Ruth Sherlock | New Hampshire Public Radio

Ruth Sherlock

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And finally today, you know you've heard those ads. You might even have succumbed to one of them. I'm talking about the big push for new gym memberships. It's usually right now. And that's because getting fit is one of the most common New Year's resolutions. But this year, many gyms are closed because of the pandemic. So what are the alternatives for people who are resolved to get fit in 2021? We reached out to Jennipher Walters for some ideas. She is a certified personal trainer and health coach, and she also co-hosts the "Fit Bottomed Girls" podcast.

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What is left of the Arab Spring? After a decade of civil wars and government crackdowns, it's easy to forget that December of 2010 started as a time of hope in the Middle East.

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Abu Alaa leaves his home in Damascus at dawn to buy bread from his local bakery. There he stands in line for up to six hours to get the two packets of the round flat pita bread that government rations allow for a three-child family like his.

After this he goes to the gas station, where he usually waits a further six hours to buy the fuel he needs for his work as a minivan driver.

"Half of my day is spent waiting for bread — God, it's laughable," he says. "And the other half is spent waiting in line for diesel!"

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Lebanon's capital, Beirut, remains devastated by the massive explosion at the city's port last month. The country is in the depths of an economic collapse, and the coronavirus is spreading.

But as Lebanon reels from multiple tragedies, conservationists are pointing to one bright spot. They say a record number of endangered green sea turtles have come to nest on the country's shores. Loggerhead turtles have also come in large numbers.

Lebanon is seeing a dramatic increase in the spread of the coronavirus since last month's massive explosion at Beirut's port, which damaged much of the capital city. Since the Aug. 4 blast, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased by some 220%, according to an assessment by the International Rescue Committee.

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The coronavirus is spreading through government-held areas of Syria at an alarming rate and the authoritarian regime uses a campaign of intimidation to suppress information about the outbreak, a medical worker inside the country says.

With hospitals overwhelmed, staff are treating patients in dirty rooms, without enough medication and with little equipment to protect themselves, one medical worker in the country told NPR.

But talking about it can be dangerous.

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Doctors Without Borders says that a catastrophe is unfolding in the Yemeni city of Aden. Doctors and aid workers talk of hospitals being overwhelmed and of the ill dying in their homes. And as NPR's Ruth Sherlock reports, the doctors themselves are falling ill.

In the Yemeni city of Aden, doctors and nurses of Al-Wali Hospital and their families have become patients. With the 75 beds in this private hospital now full, members of the public are being turned away.

"Right now, we can't accept anyone else," said Amr Al-Turkey, a critical care physician in the hospital who is recovering from COVID-19.

Factories in Syria are producing a drug aggressively promoted by President Trump as a possible "game-changer" in the fight against COVID-19, despite a lack of evidence that it can cure the disease.

Three Syrian pharmaceutical companies are producing hydroxychloroquine, as well as the antibiotic azithromycin — and other drugs that are still being tested — to combat the illness, according to the World Health Organization representative in Syria.

The Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia are struggling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak among migrant worker populations on whose labor the countries rely.

Even amid stringent lockdowns, the disease has continued to spread through migrant communities, with many workers living in cramped labor camps, where they share bunk beds in tightly packed rooms.

In Saudi Arabia, non-Saudi residents comprised 76% of the more than 3,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases this week, according to the country's Health Ministry.

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The green landscape of rural northeastern Syria is home to wild ducks and donkeys, villagers tending cattle — and U.S. military bases housing 2,200 troops. American soldiers patrol the countryside in armored vehicles and hover overhead in Black Hawk helicopters. In the Kurdish-majority area known as Rojava, towns are bursting with Christmas decorations. Holiday lights adorn almost every main street in the city of Qamishli, whose diverse population includes many Christians, and shops are selling tinsel and plastic trees.

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