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Watch a Coal Mine Devour a Mountain Range

See the Hobet mine move from ridge to ridge, destroying everything in sight to supply America with coal.


Among the various indecent things America does to get energy, mountaintop removal mining—a process by which mountains are literally flattened for coal, creating rivers of toxic sludge and clouds of pollution as byproducts—is one of the worst.

There are lots of ways to illustrate the evils of mountaintop removal mining with words. Ben Jervey did a great job in this post. But here's an illustration with pictures. The animation below, created with satellite images recently released by NASA, shows the destruction wrought by the West Virginia Hobet coal mine from 1984 to 2010.

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This 8th Grade Exam From the 1930s Is Really Hard

Where are the multiple choice questions?


Earlier this week, Valerie Strauss over at The Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog posted an exam given to eighth grade students in West Virginia in 1931. They had to pass it in order to graduate.

This is just the geography section of the test, which also included parts addressing penmanship, physiology & hygiene, grammar, arithmetic, civics, and agriculture. Note the lack of multiple choice questions, as well as the practicality and specificity of the exam with regards to where the students lived. I'm not sure anyone today who grew up outside of West Virginia would even have a shot at passing it.

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On the West Virginia Coal Mining Tragedy

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia. I'm far too filled up with...

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia. I'm far too filled up with fury and sorrow to put together any real comment, but it seems important here to remind ourselves that these deaths were preventable.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ncinM5tWmIThis is not a place to comment on the environmental impact of coal. This tragedy is about callous corporate greed that put profit above the safety of workers. Jeff Biggers, who has been researching and covering the coal fields for ages, has a lot more to say about how greed is really "What Killed the Miners."We're still learning exactly what happened at the Upper Big Branch mine, but there are some things we do know. We do know that since 1995, there have been over 3,000 safety violations at the Upper Big Branch, which is owned by Massey Energy, and that there were 57 safety violations recorded at the mine last month. We do know that Massey Energy plead guilty to "criminal violations" back in 2006 for a fire at their Aracoma mine in West Virginia that took the lives of two miners. And we know that before that fire, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship responded internally to safety concerns being raised by overseeing agencies with a now-infamous internal memo that said:

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