Mexican Miners ‘Working in 19th Century Conditions’

Coal mine disaster in Mexico spurs new calls for tighter regulations. Six men were killed Friday when 100 tons of rock and coal collapsed, trapping them in a mine near Muzquiz in the state of Coahuila. Last month an explosion at a nearby mine killed seven workers. The national miners’ union claims 200 miners have died in Coahuila since 2006. The Muzquiz mine’s owner, Altos Hornos de Mexico, claimed that modern safety features allowed the company to evacuate 285 miners after the collapse. But a Catholic bishop said many miners were “working in 19th century conditions,” and church leaders accuse the government of failing to impose tougher regulations for fear of upsetting foreign mining companies. Los Angeles Times

Internal documents show the HCA hospital chain performed unnecessary heart procedures. HCA, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, uncovered evidence as far back as 2002 and as recently as late 2010 showing that some cardiologists at several of its Florida hospitals were unable to justify many procedures they were performing. In some cases, the doctors made misleading statements in medical records that made it appear the procedures were necessary. At a hospital where an invasive diagnostic test known as a cardiac catheterization is performed, about half the procedures, or 1,200, were determined to have been done on patients without significant heart disease, according to a confidential 2010 review. The New York Times

Fewer students can buy sodas at school. University of Michigan researchers found, in a survey of more than 1,900 public schools, that the portion of students who could buy soda in high school fell to 25 percent in 2011, down from 54 percent in 2006. Access to such drinks for middle school students fell to 13 percent, down from 27 percent. But fruit drinks, sports drinks and other beverages with added sugar and calories that could lead to obesity can still be bought easily in schools, the study showed. Still, the study’s lead author said, “Public school districts really have been getting the message that regular sodas are not a good thing for our kids to be drinking.” Reuters

Gibson Guitar to pay $350,000 to resolve U.S. allegations that it illegally imported rare woods. Authorities said the famed guitar maker imported endangered hardwoods from protected national parks in Madagascar and India for its instruments. Gibson will pay a $300,000 penalty, make a $50,000 donation to the National Fish and Wildlife Service and improve its import controls. In exchange, the government will defer prosecution on possible environmental crimes. Fighting the charges had made Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, who sought to roll back a wildlife protection law, a celebrity in conservative and tea party circles. He said he settled to avoid further legal costs and reputational harm. New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal

10 contractors on New Hampshire shopping mall project accused of workplace safety violations. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking up to $173,500 in fines against the contractors that worked on the Merrimack Premium Outlets mall in Merrimack, N.H. “Our inspection found workers exposed to a variety of common but avoidable hazards associated with construction work, notably falls and electric shocks,” an OSHA official said. “Both of these hazards can kill or disable workers in seconds.” The businesses cited were general contractor Hardin Construction of Atlanta, Ga., along with nine subcontractors. OSHA, New Hampshire Union Leader

Study says kids usually ride without recommended car safety restraints. Researchers also found that many youngsters may face increased risks because they sit in the front seat too early. Guidelines issued last year call for children to use rear-facing seats at least until age 2 and then forward-facing seats until reaching certain weight and height criteria. After that, booster seats are recommended until an adult seat belt fits properly — on average, at 11 — and then kids should ride in the back until age 13. But a study coauthor, Dr. Michelle Macy of the University of Michigan, said, “We found that few children remain rear-facing after age 1, fewer than 2 percent use a booster seat after age 7, and many over age 6 sit in the front seat.” WebMD, Scripps Media

Recalls: Dippin Stix sliced apples with caramel and peanuts; Armour Active Packs cheese pizza

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein and Bridget Huber

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