Viral video shows Mountain Vista High School student in Nazi jacket being punched in the face by a black student

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A previously unreported video of a black Mountain Vista High School student punching a white student wearing Nazi garb has gone viral this week even though the incident happened in August, leaving the school system once again addressing a hate incident on campus.

The fight video is just the latest in a string of hate-based incidents happening inside the halls of Colorado schools.

“Incidents are up,” said Jeremy Shaver, associate regional director for the Colorado Anti-Defamation League. “As we’ve seen an increase of incidents in Colorado since 2015, the percentage in schools has also increased.”

Video of the fight at the Highlands Ranch school rocketed around social media this week after a Twitter user from Baltimore posted it to his feed. The Denver Post is not publishing the video because it depicts two juveniles, who have since been charged with crimes.

In the video, the white student, in his Nazi green jacket, was doing a T-pose, a popular meme in gaming, but one that “some people say has been used by the KKK to represent a burning cross,” Lt. Lori Bronner, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, said. The black student confronted him, daring him to continue this pose, Bronner said.

Next, the two students were walking side-by side in a courtyard area as dozens of others milled about. Then, the black student abruptly punched the white student in the face. After a few seconds, the white student got up, picked up a landscaping rock and chucked it at the other student. He missed.

Police said the student who threw the punch chased down the freshman in the Nazi jacket, kicking him as the student curled up on the ground. At some point in the incident, Bronner said, the white student called the black teen a racial slur. Security arrived soon after and broke up the fight.

Both students were arrested, Bronner said. The white student was charged with harassment, disorderly conduct and criminal attempt assault, while the other student was charged with assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. There were no charges of a hate crime, Bronner said.

Paula Hans, spokeswoman for the Douglas County School District, said the school “communicated out to parents and the incident was handled at the time.”

“Principal Michael Weaver told the parents that there was an altercation between two students,” Hans said. “The administration worked with the students and families directly involved as well as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.”

The school would not say whether either student was suspended or expelled.

This is not the first hate-based incident at Mountain View High School — or in Colorado — in recent months.

In late September, racist graffiti was spray-painted on a gym wall at Mountain Vista. African American football coaches said at the time that they believed it was directed at them.

At the Kent Denver School in Cherry Hills Village in early November, students found a swastika scrawled on bathroom stall.

That same week, students at Eaglecrest High School in Centennial found racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic graffiti in one of their bathrooms.

The Colorado Anti-Defamation League does not break down incidents by school, but overall antisemitic incidents in the state tripled between 2015 and 2017, Shaver said. There were 57 incident in 2017, up from 18 in 2015.

“Incidents in schools tend to be on the lower level, vandalism, swastikas drawn on school property and verbal or written harassment,” Shaver said.

In 2017, anti-Semitic incidents at K-12 schools nationwide increased to 269 from 130 in 2016, a 107-percent bump, according to a national audit by the Anti-Defamation League.

Denver can now recycle paper coffee cups

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Massive stacks of recycled trash inside Alpine Waste and Recycling towered behind Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black as she posed a question nearly every coffee drinker has asked: What are we supposed to do with those paper cups?

Sam Tabachnik, The Denver Post

Denver councilwoman Kendra Black (left) and Lynn Dyer, president of Foodservice Packaging Institute, celebrate the city adding paper coffee cups to the list of items that can be recycled on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.

Denver now has answer.

They can be recycled, the city announced Friday.

Friday’s announcement marked the first time since 2012, when milk cartons came aboard, that the city added a new recyclable product to its list, Pitt said.

Coffee cups became a hot issue when environmentalists installed tracking devices that showed paper cups were travelling from Starbucks recycling bins to the landfill. In fairness to Starbucks, signs on the bins said that paper cups couldn’t be recycled.

A poly-coated liner inside the cup, a material that keeps the coffee from breaking through the paper and splashing onto your lap, could not be recycled. To solve this problem, the city partnered with the Wisconsin-based company Sustana, which has the technology to strip the poly-coated lining so the rest of cup can be recycled.

It’s all part of a closed-loop system: Recycling enters the Alpine Waste and Recycling plant. It is then sent to Sustana, where the cups are smashed into a pulp before being shipped to paper mills for use around the country.

“The economic impact is huge,” said Mark Bond, sales manager for Sustana, said. “If you just throw something away, that’s one job. But if you recycle, that could be about 10 jobs.”

While recycling coffee cups will spare landfills, other utensils associated with on-the-go coffee still are headed to trash bins. Straws, sleeves, stirrers or anything else that comes with the coffee cannot be recycled.

Starbucks has promised $10 million toward developing a cup that can be recycled or composted. However, the company has not said whether it will take advantage of the new recycling option in Denver. The city doesn’t offer commercial recycling services, but its contractor Alpine Waste does.

Friday’s announcement is a step toward increasing Denver’s below-average recycling rate, and part of Mayor Michael Hancock’s 2020 Sustainability Goals — which include improvement targets on everything from water quality and greenhouse gasses to housing and recycling.

The city currently recycles 22 percent of its waste, Charlotte Pitt, manager of Denver’s solid waste management, said. The goal is to reach, and then exceed, the national average of 34 percent.

“From a recycling rate perspective, we have a lot of work to do,” Pitt said. “But we’re chipping away at it, one small piece at a time.”

The coffee cups make up only about 0.2 percent of Denver’s residential recycling stream, according to the city’s recycling contract.

A theme at Friday’s news conference centered on public education about what can and cannot be recycled. The council has allocated more money in next year’s budget for Pitt and her team to get the message out there, Black said.

“If you bag your recyclables, they’re just going to get brought to the landfill,” Black said. “Don’t do that!”

The city still faces challenges as it improves its recycling program.

Recycling is free, but voluntary. Residents must request bins. And they pay the same trash fee so there is little financial incentive to recycle. The city also doesn’t collect from apartments, condos and businesses.

Colorado professor weighs in on how a scientist says he made a gene-edited baby

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(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

By George Seidel, Colorado State University

On Nov. 28, He Jiankui claimed to a packed conference room at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong to have edited the genomes of two twin girls, Lulu and Nana, who were born in China.

Scientists at Southern University of Science and Technology in Guangdong, China, condemned He’s research asserting he “has seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct,” and philosophers and bioethicists were quick dive into the morass of editing human genomes. So I’m not going to cover that territory. What I want to address is what we learned: how He made these babies.

I am theoretically a retired professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. For more than 50 years, I have researched numerous aspects of assisted reproductive technology including cloning and making genetic changes to mammalian embryos, so I am interested in most any research concerning “designer babies” and the health problems they may suffer.

A first?

At the conference He gave a general overview of the science. While research like this would typically be presented to the scientific community by publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, which he claims that he intends to do, we can get a rough sense of how he created these modified babies. This is something that has been successfully done in other species and just last year in human embryos – but the latter were not implanted into a woman. He says he spent three years testing the procedure on mice and monkeys before he moved to working on human embryos.

There is no doubt that precise genetic modifications can be made to human sperm, eggs, embryos and even some cells in adults. Such modifications have been done ad nauseum in mice, pigs and several other mammals. Thus, it is obvious to scientists like myself that these same genetic modifications can, and will, be made in humans. The easiest way to make genetic changes begins with the embryo.

The toolbox

The trendiest strategy to modify DNA these days involves the CRISPR/Cas-9 gene editing tool, which can make precise genetic modifications in living cells. Although other tools have been available for years, the CRISPR/Cas-9 approach is simpler, easier, more accurate and less expensive.

The way it works is simple in concept. The Cas-9 component is a molecular scissors that cuts the DNA at the location specified by a small piece of DNA called the “CRISPR template.” Once the DNA is cut, a gene can be modified at that location. The cut is then repaired by enzymes already present in cells.

In this case, He targeted a gene which produces a protein on the surface of cells called CCR5. The HIV virus uses this protein to attach to and infect the cell. He’s idea was to genetically change CCR5 so that HIV can no longer infect cells, making the girls resistant to the virus.

At this point He has not provided a clear explanation of exactly how he disabled the CCR5 and the nature of the genetic modification. But this kind of “disabling” is routinely used in research.

How he did it

From the diagram He presented, it appears that He injected the CRISPR/Cas-9 system into an egg at the same time as he injected a sperm to fertilize it. After this, the egg divided and formed a ball of dozens of cells – the embryo. At this stage, He removed a few cells from each embryo to determine if the desired genetic change was made. Based on my experience, the embryos were probably frozen at this point. When the analysis was complete, He probably thawed the modified embryos and transferred the best ones back into the mother’s uterus for gestation to term. Embryos without the edits or incorrect edits would either be discarded or used for research.

For many applications, it is ideal to make any changes to the genes at the one-cell stage. Then, when the embryo duplicates its DNA and divides to make a two-cell embryo, the genetic modification is also duplicated. This continues so that every cell in the resulting baby has the genetic change.

However, it appears that the genetic modification in this case did not occur until the two-cell stage or later, because some cells in the babies had the modification, while others did not. This situation is called mosaicism because the child is a mosaic of normal and edited cells.

Hazards of embryo editing?

What could go wrong in a gene-edited embryo? Plenty.

The first glitch is that no modification was made, which occurs frequently. A variation is that the change occurs in some cells of the embryo, but not in all the cells, as occurred in these babies.

The most common worry is so-called non-target effects, in which the genetic modification is made, but other unintended edit(s) occur in other locations in the genome. Having a modification at the wrong place can cause all kinds of developmental problems, such as abnormal organ development, miscarriage and even cancers.

From his slide it appears that He sequenced the genomes – the complete genetic blueprint for each child – at multiple stages of the pregnancy to determine whether there were any undesirable modifications, though these aren’t always easy to find. But until independent scientists can examine the DNA of these two baby girls, we won’t know the results. It is also not clear from the results He has shared so far whether this genetic change can be transmitted to the next generation.

Another common problem already alluded to is mosaicism, which appears to have happened in one of these twins. If some cells are edited, and some not, the baby might have liver cells that contain the edited gene and heart cells that have the normal version, for instance. This may or may not lead to serious issues.

Another issue is that manipulating embryos in vitro – outside their normal environment in the reproductive tract – where we can’t precisely duplicate the normal nutrition, oxygen levels, hormones and growth factors – could lead to developmental abnormalities including oversize fetuses, metabolic problems, and so on. This sometimes occurs with routine procedures such as in vitro fertilization when there is no attempt to make genetic modifications.

Fortunately, nature is quite good at weeding out abnormal embryos via embryonic death and spontaneous abortion. Even in healthy human populations reproducing normally, nearly half of embryos die before the woman even knows that she was pregnant.

We already design babies – and there are benefits

While I have emphasized what can go wrong, I believe that the science will evolve such that genetically modified babies will be healthier than unmodified ones. And these improvements will be passed on to future generations. Severely debilitating genetic abnormalities such as Tay-Sachs syndrome could be removed from a family by genetic modification.

Arguably, designer babies are already being born using a technique called pre-implantation genetic diagnoses (PGD). A few cells from embryos are screened for dozens, and potentially hundreds, of genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs syndrome, to name a few. Parents are also able to choose those embryos of the desired sex. In my view, choosing which embryos to implant is clearly making designer babies.

Going a step further, PGD isn’t restricted to just eliminating disease. A prospective parent can also choose other traits. When one of the prospective parents in infertile, there are catalogs that provide the race, height and weight, and even the educational level of a sperm or egg donor, who is also determined to be free of major genetic defects, and free of AIDS and other venereal diseases.

In my opinion, if the procedures are deemed ethically and morally acceptable, most genetic modifications likely to be made editing embryos as He says he has done, will involve removal of harmful traits rather than adding desirable ones. Because the changes will be targeted, they will be more precise and less harmful than the mutations that occur randomly in DNA of essentially all sperm and eggs naturally.

With all of this reproductive technology, there is one other consideration: the huge costs of the procedures described. To what extent should society invest scarce medical resources in applying such techniques, especially since any benefits likely will accrue mostly to wealthier families?

These perspectives need to be kept in mind when evaluating potential genetic manipulations of humans.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.

New NYC Bill Would Criminalize AirDropping Unwanted Dick Pics

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The golden age of personal technology has given rise to many a scourge, including the upsetting trend of people AirDropping unsolicited dick pics to strangers. Thankfully, three New York City councilmen introduced a bill on Wednesday that would criminalize digitally whisking your dick photos to anyone who doesn’t want…

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E Ink’s new digital paper lets you draw with almost no lag

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The hypothetical pinnacle of digital paper is when it becomes indistinguishable from the real article, both in terms of reading and writing. Today, at the Connected Ink conference in Tokyo, E Ink Holdings took us a little bit closer with its new JustWrite technology. JustWrite is designed to feel as close as possible to writing on a sheet of standard A4, without the inclusion of a bulky TFT backplane. It requires very little electricity to run, and boasts very low latency, in order to offer a natural-feeling writing experience. So, how does this work in practice? You can see an…

This story continues at The Next Web

#ThotAudit is just the latest tactic people are using to harass sex workers online

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Over the past few days, sex-work Twitter has been abuzz about a somewhat unexpected topic: taxes. A tweet from amateur clip producer and webcam model Mocha Puff that declared, 11 times and in all caps, that, contrary to some people’s assertions, “sex workers do pay taxes,” was retweeted over 1300 times; in follow-up tweets, Puff shared links to some sex-work-friendly tax professionals, as did other members of the sex-work community.

Why the sudden obsession with sex workers’ financial responsibility to the government? It all started with #ThotAudit, a harassment campaign that encouraged people to report sex workers — and, more specifically, sex workers who sell access to private Snapchat accounts — to the IRS for failure to pay their…

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Next moon lander could be made in Colorado

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.– America’s next moon landing will be made by private companies — not NASA.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday that nine U.S. companies are under contract and will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface. The space agency will buy the service and let private industry work out the details on getting there, he said.

Two Colorado companies — Lockheed Martin and Deep Space Systems — are among those designated as eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts. It’s one of the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

The goal is to get small science and technology experiments to the surface of the moon as soon as possible. The first flight could be next year; 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

“We’re going at high speed,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA’s science mission directorate, which will lead the effort.

NASA officials said the research will help get astronauts back to the moon more quickly and keep them safer once they’re there. The initial deliveries likely will include radiation monitors, as well as laser reflectors for gravity and other types of measurements, according to Zurbuchen.

Bridenstine said it will be up to the companies to arrange their own rocket rides. NASA will be one of multiple customers using these lunar services.

The announcement came just three days after NASA landed the InSight spacecraft on Mars. The lander was designed and built by Lockheed Martin’s team in Jefferson County and launched by Centennial-based United Launch Alliance from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

NASA wants to see how commercial delivery services go at the moon before committing to commercial deliveries at Mars.

This new partnership is loosely modeled after NASA’s successful commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station, as well as the still-unproven commercial crew effort. SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, formerly Orbital ATK, have been making space station shipments since 2012. SpaceX expects to start transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab next year; so does Boeing.

Altogether, these Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts have a combined value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

NASA wants lots of companies involved to encourage competition and get to the moon fast, so astronauts can benefit once an orbiting outpost is up and running near the moon.

Bridenstine expects to have humans working intermittently on the moon, along with robots and rovers, within a decade.

The other companies, representing six states, are:

Astrobiotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh; Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Firefly Aerospace Inc., Cedar Park, Texas; Intuitive Machines, Houston; Masten Space Systems Inc., Mojave, Calif.; Moon Express, Cape Canaveral; and Orbit Beyond, Edison, New Jersey.

Deep Space Systems is a systems engineering company that supports the design, development, integration, testing and operations of science and exploration spacecraft.

Lockheed Martin already has a moon lander in the works modeled after the Mars InSight lander, which arrived at Mars on Monday.

The McCandless Lunar Lander is named after the late astronaut and former Lockheed Martin employee Bruce McCandless, who in 1984 performed the first free-flying spacewalk without a lifeline to the orbiting shuttle, using a jetpack built by the company. The picture of McCandless floating by himself in the blackness of space, with the blue Earth in the background, is one of NASA’s most iconic.

“Lockheed Martin has built more interplanetary spacecraft than all other U.S. companies combined, including four successful Mars landers,” Lisa Callahan, the company’s vice president and general manager for commercial civil space, said in a statement. “With our expertise on Orion and the NextSTEP lunar habitat, we can maximize the value of CLPS for lunar science operations as well as the path forward to tomorrow’s reusable human lander.”

Bridenstine said while NASA wants the companies to succeed, the space agency is certain some of the efforts will fail. Expectations should not exceed 50 percent, Zurbuchen stressed.

“These are not expensive missions,” Bridenstine told reporters before the announcement in Washington. “This is like a venture capital kind of effort where at the end of the day, the risk is high but the return is also very high for a low investment.”

He added: “Our goal is to learn as much as we can possibly learn and help this fledgling industry develop here in the United States.”

Denver Post staff writer Judith Kohler contributed to this story.