Tag Archives | Poverty

Hedge Funds Accused of Gambling with Lives of the Poorest as Food Prices Soar

Hunger Casino

Image: World Development Movement (WDM)

Katie Allen writes in the Guardian:

Financial speculators have come under renewed fire from anti-poverty campaigners for their bets on food prices, blamed for raising the costs of goods such as coffee and chocolate and threatening the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries.

The World Development Movement (WDM) will issue a damning report on the growing role of hedge funds and banks in the commodities markets in recent years, during which time cocoa prices have more than doubled, energy prices have soared and coffee has fluctuated dramatically.

The charity’s demands for the British financial watchdog to follow the US in cracking down on such speculation comes against a backdrop of cocoa prices jumping to a 33-year high as it emerged that a London hedge fund had snapped up a large part of the world’s stock of beans. On Friday, traders say, Armajaro took delivery of 240,100 tonnes of cocoa — the biggest from London’s Liffe exchange in 14 years and equal to about 7% of annual global production, according to the Financial Times.

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Niger’s Silent Crisis

Source: Vardion (CC)

Source: Vardion (CC)

From the BBC:

Britain’s aid agencies are launching an appeal to help the people of Niger where half the country’s population is going hungry following droughts which have led to crop failures and food shortages.

A listless little boy with stick thin arms and legs is weighed at an emergency treatment clinic for under fives near Maradi in Southern Niger.

Abiou, who is just 13 months old, weighs less than four-and-a-half kilos. His half-closed eyes stare out from sunken sockets set in a head that now looks too big for him.

Doctor Mourou Arouna Djimba says he is now being overwhelmed by youngsters like Abiou. “There’s a massive need here,” he told me.

“We’ve so little room that sometimes we need to put two or even three children in one bed. We’ve got 30 in this intensive ward, and this morning another five more severely malnourished children arrived.”

Save the Children says 400,000 children are at risk of dying from starvation

In the face of the crisis, the charities Save the Children (STC) and Oxfam are each launching multi-million pound appeals for drought-ravaged Niger.

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Greg Palast: The Right Testicle of Hell — History of a Haitian Holocaust

Iceland to HaitiGreg Palast writes on GregPalast.com:

1. Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, “The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days.” “In a few days,” Mr. Obama?

2. There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF “austerity” plans.

3. A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, “My sister, she’s under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?” Should I tell her, “Obama will have Marines there in ‘a few days'”?

4. China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr.

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Haiti: Where Will All the Money Go?

SHARON THEIMER writes on the AP via Yahoo News:
How difficult will it be for the United States and other donors to track the millions of dollars in earthquake aid headed to Haiti? U.S. government auditors pulled out of the country years ago after concerns over kidnappings and other crimes scuttled their efforts to monitor Haiti's spending of $45 million in U.S. aid after storms there killed thousands.

HaitianNationalPalace

Corruption, theft, violence and other security problems and Haiti's sheer shortage of fundamentals — reliable roads, telephone and power lines and a sound financial system — will add to the challenges of making sure aid is spent properly as foreign governments and charities try not only to help Haiti recover from this week's devastating earthquake but to pull itself out of abject poverty. Past efforts haven't been easy...
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The World’s Tallest Building: A Symbol of Global Excess in Dubai

Juan Cole writes on Informed Comment:
The world's tallest building, Burj Khalifah or Khalifah Tower, was unveiled in Dubai on Monday: Dubai is a finance hub, the bubble of which has burst, so the building's opening now seems a critique of past excesses more than the triumph originally dreamed of. Now that Dubai is having to be bailed out by its oil-rich sister emirate, Abu Dhabi, the tower had to be named for its ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, rather than retaining its original name, Burj Dubai. Many critics have seen it as a monument to hubris likely to remain mostly empty, as the 21st century Tower of Babel. As you can see, Dubai nevertheless went all out to celebrate the opening. The Burj Khalifah is a symbol of everything wrong with our present moment. Rooted in a finance and real estate bubble, planned as big for the sake of bigness, opulent, now saved from disaster by Abu Dhabi's unsustainable oil revenues, it casts its shadow on a nation of guest workers, many impoverished and exploited. If global warming proceeds at the pace some climate scientists fear, and the seas rise substantially, it may, ironically enough, be all that is visible of the low-lying United Arab Emirates a century from now.
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Living on Nothing but Food Stamps

JASON DEPARLE and ROBERT M. GEBELOFF write in the NY Times:
About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by the New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid — no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay. FoodStamps Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card.
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America Without a Middle Class

Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts, writes on Huffington Post:

Can you imagine an America without a strong middle class? If you can, would it still be America as we know it?

MiddleClass

Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.

Families have survived the ups and downs of economic booms and busts for a long time, but the fall-behind during the busts has gotten worse while the surge-ahead during the booms has stalled out.

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