Early deployment of troops essential to ending suffering in Liberia UN envoy

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, Jacques Klein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s new Special Representative for Liberia, painted a grave picture of the current situation in and around the country’s war-torn capital city. Looting and robbery are widespread and reports of human rights violations are persistent, he said.Highlighting the dramatic deterioration of what was already one of the world’s worst humanitarian situations, Mr. Klein said that since fighting reached Monrovia early last month, at least 250,000 people had been displaced and were now scattered among at least 80 makeshift settlements around the capital. Desperate people, suffering form diseases like malaria and cholera, were unable to even forage for food because they fear for their lives.”The situation calls for quick and concerted international action to address the human suffering,” said Mr Klein. “The first step is obviously the reestablishment of secure conditions in which humanitarian agencies can operate, so the key is the early deployment of the advanced guard of West African troops.”Mr. Klein said United States President George W. Bush had assured the Secretary-General during meetings held in Washington earlier in the week that he is committed to helping in what would clearly be a “sequence process” to restoring order in Liberia.”The American side is looking to ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] to go in first,” he said, adding that once sufficient West African troops are on the ground, there could then conceivably be a US presence, at which point Liberian President Charles Taylor would leave the country, “hopefully for Nigeria.””Then over the next two months or so, we hope that a safe and secure environment could be established so we could then set up a peacekeeping mission sometime later this fall, said Mr. Klein, noting that he was now in the process of assembling the team to carry out a basic assessment of what sized civilian, military and police restructuring components such a mission would require.Asked if “two months or so” of transition meant the US would stay only for that long, Mr. Klein said he did not know, because the US had not made a commitment yet to actually go. “ECOWAS needs to move quickly,” he said, “that is the key.” ECOWAS units had been trained and should be ready. The US would not make their decision before ECOWAS troops were deployed.Responding to several question about the projected departure of President Taylor, Mr. Klein said it was his understanding that he would leave the day the US arrived. Hopefully he would go to Nigeria, where he would play a “less visible” role. The danger was, however, someone with a cell phone in Nigeria still manipulating things abroad. That would not help stabilize the situation in Liberia. “Real constraints would need to be in place,” he added.Mr. Klein said Liberia’s Vice President was expected to take charge and there would be an interim government for a period of time. There were many people in the diaspora who would like nothing more than to return and aid in the process of reconstruction. It would take some two years to rebuild Liberia’s infrastructure in terms of political parties ahead of eventual elections, which would allow the Liberian people, for the first time in many years, to determine their own future. read more

Geoff Carlston leads Ohio State womens volleyball on and off the court

Women’s volleyball coach Geoff Carlston directs his team during a match against Dabrowa Sept. 4, at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-2.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorFrom being a 19-year-old college sophomore coaching 17-year-old girls, to working with the Belize National Team while in the Peace Corps, volleyball kept finding its way into Geoff Carlston’s life.While the sport has been a constant for the Plymouth, Minn., native, Carlston said he never expected early on to make a career out of coaching.“I can’t sit here and say I planned this out,” he said. “That would be a flat out lie.”Although he is now leading the women’s volleyball program at Ohio State, Carlston also spent time coaching at Concordia University, St. Paul (Minn.) and Ohio University before landing in Columbus. Prior to those stops, he led the 17 and under Minnesota One Junior Olympic club to the U.S. nationals for three straight years and  was the head coach of the women’s Belize National Team while serving in the Peace Corps. He helped them earn the country’s first international victories and finished fourth in the Central America championship in 1997.He took over a Concordia program in 2000 that was 0-18 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference the year before. In just his third season at Concordia the team finished with a 24-9 record, making a run at the conference championship.The University of Minnesota graduate headed to Athens to take over the Ohio program in 2003, finishing each of his five seasons with single digit losses. His best mark came in 2005 when the team finished 33-3.From there, Carlston has turned the Buckeyes into a perennial contender in the Big Ten, picking up career victory No. 300 on the way against Green Bay in OSU’s second match the 2013 season at the NIU Invitational.After the win, Carlston returned to the locker room to find his players greeting his arrival with noisemakers and cheers.“I actually didn’t even know,” he said.Senior defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo said assistant coach Laura Benzing had the noisemakers in the locker room and told the team to go crazy.“We started doing that and he was just awkwardly laughing,” Mandolfo said. “He didn’t know what was going on.”Carlston said while success is always welcome, it has never been the most important thing to him.“I love the whole experience of competitiveness, but also trying to figure out the puzzle of putting the team chemistry together,” he said.Even though he has reached many achievements in his career, Carlston’s personal accomplishments take a back seat to the success of his players, Mandolfo said.“He doesn’t even care about what he’s accomplished,” she said. “It’s nice knowing that all he cares about is the team.”She added she is grateful to be part of such an accomplished program.“It’s an awesome opportunity to be under such a great coaching staff,” Mandolfo said. “Knowing that he’s our head coach, I just feel grateful for it.”Junior setter Taylor Sherwin said Carlston is concerned about his players’ lives on and off the court.“He’s really concerned about our grades, (and) mentally and physically how we’re doing,” she said.Mandolfo echoed her teammate.“We’re very close off the court,” Mandolfo said. “I can call him for the littlest things and he always helps me out.”In one word, sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits described Carlston as “eccentric.”“He’s very hippy-dippy,” Kacsits said. “It’s not uncommon to go into his office and see him without shoes on and just walking around.”While he is laid-back off the court, Carlston’s attitude changes once the whistle blows.“He’s very go with the flow off the court, but on the court he’s very inspired, very detail-oriented,” Kacsits said.Carlston and the Buckeyes have fought their way to a 9-0 record to start the 2013 season and look to extend the streak this weekend at the Blue and White Classic in Buffalo, N.Y.OSU is scheduled to take on Maryland Eastern Shore Friday at 4:30 p.m. before playing two matches Saturday against Valparaiso at 11 a.m. and Buffalo at 7 p.m.The Buckeyes are set to return to Columbus Sept. 27 for a match against Michigan to open Big Ten season play. read more