April 6, 2015 |
TO HEAR his advocates tell it, Mumia Abu-Jamal is still in danger, even after being discharged from a small-town hospital in the Coal Region. "When we saw the state he was in, it's very clear what's happening here," Pam Africa, a member of MOVE and longtime Abu-Jamal supporter, told the Daily News yesterday. "They're trying to kill Mumia," she said of the staff at the state correctional institution at Mahanoy. Africa said Abu-Jamal, 60, was taken back to the prison early yesterday from Schuylkill Medical Center, located about 10 miles away in Pottsville.
July 26, 2013 |
GILBERTON, Pa. - The police chief of this small town in the anthracite region is an outspoken gun-rights advocate who has stirred up a furor by posting videos of himself in confrontational, profanity-laced tirades punctuated by his firing off automatic weapons. At one point, he fires a weapon and screams, "Come and get it!", after he criticizes Secretary of State John Kerry for signing a U.N. treaty that requires ratifying countries to begin controlling arms brokers. Mark Kessler is the one-man police force of tiny Gilberton population approximately 800. He told the Hazleton Standard-Speaker that he is within his constitutional rights in the videos and obeys the Constitution as a police chief.
April 1, 2013 |
I saw a story in the Wall Street Journal this month about how some retired coal miners in West Virginia might lose their health insurance because the coal company they once worked for - the one that promised them health insurance for life - had been sold and resold and was now owned by another big company that was asking a court to allow it to break that promise. The promise was no longer convenient or profitable. The company was also making another request to the court: for permission to pay its managers a $7 million bonus.
February 7, 2013 |
SHAMOKIN, Pa. - The black mountain of coal waste that looms over Route 61 here is both a grimy testament to an ephemeral economy and an apt symbol for this town time has discarded. That anthracite refuse came from long-shuttered mines and collieries, closures that have halved Shamokin's population since the 1930s. Many of the remaining 8,000 residents are as old as the tattered clapboard houses they occupy. (Since 1996 the town, about 70 miles northwest of Allentown and 70 miles northeast of Harrisburg, has issued just four permits for new single-family homes.)
October 28, 2012 |
WAYNESBURG, Pa. - Not long ago, two things held true in Greene County: Coal ruled, and a Democratic presidential candidate could count on solid voter support. Coal still holds its own. President Obama, not so much. Across mining regions, the Republicans have mounted a relentless campaign blaming the Obama administration's environmental policies for a decline in coal demand. It has struck a chord in Greene County, judging from the ubiquitous yard signs: "Stop the War on Coal - Fire Obama.
September 29, 2012
By Michael Carroll 'No men," the man from New Jersey told my 93-year-old cousin. "No men will be living here. " He had bought the house next door to where she had lived all her life, but he had no intention of living in it. Houses in anthracite coal region towns are reasonable. Reasonable is a softer word for cheap. My mother's Mount Carmel house - the house where I grew up - sold for $23,000 a decade ago. We might be lucky to sell it at all now. The century-old wooden frame houses, mostly twins and rows, once sheltered generations of large mining families.
July 12, 2012 |
Summer days ran long and late for a 10-year-old in the small town where I grew up. Time moved differently in the world of my parents: They were still close to their war, World War II, which ended 15 years before — a moment in the adult scheme of things, but eons in childhood time. For the adults, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and sometimes even the nearly forgotten V-J Day brought relief from work and joy to be alive. Summer noise survived longer after dark than the noise of other seasons.
May 11, 2012 |
When I was 9 years old, I would watch my mother softly sway to the sound of the old RCA radio that sat atop the refrigerator. It was big and brown, with a lit amber dial and a gold needle that marked the stations. The speaker boomed deep and rich, and she would sometimes sing along. My mother had two favorite songs that year, and they told tales as different as could be. One was Dinah Washington's R&B rendition of "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," which tells a story of blissful newfound love.
January 3, 2012
By Michael Carroll Pennsylvania's current natural-gas boom reminds me of the notice stamped on the deed of the house where I grew up in Mount Carmel, in the coal region. It warned that the deed did not "include title to the coal and right of support underneath the surface land," that "the owners of such coal may have the complete legal right to remove all of such coal," and that as a result, "damage may result to the surface of the land and any house, building or other structure on or in such land.
November 18, 2011
By Michael Carroll When nighttime temperatures start slipping into the 30s, I think about warmth, about keeping one's home and oneself warm, and about the growing number of people who can no longer do that. I spent my first dozen years in a house heated by hand-fired coal. If you had the heat on - and "on" meant a fire in the furnace - the house was warm, even hot. You could tamp down the fire or stoke it up, but there wasn't a thermostat or much fine-tuning. The coal was cheap and locally mined.