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Friday, January 06, 2006

A Final Message From The Mine

Though company officials initially botched - in the most tragic way - the message to the world that twelve miners had been found dead in the Sago Mine on Monday, one of those trapped and among the casualties, mine foreman Martin Toler, Jr., wanted his loved ones to get his last thoughts right. He left them the following note, crudely scrawled, seemingly in the dark and in his last moments, on a piece of scrap paper:

"Tell all - I see them on the other side."

"It wasn't bad, I just went to sleep."

"I love you." (link)

Photo courtesy of the Toler family and AP

Just Go Away

There is something particularly galling about New York elitists, who otherwise wouldn't be caught dead near Tallmansville, West Virginia or associating with - touching - the highlanders who scratch out a living there, shedding crocodile tears and expressing feigned outrage over the deaths of twelve of its finest men. The New York Times editorial staff is expressing its sorrow ... well, no. Actually the Times instead chooses to focus on government bureaucracy. Typically.
Coal's Power Over Politicians

As inspectors delve into the deadly mine disaster in Sago, W.Va., their starting premise must be that the explosion that choked off 12 workers' lives would never have happened if all the safety rules now on the books had been properly enforced. Mining regulations born of decades of death and disaster dictate in detail the most basic protections for survival, like adequate ventilation and roof supports.

Yet full enforcement was clearly lacking at the Sago mine, with its long record of chronic violations and an injury rate almost triple the average for similar mines. Federal officials claim that the mine was adequately monitored.

But in accounting for the deaths, inspectors should look as well into the budget cutbacks and staff attrition that have marked the Bush administration's management of its own ranks in the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The latest budget imposes a $4.9 million cut for the safety agency, according to Congressional critics who estimate that the agency has suffered a reduction of 170 positions in the past five years. (link)
Budget cutbacks. Staff attrition. MSHA.

And Martin Toler and his fellow miners haven't even been given a decent burial yet.