W.Va. orders mine checks

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —Gov. Joe Manchin on Wednesday ordered the immediate inspection of all underground coal mines in West Virginia after an explosion last week killed 29 miners and injured two.

Manchin also asked for the state's more than 200 underground coal mines to cease production Friday to mourn the victims of the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.

"I don't know any better way to honor the miners we've lost and the families who are grieving so much," Manchin said.

Manchin wants the miners to show up for work, but to help check on safety instead of producing coal.

Massey Energy Co., which owns the Upper Big Branch mine where the blast occurred, said a work stoppage was an appropriate way to honor the miners killed.

"Massey will use this as an opportunity to reflect on the events of April 5th and will focus our attention on safety and training," the statement said.

Hawaii's short school year draws protests

HONOLULU — Parents angry about Hawaii's shortest-in-the-nation school year entered the seventh day of their sit-in at Gov. Linda Lingle's office Wednesday despite arrests of two protesters the night before and the issuance of several trespassing citations.

The protesters — camped in the lobby of Lingle's office for five of the past seven days — are upset about the budget-cutting education furloughs approved last year.

As a result, Hawaii students go to school four days in most weeks, and the state owns the distinction of having the shortest instructional calendar in the nation, with just 163 days.