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Sierra Leone News: Africa Notebook

They say the cold is bone-chilling in America even though it’s many more weeks before Christmas. Shops are now festooned with garland, twinkling lights and dotted with signs of the nativity. Age-old Christmas songs as well as jumpy ones treated with present day beats are played in juke-boxes from shops draped with fashionable toys, dresses and assorted articles. Everywhere are signs of the approaching festivity. Airlines are in a frenzy with bookings for the Christmas getaway while the American Automobile Association (Triple A) is issuing road traveling guides for the millions of Americans anticipated to be on the road during the festive period, visiting far-away relatives and friends. Sure thing, it’s beginning to look like Christmas, the American way though. A much-needed report has just been released. It’s making the rounds of Washington and other states and poses the question as to what stresses people the most as the festive season approaches. Although the report took in events in 16 developed countries, its underlining factors had attributes that have implications for developing countries as well. Money, according to the global survey, is the No 1 source of stress in 10 of the 16 countries. Ten countries including Malaysia, China, Singapore, Australia, Canada, India and the Netherlands consider money as the No 1 stress while Germany, Brazil and Spain said it is the state of the world that is most stressful as Christmas approaches. The United States is among them. Family life is most fraught in France and Russia. France is undergoing a baby boom while Russia’s gravest problem, according to President Putin, is it’s dwindling population. The state of the world stresses out many Germans as it has the potential to affect everyone. One American pensioner said, “Living with today’s economy and wondering if my retirement funds will last long enough – that’s stressful.” While a French chauffeur noted, “I worry my son won’t have the same opportunities I had.” For Italy, it is health as older folks fret about check-ups more than younger ones do. Well, that’s the way of the world as the year draws to a close. Americans will drive nearly twice as many miles as they did a decade or two ago although road capacity has increased tremendously. Within five years between 60 and 90% of added capacity is typically filled with new traffic. When traffic was snarled in Ancient Rome, Caesar simply banned chariots during the day. Cities today are similarly limiting access to roads or charging for if it. The most congested cities are said to be Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, Dallas and Detroit while least congested are slated to be Brownsville, Texas, Anchorage, Alaska and Springfield, Maryland. The average American driver spends 36 hours a year stuck in traffic mainly due to road construction, bad weather, crashes and breakdowns and poor signal timing. Well, life in these United States can be enthralling and daunting, to say the least. A Chicago husband, responding to his wife’s accusation that he had forgotten her birthday, reacted wittingly, saying, “How do you expect me to remember when you never looks day older?” Thought for the week: How do you make a lawyer smile? Just say “Fees”.


By Rod Mac-Johnson

Friday November 16, 2018.

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