Archives for May, 2011

by Ellen Smith For those who don’t know the history of the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel, from 1930 to 1935, approximately 3,000 workers carved a 3 mile tunnel through the Gauley Mountain in West Virginia in order to divert the New River for an electrical station at a Union Carbide plant. Ventilation was limited at best.…

Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, I haven’t just been thinking of those who died in combat, but also of those who’ve died because of combat. This morning’s NPR story about 23-year-old Ivan Lopez, who struggled with PTSD after returning home and then became the 14th Pennsylvania Guardsman since 2003 to die by his own hand, is just…

NPR & Charleston Gazette ask court to reject call for “sealed record” in Massey-Alpha merger litigation

[June 3, 2011: Update below] [May 31, 2011: Update below] The West Virginia Supreme Court has taken up the case by Massey Energy shareholders to block the $8.5 Billon sale of the firm to Alpha Natural Resources. The Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr., and National Public Radio’s (NPR) Howard Berkes have followed the day-to-day event…

White House again uses worker safety regulations as a whipping boy

The White House’s regulatory czar Cass Sunstein announced today agency roadmaps for a 21-century regulatory system, and the results of the Obama Administration’s “unprecedented government-wide review” of existing regulations. I don’t know what history books Mr. Sunstein has been reading, but for at least the last 20 years, every Administration has engaged in these regulatory…

I read a lot of stories about how our healthcare system fails people, but one of the ones that’s stuck with me the most is the tragedy of 12-year-old Deamonte Driver, who died in 2007 after bacteria from an abscessed tooth spread to his brain. Deamonte and his brother were covered by Maryland’s Medicaid program,…

I’ve written before about “Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century,” which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in 1999. Now, CDC has put together a list of ten great public health achievements from 2001 to 2010, based on nominations from the agency’s public health scientists. Here are the ten achievements…

The saying “demography is destiny” reportedly dates back to 19th-century social scientist Auguste Comte, and it’s still popular among journalists. Earlier this year, for instance, Alan Wheatley of Reuters warned about the challenges Asian countries (especially Japan) will face as over-60 residents make up ever-larger shares of their populations. His article also touches on the…

Several news outlets have reported on the findings of the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel into the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, which killed 29 miners in West Virginia last year. (The report is here; my post on it is here.) Two of the most in-depth articles come from Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette…

On April 5, 2010, an explosion occurred at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The blast rocketed through 2.5 miles of underground chambers and tunnels nearly 1,000 feet beneath the mountains, and it killed 29 miners and severely injured another. The youngest victim was Cory Thomas Davis, age 20, who…

By Kim Krisberg Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Climate change will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health: food, air, water. In the face of this challenge, we need champions throughout the world who will work to put protecting human health at the…