A Disaster Overlooked …

The Washington Post and New York Times both carried multiple stories about the ‘end’ of the government shutdown, about Roger Stone’s arrest, about Venezuela’s current presidency conundrum, and about the Trump ego-wall.  Neither carried, at least not in the major news sections, this story I found in bold headlines in The Guardian:

Hundreds Feared dead as Brazil dam collapse releases mud tide

Are we so wrapped up in our own detritus, in any story that carries the words ‘Trump’, ‘republicans’, ‘corruption’, ‘scandal’, or ‘immigrant’ that we simply don’t care about people in other places?  I don’t know, but apparently our two most credible media outlets think so.  Sure, I understand that we are interested in our own situation which is, unarguably dire, but can we not take a few minutes to care about people in other countries?

Here’s the story as of 2:00 p.m. this afternoon …

Hundreds of people are feared dead after a dam operated by the mining company Vale collapsed in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, releasing a wave of red iron ore waste and causing the worst environmental catastrophe in the country’s recent history.

Ten bodies have already been found and more than 300 people remain missing, according to the company. The disaster comes only three years after a similar failure of the Fundão tailings dam near Mariana – co-owned by Vale – which killed 19 people.

Take a quick look …

Brazil’s new right-wing populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, has frequently attacked environmentalists who predicted this very thing and who have been calling for tighter regulations at the mine.

Most of the victims of the disaster were Vale employees or subcontractors, around 100 of whom were having lunch in a canteen on the mine complex when the torrent of mud swept over them. A busload of workers was also killed, it was reported.

It cost billions to clean up after the Mariana disaster in 2015, which polluted the drinking water of hundreds of thousands. Yet no individual was ever held responsible.

I notice that CNN did do a piece on this catastrophe, and undoubtedly other media outlets in the U.S. covered it as well, but WHY wasn’t it headline news?  Because the majority of the media outlets thought people would rather read the same news they saw yesterday about the shutdown, about Roger Stone, and about Donald Trump. brazil-4

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25 thoughts on “A Disaster Overlooked …

  1. Jill, the breach is a disaster, made far worse by what materials were held back by the dam. This is akin to the TVA coal ask spill, but worse. Or the copper mine residue spill caused by bad decision-making by the EPA and owners. It is vastly underreported. Keith

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  2. Any fool could see this was bound to happen, dumping tailings behind a dam. The pressure build-up over time would become tremendous. The dam could only take so much.
    But life is cheap, and iron ore produces profits. In a world where money is about the most important thing to possess, life is meaningless. Another sign changes need to be made. I just wish it wasn’t so “costly.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, as I was just telling Ellen, this is what happens when money is given a higher value than human lives. I would bet that even after this disaster, the needed changes will not be made. The same is true here of coal mines nowadays. The regulations that were in place have been lifted or eased in the past two years, and I’m just waiting …

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  3. Sadly Jill, the American public or at least a great majority of them has little interest in anything that does not directly affect them and the news media put out what people want to hear. Ted Koppel explains it well : “Journalism has become a sort of competitive screeching : What is trivial but noisy and immediate takes precedence over important matters that develop over time.” While it does not make ignoring Brazil’s disaster right, and it most definitely isn’t, attending to Trump’s every tweet and action is the first priority of the media and of their readers. Perhaps, ignoring Trump would be the better course of action. Thank-you!

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    • That is an excellent quote by Koppel! And you are so right … the media, including social media and bloggers like myself need to step back and re-assess our priorities. While none of us can possibly boycott Trump completely, he and his daily ramblings need to be put in perspective, with other things that are actually more relevant being placed higher on the priority list. I’ve been giving this some thought over the weekend, and I’m going to try to step back a bit. Yes, I will still write about the abominable policies of this administration, but I’m going to try to ignore the personality in the Oval Office, for like a spoiled brat, the louder he is, the more attention he seems to get. It’s time we became the adults in the room.

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  4. Another environmental disaster. If it had been in Florida, near to Mar A Lago, this would have been a major US emergency situation.

    The mud buried a small town down river from the mine.

    Vale turns over $34 Billion in worldwide operations. This IronOre mine is the largest in the Americas. The scale of environmental destruction in just a few minutes is likely going to have ramifications for many years.


    Here is Drone footage of the aftermath… The mine itself covered, railway bridges taken out and trucks tossed around like toys. There will likely be bodies under that lot. 😔

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing that video … it breaks my heart, but y’know … I think everybody living in a capitalist country should have to watch that. THIS is what happens when we put money above people, when greed erases our humanity. 😥 And yes, there are certainly bodies ‘neath all that mud. Last I heard, there were 400 people still unaccounted for, with very little hope for finding more survivors. As you say, if it had happened near Mar-a-Lago, it would have been covered non-stop, but if it had happened in Podunk Iowa, it would have been largely ignored. Collateral damage, I believe is the term the corporate bigwigs would use.

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  5. Hello Jill. What happened to those people is a horrendous crime. They lost their lives, homes, everything they had due to greed. The operators of both dams clearly did not put the money into taking care of them. I doubt those who survived will ever get any compensation. Sad Hugs

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    • We seem to be living in a bubble, and I would like to see the media prioritize a bit better so that we can see outside the bubble, see beyond the ‘man behind the curtain’. Frankly, I find that Trump news is getting old and tiresome. The scenery may vary, but the message is always the same.

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  6. mainstream media is so preoccupied with Trump that they don’t have the sense or the willingness to cover anything else. It’s pathetic and disgusting. That’s all they talk about, trump, trump, trump, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the last two years and it’s infuriating.

    I heard about this disaster on twitter yesterday and it is very very sad. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of the families of those people.

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    • Quite so … the two mass shootings this week in Louisiana and Florida got minimal coverage, overshadowed by Trump, the shutdown and the border wall. Another time, those shootings would have been front-page news for days on end. I begin to think that a good portion of our troubles come from the press itself and their inability to prioritize.

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      • Jill the sense of futility and helplessness as we watch tRump and his crew commit crimes in the open daily is making it hard for us to process the clear fact of how wrong they are. The criminals are doing the crime in open view and there seems no way to stop them or make them pay for their many crimes. This leads to a feeling of simply giving up in my opinion. Which is what I think tRump’s wants us to feel. He knows he overwhelms us with lies and so little fact checking will be done. He is like a 3 year old saying impossible things, it is not take seriously as the big deal it should be because tRump is not a 3 year old. Which works out great for him. Stand strong everyone, the end is near, one way or the other. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

        • The real danger is that we become de-sensitized, that we allow what we are seeing today, what was once the unthinkable, become the norm. Once that happens, then we are sitting ducks, we are the people of Germany in 1933. That is why I keep doing what I do … keep trying to remind people that this is NOT normal, nor acceptable. Sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Great point, I agree. Please keep up the good work. Someday they will look back at these times and those who spoke out will be remembered as the ones who tired to save the nation. Of course after he burns the US down in an attempt to please Putin you wont be able to find a republican who will admit they voted for him and supported him. Hugs

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            • Thanks, Scottie! There are many of us doing the same, and we just hope that collectively, our voices will be heard and somehow make a difference someday. But y’know, some days I sit at this computer and wonder if I’m just being silly and perhaps I could better contribute to the world by knitting blankets for the homeless or something. That usually only lasts a day until I remember I hate knitting! Let us hope this nightmare ends sometime in our lifetime. Hugs!

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