Nobody cares about the Beirut explosions?

When there is a massive explosion in the middle of a city of more than 2 million people, you might expect people around the world to be interested. Certainly that was true in 1917 when, despite World War I going on, people were interested in the Halifax Explosion (see “City rebuilding costs from the Halifax explosion” for some excerpts from a good book on the subject).

Some graphics from the NYT, taking a rare break from Trump hatred:

Let’s consider my Facebook feed as a good proxy for what the coastal righteous care about. None of my friends care about this explosion! Here is a list of topics from the past few hours:

  • Covid-19 will permanently damage everyone whom it infects, even if it doesn’t kill everyone
  • Trump appointed an anti-abortion person to something
  • whether flight instructors should work in the age of Covid-19 (posted by a Shutdown Karen CFI)
  • Trump struggles to say ‘Yosemite’ at White House speech
  • various articles about whether America’s unionized public school teachers can be forced to work and whether America’s non-unionized private school teachers can be forced to not work
  • exhortations to wear masks more and “more better” (covering the nose, for example!)
  • 2015 Tianjin explosions (loosely related!)
  • “So far 2020 is like looking both ways before crossing the street and then getting hit by an airplane” (a meme that could apply to Beirut!)
  • a post about how Republican leadership is bad for the U.S. economy
  • stuff about what will happen when Trump refuses to leave office in January 2021 (with opinions by “experts” on the subject of something that has never happened, i.e., a U.S. president refusing to hang over the reins)

Is it fair to say that Covid-19 primarily affects the mind? Americans (nearly all of my Facebook friends are American) no longer think about anything but their personal welfare with respect to Covid-19 (the Trump-related stuff counts because these people believe that the Great Father in Washington can determine whether or not they are infected).


23 thoughts on “Nobody cares about the Beirut explosions?

  1. Without belittling the tragedy it is appropriate to point out that the site of the explosion was not “in the middle of a city” but at one edge of it.

  2. The explosion had the seismic force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake and reports say about 3 kilotons of ammonium nitrate went off. In addition to all the death and destruction the blast took out the grain silos where most of Lebanon’s grain is stored, something like 85%. So they are going to need grain. When I saw the first pics. I thought it was a low yield nuke in the 1-5 kt range but the mushroom cloud was red/orange and that said ammonium nitrate. Nothing about it on NPR this afternoon in about 2 hours of driving around but plenty of Trump, etc.

  3. A one time industrial accident is newsworthy for about 24 hours, but not longer, as it doesn’t recur and is does not much affect the public who don’t live in the immediate area.

    But I would have thought storing mountains of ammonium nitrate would be taken a lot more seriously as a risk. I remember reading about the Texas City explosion and I guess I assumed there was something that was done to avoid that kind of incident. But thinking more about it, I don’t see how you can make thousands of tons of explosive material more safe unless you just refuse to put it all in one place.

  4. “these people believe that the Great Father in Washington can determine whether or not they are infected”

    Is that worse than believing the executive branch of the federal government has no responsibility for national pandemic control?

    • I saw it now. The translation from the Arabic might not be ideal. Do they actually have a “rum hospital” in Beirut? If so, there are a lot of Americans who’ve been preparing for months to get in there…

    • @Charles E Flynn:

      Amazing. The before/after photo of ground zero, in particular the grain silos next to the crater where the warehouse used to be. The entire back row of silos is still standing, but all of the surrounding buildings — including the partially shielded ones! — were completely obliterated. Those silos must be made of reinforced concrete.

      The article’s discussion of the origin of the ammonium nitrate is even better.

      “Prokoshev says he tried to enlist the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin, writing to him every month. In a separate interview with Radio Liberty, he says he got a frosty answer from the Russian consulate in Beirut.

      “They told me ‘What do you want Putin to do? Send special forces to release you by force?”

      How’s that for S**t Out of Luck?

      You know someone is going to name a punk rock band “Rhosus” and the story of that ship is astounding. 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate being shipped from Georgia to an explosives company in Mozambique. Rustavi Azot LLC.

      They refuse to confirm they produced the cargo, to absolutely nobody’s surprise.

    • And what in the world would they be using non-Russian ammonium nitrate to make explosives for in Mozambique and maybe neighboring Zimbabwe? Mining gold, copper, iron, other semiprecious stones – and *** diamonds *** going back at least to 2011 (and even 2009 if you look), two years before the Rhosus set sail.

      “…the newspaper established that 21 companies and six individuals had been awarded 40 diamond exploration licences in 2011.”

  5. Bunch of speculation, with some plausibility, that it was a strike to take out stored ordinance. If that is the case, depending on who did it the press wouldn’t push it. And if the press doesn’t push it Karen doesn’t care.

  6. Here is a fact that western’s don’t know about Lebanon.

    With all hardship that you hear on the news, one thing is a true fact and never changes: a significant of the population has no work and poor, but yet restaurants, clubs and parties at night are booked and alive, every night 7 days a week. No, not by tourist, by Lebanese, by the same Lebanese that complain about not having work or money, the poor ones.

    • How is that possible ?

      I doubt that people who do not have jobs go to restaurants. What would they pay with ? You sound a bit like my Ukrainian friend who says that “life is good in Ukraine because everybody drives a Mercedes”. When pressured, he provides some examples of his college buddies who became corrupt government officials or mini-oligarchs. Perhaps, the same sort of people frequent restaurants in Lebanon ?

    • @Ivan, I know this as both personal experience and from families I still have in the Middle East (Aleppo mostly).

      I was in Beirut (for 3 days) and Aleppo (for 7 days) back in the summer of 2010 (just before the Arab Spring) [1] visiting families, my last visit.

      Even on the day of the explosion, with all the high unemployment you hear and rioting you see see in Lebanon (do some Google’ing) they are still having fun [2] more then we will ever have.

      I have no idea how they do it, but I know for fact, they hardly work during the day (5 hours is the average work day) and party very much every single night. If not at a club, then at home.

      Lebanon is far worse. Head over to Youtube and search for Lebanese singers. Make sure to include “females”. They are far sexier and wilder then you will see on American TV. Here, let me get you started,

      Why do you think my family, left Aleppo, and immigrated to the USA, legally, back in 1981?


    • George:

      “Why do you think my family, left Aleppo”

      I do not know. Judging by your description of life in Beirut, they probably made a mistake by substituting the harsh capitalist reality of this country where they have to eke out a living for the happy and carefree life in Lebanon where one can party “every night 7 days a week” without worrying about how to pay for that lifestyle.

      Seriously, though, you probably left the country when you were too young, and now you do not know anyone from the partying crowd closely enough to understand how they finance their lifestyle. “Job” in my previous message is a synonym of “income” and includes those of gangster or corrupt government official too, both vocations requiring certain skill sets just as any other occupation.

    • @Ivan, this is getting off topic, but I be happy to provide more context if it will add value to readers of this blog.

      I was 14 when my family left Aleppo, Syria and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I revisited several times over the years. What I know of the country isn’t just my experience, it is family connection too.

      Lebanon is 100 times more corrupted and spoiled then Syria but yet my father could not live in Aleppo and thus decided to immigrate. His picks were: USA, UK or Canada (in that order).

      We left for 2 main reasons: a) living in Syria means you must become corrupt, and b) living in Syria means you give up your dignity. He didn’t want any of this for me or my brother so he wanted out.

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