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First U.S. Ebola case confirmed in Dallas

A sign outside the main entrance of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Walnut Hill Lane, the site of the first reported US case (Credit: AP/Tony Guiterrez) It was inevitable that an Ebola case would surface in the U.S., but I didn't expect the first patient to be in my own community.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is in north Dallas.  I have visited patients there often over the years.  When news broke that the first U.S. Ebola patient was at Presbyterian, my first response was one of surprise.  My second was one of fear: does this signal an outbreak here?  Imagine that the first patient was hospitalized in your community—how would you feel?

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George Clooney and the marriage covenant

George Clooney and his wife, British lawyer Amal Alamuddin, arrive on Monday at the palazzo Ca'Farsetti in Venice for their civil ceremony, making them legally wed under Italian law, September 29, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi) On Monday, George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin in a civil ceremony in Venice, Italy.  The couple had a private ceremony the previous Saturday attended by family and close friends including Matt Damon and Bill Murray.

Whenever celebrities marry, we think of other celebrity marriages.  Britney Spears and Jason Alexander may have set the record for shortest celebrity marriage, with a marriage lasting a total of 55 hours.  Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries were married for 72 days; their divorce proceedings lasted seven times longer.  Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra were married for nine days.  Jennifer Lopez and Ojani Noa were married for 11 months; she later married Cris Judd, but their marriage lasted only six months.

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SCOTUS decides today if it will rule on same-sex marriage

Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 protesters are shadowed by a rainbow banner in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 26, 2013 (Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)Today the Supreme Court decides whether to decide on same-sex marriage. The justices are considering cases from Indiana, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Oklahoma where bans on same-sex marriage were deemed unconstitutional. They will determine whether to consider any of the five cases. If they do, they would make their ruling in June 2015.

If it seems to you that our culture is changing dramatically and rapidly, you're right. Management guru Peter Drucker noted: "Every few hundred years in Western history, there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world and the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are currently living through just such a transformation."

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Barbie and Ken dolls depict Mary and the crucified Christ

Emiliano Paolini holds a Ken doll as Jesus Christ nailed to a cross (Credit: Pool Paolini via Facebook) Barbie has been an astronaut, flight attendant, and even president.  But two Argentine artists have given the doll a new role: the Virgin Mary.  They have also created a Ken doll as the crucified Christ along with other saints and figures from world religions.  However, they chose not to create a Ken doll as the Prophet Muhammad.  Catholic bishops in Italy are denouncing the depictions.

These are challenging days for Jews and Christians.  The Jewish New Year known as Rosh Hashanah was marked Wednesday by Israelis pessimistic about peace, with an economy struggling to recover from the latest war with Hamas.  Global anti-Semitism continues to escalate: a rabbi in Jackson, Mississippi reports that he was recently thrown out of a local restaurant because he is Jewish.

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Surprising good news in the Ebola fight

Residents flee during clashes in the West Point quarantined neighborhood of Liberia's capital Monrovia, August 20, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/James Harding Giahyue)The Centers for Disease Control announced yesterday that 1.4 million people could be infected with the Ebola virus by early next year if interventions don't start working soon.  The CDC director arrived in Africa Monday to assess the crisis, and is calling it "absolutely unprecedented."

But there's good news on this tragic front from two unlikely sources.  One is the role Ebola survivors are playing in confronting the epidemic.  Many doctors believe that those who are infected but survive this strain of Ebola become immune to it.  As a result, they are being enlisted to counsel those who may be infected.  They are helping bury the dead, since bodies of Ebola victims are even more contagious than when the person was alive.

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