Weekend Edition: The week's best reads
"He reached his arms out for a hug, but he had a switchblade in his hand. He flipped it open and he started stabbing me over and over again." Melissa Dohme, from Florida, was 20 years old when she was stabbed more than 30 times and left for dead by her ex-boyfriend. "I later learned from the trauma surgeons that I died on the table several times and they had to resuscitate me over and over," she says. Amazingly, Melissa survived. And now, after a long road to recovery, she has found love and is marrying one of the emergency service team members who saved her life.
British Army officer Naima Houder-Mohammed paid thousands of dollars for a cancer treatment, which consisted mainly of intravenous infusions of baking soda. "There is a great need for a daily regime focused on… hyper-perfusing the blood with alkalinity," the man supervising her treatment, Robert O Young, told her. Inevitably, the treatment failed and Naima later died, aged 27. Young, an alternative health writer, now faces a jail sentence for practising medicine without a licence. Dr Giles Yeo and Tristan Quinn went to California to challenge him about pseudo-science and the manipulation of vulnerable patients.
"They looked at our curriculum and were horrified by how much we were trying to teach," says head teacher Ben McMullen who went to Shanghai to see how maths is taught in primary school there. "They wouldn't teach fractions until year four or five. By that time, they assume that the children were very fluent in multiplication and division. This is essentially a 'teaching for mastery' approach: covering less and making smaller incremental movements forward, ensuring the class move together as one and that you go over stuff again and again until it's truly understood." The results are impressive - so should other countries be learning from China?
Twenty-nine-year-old Johanna Watkins from Minnesota lives in an attic room all by herself with sealed windows and doors, and air filters to purify the air. She has a severe form of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) in which the cells that are meant to protect her from outside threats mutate and start attacking her body instead. "I have had severe reactions to someone smoking a cigarette down the block," she says. "I have had severe reactions to the pizza place that's a mile down the street, and all my windows are closed and sealed." Worst of all, she cannot kiss her husband Scott, or even spend time in the same room as him.
When Mona, a member of Iran's Bahai minority, applied to study in Tehran the university said, "'OK, you may register,' and in the place on [the form for] religion, they wrote, Islam," she says. "In my belief, you're not supposed to lie about your faith even when facing death. So I wrote back, [saying] I was not Muslim. They said, 'Good luck, you can't enter university.'" Mona was left with only one option for continuing her studies - a clandestine university for Bahais, and it was an unforgettable experience.
"When I first arrived in China, five years ago, there was no way of monitoring the quality of air in our home," says John Sudworth. "Like everyone else, we left it to blind faith that our air purifiers were doing the trick. It now transpires they weren't. Having already taped most of my windows shut, I have now started on the air conditioning vents. The aim is simple - to close off every access point through which the toxic outside air leaks into our Beijing home." More than a million people a year now die prematurely in China because of air pollution. But it is a problem not only of China's making.