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A bright late-afternoon sun heats the Monrovia airport tarmac, yet the 20 Liberians crowded into the back room of the Wings restaurant next door sit in complete darkness. They are studying other people’s passports. A worldly ­selection of travel documents – Belgian, Nigerian, Singaporean, Iraqi – is strewn across tables, but the Liberians train the blue glow of ultraviolet lamps on those from the US. They raise the passports to their eyes as an expert guides them page by page through the security features built into the passport and the best known…

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