National Briefs: Mine blast spurs changes

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WASHINGTON -- Nearly four years after a deadly coal mine explosion in West Virginia, there are penalties for warning mine companies of imminent visits inspections, requirements for submitting mine ventilation maps, clearer definitions of flagrant violations and improved oversight of rock-dust sampling.

Those are just a handful of regulatory changes that resulted from recommendations in an internal review of the disaster at Upper Big Branch in West Virginia.

Two years after the study began, all 100 report recommendations have been implemented, the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Monday.

The changes include enhanced enforcement, splitting the West Virginia coal district in two for better oversight, upgrading a lab that analyzes coal dust and gas, and creating a centralized system to ensure consistency.

Twenty-nine miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch explosion on April 5, 2010, making it one of the worst mining disasters in the country.

Pilots grounded after error

DALLAS -- The pilots of a Southwest Airlines flight that mistakenly landed at the wrong Missouri airport were grounded Monday, less than a day after they touched down at a small airfield that gave them only half as much room as normal to stop the jet.

No one was hurt, but after the 124 passengers were let off the plane, they noticed the airliner had come dangerously close to the end of the runway, where it could have tumbled down a steep embankment if it had left the pavement.

ACA sign-up demographics

WASHINGTON -- People signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's federal and state marketplaces tend to be older and potentially less healthy, officials said Monday, a demographic mix that could cause premiums to rise if the pattern persists.

The age breakdown was the most highly anticipated data being released because of what it could say about the health of those who will be insured. Under the law, insurers can no longer deny coverage or charge higher premiums because of a person's medical history or pre-existing conditions. As a result, White House and health policy experts have repeatedly said insurers need to sign up large numbers of younger people to balance the financial risks of covering older Americans who require more medical care.

House Democrat to retire

WASHINGTON -- Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., announced Monday that he will retire at the end of his term, after 40 years in Congress.

Mr. Miller, who was first elected in 1974, is a trusted confidant of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, and he is a dedicated supporter of liberal and labor causes. But he has also earned a reputation for his willingness to work with his Republican colleagues.

$330M pledged for Detroit

NEW YORK -- National and local philanthropic foundations have committed $330 million toward a deal that would help preserve the Detroit Institute of Arts' renowned collection by bolstering the city's employee pension funds, federal mediators involved in the city's bankruptcy proceedings announced Monday.

As part of the plan, which negotiators have been working on quietly for months, the museum might be removed from city ownership and put under the control of the state. But mediators stopped short of saying that an agreement had been reached.

-- Compiled from news services


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