Tag: world

What Mining Companies Can Learn From the Brumadinho Disaster in Brazil

Rafael Augusto B.L. de Oliveira | Brazil

On the afternoon of January 25th, one of Vale’s tailing dams located in Brazil, Brumadinho, which was used to store remains of minerals extracted, burst. Consequently, an entire mining operation and a small town were almost entirely wiped from the map. The company responsible, Vale S.A is a Brazilian multinational corporation that conducts metal refinement and mineral extraction operations. It’s one of the largest companies in the logistics sector in Brazil. The Brumadinho disaster could’ve been avoided if the tailing dams were subject to regular inspection and proper maintenance. The worst of all is that this isn’t the first time Brazilian citizens have to suffer at the hands of unscrupulous, dishonest greedy entrepreneurs who put their profits over the wellbeing of their employers.   

In 2015, Samarco, another big player in the mining extraction business, had one of their tailing dams burst in the town of Mariana, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The burst occurred due to lack of regulations. Greedy mining Corporations fail to provide better safety measures and maintain their equipment properly. In the end, those involved in the mining operations and the population of a town close to it paid a big price for their negligence.  

Samarco’s tailing dam burst in Mariana, Brazil 2015 

Vale’s tailing dam burst in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil 01/25/2019 

Tailing Dams

Every mining operation produces several kinds of wastes no matter what type of mineral they are extracting. This is where tailing dams come in hand. Unlike a normal dam, which is only used to store water temporarily, tailing dams are normally used to store byproducts of a mining operation after their extraction.  

As a consequence, this makes a tailing dam much more dangerous in case it breaks. Unlike a normal dam, which will flood only nontoxic liquids if it breaks, a tailing dam can flood liquid, solid materials or a slurry of fine particles into the environment. And since these materials are usually toxic waste, they can be very harmful to the environment. Not only they can make the soil infertile but they can also be a fatal health risk to those who come into contact.

Who do we hold Responsible?

The government and the company’s department of engineering are also to blame for the Brumadinho disaster. Had they made more frequent inspections and better maintenance of the tailing this entire disaster could’ve been avoided. This burst tailing dam was built with a method that has already been banned from other Latin American countries such as Chile and Peru for safety reasons. 

Arrests

Several members of the mining company, are currently under arrest. From engineers who were responsible to maintain the tailing dam to top Vale executives. As of now, Brazilian law enforcement issued a total of five arrests warrants and seven search warrants. They suspect that the company failed to uphold proper safety measures and masked it by falsifying documents about the current state of the burst tailing dam and its environment. 

Aftermath

As of now, some of the search and recovery efforts made by are beginning to slow down due to the belief that most of the victims are already dead by now. The death toll will be around 200. Thus, making their Brumadinho disaster one of the worst human disasters in the history of Brazil. 

After all those tragic occurrences Vale’s Chief executive Fabio Schvartsman, has stated to the press that after carefully reviewing the Brumadinho disaster and the company’s future projects, Vale’s executive board has decided to shut down all of their remaining tailing dams and freeze 10 mining operations scattered in Brazil. They plan on implementing safer means of storing mineral wastes and slowly decommissioning their dams. 

Impact on the company’s budget

According to financial experts at Vale. This massive shutdown of operations will make the corporation halt the production of 40 million tons of iron ore. This translates to a big financial loss in exportations to the company, especially to the Chinese market.  

Things don’t look any brighter for the company’s future. Shareholders and families of victims of the Brumadinho disaster are suing the company. It will be a long time until the company can recover from this.

Hopefully, both the Brazilian government and mining companies will take precautions to avoid future catastrophic accidents such as this one. This mistake costed several lives and almost an entire town and its environment wiped from the map. I wonder if Vale S.A will remain the largest iron ore and nickel producer in the world. Nevertheless, humans’ lives should never be at stake for more profit by greedy entrepreneurs. 


71 Republic prides itself on distinctly independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon. We appreciate your support.

Featured Image Source

Advertisements

The German Empire Lost World War One Before the Start

By John Keller | United States

In 1914, the stage was set for a world war with European imperialism, growing nationalism, and a web of alliances all coming to a head. The “Powderkeg” of Europe, the Balkans, was set to explode for the third time in two years with the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The German Empire, a key military power of the Central Alliance, lost the war before a shot was even fired. How is this possible? There are several reasons for this, but they fall mainly into seven themes: The German independence of command structure, the mass alteration of the set military plan, the gross misjudgement of French military power, the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military, the underestimation of the British field army, overestimation of Austro-Hungarian military strength, and the failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance.

An Independent Command Structure

The first major error of the German military was its structure of independence of command. The German officer corps, deeply rooted with origins in the Prussian military dating as far back as 1525, boasted a strong tradition that if an officer was correctly trained he could act independently of orders because he would simply know what to do. This system, although effective when dating back to the set-piece battles of the 1700’s, proved to be disastrous for the German Empire. An example of this is at the Battle of the Marne, occurring September 5th through the 12th, 1914.

The German First and Second Army were attacking towards Paris and were starting to lose momentum. The French commander, General Joffre, quickly counterattacked against German General Bulow’s First Army’s right flank. Due to Bulow lacking direct orders in the field from von Moltke, the German Chief of Staff, Bulow ordered his men from his left flank to reinforce his right. This created a several mile wide gap between his army and the neighboring Second Army under General von Kluck. Joffre recognized the opportunity, seized the initiative, and ordered the British Expeditionary Force forward, directly into the gap. As the gap widened, panic struck the two German generals and, lacking communication, a general collapse of the German armies ensued. Lastly, the head of the German command, von Moltke, was proven to be an incompetent leader due to his belief that once he set a plan in motion, his generals would be able to swiftly execute it without major issues or direct intervention from his headquarters. This is apparent during the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes and the First Battle of the Marne when von Moltke issued a total of two orders, neither directed towards either of the battle zones. This inability to coordinate attacks and failure of the German generals to cooperate cost them the war.

A Modified Plan

Although the German officer corps was plagued with issues in regards to the autonomy of their generals on the field, they also suffered from Moltke’s constant alteration of the original military strategy. The German military plan, originally formed by Schlieffen, called for a strong right-wing thrust through the Netherlands and Belgium and into northern France, where the bulk of the army would be in position to take Paris and strike the rear of the French military, leading to a swift victory and allowing for the Germans to then swing their full military might on Russia. The problem that arose occurred when Moltke ordered 40,000 men, roughly the strength of a corp, away from Third Army, under General Hausen, which served as the center of the swing through Belgium. These men were strategically redeployed to the 8th Army in East Prussia preparing to fight against Russia in the case of a two-front war. This was further an issue when in September of 1914, when the German attack through Belgium was in full swing and was on the verge of ending the war in the west, von Moltke ordered three divisions, roughly 54,000 men, to the east to support von Hindenburg’s Eighth Army, which had recently won a miraculous victory at Tannenberg. Due to Moltke’s meddling with the original plan, roughly 94,000 men were taken away from the main German thrust into northern France, which led to the Germans being forced to switch from their main drive from the West of Paris to the east, leaving a 296 kilometer gap between the German far right flank and the sea.

Underestimations of the Enemy

Furthermore, the Germans grossly underestimated the military power of the French. With the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Germans believed the French army to be weak, and rightly so. In the German Empire, they had a population of roughly 40 million people, in which they mobilized 1.2 million men. The French Empire, which had a total population of 42 million, only mobilized 900,000 men. The aftermath of the war was roughly 139,000 French killed to roughly 28,000 Germans killed. With such a grand victory over an empire that was larger, the Franco-Prussian War showed the weakness the French army had and led to Germany being the undisputed European superpower on land. Germany also believed that France and its army was lacking in quality due to the French army’s failures abroad in their interventions in Mexico (1862-67), their loss to Korea (1866), and their slow victory over Algeria, taking them 17 years to conquer this small nation lacking in modern military equipment, when the Germans defeated France’s modern army in roughly nine months. This all led to the underestimation of France’s military, which, in 1914, boasted a mobilization strength of 2.1 million men and 4,000 artillery pieces to Germany’s 2.9 million men and 5,700 artillery pieces.

Moreover, the Germans had the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military. Although Russia had suffered a string of defeats, it had also seen a vast improvement overall. The Russian Empire had suffered a defeat in the hands of the “Allies”, a united alliance of the French Empire, British Empire, Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia, in the Crimean War of 1853-56. Although the Russian Empire lost the war itself, they had won most of the land battles. They were only forced to surrender when the Tzar ordered a backing out of the war (and the Danube region, giving power back to the Turks) as a result of the need to train the Russian Army. They had sent their men into combat inexperienced and mostly untrained which cost them about half a million men. As a result of this war, Russia was misjudged as weak; however, Russia took from their mistake and started equipping and retraining her army.

The belief that Russia was weak was furthered by a series of 1500 minor mutinies in the Russian ranks up until 1903. At this point, Russia was on the verge of completing its initial reformation policy; however, in 1904 they were at war with Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Japan had attacked the Russian Empire without a formal declaration of war. The Tzar was totally stunned by this and ordered a mobilization of forces into Siberia. The problem was that there was only one railway into Siberia and the bulk of the Russian Imperial Navy was in the Baltic Sea when it needed to be deployed against the Japanese in the Sea of Japan. It was clear that the Japanese had the clear advantage in the war, and after about a year and a half of fighting the Russians were defeated, Nearly one-third of the Japanese Imperial Army was killed (86,100 men) compared to the Russians dead of 54,400 men.

The Russians, then returning from a “defeat”, were then tossed into a war-torn empire with the outbreak of the Revolution of 1905. After winning the revolution and a constitution put in place, although the Tzar kept his throne, several political, economic, and primarily military changes went underway. From 1856 to 1905 the Russian Imperial defense budget dropped by 12%, coming to only 56% of the German military’s budget, even though the Russian military was nearly  47% larger. Russian mobilization strength went from a million men and 22 artillery batteries to 3.1 million men and 385 artillery batteries. By the time their new policy was implemented and ready to go, the Russian Empire would be able to raise ten armies fully backed by artillery (an estimated 13,400 artillery pieces). This compared to Germany’s mobilization strength of 2.9 million men composed into eight armies supported by 206 artillery batteries (5,700 artillery pieces). This miscalculation would lead to a brutal campaign that would force Germany to move over 100,000 men away from France, which would be crucial in the first campaign.

In addition to this, the German high command seriously underestimated the British Army and disregarded it as an effective force in the field. A key factor in this assumption was the size of the British professional army. It had only 125,000 men composed into six infantry divisions and one cavalry division backed by only 470 artillery guns. The entire British field army had hardly the strength of a German field army; however, they still had a militia reserve of 285,000 men. In addition, they had only 66% of the artillery one German army would have. To further the German’s belief that the British army was inferior was the recent defeats and poor conduct of the British army. While fighting the Zulu African tribe for control of South Africa, they lost most of their battles despite holding superior firepower. Furthermore, in the Boer Wars, the British Empire had to fight South African militia rebels, and the British suffered nearly 22,000 dead to the Boers 9,000. Although the British had won, thousands of British were left dead or seriously injured at the hands of the South African militia. Moreover, the British Empire had a naval focus. The British Navy boasted nearly 160 modern warships and the German navy boasted a strength of only 87. In addition, the French Navy supported the British Navy with an additional 91 warships. By having twice as many warships, the British spent £173,500,000 on their navy (roughly $267,190,000) and the Germans spent ₰986,523,189 on their total military (roughly $573,000,000). This vast difference would be a key premise that lead to a major underestimation of the British military power.

The Overestimation of an Ally

To add to the miscalculations by the German General Staff was the overestimation of the military strength of Austria-Hungary. The first error of this was that Field Marshal von Moltke expected his Austrian counterpart, Field Marshal Conrad von Hotzendorf, to field a modern and effective army. The Austro-Hungarian army fielded about one million men at mobilization, supported by 1,200 artillery pieces. 26% of the Austro-Hungarian army had equipment dated back to 1895. The remaining 74% of the Austro-Hungarian military had mainly 1903 equipment; however, their artillery force used mainly guns dating back to 1908 and even fewer more modern 1911 guns. The main rifle being used by the Austro-Hungarian field armies was the Mannlicher-Schonauer, a rifle that went into production in 1903. The secondary rifle of the Austro-Hungarian field armies was the Steyr-Mannlicher M1895. This army was expected to decisively defeat 420,000 Serbians using generally more modern equipment, notably pre-modern (post-1900 production) rifles and artillery, as well as roughly 2,000,000 Russians, using mainly postmodern rifles and artillery, due to the modernization after the Russian loss in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). Outnumbered and primarily outgunned, the German high command expected the Austro-Hungarian to perform ably and decisively in the field.

To cause this belief among the German General Staff was a recent string of Austro-Hungarian victories. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a stunning victory over the Ottoman Empire, where they funded a revolution in Bulgaria. This sparked the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, in which the Austro-Hungarians brought their two greatest rivals against each other, which lead to a serious weakening of the Ottoman Empire when the independence of Bulgaria was established in the postwar treaty. This war further benefited Austria-Hungary, because the Russian Empire was forced to back down when they attempted to make Bulgaria a puppet state and assert their dominance in the Balkans, due to the fact the British Empire stepped in and humiliated the Tzar. This caused a restriction on Russian influence in affairs in the Balkans.

With such a stunning result, and wanting to further their gains, the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1905 and became the undisputed power in the Balkans. This, however, was a major diplomatic and political victory, and not a military victory, which the Germans were depending on their southern neighbors to make in the next war. The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s military problems were furthered by their Chief of the General Staff, Conrad von Hotzendorf, who proved unsuited for his position. He was fancied a military genius by colleagues when this proved to be nowhere near reality. He simply could not deliver a decisive victory when it was needed. He lost battles in Galicia, got, an entire army enveloped and entrapped around the Fortress of Przemysl, and was forced to abandon his positions around Krakow. Conrad von Hotzendorf proved in his many failures that he could not lead the Austro-Hungarian military, and the defeats were only going to add up as the war prolonged.

The Italy Problem

The final issue that brought the German Empire ruin was their failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance. The main reason for this was the Austro-Italian complex. Article Seven of the Amended Triple Alliance, written in 1912, states that:

“Austria-Hungary and Italy, having in mind only the maintenance, so far as possible, of the territorial status quo in the Orient, engage to use their influence to forestall any territorial modification which might be injurious to one or the other of the Powers signatory to the present Treaty.”

Between 1848 and 1866, Italy fought three wars of independence from the Austrian Empire. Although independence was eventually granted, Italy still had claims on the Tyrol Region (Trento), Trieste Region, the Dalmatian Islands, and much of the Austro-Hungarian coast on the Adriatic Sea. This all contributed to strained relations between Italy and Austria-Hungary, which created the Italo-German Complex. After Italy gained independence and Prussia unified Germany and formed the German Empire, they became natural allies, as they were the only new nations in the world power struggle of the era; however, as time went on, it was clear that Germany and Italy had different national goals. Germany planned on taking territory from France and weakening Russia as a European power. Italy had very limited plans about war with France, as they had helped secure Italian independence. Furthermore, Italy had made plans to reclaim their lands from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and form an Empire dominant in the Mediterranean and Africa. These plans would cause the final issue, the Ottoman-Italian complex. The Ottoman Empire had formed a secret alliance with the Germans, which was a problem for the Italian Empire. The Ottoman Empire dominated the eastern Mediterranean which made it a prime rival for the Italians, who proved they were on a warpath with the Ottomans in the Italo-Ottoman War of 1911 in which they seized several Ottoman islands and took Ottoman controlled Libya. These all led to the following message from the German Ambassador at Rome, Baron Ludwig von Flotow, to the German Foreign Office in 1914:

“The Minister, who was in a state of great excitement, said in explanation that the entire Ministerial Council, with the exception of himself, had shown a distinct dislike for Austria. It had been all the more difficult for him to contest this feeling, because Austria, as I myself knew, was continuing so persistently with a recognized injury to Italian interests, as to violate Article 7 of the Triple Alliance treaty, and because she was declining to give a guaranty for the independence and integrity of Serbia.”

This culminated in Italy rejecting the Central Powers offer to join them in their war against Serbia, which violated Article Five of the Amended Triple Alliance of 1912, “They engage henceforward, in all cases of common participation in a war, to conclude neither armistice, nor peace, nor treaty, except by common agreement among themselves.” This then further disconnected Italy from the Central Powers and would eventually cost the German and Austro-Hungarians 1.6 million casualties and forced 66 divisions away from the other main fronts.

The German Empire, through their independence of command structure, the mass alteration of their military strategy, the gross misjudgement of French military power, the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military, the underestimation of the British field army, overestimation of Austro-Hungarian military strength, and the failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance, lost World War One before even a shot was fired. Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.” The German Empire failed to do the many calculations needed to wage war, and therefore the First World War was lost to them before it was even fought.


Get awesome merchandise. Help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy. Donate today to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Knowledge is Asymptotic, Not Absolute or Relative

By Craig Axford | United States

It is understandable that we would prefer sharp clean distinctions. From an evolutionary perspective, being decisive is far more advantageous on the savanna where lions, snakes, and various other dangers lurk than being a philosopher or scientist who prefers to consider every predator’s behavior in context. Yes, the blood dripping from its mouth is probably an indication it just ate, but let’s just climb the nearest tree and figure out how hungry it really is later.

In nature, being wrong often comes with little cost. Indeed, caution could be defined as the willingness to be wrong almost every time in order to improve your chances of survival. Overreactions to potential threats really only need to be right once to pay huge dividends.

We still act this way today. The odds of a car accident during any given trip are hundreds to one against, but we still buckle up and the government still requires manufacturers to place airbags in automobiles. Likewise, we expect pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals to inform us of the risk associated with various treatments even though psychological research has shown that we consistently tend to overestimate the true danger even when we’re in possession of the data.

Given our tolerance for error in so many of our routine daily activities, you could be forgiven for thinking we are quite tolerant of it in a scientific context. After all, error is an expected part of the scientific process, even if the hope is that it will progressively diminish as our knowledge increases.

Instead, scientists are consistently accused of crying wolf or of just plain getting it wrong. Every meteorologist knows that if they claim there’s an 80% chance of rain and it doesn’t rain, they’ll be accused ruining people’s weekend plans. Likewise, if a doctor tells a patient there’s a 1% risk of experiencing a particular side effect and the patient turns out to be that unlucky one in a hundred, the patient will inevitably suspect the doctor underestimated the risk.

In 1989, Isaac Asimov published an essay in The Skeptical Inquirer entitled “The Relativity of Wrong.” It was inspired by a letter Asimov had received from a student majoring in English literature who felt the need to set Asimov straight on the subject of science. The English lit major was convinced that Asimov had been a too eager promoter of science, given that science had over the past few centuries been initially wrong about a great many things. The student reminded the great writer and scientist that Socrates had said that “If I am the wisest man, it is because I alone know that I know nothing.”

The student’s letter serves simultaneously to remind us that both relativism and absolutism are poor perspectives from which to view the universe if our goal is to expand our comprehension of it. Socrates was offering a lesson in humility and a statement regarding absolute or perfect knowledge, not making a claim that it is impossible to gain greater understanding. Too many of us, like the student who wrote Asimov, think that anything short of perfect knowledge is ignorance, and therefore unworthy of our effort.

An asymptote is a line that continually approaches another line but never actually touches it. Knowledge is asymptotic, not absolute.

In his response to the student Asimov wrote, “John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.” He goes on to point out that the curvature of the earth is only about “0.000126 per mile,” so the flat earthers weren’t completely out to lunch given that’s awfully close to zero. As for the earth being a sphere, due to a bulge at the equator it’s more like an “oblate spheroid.”

But Asimov’s larger point is that as we gather more facts and consider how they fit together our understanding approaches a perfect knowledge. That it never becomes absolute is irrelevant. The flat earthers weren’t 100% wrong, but they were more wrong than those who thought the world was spherical, who were more wrong than those who realized planets bulge at their equator, and so on.

Isaac Asimov would be disappointed to read all the headlines circulating on the Internet these days that provocatively declare — more in the interest of clicks than truth, I suspect — that “Science is wrong” about this or that. Skeptics throw out words like “scientism,” which I suppose is meant to distinguish those of us convinced that science is something worthy of our respect and attention from people like John, the English literature major who is wise because he, like Socrates, knows he knows nothing.

People will argue that a vaccine with a success rate of 50% is a failure because up to half the people receiving it might still get sick, as though reducing the instances of a particular disease by half was just as bad as not reducing the number of people sickened by the virus at all. They will point to the one in 10,000 infants that has a negative reaction to a vaccination while ignoring the millions that no longer get measles or mumps, as if that single infant is proof the whole vaccination enterprise is a disaster.

Finally, someone will inevitably cite some scientist or another who falsified their data in order to convince the rest of us their hypothesis was correct, and use this case to discredit science. Integrity is central to the scientific method. Blaming science for a scientist who was either dishonest or inept is like blaming the law every time a bank is robbed or blaming internal combustion for accidents caused by distracted driving. Scientists, like everyone else, make mistakes. Sometimes they are intentional, though usually it’s just human error.

Arriving at a better understanding of our world and how all the different bits fit together and influence one another is what makes science and philosophy interesting. One of the reasons I enjoy writing is it allows me to explore different perspectives and to use the process to improve my understanding. Writing is thinking in action.

Nothing we do leads to a perfect understanding, but hopefully our efforts move us steadily further from the chaos of absolute relativism. Truth is asymptotic. Knowledge is asymptotic. The arc of our understanding will hopefully keep bending steadily toward perfection. We shouldn’t be discouraged because it will never reach it.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on 71Republic.com

Other stories by Craig that you may enjoy:

The Decay of Independent Thought to Bleakness

I no longer feel for those I kill. In a sense, the world has done me a great favor. My cross to bear, from man to man, woman to woman, child to child, is exhausting. One could call it disheartening, though I reckon many would figure I don’t have much of one to lose. Yet, an escape from this curse has never been closer…

Perhaps an escape is not the correct way to phrase it. Rather, I have been given medicine. Yes, finally, an alleviation to my long-numbed pain. But at the same time, I now hold a helpful tool. In fact, my existence has never been more simple.

Why, then, is there still something missing? A melody unsung, soaking, dissolving in a sea of cacophony. A note of confidence, forever lost in confusion’s dark haze.

Unbeknownst to me, a thin, severe-looking woman with sharp features and stark gray hair, perhaps sixty or so, meanders in front of my path. I let out a flustered sigh, and notice my error an instant too late. The woman, making contact with my icy breeze, crumples to the cold marble floor with a resounding thud. Dead.

Upon a closer glance, I identify her, not needing so much as a gaze at her business card, which protruded slightly from her charcoal suit.

Susan F Downer, Attorney at Law.

I then shift away from information visible to her clients. Age 52, mother of three. Heavily in debt, bit of a drinker.

Much like all the rest lately, an avid PubliCoreNews follower.

After gathering information from the brain, I always peer into the soul, searching for some link between the two. A lawyer, an optimistic voice in my head reasons. Perhaps she has yet to fall victim to Bleakness.

But as I examine the depths of cognizant thought, I realize both the brain and soul are as blank as their temporary resting place. As the last of her life fades away without an ounce of protest, Susan Downer’s conscience softly slips into silence. It was all over in less than a second.

This time with more care, my forever frozen lips emit a bored sigh, much unlike the last.

The Enlightened souls, those yet to succumb to Bleakness, put up a fight. However tiring and heart-wrenching it may be, there is a great degree of satisfaction, of excitement, to grappling pugnacious, resisting souls. It reassures that they had lived their lives well, and that all, if even for a moment, had truly found themselves.

In the many thousands I visit each day, I struggle to remember the last soul to oppose me.

Shuffling away from the attorney, I begin to fully take in my surroundings. I’m in a vast hallway, with grandiose stone pillars running up the walls, magnificently arched ceilings with perfectly spaced globes of light hanging from them. A courtroom. Sliding across the floor, I reach a large wooden door, the intricately carved handle longing to be pushed open, to be useful. It reminded me of the thoughts I gleaned from Susan’s consciousness; simple and limited. I give in, delivering a gentle push on the handle as the door creaks open.

I step outside and a cold, sharp wind pierces deep inside of me.

Perhaps this is what it feels like for everyone else when I come.

A saturating mist is falling from a dark, heavy sky, but it has little effect on the vicious crowds below. To one side, an army of colors battles a horde of those dressed in jet black.

Despite a clear hatred of each other, the units appear to share two things. In each of their eyes rests a burning fury. In each of their hands lies a small black screen, PubliCoreNews clearly visible on them all, blasting messages of dehumanization. PubliCoreNews shouted, and the crowds chanted, louder, fiercer, angrier.

I don’t know who threw the first ball of slush, leftover from the previous week’s storm. I don’t know who retaliated with the first stone.

But I do know the first victim.

A rock, perhaps the size of a softball, launched from the hand of a weak black-clad man. I later learned he had been aiming several feet behind the young girl’s head.

I silently float to her side, resting near her anguished mother.

Danielle McCarthy, age 6, first grade.

The mother’s screams are drowned by the louder, more pertinent rage of events. Little Danielle’s mind, however, is not empty, like Susan’s. It merely whimpers why, forever stuck on a question without an answer.

I rest a hand on the mother’s weeping head, and she falls beside her daughter. An act of kindness. Melissa McCarthy, widowed, 38, would never have to live alone in this empty world. But as I look into her soul, and find PubliCoreNews has changed how she thought, told her how she thought. I find only Bleakness, and wonder for how long she has already been alone.

Around me, PubliCoreNews blares. Rocks land, some hitting their marks. Screams of pain are muffled by barks of ferocity.

All stand oblivious to the little girl and her mother.

How could they care, with their screens pulsing every thought into their brains? There simply was no room for humanity, for morality. PubliCoreNews saw through to that.

There will be no winner to this battle, but a loser, humanity, stays fueled by the media’s iron grip as the world sinks further into Bleakness.

*  *  *  *  *

The year is 2018. The setting, a courtroom deciding upon an important verdict. Though the events and names of this story are not real, the concepts are all too much so. Bleakness infects the minds and souls of many, when opposing thought is extirpated for the sake of conformity. Despite a degree of hyperbole within this narrative, the dangers of limited media perspective in society are nonetheless present.

However, hope is not lost, as 71 Republic is reinventing journalism. With a free speech platform and a variety of perspectives on key issues, we at 71 Republic emphasize independent thought and quality journalism. Rather than mandating how to think, we hope to explain why we think. To help support 71 Republic’s mission of overcoming Bleakness, please fuel our Patreon. The time to act is now. Can we count on you?


Support our work by donating to our Patreon, which can be found by clicking here.

Italy’s Populist Government Materializes

By James Sweet III | Italy

In Italy, the xenophobic League party, led by Matteo Salvini, has organized a governing coalition with the Euroskeptic Five Star Movement, led by Luigi Di Maio. This new government would be heavily based on Euroskeptism, populism, and skepticism to refugees and immigrants.

Giuseppe Conte, a law professor at Florence University, is going to become the next Prime Minister. With the nation being the third largest economy in the European Union, other members fear for the future for the European Union’s overall economy. Both parties support cuts in taxes while also increasing spending, a harmful move for a nation whose debt has recently soared to become 132% of its total GDP. For comparison, that is the second worst in the European Union, with Greece being the first. 15% of the European Union’s total GDP derives from Italy, and 23% of its debt belongs to the nation.

The two parties have agreed on three major policies: universal basic income, tax cuts, and a lower pension age. The proposed basic income would be €780 a month, which is equivalent to $917. The proposed cuts to taxes would lower the rates to a number between 15% and 20%. Capital Economics predicts that, if these policies were enacted, Italian debt would rise by 150%, relative to their GDP, over the next five years.

Federico Santi, an analyst at Eurasia Group, stated, “their plans on fiscal policy would result in a huge increase in the deficit, a blatant violation of EU deficit rules. If implemented in their current form [these proposals] would still result in an additional €100 billion ($117.8 billion) in additional spending or lower revenue.”

Member nations, like France, are concerned over the new government of Italy, with the Economy Minister of France, Bruno Le Maire, believing the stability of the Eurozone would be at stake. Euroskeptism is rising in the Union, and it’s only time until they reach a breaking point.


Featured Image Source