I don't believe he was working on them. He is a medical missionary, not a researcher, and the experimental drug was flown in after he had become sick. So, no, he's had no special treatment before. Just a regular guy straight out of residency who had gone to Liberia to provide regular medical care and found himself in the middle of an Ebola epidemic.
Why are they flying him in? Good question. Although it's very unlikely that Ebola would start spreading in the US, there may be isolated cases, which means that it could be a good idea to see what can be done in a more controlled environment, as you point out. Plus it might allow the family to say goodbye to them if they're not gonna recover. Sooner or later, people would have complained that America/Obama/Democrats let down two American heroes who were left to die in a foreign country when perhaps they could have been saved. Especially if they're missionaries working with a rather polarizing organization.
Can we please stop with the "children who have no PC will be at a disadvantage in the classroom" charade? Computers are great and useful, but we don't need to pretend that they will magically help children do better in school. If anything, the limited evidence available from larger-scale voucher programs suggests that they may very well reduce test scores. Which is rather intuitive. Sure, you can use your computer to do your homework and prepare your next presentation. But you can also use it to play games or go on Facebook and Buzzfeed instead of doing more productive tasks. If you're a child with low impulse control/intrinsic motivation to study, having a PC only means one more source of distraction.
This kind of program appeals to nerds like us because we remember getting our first PC, learning how to use Linux to set up our first home server, learning how to code, spending a lot of time online acquiring new knowledge, etc. That's literally the first paragraph of the article. But we're not the average person. Most children will not do that: ask non-nerds around you how they felt about the time their parents bought their first computer and you'll get a "meh" because, in the pre-internet era, you could easily see them as glorified typewriters if you weren't a nerd. Nowadays, the average child will start playing Flash games on the web and be content. And gaming is much more fun than doing your homework.
I think it's also good to distinguish between "cannot afford a computer" and "does not think a computer is worth the cost". What I mean is, if instead of providing a computer or a voucher that can only be used to buy a computer, charities gave people $200 (enough to buy a Chromebook or Chromebox that's sufficient for all school-related uses), would they go out and buy a PC? Or is it a paternalistic endeavor that insists that poor households REALLY need a PC because WE couldn't live without one, so they must just not know what's good for them? Of course, if you give away something for free, people will take it. That doesn't mean they value it as much as you think they do. I see that they're trying to identify people who really need it, so kudos to them, but it's difficult and, so far, willingness to pay remains to best way to do that. Provided of course that people have enough money to have real options. This is where I start my rant about how charities are at best a stop-gap solution fraught with problems such as the fact that people always start them because they think they know what poor people REALLY need ("a PC", "no, toys", "no, cans of food", etc.). What about: a decent income so they can make their own choices rather than having to rely on handouts?
At least, when it comes to PCs, money is quickly becoming a non-issue. A Pi with case, keyboard, mouse and Wifi dongle can be purchased for perhaps $60-$70. Spend a little more and you can buy a Banana Pi or another cheap Chinese ARM machine. When you factor in the time it takes to check that donated computers still work well, set up the Linux OS, coordinate donations, etc., I'm sure 'free' PCs end up being more expensive.
I've seen this argument on many French websites, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around it.
Before the law:
- €10 book on Amazon: €9.5 (+free shipping)
- €10 book in a bookstore: €9.5 (+ no need to ship it, though the store is free to offer it)
After the law:
- €10 book on Amazon: €10.01
- €10 book in a bookstore: €9.5
Clearly, this tilts the balance in favor of bookstores who can now sell books cheaper than Amazon. They didn't just fix the law, which already ensured that both Amazon and other stores had to sell the book at the same price, but they made books more expensive on Amazon.
You could say that offering free shipping is an extra advantage that should be taken into account. But not only could other stores also offer free shipping if they wanted to, they also offer other advantages that have value to the customer: advice, instant availability, free gift wrap, etc. Why is free shipping any different?
This goes far beyond what the previous iteration of the law did. When the law was passed in the 1980s, no-one suggested that big box stores should be prohibited from offering free parking since that put downtown bookstores at a clear disadvantage.
Actually, the law says no such thing. Before this new law, booksellers in France could sell a book with at most a 5% discount relative to the mandatory price set by the publisher. The idea was to prevent supermarkets and larger booksellers from competing on price and driving smaller shops out of business. In the 1980s, it made some sense, as people were afraid that supermarkets would only stock bestsellers and that smaller shops were necessary to ensure the availability of more specialized, less popular books. Back then, the only people shipping books were mail-order book clubs, which re-published bestsellers after a year or two and did not have much market share.
With the advent of the internet, booksellers started complaining that Amazon and FNAC were too successful. Since they could offer both the 5% discount and free shipping, customers paid as little as it was legally possible and enjoyed the extra convenience of not having to visit several bookshops to find the rare book that they'd been looking for. This is definitely a good thing for consumers and Amazon takes care of the long tail much more effectively and efficiently than smaller booksellers. Plus everyone was treated equally: smaller shops could also offer free shipping if they wanted to: they just could not afford it due to the lower volumes involved. Amazon can negotiate very good shipping rates and buy books much cheaper. Publishers sell them their books with a 50% discount, versus 30-40% for smaller bookstores.
The law now says that you can still offer a 5% discount BUT, if you ship the book to the customer, this 5% discount must be deducted from the shipping fees, which cannot amount to zero. Thus, if Amazon sells a €10 book, they probably charge a €0.51 shipping fee, which ends up being €0.01 after the 5% discount. They're still at a disadvantage since a physical store can sell the same book for €9.5. Which means that the law now clearly favors physical stores, much more than it did small bookstores vs supermarkets before.
France does not prohibit websites from storing credit card information. The regulations say that the merchant must first ask the customer whether they agree to let them store their CC information. If the customer agrees, the customer name, CC number and expiry date can be stored in an encrypted format. What cannot be stored is the CVV number.
This is a common-sense rule that minimizes the risks of identity theft and fraudulent use of credit cards in case customer information gets in the wild, as has happened repeatedly in recent years.
They already do it, but negative prices are a rare occurrence and it's probably not worth investing in additional capacity. Storage and reducing production are both more expensive than paying people to accept the extra electricity. In a way, this is the same as installing resistors, except that you're just letting other people dispose of the electricity without incurring capital expenses yourself.
"You know, we've won awards for this crap." -- David Letterman