Retta Sirleaf plays Donna Meagle on NBC's "Parks and Recreation."
Just a short note about how the world really is smaller than you think.  Did you know that Retta, the American actor and comedian, is the niece of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current president of Liberia and Nobel Laureate?  Even though they're related by marriage, it's still impressive how deep the talent runs in that family.

I just wanted to point that out because she's my favorite character on one of my favorite TV shows.  ("No soup in the Benz!")  I suppose that I need to throw something about IR in here, so here it goes.  The shared history of Liberia and the United States runs even deeper than the talent in Retta's family.  The West African state was originally conceived by the U.S. Congress as a place to repatriate emancipated slaves, hence the familiar national symbols like the Liberian flag.  Liberia has hybridized American and local traditions in unique ways.  Despite this, U.S.-Liberian relations have seen their ups and downs.  Liberia's relations with the Soviet Union and the atrocious reign of Charles Taylor were two serious sticking points.  Since Taylor's exile, however, relations have been on the mend.



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