Under a Rock

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The collapse of the Brumadinho Dam has killed 186 people so far.

Sofie Dalton, Sentry Staff Reporter

Here in the United States, we tend to focus on news that is breaking within our borders. However, there are a plethora of news stories happening internationally that many Americans are unaware of. Here are some “under the rock” news stories that you may not have heard of:

Brumadinho Dam Collapse: Tragedy struck Brazil on January 25, 2019 when a dam that held highly toxic mining waste at the Córrego do Feijão Mine in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais Brazil collapsed. It is being called the worst environmental disaster to ever happen in Brazil, with a current death toll of 186 people and at least 122 still missing, according to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). The dam’s collapse triggered a torrent of 11.7 million cubic meters of toxic sludge that destroyed everything in its path: the mine’s facilities, vehicles, farms, houses and buildings. This travesty has sparked outrage among locals, and blame has largely been directed towards Vale, the company that owns the mine. Recently, Vale’s CEO, Fabio Schvartsman, and other senior executives stepped down following prosecutors’ recommendation that they resign. Vale- the largest iron ore producer in the world- is facing an enormous amount of criticism. This backlash is fueled by this not being the first time one of Vale’s mines had a dam collapse, a potential cover-up by mine officials regarding the dam’s safety and a failed emergency warning system. There is much more to be uncovered as the details of this environmental and human catastrophe further unravel.

Nigerian Soccer Player’s Mother Gets Released: On February 27, Ozuruonye Juliet Kalu, the mother of twenty-one year old FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Nigerian men’s national soccer team player Samuel Kalu, was abducted from her car on her way home in the Abia state of Nigeria. On March 4, authorities announced that she had been released to her family. It has not been announced if any ransom was paid in order to get Ozuruonye released. Kidnapping is a widespread problem in Nigeria, with the rich and famous being prime targets, and now soccer players and their families are increasingly finding themselves in danger. In June of 2018, the Nigerian men’s national soccer team’s captain John Mikel Obi’s father, Pa Michael Obi, was kidnapped and held for ransom. According to the BBC, he was released after 10 million naira- nearly $28,000- in ransom was paid. This was the second time Pa Michael was abducted, the first time being in 2011. The terrorist group Boko Haram has also been known for its kidnapping; particularly regarding the 276 school girls who were taken from their school in Chibok back in April of 2014. This latest incident underlines an epidemic tearing through the West African nation.

Why Not To Keep A Pet Lion: Ever wondered why getting a pet lion is not a good idea? On March 5, Michael Prasek was mauled to death by his pet lion in an eastern Czech Republic village. Prasek owned two lions: a male and a female that he kept in separate homemade pens in his backyard. He purchased the lions back in 2016 and was previously denied permission to build the pens on his property. After buying the lion and lioness, Prasek was fined for illegal breeding. However, law enforcement was unable to pursue the matter further after Prasek refused to let them onto his property. The lions could not be removed from his property because there was no evidence of animal cruelty and a lack of Czech facilities where the lions could be placed. Last summer, Prasek’s name was in the headlines after a cyclist collided with his lioness as he was walking her on a leash. Prasek’s body was found in the male lion’s cage, and according to the BBC, the police shot both lions in order to get to the body. This tragic incident is a reminder of why attempting to domesticate wild animals is dangerous for both the human and the animal.

Old Montreal Hospital Converted Into Homeless Shelter: Now for some good news: in January of 2019, the former Royal Victoria Hospital site in downtown Montreal, Canada, became a homeless shelter to help protect people from the chilling winter temperatures. This 80-bed emergency shelter opened on January 15 and will stay open until mid-April, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News. It is serving as an emergency shelter for homeless individuals who have been turned away from other shelters that are already at capacity, and it also has a space for pets. The idea for this shelter came after local organizations that assist homeless people voiced concern as shelters reached capacity and the winter temperatures continued to dip. Thankfully, the shelter at the Royal Victoria site has been able to provide refuge from the cold. The second night that the shelter was open, temperatures reached -18.4 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill, and the number of people using the shelter doubled from the night before. This temporary shelter has been funded by the city of Montreal and the Quebec government. The mayor of Montreal, Valerie Plante, has been extremely supportive of the project. “No one should be outside right now in the cold; everybody deserves a roof,” Plante said in a press conference.

There are countless “under the rock” stories out there, spanning across different nations, cultures, people and topics. It is important to not only read and digest the stories that are fed to us in mainstream American media, but to search for news outside of our comfort zones. This will allow us to gain a broader understanding of the world in which we live.