“The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.”
-Bernard M. Baruch
Human Genetic Engineering Report
On Thursday, an international commission released an in-depth report on one of modern science’s most controversial topics: using gene-editing technology in human embryos.
Blast From The Past The commission was convened in the wake of public outcry after Chinese Dr. He Jiankui’s 2018 announcement of the birth of genetically modified human twins.
Dr. He, who used CRISPR gene-editing technology on the human embryos, also said that a second woman was impregnated with a genetically modified embryo. Very little is currently known about the health of the three babies.
A Chinese court last year found Dr. He guilty of conducting illegal medical practices and sentenced him to three years in prison.
What Does The Report Say? The U.S. National Academies of Medicine and Science, along with the UK’s Royal Society, concluded that genetically modified human embryos should not be used to create pregnancies using current gene-editing technology.
The report found that scientists don’t yet understand how to make precise gene edits without introducing unwanted and potentially dangerous changes.
Technological constraints are not the only issue outlined in the report. It calls for societal debate surrounding the ethical questions of making changes to human sperm, eggs, or embryos (called germline editing) since future generations can inherit any modifications.
What’s Next? Last year, a separate group of researchers – including some of the inventors of CRISPR – called for a five-year moratorium on germline editing to establish an international framework of regulations.
If countries decide to move forward with germline editing, the commission recommends limiting the procedure to serious conditions affecting a single gene, such as Tay-Sachs disease or sickle cell anemia.
So… what are people saying?
Should We Alter the Human Genome? Let Democracy Decide
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Facebook Limits Political Ads Before Election
Facebook will ban new political advertisements in the week leading up to the November election, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday. The move is meant to limit the spread of last-minute misinformation and help prevent any potential civil unrest.
More: Facebook & Twitter flagged a series of tweets from Pres. Trump encouraging voters to go to the polls after mailing in their ballots. Separately, Facebook banned a member of India’s ruling party for violating its policies on violence and hate.
Protests began in Rochester, NY, on Wednesday and continued into Thursday after local officials released the video of a March incident between Rochester police and 41-year-old Black man Daniel Prude, which resulted in his death. Warning: Graphic Content – View the video.
More: Seven officers involved in Daniel Prude’s death have been suspended, the mayor of Rochester said Thursday.
On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that the NSA’s program of warrantless mass telephone surveillance of Americans violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may have been unconstitutional. The NSA’s illegal program, which Edward Snowden exposed in 2013, involved secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of Americans.
More: After Snowden revealed the NSA’s program in 2013, the DOJ unsealed charges against him and revoked his passport. Snowden then fled to Russia, where he currently resides.
💻 Hack Attack… a Miami high schooler was arrested on Thursday and charged with orchestrating multiple cyberattacks that decimated the school district’s internet browsers.
🚢 Shipwrecked… forty-two crewmembers and 6,000 cows were reported missing after a boat capsized off the Japanese coast on Wednesday. The search for survivors is still underway.
All three major U.S. stock indexes fell on Thursday (Dow -2.8% | S&P -3.5% | Nasdaq -5%). As a sector, tech experienced its worst day since March, falling 5.8% largely due to decreases from Apple (-8%), Microsoft (-6.2%), Facebook (-3.8%), Amazon (-4.6%), and Netflix (-4.9%). In after-hours trading, stock index futures fell an average of ~1%, while shares of major tech companies also fell across the board.
Start Your Engines
General Motors and Honda signed a nonbinding agreement on Thursday to establish a North American automotive alliance. The deal includes a range of vehicles to be sold under each company’s distinct brand, along with cooperation in purchasing, R&D, and connected services. The companies said co-development planning will start immediately, with engineering work scheduled to begin in 2021.
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Taco Bell announced a second round of menu cuts on Thursday, eliminating the Mexican Pizza, pico de gallo, and shredded chicken effective Nov. 5. Earlier this month, the fast-food chain stopped serving items like the Nachos Supreme, Spicy Potato Soft Taco, Spicy Tostada, and the 7-Layer Burrito.
Worth Noting:Another 881k Americans filed for unemployment last week (according to updated Labor Department methodology).
💰 Rich Switch… author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott (ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) is now the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of $68B.
🦠 Trouble In Gotham… per Vanity Fair, production of The Batman has shut down after star Robert Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19.
Around The World In 180 Days
The Eilbeck family of Sydney, Australia, was halfway through their four-year sailing trip around the globe when they adopted a dachshund named Pipsqueak in Messina, Sicily, in 2018. For the next two years, Pipsqueak enjoyed exploring the open sea with the adventurous Aussies. That was until this March, when the pandemic forced the Eilbecks to dock their 40-foot yacht in Hilton Head Island, SC, and leave Pipsqueak in America as they flew back home for quarantine.
Due to a series of canceled flights and Australia’s strict quarantine restrictions for incoming animals, Pipsqueak was separated from her family for more than five months. Finally, last month, Pipsqueak embarked on an epic 10,000-mile journey home, flying from North Carolina to California to New Zealand before safely returning to Sydney and the Eilbecks.
Back Into The Fold
As a physicist at NASA, Robert Lang masterfully combined science and art through his research, developing 46 patents for mathematically precise and aesthetically astounding technologies. In 2001, after years of diligently studying lasers and their application to scientific inquiry, Robert quit his job at NASA to pursue another passion that blends scientific precision and disciplined artistry – origami.
Robert spends his days crafting intricate origami pieces, fervently folding simple pieces of paper into startlingly precise renderings of wild animals. The former physicist’s creations – including paper birds, moose, and even rhinos – are designed according to mathematical principles and feature thousands of individual folds. (Video)
A Sign Of The Times
Gordon Blakeslee of Harpursville, NY, loved riding around the yard on his cherry red Craftsman lawn mower. Gordon, 85, bought the mower in 2009 and rode it up until this spring, when he temporarily moved in with his son to weather the pandemic. When he returned home last month, Gordon discovered that his beloved grasscutter had been stolen from his front yard.
Determined to get his cherished mower back, Gordon posted a handwritten sign in his front yard that read “Bring back my mower, I’m 85-years-old! I can’t push.” Gordon allowed his son to post his plea on social media, and an anonymous donor bought the octogenarian a new Craftsman riding mower. Gordon couldn’t be happier to be back in the saddle again.
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