flew over the scape. “[Mining companies] are destroying the Appalachian Mountains,” he said. “You can’t get a sense of the scope and scale of the destruction until you see it from the air. Hundreds of thousands of acres. These are the lungs of the eastern seaboard, the headwaters of the eastern seaboard, blasted into a wasteland. The coal companies don’t want to dig down for the coal and so they blow the top 400 feet off of mountains.”

Judd was equally shocked by what she saw: “Nothing could have prepared me for the sheer trauma of seeing mountaintop removal coal mining sites. Where once were ancient, verdant hills, or the most biodiverse forests in the whole of North America, I saw nothingness.”

“The ecological and environmental effects are catastrophic,” said Hedges. “You have whole towns where everyone has had their gallbladder removed because the water is toxic, it stinks, cancer is an epidemic, the despair, people are just broken.”

And yet it remains unseen. Hodges says it goes unreported because the commercial airwaves in the United States have been seized by corporate forces in whose own best interest provide entertainment and gossip instead.

Meanwhile, he says, the US is being reconfigured into a form of neo-feudalism. The sacrifice zones have gone first and now the assault is on the middle class workers who lost their jobs in the 2008 economic crash and were hired back at salaries at 40-50% less and without benefits or job protection.

“There are no impediments left to corporate capitalism. The capacity of the corporations to commodify everything, the natural world, human beings, means that they can in essence exploit both the environment and human capital until exhaustion or collapse, and that’s why the environmental crisis is intimately twinned with the economic crisis. They’re the same forces.”

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