Many miners have been killed in a coal mine disaster in Montcoal, West Virginia. This is in a coal mine run by Massey Energy that has recorded many safety violations.
(Above—The mine in the Massey Energy disaster.)
(Update–4/8/10, 9:40 AM EDT —A West Virginia TV station has the latest from the mine.)
25 miners are known to be dead and four more are thought to be dead.
“The mine owner’s dismal safety record, along with several recent evacuations of the mine, left federal officials and miners suggesting that Monday’s explosion might have been preventable…In the past two months, miners had been evacuated three times from the Upper Big Branch because of dangerously high methane levels, according to two miners who asked for anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. Representative Nick J. Rahall II, a Democrat whose district includes the mine, said he had received similar reports from miners about recent evacuations at the mine, which as recently as last month was fined at least three times for ventilation problems, according to federal records…The Massey Energy Company, the biggest coal mining business in central Appalachia and the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine, has drawn sharp scrutiny and fines from regulators over its safety and environmental record. In 2008, one of its subsidiaries paid what federal prosecutors called the largest settlement in the history of the coal industry after pleading guilty to safety violations that contributed to the deaths of two miners in a fire in one of its mines.”
The worst coal mining disaster ever in the United States also took place in West Virginia. in 1907, 362 miners died in Monongah, West Virginia in a disaster causes by a cave-in, an explosion and the build-up of toxic gases.
Below is from the account of the Monongah disaster that I link to above. It is from information prepared by Boise State University about a number of historical disasters—
“Thirteen days after the accident, an official Federal government report on mining accidents and deaths was released. On December 19th The New York Times reported that the government document said the number of accidents due to mining explosions had steadily increased and the cause of these accidents were often caused by of “lack of proper and enforceable mine regulations.” Another contributing factor was the absence of information on the explosives used in mining and the proper conditions under which they should be used. In comparison to the increase in mining accidents in the United States, European mining accidents had steadily decreased and this was considered the result of government intervention in these countries.”
How long will it go on that miners die in unsafe mines?
Here is the web home of the United Mine Workers of America. The mine in this tragedy, the Upper Big Branch Mine, is not a union mine.
Here is a history of the United Mine Workers. They have done good work over the years to make coal mines safer places to work.
Coal mine deaths take place all over the world. The Voice of America has written about stepped-up investigation of mines in China after a recent mine disaster in that country.
Some make the point that the human cost of coal mining is another reason to move to different sources of energy. The blogger Kathleen Davis, who writes the blog Eye On The Grid, draws an analogy between the dangers of coal mining and diamonds that extracted from mines in unethical and unsafe ways.
This said, the jobs of people who work in mines are important. If alternative sources of energy are to be used, miners should be helped by government to transition into new jobs. It is is easy to see how a miner in West Virginia or Kentucky might wonder where he or she will find work that pays the money they are currently making.
Here is web site called Roger’s World–Coal Mining. Roger is a person who grew up in a coal mining camp in Kentucky and offers some perspective from the miner’s view.
In any case, one thing is certain–-Federal regulations are needed to make sure that workplaces are safe. You can never count on an industry to regulate itself.
Here are some facts on how coal mining is conducted from the Kentucky Geological Survey.
The Financial Times reports that some South Africans are brutalizing and running off immigrants from troubled Zimbabwe.
From the story (Here is the full article)—
Isaac Moyo fled to South Africa from his impoverished and repressive homeland Zimbabwe six years ago. He has carved out a new life as a painter in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra, enabling him, like many other Zimbabwean exiles in South Africa, to send home much-needed money to keep his family going.
But on Monday night his new, more hopeful, life came to an abrupt end when a mob of machete-wielding South Africans yelling xenophobic slogans smashed down the door of his shack and forced him and his three brothers to run for their lives. Clutching a small mirror and a bucket of old clothes, all he could grab with him as he fled, he is now camping at the local police station and planning to return to an uncertain future in Zimbabwe
“We were preparing food [on Monday evening]. Then we started hearing guns and shouts of people celebrating they’d been chasing foreigners back to Zimbabwe,” he said. “They came to our house. They took everything, our bicycles, sewing machines, blankets, saying: ‘You didn’t get this from [President Robert] Mugabe. This is our property.
“They were shouting: ‘Go back to Zimbabwe. We don’t want to see you here. You’re taking our jobs’
I read this while eating lunch today. I just shook my head. You’d figure longtime victims of Apartheid would know better than to harass and attack people.
But the truth of the matter is that down-and-out people and victimized people possess no inherent nobility.
We saw this in economically messed-up West Virginia this week where many Democratic primary voters openly cited race as a factor in their votes.
Everybody counts in this world. Yet this does not mean we have to romanticize people or patronize people with the idea that suffering brings some sort of wisdom or dignity.
I think sometimes liberals are guilty of this.
People of all kinds are good and people of all kinds are lousy.
Texas Liberal Live Blogging Of Super Tuesday Is Up & Running—(And Now That The Day Is Done, It Is Still Worth Reading!)
Huckabee Wins W.V.—-6:00 PM
Mike Huckabee got his Super Tuesday started right by winning the West Virgina Republican convention. He takes all 18 delegates from West Virginia.
What a shock that Republicans have winner take all primaries and conventions!
West Virginia was one the most Democratic states until George W. Bush won it in 2000 and 2004. It seems 71% of West Virginians live in a gun-owning household. I wonder if gun ownership entitles those folks to health insurance?
John Kennedy’s 1960 primary win in West Virgina over Hubert Humphrey proved a Catholic could win an overwhelmingly Protestant state.
Obama Takes Georgia—6:00 PM
Barack Obama has been called as the winner of the Georgia Democratic primary.
Georgia is 29% black. This means the Democratic electorate in Georgia has many blacks.
President Bush won Georgia with 58% in 2004. That means Georgia whites vote strongly Republican.
If Mr. Obama is nominated, by how much will Southern black turnout increase? Will Southern whites be open to a black candidate? CNN says Mr. Obama won 40% of the white vote in Georgia. But a Democratic primary is different from a General Election.
Wrong To Bribe Voters, But Okay To Give Them Alcohol—6:15 PM
Today I was reading America’s Three Regimes—A New Political History by Morton Keller.
Here is what this book says about 18th Century Southern elections—
“…there was much treating of voters to drinks on Election Day—”swilling the planters with bumbo”—just as in English towns. But there appears to have been little overt vote buying of the sort common in 18th century English parliamentary elections.”
Seems like progress. I would not refuse a drink at the polls.
McCain Best In Connecticut—7:00 PM
John McCain has won Connecticut.
Mr. McCain had the endorsement of Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman. Mr. Liberman’s endorsement might help Mr. McCain with so-called “Independent” voters in November. It seems less clear this endorsement will help with the more conservative voters Mr. McCain is struggling to win.
Unlike G.W.H Bush In 1980, Romney & Obama Win Home States—7:17 PM
Mitt Romney has won his home state of Massachusetts and Barack Obama has won his home state of Illinois.
It’s reassuring to win your home state
The first George Bush lost his home state of Texas to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Texas Republican primary. The margin was 51–47%.
Hillary Clinton Projected In Oklahoma–Oklahoma 2nd Best State For Socialist Eugene Debs In 1912—7:25 PM
Hillary Clinton is the projected winner in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is one state Democrats will be avoiding in the general election campaign. President Bush won the Sooner State 60-38 in 2000 and 66-34 in 2004.
Oklahoma voters were not always so misguided. The great Socialist Eugene V. Debs won 16.4% of the Oklahoma vote for President in 1912. Nevada was the best Debs’ state that year. His national total was 6%.
I have faith in the people of Oklahoma and I know they will wake up someday soon.
McCain Winner In Tiny Delaware—He Could Be A Threat In Some Northeastern & Middle Atlantic States—7:50 PM
John McCain has won Delaware. This goes with wins already tonight in Connecticut and New Jersey. All three of these Atlantic seaboard states have voted for Democrats for President in recent elections.
If there is any Republican who could make a run at these places next fall it would be Mr. McCain.
Delaware was the only state to vote for the winner in every Presidential election between 1952 and 1996. In 2000 and 2004 Democrats carried Delaware.
Italy Moves Towards Elections—Rest Of The World Continues To Exist– 8:15PM
The center left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi has lost its governing majority and an election seems likely within the next two months. Regretfully, conservative Silvio Berlusconi may return yet again as Prime Minister. Based on the last few Italian elections, it will be close.
No matter how focused we are on ourselves, the rest of the world still exists.
Obama Is Alabama Winner–2nd Black Man To Win That Primary— 8:35 PM
Between 1932 and 1944, Franklin Roosevelt won at least 81% of the vote in the one-party Solid South state of Alabama.
In 1948, after Harry Truman desegregated the army, Strom Thurmond, running on a States Rights ticket, won 80% of the vote.
Now Barack Obama has won the Alabama Democratic primary. He is in fact the second black man to do so. Jesse Jackson won it in 1988.
Obama Winner In Kansas—Governor There Possible VP, But She Most Likely Could Not Deliver Her State—9:24PM
Senator Obama has won Kansas. That state’s governor, Kathleen Sebelius, has been out working for Mr. Obama and has been mentioned as a possible running mate. But Kansas is so Republican that I don’t think she deliver Kansas on Election Day.
That would be just as John Edwards did not help in North Carolina in 2004, or Lloyd Bentsen did not help Democrats in Texas in 1988.
With the Electoral College map so tight, a potential running mate needs to be able to put a state in play. Kansas is not such a state for Democrats.
Romney says losing is “fun and exciting.”—9:38PM
Well, he did say ”fun and exciting” and he was referencing the campaign—But I am paraphrasing to a degree. Romney said he is going to stay in the race past tonight.
Governor Romney’s father, former Governor George Romney of Michigan, won exactly 3,830 Republican primary votes when he ran for President in 1968. So there is at least one threshold the son has surpassed.
Obama First In Minnesota Caucus—I Think Paul Wellstone Would Have Been Pleased—10:09 PM
I can’t know for a fact, but I think the great liberal Paul Wellstone of Minnesota would have taken to the campaign of Senator Obama. Here is the link to Wellstone Action! They do a lot of good work for the liberal and progressive side of the debate.
McCain Makes Lousy Surrender Comment—10:30 PM
I had the misfortune of watching Senator McCain on CNN today. He was saying that Democrats who favored a times withdrawal from Iraq were advocating “surrender.”
What does “surrender”mean here? Does Senator McCain think that Democrats advocate American troops in Iraq turning over their weapons to the militants and asking for mercy? That’s what surrender is.
Would a real man of honor make such a comment? No Democrat supports any type of surrender.
Huckabee Somewhere Between George W. Bush and Pat Robertson–11:00 PM
Mike Huckabee has won Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia and Alabama this evening. He says he is in the race to stay.
Governor Huckabee has the string support of Evangelical Christians. Evangelicals played a large role in the nomination of George W. Bush in 2000. But Bush also had the support of low-tax conservatives and the Republican establishment. Governor Huckabee is no George Bush.
On the other hand, he is more of a candidate than was Pat Robertson in 1988. Mr. Robertson never won a primary and as a “message candidate” won only 9% of primary voters. Running the same year on the other side, Jesse Jackson won 29% of Democratic primary voters.
So Mr. Huckabee is more than Pat Robertson was in 1988–Though that will not be nearly enough.
McCain in California And Missouri– Can Schwarzenegger Make McCain Viable In California This Fall? 11:36 PM
All night we’ve been hearing McCain had not made the knock-out punch. Well, it seems to me he at least has everybody else on the ropes pretty good. These two late night wins are most helpful to Mr. McCain.
An even bigger question than who will win the California primary tonight, will be is the more moderate Westerner McCain viable in California in November. You can bet that subject is already on the Republican radar. Just forcing the Democratic nominee to campaign in California this fall will be a Republican victory.
I’m certain McCain supporter Arnold Schwarzenegger is already thinking it out. (While his wife Maria Shriver will no doubt continue her work for Senator Obama.)
Signing Off With Obama’s Alaska Win—The Race Now Moves On Texas, Ohio & Other Points–12:08 AM
Barack Obama is the winner is Alaska.
The race now moves on to Texas, Ohio, and other points.