A February report on mine safety regulation by USA Today found that complicated federal statutes and lazy Mine Safety and Health Administration enforcement have resulted in a structure of civil fines almost guaranteed not to deter dangerous conditions. The largest-ever MSHA fine (for a 2001 incident with 13 deaths) was $605,400 (as compared to, for example, the FCC’s 2004 fine of CBS for the brief image of Janet Jackson’s breast at the Super Bowl, which was $3.5 million). One attorney who represents coal companies and claimed that fines are largely irrelevant to safety said, “I really don’t think any responsible mine operator makes any decision about safety based on civil penalties.”
In January, spokesman Nick Inskip of the trade association of Australia’s legalized brothels and strip clubs praised the American sailors who that week began several days’ shore leave in Brisbane. “[T]he fellows are fantastic customers,” he said. “They are so well-mannered. … They’re very aware that they’re representing their country, and that’s why they behave so well.”
MORE THINGS TO BLAME ON BUSH
Two gunmen robbed a 57-year-old woman in her Westerville, Ohio, home in February, but, according to a police report, argued among themselves about how to do the job, until one of the men, perhaps feeling sorry for himself, said, “This is all George W. Bush’s fault. He screwed up the economy.” All the two men needed, he said, was “gas money for the car.” And a 29-year-old man was convicted in February after he jumped over a fence at the White House to meet up with Chelsea Clinton. According to an officer, the man seemed unfazed at being told that the Clintons no longer lived there but did say that “George Bush told me to jump the fence, and I jumped the fence.”
OUR LITIGIOUS SOCIETY
After two boys at PS 14 in New York City taunted a five-year-old classmate in January three times by grabbing his privates, school officials held a hearing and referred the boys for guidance counseling. Unsatisfied, the younger boy’s parents in February filed a lawsuit against the already-budget-challenged New York City school system for $6 million.
Jacqueline Dotson was seriously injured in an accident near Winchester, Ky., in February that police say happened when she lost control of her SUV and ran several other cars off the road before overcorrecting, which caused the SUV to roll over a guardrail and land upside down. A rescue crew labored an hour and a half with the “jaws of life” to extricate her from the vehicle, but one of her arms was already free, severed in the accident and lying on the road, still grasping a cell phone.
In December, the New England Journal of Medicine reported the odd case of a 73-year-old Inuit woman hospitalized in Nome, Alaska, whose abdominal X-ray revealed an enlarged and photographically opaque appendix, which doctors concluded was an appendix filled with buckshot. The Inuits, doctors said, eat so many ducks and geese downed by buckshot that inevitably some buckshot remains in the cooked meat and is eaten and digested, with some migrating to the appendix, where it is trapped. The appendix was enlarged and opaque on the X-ray simply because it was overstuffed with buckshot. MTW