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TED2014 newsmakers: Ben Saunders ends Antarctic trek, Jehane Noujaim releases documentary on Netflix

Posted by: Elizabeth Jacobs
Ben Saunders in the final week of his 1,795 mile Antarctica trek. The journey didn't go as planned, but is now over. Image: The Scott Expedition/Facebook

Ben Saunders in the final week of his 1,795 mile Antarctica trek. The journey didn’t go as planned, but is now over. Image: The Scott Expedition/Facebook

With just over a month until TED2014, themed “The Next Chapter,” this year’s lineup of speakers has been busy making music, writing books and, oh, trekking across Antarctica. Check out speakers who’ve made the news in recent weeks:

On Monday morning, Arctic explorer Ben Saunders completed his 1,795-mile, 105-day trek across Antarctica. This is Saunders’ third attempt to retrace the ill-fated journey of polar explorer Robert Scott. While he and trek partner Tarka L’Herpiniere had planned to do the journey unassisted, in this blog post Saunders explains the terrifying conditions that led him to call for a resupply plane. “In an instant I realised that my and Tarka’s lives are not something I wanted to gamble with,” he writes. “Now my head is clearer and my body is recovering, I think of status and records and achievement and impermanence. Every gold medal one day ends up in a collectors’ cabinet … I hope our journey has not been diminished in your eyes now it is ‘imperfect.'”

Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim has released her documentary, The Square – already nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature — on Netflix. This week’s The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at how she and her producers are also making an Arabic version of the film available online in Egypt, despite the fact that the country’s censors have yet to determine whether it can be shown there.

Former Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords is back in the drivers’ seat for the first time in three years, after being critically injured in a shooting in Tuscon, Arizona in 2011. Giffords, an outspoken advocate for gun control, has undergone an incredible recovery and recently announced her plans to write a book about gun control.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America, Sting  performed “Drive my Car” on The Late Show with David Letterman. The rock icon is also on a month-long tour across the US and Canada with Paul Simon.

Reddit asked Bill Gates anything. The humanitarian and Microsoft founder shared his thoughts on the NSA, philanthropy, bitcoin and what he’s learned in the last 20 years.

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, a gay rights activist who claims to have been fired for being outspoken, shared his support for Michael Sam, the NFL’s draft prospect who came out earlier this week. Kluwe offered advice on which teams might be most accepting of Sam.

Author Jennifer Senior has published a new book, All Joy and No Fun, about the paradoxes of modern parenthood.

In light of the debut of women’s ski jumping at the Sochi Games, David Epstein debunked some myths about how much sex differences matter in sports for The Washington Post. Laying out historical and scientific evidence, he asks: should we let boys and girls compete together?

Indiewire has interviewed film director Yoruba Richen, whose film, The New Black, explores the changing opinions of African Americans on gay rights. The film explores the intersection of race and sexuality in America, and the parallel and divergent histories of the civil rights and the gay rights movements in the US.

You’re more closely related to Neanderthals than you might have thought. Science writer Ed Yong recently revealed in National Geographic that, according to a recent study, 20% of Neanderthal DNA lives on in us today. Yong also wrote another article for the magazine last week about the benefits of breast milk for infants. And don’t miss his recent piece for PBS, where he explores research on what we can learn about healthy microbiomes from uncontacted tribes in the Amazon.

Director of the MIT Media Lab Joi Ito will host an interactive session at South by Southwest, the music, film and technology festival held in Austin, Texas in early March. Along with fellow TEDster Tim Brown, Ito will discuss how to build tools for the future. In preparation for the event, his work was featured on SXSW’s blog this week. Six Questions also recently interviewed Ito about his work at the MIT Media Lab.

Simon Sinek sat down with The Huffington Post to discuss his new book, Leaders Eat Last. The book explores how great leaders grow out of a community of trust, and offers insight into how to make work an exciting place to be.

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