Hideous Death Toll in Puerto Rico Revealed. Media Runs on Roseanne

May 31, 2018


Not saying mainstream media is racist.
But how would it be different if they were?

Lazy reporting focused on clickbait and celebrity trash news is not just making us stupider, it’s killing us.

Media Matters:

On Tuesday, Harvard researchers published a study estimating that approximately 5,000 deaths can be linked to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The same day, ABC canceled Roseanne Barr’s eponymous show Roseanne after Barr sent a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former President Barack Obama. Cable news covered Barr’s tweet and her show’s cancellation 16 times as much as the deaths of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.

While the official death toll remains at just 64, the Harvard study, written up in The Washington Post, “indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared with 2016, or 4,645 ‘excess deaths.’” BuzzFeed News, which also reported on the study, further explained that the researchers adjusted their estimate up to 5,740 hurricane-related deaths to account for “people who lived alone and died as a result of the storm” and were thus not reported in the study’s survey.

Cable news barely covered the report. The May 29 broadcasts of MSNBC combined with the network’s flagship morning show the next day spent 21 minutes discussing the findings. CNN followed with just under 10 minutes of coverage, and Fox covered the report for just 48 seconds.

By contrast, cable news spent over 8 and a half hours discussing a tweet from Barr describing Jarrett, a Black woman, as the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes and the subsequent cancellation of her show.

Washington Post:

Miliana Montanez cradled her mother’s head as she lay dying on the floor of her bedroom here, gasping for air and pleading for help.

There was nothing her family could do. It took 20 minutes to find cellular reception to make a 911 call. Inoperative traffic signals slowed down the ambulance struggling to reach their neighborhood through crippling congestion.

Ivette Leon’s eyes bulged in terror as she described to her daughter the tiny points of light that appeared before her. She took one last desperate gulp of air just as paramedics arrived. Far too late.

More than eight months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s slow recovery has been marked by a persistent lack of water, a faltering power grid and a lack of essential services — all imperiling the lives of many residents, especially the infirm and those in remote areas hardest hit in September.

A new Harvard study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that at least 4,645 deaths can be linked to the hurricane and its immediate aftermath, making the storm far deadlier than previously thought. Official estimates have placed the number of dead at 64, a count that has drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents and spurred the government to order an independent review that has yet to be completed.

Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone:

About one-third of the deaths were attributed to delays or interruptions in health care, which in many cases was a result of widespread power outages across the island for weeks and months after the storm knocked out 80 percent of the island’s grid. And the estimate of 4,645 total deaths, they wrote, “is likely to be conservative since subsequent adjustments for survivor bias and household-size distributions increase this estimate to more than 5,000.”

This study raises a number of pressing questions, the most obvious being: Why did it take so long for anything like an accurate death count to be tallied? Or, to be more precise: Why did no one in the U.S. federal government – or in Puerto Rican state government – care enough about the people of Puerto Rico to even bother counting the dead?

It’s hard to think of a more profound gesture of disrespect for the people who lost loved ones as a result of the storm. No wonder people are taking to the streets in protest to school closings and other austerity measures by the Puerto Rican government.

During the hurricane and its aftermath, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló has hardly been a profile in courage. Not surprisingly, his office responded to the new death toll with a weak statement touting a study they have commissioned with George Washington University: “As the world knows, the magnitude of this tragic disaster caused by Hurricane Maria resulted in many fatalities. We have always expected the number to be higher than what was previously reported. That is why we commissioned The George Washington University (GWU) to carry out a thorough study on the number of fatalities caused by Hurricane Maria which will be released soon. Both studies will help us better prepare for future natural disasters and prevent lives from being lost.”

But other political leaders in Puerto Rico have been outspoken. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who became a hero to many Puerto Ricans for her willingness to criticize President Trump and FEMA’s recovery efforts, immediately raised the provocative idea that the low official death toll wasn’t an oversight, or a sign of incompetence, but a deliberate cover-up.

Given what’s a stake, Mayor Cruz and others will undoubtedly have more to say about this “cover-up” – if that’s the right word – in the upcoming days and weeks.



7 Responses to “Hideous Death Toll in Puerto Rico Revealed. Media Runs on Roseanne”

  1. Abel Adamski Says:

    The US was also involved in Iraq, Mosul was “Liberated” what ten months ago and there are still thousands of corpses on the streets and within the rubble of the Old City.
    The category of creature in the US Government and Whitehouse and also the media do not care a whit about humans


    Also the following article

    “Like heavy fog, the stench of death fills the air in Mosul”

    by Nazli Tarsi

    Middle East Monitor

    May 29, 2018
    In July last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced the liberation of the final Daesh stronghold in the ancient city. Another ten months have now passed, yet the corpses of civilians and Daesh fighters still litter the ground in Mosul’s Old City. According to investigator Samuel Oakford of monitoring group Airwars, “There remains no official count of the dead in Mosul.”

    Eleven thousand has been the largest figure cited by press agencies, but hundreds who are still missing may yet have to be added to any final total. The tally is likely to grow for at least the next six months, if not longer.

    The blistering heat of an Iraqi summer threatens to aggravate the adverse health risks associated with rotting corpses. Already, like heavy fog, the stench of death fills the air in Mosul. Greater efforts are needed desperately, but the neglect of the bodies has established itself as the norm; they are simply being left to rot.

    Iraq’s Civil Defence teams have, in some instances, refused to clear corpses which they claim belong to “Daesh families”. Nevertheless, on 17 and 18 May alone, Civil Defence responders recovered as many as a 1,000 bodies.

    Last week alone, Alani pointed out, a total of 600 bodies were recovered in the space of 48 hours. She contends that the brutality that visited Mosul could have been avoided if civilian-populated centres were not deliberately hit by overwhelming force.


    • ted knopper Says:

      You are not going to have rotting corpses on the surface after ten months so something is wrong with your source material. The bodies are actually bones.

      It is pretty hard to avoid civilian areas when a war is going on where the enemy is in the civilian areas blasting away with their guns. To try and rewrite reality to further your social aims is simply sad.

      • ted knopper Says:

        Here is a May 2 source which is less biased. ” It’s been 10 months since Iraq declared victory over ISIS in Mosul, but the bodies are still being collected. Volunteers are slowly combing over what the UN estimates to be 8 million tons of rubble—enough to form three separate piles as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza—to recover the bodies of civilians and ISIS fighters responsible for a putrid smell in the air. “We only stop when it gets too dark or we get too tired,” nurse Sroor Al-Hosayni tells the BBC. She says city officials suggested allowing stray dogs to eat the corpses, per USA Today. “I told them there were not enough dogs,” she says. “There are thousands of bodies.” Hidden dangers, like unexploded bombs and suicide vests, are complicating efforts. A doctor tells USA Today some volunteers have been injured in the collection of 860 bodies so far. “

  2. astrostevo Says:

    Truth. Appalling. Truth.

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    Does global warming make tropical cyclones stronger?
    By Stefan Rahmstorf, Kerry Emanuel, Mike Mann and Jim Kossin

  4. redskylite Says:

    Shame on the media for thinking the story of a dreadful comedienne in a awful sitting room comedy show, is more important than the unreported death of thousands of citizens in the fury of a supercharged hurricane. I read somewhere that someone involved had called the press biased, as they did not also criticize “Liberals” calling Trump a racist, well liberal or not calling someone racist is not in the same ball park as calling someone an ape. Maybe if a “liberal” had called Trump a fat, unscrupulous pig, with a orange toupee – then indeed they would have indeed crossed the line.

  5. ted knopper Says:

    The study is a modern example of voodoo, because of the small sample the margin of error is 760 to almost 10,000 deaths. The researchers picked 4600 and went home to bed. The normal death rate for the period under review was about 9000 so the study claimed about half the deaths were hurricane related which is a bit of a stretch. The actual problem is the territory political types allowed the electrical grid to run down while piling on debt to buy votes so they could keep the money and power coming to them. Currently their game plan is to dump the entire debt on the US taxpayers (they pay no federal income taxes) so it was spend spend spend on social vote buying while ignoring the electrical grid which is the entire problem.

    In contrast, Cuba had almost the same number of people displaced over a million, homes destroyed or damaged, 150000 and was up and running in about a month with less than 15000 people still in shelters.

    Voters in Puerto Rico really need to sit down and decide what they want from their elected officials. More of the same will result in more of the same problems.

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