Editor's note

Coal mining has long been one of the nation’s most dangerous professions, with miners’ health problems enduring long after they leave their jobs behind. But bankruptcies of several coal companies have jeopardized the health care and pensions of retired miners, so the federal government stepped in, temporarily, to fund them. That could end tomorrow, unless Congress votes to extend the benefits. Simon Haeder, a professor of health policy at West Virginia University, writes that, despite bipartisan support, Republican leadership has “stood in the way of a permanent fix.”

Trump signed an executive order yesterday, establishing a 300-day task force to take a closer look at the role the federal government plays in education. It’s charged to root out policies and guidelines that are seen as wresting too much control away from the states. As researcher Dustin Hornbeck explains, this tension between state and federal education policies is nothing new to American politics.

Also yesterday Team Trump released details of the president’s tax proposal and, unsurprisingly, trumpeted it as the “biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country.” Is that really the case? Not by a long shot, writes Ohio State economic sleuth Jay Zagorsky.

And finally, poop is a part of life, particularly for new parents. That’s how an investigation into the physics of feces was born. Researchers measured volume, velocity, viscosity, even duration of defecation – which is surprisingly stable across mammals of all sizes.

Lynne Anderson

Senior Editor, Health & Medicine

Top story

United Mine Workers members rally in September on Capitol Hill for benefits for retired miners that are at risk. Jose Louis Magana/AP

Mine wars: The struggle for coal miners' health care and pension benefits comes to a head

Simon Haeder, West Virginia University

Coal miners are often romanticized in our society and held up as examples of hard-working Americans who deserve our respect. In reality, many retired miners could get the shaft this Friday.

Economy + Business

Science + Technology


  • Federal role in education has a long history

    Dustin Hornbeck, Miami University

    Trump has ordered a task force to look into the federal government's role in schools. Where does this executive order fit in the country's long history of federal versus state educational policies?

Politics + Society

Ethics + Religion

  • The changing nature of sacred spaces

    Wendy Cage, Brandeis University

    Even as congregations decline, chapels, meditation and prayer rooms are evolving as spaces of multi-faith worship and quiet reflection.

Environment + Energy

  • Is the paper industry getting greener? Five questions answered

    Gary M. Scott, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

    Pulp and paper production is a major industry with a large environmental footprint. Recently, though, paper companies have worked to reduce pollution and promote sustainable forestry and recycling.

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