Amusement park attraction makes light of coal-miners’ deaths, critics say • Farm bill “can’t get no respect” • FDA moves to increase regulation of pet food • North Carolina last in nation in broadband, by one measure.
Kings Dominion amusement park in Virginia has removed the description of its “Miner’s Revenge” Halloween attraction from the web. And online ticket purchases for the attraction were not working as of Monday afternoon.
“Miner’s Revenge” is a haunted-house style amusement depicting an underground mining disaster. Patrons visit a fake coal mine that was “the site of the worst coal mine accident in history,” according to the website description. “The miners were left entombed deep underground” and are “waiting to enact their revenge.”
The attraction prompted harsh and emotional responses from the families of coal-mining-disaster victims, politicians and the United Mine Workers last week. They said coal miners’ deaths were not an amusement for Kings Dominion to exploit for commercial gain.
Here’s a sampling of some of the comments:
“It’s very offensive for someone to try to profit off of our loved one’s death and off of our pain, because this is very painful,”
— Clay Mullins, the brother of a man killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia.
The attraction is “an insult to the memories if the thousands of miners who have died in America’s mines.”
— UMWA spokesman Phil Smith
“It’s just beyond my understanding and comprehension that anybody could… absolutely stoop that low for the almighty dollar.”
— U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.
For far too long, the deaths of coal miners in the United States, although thankfully decreasing in frequency, still seem to be considered an acceptable and inevitable fact of life. … [W]hile little is being done about improving the safety of real-life miners, many Americans are being sold on the idea that coal-mine deaths can be a fun Halloween thrill.
Peter Galuszka, Washington Post op/ed.
No Respect. Americans are obsessed with food but not with the farm bill, reports David Rogers in Politico:
Celebrity chefs are busting out of cable television. Whole Foods Markets, with its trademark Austin-coastal chichi freshness, is now in 40 states including Alabama, Mississippi and Nebraska.
But the farm bill, amid America’s interest in all things food-related? It’s still Washington’s Rodney Dangerfield. It can’t get no respect.
After two years of struggle, House and Senate conferees will finally meet next Wednesday to try to salvage a compromise five-year plan. President Barack Obama is taking notice. But as quickly as the president mentioned the farm bill recently, Washington’s pundits dissed him for elevating something deemed unworthy.
Regulating Pet Food. The Food and Drug Administration proposed new rules last week that would govern production of animal feed and pet food.
The measures stem from changes Congress made in food-safety laws three years ago. The law was enacted after a Chinese manufacturer contaminated pet food, resulting in pet deaths and the largest pet-food recall in U.S. history.
The FDA will take comments on the proposed rule for the next four months.
Broadband in North Carolina. North Carolina may be first in flight, but it’s last in broadband.
“Only 17% of North Carolina households have fixed Internet connection speed the Federal Communications Commission deems the ‘minimum required to engage in modern life.’ “ WUNC-FM reports. The station has a panel discussion with Chris Mitchell, director of telecommunications at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance; Scott Pryzwansky, director of public relations at Time Warner Cable for the East Coast; and Marian Norton, a resident of Chatham County, North Carolina.
You can listen to the show here, if you have enough bandwidth.
Kansas Rural Housing. Stafford County, Kansas, is attempting to improve its housing stock as part of efforts to increase population in the county. The county in central Kansas is part of the state’s “rural opportunity zones.” These are rural areas with population loss where new residents can qualify for income-tax exemptions. The program’s goal is to reverse population loss. A county economic development official says the program is attracting interest but that the county’s old housing stock isn’t attractive to new residents. Stafford County Economic Development is working with two federal grants to help address the housing issue, the Associated Press’s John Milburn reports.
Class-Action Suits over Gas Flaring. Mineral owners in North Dakota last week filed 10 class-action lawsuits over royalties they say they are losing through the flaring of natural gas. Drilling companies burn off natural gas instead of collecting and selling it because they are after only oil, which is more lucrative than natural gas.
Mental-health patients with severe illnesses are winding up in jail instead of in treatment because of changes in Minnesota’s mental-health system, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
The Boston Globe reports on efforts in Maine to sign up rural residents for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.