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medical alert
July 29, 2014
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Ebola — which first appeared in 1976 in the Congo and Sudan — is a brutal virus, with some strains killing up to 90 percent of people infected. People infected with Ebola, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, and diarrhea, can remain symptomless for between 2 and 21 days before being stricken with flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, and vomiting which can lead to the hemorrhaging of the eyes, mouth, and internal organs.

The current outbreak in West Africa is the biggest yet, killing 672 people since February, including at least two American citizens. The disease could potentially start spreading even faster after a Liberian man infected with the virus was allowed to board a plane that made a stopover in Ghana, changed planes in Togo, and died in Lagos, the world's fourth most populous city.

Some even worry that the disease could spread to the U.S. after the wife and children of a Texan doctor who came down with the virus were allowed to fly back to America. CDC director Tom Frieden says the CDC is ready for the possibility: "We do not anticipate this will spread in the U.S. if an infected person is hospitalized here, but we are taking action now by alerting healthcare workers in the U.S. and reminding them how to isolate and test suspected patients while following strict infection control procedures."

The only happy news is that the disease is showing signs of becoming more treatable. Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu of Nature points to a 2012 study that showed that "monkeys infected with Ebola have been cured by a cocktail of three antibodies first administered 24 hours or more after exposure. The result raises hopes that a future treatment could improve the chances of humans surviving the disease caused by the deadly virus."

But sadly, even if this research leads to an effective human treatment, a cure in monkeys is no use to humans infected today. John Aziz

China Slumping
4:05 p.m. ET

American politics still tends to think of China in terms of cheap and plentiful exports, and as the hoarder of the globe's manufacturing jobs. But that industrial boom required enormous raw materials, and it came with a rising middle class that wants stuff.

As Joseph P. Quinlan, a chief market strategist at Bank of America, demonstrated in a recent note to clients, that's made China a key source of global consumption as well — a title our politics tends to bestow on America itself. In fact, China recently overtook the U.S. in terms of how many countries rely on it to buy their exports:

(Graph courtesy of Business Insider)

If the recent slowdown in China does spread, this is the route by which it will happen: By depriving the world of the aggregate demand it needs to keep providing enough jobs and rising income to everyone around the globe.

This also clarifies what should worry us about China. Yes, its authoritarianism is wrong. And yes, it would probably be wise to liberalize its markets. But in many ways China faces the same problem as the already-democratic and already-liberalized U.S. and Europe: Whether its socioeconomic order can keep enough purchasing power in the hands of enough ordinary people to maintain aggregate demand. Jeff Spross

This just in
3:43 p.m. ET
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If all you've ever wanted was an Egg McMuffin for dinner, you're finally in luck. McDonald's announced Tuesday that, following months of deliberation and testing, it will begin serving breakfast all day long on Oct. 6 in all 14,300 of its U.S. restaurants.

Under the current rules, McDonald's breakfast fans have to sacrifice precious beauty sleep to snag a hash brown before the cutoff at 10:30 a.m., when the chain switches from heating up eggs to heating up Big Macs.

After years of customer complaints, McDonald's USA President Mike Andres said the company had finally decided to give the people what they wanted. "This is the consumers' idea," Andres told The Wall Street Journal. Since the fast-food chain's sales have been in a slump, Andres and McDonald's franchisees are hopeful that all-day breakfast sales could offer the boost they've been looking for, even if preparing two kinds of meals at once does introduce some additional costs and complexities.

Mark your calendars. Becca Stanek

marijuana vs. tobacco
2:02 p.m. ET
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Today's college students prefer lighting up a joint to sparking up a cigarette, a new study released Tuesday revealed. The number of U.S. university students using pot a on near-daily basis has reached a 35-year high, supplanting cigarettes as the most popular smokeable substance.

Nearly six percent of college students smoke pot "either every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days," A 2014 University of Michigan survey of full-time college students found.

But, parents, your kids still aren't as big potheads as you were back in the day. While the latest pot-smoking stats are dramatically up from just four years ago in 2007, when just 3.5 percent of students reported using pot on a near-daily basis, kids today still haven't reached the 7.2 percent high of 1980.

Meanwhile, cigarette smoking's popularity has seen a drop that's more dramatic than marijuana's rise. While 19 percent of college students identified as "heavy cigarette smokers" back in 1999, only 5 percent of students do now. Becca Stanek

too good to be true
1:43 p.m. ET
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Google's self-driving cars are really, really good at following traffic safety rules. But they still get into crashes — because human drivers are so bad at following the rules.

Since 2009, Google's driverless cars have been in 16 car crashes, with every single case being the fault of a human driver. The company was responsible for a crash only once — when a human employee, and not the computer, was controlling the self-driving car. Indeed, when Google's driverless cars follow the rules to the T, they actually get into trouble:

One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn't get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google's robot. [The New York Times]

"The real problem is that the car is too safe," one expert explained. "They have to learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture."

Consider:

[Google's car] leaves what is considered the safe distance between itself and the car ahead. This also happens to be enough space for a car in an adjoining lane to squeeze into, and, [Nationwide Insurance safety expert Bill] Windsor said, they often tried. [The New York Times]

Dmitri Dolgov, the head of Google's Self-Driving Car Project, was blunt about the solution: For driverless cars to work the way they're supposed to, human drivers simply need to be "less idiotic." Jeva Lange

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
12:40 p.m. ET

Change is hard and Google, which has used the same recognizable four-color wordmark since 1999, is shaking things up with the introduction of a spiffy new sans-serif logo. Comfort yourself with this, at least: The new logo isn't here just to shake things up — it's actually got a real, functional purpose.

Losing the little "tails," or serifs, on the letters makes the font more legible when it's written in tiny sizes. Fast Company points out that if you're reading off of a 2.5-inch Android Wear watch, or a cell phone, the new font will now be just as readable as if it were projected on a 50-inch TV. The new logo is also animated, morphing into small dots that playfully circle each other on screen — which matches the playful look of the new wordmark, too.

And of course there's the fact that it's consistent. Now that Google belongs to the parent company Alphabet, which itself uses a sleek, modern, sans-serif look, the new logo keeps it all in the same (font) family. Jeva Lange

taste the rainbow
11:31 a.m. ET

It's finally September, which means the real NFL action is just over a week away. But if the Sept. 10 season opener still seems out of reach, here's a treat to fill the football-shaped void: Marshawn Lynch appeared on a TV shopping network to hawk — what else? — Skittles.

Yes, the man behind "Beast Mode" took to the small screen Tuesday morning to espouse the myriad merits of his much-beloved candy. When EVINE Live hostess Allison Waggoner asked Lynch about the nature of his relationship with Skittles, the star running back was not shy:

Lynch's Seattle Seahawks open the season against the St. Louis Rams in Missouri on Sunday, Sept. 13. Don't forget to buy Skittles for your watch party. Kimberly Alters

police shootings
10:32 a.m. ET

Cell phone footage from Bexar County, Texas, appears to show two sheriff's deputies shooting and killing a man as he stands, still and shirtless, with his hands raised in the air.

The incident occurred after officers responded to a domestic violence report, arriving on the scene to find an injured woman and baby. They said that the suspect, Gilbert Flores, was brandishing a knife. While the police report said that Flores was resisting arrest and endangering the officers' lives, the video appears to contradict their story. "He put his hands in the air, and they just shot him twice," said Michael Thomas, who filmed the shooting.

The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending investigation of the circumstances surrounding Flores' death. The Bexar County Sheriff's Office has criticized the local news affiliate that released the shooting footage, saying on Facebook that the decision to share the video was "unethical and sad" and "sensational." Bonnie Kristian

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