Posts Tagged Family


Coal miners , the world over, have very dangerous jobs.  Besides breathing toxic coal dust, day after day, and over long shifts, miners’ lives are also jeopardized by potential gas explosions and collapsing tunnels.  Government regulations also appear  to only loosely enforce overall workplace safety rules,  as encouraged by coal industry lobbyists.

According “…to an investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity, federal regulators and the mining industry are failing to protect miners from the excessive toxic coal mine dust, which has toxic effects on miners’ health.   That deadly “Black Lung” Disease is now being diagnosed in younger miners, and evolving more quickly into complicated stages.”

Given the irreversible effects of Black Lung,  why don’t the men (and some women) in the region just change careers?   There are other, safer jobs, such as in carpentry, auto repair, welding, etc.  And why aren’t the younger generations, aware of the dirty, hard work, and the dangerous conditions, discouraged from following their fathers and other relatives down into the mines?  Unfortunately, in many of the small towns, especallly in Appalachia, the mines are the economic lifeblood of the area!

When Donald Trump campaigned in Kentucky, West Virginia, and other regions in “Coal Country”, he promised to bring the jobs back.  But, are these the jobs that a rational person should want—for their husbands, their sons, their brothers, uncles, etc?  Didn’t they also hear Trump say that he would eliminate regulations so that business could prosper?  Don’t the miners realize that those regulations were intended to protect them?

Consider just two of the people who he has nominated for his Cabinet.  Wilbur Ross, a billionaire neighbor of Trump in Palm Beach, is his Commerce Secretary.  Mr. Ross amassed his fortune buying distressed businesses, laying-off workers, busting-up unions and reneging on pensions.  An article from the Miami Herald, describes Mr. Ross’ history with the Sago Mine Number One catastrophe.

Elaine Chao, Trump’s nominee for Transportation Secretary, had been George W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor.  Ken Ward, Jr, a columnist with the Charleston Gazette, reported in his “Coal Tattoo” Blog, that Ms. Chao, when she was Secretary of Labor, “ …encouraged regulators to regulate less, and she cooperated more with a highly hazardous industry, with a history of death and disaster.”

The combination of pledging support for jobs, de-regulating industry and—let’s not forget his pledge not to raise the Minimum Wage—surely doesn’t require a genius to figure out who’s going to win, between businesses and labor!  In a situation where the coal industry has deep pockets and labor unions have been virtually emasculated, is there any question as to how safe coal mining will be under {resident Trump?


, , , , , ,

1 Comment


Given the sheer volume of Syrian refugees, and those from other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, who are seeking refuge and to establish a peaceful life for their families, we cannot wait for political solutions.  Many of our own forebears had come to our shores, similarly seeking refuge from: religious intolerance; the potato famine; civil war in their homelands; invasions by regional dictators; and the list goes on and on.  So, why are the refugees from the MENA Region different?

Many in the Republican Camp have been castigating President Barack Obama about literally everything under the sun, including his Middle East policy.  They disavow any recollection of his predecessor, George W. Bush, invading the Region, and even agreeing to initiate the draw-down, beginning in 2011. But, as usual, they cast Obama as the bad guy, and as being incompetent.  When they are asked to outline their plans to do things differently, however, all they can do is provide diatribes against the President; but, they all avoid offering anything specifically that they would do to handle things differently.

So now. they are making the refugees the pawns in their political agenda.  Remember, by the way, that this is taking place during the build-up to a 2016 Presidential Election Year.  I wonder if this is part of their plan—replacing the targeted attacks against Mexican Immigrants with heartless ones against refugees from the MENA Region.  The Republican hate-filled attacks would certainly bring a smile, however, to the face of long-gone Commie-hunter, Senator Joe McCarthy.  He attacked every political enemy as being a Communist infiltrator.

Back to the refugees, who are streaming into Europe as I write this, through harsh land routes and even more treacherous seas.  Surely, we’ve all seen the photos of families huddled in the rain, being beaten by guards and photographers, and the three-year old boy’s body washed up along the shore.  This is not a time, however, for pity.  This is a time for open arms, feeding and sheltering these “tired and huddled masses”, just like someone once welcomed our ancestors.

No one is suggesting that we bus this newest generation of refugees to our shores by bussing them to Times Square, Harvard Yard or South Beach!  Over the past decade, or so, the U. S. has carried-out the BRAC (base closure and realignment commission) Program, which closed or combined military bases, leaving the excess of redundant or unnecessary facilities vacant.

We should selectively re-open some of those bases, which could provide all of the necessary facilities to house the refugees, and with all due security.  Dining, health care, training, recreational facilities can easily be re-opened, and even a small section of a Post Exchange, to provide basic necessities.  Much of the on-going labor could be provided by the refugees themselves: basic labor around the camp; kitchen and dining room chores and establish a day care center.  Training could provide basic English language and job skills, such as: carpentry; plumbing; cooking; doctor’s/nurse’s helper and midwife; etc.  Such skills could enable the refugees to assist in providing their own necessities of life, as well as the ability to function, if and when they are released.

The use of these bases would solve two problems:  provide shelter for some of the refugees showing-up on the shores of Southern Europe and the mountainous borders of Northern Europe, while providing the necessary security to segregate the refugees from the basic populace until they are sufficiently vetted for release.  Now is the time for rational creativity, rather than polemic and political ideology.  Timing is urgent as the refugee population continues to grow day-by-day!

Over the past several GOP Presidential Debates, we have been hearing about American Exceptionalism and that we must be the World Leaders.  So, how exceptional would it be for America to remove Lady Liberty from her home in New York Harbor, douse the flame that she has proudly held high for more than one hundred years, and send her back to France?  Is that what America is all about? Really?

, , , , , , , , , ,



Although the idea of juggling family and work responsibilities seems to have greater impact on women, in today’s economy–where two income families abound–the workload can be somewhat shared by both partners.  The linked column by Cindy Kirscher Goodman, in the Miami Herald, provides some interesting points in this matter:

Supervisors should try to be understanding of today’s employees’ responsibilities outside of the workplace, especially those of the younger generation who may view their jobs differently than others of prior generations.  Failure to do so may jeopardize the retention of valuable employees.  You will notice the epiphany, which was noted in the column, that one supervisor had as her life changed when she had a baby herself.

I believe that it is important for employees also to make sure that management is aware of their flexibility needs.  There may be some sort of trade-off, which would satisfy their workplace responsibilities:  coming in early in order to pick-up children at daycare after work; working from home when a child is sick; staying a little longer to make-up for time taken to breast feed; etc.  Also, be sure to make co-workers aware, as well, that you are not avoiding doing your fair share of the unit’s work.

My former employer went above and beyond what was required to provide full pay and benefits, and hold jobs open during multiple deployments, for National Guard members serving overseas.  Shouldn’t they also be willing to enable employees to be good parents, as well as active members of the community?  The company surely benefits when the overall quality of life is enhanced, both in the workplace and on there home front.  At the same time, happy employees are good for business and tend to reciprocate, both qualitatively and quantitatively.




The linked article, from the (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, describes an inter-generational Family mystery.  The link is as follows:  If you read this article, you will be amazed to see that it was finally solved, perhaps even against all odds.

A fitting synopsis of this Family’s story reminds me of the opening crawl to the Star Wars movies: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”.  This story, however, is about a mystery that started some 65 years ago, in a much different day and age.    It was ultimately solved by a consortium of strangers, both in Puerto Rico and various locations in the U.S.

, ,

Leave a comment


Nearly five years ago, her doctor advised Kate Driscoll that an ultrasound had picked-up several target markers for Down syndrome. Mrs. Driscoll, twenty months pregnant already had five sons, and she certainly wanted a little girl.  But, the uncertainty clouded her mind.  She now knows, however, that the best things in life are Daughters–or Sons.

When her Daughter was born, Kate and her Husband hadn’t even thought of a Girl’s name; but there is a cute story in the linked article, in the Chicago Tribune.  When the doctor said she “You have your Girl”, a nurse asked her what they would call her; but, she didn’t know.  The nurse said that “She looks like a Grace” and; so, Grace it is.  The linked article is:,

Kate Driscol decided that she would take pictures of her little girl, putting them on her Facebook page and a Blog she had created, letting the World see how beautiful Grace was.  Then in time, she began to wonder why she didn’t see Children with disabilities in commercial advertisements.  Kate and her Mothers’ Group cheered when Nordstrom’s and Target ran some ads, using Children with disabilities.  But, there wasn’t any follow-through.

So, Kate had her husband convert their garage to a photographic studio, and she created a web site (  Her goal was to display a gallery of Children with disabilities so that advertisers could see them and consider them for inclusion in their advertisements.  Gradually, her efforts have gained some traction and peaked some interest in the advertising industry.  But, she still has a long way to go.

Children especially face considerable challenges in life–especially as they get a little bit older.  We know that the Military now accepts Gays and Lesbians, corporations are starting to recognize the workplace capabilities of workers with Autism, and people in wheelchairs can mosey up to their desk just like anyone else.  Given the changing demographics in this Country, surely today’s Children with disabilities will be considered as mainstream, capable and as normal as anyone else when they grow up.  But, why make them wit?  

, , ,

Leave a comment