xoNEWS: This Week In Deadly Viruses, Ceasefires And Terrible Customer Service

Don’t you wish someone could just read the news for you, sift through what is important and then explain it simply without an extreme political slant?
Publish date:
August 8, 2014

As xoJane readers, we’ve all had this conversation at some point:

“Did you hear about the President today?”

“No, but you have to read this IHTM…”

While I take time to read up on the issues I’m passionate about, it’s sometimes difficult to prioritize focusing on current events, especially when reading about things like snail face cream is so much more enticing.

There’s so much news to read out there, it’s hard to know what stories are really going to affect us the most. Don’t you wish someone could just read the news for you, sift through what is important and then explain it simply without an extreme political slant? If you promise not to unfriend me on Facebook, I did just that. Here are five of the most important stories of the week.

This Week In Deadly Viruses…

Since March, there have been 1,711 cases of Ebola with 932 deaths in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. Before we start thinking Ebola is the new Plague, let’s define what Ebola actually is.

Ebola is a virus has historically has a fatality rate of up to 90%, and affects humans as well as primates. It is spread through contact with blood, other bodily fluids and an infected person’s soiled clothing, bed linen or used needles. Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, a rash and whole lot of other unpleasantness. Ebola works by attacking your T-lymphocyte cells. (If you can’t remember high school science class, but the term “T-lymphocyte cells” sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because they are the same cells the AIDS virus attacks.) Then your immune system attacks the rest of your body and you ultimately bleed to death.

If you are now completely convinced you are dying, take a breath and stop worrying. You have a better chance of winning the lottery three times over than catching this disease. So, what’s the deal with all the cases you keep hearing about in the United States? While understandably terrifying, this situation has been way overhyped. This is all that happened: two American doctors who were doing missionary work in Africa have been infected and are both being treated here. That’s hardly a major threat. Even the CDC stated on Monday that there isn’t a significant risk of an Ebola outbreak in the US.

If you are still feeling worried, stop playing with monkeys, don’t read The Hot Zone and probably avoid WebMD.

What Happens At The Union Street Guest House, Stays At The Union Street Guest House, Or Prepare To Fork Over $500

We’ve all had to stay at hotels with policies that we haven’t liked (what do you mean, I can’t bring Fido?), but The Worst Hotel Policy In The World award goes to The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York. Apparently, USGH isn’t a big fan of the First Amendment. If the hotel was not up to a guest’s personal standards or the standards of any member of their party, they must stay silent about their experience on the Internet or be prepared to pay $500.

Just as ridiculous as the policy, is USGH’s explanation of it:

“… Your guests may not understand what we offer - therefore we expect you to explain that to them. USGH & Hudson are historic. The buildings here are old (but restored). Our bathrooms and kitchens are designed to look old in an artistic "vintage" way. Our furniture is mostly hip, period furniture that you would see in many design magazines. If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like it here. If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event. If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any Internet site you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review.”

In perhaps the most insulting statement ever written on a hotel’s website, hotel owners believe that if anyone writes a negative review, they must not be chic enough to appreciate the beauty of their fabulous inn. And should you dare to invite déclassé people to your event, you must take the time (because if you’re getting married, you aren’t busy enough) to explain to them how un-sophisticated they are, so they know their opinions aren’t valid and thus, they won’t post something less than stellar online.

Currently, USGH has a 1.5 star rating and not surprisingly, Yelp has been flooded with bad reviews from former guests and lots of people who don’t plan on becoming future guests.

On the surface, this feels like another bad customer service story, but at the core, it’s a business attempting to censor the speech of unhappy customers. Do other businesses have this practice? Should there be a law preventing this?

The Latest In The Middle East

If you haven’t heard as much about Israel and Palestine for the past few days, it’s because there has been a temporary three-day long ceasefire, which is set to end on Friday morning. Representatives from Palestine and Israel have been negotiating in Cairo, but despite this brief truce, peace in the Middle East doesn’t look likely any time soon.

Abu Obaida, who is a spokesman for Hamas, stated: “The resistance is ready to pay the price and the people are behind the resistance. We are ready for a long war.” The death toll in Gaza from the past three weeks is 1,860 Palestinians, who were mostly civilians, as well as 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians.

A Model Moneymaker

Score one for women, models, the LGBT community, and former reality show contestants! At the tender age of 31, Kim Stolz was just hired as a director of equity-derivative sales at Bank of America. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because in addition to being a prestigious businesswoman (she’s worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup), she was also a contestant on the fifth cycle of America’s Next Top Model. After placing Fifth, Stolz was hired as a news correspondent on MTV and hosted The Freshman on MTVu. Her memoir, “Unfriending My Ex- And Other Things I’ll Never Do” was released in June of this year.

If those aren’t enough accomplishments, Stolz is also a restaurateur and co-owned The Dalloway in New York City with Amanda Leigh Dunn, who you may remember from Showtime’s The Real L-Word. While currently shuttered, the restaurant plans to re-open soon in a new location. But of all these careers, Stolz says that working on Wall Street is where she is the most comfortable. In 2012, she told New York Magazine, “I've never felt more accepted than I have on Wall Street. I'm one of the guys.”

Stolz is also an out lesbian, who married her longtime girlfriend, Lexi in 2013. How she has enough hours is the day to accomplish all of this still remains a mystery.

Did these stories interest you? Did I miss anything important? Please let me know in the comments or tweet me @amandalauren.