Monday, August 20, 2007


Although the song Clementine is really about water safety, the only part I ever remember is the first verse:*
In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine
Lived a miner, forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine

According to Melissa Block on All Things Considered today, the place where the miner lives is actually quite important. Note the contrast - in Utah we've sent a search and rescue team, three of whom died, to try to find six miners who are trapped and likely dead. (In fact, I have to say I'm really surprised that every news report keeps acting as though there's actually hope that they're alive. I seem to remember them being a lot more pessimistic - and realistic - about previous mine cave-ins. Why do they continue to think these miners are alive after so long?) Anyway, in China, 181 miners have been trapped for the last couple of days, and aside from the beginning of some protests from the miner's families who want information from the mine owners, nothing has happened. Ms. Block reports that there were many warnings of flooding causing dangerous conditions which prompted several mines in the region to close, but this particular mine didn't close, whether because they had safety gear that actually made it safe or because economics prevailed. Either way, there is a distinct lack of outcry and action. Even more astounding is the fact that 13 people die per day in coal mines in China, and this is after new safety standards have greatly reduced the casualties per ton of coal extracted. I guess if I had to be a coal miner, I'd rather be in Utah. I certainly can't think of many other circumstances for wanting to move there.

*I do actually remember the chorus and the last verse about kissing Clementine's little sister, but let's not get into that.

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