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EBOLA is back

As of April 14th the virus had infected 168 people in Guinea, in west Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). At least 108 have died. In neighbouring Liberia, six are known to have had the disease, with more cases suspected. Nearly 400 remain under observation. Airports are taking travellers' temperatures and Senegal's border with Guinea was closed. With a mortality rate of up to 90%, ebola is terrifying. Is it possible to contain an outbreak?

Humans have no immunity against the disease, which is thought to be native to bats. The virus is transferred in bodily fluids, most commonly blood. Once inside a host it incubates for between two days and three weeks before causing flu-like symptoms. With little to stop it, ebola attacks the whole body at once, triggering a cascade of immune responses that lead to haemorrhage, organ failure and often death. The virus was discovered in 1976 when two strains hit Sudan and what was then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), infecting a total of 602 people and killing 431. The worst single outbreak hit Uganda in 2000, infecting more than 400 people, half of whom died. But until now the virus had never been seen as far west as Guinea or Liberia. Health-workers in Guinea did not recognize the disease at first. 

Read more: EBOLA is back

Bill Clinton on Passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez #rip

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. From the time I read One Hundred Years of Solitude more than 40 years ago, I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty.

He captured the pain and joy of our common humanity in settings both real and magical. I was honored to be his friend and to know his great heart and brilliant mind for more than 20 years.

Read more: Bill Clinton on Passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez #rip

Entering The Friendship Zone #lawofattraction

Years ago researchers conducted a study in which they followed the friendships in a single two-story apartment building. People tended to be friends with the neighbors on their respective floors, although those on the ground floor near the mailboxes and the stairway had friends on both floors. Friendship was least likely between someone on the first floor and someone on the second. As the study suggests, friends are often those who cross paths with regularity; our friends tend to be coworkers, classmates, and people we run into at the gym.

It's no surprise that bonds form between those who interact. Yet the process is more complex: Why do we wind up chatting with one person in our yoga class and not another? The answer might seem self-evident—our friend-in-the-making likes to garden, as do we, or shares our passion for NASCAR or Tex-Mex cooking. She laughs at our jokes, and we laugh at hers. In short, we have things in common.

But there's more: Self-disclosure characterizes the moment when a pair leaves the realm of buddyhood for the rarefied zone of true friendship. "Can I talk to you for a minute?" may well be the very words you say to someone who is about to become a friend.

Read more: Entering The Friendship Zone #lawofattraction

Dr. Gabor Mate: Who We Are When We Are Not Addicted #addictions

Dr. Gabor Maté is a distinguished figure in the addiction field, the author of "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts." Maté is revered for his humane medical work with inner-city drug addicts in Vancouver, centering on the Insite injection center (where users are given works to inject their own drugs) and Portland Hotel (Community Health) Society, which provides housing and lives, really, for the most downtrodden Vancouverites. Thank God there is such a service; bless Maté for his work there. (Disclosure: I visited and conducted workshops at Insite and PHS in January.)

Maté maintains a human communion with his patients. He does so by describing his own maladies -- his ADD and shopping addiction -- which he analogizes to severe drug addictions. Fair enough. It IS important to recognize our common humanity (although some think that as a successful middle-class physician Maté is stretching this connection). 

Read more: Dr. Gabor Mate: Who We Are When We Are Not Addicted #addictions

Genetically Modified Bulls: Science Breakthrough, or Horror Show?

Modern science has given us another disturbing gift in the form of “selected breeding,” the process which turned this Belgian Blue bull into a hulking mass of muscle.

But it’s not so much GMO a story about GMO feed being used to nourish these animals; they are modifying the genetics externally to the point of mutation just to satisfy our consumer needs for “high quality” beef.

“Their uninhibited muscle growth presents a lot of health hazards, calves can develop enlarged tongues and stiff legs which make it difficult for them to eat and move, leading to an early and painful death.”

Read more: Genetically Modified Bulls: Science Breakthrough, or Horror Show?

A teenager became so obsessed with taking the perfect selfie he tried to kill himself when he failed to do it. #selfie

Danny Bowman, 19, spent 10 HOURS a day taking up to 200 snaps of himself on his iPhone.

He dropped out of school, didn’t leave his house in six months, lost two stone trying to make himself look better for the camera and became aggressive with his parents when they tried to stop him.

Finally, in a drastic attempt to escape his obsession, Danny took an overdose – but was saved by his mum Penny.

Now the lad, believed to be Britain’s first selfie addict, is battling back towards a normal life after intensive hospital therapy to treat his technology addiction, OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder – an excessive anxiety about personal appearance.

Danny says: “I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realised I couldn’t I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life.”

But Danny is not some bizarre one-off case in a world where smartphone and social media obsession is spiralling upwards. The top psychiatrist at the clinic where Danny was treated revealed ­addiction to taking selfies is becoming so widespread it is now is a recognised mental illness.

“Danny’s case is particularly extreme,” said Dr David Veal who’s clinic has weaned the teen off his iPhone. “But this is a serious problem. It’s not a vanity issue. It’s a mental health one which has an extremely high suicide rate.”

Read more: A teenager became so obsessed with taking the perfect selfie he tried to kill himself when he...

Bill Clinton Endorses Manny Pacquiao for Philippine President

Las Vegas, Nevada -
Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao had an unexpected visitor this week during his training session for his upcoming rematch with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas. The visitor? Former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton has never made secret his admiration for the Filipino boxer who also happens to be a member of the Philippine House of Representatives. Pacquiao is the incumbent elected representative of his hometown of Sarangani.

During the 30-minute visit, Clinton and Pacquiao discussed a wide range of issues, from the future of the boxing sport to the Clinton Global Initiative to Philippine politics.

At the end of the private meeting, Clinton announced that he was betting his dollar on Pacquiao and predicted that the Filipino boxer will regain the title he lost by a controversial judges’ decision to Bradley. The Pacquiao-Bradley2 match will take place April 12 at the MGM Arena in Las Vegas.

Clinton also made another surprising announcement: that he was endorsing Pacquiao’s candidacy for the 2016 Philippine presidential elections.

Read more: Bill Clinton Endorses Manny Pacquiao for Philippine President

American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially confirmed taking selfies is a mental disorder #selfie

Chicago, Illinois - The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially confirmed what many people thought all along: taking ‘selfies’ is a mental disorder.

The APA made this classification during its annual board of directors meeting in Chicago. The disorder is called selfitis, and is defined as the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.

Read more: American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially confirmed taking selfies is a mental...

6 British stereotypes about Americans

Most Brits have this image of what they think is a typical American: a flag-waving patriot with a burger in one hand and a gun in the other. It’s not far off to say that Homer Simpson and Stan Smith are our stereotypes of the ‘typical American.’

Here’s one British expat’s perspective on the reality of America, in comparison to the common stereotypes:

All Americans love McDonald’s.

Reality: We Brits mostly think of America as fast-food-centric. It’s true that chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s line most streets, but I’ve found American cuisine to be some of the most diverse and delicious around. From glammed-up gourmet burgers, to Mexican, Cuban, Lebanese, Thai, and many more, America offers wonderful foods from all over the globe.

That’s not even to mention the diversity of traditional ‘American’ foods, which differ in each and every state. From gumbo and jambalaya in the South, to seafood and chowder in the North, and many other specialties in between, American cuisine goes far beyond McDonald’s. Besides, doesn’t England have a McDonald’s on every corner too?

Read more: 6 British stereotypes about Americans

Soda sales in US decline at faster pace

Americans cut back on soda at an accelerated pace last year, bringing sales volume to the lowest level since 1995, according to a new report.

U.S. sales volume of carbonated soft drinks fell 3 percent in 2013, extending a streak of declines that began nearly a decade ago. It also represents a steeper drop than the 1.2 percent decline in 2012 and the 1 percent drop in 2011, according to an annual report by Beverage Digest, an industry tracker.

The declines mean that 1.2 billion cases have been wiped from the industry since 1995. Each case represents 192 ounces.

Read more: Soda sales in US decline at faster pace

Stolen Paul Gauguin art, hung in worker's kitchen, recovered

A retired Italian autoworker and art-lover has turned over two paintings — including a still life by Paul Gauguin — that have hung in his kitchen for nearly four decades after learning they had been stolen in 1970. Gauguin's Fruits sur une table ou nature au petit chien and La femme aux deux fauteuils by Pierre Bonnard were snatched from a private collection in London in 1970, Italy's Carabinieri art theft squad revealed at a press conference in Rome on Wednesday.

Read more: Stolen Paul Gauguin art, hung in worker's kitchen, recovered

How Good a Lie Detector Are You?

Trapping a liar is not always easy, the authors argue. Lies are often embedded in truths and the behavioral differences between liars and truth-tellers are usually very small. In addition, some people are just very good at lying. Lie detectors routinely make the common mistakes of overemphasizing nonverbal cues, neglecting intrapersonal variations (i.e., how a person acts when they are telling the truth versus when they are lying), and being overly confident in their lie-detection skills.

This research has important implications in a variety of settings, the authors write, including the courtroom, police interviews, and screening and identifying individuals with criminal intent—such as potential terrorists.

Leanne ten Brinke and her colleagues at the University of California, Berkley’s Haas School of Business have published a study in Psychological Science, in which they conclude that conscious awareness may hinder our ability to detect whether someone is lying, perhaps because we tend to seek out behaviors that are supposedly stereotypical of liars, like averted eyes or fidgeting.

Read more: How Good a Lie Detector Are You?