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Wed, 13 Nov 2019
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The Tent City of New Jersey, US: Desperate victims of the economic slump forced to live in makeshift homes in forest

In scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression these are the ramshackle homes of the desperate and destitute U.S. families who have set up their own 'Tent City' only an hour from Manhattan.

More than 50 homeless people have joined the community within New Jersey's forests as the economic crisis has wrecked their American dream.

And as politicians in Washington trade blows over their country's £8.8 trillion debt, the prospect of more souls joining this rag tag group grows by the day.

Building their own tarpaulin tents, Native American teepees and makeshift balsa wood homes, every one of the Tent City residents has lost their job.
 Destitute: Charlie Errickson, 54, sat eating his lunch outside his shelter as he struggles to survive
© James Ambler/Barcroft USA
Destitute: Charlie Errickson, 54, sat eating his lunch outside his shelter as he struggles to survive

Bad Guys

Africa: Niger Delta villagers go to the Hague to fight against oil giant Shell

Nigeria oil spill
© Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
A man walks on slippery spilled crude oil on the shores of the Niger Delta swamps of Bodo, a village in Niger's oil-producing Ogoniland.
This once self-sufficient community suffered from the excesses of oil firms and corrupt officials. Now, the villagers are blamed for everything and the arms dealers are having a field day

Goi is now a dead village. The two fish ponds, bakery and chicken farm that used to be the pride and joy of its chief deacon, Barrisa Tete Dooh, lie abandoned, covered in a thick black layer. The village's fishing creek is contaminated; the school has been looted; the mangrove forests are coated in bitumen and everyone has left, refugees from a place blighted by the exploitation of the region's most valuable asset: crude oil.

Last Thursday, a long-awaited and comprehensive UN study exposed the full horror of the pollution that the production of oil has brought to Ogoniland over the last 50 years.

The UN report showed that oil companies and the Nigerian government had not just failed to meet their own standards, but that the process of investigation, reporting and clean-up was deeply flawed in favour of the firms and against the victims. Spills in the US are responded to in minutes; in the Niger delta, which suffers more pollution each year than the Gulf of Mexico, it can take companies weeks or more.

"Oil companies have been exploiting Nigeria's weak regulatory system for too long," said Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International. "They do not adequately prevent environmental damage and they frequently fail to properly address the devastating impact that their bad practice has on people's lives."

Goi, 40 miles from Port Harcourt, is a typical case. Just a few miles from where Shell first found oil in Ogoniland in 1958, it is only 20 miles from Bane, the ancestral home of Ogoni writer and leader Ken Saro-Wiwa. People from Goi joined the great Ogoni protest march of 1994, when one in three people from the small kingdom of 900,000 rose peacefully against the company, preventing it from working any of its 30 wells in the area. Two years later, Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni leaders were tried on a fabricated murder charge and executed.

A quiet fishing community of fewer than 100 people, Goi was steadily weakened and then broken by a series of oil spills that, over 20 years, made the network of swamps, lagoons, rivers and creeks around it unusable. "People used to drink the water in the creek, fish, cook and swim in it. It was a perfect place," says Dooh. "We wanted for nothing, but the spills came, the tide washed in pollution from elsewhere and in 1987 a massive oil fire burned uncontrolled for weeks. By 2008, most people had left."

Chess

Belarus, South Ossetia cool on joining Russia

Image
© Unknown
Belarus and South Ossetia have reacted cautiously after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested he would like to see them join the Russia Federation.

Putin, speaking to a youth forum Russia's Monday, indicated he held out hope that Belarus, South Ossetia and Russia could join a common state.

"It is possible, very desirable and fully depends on the Belarusian people's will," ITAR-Tass reported Putin as saying.

The prime minister added that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko deserved praise for "consistently moving along the path toward integration with Russia."

Stop

Scandal-hit Polish politician Andrzej Lepper dead

Image
© Agence France-Presse
Andrzej Lepper was a former deputy prime minister
Polish populist politician Andrzej Lepper has died at the age of 57 in Warsaw, with police suspecting he killed himself.

The leader of the Self-Defence Party was found dead in a party office, police said.

His career in politics was latterly overshadowed by a long-running sexual assault case.

Mr Lepper served in government as deputy prime minister to Jaroslaw Kaczynski in a 2006-2007 coalition.

Police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski told the Polish news agency Pap: "Police are at the scene ... but all indications are that the politician committed suicide."

Fish

US: How Did Those Vermont Fish Get Radioactive?

vermont nuclear power plant

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant on the Connecticut River. Image via Wikipedia

"Hey, don't look at us" has been Entergy Corporation's response to the discovery of Strontium-90 in fish from the Connecticut River.

But the contamination, revealed this week by the Vermont Department of Health, promises to complicate the utility's effort to extend the license of its aging Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant.

One of the most lethal by-products of nuclear fission, Strontium-90 was found in the bones of nine of 13 fish collected from the Connecticut River last summer, and for the first time, in the edible flesh of one fish.

USA

China: "America Needs To Accept The Painful Fact That The Good Old Days Are Over"

Image
© AP

China's official comment on the S&P downgrade was harsh and condescending. Released through Xinhua (via Reuters) the statement condemned America for its "debt addiction" and "short-sighted" political wrangling.

"The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone," Xinhua wrote.

Heart - Black

Somalia: Seven Shot Dead In Food Scramble

somalia refugees

Refugees queue for rations at the camp in Mogadishu

At least seven Somali refugees have been killed after government troops opened fire during a handout of corn rations in the famine-stricken country.

Soldiers have been accused of sparking the chaos by trying to steal some of the rations being distributed at capital city Mogadishu's largest famine refugee camp.

Camp residents said refugees joined the scramble after witnessing the attempted theft of some of the 290 tons of dry rations - prompting the troops to open fire.

"They fired on us as if we were their enemy," said refugee Abidyo Geddi.

"When people started to take the food then the gunfire started and everyone was being shot. We cannot stay here much longer.

Dollar

Britain's biggest losers: Lakshmi Mittal, Stelios and Mike Ashley see billions wiped from their riches

  • £164bn wiped of British shares in a week
  • Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal loses £2.16bn
  • Almost $3tn wiped off shares prices worldwide sparking fears of recession
Britain's richest man became the nation's biggest loser this week as £164bn was wiped off British shares in a single week.

The world's largest steel maker Lakshmi Mittal lost £2.16bn following a calamitous six days for stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic sparking fears the meltdown will lead to a double-dip recession.

The share price of Mr Mittal's company Arcelor Mittal, of which he owns 40.83 per cent, plummeted 18.7 per cent this week reducing the value of his fortune to £9.7bn.

Image

Che Guevara

1000s Protest Police Brutality in Spain

Thousands of Spanish protesters have held rallies in the Spanish capital of Madrid to protest at the use of force by country's police officers during an earlier demonstration.

Image
© unknown
The protesters accused the authorities of abusing their power after 20 people were injured in clashes with riot police late Thursday during a rally at the interior ministry to protest the closure of the city's Puerta Del Sol Square in Madrid, AFP reported.

Madrid's Puerta Del Sol Square has been the hub of anti-government protests over the country's economic crisis since mid-May.

On Thursday, over 200 police forces were deployed to the square for the third straight day to put an end to the anti-government protests.

USA

One in Seven Americans Lives on Food Stamps

food stamps
© unknown
Believe it or not, one in seven Americans - 15 percent of the country - now need government-provided food stamps simply to survive, according to latest government figures.

Nearly 46 million Americans receive food stamps out of a population of some 311 million people, the US Department of Agriculture, which administers what's officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme reported Thursday.

The continued high unemployment and the weak US economy have contributed to the explosive growth of the food stamp programme with no end in sight to the monthly increases, CNN said noting that 27 million people were dependent on food stamps in October 2007.

Under the food stamps programme, an eligible individual gets $200 a month in food stamps - in the form of a debit card that can be used at supermarkets and stores to buy authorised food.

A two-person household gets $367 a month. A three-person household gets $526 a month. And a four-person household gets $668 a month.