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Dr. Kent Brantly (right) of Samaritan's Purse gives orders to treat Ebola patients through the doorway of the isolation ward in Monrovia, Liberia. (Courtesy of Samaritan's Purse)

2 Americans Catch Ebola In Liberia, As Nigeria Reports First Case

by Michaeleen Doucleff
Jul 28, 2014

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Medical workers treat Ebola patients at the Eternal Love Winning Africa hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Two aid workers at the hospital, including Dr. Kent Brantly (left), have tested positive for Ebola.

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Michaeleen Doucleff

News about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to go from bad to worse.

Last week a doctor leading the fight against the outbreak got sick in Sierra Leone. Now two American aid workers have tested positive for the virus in Liberia, and the outbreak has likely spread to a fourth country, Nigeria.

The Nigerian government said Friday that a Liberian man died of Ebola at a hospital in Lagos — Africa's most populous city, with more than 20 million people. Although the World Health Organization hasn't confirmed the Nigerian case, the hospital has been shut down and patients there quarantined, Reuters reported.

All the while, the total number of cases continues to climb. So far, there have been 1,201 cases, including 672 deaths, WHO said Friday.

The first American to catch Ebola in the outbreak is Dr. Kent Brantly. The 33-year-old family doctor from Fort Worth, Texas, was infected while treating patients in Monrovia, the nonprofit Samaritan's Purse said Sunday on its website.

Brantly is the medical director at an Ebola treatment center in Liberia's capital. The clinic, where he is now being treated, is run by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian aid group based in Boone, N.C. "He [Brantly] is in stable condition, talking with his doctors and working on his computer while receiving care," the Charlotte Observer reported.

Brantly's wife and two children were initially with him in West Africa, but his family had already returned to Texas when the doctor first noticed his own symptoms and admitted himself to the clinic.

The second American to catch the disease in Liberia is missionary Nancy Writebol, of Charlotte, N.C. She and her husband have also been working with Samaritan's Purse to help Ebola patients in Monrovia.

"It's just devastating news," Writebol's pastor, the Rev. John Munro, told the Charlotte Observer on Monday. "Initially, they thought it might be malaria. ... She's not doing well. It's grim news," he added.

Nigeria's first suspected Ebola case was Patrick Sawyer, who worked for the Liberian Finance Ministry. Sawyer flew to Lagos on Sunday, July 20. He collapsed at the international airport there and was immediately rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Liberia has closed many of its border crossings to try to stop the outbreak from spreading further, Reuters reported Monday.

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An "Out of Stock" sticker on a menu picture of chicken nuggets at a McDonald's store in Hong Kong on July 25, 2014. A U.S. company that supplies meat to some fast food chains in China has pulled all its products, some of which were chicken nuggets sold in Hong Kong, made by a Chinese subsidiary. (AP)

Fast-Food Scandal Revives China's Food Safety Anxieties

Jul 28, 2014

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Customers eat at a McDonald's restaurant in Hong Kong Friday, July 25, 2014. McDonald's restaurants in Hong Kong have taken chicken nuggets and chicken filet burgers off the menu after a U.S.-owned supplier in mainland China was accused of selling expired meat.

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A U.S. company that supplies meat to some of the world's largest fast food chains in China has pulled all its products made by a Chinese subsidiary, after reports that it was selling expired products.

The food safety scandal that erupted in China in the last week has also spread overseas, affecting chain restaurants in Japan and Hong Kong and prompted calls for tighter food safety regulation in China.

The privately held OSI is headquartered in Aurora, Ill., and claims 50 manufacturing facilities worldwide. Its Chinese subsidiary, Shanghai Husi Food Co., Ltd., sells beef patties, chicken nuggets and, according to its web site, cooked frozen snail meat. Its customers in China include McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Starbucks.

An expose that aired July 20 on Shanghai television used a hidden camera to show workers picking meat off the floor and returning it to the production line and handling meat without ungloved hands. It also revealed documentation that the firm was falsifying production dates and selling expired beef and chicken to customers.

Following the reports, McDonalds restaurants in Japan have begun to source chicken from Thailand instead of China. Hong Kong McDonalds stopped selling McNuggets and chicken fillets from Husi. And the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that McDonalds outlets in Beijing and Shanghai had run out of both hamburgers and chicken.

"I sincerely apologize to all of our customers in China," OSI's CEO Sheldon Lavin said in a statement. "We will bear the responsibility of these missteps, and will make sure they never happen again."

This latest scandal joins a long list of similar recent incidents in China. These include milk tainted with the industrial additive melamine, "gutter oil" salvaged from drainage ditches and reprocessed into cooking oil, rat meat being sold as lamb and extensive soil poisoning of agricultural land.

Meanwhile, to the fury of many Chinese taxpayers, their nation's leaders are insulated from such risks, as their food is procured through "special supply" channels, grown on pesticide-free, organic farms, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Still, China's government has moved quickly to address the problem, arresting five people, including the head of Husi, and shut down nearly 600 restaurants. China is currently revising its food safety laws, amid calls for stiffer penalties for lawbreakers.

Shanghai-based food safety expert Lin Rongquan says the incident is a good opportunity to push for improved food safety management.

"At first, there was a lot of discussion among consumers, who were shocked that such problems could occur at this kind of company," he says. "But I think consumer confidence will recover quickly, and the incident's impact will not be too great."

Indeed, a weekend meal at a Western fast food restaurant remains a commonplace and attainable symbol that a Chinese family has reached the middle class. Many Chinese consumers expect quality and hygiene standards at these chains to be a cut above their less-standardized Chinese counterparts.

Critics in China see the larger issue of food safety problems in the same light as pollution and industrial accidents: part of the high cost of blindly pursuing GDP growth - something China's leaders vowed to end more than a decade ago.

China's situation bears some resemblance to what the U.S. went through early in the last century, when shockingly unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry became a target of the progressive movement, including the 1906 novel The Jungle by muckraking journalist and author Upton Sinclair.

China's government appears to be giving state-run media limited leeway to rake some muck of their own on the food safety issue, especially when the scandals occur at foreign-owned enterprises.

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Margot Adler, seen here in 2006, was a longtime reporter for NPR. She died Monday following a battle with cancer. (NPR)

Margot Adler, An NPR Journalist For Three Decades, Dies

by Eyder Peralta
Jul 28, 2014

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Customers eat at a McDonald's restaurant in Hong Kong Friday, July 25, 2014. McDonald's restaurants in Hong Kong have taken chicken nuggets and chicken filet burgers off the menu after a U.S.-owned supplier in mainland China was accused of selling expired meat.

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Margot Adler, one of the signature voices on NPR's airwaves for more three decades, died Monday at her home in New York City. She was 68 and had been battling cancer.

Margot joined the NPR staff as a general assignment reporter in 1979. She went on to cover everything from the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic to confrontations involving the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, N.C., to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Her reporting was singular and her voice distinct," Margaret Low Smith, NPR's vice president for news, said in an announcement to staff. "There was almost no story that Margot couldn't tell."

The granddaughter of renowned Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler, Margot was born in Little Rock, Ark., but she spent most of her life in Manhattan.

More recently, Margot reported for NPR's Arts Desk. She landed the first U.S. radio interview with author J.K. Rowling, and this past June, she released "Out for Blood," a meditation on society's fascination with vampires.

Margot explained to NPR's Neal Conan that research for the book began when her husband of 33 years was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"He was the healthiest man on the planet, I mean literally," Margot said. "You know, he was a runner. Unlike me, he'd never done any drugs in the '60s. He'd never smoked. He ate perfectly, you know, one of these people. And he only lived nine months."

During that time, Margot read 260 vampire novels.

"Basically I started out, it was a meditation on mortality and death, and I started realizing that some of the different attitudes that he and I had about death, he was definitely kind of the high-tech guy, rage, rage, rage, you know, take every supplemental, blah, blah, blah, blah," she said. "And I was kind of more like we're all part of the life process, you know."

Margot had a long standing interest in the occult. "Margot was not only a brilliant reporter, she was also a Wiccan priestess and a leader in the Pagan community," Low Smith notes. "That was deeply important to her and she wrote a seminal book about that world: Drawing Down the Moon. She also wrote a memoir called Heretic's Heart."

In a note she sent to NPR's staff last week, Margot explained that she had been fighting cancer for three and a half years. Until three months ago, she had been relatively symptom-free.

What began as endometrial cancer had metastasized to several parts of her body.

"She leaves behind her 23-year-old son Alex Dylan Glideman-Adler, who was by her side caring for her throughout her illness," Low Smith notes.

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Summertime fun (AP)

It May Be Summer, But For Economists, This Week Feels Like Christmas

Jul 28, 2014

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Customers eat at a McDonald's restaurant in Hong Kong Friday, July 25, 2014. McDonald's restaurants in Hong Kong have taken chicken nuggets and chicken filet burgers off the menu after a U.S.-owned supplier in mainland China was accused of selling expired meat.

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This week is summer's sweet spot — the peak time for pool parties, fresh-picked berries and cool drinks. But for economists, it may feel more like Christmas — so much to unwrap!

Each day will bring new decisions and reports that could have a big impact on the nation's economy. So economists, investors and workers will have plenty to ponder. Here's what's happening this week:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday: The Federal Reserve Board's policymakers are meeting over two days this week to chew over economic data and decide whether to continue the current policies that restrain interest rates. They will announce their decision at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday.
  • Wednesday : At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Commerce Department will release its first estimate of GDP growth for the second quarter. This is a big deal because the first quarter was dismal - with the economy actually shrinking. Most economists believe the second quarter will show a healthy bounce back, with GDP expanding at about 3 percent.
  • Thursday: At 3 p.m. ET, the USDA will report on farm prices. Earlier this year, a lot of prices shot up for food — especially meat. High grocery prices can hit consumers hard. So economists will be watching for signs of what's to come for consumers when they head to the grocery store this fall.
  • Friday: The Labor Department will release its July jobs report at 8:30 a.m. ET. This report is always a big deal because a healthy labor market is the key to economic growth. In recent months, jobs have been growing rapidly. Did the pace continue in July?

In addition, economists will be watching for lots of wild cards this week. For example, Congress will be finishing up some work before starting its August recess. Lawmakers could make decisions involving issues with big economic impacts, such as on immigration and federal highway spending.

The stock market may be in for a wacky week with so much key economic data hitting, along with a surge of corporate earnings reports.

And there's no shortage of geopolitical tension. Any number of developments in Gaza, Libya or Ukraine could upset economic expectations.

So if ever there was a week to pay attention to economic reports, this is it. Just keep a tall, cool drink handy. You may need it.

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Courtney Barnett performs a show at Seattle's The Triple Door for KEXP VIPs. (KEXP)

KEXP Presents: Courtney Barnett

by Jim Beckmann
Jul 28, 2014 (KEXP-FM)

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Customers eat at a McDonald's restaurant in Hong Kong Friday, July 25, 2014. McDonald's restaurants in Hong Kong have taken chicken nuggets and chicken filet burgers off the menu after a U.S.-owned supplier in mainland China was accused of selling expired meat.

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Courtney Barnett may prefer the mundane, but that doesn't mean we have to. In the songs on her debut album, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, really two early EPs mashed together, the young Australian singer-songwriter relates with hyperfocus the details of a day and moments of simply average significance. A failed attempt at gardening, an invitation to a friendly gathering, a post-breakup rant, an after-party adventure, a concerned call from mom — this can all happen to you! Yet while Courtney Barnett revels in the routine like a high modernist (it's not for naught she namechecks Ezra Pound in a song like "History Eraser"), she leaves off lofty language. Her comments are clever but her language is unadorned. It's the honesty of her delivery and the raw intensity of her performances that elevate each moment to a uncommon experience of sense and sound.

As you'll see and hear during her recent set at The Triple Door, performed exclusively as part of KEXP's VIP Club concert series, each song ultimately becomes an excuse to rock out. With Courtney Barnett, it's always a wonder and never a waste.

Set List

  • "Avant Gardener"
Copyright 2014 KEXP-FM. To see more, visit http://www.kexp.org/.

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