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Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, 39, who has treated more than 100 Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, has now been infected by the deadly virus. (Reuters /Landov)

A Doctor Leading The Fight Against Ebola Has Caught The Virus

by Michaeleen Doucleff
Jul 23, 2014

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Wellington boots, part of a health care worker's protective gear, hang out to dry at the Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Dr. Khan is now in the center's isolation ward.

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In the past several months, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan has been a leader in the fight against the deadliest and largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Khan, 39, has treated over 100 Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. He's a "national hero," the country's health minister said Tuesday.

Now the doctor has caught the deadly virus himself. Khan is being treated at an isolation ward in Kailahun, run by Doctors Without Borders, the Sierra Leone government said in a statement.

"He is a very respected medical professional in the country," says Meredith Dyson, a health worker with Catholic Relief Services in Freetown, Liberia. "Everybody here in Sierra Leone is praying for him right now."

Since the outbreak started in March, more than 1,000 people have been infected in three countries; 604 people have died, the World Health Organization said Saturday. Sierra Leone has reported 442 cases and 206 deaths.

Khan had worked for years treating people for another viral disease, called Lassa fever, which causes symptoms similar to Ebola. When cases of Ebola started to emerge in Sierra Leone, Khan immediately turned his attention to the outbreak and started treating patients at a hospital in Kenema.

On Sunday three nurses at that hospital died of Ebola, Dyson says. "The rest of the nurses went on strike on Monday because they were concerned about the conditions in the hospital," she says. "They felt that they weren't getting the equipment they need to protect themselves from the virus."

"That hospital has had huge problems," says NPR reporter Jason Beaubien, who was in Sierra Leone last week covering the outbreak in Sierra Leone. "At least eight nurses got infected with Ebola just over a week ago. That indicates severe problems with infection control."

The problem has been so severe that Doctors Without Borders sent a team to the hospital this week to assess the situation and possibly take over operations.

The fact that health care workers are contracting Ebola could be a major setback in the fight against this outbreak — especially when the patient is as prominent as Khan. "This is a huge blow," says Beaubien. "And the fact that it is so public is just going to add to the overall fear and the sense among people there's nothing you can do to keep yourself safe."

People who have Ebola symptoms may even be reluctant to go to a hospital, he says. "This will further undermine efforts to get this [outbreak] under control," he adds.

Dyson is more optimistic. She thinks the news about Khan will galvanize efforts to stop the outbreak. "I do think it's going to bring things to a new level of urgency," she says.

Khan knew from the start that treating Ebola patients was risky. "I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life," he told Reuters in June. "Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk."

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Cubii is a Kickstarter project that allows users to exercise -- elliptical style -- while sitting at their desk at work. (Cubii)

Get Moving, While Seated At Your Desk

by Allie Caren
Jul 23, 2014

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Cubii is just like any regular, upright elliptical you'd see at the gym, only you're not standing, your arms aren't actively engaged, and it fits under your desk at work.

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This post is part of our Weekly Innovation series, in which we explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form.

We've all seen the headlines: Sitting too much can shorten your life.

Sitting is taking over many Americans' lives. In fact, Americans are sitting for an average of 13 hours a day, according to a survey conducted by Ergotron.

Arnav Dalmia felt the effects of the sedentary life when he graduated last year from the University of Chicago and got an office job in a large, corporate setting.

He tried to get a treadmill desk or a standing desk, but it was too expensive and seemed to be a very involved process, he says. So, he developed Cubii.

The device is just like any regular, upright elliptical you'd see at the gym, only you're not standing, your arms aren't actively engaged, and it fits under your desk at work.

Dalmia says that with Cubii, "motion becomes unconscious."

Healthy blood circulation helps with focus throughout the day, says Dalmia, and he sees it as one of Cubii's top benefits.

Dalmia says Cubii makes minimal noise — your co-worker next to you shouldn't be able to hear it. It is made from a combination of steel, aluminum and plastic.

It also connects to an app on your smartphone via Bluetooth. It records how long and how "far" you've traveled, and how many calories you've burned. It can also link to other fitness trackers and wearables you already have synced up to your phone, like a Nike+ FuelBand SE or a Fitbit.

Cubii started as a project on Kickstarter, and just recently met its $80,000 goal. The retail price for a Cubii is $350, though there is a Kickstarter reduced price of $299.

Dalmia says that whether you use a standing desk or a feet-only elliptical like his — all of these ideas address the same problem.

"It's just a matter of what suits you better," he says. "I think this trend of workplace fitness is kind of really growing."

"People recognize the problems," Dalmia says. "The dynamics of the model workplace are changing."

Cubii's Kickstarter project officially ends Monday. As of Wednesday, it has over $88,000 in pledges.

Allie Caren is a digital news intern at NPR, where she writes about tech-related news and innovations. Follow Allie on Twitter at @alLISTENc.

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Cubii is a Kickstarter project that allows users to exercise -- elliptical style -- while sitting at their desk at work. (Cubii)

GM Recalls Nearly 718,000 Vehicles For 'Varying Safety Issues'

Jul 23, 2014

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Announcing six different safety recalls Wednesday, GM said it needs to fix problems that range from a turn-signal bug to an unpredictable loss of power steering. The flaws were found in vehicles from model years 2011 to 2015.

GM says no deaths and only two crashes have been linked to the recalls, which come in a year that has already seen the Detroit carmaker recall nearly 30 million vehicles worldwide. The company has "passed the 22 million vehicles recalled by all automakers last year," the AP says.

More than 400,000 of the recalled vehicles have a potential problem with a bolt in their front-seat height adjustor. Others have more serious risks, such as a possible loss of steering.

"We are bringing greater rigor and discipline to our analysis and decision making," GM Global Vehicle Safety vice president Jeff Boyer said. "If we identify an issue - large or small - that might affect the safety of our customers, we will act decisively."

Here are the models and problems GM outlined today in a news release that blamed "varying safety issues" for the recalls:

414,333 Vehicles: "2011-2012 model year Chevrolet Camaro; 2010-2012 model year Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain; 2011-2012 Buick Regal and LaCrosse; and 2010-2012 Cadillac SRX models in the U.S. equipped with power height adjustable driver or front passenger seat structures. In these vehicles, the bolt that secures the height adjuster actuator may become loose or fall out. If the bolt falls out, the seat will move up and down freely because it is no longer attached at the height adjuster. The vehicles are safe to drive, but customers should not use the power height adjustable feature until dealers can replace the height adjuster bolt. GM is aware of one crash and three injuries but no fatalities related to this condition."

124,008 Vehicles: "Model year 2014 Chevrolet Caprice, 2014 Chevrolet SS, 2014-2015 Chevrolet Silverado LD and HD, 2013-2014 Cadillac ATS, 2014 Cadillac CTS, 2014 Cadillac ELR; 2013-2014 Buick Encore; and 2014-2015 GMC Sierra LD and HD vehicles because certain vehicles may have an incomplete weld on the seat hook bracket assembly. A loss of power to a laser welding machine may have resulted in an incomplete weld, according to data collected from the machine between July 2013 and January 2014. Dealers will inspect the weld. If it is sufficient, no further action is necessary. If it is insufficient, dealers will replace the lower seat track at no charge. Less than 1 percent of welds are expected to require seat track replacement. GM is unaware of any crashes or injuries as a result of this issue."

120,426 Vehicles: "2011-2013 model year Buick Regal and 2013 model year Chevrolet Malibus equipped with front turn signals that use two bulbs in each front turn signal. While the driver would get a rapidly flashing turn signal arrow in the instrument cluster if both bulbs in one turn signal were burned out; if only one bulb on either side burns out, there would be no signal to the driver. Dealers will reprogram the body control module to fix the condition. GM knows of no crashes, injuries or complaints related to this issue."

57,242 Vehicles: "2014 Chevrolet Impalas equipped with belt-drive electric power steering. On certain vehicles, customers may experience reduced or no power steering assist at start-up or while driving due to a poor electrical ground connection to the Power Steering Control Module. If power steering is lost, a warning message is displayed on the Driver Information Center and a chime sounds. Steering control can be maintained because the vehicle will revert to manual steering mode, but would require greater driver effort particularly at low vehicle speeds. Paint may have seeped behind the nut on the power steering control module ground stud. Dealers will inspect and clean paint from behind the ground nut, re-torque the nut and update the power steering control module software at no charge. GM is aware of one crash but no injuries or fatalities related to this condition."

1,919 Vehicles: "2014-2015 Chevrolet Sparks imported from Korea that were assembled with a lower control arm bolt not fastened to specification. The condition could result in noise from the front suspension and separation of the lower control arm from the steering knuckle while driving resulting in loss of steering control. Dealers will inspect the left and right hand lower control arm attaching bolts to assure they are tightened to specification. GM knows of no crashes, injuries or fatalities related to this condition."

22 Vehicles: "2015 model year Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon/Yukon Denali vehicles in the U.S. In these vehicles, the roof carriers may have been attached with the wrong retaining nuts, resulting in holes or tears in the roof rail air bags if they deploy. Eight of these vehicles are in dealer stock and will be repaired before being sold."

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Hussein Abu Khdeir (left), father of slain Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir, holds a photo of his son as he meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank earlier this month. Israel has charged three Jewish Israelis with the killing and ruled that it was a terror attack. This has drawn criticism from some in Israel. (AP)

Palestinian's Death Provokes Israeli Debate On Defining Terrorism

by Daniel Estrin
Jul 23, 2014

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Shortly before the Israel-Hamas fighting began in Gaza earlier this month, two separate killings ratcheted up tensions.

First, three Israeli teenagers were killed, allegedly by Hamas in the West Bank. Israel has arrested many Palestinians, but says it is still searching for the main suspects in the deaths of Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19.

Shortly after the Israeli deaths, A 16-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was abducted and killed. In a courtroom last week, an Israeli prosecutor charged three Jewish Israelis with abducting Abu Khdeir, bludgeoning him with a wrench and burning him alive.

The day the three Israelis were charged in court, Israel announced it would officially recognize Abu Khdeir as a victim of terrorism. By law, that means his family is eligible for Israeli government compensation.

"Crimes committed by Jewish, Christians, Muslims, whatever it is, at the end of the day, they are crimes," said Jonathan Mosery of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. "So it's just important to recognize that we don't discriminate and that everybody is equal before the law."

There are still apparent inconsistencies. For example, Israel has ordered the demolition of the homes of the Palestinians who are suspected of killing the Israeli teens, a punishment it has carried out in many cases over the years. But Israel has not done so with the Israelis accused of murdering Abu Khdeir.

The compensation law, though, has changed. For decades, the law only applied to people attacked by armies or organizations hostile to Israel. Then, in 2005, an Israeli killed four Arab citizens of Israel. It wasn't the first time Arabs died in an Israeli attack. But the law was broadened to compensate them, and it also now makes Mohammed Abu Khdeir's family eligible.

This doesn't sit well with Meir Indor of Almagor, an Israeli organization for Israelis who were injured or whose relatives were killed in terror attacks. If the state grants compensation, it implies Israel as a whole is to blame, he said.

"If I would pay the family, I would admit that we are responsible for what they did," he said. "I don't have any responsibility for what the three murderers did."


He said Israelis in his group have threatened to boycott any memorial services for victims of terror if Abu Khdeir's name is included on the list of those honored.

Abu Khdeir "was not attacked by the enemy of the state," Indor said. He "was attacked by brutal, criminal people. Can that person be a part of the memorial of the country? No. Because a memorial day is for those who have been killed by the enemy of the state."

Another victims' organization does not make that distinction. The Bereaved Families Forum is a group of Israelis and Palestinians whose relatives were killed in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Every night since the Israeli offensive on Gaza began, Israelis in the group have set up a circle of chairs and a microphone to talk in downtown Tel Aviv.

Dana Wegman, whose father was killed in a Palestinian bombing, agrees with the Israeli government's labeling of Abu Khdeir's killing as terrorism. But she holds little hope that Israeli recognition will encourage empathy between victims on both sides.

"Right now everything is so on fire that we need a lot more than that," she said.

At the gathering in Tel Aviv, some Israeli passersby screamed at the group. One shouted that the group was talking peace when Israelis are being killed by "them."

While some see Israelis and Palestinians as victims of the same conflict, for others, it's still a matter of us versus them.

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The Beatles perform one of their songs while filming A Hard Day's Night in 1964. (Getty Images)

'A Hard Day's Night': A Pop Artifact That Still Crackles With Energy

Jul 23, 2014 (Fresh Air)

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Back in 1964, movie audiences were treated to three hit musicals. Two of them - Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady - won scads of Oscars. But it was the third that announced the future, and it did so from its opening chord.

What followed from that chord was what we call The Sixties.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day's Night, there's a spectacular new restoration that you can now see in theaters in its Janus Films release or buy on DVD and Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. The black-and-white photography is so gorgeous, you'll swoon.

The movie is not half bad either. It was directed by Richard Lester, a filmmaker as underrated as he was influential. Lester took what was designed to be a promo film for the Beatles and - along with screenwriter Alun Owen — crammed it with ideas from the French New Wave and his own slapstick short, The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film, which is on the DVD. The result is a pop artifact that still crackles with freshness and energy. In Lester's verite, hyper-kinetic approach to the musical sequences - and boy, are the songs good — you'll find the template for a million later music videos.

The movie's title came from a malapropism by Ringo Starr that, in its paradoxical poetry, felt as inevitable as a folk saying. It fit perfectly a film that purported to capture a typical day in the life of The Beatles, who spend 87 minutes singing, clowning, hanging around a TV station, and, crucially, fleeing hysterical fans. You see, this isn't just a movie about rock stars but about rock stars playing themselves in a movie that's riffing on rock stardom.

Of course, even as the Beatlemaniacs sob and shriek, one of the movie's conceits is that people over 30 don't get it. On a train ride, the four are joined in a car by a stuffy, blimpish, mustachioed businessman who closes the window they've just opened and, when they turn on the radio, clicks it off.

Watching A Hard Day's Night today, our perceptions are shot through with historical awareness. The Beatles now seem astonishingly innocent in their neat suits and ties, and it's hard not to laugh at how the older characters harrumph at their long hair and cheekiness, for the boys are lovable mop tops - well-scrubbed, unprofane, decidedly non-threatening. They're so spiffy that in these days of hip-hop and piercings, parents might be delighted to have such nice young men for their sons. Yet the harrumphers weren't wrong. As that businessman on the train grasped, The Beatles and their followers were taking over the cultural train.

A Hard Day's Night brims with Marx Brothers' irreverence, if not anarchy, and like the brothers, each Beatle has a clear persona. John's the barbed, ironical one who carries himself like a pop genius. Paul's the handsome nice guy you wouldn't guess was a pop genius. George is the dark horse, the quiet young one with secrets. And Ringo - the most popular back then - was the gentle, sad-eyed one. In hindsight, such personas almost predict their destinies. Even as Ringo is still having a laid-back good time into his 70s, Paul now revels in his living landmark status - he's now photographed hanging out with Warren Buffett. With his hit records, mysticism, and humanitarian work, George would become the triumphant dark horse before dying, at 58, from cancer. As for John, if any of the Beatles was fated to be murdered, it was always him - he was the lightning rod.

But all this would come later. A few months before A Hard Day's Night opened, The Beatles had landed in an America shattered by the Kennedy assassination not even three months earlier, an America yearning for something alive and optimistic. The band was the ideal antidote to such grief, for The Beatles themselves had risen from an even longer, deeper darkness, the shabby funk of a post-war, post-imperial Britain with a calcified establishment, a frustrated working class, and little future to offer the young.

In the unmistakable alchemy of their sound - and in their authentic laughter as they run from shrieking fans during the film's opening credits - The Beatles embodied the hope and vitality the world was looking for then and still loves to this day. Like Louis Armstrong, they created music that, even when sad, is bursting with joy. All those hard days and nights paid off, for more than any band I can think of, they captured the yeah-yeah-yeah of happiness.

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