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Deadly Gold and Life-saving Literature

How mercury poisoning is threatening gold-miners and the rainforest in Kalimantan. And, why the young people of Somaliland flock to the Hargeisa International Book Fair.

Linda Pressly sees how mercury is poisoning gold-miners and the rainforest in Kalimantan, on the Indonesian island of Borneo. It is used by small-scale miners to help extract the precious metal from the earth - and it is ravaging not just the terrain, but the health of anyone coming into contact with it - refiners and dealers, as well as the miners themselves.

In Somaliland - a country not recognised at the United Nations - Mary Harper has a more heartening experience. Unlike the rest of Somali territory, this is a place where young people seem to prefer learning to warfare - as shown by the crowds mobbing the Hargeisa International Book Fair to get a glimpse of writers like Michela Wrong, a Czech supermodel, and the poet Hadrawi, known as 'Somalia's Shakespeare'.

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