The worst place on Earth

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The New York Review of Books offers an excellent primer on Sierra Leone for Westerners — and not just about the current civil war there, which has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and the temporary kidnapping of UN peacekeepers in April.

On top of all that, the tiny West-African country ranks dead last in “human development” (life expectancy, quality of life, etc.) according to the UN — behind Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Laos, Afghanistan, and even Haiti. To help lend context to the current chaos, author James Traub gives us a tour of the beautiful but decaying Freetown, and traces the history and consequences of 40 years of misguided English colonial rule, as well as the destructively naive local leadership that followed.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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