Trapped Miner Wishes He Could See The Coverage

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Vol 40 Issue 37

Kerry Vows To Raise Wife's Taxes

BOSTON—Campaigning in his home state, John Kerry vowed Monday to raise taxes on his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, whose worth is estimated to be in the range of $900 million to $3.2 billion. "My spouse has benefited long enough from tax cuts," Kerry said. "If Congress increased her taxes by 15 percent, this country would have millions of dollars to use to create new jobs and explore alternative energy sources." Kerry added that it's high time that billionaires like the one with whom he shares his life start paying their fair share.

Letter Of Recommendation Reused For Eighth Intern

NEW YORK—Attorney Dina H. Berman of Oliva, Berman & Chase said Tuesday that he has used the same letter of recommendation for eight consecutive interns. "Unless someone is a complete fuck-up, I can pretty much pull up the letter and just change the names and dates," Berman said. "They're all 'enterprising and enthusiastic with a lot of great ideas and an asset to any team' to me." Berman finished the letter with the standard offer to answer any questions about the intern, but did not correct the transposed digits in her phone number.

Petulant 12-Year-Old Refuses To Brown The Ground Chuck

SCOTTSDALE, AZ—In spite of repeated requests from his mother, 12-year-old John Farina refused to brown the ground chuck Monday. "With the things I do around here, I ask you to do one thing to help me get dinner ready, and even that's too much," Farina's mother Karen yelled at the wall of her son's bedroom, where he had been playing a video game since returning from school. "And I don't care if you don't want taco casserole—it's your sister's turn to pick. You chose sloppy joes yesterday, so deal with it." Family sources report that Farina acceded to his mother's hamburger-related demands as soon as she introduced the alternate threat of washing the lettuce.

Cinemax Director Wins Award For Skinematography

HOLLYWOOD, CA—Marvin Solis, director of the late-night Cinemax offering Uptown Girl, nabbed the coveted Best Skinematography trophy at the 2004 Eroty Awards Monday night. "It's truly an honor to be recognized for this wonderful project," Solis said of the 43-minute erotic thriller, which stars Kira Jackson as a bored high-society housewife seduced into the steamy world of underground sex clubs. "I couldn't have done it without the help of my location scout, my lighting coordinator, and all those 14-year-old Cinemax viewers." Last year, Solis won the Zalman King Lifetime Achievement Award.

Assault-Weapons Ban Expires

The 10-year-old federal law banning the sale of 19 types of semiautomatic assault weapons expired Monday. What do you think?

I Wish My Life Was Better vs. Do You Wish Your Life Was Better?

I spend a lot of time sitting around, hoping that something will drop out of the sky and make my life better. I talk about it all the time. My friends have heard me say it, my family has heard me say it, and my ex-girlfriends have heard me say it. I really believe I deserve more than what I have, but whenever I think about how hard it is to turn things around, I end up feeling so hopeless. I'm stuck in a rut, but what can I do about it?
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Trapped Miner Wishes He Could See The Coverage

MCINTYRE, PA—Kevin Rybicki, a coal miner trapped 340 feet underground, wished Monday that he had more headlamp batteries, another sandwich, and access to the coverage of his plight—which, he assumes, is captivating the nation.

Rescuers attempt to free Rybicki (inset).

"I can't believe how much this sucks," the 47-year-old Western Pennsylvania Mining Corporation employee said, speaking into the darkness. "I'm trapped, I can't stand up, I'm scared to death, and, to top it off, I'm missing all the news stories about me. My big moment, and I'm stuck hundreds of feet below the action."

Coverage of the disaster started just after noon Friday, when the Western Pennsylvania News-Leader announced that a series of load-bearing tunnel spars had collapsed and trapped 32 miners. The paper reported that rescuers were able to free all of the miners except for Rybicki, who was separated from his team by a wall of rock and debris following the cave-in.

After hearing the sounds of rescuers working to free him, Rybicki organized his meager supplies and settled into his crouched position.

"I wonder if there are helicopters out there," Rybicki said as he banged a fist-sized rock against the wall above in hopes of helping rescuers pinpoint his location. "I'm sure, at the very least, there's a whole bunch of vans with satellite dishes on them."

At 4 a.m. Saturday, Rybicki determined that the seep-water level was rising at a rate of about two inches per hour. Several hours before, the Saturday Philadelphia Inquirer went to press with a photo of Rybicki on the front page, above the fold, under the headline "Miner In Peril."

By Saturday afternoon, out-of-state mobile camera crews began to arrive in McIntyre. Shortly thereafter, MSNBC aired an interview with a Western Pennsylvania spokesman who described the friable, shifting rock under which Rybicki was trapped. The story marked Rybicki's national-television debut and included a group photo of Rybicki and several other miners.

"You know what I hope?" Rybicki said Sunday afternoon, angling his face toward the 20-inch pocket of air at the top of the nearly flooded four-foot-high tunnel in which he was trapped. "I hope they use that picture of me hitting that two-run homer in the softball game last year. Or better yet, one of me and my kids. Clay and Becky would love to see their faces on television."

Added Rybicki: "I'd love to see their faces again, too. Or hear their voices."

As nationwide coverage continued and the carbon-dioxide levels rose within Rybicki's cramped space, he missed some extremely compelling reportage. ABC's Good Morning America aired a brief but engaging overview of his mining career which included the much-told family chestnut of how his father and uncle were involved in previous mine accidents.

"If they'd figure out a way to drill through this cap rock and string me down a microphone or something, then I'd be able to tell them about me firsthand," Rybicki said. "I'm sure it'd be more exciting for the viewers than hearing one of the other miners describe me. I mean, really, the guys only know so much."

CBS aired a tearful but hopeful interview with Rybicki's wife, of which Rybicki would certainly have been proud.

"I wish Kevin was here to see this," said Claire Rybicki, his wife of 11 years, unconsciously echoing her husband's thoughts. "If I know my husband, he'd be touched and impressed by this nationally televised show of support."

As of press time, Rybicki was using a rusty nail to scratch his wife a note on a Hostess Cupcake wrapper.

"Man, I sure hope Claire's recording all the news," Rybicki said. "I'm not sure if she knows how to set the VCR. Then again, if this ends badly, then she'll have it on tape. That'd be horrible."

"Hello?" Rybicki added suddenly, dropping his nail in the neck-level water. "Hello? Anyone?"

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