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March 1, 2011: Libya

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At UN, Sachs Admits Malawi Unrest Felt in Villages, Soros Says "We Can't Betray"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 3, updated -- When George Soros and Jeffrey Sachs came to the UN on Monday to talk about Millennium Villages, it began with only good news.

  When Inner City Press asked about the two Villages in Malawi, where the forces of President Bingu wa Mutharika have killed at least 20 protesters this year, Sachs acknowledged this was "felt" in the villages, but emphasized that "the Villages are resilient." Video here, from Minute 25:25.

  Sachs also called Malawi's government "erratic," among other things.

 Later, Malawi's Permanent Representative to the UN Brian Bowler pointed out to Inner City Press that Sachs' economic advise has, in fact, injured many countries. 

   Bowler presented an alternative view of Malawi on which we intend to write soon. He said Africa was undercovered during the recent UN General Debate. Sachs speaks at the Harvard Club, Bowler said, and we are not allowed in to rebut him.

  Soros' response to the question acknowledged a tension between commitment not to leave a Millennium Village once funding begins, and the "governance" issues posed by developments like those in Malawi. "We can't close" the Villages, Soros said, it would "betray the trust of the villagers." Video here, from Minute 28.

Some consider these 14 Millennium Villages in 10 countries akin to a bandage on a cancer. Other say that when running projects in states where the leader killed protesters this has to be acknowledged and taken into account.

Soros and Sachs at UN Oct 3, resolution of band aid tension not shown, (c) MRLee

Soros recounted how the "newly elected president of Guinea" -- that would be Alpha Conde -- asked for help with domestic rice production, since the country imports half its rice. Soros said, "I turned to the Millennium Villages, they designed" a rice project.

While interesting, it's noteworthy that Conde's Guinea recently sent tons of rice to Sierra Leone, a country with a UN peacekeeping mission for years. Importing rice to re-export it? Watch this site.

Footnote: Soros was also by the UN last week, at a soiree for Global Witness, which among other things has been critical of former UK prime minister Tony Blair's double service for JP Morgan Chase and ostensibly the UN Quartet in the Middle East. One wanted to ask about this, and the Open Society Foundation's critique of policies in Afghanistan, but the moderator said Millennium Villages would be the focus. To be continued.

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Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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