Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Worse Than The Mine's Cave-In

Cry and pray for these families in West Virginia. Three hours of jubilation dashed.

25 Comments:

At 1/04/2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Yeah, that was about as rough as it can get. I feel most for the permanent impact it might have on the young who thought their fathers were safe.

Of course we shouldn't overlook the owners. They had a very long record of ignoring safety violations and specialized in buying up mines that had their union contracts voided. It is certainly also appropriate to ask why these men are dead in the first place. Why did they loose their union and the ability to have a power to advocate for themselves and their job safety?

The press blunder was terrible and the look we get at the effects of "the full Ayn Rand" is even worse.

 
At 1/04/2006 11:55 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

You'd think the mainstream media would be interested in performing journalism by now.

 
At 1/04/2006 12:16 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

When I read that story, I could help but feel bad for those families. What could be worse than finding out your loved ones were dead after hearing previously that they had survived? I hope the investigators do a fair job in finding out the cause and culpability of this tragedy. People shouldn't just jump to conclusions but I guess that's inevitable. Thanks for contribution, I reprinted most of the entire story.

How do you post a link in the comments section?

 
At 1/04/2006 4:45 PM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Well, let's use THIS perspective.

It's 6 years now, into the twenty-first century, and we're still sending men into mines for COAL.

COAL, for god's sake. The Coal Age is still in existence. We are in dire need to start building safer nuclear power plants. Less pollution - reactors are much more safer than they were thirty years ago.

 
At 1/04/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

...but of course, I also hope the best for the surviving families and I would like to see them get all the coverage that they deserve. My post above reflects a lot of frustration.

We are not moving forth as we should in technology.

God bless those who died in the mine.

 
At 1/04/2006 4:58 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

I have to agree with moving forward with technology. I know that there is supposedly "cleanburning coal technology", but shouldn't we start moving into the 21st-century? Regardless of that though, you really have to feel for the families of the victims and also for all coal miners and their families. Hard to imagine being trapped 2 mi. below the surface. They must have gone through hell before they died.

 
At 1/04/2006 5:07 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

It is so shocking.
Going throgh this horror 2 times and all this joy after learning that 12 miners were alive destroyed ..
Must be 100 times harder to bear.

 
At 1/04/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Living so closely to West Virginia, I may have a special empathy for these coal miners and their families.

In many areas of West Virginia, coal mining is the only available employment. Without the mines, the economy in Appalachia would greatly suffer. Also, working in the mines is a family tradition for many. The 1941 about the coal mines in Wales comes to mind: How Green Was My Valley. A few of my students have read the book on which the movie was based and highly recommend the book as well. I have a special interest in Wales because my mother's family came from that region; they left the coal mines for a better life in America.

My parents hoarded everything ("Might come in sometime"). In the stash here are huge chunks of fireplace coal, saved from the 1950's. This anthracite burns long and hot, but not as cleanly as other fuels. In fact, until the 1960's, many furnaces in Northern Virginia were fueled by coal; I can remember shoveling in the coal and stoking our old coal furnace when I was growing up. We traded our dependency on coal for dependency on oil in the 1960's. The cost of heating and the housekeeping tasks were greatly reduced. But this year, with the cost of heating oil through the roof, my husband and I have the fireplace going--wood and coal. I feel as if we've gone back a century.

Many homes in Appalachia sitll heat with coal.

Of course, there will an investigation as to what happened in Sago, West Virginia; and that particular mining corporation has a history of breaking regulations. But the fact remains that young, and not so young, men and women will continue to go down into those mines. Unions cannot create utopia.

My guess is that these men who died went into the mines the day after a federal holiday so that they could earn their pay for the holiday. Most blue-collar jobs require that one works the day after the holiday, or else forfeit pay for the day off. Most of white-collar America has no clue of the realities which blue-collar workers have to deal with.

 
At 1/04/2006 6:31 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Iran Watch,
Here's how to post a link in the comments section...

less-than symbol, a, space, href, equal sign, double quotes, the URL to which you want to link (I copy and paste from the web page I want the viewer to see), double quotes, greater-than symbol, however you want to title the link, less-than symbol, forward slash, a, greater-than symbol

Don't use any commas.

There's probably a shorter way, but I don't know it! Maybe another commenter will show both of us a shorter way.

I've created this one, which goes to your site, by using the above method. Just takes a bit of practice.

If you don't get the hang of it, send me an email (Click on "View My Complete Profile" in the upper right sidebar) or post a comment ahywhere on my site (I get email notification of all comments posted to my site).

 
At 1/04/2006 8:43 PM, Blogger eyesallaround said...

For some strange reason American liberals don't accept nuclear energy. The breed in France has adapted quite well, getting 80% of their fuel needs met with nuclear power plants. Maybe we can send our liberals over to France to interbred, resulting in a more pro-nuclear liberal.

 
At 1/04/2006 10:39 PM, Blogger Nick said...

Just a horrible way to start the new year. Unfortunately, but not surprising, many on the left are already using this tragedy as a way to attack President Bush.

 
At 1/04/2006 11:30 PM, Blogger samwich said...

This is a difficult comment but the Mine Worker's Union has it's own track record to deal with.

The Clinton US Government is culpable here for a more personnally dangerous mining operation when a less dangerous to extract domestic source is available but blocked from use for the benefit of the Communist Chinese economy.

$2,000,000,000,000
Two Trillion Dollars

How many mining families would relocate to safer working conditions?

The real culprit I see here is the Clinton Government, next in line is the perpetrator of the story of the survivors.

Coal is a poor energy source for electrical generation. Coal fired electrical generation plants must be located in low population density areas, coal must be shipped over long distances using fossil fuel energy, power must be transmitted back over long lines to urban areas.

Oil fired power plants aren't much better.

French Nuclear Power Reactors are well planned and spill contained. They use low level fuel. They are an excellent power source. I just do not see any need for nuclear power. Electrical power is just the Trojan Horse government rode Nuclear Science into the city with. Weapons are the main development.

I am a proponent of wind power. There is plenty here in the US and the power lines are already in place to transmit it. It needs to be produced, run through a battery then an inverter then into the grid. It pays for itself in eleven years.

S

 
At 1/05/2006 5:53 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...

Can we say malfeasence in journalism. This is what happens when professionalism is cast to the side.

 
At 1/05/2006 6:59 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Samwich,
How many mining families would relocate to safer working conditions?

That's a good question. The coal miners in West Virginia and Kentucky are very clannish and take a certain pride in family tradition, i.e., working in the mines, which I've also mentioned as the economic reality for many. Many leave, of course, but I don't see that willingness in the majority of them. Due to the terrain in those two states, there hasn't been much development; contrast that lack of development in those two states with Pennsylvania's steel industry. Many in both Kentucky and West Virginia put meat on the table by hunting deer and bear.

West Virginia has become a tourist attraction due to promotion stemming from John Denver's song "Take Me Home, Country Roads." That promotion was deliberate and calculated by a real-estate developer I knew. Back in the 60's or 70's, the developer helped John Denver to come up with some of the words to the song in a jam session and made a killing in the land market.

As we've seen in the news coverage of the tragedy in Sago, West Virginia, miners and their families are believers in miracles. Maybe one has to be a miracle-believer to go down into the mines in the first place.

I see little desire in West Virginia and Kentucky for using alternative sources of energy. The bedrock in those states might make it difficult to sink the bases of the windmills into the ground. That's just a guess on my part.

 
At 1/05/2006 7:17 AM, Blogger Pastorius said...

A whiplash of grief. Very sad.

 
At 1/05/2006 7:23 AM, Blogger Pastorius said...

By the way, I think Mr. Ducky makes sense, for once. And the reason for that is, as Bassizzt says, coal is from another century, and likewise the attendant problems of abuses of the Capitalist system, in that industry, are also from another century.

This is another baseball bat to the head of American Labor.

It used to happen in the 1930's.

Viva l' Woody Guthrie.

 
At 1/05/2006 8:33 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Some officials in labor unions are altrutists. Others are pretending to be altruists when they are really all about the money and the power.

 
At 1/05/2006 10:01 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

AOW, you have to deal with these facts. The mine in question had been cited for many violations in the last year alone including several instances methane and dust build up.

A few trivial fines. The inspection board was packed with energy corporation representatives and had no representatives for miners.

As usual you find it absolutely acceptable that corporations have major powerful advocates but workers (were they working on a holiday? Why?) should not ... because the unions might want money and power, unlike coporrations (sarcasm flag is up).

You have the typical southern anti-union stance that has helped keep working people in the south poor while you accept a stance that allows corporations to not only profit handsomely but compromise safety.

You manage to resolve this chord in your own train of thought but if you care about those lives I don't understand how you do it.

This administration actively initiated policies that made those deaths more probable. Even after the Alabama incident early in his administration Bush still allowed the weakening of penalties and enforcement.

Some day you will explain why you support this clown car administration. I know it will have something to do with freedom, democracy, and family values but when we drop the junior high civics crap I'm afraid you're running on empty.

 
At 1/05/2006 10:32 AM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

The average American is ignorant of the facts of using the atom to generate his electricity.

All he "knows" is that it is very dangerous and he doesn't want a nuke plant any where near him and definately not in his state.

Besides, don't you know that it takes less than one hundred employees to run a nuke plant? How are you going to justify that, when people want jobs brought to their area.

They want thousands of jobs.

The average american doesn't care if nukes are cleaner than coal, he only wants cheap energy, without the "dangers" of using nukes.

There are plans for one (1) new nuke plant in the US (has not been approved, or past the planning stage) it is doubtful that it will ever be built.

Education about this to our young adults in college would be nice if we want to ever break the "fear factor" concerning nuclear power plants.

We have just over one hundred plants, France has almost four hundered and Japan falls somewhere in the middle.

Of course, no one wants the byproduct of these plants, radioactive waste.

We store it in out of the way places, other countries extract all the energy left in it.

Big difference because no one wants radioactive waste stored anywhere next to them and their families.

Oh well, maybe in fifty years we will be able to enter the nuclear age along with the rest of the world.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

 
At 1/05/2006 11:56 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
You're reading things which aren't there into my comments.

You have the typical southern anti-union stance that has helped keep working people in the south poor while you accept a stance that allows corporations to not only profit handsomely but compromise safety.
Not exactly. I am not anti-union, but neither do I see unions as the cure-all. I believe we've discussed this at a previous article or two. I saw the Transit Union improve my father's working conditions and help the mechanics obtain important benefits, including life insurance and health insurance, as well as a good retirement plan; I also saw some horn-swoggling (As long as you're going to accuse me of being a Southerner, I might as well use one of the expressions). Unions bring important negotiating power to the table, and most times that power benefits the workers--but not always.

The workers were in the mines the day after a holiday, and I'm guessing they possibly went into an inherently dangerous situation to get paid for the holiday. My husband, also a blue-collar worker but not a miner, had to do the same on January 3 because January 2 fell on a national holiday; his working conditions are somewhat unsafe, and I think that a union in his workplace might improve those conditions. No union available for my husband's group of workers, though. And why doesn't he get a better job? He is disabled as a result of brain surgery, which left his short-term memory compromised; that damage has resulted in his being unable to be an automotive service manager, his previous profession.

Both unions and corporations should be held to certain standards, and I don't feel that corporations should have the upper hand, although they do in many cases.

You manage to resolve this chord in your own train of thought but if you care about those lives I don't understand how you do it.
Actually, I don't resolve "this chord."

This administration actively initiated policies that made those deaths more probable. Even after the Alabama incident early in his administration Bush still allowed the weakening of penalties and enforcement.
I've been doing some reading on that. If the facts bear out what you've said and what I've been reading, I absolutely do not condone what this administration has done. Show me, with links if you have them, that the Clinton administration--or any administration--did better?

Some day you will explain why you support this clown car administration. I know it will have something to do with freedom, democracy, and family values...
I don't support this administration in all matters. But, yes, I hold in high esteem "freedom, democracy, and family values."

A few trivial fines. The inspection board was packed with energy corporation representatives and had no representatives for miners.
I think you might be right there. But I confess that I haven't yet gotten to today's newspaper to check out the history of this mining corporation--established in 2002, I believe.

Have you read Dickens's novel Hard Times? Two centuries old, but the book does deal with the matter of unions in its subplot. Union leader Slackbridge was no great shakes and neither was factory management.

In general, societies throughout the world have little regard for the well being of blue-collar workers. Yet we all depend on them every day.

 
At 1/05/2006 1:07 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Papa Ray,
The matter of nuclear waste, which you point out as unneccessary, is a big factor in the lack of development of nuclear power here. Besides, Three Mile Island scared an entire generation--not to mention Chernobyl--helped to promote activism against nuclear power as an energy source.

Besides, don't you know that it takes less than one hundred employees to run a nuke plant? How are you going to justify that, when people want jobs brought to their area.

They want thousands of jobs.


Economic reality for Appalachia. The other big "industry" there is making moonshine and, of late, growing marijuana. I'm sort of joking.

 
At 1/05/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Nick said...

Samwich:

Let me make this clear though. Trying to put blame on the Clinton Administration for this tragedy is just as discraceful and dumb as putting it on Bush. Using this story for partisan matters is just crap. The fault is with the mining company itself if serious safety violations were committed.

 
At 1/05/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

This may be more journalistic malfeasance, but one can hope not:

Dying Workers Left Notes for Families
By ALLEN G. BREED, AP

TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. (Jan. 5) - Some of the 12 coal miners who died following an explosion left notes behind assuring family members that their final hours trapped underground were not spent in agony, a relative said Thursday.

The notes said they weren't suffering, they were just going to sleep," said Peggy Cohen, who had been called to a makeshift morgue at a school to identify the body of her father, 59-year-old mining machine operator Fred Ware Jr....

 
At 1/05/2006 4:54 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

Iran Watch says Thank You.

 
At 1/05/2006 8:03 PM, Anonymous Patrick said...

That whole debacle was perhaps the most disgusting thing a news organisation has ever done. Reporting rubbish with no facts to back it up and building all those families hopes up like that.

 

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