Browsing articles from "August, 2014"

Fresh Air Weekend: Eric Schlosser, Spoon’s New Album And ‘The Knick’ Creators

Aug 16, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Fresh Air Weekend: Eric Schlosser, Spoon’s New Album And ‘The Knick’ Creators

The Titan II intercontinental-range missile, pictured in 1965, sits ready for launch on its 150-feet-deep underground launchpad. The one warhead on a Titan II had three times the explosive force of all the bombs used by all the armies in the second world war combined — including both atomic bombs, says investigative reporter Eric Schlosser.i
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The Titan II intercontinental-range missile, pictured in 1965, sits ready for launch on its 150-feet-deep underground launchpad. “The one warhead on a Titan II had three times the explosive force of all the bombs used by all the armies in the second world war combined — including both atomic bombs,” says investigative reporter Eric Schlosser.

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The Titan II intercontinental-range missile, pictured in 1965, sits ready for launch on its 150-feet-deep underground launchpad. The one warhead on a Titan II had three times the explosive force of all the bombs used by all the armies in the second world war combined — including both atomic bombs, says investigative reporter Eric Schlosser.

The Titan II intercontinental-range missile, pictured in 1965, sits ready for launch on its 150-feet-deep underground launchpad. “The one warhead on a Titan II had three times the explosive force of all the bombs used by all the armies in the second world war combined — including both atomic bombs,” says investigative reporter Eric Schlosser.

Keystone/Getty Images

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Nuclear ‘Command And Control’: A History Of False Alarms And Near Catastrophes: Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, spent six years researching America’s nuclear weapons. In Command and Control, he details explosions, false attack alerts and accidentally dropped bombs.

Spoon Wants Your Soul: Spoon has just released its first new album since 2010’s Transference. Fresh Air critic says that “They Want My Soul is another fine Spoon album in a career that has now come to display a remarkable consistency.”

How ‘The Knick’ Creators Capture Turn-Of-The-Century Operating Scenes: The drama is set in a New York hospital in 1900, when surgeons were developing new techniques. Series creators Jack Amiel and Michael Begler and medical historian Stanley Burns talk about the show.

You can listen to the original interviews here:

Nuclear ‘Command And Control’: A History Of False Alarms And Near Catastrophes

Spoon Wants Your Soul

How ‘The Knick’ Creators Capture Turn-Of-The-Century Operating Scenes

What’s Behind Those Abuse-Of-Power Charges Against Perry?

Aug 16, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on What’s Behind Those Abuse-Of-Power Charges Against Perry?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, on Tuesday. Late Friday, Perry was indicted on abuse-of-power charges.i
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Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, on Tuesday. Late Friday, Perry was indicted on abuse-of-power charges.

Charlie Neibergall/AP


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Charlie Neibergall/AP

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, on Tuesday. Late Friday, Perry was indicted on abuse-of-power charges.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, on Tuesday. Late Friday, Perry was indicted on abuse-of-power charges.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, considered a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, was indicted on felony abuse of power charges late Friday in connection with his veto of funding of state public corruption prosecutors.

The case, which has been bubbling for months, is complicated. Here’s a closer look at what we know from various sources:

The New York Times writes: “The long-simmering case has centered on Mr. Perry’s veto power as governor. His critics asserted that he used that power as leverage to try to get an elected official — Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney in Travis County — to step down after her arrest on a drunken-driving charge last year. Ms. Lehmberg is Austin’s top prosecutor and oversees a powerful public corruption unit that investigates state, local and federal officials; its work led to the 2005 indictment of a former Republican congressman, Tom DeLay, on charges of violating campaign finance laws.”

The Texas Observer notes that the circumstances of Lehmberg’s arrest and detention were “incredibly embarrassing stuff”:

“Police found an open vodka bottle in the car and arrested her. She verbally berated the arresting officers, and she didn’t stop the verbal abuse when she got to jail. Lehmberg was strapped into a restraining chair. Hours after her arrest, she blew a .239, almost three times the legal limit.

“Lehmberg’s jailers starting filming her, as they sometimes do with uncooperative detainees. That footage quickly found its way into the hands of media outlets.”

Perry allegedly threatened to withdraw funding from public corruption office if Lehmberg didn’t resign. She refused.

Subsequently, at the end of last year’s legislative session, “Perry eliminated the entirety of the Public Integrity Unit’s funding–some $8 million over two years. Money that was going to investigate, in small part, his own party’s mismanagement of state government agencies, including alleged corruption in CPRIT [the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas],” according to the Observer.

The Washington Post says:

“It appears to those on the governor’s side of the argument that he has the right to cut the funding of agencies run by people who will not quit on his demand.

“It appears to those on the prosecutor’s side that his funding veto and the threat that preceded it were an attempt to intimidate and coerce the office that has the job of policing corruption and ethics cases in state government.

“The threat is the thing. Had the governor simply cut the funding without saying anything — especially in public, but even in private — this would just be a strange veto. That is not unprecedented.”

Perry can continue to serve as governor while the case wends its way through the courts. But, not surprisingly, the indictment has led to speculation about the Texas governor’s chances in 2016.

Politico opines that “The indictment is a blow to Perry just as he’s trying to rehabilitate his image after a disastrous 2012 presidential run. But he also is the third major potential White House candidate on the Republican side — the others being Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — to face legal problems at a time when no clear GOP standard-bearer has appeared in the run-up to 2016.”

Even so, as FiveThirtyEight.com notes:

“Perry would have had a difficult time capturing the nomination even before Friday’s indictment. According to recent polls by NBC/Marist, Perry was at 7 percent in Iowa and 5 percent in New Hampshire. His Iowa numbers are especially depressed from where he was polling when he first declared his candidacy in 2012.

“Perhaps more importantly, Perry’s repeated gaffes in 2012 would have made it difficult for the GOP establishment to support him again in 2016.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted On Abuse-Of-Power Charges

Aug 16, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted On Abuse-Of-Power Charges

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted on charges that he abused the powers of his office to illegally try to coerce the district attorney in Austin.i
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Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted on charges that he abused the powers of his office to illegally try to coerce the district attorney in Austin.

Charlie Neibergall/AP


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Charlie Neibergall/AP

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted on charges that he abused the powers of his office to illegally try to coerce the district attorney in Austin.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted on charges that he abused the powers of his office to illegally try to coerce the district attorney in Austin.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted by an Austin grand jury in connection with a veto of funding for state public corruption prosecutors.

An ethics complaint was filed last summer. The Associated Press has this background on the case:

“The Republican governor is accused of abusing his official powers by publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit at the Travis County District Attorney’s office. He was indicted by an Austin grand jury Friday.

“Perry said he’d veto the funding if the district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, didn’t resign. Lehmberg had recently been convicted of drunken driving. The state’s Public Integrity Unit operates out of her office.

“When Lehmberg refused, Perry carried out his veto, drawing an ethics complaint.”

NPR’s Wade Goodwyn reports that Lehmberg’s office was investigating one of Perry’s favorite state projects at the time he was calling for her resignation.

“The governor would have been able to appoint the DA’s successor had she stepped down,” Goodwyn says.

The Texas Tribune notes that Perry does have the authority to veto budget items, but that “his critics said that this was done expressly for political purposes and is a crime.”

The general counsel for Perry issued a written statement, saying the governor acted “in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”

Grand Jury Indicts Texas Gov. Rick Perry On Charges Of Abusing Power

Aug 16, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Grand Jury Indicts Texas Gov. Rick Perry On Charges Of Abusing Power

A grand jury in Austin, Texas, has indicted Gov. Rick Perry on charges of abusing his official powers. For more on the indictment, Robert Siegel talks with NPR’s Wade Goodwyn.

NATO Chief Accuses Russia Of Ukraine ‘Incursion’

Aug 15, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on NATO Chief Accuses Russia Of Ukraine ‘Incursion’

A convoy purportedly carrying humanitarian aid is parked about 17 miles from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, on Friday. Ukrainian officials have insisted on inspecting the cargo over fears that the convoy might be a pretext for invasion.i
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A convoy purportedly carrying humanitarian aid is parked about 17 miles from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, on Friday. Ukrainian officials have insisted on inspecting the cargo over fears that the convoy might be a pretext for invasion.

Pavel Golovkin/AP


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Pavel Golovkin/AP

A convoy purportedly carrying humanitarian aid is parked about 17 miles from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, on Friday. Ukrainian officials have insisted on inspecting the cargo over fears that the convoy might be a pretext for invasion.

A convoy purportedly carrying humanitarian aid is parked about 17 miles from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, on Friday. Ukrainian officials have insisted on inspecting the cargo over fears that the convoy might be a pretext for invasion.

Pavel Golovkin/AP

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance observed a “Russian incursion” into Ukraine overnight, confirming that Moscow was continuing to supply separatists with “a continuous flow of weapons and fighters.”

The remarks come as a Russian convoy purportedly carrying humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine has been halted near the border as it awaits inspection by officials concerned that it could be a pretext for invasion.

“Last night we saw a Russian incursion, a crossing of the Ukrainian border,” Rasmussen told reporters after meeting the Danish defense minister, according to Reuters.

“It just confirms the fact that we see a continuous flow of weapons and fighters from Russia into eastern Ukraine and it is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine,” he said.

Bloomberg says: “The incursion last night isn’t seen by Ukraine as a new development or a possible start of an invasion by Russia, Defense Ministry spokesman Leonid Matyukhin said by phone. The vehicles were painted white to camouflage the operation as a peacekeeping mission, he said. The military column, which wasn’t part of Russia’s convoy delivering humanitarian aid, rolled into insurgent-held territory, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the military, told reporters in Kiev today.”

Meanwhile, NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, at the eastern border with Russia, says Ukrainian officials reportedly have begun inspecting the convoy at a border crossing that leads to Luhansk, an area where fighting between pro-Russia separatists and Kiev’s forces has been ongoing.

Karoun Demirjian, reporting for NPR from Moscow, says the inspections are taking place on the Russian side of the border.

The Associated Press say Moscow has agreed to the procedure and to allow the Red Cross to distribute the aid.

Karoun reports that European diplomatic officials and some journalists in the area first reported that some Russian military vehicles did cross into Ukraine overnight and that two British newspapers said “at least 23 Russian military vehicles” were involved.

Earlier, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the alliance was checking out the reports of the incursion.

“If confirmed, they are further evidence that Russia is doing the very opposite of what it’s saying. Russia has been escalating the conflict, even as it calls for de-escalation,” she said in response to a question from Reuters.

“It is high time that Russia did what it says it wants to do, which is to contribute to a peaceful solution. Russia needs to pull back its troops, stop the flow of arms and fighters over the border with Ukraine, stop supporting the separatists and engage in a genuine and sincere dialog with Ukraine.”

Top Stories: Ferguson Latest; NATO Says Russia Meddles In Ukraine

Aug 15, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Top Stories: Ferguson Latest; NATO Says Russia Meddles In Ukraine

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— ‘They’re Talking To People’: Tensions Ease In Ferguson As Police Change Tactics.

— NATO Chief Accuses Russia Of Ukraine ‘Incursion’.

And here are more early headlines:

Russian Aid Convoy On Ukrainian Border – So Are Russian Military Trucks. (Businessweek)

Texas National Guardsmen Arriving At Mexico Border. (Chicago Tribune)

Japanese Officials Visit Controversial Shrine, Triggering Anger. (AP)

Thousands Attend South Korean Mass With Pope Francis. (Wall Street Journal)

Haitian Supporters Of Former Premier Aristide Clash With Police. (BBC)

Losing Miss. GOP Senate Candidate Files Lawsuit On Election. (Hattiesburg American)

San Francisco’s Candlestick Park Ready For Demolition. (SF Gate)

Vigils In Ferguson And Nationwide Stay Calm, But Message Remains

Aug 15, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Vigils In Ferguson And Nationwide Stay Calm, But Message Remains
  • Demonstrators hold candles and signs Thursday in Ferguson, Mo. Hundreds of people protesting the death of Michael Brown marched through the streets of Ferguson alongside state troopers on Thursday.

  • A crowd raises their arms while chanting Hands Up, Don't Shoot during a protest for Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., in San Francisco.

  • Protestors hold signs in support of those in Ferguson, Mo., during a rally at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, in Washington.

  • A group of people hold up their hands during a nationwide moment of silence at a vigil in Orlando, Fla. Protestors in Ferguson, Mo., say that Michael Brown, the teen whose shooting death on Saturday is at the root of tensions there, was in a similar pose when killed by a police officer.

After four nights of tense clashes with police and several high-profile arrests, protests appeared to calm in Ferguson, Mo., on Thursday night.

Earlier it was announced that the Missouri Highway Patrol would take over policing of the St. Louis suburb, where protesters have clashed with local authorities since a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen on Saturday.

NPR’s Cheryl Corley, reporting for our Newscast unit, said that it was an entirely different atmosphere on the streets of Ferguson Thursday night compared to the past several days of protests.

“There’s no riot gear, nobody with guns [or] rubber bullets,” Corley says. “In fact we hardly see police around this evening.”

She said the few officers who were around walked through the crowds and were even talking with people gathered.

Vigils that organizers say were arranged in support of those protesting in Ferguson and to honor “the innocent lives lost” were held in cities from Boston to San Francisco.

Reporting from New York City, NPR’s Sam Sanders said a vigil group had made its way through Manhattan and at one point stopped traffic in Times Square.

Despite the calm in Ferguson, Corley says that the message among protesters remains the same, and that chants of “hands up, don’t shoot” still were prevalent among the crowd.

“Those signs are still out here … people are still concerned about police brutality,” she says. “So that’s a message that they still want people to know.”

Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Crosses Milestone

Aug 15, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Crosses Milestone

Warren Buffett.i
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Warren Buffett.

The most expensive stock on the New York Stock Exchange just got a little more expensive. A Class A share of Berkshire Hathaway is now worth more than $200,000.

On Thursday, shares closed up $3,500 at $202,850. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company has a market value of more than $333 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway is the company created and run by Warren Buffet for nearly five decades now. The conglomerate owns more than 80 firms including Geico Insurance, BNSF Railway and Dairy Queen.

It’s stock price has doubled since October of 2006 when it crossed the $100,000 mark. Buffet’s legendary investment talent helped Berkshire shares outperform the SP 500 index by a wide margin during that period.

Buffet is the world’s third-richest person and owns about 20 percent of the company. He has never split Berkshire’s shares — something many companies have done multiple times to make their share price more attractive to investors.

Buffet says he believes a lower share price would prompt speculative trading, and he doesn’t want investors to think they can make a lot of money fast by trading Berkshire’s stock and then blame him if they don’t.

But Buffet did create a lower priced Class B share in 1996 to out maneuver fund managers who were creating clones of Berkshire stock. Those Class B shares trade at a small fraction of the price of the original share.

Gaza Quiet After Israel, Hamas Reach Cease-Fire Extension

Aug 14, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Gaza Quiet After Israel, Hamas Reach Cease-Fire Extension

Part of a tunnel exposed by the Israeli military is seen on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday, as a five-day extension of a cease-fire deal goes into effect.i
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Part of a tunnel exposed by the Israeli military is seen on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday, as a five-day extension of a cease-fire deal goes into effect.

Amir Cohen/Reuters/Landov


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Amir Cohen/Reuters/Landov

Part of a tunnel exposed by the Israeli military is seen on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday, as a five-day extension of a cease-fire deal goes into effect.

Part of a tunnel exposed by the Israeli military is seen on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday, as a five-day extension of a cease-fire deal goes into effect.

Amir Cohen/Reuters/Landov

So far, a five-day extension to a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appears to be holding, NPR’s Jackie Northam reports from Jerusalem.

She says “There were a few tense hours before the … extension was announced — rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes. But it’s been quiet since, as both sides prepare to return to Egyptian-brokered negotiations aimed at creating a long-term truce.”

Israel said eight Hamas rockets were launched at Israel and that the Israeli Defense Forces responded with airstrikes immediately after the truce deal — which is tacked onto the end of an original 72-hour cease-fire — was announced.

In total, it represents the longest hiatus in hostilities since Israel first struck targets in the Gaza Strip last month in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks. The fighting has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians and 67 Israelis, three of them soldiers.

The agreement proposed by Egypt to keep the cease-fire going until Aug. 18 sent Palestinian and Israeli negotiators back home from Cairo to consult with their leaders, Reuters says. “One Palestinian faction headed for Ramallah, the main city in the West Bank, to meet Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, while some representatives of the Islamist group Hamas flew to Qatar to see Khaled Meshaal, their leader in exile, and others returned to Gaza.”

According to Reuters: “While Hamas, which controls Gaza, is likely to accede to the PA taking over administration of the Rafah border, and Israel can agree to loosen maritime restrictions and allow a freer flow of goods into Gaza, steps beyond that become trickier.”

The Associated Press notes:

“Palestinian negotiators in Cairo expressed optimism that a deal to create a sustainable roadmap for the war-torn territory could soon be achieved.

“Hamas is seeking an end to a crippling blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007. The blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people. It has also restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.”

A Fiasco At The Burial Ground, A Prank At The Shop: Covering Ebola

Aug 14, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on A Fiasco At The Burial Ground, A Prank At The Shop: Covering Ebola

Fallen markers of Ebola victims.i
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Fallen markers of Ebola victims.

Jason Beaubien/NPR


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Jason Beaubien/NPR

Fallen markers of Ebola victims.

Fallen markers of Ebola victims.

Jason Beaubien/NPR

NPR’s global health correspondent Jason Beaubien tries to keep his cool when traveling abroad. But he may have set a new record for chillness.

En route to Liberia to cover the Ebola outbreak, he flew out of Sierra Leone’s Freetown airport. Like all passengers, he had his body temperature measured by an ear gun thermometer. The reading: 32.8 degrees centigrade (roughly 91 degrees Fahrenheit).

A 95 degree temperature can mark the onset of hypothermia; at 91 degrees amnesia can kick in. But Jason remembers (and has photo proof) of that clearly erroneous temperature reading.

The authorities were not troubled and let him board his flight.

If that was a comedy of errors, in Monrovia, Beaubien found a tragedy of errors when it comes to burying the dead.

There have been over 350 Ebola deaths in Liberia. How are the bodies being handled?

The government is having a really hard time finding places to bury the bodies because nobody wants them in their community.

The government bought this land [for burials] in a quite remote spot. There isn’t even a village that close to it, just some little shacks. But it’s near the settlement of Johnsonville.

The dead body management teams – that’s what they call them — went out there last week to bury these bodies. Basically, the site is a swamp. They had a big backhoe to start digging the graves. But people from the [nearest] community came, they didn’t want the bodies buried there. There was a clash. Then the backhoe got stuck in the mud.

They didn’t finish burying the bodies that night, but they threw the bodies into the graves they’d dug. Overnight water from the swamp came up and lifted the body bags up, and so the body bags were floating in these graves. And the community was furious.

I went out to the site – it took two hours driving from the capital Monrovia over some of the worst roads I have ever been over, just up-and-down rutted roads.

What was the burial site like when you visited?

The backhoe is still stuck, the treads just buried in the mud.

And there are all of these grave markers with people’s names written on them, maybe with a Sharpie: their name, the day they died, their age: Age 60, died 28-7-2014, Lusu Fayiah

The markers are made out of plywood and nailed onto wooden sticks. They’re just scattered all over the place. I counted 37 of them.

Do the bodies pose any health risk?

Right after death is when they’re incredibly contagious. People are terrified of dead bodies. But [the authorities] spray the entire body with a 0.5 percent chlorine solution, which is very strong, zip it up in a body bag, spray the body bag with that solution, then they double bag it, zip the whole thing up again and spray it down again. So it’s pretty safe.

Despite the precautions, are people still nervous about the bodies?

People are just freaked out.

People were particularly freaked out because the burial turned into this fiasco where the body bags were thrown into open graves that then filled with water, so the body bags floated to the surface. That was definitely a fiasco.

They did finish filling in the graves the next day, but it was not good in terms of trying to get this community to allow burials out there, and now this burial site has been completely abandoned.

Neighbors around this site stated to me that they’re afraid that those bodies are bringing Ebola to their land. That’s their perspective. Whether it’s true or not, that’s how they feel about it.

Is cremation also being considered? Are people nervous about that as well?

The burning of bodies is so new that I’ve heard no complaints about it. I haven’t heard anybody being concerned.

This has been such a tragic conversation. On the flip side, I wonder: Do people in Liberia ever joke about Ebola, is there any dark humor? Or is it too awful to joke about?

People have a sense of humor about it. My driver today was recounting this story he heard — a guy in a shop took tomatoes and smeared them so the juice was coming out of his ears and nose, and he ran up to the cash register and was like, “I’m bleeding.” Then the cashier ran away, and the man stole all the money out of the till.

My driver thought that was really funny.

If that’s comic relief, all I can say is, “Holy cow!

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