Mine safety hearings will continue

Mine safety hearings will continue

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s report on last year’s fatal explosion at the Kentucky Darby Mine No. 1 will not be the final word on the accident.

The report, issued Thursday night, said the operator ignored vital safety standards and procedures. Five miners died in the May 20 blast.

On Capitol Hill, the promised oversight of mine safety will continue in early May, when the House Education and Labor Committee is expected to hold a public hearing.

That panel late last month heard from Melissa Lee, wife of Darby victim Jimmy Lee, as well as Kentucky miner Scott Howard and former Kentucky and federal mine official Tony Oppegard.

Witnesses are not yet set for the May hearing, but they will include MSHA officials.

The Senate also is expected to hold more mine safety hearings this spring.
McConnell chides Senate

Friday the 13th was the end of the first 100 days of the new Congress, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., finds it wanting.

“It strikes me that so far we’ve had a history here of missed opportunities,” the senator told reporters Friday.

When he became Republican leader in January, McConnell said it was a chance to tackle two major items: reforming immigration policies and putting Social Security on a more secure financial footing.

“We may get there on immigration — I hope we do,” he said. But during most of the session so far, “we’ve spent time with highly partisan, poll-tested items from last year’s election that are not designed to build the kind of bipartisan consensus that you need in the Senate to achieve anything.”

That was a reference to the Democrats’ agenda.

Asked how he would grade himself, McConnell said: “Oh, I’m not going to grade myself. There are plenty of other people around who will engage in that kind of activity. I think I’ll not do that.”
Hill on schools-roads bill

Indiana’s Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th District, is one of the co-sponsors of a bill that continues a revenue-sharing arrangement between counties and the U.S. Forest Service.

In Southern Indiana, Brown, Crawford, Dubois, Jackson, Monroe, Orange and Perry counties receive money for school and road improvements, taken from the earnings of the Hoosier National Forest. In 2004, the counties received an average of $20,000.

“This is a significant amount of money that our schools need,” Hill said in a statement.

The measure is awaiting action by the House Natural Resources Committee.
Peabody rep

Peabody Energy, which says it is the world’s largest private-sector coal company, has signed up to be a client with the Gephardt Group.

That’s a new Washington lobbying and consulting firm set up by former presidential candidate and former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., and two of his children.

Peabody’s holdings include five mines in Western Kentucky and seven coal operations in Indiana.
Bunning record stands

Last week Sen. Jim Bunning almost had to scratch out one of his baseball records.

The Kentucky Republican, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame for his pitching prowess, was the only pitcher in the last 81 years to throw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, according to The Boston Globe.

Then, on Wednesday night, Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez was six outs away from a no-hitter in Fenway when J.D. Drew singled to open the eighth inning.

Bunning pitched his Fenway no-hitter on July 20, 1958, as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Fittingly, Ted Williams, another Hall of Famer, flew out to seal Bunning’s achievement.
Can’t you smell that smell?

You often hear people in Washington say that power is knowing where all the bodies are buried. But never have we actually smelled them. Until now.

Actually, there are no bodies. It’s just the subway.

See, the Washington Metro just deployed some new subway cars in the system, but they come with an unpleasant side effect: when the brakes burn, they smell like week-old summer roadkill.

We got this straight from a Metro worker while dozens of riders got off at an underground station downtown and crinkled up their noses at the eau de tunnel.

So, this will get fixed, right? No, the helpful Metro person said. That’s just the way the brakes smell, she said.

Information from: www.courier-journal.com

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