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
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change means our future is uncertain, but in the meantime, it's telling us a lot about our past. The Earth's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, but as the ice dwindles, ancient artifacts are being uncovered. The Secrets of the Ice project has been surveying the glaciers on Norway's highest mountains in Oppland since 2011. They have found a slew of treasures, frozen in time and ice, making glacier archeologists, as Lars Pilø, co-director of Secrets of the Ice, put it when talking to CNN, the "unlikely beneficiaries of global warming."

Instead of digging, glacier archeologists survey the areas of melting ice, seeing which artifacts have been revealed by the thaw. "It's a very different world from regular archaeological sites," Pilø told National Geographic. "It's really rewarding work.

Keep Reading Show less

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture