US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

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US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby sardia » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:41 pm UTC

http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2 ... s-so-scary
Continuing with the trending impression that the world is burning, the US plans to deploy up to 3000 troops to slow down the Ebola outbreak. Right now we've had more than 5,000 cases of Ebola, and at least 2,600 people have died. Some scientists, like Alessandro Vespignani at Northeastern University in Boston, are taking numbers like that and putting them into computer models to see where this epidemic is going. "For instance, in our modeling, by mid-October, we're already between 10,000 to 25,000 cases," he says. But Shaman says there's one thing they are sure of: Help needs to come fast. Because even if the new U.S. aid starts to slow down the epidemic next week, it will take a year or a year and a half to wipe out Ebola from West Africa.

Everyone is an isolationist, until the crap hits the fan. Then everyone is all like, "this is different, my pet issue is important". I personally think we should be helping, but not because of the models. For one thing, even if the worse case scenario holds true, society will eventually break down and the infection will burn itself out as it runs out of victims to kill. The bigger danger is the damage to the fragile economies and the unrest that will ensue. But that doesn't play well in the news.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Brace » Fri Sep 19, 2014 12:24 am UTC

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:42 am UTC

Brace wrote:We should just let it spread. It would solve the jobs problem, and the survivors would be mostly people with natural resistances, improving the gene pool.


The people that are immune to HIV-1 are only immune because they are missing the R5 receptor on their T4 cells. They are less healthy than everyone else, except when it comes to HIV-1 (and Bubonic plague). It's a textbook example of why genetic diversity is more important to the species than being the "fittest", but the point is that the people surviving Ebola won't necessarily be naturally healthier.

As for the "jobs" problem, plagues cause a lot of other problems too. Sure, if your town loses every profession in equal proportions, the remaining professionals will be "better off", but in the real world there is a thing called "variance". Chances are you are going to have most towns missing too many of one professional and having a glut of another. And towns with plenty of lawyers but no plumbers are going to collapse into further chaos.

Pandemics have fewer silver linings than you seem to think.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 19, 2014 1:50 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Brace wrote:We should just let it spread. It would solve the jobs problem, and the survivors would be mostly people with natural resistances, improving the gene pool.


The people that are immune to HIV-1 are only immune because they are missing the R5 receptor on their T4 cells. They are less healthy than everyone else, except when it comes to HIV-1 (and Bubonic plague). It's a textbook example of why genetic diversity is more important to the species than being the "fittest", but the point is that the people surviving Ebola won't necessarily be naturally healthier.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/06/healt ... unity.html
There's a case to be made for utilizing survivors of Ebola to help contain the epidemic, but good luck finding out who counts as immune, a spectrum of immunity , in large enough numbers. Note, this isn't only about genetic variation saving some over others, this is also that some are infected with a lower amount of the virus so the body had a better chance of fighting it off. You don't suffer any health issues for fighting off chicken pox, and being immune afterwards.

Btw, is Brace embracing Poe's Law here? I can't tell if the suggestion is serious.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Telchar » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:34 am UTC

Brace wrote:We should just let it spread. It would solve the jobs problem, and the survivors would be mostly people with natural resistances, improving the gene pool.


We should just let junkies share needles. It's solve our jobs problems and addiction predisposition is genetic anyway, so +1 public health. Oh, and we can eat the children afterward.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Brace » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:38 am UTC

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Diadem » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:36 am UTC

Brace wrote:We should just let it spread. It would solve the jobs problem, and the survivors would be mostly people with natural resistances, improving the gene pool.

I very much hope you are joking, but I can't let the first part pass even if you are.

No, of course it won't solve the jobs problem. If half the people die then there will be fewer unemployed, but also fewer people with job. The percentage of unemployed people stays the same. Unemployment is not a function of population. The US has 180M more population than Canada, that doesn't mean the US has by definition at least 180M unemployed people. If you increase the population, you increase the number of jobs, if you decrease the population you decrease the number of jobs. Unemployment goes up or down depending on how the economy is doing, and depending on what policies are enacted.

A huge pandemic will obliterate the economy, and thus worsen unemployment.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby lutzj » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:30 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:A huge pandemic will obliterate the economy, and thus worsen unemployment.


On the other hand, the ratio of land/capital to labor increases if population decreases. If the world's population suddenly crashed to 1000 I can guarantee that every able-bodied adult who wanted gainful employment could find it. Allowing such a disaster would be abhorrently unethical, not to mention an existential threat to humanity, and other important economic things like GDP would sink like rocks, but the precise problem of unemployment would probably improve.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:47 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:
Diadem wrote:A huge pandemic will obliterate the economy, and thus worsen unemployment.


On the other hand, the ratio of land/capital to labor increases if population decreases. If the world's population suddenly crashed to 1000 I can guarantee that every able-bodied adult who wanted gainful employment could find it. Allowing such a disaster would be abhorrently unethical, not to mention an existential threat to humanity, and other important economic things like GDP would sink like rocks, but the precise problem of unemployment would probably improve.


In a sense....but of course, the issue with unemployment is not precisely that we all want to work as much as possible, so much as we all want people to support themselves. A future where that takes less work is desirable. Employment is a means to an end.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:56 pm UTC

Brace wrote:We should just let it spread. It would solve the jobs problem, and the survivors would be mostly people with natural resistances, improving the gene pool.
Wow, you're a huge dick who also doesn't understand epidemiology!

Although truthfully, I don't see what all the fuss is. Ebola is a pretty terrifying disease, to be sure, but the numbers are extraordinarily low compared to a lot of other more serious illnesses. I'm glad the US is sending additional aid, but don't think addressing this disease is as urgent as, say, addressing malaria.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:07 pm UTC

I read that as sarcasm, especially given her follow-up post.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Brace » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:11 pm UTC

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:19 pm UTC

Poe's Law works both ways; people can mistake a parody for extremism, but they can also mistake extremism for a parody.

Given the posts and no attempt made to clarify, I'm going to assume that Brace actually supports a pandemic that kills 1/3 the world. I can only assume that the idea that "people are better off if others died" is only popular among the people that subconsciously believe "everyone else would be better off if I died".

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Brace » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:20 pm UTC

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:36 pm UTC

Rich people live in spread out areas. Poor people are packed like sardines in the inner cities. If nuclear war happens, do you think that the bombs will be dropped on the cities or the suburbs?

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Brace » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:43 pm UTC

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:22 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Brace wrote:We should just let it spread. It would solve the jobs problem, and the survivors would be mostly people with natural resistances, improving the gene pool.
Wow, you're a huge dick who also doesn't understand epidemiology!

Although truthfully, I don't see what all the fuss is. Ebola is a pretty terrifying disease, to be sure, but the numbers are extraordinarily low compared to a lot of other more serious illnesses. I'm glad the US is sending additional aid, but don't think addressing this disease is as urgent as, say, addressing malaria.

This is more akin to HIV. The stigma, fear and spread is causing the most damage, the disease will burn out. For one thing, malaria doesn't shut down the economy or break down society. It's also treatable and had a lower mortality rate and has a known cause.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:21 pm UTC

sardia wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
Brace wrote:We should just let it spread. It would solve the jobs problem, and the survivors would be mostly people with natural resistances, improving the gene pool.
Wow, you're a huge dick who also doesn't understand epidemiology!

Although truthfully, I don't see what all the fuss is. Ebola is a pretty terrifying disease, to be sure, but the numbers are extraordinarily low compared to a lot of other more serious illnesses. I'm glad the US is sending additional aid, but don't think addressing this disease is as urgent as, say, addressing malaria.

This is more akin to HIV. The stigma, fear and spread is causing the most damage, the disease will burn out. For one thing, malaria doesn't shut down the economy or break down society. It's also treatable and had a lower mortality rate and has a known cause.
Huh? Malaria is one of the worlds costliest diseases.

Actually, wait... Can you clarify? Ebola won't 'burn out', because it has an animal reservoir, unlike Malaria or HIV (Well, SIV could always mutate, again, but still). Malaria isn't widely curable, just like most of those who die of HIV don't have access to treatments.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:22 pm UTC

People don't riot over malaria and isn't the damGe from malaria more wide spread but also more diffuse?
This outbreak is entirely human to human transmission. There's also the theory they Ebola is very widespread but varies in lethality. The data is still sketchy so it's hard to judge.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:02 pm UTC

sardia wrote:People don't riot over malaria and isn't the damGe from malaria more wide spread but also more diffuse?
I think you should read up on the costs of malaria. Now, if you google 'cost of ebola', you'll find a bunch of recent articles scaremongering the costs to nations afflicted with Ebola, and I'm sure that cost is huge, but remember, something like 2000 people have died from Ebola in this outbreak. Malaria kills about that many people daily.

sardia wrote:This outbreak is entirely human to human transmission. There's also the theory they Ebola is very widespread but varies in lethality. The data is still sketchy so it's hard to judge.
Again, Ebola is a disease that will always be here, since it has an animal reservoir, and outbreaks occur every so often (5-10 years), which kill a thousand or so, ish, people, and scare the shit out of everyone.

Malaria and HIV are significantly worse diseases in terms of their impact on people.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:33 pm UTC

Are you arguing that resources spent on Ebola is not appropriate compared to its impact? Not saying you're wrong. Also is this outbreak the same as the previous outbreak of Ebola?

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:58 pm UTC

Ebola is the disease worlds equivalent of a mass shooting or horrible serial killer. It's rare, and it's horrible, and precautions should be taken to stop it from happening (or ameliorate it now that it is), though it receives a more press than silent killers like car accidents and smoking, for example.

I'm not really arguing anything, I'm responding to your still somewhat confusing post where you wrote;
sardia wrote:This is more akin to HIV. The stigma, fear and spread is causing the most damage, the disease will burn out. For one thing, malaria doesn't shut down the economy or break down society. It's also treatable and had a lower mortality rate and has a known cause.
Which is, I believe, mostly incorrect.

Ebola doesn't kill nearly as many people as HIV (or Malaria), but, unlike both of those diseases, Ebola can't ever really be eradicated. Both of those diseases have ENORMOUS long term impacts on a country that is ravaged by them. You're correct that most of this outbreak is due to 'human issues', though you're incorrect to claim that HIV/Malaria are globally more treatable. Ebola treatment isn't terribly complex or expensive (or effective, admittedly, though most of the treatments are supportive in nature), it's just that it, like malaria and HIV treatments, aren't really available to most of the world suffering from Ebola.

Similarly, all this talk about an Ebola vaccine is probably not a terribly effective use of disease prevention funding, for a variety of reasons.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:06 pm UTC

Humans tend to be more panicky over the new than the old. Gas cars catch fire? Eh, that happens. Electric cars catch fire at 1/5 the rate? AMAGAD DEATH TRAP! Coal power kills tend of thousands every single year in the US alone? Cost of business. The worst nuclear accident in history expected to kill 4000? AMAGAD RADIATION!

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Angua » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:26 pm UTC

This outbreak has been going on since February - this isn't the normal scenario where ebola pops up, is around for a month and then disappears again. It's having a massive impact on the countries that it's hitting, which is on top of their normal needs. Malaria and HIV are relatively stable and so don't have as much of a severe short term cost as this outbreak is having. It's severely stretching already stretched resources, and is also not showing any signs of stopping soon. Malaria and HIV also don't kill so quickly on this scale, which is also causing a lot of problems, so we definitely need to be sending resources to help out with this massive unprecedented outbreak, which is spreading, causing lots of problems for the local economies, and leading to a lot of distrust in the health care professionals trying to help out. Also, malaria season is starting so that's going to cause a lot more problems due to similarity in presentations, and the fact that ebola patients are taking up a lot of beds.

Possibly a lot of this is stemming from the fact that this outbreak started in West Africa, where it's never been seen and so wasn't able to be contained fast enough and the local people didn't have the training or resources available on short enough notice. I think getting a usable vaccine out of this is definitely a good use of resources, given the scale of the outbreak and the problems it's causing. It probably won't be economical to vaccinate everyone even after the outbreak is finally got under control, (and provided the vaccines work), but will be good to help future outbreaks from spreading as you could have a centralised stock that is given out as and when an outbreak pops up.

I see this more akin to a massive tsunami vs seasonal floods. People die in floods all the time, and we definitely need resources on shoring up roads and bridges, and preventing landslides and the like (Malaria and HIV do get a lot more funding and research [though admittedly not as much as they need], as well they should). However, tsunamis happen occasionally, but when they do they expend a massive stretch on resources so require a lot more help and can drastically cause short and medium term problems to the areas involved, even if overall kills less people over a longer period of time than normal flooding.

tl;dr - I definitely think this is worthy of diverting resources against, given the sheer scale and timeframe that this outbreak has had.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:13 pm UTC

Flooding is not a good example, because the big events really are a significant driver of mortality there. The article below estimates the total deaths from floods from 1980 to 2009 at 590,000 world wide. They exclude tsunamis, for which they have a separate study. So the 2004 tsunami killed about 12 years of worldwide flooding deaths in one day.

And out of those 590,000 deaths due to flooding, 240,000 come from just 2 cyclone landfalls. Another 20,000 were a freak mudslide in Venezuela, a third cyclone killed 15,000. All other floods in the database were below 10,000 deaths per event.So a few big singular events did kill more people than all the 'regular' floods of the world combined

I wouldn't have known this without looking for it. Ongoing diseases malaria and HIV are more deadly than singular outbreaks, but for flooding it's the opposite.




currents.plos.org/disasters/article/the-human-impact-of-floods-a-historical-review-of-events-1980-2009-and-systematic-literature-review/

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Derek » Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:38 pm UTC

Ebola is a fairly contagious and highly deadly disease with no existing effective treatment, and this outbreak, while still very small compared to malaria or HIV, has already dwarfed previous cases and continues to grow rapidly. I think the fears around this outbreak are quite justified.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Xeio » Sat Sep 20, 2014 12:56 am UTC

Derek wrote:Ebola is a fairly contagious and highly deadly disease with no existing effective treatment, and this outbreak, while still very small compared to malaria or HIV, has already dwarfed previous cases and continues to grow rapidly. I think the fears around this outbreak are quite justified.
I think that depends on perspective. The fears in the US/Europe? Not really justified.

If you live in the affected or surrounding countries, there is significantly more justification to worry about this.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby sardia » Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:09 am UTC

Xeio wrote:
Derek wrote:Ebola is a fairly contagious and highly deadly disease with no existing effective treatment, and this outbreak, while still very small compared to malaria or HIV, has already dwarfed previous cases and continues to grow rapidly. I think the fears around this outbreak are quite justified.
I think that depends on perspective. The fears in the US/Europe? Not really justified.

If you live in the affected or surrounding countries, there is significantly more justification to worry about this.

And now we're back to isolationism vs globalization. Is West Africa breaking down worth Western intervention? The answer unfortunately depends not on adherence to principle, but rather the mood of the international community. We lucky that Ebola isn't yet linked to any political factions yet, like homophobes or the sunni-shiite civil war.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:57 am UTC

Xeio wrote:
Derek wrote:Ebola is a fairly contagious and highly deadly disease with no existing effective treatment, and this outbreak, while still very small compared to malaria or HIV, has already dwarfed previous cases and continues to grow rapidly. I think the fears around this outbreak are quite justified.
I think that depends on perspective. The fears in the US/Europe? Not really justified.
Fears that I'll contract Ebola here in Boston would be unjustified, sure. Fears that the current unprecedented epidemic, which has already killed more than all previous outbreaks combined, might kill tens of thousands more people in West Africa before it burns out? I'd say that's pretty justified wherever in the world I happen to live.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:07 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Xeio wrote:
Derek wrote:Ebola is a fairly contagious and highly deadly disease with no existing effective treatment, and this outbreak, while still very small compared to malaria or HIV, has already dwarfed previous cases and continues to grow rapidly. I think the fears around this outbreak are quite justified.
I think that depends on perspective. The fears in the US/Europe? Not really justified.
Fears that I'll contract Ebola here in Boston would be unjustified, sure. Fears that the current unprecedented epidemic, which has already killed more than all previous outbreaks combined, might kill tens of thousands more people in West Africa before it burns out? I'd say that's pretty justified wherever in the world I happen to live.


This is a legitimate problem.

However, on CSpan and local radio, I'm hearing a lot of nutcases who are wondering why we aren't closing down airports over this issue.

At this point, I fully support sending in significant amounts of US aid to help out those countries affected by Ebola... but I can't help but roll my eyes at all those people who think this is actually a threat to our homeland.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:40 am UTC

One reason Ebola is so bad when it breaks out in rural Africa is because there is poor sanitation, particularly with regards to the dead, and poor medical access.

If someone with Ebola got to Boston, and started sneezing in the face of everyone they saw (maybe I should have said NYC?), this still wouldn't be an epidemic, since those people would be, at very worst, disposed of properly once they died. The survivability of Ebola is significantly better if the patient is in a hospital (though, yes, it's still quite serious).
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby sardia » Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:19 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:One reason Ebola is so bad when it breaks out in rural Africa is because there is poor sanitation, particularly with regards to the dead, and poor medical access.

If someone with Ebola got to Boston, and started sneezing in the face of everyone they saw (maybe I should have said NYC?), this still wouldn't be an epidemic, since those people would be, at very worst, disposed of properly once they died. The survivability of Ebola is significantly better if the patient is in a hospital (though, yes, it's still quite serious).

I thought it was due to the urbanization. IIRC, Poor West Africa wasn't exactly the mecca of sanitation in previous outbreaks, but they weren't this bad.

PS Other than Brace trolling hard, support for intervention is pretty high. Too bad the private community isn't donating. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ ... story.html
Confusion and lack of coordination explains some of it. Maybe people don't recognize how scary and dangerous this is.

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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:40 am UTC

sardia wrote:I thought it was due to the urbanization. IIRC, Poor West Africa wasn't exactly the mecca of sanitation in previous outbreaks, but they weren't this bad.
I'm not sure, but I have read from numerous sources including this one that one of the principal issues with Ebola spreading in Africa is the way they treat their dead, particularly, how they come into direct contact with them as part of burial rites. I'm sure urbanization is exacerbating the issue insofar as letting bloody poopy water fester were large populations are exposed.

Sierra Leone may have some paved roads and industrial building materials, but with respect sanitation, you're not really dealing with a place that's terribly improved upon over many rural areas.

But yes, of course aid should be sent, because this disease is terrifying and costly and the solution isn't 'let it thin the herd'.
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Re: US Sends Troops to Combat Ebola

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:47 pm UTC

I thought it was bad because it causes the borders to close, trade to stop, farmers refuse to show up to work, crops fail, and people starve? Because that's what's going on in that region right now.

It's going to be a bad year for cocoa...


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