Friday, 22 April 2011


Fund Not Satisfied With Recovery, World Bank Bemoans High Food, Fuel Crises

Nat Bayjay, (231-77-402737-Liberia/1-2020-445-3622-USA)

Washington, DC, USA-
The world may be on the path to recovery following the global financial crisis but it is not the kind of the recovery that the world needs, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed.
“Certainly the recovery is getting stronger, but this is not the kind of recovery we want because”, Strauss-Kahn told a news conference ahead of major discussions of the Spring Meeting.
A regular routine, the Spring Meeting is being jointly held with the World Bank which brings together thousands of government officials, journalists, civil society members and other interested observers to discuss the works of the Fund and World Bank.
Unbalanced Recovery
Strauss-Kahn argued during a jam-packed news briefing Thursday that the recovery has been unbalanced between countries as well as unbalanced within countries: “That’s the reason why uncertainty is still very high”.
The IMF Boss’ assertion comes after the Fund had released its three documentary publications in the documents of the World Economic Outlook, Global Financial Stability Report and Fiscal Monitor earlier the week which outlined the challenges the world’s economy faces.
‘No Room For Complacency’
Reminding the world that the financial crisis is not yet over, Strauss-Kahn warned of complacency: “We must beware of complacency…… The apex of the crisis is behind us, but it would be part of the complacency I am trying to avoid to believe that we are in the post-crisis era.”
He emphasized that recovery means little if growth does not translate into jobs.
The financial crisis rocked the world’s economy from 2008 to 2009 to the extent that many feared it would have rekindled the Great Depression.
New Risks: High, Volatile Food & Fuel Prices
Earlier, the World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick in a previous press briefing stressed the importance of tackling what he said are high and volatile food prices he said are new risks facing the world that have caused already 44 million people falling below the poverty line.
He projects that another 10 million will fall into “extreme poverty- that is where people live on less than $1.25 a day.  And a 30 percent increase would add 34 million more people to the world's poor, who number 1.2 billion.”  

Zoellick said while the world may be coming out of one crisis -the financial and economic crisis- the new risks are wrenching challenges: “……high and volatile food prices; high fuel prices with knock-on effects for food and, through food for stability; political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa; turmoil in Cote d'Ivoire; repeated natural disasters; rising inflation in emerging markets with some risks of overheating; sovereign debt issues in Europe.” He said the biggest threats to the world’s poor are the high and volatile food prices. 
High food inflation, mix in price gyrations, and then stir higher fuel costs, and a toxic brew of real pain are contributing to social unrest, the World Bank Chief noted.
“Food prices were not the cause of the crises in the Middle East and North Africa, but they are an aggravating factor.  Our latest Food Price Watch shows that there is double-digit food price inflation in Egypt and Syria.  It shows that commodity price spikes particularly hurt poor countries.”
As a show of the Bank’s commitment to fight the crisis, a gigantic screen outside its Headquarters in the Federal Capital films the rate at which the world’s poor gets hungrier by the day.
G-20 & Solution
The Bank’s Chief however believes that with the G20, a solution can be found on the crisis. “The G-20 can play a leading role.  I believe multilateralism must be focused on doing real things in the short term while building toward mid- and longer-term actions.”
Otherwise known as the Group of Twenty, the G-20 is made of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from a group of 20 major economies.
Pleased that the French-led G-20 has made a top priority for its topic of food, he said the Bank is working closely with the G20: “And I believe we can take a number of important steps that will help in two key areas:  food price volatility and food security.  We are going to be using these meetings with the G187 to help prepare the way.”
Stressing the need to do more on the production side, Zoellick disclosed that the World Bank is now investing about US$7 billion a year in improving agricultural production, from seeds to irrigation to storage.
Announcing aUS$500 million budget support operation that should leverage another $700 million from other donors for Tunisia, the Bank’s chief reminded the world that the revolution in that North African state began with the self-immolation of a fruit seller who was harassed by authorities. 
For Ivory Coast’s situation, he stressed that the troubled nation needs security, jobs, and justice, adding that the Bank stands ready to offer important assistance including financial, policy, and technical.
“If the security situation allows, we can within the next couple of weeks reactivate some World Bank programs worth about $100 million to help the people in Cote d'Ivoire”, he said.      
He spoke of the Bank’s engagement with the dramatic events in the Ivory Coast. 



Filmmaker Yor-El Francis and crew arrives in Monrovia today to begin shooting of Bai T. Moore’s Classic Mystery novel

ai T. Moore’s most celebrated piece of literary work is coming to the big screen.
Liberian film director Yor-El Francis and his filming crew are due in from the United States of America Friday to begin work on an adaptation of “Murder in the Cassava Patch.”
Based on a true story, Moore's Murder in the Cassava Patch is regarded as Liberia's best-known novel. Published by Ducor Publishing House (Monrovia) in 1968, it remains required reading for every Liberian high school student, and is widely regarded as the one real Liberian literary classic in a very small literary tradition.

Now Francis and team will be looking to bring Moore’s magic to the movie screen.
Arriving along with Francis are Director of Photography, Everette Nicolls,  Art Director Doughba Caranda III, First Assistant Director Emeka Obiamiwe, and two of the films actors, Eugene Martin and Barnie Jones. The group will arrive via Brussels Airlines on the evening of Friday April 22, 2011.

Casting for several of the additional roles including the pivotal role of Tene will continue in Monrovia. The film is scheduled to shoot in and around Liberia with many of its primary locations in Dimeh, the actual town the book was both set and written in.

Unique privillege
Yor-El Francis had the unique privilege of growing up in an extended family. He was raised by his mother, Esther Martin-Benjamin, a former beauty queen turned educator and his father, Honorable Leroy E. Francis Snr. an architectural engineer turned politician who moonlighted as a Caribbean Choral singer - as well as his grandparents who were Liberian diplomats stationed in countries as diverse as Haiti, Sierra Leone, Germany, Ghana, and Nigeria. Not to mention his numerous uncles, aunts and cousins who all took a turn in raising him. He attended the Hilton Van Ee School and the American Cooperative School in Monrovia, Liberia and then the Sierra Leone Grammar School in Freetown, Sierra Leone where he completed his secondary education.

Upon graduation, the family moved to New York City where Yor-El enrolled in Hunter College, a liberal arts school on Manhattan's Upper East-side. He studied film production and interned at MTV Networks during his undergraduate years. Following Hunter, he was employed at the FOX News Channel where he worked as an Entertainment Producer. After a stint at Fox, Yor-El moved on to the Black Entertainment Television where he also worked as an Entertainment News Producer.

In 2003, he was accepted into the prestigious two-year Directors Guild of America's Producer Training Plan. The program sent him to work at NBC's "The West Wing," CBS' "NCIS," TNT's "The Closer," and the WB's "7th Heaven," as well as several other productions.
  Upon completing the program, Mr. Francis worked on several film productions including the films “Fracture,” “Crank,” and “Dreamgirls.”

2005 saw Yor-El winning the African Film Commission's top prize for screen-writing for his screenplay "Fire of the Sun," a story based on the life of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, Piankhi, who is an unwilling hero compelled to bring together the country's fractured lower and upper kingdoms.

Sights set on directing
After years of working as an Assistant Director in Hollywood, Yor-El set his sights on directing his first feature film, an adaptation of the Liberian classic by Bai T. Moore Snr., “Murder in the Cassava Patch. Having attended Hilton Van Ee with Bai T. Moore Jr., Mr. Francis reached out to his primary school friend and negotiated with the Moore family for the rights to turn the novella into a feature film.

To assist him in this endeavor, Mr. Francis solicited the help of Liberian Fine Artist Doughba Caranda, III.  Mr. Caranda’s work is in a permanent collection at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. He was also one of two Africans and the youngest artist to be featured in the Schomberg’s Center Collections publication of The 100 Black New York Photographers of the 20th century. Mr. Caranda is also the founder of Caranda Fine Foods and Project Momentum.  Caranda Fine Foods is a gourmet African food company focused on tea, coffee, cocoa, and spices all sourced from Africa.  Project Momentum is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to deliver direct medical aid in Liberia.  Since its founding in 2001, Project Momentum has sent millions of dollars in pharmaceuticals and direct medical aid to hospitals and clinics in Liberia. Mr. Caranda will be the Art Director on the film.

Also on board are Everette Nicolls, a Bahamian cinematographer whose work on the NY independent film scene has been pivotal in creating a cutting edge voice for films featuring Blacks in the Diaspora. His work has appeared at Urbanworld Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Slam Dance Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the Jamerican Film Festival and the Bahamian Film Festival.

Peter Ballah on board
Veteran Liberian stage actor Peter Ballah will also join the cast of  “Murder in the Cassava Patch,” in the pivotal role of Bleng. Mr. Ballah credits his success in the cultural entertainment business and knowledge to the late Mr. Bai T. Moore who taught him all he learned about Liberian culture. He is the founder of the Flomo Theater and is a legend in the Liberian entertainment community.

Eugene Martin is a Liberian performer living and working in New York City. His work in a regional theater performance caught the eye of director Yor-El Francis and after a riveting audition he was cast in the leading role of Gortokai, the protagonist in the film “Murder in the Cassava Patch. A consummate professional, Mr. Martin has studied drama and improvisational theater at various institutions in New York City.

Barnie Jones first stuck the attention of Yor-El during a stage performance in New York City, he was convinced that Ms. Jones would be the antagonist of the film ‘Murder in the Cassava Patch,” in the role of Kema.

Also on board is Thomas Lee Wright who will serve as a producer.  Perhaps best known for penning the original screenplay for the Warner Brothers hit "New Jack City" starring Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock and Ice-T, and for his political documentaries, including "Eight-Tray Gangster: The Making of a Crip" (Discovery Channel) which tells the story of L.A.'s Rodney King riots from a gang member’s perspective, and the award-winning Stuart Townsend picture WTO "Battle-in-Seattle" chronicle "Trade Off" (International Human Rights Watch).

  Mr. Wright and Mr. Francis first met at the home of Stuart Townsend and Charlize Theron six years ago at a birthday party Ms. Theron threw for Stuart, her then partner.  The two immediately bonded and have been searching for the right project to bring them together. “Murder in the Cassava Patch proved to be that vehicle.

Four weeks of shooting
A Minnesota native, Wright attended Harvard College, receiving a degree in English literature. Wright continued his education at Trinity College, in Dublin Ireland where he studied Irish theater and playing point guard for its national championship basketball team.

 Moving to Los Angeles, he became a story editor at Walt Disney and Columbia Pictures, before serving as a creative executive at Paramount Pictures, where he helped develop "48 Hours", "Trading Places" and "Flashdance", among other movies. Soon after leaving corporate ranks, Wright's original story treatment for "The Godfather, Part Three" launched his screenwriting career and led to writing projects for every major studio and many of Hollywood's top producers, including Peter Guber, Dino De Laurentiis, Mike Medavoy, Daniel Melnick, Don Simpson, and Casey Silver, among others. Wright also co-wrote a pair of widely-used film school texts, "American Screenwriters" and "Working In Hollywood".

The film is scheduled to shoot for four weeks in Liberia with post-production being done in New York City with a February 2012 release.


Golden Agriculture Jubilee

Sierra Leone Ambassador Expresses Happiness For Hosting Cuttington’s Agricultural Show

A. Macaulay Sombai, {077217428}

The Sierra Leonean Ambassador to Monrovia and Abidjan, Mrs. Marie J. Barnett has expressed her delight in partnering with the Cuttington University to host the 2011 Cuttington University Agricultural Show.
She considers culture to be a significant way of bringing people together from different ethnicities and nationalities.
Said Ambassador Barnett: “….. the theme of the 2011 Agricultural Show ‘Promoting Peace through Farming’ could not have been any more appropriate considering that we are still struggling to maintain sustainable peace in the sub-region”.
Mrs. Barnett further indicated that as two Anglophone states of the four Mano River Union Countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone share common experiences and interests, which challenges both countries to establish strong collaborative linkages in their best practices.
“Not only for the achievement of sustainable food security in our countries,” she said, “but also for peace promotion such that our children would pursue their educational careers in conducive environments free of hunger and all fears that tend to divide people.”

Mrs. Barnett indicated that as her country celebrates its Golden Jubilee, it is a demonstration of their commitment in promoting peace through farming by joining hands with the College of Agriculture and Integrated Development Studies (CAIDS) of the Cuttington University.
Continued Ambassador Barnett: “Your Excellency President Sirleaf, distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen, Liberia has enjoyed over one hundred and sixty years of independence as compared to Sierra Leone’s 50th independence on 27 April 2011 as a sovereign Republic.”

According to her, Cuttington University has about twenty Sierra Leoneans in their employ as Academic staffs--- two of whom are Deans of the Colleges of Business/Public Administration and the College of Agriculture and Integrated Development Studies.
“These two sectors, serving as a driving force for economic development, recently requested to establish a memorandum of Understanding with the Njala University in Sierra Leone through the embassy of Sierra Leone,” she emphasized.
“I am happy to report that Njala University has positively reacted to that request through my office and I will now officially hand over the documents to the Dean,” she indicated amidst applause.
Barnett says it is her hope and prayer that these two Universities will not only benefit from this relationship through collaboration and coordination of research, but also exchanges of students and faculty.
“But that Cuttington University will draw from the experience and facilities for staff capacity building offered at Njala University while Njala draws from the renewed strength and vigor of Cuttington University, especially considering the fact that the current Dean of the school of agriculture is a founding student of the Njala University,” Mrs. Barnett narrated.
The Ambassador further indicated that the cultural component of agricultural shows are designed in her country as the uniting force that binds the people together as they joyfully express their respective cultures without regards to ethnicity.
“It is my hope and prayer that the people of Bong County will, in this show, set the pace for all Liberians to co-exist peacefully with each other as the first and greatest consideration for realistic development.”
She then extended a blank invitation to all Liberians to the celebration of her country’s 50th Independence Anniversary.
She also extended thanks and appreciation to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, under whose leadership she has had the privilege of serving in Liberia.
The agriculture show was part of the 50th independence anniversary celebration of the Republic of Sierra Leone.