Shell offers 30 million pounds to settle 2011 Nigeria oil spills

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Royal Dutch Shell is ready to pay up to 30 million pounds ($51 million) in compensation for two oil spills in Nigeria in 2008 after a London court rejected a larger claim, sources involved in the case said on Friday.

Around 15,000 residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta represented by law firm Leigh Day appealed in 2011 to a London court for more than 300 million pounds in compensation.

Claimants say that the two spills resulted in the leakage of of 500,000 barrels of oil but Shell estimated the volume at around 4,000 barrels.

Shell has already offered some compensation for the spills.

The sources said a Shell offer from September 2013 to settle the case for 30 million pounds remained on the table. The lawyer representing the claimants on Friday rejected the sum.

“Shell have consistently sought to underestimate the damage whilst paying only lip service to an apology. These spills, which are some of the largest oil spills in history, have devastated a community of many thousands of people and ravaged the environment,” Martyn Day said in a statement.

“The offer of £30m has been offered before and has been flatly refused by our clients who found it insulting and derisory, nothing has changed this view.”

The London High Court on Friday rejected the claimants’ attempts to expand the scope of the compensation, ruling that the pipeline operator could not be held responsible for damage caused by oil theft.

A trial is planned to start in May 2015 in Nigeria, but Shell urged the claimants to reach a settlement beforehand.

“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” Mutiu Sunmonu, Managing Director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC), said in a statement.

“We hope the community will now direct their UK legal representatives to stop wasting even more time pursuing enormously exaggerated claims and consider sensible and fair compensation offers,” Sunmonu said.

Massive oil theft, sabotage of infrastructure and leaks from ageing pipelines are cutting into the profits of oil majors operating in Nigeria, as well as damaging the public finances of the African nation.

How wise investment and careful spending made people millionaires.

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Doug Nordman, 53, and his wife spent their careers in the U.S. Navy. During their working years, they built robust portfolios and lived frugally, saving over 50% of their incomes at some points. As he prepared to retire from the military, he realized his investments could actually support him, without having to take a civilian job. Today, he and his wife live in Hawaii, where he spends his time surfing and completing do-it-your projects around his home. He’s chronicled his journey to early retirement on his web site, The Military Guide.

Ray Hinchliffe, Jr., now in his late sixties, saw his salary grow from just $67 a week to more than $100,000 a year over the course of his career working at grocery stores, first as a clerk and later as a manager. Through disciplined saving, he built a sizable nest egg under the guidance of his financial advisor. He says one of the best things he did for his finances was purchasing a home as soon as he was able to. Today, he owns multiple properties and enjoys a relaxing retirement.

Retirement
Hinchliffe: I find myself being in a very good position. I now have been retired for over 12 years. I’ve managed to go from $67 a week [in earnings] to [now having] several million dollars.

Nordman: My wife and I are millionaires. We have that much money in our retirement investments, and we plan to make that last the rest of our retirement. We didn’t really want to work until we were in our 60s and do a more traditional retirement age. Instead, we thought we’d be able to retire in our 50s or even our 40s, and as it turned out, it worked out for me to be at age 41.

Earnings
Hinchliffe: In 1959, I started as a food clerk with A&P. I was making $67 a week as a food clerk. After that, I went with Safeway food stores. I worked with them for 30 years. I made over $100,000 a year as a store manager for them, plus bonus, and was able to save quite a bit of money working with them and investing in their plans.

Nordman: I peaked out at about $88,000, and that was just before I retired in 2002. My wife’s salary peaked out at about the same number. As we got older, in our 30s, we realized that we had enough savings that our portfolio, our investments, were growing fast enough to almost replace our incomes.

Saving
Hinchliffe: I found that the best way to save money and easiest way to save money was through my work. Sometimes younger people aren’t disciplined enough to put money away as they should every week or every month, but what I would do is take advantage of 401(k) plans that might be at work, stock plans where they would match your money that you put into buying stock in the company.

Nordman: Our financial freedom came from saving a lot of money, saving a high percentage of our income. My wife and I were both active duty in the Navy for over 20 years and during that time we tried to save as much as we could. Most of the time we’d save over half of our income. We would reduce our expenses and just save the rest in mutual funds. Pretty much the boring mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds that everybody should use for their retirement. Nothing special.

Frugal Habits
Hinchliffe: There’s lots of things that I wanted but not a lot of things that I needed. If you bought a used car, it did the same thing for you [as a new car] and you saved yourself quite a bit over a period of time. Another thing we used to do is vacations, we would go with friends rather than buy a big place and go by ourselves. We would go with other couples and split the bill and that helped out a lot.

Nordman: My wife and I have a lot of frugal habits that I think tended to make us big savers. We planted a lot of the yard with fruit trees, and so we have fruit year-round. We get crops all year here in Hawaii, and so we can grow some of our own fruit. And we also compost and use things around the house. By buying from Craigslist and Goodwill you’re effectively recycling possessions that other people don’t want anymore, and you’re getting them for yourself at a much cheaper price than if you bought them new.

Advice
Hinchliffe: My advice to someone young today is to stay on course with their investing aims. It’s like a boat. You set a course. You go from one spot to another. If you get off course, needless to say you don’t know where you’re going to end up. If you have a good plan and you follow it, I think that you’ll find that you’ll succeed and your investing will definitely pay you a huge dividend.

Nordman: Track your spending for a couple of months and see where your money goes. Don’t try to cut back, don’t try to change anything just track your expenses and see where you’re spending your money. Then you will figure out where you want to cut back, and you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself or making yourself miserable.

Indiana man left dead in living room since last July

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An Indiana woman is under investigation after her husband’s corpse was left in their home for more than nine months and fed on by birds, authorities said on Thursday.

Gerald Gavan Jr., 89, whose body was found on May 3 on the living room floor of his house in Lafayette, Indiana, had been dead since at least last July 15, Tippecanoe County coroner Donna Avolt said.

Investigators are trying to determine if Gavan’s wife, Ila Solomon, had a financial motive for not reporting the veteran’s death, Lafayette Police Sergeant Brian Phillips said. There are also laws that require prompt reporting of deaths, he said.

Avolt said the man’s body had shriveled to skeleton form and was becoming “partly mummified.” Gavan was identified because he had a steel plate in his ankle from an old injury, she said.

Solomon told Avolt her husband had been dead only a few days, the coroner said.

The cause of his death is unknown, but results of toxicology tests that are due back late in June might determine if there was any foreign substance in his body, she said.

Solomon also told Avolt she sometimes left the doors of the house open so birds could come in and feed on the corpse in a Tibetan tradition, at his request, Avolt said. Tibetan Buddhists call the practice a “sky burial.”

Avolt said the decaying body would have emitted a strong odor in the house. But Solomon also owned a house next door that she had purchased in February 2013, according to property records provided by a Tippecanoe County official.

A phone number listed for the Gavan home in Lafayette was not in service on Thursday.

Malaysia says Cadbury products found not to contain pig DNA

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New tests conducted by Malaysian authorities found that chocolate bars made by British confectioner Cadbury do not contain pig DNA, contrary to a previous finding, the country’s Islamic affairs agency said on Monday.

Cadbury withdrew two varieties of its chocolate snacks from sale in Muslim-majority Malaysia last week after government tests found traces of pork in them, leading some Islamic groups to call for a boycott on all of its products.

Malaysia’s Islamic Development Department (Jakim) said none of the 11 samples it tested of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Hazelnut, Cadbury Dairy Milk Roast Almond and other products from the company’s factory had shown positive results for porcine DNA.

Jakim said in a statement that Cadbury’s halal certification for the two products would remain suspended pending further tests and investigations of its supply chain.

Jakim is the only body in Malaysia tasked with ensuring products are halal, or permissible by Islamic law. The previous tests were conducted in February by the country’s health ministry on products taken from store shelves.

Jakim had said those tests might not have been fair to Cadbury since the products could have been contaminated after leaving the factory.

Cadbury Malaysia, whose parent firm is Mondelez International Inc, has stood by its products’ halal worthiness and assured the public it was working with authorities to resolve the matter.

A Muslim consumer group that last week called on Malaysians to boycott Mondelez products said on Monday it would not reverse its stance unless the health ministry concurs with the new results released by Jakim.

“There are still a lot of question marks there,” said Sheikh Abdul Kareem Khadaied, the head of research with the Muslim Consumers Association Malaysia.

An official at the health ministry told Reuters that it “has handed the entire issue over to the Islamic agency”.

Following last week’s announcement that the chocolate bars tested positive for the non-halal ingredient, fellow Muslim countries Indonesia and Saudi Arabia said they were also carrying out tests on Cadbury products.

Concerns over halal food standards could jeopardise Mondelez’s sales in Muslim markets that are larger than Malaysia, such as Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, and in the Middle East.