May 04, 2010

A reality check

The Upper Big Branch mine disaster and related issues have weighed heavily on my mind for the last few weeks and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

In the wake of the disaster, many people, rightly, have wondered why agencies like MSHA aren't more aggressive about shutting down production at dangerous mines.

The reality, at least until this disaster, was that the coal industry and its supporters have pretty much perfected the art of the hissy fit and they have been really good at getting political leaders to fall in line.

My guess is that the reaction to a preventive shutdown by MSHA would have been about the same as what happens when a mining permit is delayed or denied: an all-hands-on-deck order would be sent out to denounce the Obama administration's "war on coal." Everybody who was anybody (or who wanted to be anybody) would have joined in.

WHILE WE'RE AT IT, here's an interesting take on the history of the Upper Big Branch mine from Vanity Fair.

YOU DON'T NEED A WEATHERIZATION MAN to know which way the wind blows. You can just read this op-ed by Paul Miller and yours truly instead.

UNEMPLOYMENT for African-American men is at 20.2 percent, more than double that for whites.

MONKEY LOVE. In the event you've ever wondered whether male chimps use tools to attract females, click here.


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