Howard Berkes at NPR reports that Massey Energy’s chief of security was indicted by a federal grand jury Monday on charges of lying to the FBI and obstructing an investigation into last April’s mine disaster at the company’s Upper Big Branch Mine. Twenty-nine miners died in an explosion.
Hughie Elbert Stover was indicted after telling FBI agents that there was a policy in place at Massey that prohibited mine guards from signaling miners underground that federal inspectors were on their way. The indictment said those statements were “false, fictitious and fraudulent.” Stover is also accused of attempting to destroy several thousand pages of documents after the disaster.
Federal law prohibits giving any advanced warning of inspections. Given forewarning, mine operations can shut down illegal activity or clean up parts of the mine that are out of code. The documents were later recovered.
•Interesting article in the food-obsessed Atlantic magazine saying India understands the connection between health and agriculture far better than the U.S.
Jocelyn Zuckerman attended a conference on food and nutrition in New Delhi, where the discussion was about growing food that was good for people. Brazil will spend $1.8 billion this year getting homegrown vegetables into feeding programs for school kids.
While the U.S.D.A. and Michelle Obama tell us to eat less and and “Move,” other countries are concentrating on growing healthier food.
“Why is it the leaders of places like India and Ghana can talk about the need for agriculture to incorporate nutrition and health (not to mention the livelihoods of small farmers), while my own government can go no farther than to publish a bunch of platitudes and vague dietary aspirations?” Zuckerman asks.
• If you’d like to get caught up with the gas drilling story, ProPublica has a good guide right here. There are links here to the group’s stories on gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing and environmental damages. There are also some calls from commenters for more stories about solutions.
• A teacher from western North Carolina working for a time with the U.S. Department of Education came back from a conference of young people with an interesting observation. Laurie Calvert heard testimony from many students and she “couldn’t help but be disheartened by the number of times students testified about how their schools have let them down.” Calvert continues:
The complexity of their situation became especially clear to me during a “deep dive” breakout session for rural students, where 17 of 25 students placed themselves in a group whose counselors and teachers never talk to them about college. Never. As a teacher who preaches from the college handbook on a daily basis, I was astounded. How does this happen? When I probed for answers from the students, one girl shrugged and said, “I guess they don’t think any of us are going.” Sophia explained, “People see our (Kentucky) culture and they don’t see us.”
I think she’s right. We have lowered expectation for many of our students. As teachers, we nod to the idea that everyone can go to college, but in reality we don’t walk our talk.
• Lots of talk in the lefty press about a change in Monsanto’s agreement with farmers who use the company’s seed. The claim is that Monsanto is requiring farmers to take full liability for any claims made about the company’s seed. See story here and here.
For instance, if some GE Monsanto seed gets into a neighbor’s organic field and the neighbor loses his organic standing, Monsanto is shifting all liability to the farmer who bought the seed. Or if the GE seed causes some health problems, that’s the farmer’s problem.
One site says the new agreement would require a farm’s buyer to sign the agreement, too. So farm sales would require the new owner to accept an uncertain liability.
• We’ve seen this: flights to rural airports are getting more and more expensive, the New York Times reports.
Smaller planes are more expensive to operate and there are fewer passengers to split the cost. As flights get more expensive, more rural residents drive to bigger cities to catch planes, further reducing traffic out of local airports.
So, in Traverse City, Michigan, flights go for about 23 cents per mile. From Newark, they cost 16 cents.