Philip Alston, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, was in Alabama on Thursday, Dec. 7, to bear personal witness to the poverty, lack of access to basic services and civil rights struggles that have plagued poor, mostly African-American residents of the state's Black Belt region for generations.

He said that areas of Alabama's Black Belt are suffering the most dire sewage disposal crisis of any place he has visited in a developed country.

"I think it's very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I'd have to say that I haven't seen this."

Alston said, "the visit was an opportunity for the UN to learn more about the many problems that some of the poorest Americans struggle with on a daily basis."

It's sad how these conditions are ignored in this country. He's already been to California. Next he'll be visiting Atlanta, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. Too bad he doesn't get the opportunity to see how bad it gets in rural Tennessee.

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