Letters from a former war zone (5×8 – 11/11/10)

Letters from Liberia, chutzpah Duluth style, love trumps politics, does covering bullying in suicides ignore the underlying health aspect, and Moss on a roll.


MPR’s Toni Randolph is in Liberia as part of a journalism program. Here’s her latest letter home:

Today was my first full day in Liberia on the IRP’s Gatekeepers trip. I got a taste of Liberian food, Liberian history and of Liberian life today, including a look at the poverty here.

The neighbors adjacent to my hotel live in a shack, eat and cook outside…and it looks like they bathe outside, too. At night, the only light they have comes from the back of my “luxury” hotel, which boasts 24-hour electricity and hot running water, along with high-speed internet service, but is separated from the shacks by a cement wall topped with barbed wire (not an unusual site). While the “luxury’ this hotel provides is not what we’re used to in the states, it still stands as a stark contrast to how some people are living in Liberia.

We had historical tour of Monrovia with Professor Joseph Saye Guannu of Cuttington University. He showed us the place where freed American slaves first landed in Liberia, the church they founded and other historical landmarks.

I had a delicious meal for lunch at Evelyn’s Restaurant that included Liberian favorites like potato greens. Yum!

Their visit made the front page of the paper in Monrovia.



A man in Duluth apparently liked a 100 year old antique fence so much that he took it and put it up on his property a few blocks away.


Today’s required reading is Jess Mador’s story about the love affair between Walter and Joan Mondale. They were married after just seven dates and have been married 50 years. It’s impossible to read it without thinking about whether his is the last generation of 50-year marriages.

“I remember the rule that Joan repeated a lot, which was that no matter what politics cost, it should never cost you your family,” said Walter. “The family has to come first. You have to work out a way of campaigning, and the other things that take so much of your time, in a way that strengthens the family.”

More politics, less love: The gubernatorial recount could “trap” Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the governor’s mansion, the New York Times says.


Is taunting and bullying primarily responsible for teen suicides? Or is the underlying mental illness responsible? Two cases are in the news today.

In Cooperstown, North Dakota, the sheriff is tamping down the bullying aspect in the suicide of Cassidy Andel, who killed herself a week or so ago. “We’re not looking at this as some major criminal case here,” he said. Bob Hook had initially said bullying may have played a part in Cassidy’s death, but now says the talk about it is “out of control.” Experts there are concerned that the focus on bullying is taking away from the underlying health issue surrounding suicide.

Samantha Kelly accused a senior in her high school of rape, allegedly endured taunting and bullying, and three days ago she hanged herself in her Michigan home. The rape case has been dropped because the key witness is dead.

“People wanted to beat her up – people who were friends of Joe,” said Ayla Raines, who also attended Huron High School. “Not to her face. She heard from other people that they wanted to beat her up.”


Randy Moss had his first — and if history is any guide, last — news conference with reporters in Tennessee yesterday, vowing he’s not there to start trouble. Insert your own Randy Moss joke here.



Bonus: Audrey Kletscher Helbling, who writes the excellent Minnesota Prairie Roots blog, remembers her father, a Korean War veteran.


In recent weeks, various critics have suggested that they see a political bias in public radio. Do you think there’s a political bias in public radio programming?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Rebuilding a community by restoring individual health.

Second hour: Joseph Vacher was a former soldier who roamed the French countryside in the late 19th Century, killing several people. In his new book, author and journalist Douglas Starr examines the story of Vacher, the criminologist who pursued him, and the origins of modern forensics.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Veterans Day program with Joseph Galloway, award-winning military affairs reporter and winner of the Bronze Star for valor in the Vietnam War.

Second hour: Election officials and experienced recount attorneys discuss the expected recount of the 2010 gubernatorial election at an event at the U of M, featuring Joe Mansky, Rachel Smith, Kevin Corbid, Fritz Knaack, and David Lillehaug.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Last week’s historic election not only switched control of the Minnesota Senate from Democrats to Republicans for the first time in 38 years, but it also brought in a heard of political rookies to the Capitol. More than half of the Senate’s new incoming Republican majority will be serving their first term. MPR’s Tim Pugmire caught up with some of them this week to ask what they hope to accomplish.

  • brian

    I like that all the ads on the tower demolition clip are for demolition companies.