Since it was discovered in 1976, the Ebola virus has killed 2,541 people. Compare that statistic to those of a certain other African virus discovered 5 years later, and one realises that a mite of perspective is desirable when discussing epidemics. Ebola is not particularly contagious, many of its more horrific effects have been exaggerated (it does not actually liquefy your internal organs) and it isn't even the most fatal viral disease (that would be rabies). But its lack of treatment, rapid onset and associated images of blood and agony have given Ebola the kind of apocalyptic power that dwellers in previous centuries gave to the plague. And all the perspective in the world will not downplay the seriousness of the current outbreak, which is already one of the longest on record, the first to cross borders, and responsible for more than a third of the above deaths. Our viewers have apparently caught the panic bug, as views to this page are up 16% on last week.
Holding steady at #2, this 2014 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics series opened in the UK on 31 July and the United States on 1 August. As of 10 August, the film's worldwide earnings are just under $240 million. While aided by a rapturous critical reception (it was the third best-reviewed film of the summer, according to Rotten Tomatoes), it fell a steep 67% at its second weekend at the US box office. It remains to be seen whether strong word of mouth will see it through to the end.
Not the sort of topic one would expect to be sitting alongside blockbuster films, deadly epidemics and vicious conflicts, but there does seem to be a reason for it: a minor controversy has erupted online over rumours that Campbells' iconic version actually contains animal products, to the point where Campbell's had to issue an official denial this week.
The lead character from Marvel Comics' relatively obscure superhero team, played by Chris Pratt (pictured) in the 2014 film, has been largely unknown to the public at large, at least until the aforementioned film started blasting boxoffice records. leading many to learn of his history for the first time.
Well, it seems that all the fanboy crying about the trailer aping The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the casting of Megan Fox as April O'Neil, and Michael Bay ruining their childhood was pretty much for show, as the new TMNT movie made $65 million in its opening weekend. Even adjusted for inflation, that's still 70% higher than the Turtles managed in 1990, at the peak of their fame. Doubtless the popularity of Nickelodeon's recent TV reboot helped, but post-GenX nostalgia no doubt played a role as well.
This almost absurdly brutal jihadist group, which proudly posts mass executions it carries out on Twitter, has been disowned even by al-Qaeda. Nonetheless it has managed to carve out a "caliphate" for itself currently about the size of Pennsylvania from what is supposed to be Iraq and Syria. Until now it has met with remarkably little opposition, but now the US is stepping in with airstrikes to help the overburdened Kurds.