‘No right to spray poison on us’: Nicaraguan plantation workers taking pesticide lawsuit talk to RT

Nicaraguan plantation workers told RT that they haven’t lost hope of finally getting compensated by major chemical firms whose deadly pesticide, they say, severely damaged their health and had major impacts on their lives.

The pesticide makes men sterile and “also increases cancer rates among women and men,” the victims’ lawyer Stuart Smith told RT.

The people that were affected by the highly-toxic chemical were not compensated, despite being “significantly hurt,” he said.

The US banned the use of the roundworm-killing DBCP, marketed as Nemagon, in 1977. But chemical giants Dow, Shell and Occidental (now OxyChem) continued to sell it overseas, including to Nicaragua, where the substance was sprayed over banana and sugarcane plantations. It was reported that up to 22,000 workers were affected as a result.

“I remember that once I was cutting cane, and I had a headache and bone pain, fever,” German Suazo from the Nicaraguan northwestern town of Chichigalpa said.

The fever was so terrible that I fainted.

Around 2,000 Nicaraguans are believed to have died after coming in contact with the chemical.

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Local courts awarded the victims over $800 million in compensation for health damages, however, the companies refused to pay up, insisting Nicaragua has no jurisdiction over them. The affected people, meanwhile, refuse to give up and continue to seek justice.

“They never told us what we know now, and I don’t think it is right for them to spray the poison because now we are affected,” sugar mill worker German Lopez said.

The worst thing here is they don’t want to meet our demands. The company’s owner is deaf to us.

Smith explained that the US courts recommended the victims to file lawsuits in their home countries. The companies, meanwhile, “removed all their assets from those countries so there are no assets to seize,” the lawyer told RT.

The Nicaraguans, suffering from the deadly pesticide, decided to file a lawsuit in France, where the court froze Dow’s shares worth 99 million euro ($110 million) pending trial. Smith remains optimistic about its outcome.

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Source: NEWS

$300 oil: What if the attacks in Saudi Arabia had destroyed production?

Mohammed bin Salman’s recent comment about Iran sending oil prices to ‘unimaginably high numbers’ may not be as ridiculous as it first sounds.

And while MBS is known to engage in hyperbole when it comes to the threat Iran poses, recent events suggest he may have a point here. But what are these unimaginably high numbers he is suggesting? $100 per barrel? $300 per barrel? And what would the world look like if prices really went that high?

The recent drone attacks on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities, which took 5.7 million bpd offline, have been largely attributed to Iran – even if the Houthis have claimed responsibility for them. This attack was evidence that Iran does have the means to strike at the heart of Saudi oil structure and, in an all-out war, it is reasonable to suggest a strike on those facilities could be far more devastating. In that scenario, those 5.7 million bpd could be taken offline permanently – leaving the global oil industry in a very precarious position.

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Workers fix a pipeline at the damaged site of Saudi Aramco oil facility in Khurais, Saudi Arabia, September 20, 2019.
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While this may be a hypothetical scenario, it is one that the September 14th attacks proved were possible, and it is in the light of those attacks that MBS’ words can be fully understood. A destructive attack taking almost 6 million bpd in oil production offline – permanently – would certainly have a much deeper impact on oil prices than the actual attack on Saudi facilities did. Following that attack, Brent briefly topped $70 a barrel and then retreated quickly on assurances from Riyadh. Then the international benchmark rose sharply once again – albeit not as high – when reports emerged that repairs might actually take months rather than weeks. But in the end, the panic was short-lived, and as newer information came in regarding Saudi Arabia’s ability to quickly bring production back online, oil prices eased back down, almost like it didn’t happen at all.

Days after the attacks, some analysts were forecasting $100 Brent prices, but there were also more sober minds that said there was no reason for oil to rise so high given that some OPEC+ members could increase production and that US shale would do the rest. But this reliance on US shale and other OPEC members are perhaps a little optimistic in such a scenario.

Iran and the UAE are the two OPEC members with the highest potential spare capacity, but if Iran and the UAE were at war they would likely see their production drop even further. That means that nearly all of the 5.7 million bpd would have to be replaced by the US, something that even the most ardent shale supporter would struggle to believe.

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Workers are seen at the damaged site of Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 20, 2019.
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The United States has increased production substantially in the last year, but that upwards momentum may not be sustainable. In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA has estimated that production has risen by 1.2 million bpd from 2018. But that growth has been tempered by recent poor results from some of the US most promising shale basins.

The reality is, there is no single oil producer that could increase production by 6 million barrels per day, and that 6 million bpd is realistically a conservative estimate if a full-blown war were to occur.

If 6 million bpd or more were taken offline for any significant timeframe, which could be caused by anything from the very real possibility of a closing of the Strait of Hormuz to another attack on Saudi Aramco oil infrastructure, oil prices would indeed spike to ‘unimaginable levels’.

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© Reuters
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If it were unclear when production could resume, a mad scramble would ensue to see who could pick up the slack – not to keep prices down, but to see who could steal the market share. Countries would undoubtably do their best to ramp up production, but it would be insufficient. The global Strategic Petroleum Reserves would all be tapped to keep the market supplied, but that is very much a short term solution.

Major oil consumers such as China and India would be desperately searching for alternate suppliers. But more importantly, these major consuming countries would be crushed if oil prices soar beyond $100. It’s hard to tell how much oil China has in storage, and if they could cushion the blow, but they would use up whatever they did have rather quick.

India is already trying to beef up its oil in storage to brace for trouble in the Middle East, and it is working on building additional storage sites that will be ready next year. India’s goal is to eventually have 90-100 days of oil in storage, to sustain its 80% import rate.

Chinese data is more murky, but it is widely accepted that China has been beefing up its oil in storage, taking advantage of moderate oil prices.

Japan and South Korea are also large importers, with Japan having sizable reserves somewhere near 300 million barrels.

Despite the release from various SPR’s, the long-term reality of oil markets would keep prices extremely elevated until new production came online, or until demand destruction took place.

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But how high could oil prices really go? In the event of 6-month long disruption of 6 million bpd, $100 oil certainly seems possible, but what if the 20 million bpd Strait of Hormuz gets cut off for a number of days or even weeks? Or what if production capacity in several other Gulf nations gets disrupted? A supply crunch the size of 20 million bpd could potentially send oil to $300. But oil prices don’t have to go that high to seriously upend high consumption economies.

India has been quick to sound the alarm every time Brent has climbed higher than their pain threshold, which is lower than $80. This would inevitably lead to demand problems. We have seen this several times already: oil prices jump, demand slackens, oil prices fall, demand improves, and then the global economy keeps growing.

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The largest buyers of crude oil in the world would have a hard time sustaining growth if oil is trading close to $100, let alone if oil trades at $200 or even $300 per barrel. And the time it would take for oil prices to come back down again would be painful.

In the light of this historical evidence, MBS’ thinly veiled warning about oil prices can largely be seen as sabre-rattling, but the prospect of ‘unimaginably” high prices is perhaps not as farfetched as some analysts would have you believe.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

Source: NEWS

13.5 TONS of gold found piled in Chinese ex-governor’s home (VIDEO)

One Chinese official has some serious explaining to do after investigators came across mounds of gold in his house in Haikou City, Hainan province.

Zhang Qi, a member of provincial and municipal party committees, was reportedly undergoing a disciplinary review and being investigated for possible illegality when the enormous stash was uncovered.

Authorities found some 13.5 tons of gold, as well as millions of yuan in cash and antiques, plus evidence of a huge portfolio of luxury real estate. According to local reports, the disciplinary commission announced in early September that they were looking into the ex-governor’s affairs.

Officials convicted of ‘economic crimes’ or corruption can face the death penalty in China.

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Cosmic hide and seek: Can you find the huge black hole lurking in this Hubble photo?

Somewhere in this stunning image, strikingly reminiscent of science fiction scenes, lurks an enormous black hole, consuming huge quantities of mass from its surroundings. Can you find it? (Hint: look to the light.)

Black holes are incredibly dense with extreme gravity which sucks in matter at high speed, creating a bright disk of superheated gas and particles around it.

Their behavior also distorts their surroundings and magnetic fields, propelling some material away and back out into space, creating dramatic columns of light. So, follow the bright trail back up to the top left in the photo to find where the black hole is hiding. 

The incredible image, snapped by Hubble almost 20 years ago, was recently shared on Twitter by the team behind the space telescope to mark NASA’s ‘black hole week.’ The snap is of a section from galaxy ‘M87’ and its impressive eponymous black hole, sitting some 50 million light-years from our planet.

M87 first began to draw attention from astronomers back in 1918, thanks to the strangely straight ray of light being projected through the galaxy. Scientists believe the enormous black hole has consumed material equivalent to 2 billion times our Sun’s mass.  

The phenomenon was at the center of an incredible moment for science earlier this year when physicists released a new image of it as the first-ever photo of a black hole.

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WTO cuts global trade forecast to lowest in decade amid China-US tariff war

The ongoing trade war between the world’s two biggest economies has led WTO economists to have a gloomier growth outlook for global trade this and next year, downgrading previous expectations.

The volume of merchandise trade will grow by 1.2 percent in 2019, that is 1.4 percent lower than the global trade watchdog projected in April, according to a WTO report issued on Tuesday. In 2020, global trade is set to accelerate more than twofold to reach 2.7 percent, still down from previously expected 3 percent, with the body warning that the figure will highly depend on settling trade disputes.

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Apart from the existing tariff rows which pose “the biggest downside risk to the forecast,” the report says that macroeconomic shocks and financial volatility are also potential triggers for a steeper downturn.

“Beyond their direct effects, trade conflicts heighten uncertainty, which is leading some businesses to delay the productivity-enhancing investments that are essential to raising living standards,” said the WTO’s director general Roberto Azevodo. “Job creation may also be hampered as firms employ fewer workers to produce goods and services for export,” he added.

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Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in the trade conflict for more than one year. The sides are currently trying to hammer out a deal, however, the last time they were close to a truce it was called off last minute and resulted in even higher tit-for-tat tariffs.

Meanwhile, the WTO is also concerned about trade friction between South Korea and Japan, which it says shows no signs of a turnaround. Relations between the two Asian powers turned sour in July, when Tokyo tightened export restrictions on hi-tech materials, used in displays and chips, to South Korea. Japan later excluded South Korea from a preferential list of trusted trade partners, prompting Seoul’s anger and a tit-for-tat response as it removed Japan from a list of nations receiving preferential treatment in trade.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Source: NEWS

Saudi Crown Prince well aware war with Iran could be devastating for the globe – RT’s Boom Bust

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has recently warned that oil prices could spike if the world does not join the kingdom’s push to isolate Iran.

RT correspondent Alex Mihailovich tells Boom Bust that one thing the prince knows is that “in this case, war with Iran might be bad for business.”

He reminds Boom Bust that while the initial 20 percent crude oil price spike after the attacks on Saudi oil facilities did not hold for long, it was the biggest price jump in history. The surge was bigger than that seen at the time of the Katrina/Rita hurricanes, the Libyan civil war, the Venezuelan strike, or the Iranian Revolution.

MBS and Saudi Aramco are now “doing all right, everything jumped back into shape,” Mihailovich says, adding that the Prince knows that the war with Iran could be devastating, and not just for his own economy, which was hit by the oil price surge when the attacks happened.

“This is massive for the globe, so he does not necessarily want to go to war because he knows that on the other side things might not look good for anyone.” Mihailovich says.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Source: NEWS

Finland college attack that killed 1 and injured 10: What we know so far

The Finnish city of Kuopio was gripped by violence on Tuesday after an attacker went on a stabbing spree targeting students temporarily based at a local shopping mall. Here is what is known about the incident so far.

Location: temporary college premises

The violence erupted in the Herman shopping mall in the southern part of the city. Some of its space was temporary rented by the Savo Vocational College while its campus is under renovation. The mall gave rooms to around 600 students and 50 employees of the college.

1 killed, 10 injured

Kuopio police found one dead body when searching the mall after responding to the emergency. Eight apparent victims of the attacker were also found and sent to local hospitals.

The suspected perpetrator was injured after police used firearms to apprehend the assailant. An officer recieved a minor injury as well. Two people were reported to be in critical condition.

Reported sword attack

Some eyewitnesses told local media the attacker used a bladed weapon in the attack, which was either a sword or a knife, according to different sources. Some eyewitnesses cited by local media claimed the attacker could have been a student at the college.

Police identified the perpetrator as a male Finnish national. They said he was armed with a bladed weapon and a firearm.

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Police outside the mall in eastern Finland where Tuesday's attack took place. © REUTERS / Lehtikuva / Jaakko Vesterinen
Student launched deadly attack at Finnish vocational college using a sword – eyewitnesses

‘Shocking, completely unacceptable’

Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne responded to the violence in Kuopio on Twitter, saying it was “shocking and completely unacceptable,” while extending condolences to the victims.

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Student launched deadly attack at Finnish vocational college using a sword – eyewitnesses

A student who brought a sword to class pulled the weapon from their bag and began attacking classmates and a teacher, according to eyewitness reports from Finland. Police say one person died in the attack.

The vocational college is based in a shopping mall in Kuopio, eastern Finland. A local auto technician who worked nearby rushed to the aid of some of the victims, telling Finnish news outlet MTV that the first people he met were a male student and a female teacher, aged in her 30s.

The student told him that one of his colleagues, who arrived late to class on Tuesday, had secreted a sword in their bag and pulled it out when suddenly launching the attack. 

“By the time I went to help the classmate, there were other calls for help. Along the corridor, students fled to the store,” Roosa Kokkonen said. 

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FILE PHOTO  © REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Finland shooting: One dead, at least 10 injured in attack on vocational college located in shopping mall in Kuopio

Kokkonen also said there was a delay in paramedics being allowed on the scene to treat the injured because the attacker had proceeded to wander through the mall, sparking chaos and an armed police response. 

Eyewitnesses cited by Keskisuomalainen said that the attacker first stabbed a girl before turning on several other people, and that he had also ignited some small fire bombs at the scene.

A 16-year-old student who was in another classroom at the time of the attack said she heard a loud shout from a man, but couldn’t understand what he was saying. Janette Blomberg told Helsingin Sanomat that amid the confusion, her teacher said the class should remain in place until they were given the go-ahead to leave.

Once that permission came, Blomberg said she and her classmates quickly left, but “on the way I saw blood on the floor” and two injured women. She didn’t see the suspect, but saw “flames and smoke” coming from the second story of the building. 

The students have been told they don’t have to attend school on Wednesday, Blomberg added.

Police shot the attacker before apprehending him at the scene. At least 10 people were injured in the attack. Officers said in an update on Twitter that two of the injured are in a serious condition.

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Tear gas, petrol bombs at fresh clashes between police & protesters in Hong Kong, reports of live fire (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Intense riots and violent clashes between demonstrators and police broke out across Hong Kong streets on Tuesday. Dozens were arrested and one protester was hurt after police reportedly fired a live round to fend off attack.

The rioters set makeshift barricades on fire and hurled petrol bombs and bottles at police officers, who responded with tear gas and water cannons. The most intense street fights are said to have taken place in the Wan Chai District of Hong Kong, China’s self-governing territory.

At least 96 people were detained for violating public assembly laws and carrying weapons and firecrackers, as well as owning dangerous chemical substances, local media stated.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) and opposition group Demosisto also reported that live rounds were fired and one protester was injured as a result. The paper shared a video of a young man lying on the ground with what appears to be a gunshot wound to the torso.

He was wearing a black helmet, protective goggles and respirator – the accessories typically sported by the protesters. The man was later hospitalized. The news outlet also reported that several live rounds were also fired in the sky.

The Associated Press cited a police source who confirmed that an officer indeed fired his revolver while confronting a group of aggressive protesters who were hurling objects at police. The source did not reveal any other details of how the incident unfolded.

As of now, the use of live ammunition has not been confirmed by police or state-run media. The SCMP and Hong Kong Free Press also shared footage of what they said happened before the “warning shots” were fired.

Dozens of stick-wielding protesters can be seen surrounding and trashing a parked ambulance truck. Several policemen in green uniforms and riot helmets arrive to chase them off with batons.

One officer falls down during the fight. The protesters then quickly swarm around the man, pounding him with sticks as he lies on the pavement. They flee only after other officers jump to rescue their colleague.

Some policemen appear to be pointing handguns into the air and at the protesters. Two gunshots are heard but it is unclear who fired them and at what moment.

Two officers are also seen with their faces bloodied in the video. Hong Kong Police accused the protesters of throwing corrosive chemicals as well and posted photographs of chemical burns on the officers’ skin and clothes.

The months-long mass protests were initially triggered by a now-dropped extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be moved to mainland China. Hong Kong authorities eventually relented to the backlash, suspending work on the bill before vowing to formally withdraw it.

The protesters, nevertheless, have refused to back down until several of their other demands are fulfilled, like an amnesty over the riots and election reform. Some protest leaders have urged European countries and the US to intervene to support them and sanction Chinese officials. Beijing, meanwhile, has strongly condemned the rioting and warned foreign governments against inciting violence in Hong Kong.

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Source: NEWS

NFL bad boy Vontaze Burfict banned for rest of the season for helmet-to-helmet hit (VIDEO)

Controversial Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was handed a season-long suspension by the NFL after his latest on-field misdemeanor, a late, helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless, grounded player.

Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the rest of the 2019 season on Monday for repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules after a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, who was grounded and on one knee when Burfict delivered the hit.

The incident is just the latest in a string of incidents involving the hard-hitting linebacker, with Burfict amassing more than $4 million in fines from his on-field indiscretions and receiving bans that saw him miss the start of the 2016 and 2017 NFL seasons for violations of player-safety rules, plus a 2018 ban after a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drugs rules.

Speaking after the game on Sunday, veteran Raiders coach John Gruden said the hit warranted a penalty.

“It’s a tough decision, it’s a tough call. I think it was a flag,” he said.

“It was very well-documented that the league was going to review those plays this year in New York City. So, that’s what happened and I’ll wait to hear what their reasoning was. But it was a penalty, he went in there with his head down, it was called and, unfortunately for us, it was an ejection.”

Burfict’s hit saw him thrown out of the game during the Raiders’ 31-24 win over the Colts, but the punishment didn’t end there, as NFL bosses reviewed the incident, along with Burfict’s past incidents of over-aggressiveness and dangerous play on the fight, before handing out a ban for the rest of the 2019 season.

The NFL announced the punishment and released a passage from the letter sent to Burfict from NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan.

“There were no mitigating circumstances on this play. Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game. Following each of your previous rules violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly appointed appeal officers that future violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from the unnecessary risk.”

Burfict had traveled to London with the Raiders for this coming weekend’s game against the Chicago Bears, but will now be sent back to the United States, where he is expected to appeal the length of the suspension.

Source: NEWS