GOOD

Coal miners with black lung disease slam Mitch McConnell after brushing them off during two-minute meeting

“He might’ve stayed a minute.”

via LeRoy Woodson / Wikimedia Commons

Black lung disease is scarring of the lungs caused by inhaling coal dust over a long period of time. According to WebMD, 16 percent of coal miners may eventually develop health issues in their lungs from inhaling coal dust.


Black lung disease can lead to chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can take decades for the disease to develop and most miners don’t learn they have it until they are retired.

To help people living with black lung disease, the U.S. government placed an excise tax on coal, to provide monthly payments and medical benefits to disabled coal miners.

The fund currently helps support over 12,000 former miners.

via United Nations Photos / Flickr

Coal companies had been required to pay a $1.10 per ton tax on coal to finance the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. But the amount reverted to the 1977 level of 55 cents earlier this year after Congress declined to take action.

“The coal industry had lobbied hard to allow the tax to drop as scheduled,” Reuters reported, “despite a government report saying the fund was in dire financial straits.”

Miners are worried the fund may soon become insolvent. The fund was already $4 billion in debt when the tax was cut earlier this year. Without government intervention, the fund’s debt will rise to $15 billion by 2050. This debt would have to be paid by U.S. taxpayers instead of the coal industry that has profited from the miners’ suffering.

A group of retired minders took a ten-hour bus ride from Kentucky to Washington D.C. on Tuesday, July 24 to ask Congress to restore the higher tax on coal companies. They met with Democratic senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Democratic Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott — who have all supported their healthcare benefits in the past.

However, their meeting with Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky didn’t go as planned. McConnell took a photo with the miners and then left without discussing the issue.

“He might’ve stayed a minute,” Jimmy Moore, the head of the Letcher County Black Lung Association, said about his rapid departure. “It was a worthless trip, that’s the way I feel.”

“We rode up here for 10 hours by bus to get some answers from him because he represents our state,” George Massey, a miner from Harlan County, Kentucky, told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “For him to come in for just two minutes was a low-down shame.”

According to OpenSecrets, McConnell has taken over a million dollars from the mining industry since 1989.

McConnell spokeswoman Stephanie Penn said the senator “was glad to welcome his constituents to the Capitol” but didn’t mention the miner’s complaints. She said he is “working closely with interested parties regarding future funding for the program and will continue to ensure these important benefits are maintained.”

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet