Tuesday, September 25, 2007

UN Cuts Back Liberia Peace Force

The United Nations Security Council has extended the UN peacekeeping force's mandate in Liberia for a year. But the council decided to reduce the 14,000-strong UN Mission in Liberia (Unmil) by almost 20%, and also to cut back the 1,000-strong UN police.

Thanks again for the link, Nicolas. They will continue to extend on a year-by-year basis. I wonder how long they'll ultimately stay. We were just talking about this the other day; I'm hoping for another three years at least.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Congress Rejects Bill to Seize Taylor's Assets

MONROVIA (AFP) — Liberian lawmakers have shot down a bill to allow the seizure of the assets of former president Charles Taylor -- standing trial for war crimes -- and his aides, a parliamentary official said Sunday.

Isaac Red, spokesman of the House of Representatives said the proposed bill was unconstitutional.

"The parliament had so many problems with that bill," Red said.

Thanks Nicolas for the link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nice Web Media Project

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has a great new blog with lots of human interest stories about Liberians here and abroad. Their team is currently on the ground in Liberia.

Don't miss their short movie about soccer players in Staten Island.

And let me take this chance to thank the Pulitzer Center for getting these important stories out. In an era where most media outlets say they can't afford cover international news in depth, the Pulitzer Center steps in and provides the funding to get reporters into the field, without even demanding any editorial control. If you're a reporter and you have a good international reporting project for funding, check out their guidelines.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Staten Island Liberians Story in the NYT

Thanks for the link, Paulo.

Monday, September 10, 2007

NYC TRC Sessions

In New York; The Staten Island Liberian Community Association, Inc. (SILCA), and The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Diaspora Project will present a Workshop with the Republic of Liberia TRC Commissioner Massa Washington. The organizers are encouraging all Liberians and Friends and Liberia within the Staten Island and Tri- State areas to attend.

PLACE: African Dance Hall
(Opposite CitiBank on Bay St.)
568 Bay St., Staten Island, NY 10304
DATE: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007
TIME: 11am - 5pm
Admission Is Free! Refreshment Will Be Served!
CONTACTS: Telee Brown 718-496-7492; TRC 1-800- 799- 3688; R. Arkoi 917-365-7903


P.S. I talk once in a while to expats who work with the TRC, and they all reluctantly admit that there seems to be little public support for it in Liberia. We in the international community are all for the TRC idea, and many consultants and lawyers are shipped over to make it happen, but Liberians themselves aren't real enthusiastic, as far as I can tell.

First Post-War Diamonds Shipped

A shipment valued at about $222,000 left Liberia last week, government spokesman Laurence Bropleh said. He declined to name the exporting company or give details on the shipment's destination. The Liberian government received a royalty of about $6,000 from the shipment, said Gabriel Williams, a deputy government spokesman.
"This amount may look small but we have to start from somewhere," Williams said.

A Night Club in Monrovia

Thanks to DJ Alex.

Friday, September 07, 2007

More Charges Against Chuckie

MIAMI: The son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor now faces five counts of torture after a U.S. grand jury added four counts related to his alleged activities in Africa.

U.S.-born Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Chuckie Taylor, was charged with one count of torture last year. Now he also faces related charges, including a count each of conspiracy to torture, use of a firearm in a violent crime and conspiracy to use a firearm in a violent crime.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Millennium Villages Coming to Liberia

I have it from an unimpeachable source that the controversial Millennium Villages project is coming soon to Liberia, probably first to Kokoya District, Bong County, and later to somewhere in the Southeast, per the president's request. The proposal is still in draft form.

Here's an excerpt from a blistering critique of the MV project that appeared recently in Harper's Magazine. And here's discussion from one of the greatest econ blogs, Marginal Revolution.

Ban on Child Street Sellers: Good or Bad?

BBC radio this AM had a story about the EJS government announcing it will now start to enforce a ban on underage street sellers. In Monrovia, many busy corners are clogged with kids selling gum, candy, socks, pillows, brooms, whatever, and it's really depressing to see. But my first thought was, "Uh-oh. What will be the social costs of this decision?"

Let's start from the assumption that we all believe that children should be in school, and should not out on the street, working or otherwise. Then let's try to get into the heads of the policymakers, consider the options before them. My goal here is pure harm reduction.

Givens: People are extremely poor, school is supposed to be free but there are always unaffordable hidden fees for uniforms and such, unemployment is 80% or more, and for a variety of reasons children are the main breadwinners in many families.

Now, should the government choose to enforce a ban on child street selling?


  • Might reduce rural-to-urban migration of youth, an important national goal.
  • Might get more kids into school by forcing the hand of parents who favor income over education.
  • Gets kids off the street, or at least some of them.
  • Shows that the government is serious about education.
  • Hurts kids who can't afford school; might increase child hunger and mortality.
  • Government has no capacity to enforce the rule that school is supposed to be free.
  • Might increase the crime rate. [I have no doubt, here.]
  • Cops will go nuts and start beating and stealing from kids left and right.
If you can wade through all the nonsense, this story in The Analyst gets to some of the gray areas.


Oh, and apparently EJS is also backing that ridiculous ban on wigs at school.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Government Builds Wall Around Palm Grove Cemetery

I' m sure it was a cost issue, but it would have been much prettier if they could have put a fence around the cemetery. Suddenly one of the most interesting features of the Monrovia cityscape is hidden behind a big ugly concrete wall [and since the photo was taken], topped with razor wire. Chris Herwig photo.

Surfing Liberia Story in Time Magazine

Link here. Thanks Johnny.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bad Idea: Executive Wants to Appoint Mayors

I can't find much online, but BBC radio says that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf wants to be able to appoint the mayors in towns across the country.

[She] has been lobbying with the legislature to allow her [to] appoint local government officials for now because [she argues] there is no money for elections. [Opposition parties say] the attempt to appoint municipal and chieftaincy officials violated the Liberian constitution.

It's true there's no money for elections, but this is madness. It goes against the whole decentralization effort. Talking about it the other night, our French friend said, "They tried that in France, and that's when we had a revolution."