Asserting that illegal logging causes a host of social and political problems, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday announced the launch of a new U.S. campaign to help developing countries fight unlawful deforestation. “Such blatant disregard for the law weakens governments, encourages corruption, [and] undermines democracy,” Powell said. He pointed to the example of Liberia, where President Charles Taylor is said to have funded nefarious activities with proceeds from illegal logging of tropical hardwoods. In the first year of the new campaign, the U.S. will pony up $15 million to help tackle the problem in Africa’s Congo River basin, the Amazon rainforest, Central America, and South and Southeast Asia. President Bush instructed Powell to establish the program in February 2002, when he announced a number of alternatives to the Kyoto Protocol.