Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tires, Trees

Firestone, the US Tire company, which has a looooooong history extracting rubber in Liberia, is being accused by a (local?) human rights group of maintaining its own extralegal jail system and meting out “justice” under its own rules. Firestone wouldn’t comment in the story. The paper makes it seem as if this is not an isolated incident. Will learn more.

A few of the papers are outraged at the NGO Global Witness for recommending to the UN that timber sanctions against Liberia be maintained. It’s a huge deal because timber is one of Liberia’s biggest sources of income, Liberia is like US$3b in debt, and everyone thought that the sanctions would be lifted under the new regime. Former president Charles Taylor, now under international war crimes indictment, used mostly timber sales to fund the 14-year civil war, prompting NGO’s to label it “blood timber”.

P.S. One of the guys who helped get the timber sanctions imposed in the first place (thus help bring Taylor down) just won the Goldman Environmental Prize last month. There’s a neat little movie about it here. [Thanks David.]