CNN International ran a piece this Saturday of an ambulance driving on a Georgia freeway—about an hour’s worth of inane voice-over as an American physician was driven to Emory University Hospital. I thought it was an O.J. Simpson-style car chase, but no, the good doctor has Ebola.

Medical care in the U.S. is hardly cheap: a hospital emergency can cost you over thirty-five thousand dollars per day, a cool quarter-million a week—excluding surgery, of course. In this case, given Emory is one of only four such isolation facilities in the States, I guess the federal government is paying just that little bit extra.

Contrast that with the Liberian experience, where the brahbee in Monrovia will tell you weed can cure the Ebola virus.

Many years ago, Peter Tosh advertised the medical virtues of marijuana, including treatment of ‘Umara composis.’ I believe the fictional disease was only there to rhyme with tuberculosis, but there’s a bizarre theory that it refers, if you excuse the pun, to menstrual cramps, and Queen Victoria’s alleged use of jah weed.

Personally, I discount the theory—if the queen had been a consumer of ganja, she would never have uttered her most famous line: “We are not amused.”

The brahbees, or street hustlers, in Freetown, enjoying a street toke.

The brahbee, or street hustlers, in downtown Monrovia, enjoying a quiet toke.

Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol can most certainly provide pain-relief, as the whole medical marijuana debate has highlighted, but sadly it won’t cure Ebola.

One of my readers pointed out last week that Ebola may well be much more easily transmitted than is often said. Since the vectors include saliva, sharing a spliff will do more harm than good.

However, the message out of European and American medical authorities bangs the safety drum: in nations with good isolation facilities and proper quarantine procedures, this epidemic cannot spread.

The African scream tells an entirely different tale. In its colonial culturing of West Africa, Britain left a slew of Observers behind. Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia all have them, and other parts of Africa do too—the Ugandan Observer has found its way into these pages in the past.

If you read those local newspapers, you quickly capture the reality of Ebola. For instance the sale of bush meat is now banned in Liberia, as is taxi-crowding.

The Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) recently pronounced:

That God is angry with Liberia, and that Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.

I’m not familiar with homosexualism, perhaps it’s an LCC version of homosexuality, and I find the use of the word ‘penetrate’ by the good bishops rather Freudian.

I can however assure you that neither weed not prayers will help much here. And not all Liberians agree with the LCC.

…Ebola is in Liberia because of dirt and filth. These “men of God” are the ones making us poor and ignorant by demanding money we do not have and chasing our young men and women. Instead of telling the people to stop eating bush meat and clean their surroundings, these morons are showing their ignorance. Look how fate these charlatans are compared to the average Liberian. While praying we should be cleaning our surroundings. Truly “religion is the opium of the people” and these fools must be high on that opium.

So, a bit of opium thrown in there. I was puzzled by the ‘fate’ bit, until I realized our correspondent means ‘fat.’

Geographic distribution of Ebola cases in Liberia.

Geographic distribution of Ebola cases in Liberia in late July 2014. Two provinces have dozens of cases, the others no more than half a dozen.

The Ebola distribution map provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH), shows an interesting picture: most cases (79) in the northwest of the country, closely followed by the coastal province (in pink) to its south (73).

Because the MOH opted to present these data by province, the distribution pattern is hard to interpret. However, the NW province includes the Massif du Ziama, a classified forest, and to its south lies a national park. Bush meat comes to mind.

The pink province includes Monrovia, the capital, which is where I suspect the other 73 cases originate.

Rumors abound, including a recent story about formaldehyde added to the water supply to provoke Ebola-like symptoms.

Meanwhile, in Washington and Colorado marijuana is generating its own pain. After the underground struggle was fought in the poor neighborhoods, the one-time dealers are being sidelined by legalization. Legal dope provides its own tax base, varying between twenty-five and thirty percent, and production on a large scale is regulated.

This brings in the big investors, now that a joint is part of the nibbles at fashionable Aspen dinner parties, and the barista is replaced by the budtender.

I suppose it’ll make the underprivileged communities shift to everything that remains illegal—maybe one of these days they’ll be selling formaldehyde.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.



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