Roundup: The Zombie Effect

Small Georgia town builds on its assets: zombies • UMWA settles with Patriot Coal • Indian mascot names an legacy, but what kind? • Farm bill awaits conference committee appointments.

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Zombies are bringing new life to Grantville, Georgia, a former mill town that’s been used as a set for the AMC television series “The Walking Dead.” The town, 50 miles southwest of Atlanta, holds a zombie tour every Saturday to highlight buildings and locations used in the show. More than 3,600 visitors have taken the free tour, Jeff Martin of the Associated Press reports.

The tour starts with a viewing of the “Walking Dead” episode “Clear,” in which the town of Grantville “stars.” Visitors then tour the town, which has several old and unused buildings that were the backdrop for the Apocalyptic-themed television program.

Martin reports:

“Visitors have come from as far as Australia, Singapore and Brazil, giving new life to the town through tourism, [Grantville Mayor Jim] Sells said. He calls it phenomenal, but adds: ‘We don’t understand it.’ “

UMWA Settles Patriot Coal Dispute. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has reached an agreement with Peabody Energy and Patriot Coal that will see the coal companies pay up to $400 million into retiree health-care benefits.  (UMWA press release, St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.)

In return for the payments, UMWA will stop its public-relations and direct-action campaign against Peabody Energy and will surrender its 35% ownership stake in Patriot, which the union received as part of Patriot’s bankruptcy proceedings.

The settlement is part of agreements that could allow Patriot Coal to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of the year.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts said the health payment is significant but won’t sustain the fund indefinitely. “That is why we are continuing our efforts to pass bipartisan legislation in Congress that will put these retirees under the Coal Act, meaning their long-term health care benefits would be secured at no additional cost to taxpayers,” he said.

Report Questions “Legacy” of Indian Mascot Names. The “history and legacy and tradition” of the Washington Redskins ownership includes pushing for an early ban on African American players and being the last NFL franchise to integrate, says a new report from the National Congress of American Indians.

The report from the National Congress of American Indians comes after a team lawyer defended the use of the Indian mascot name as part of the team’s heritage.

The report contains great history on American Indians’ efforts to stop the use of mascot names over the past half century. There’s background on other leagues’ policies, like those of the NCAA and individual states. And there’s plenty of documentation of the mascot issue as a cultural, civil rights and political issue.

The mascot issue resurfaced recently when President Obama said in an interview that if he owned the Washington team, he’d think about changing the name. The actual owner, Daniel Snyder, has said he will never change the team name.

Energy Production Shrinks Trade Deficit. The domestic energy-production boom is helping shrink the U.S. trade deficit, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling – new extraction technologies for oil and natural gas – are increasing production. In turn, that’s increasing energy exports, which is shrinking the trade deficit. Conservationists say the extraction techniques have long-term environmental and social costs that aren’t getting factored into the equation.

Farm Bill Awaits Conference Committee. The farm bill won’t go anywhere until House Speaker John Boehner appoints a conference committee to reconcile the House’s bill with the Senate’s. One source says members could be named Friday, but the House Ag Committee chairman, Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, says that won’t happen until the fiscal mess is sorted out.

The American Soybean Association reports that House members of the conference committee could include a non-Ag Committee member, Republican Steve Southerland of Florida. Southerland “offered the amendment to the House farm in June to require able-bodied adults without dependents to work or be looking for work to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps, which resulted in the defeat of the bill.” The House version of the bill currently does not include the nutrition program.

More Furlough Effects.  Government furloughs are affecting the Transportation Department. The Soy Transportation Coalition reports the following: 53% furlough of staff of the Federal Railroad Administration, a 54% furlough of staff at the Maritime Administration and a 98% furlough in staff at the Surface Transportation Board.

 

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