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Mine owner's duplicity cited in tragedy probe

BEAVER, W.Va. (AP) -- The owner of the coal mine where an explosion killed 29 men last year kept two sets of books on safety conditions -- an accurate one for itself and a sanitized one for the government, federal regulators said Wednesday.

Managers at Massey Energy pressured workers at the Upper Big Branch mine here to omit safety problems from the official set of reports, said Mine Safety and Health Administration official Kevin G. Stricklin.

Massey was bought by rival Alpha Natural Resources earlier this month, and the new owner said that it is looking into the allegations. Even before the April 5, 2010, tragedy that was the nation's deadliest coal mine disaster in four decides, Massey had a poor safety record. The mine was cited for 600 violations in less than a year and a half before the blast. In its previous briefings, the mine safety agency blamed the explosion on naturally occurring methane gas and coal dust.

The agency has referred the matter to federal prosecutors.


Moral imperative seen in pain management

WASHINGTON (AP) -- At least 116 million U.S. adults experience long-lasting pain -- the kind that lingers for weeks to months -- and too often feel stigma rather than relief from a system poorly prepared to treat them, the Institute of Medicine said Wednesday.

All kinds of ills can trigger lingering pain, from arthritis to cancer, spine problems to digestive disorders, even as-yet-undiagnosed conditions. Chronic pain costs the nation billions, more than heart disease in medical bills, sick days and lost productivity, the report found. Effective pain management is "a moral imperative," the report concludes, urging the government, medical groups and insurers to take a series of steps to transform the field. Congress mandated the report as part of the new health care law.

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