February 16, 2018 in 5,06 words

Who wants a big, cool rocket?

A couple of days after Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully flew its Falcon Heavy rocket last week, a USA Today headline asked: “SpaceX Falcon Heavy — Way big and cool, but who wants it?”

Who, indeed.

The rocket, consisting of three side-by-side Falcon 9 reusable first-stage boosters, launched one of Musk’s Tesla Roadsters, with a space-suited mannequin behind the wheel, in the general direction of the asteroid belt — to the delight of the world and the consternation of its scolds.

The car got a lot of press — as it should; who wouldn’t want to cruise around the solar system in a convertible, if only in their dreams? But the real story is that Falcon Heavy can put more than 140,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit.

When it comes to turning science fiction into reality, Falcon Heavy is a game changer of epic proportions.

The combination of the 70-ton payload capacity (more than twice as much as the next biggest rocket currently in production, the United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy) and the reusable first stages means that the cost of putting stuff into space — “stuff” being everything from satellites to sapiens — is about to fall like a meteor.

Stoneman Douglas survivors are emerging as the sanest voices on gun control


“We are too young to be losing friends like this.”

It happens like clockwork now in America.

Yesterday (Feb. 15), 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz stormed into his former high school in Parkland, Florida with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle and killed 17 students and adults, police say. Since then, Republican politicians and pundits, many with deep financial ties to the National Rifle Association, have tried to blame mental illness rather than lax US gun control for the carnage.

This includes Donald Trump, who didn’t mention gun control once in his national address today.

Of all the people outraged by the tone-deaf responses, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have had the sharpest commentary. “We’re children. You guys are the adults…” student David Hogg pleaded on CNN. “Get something done.”

Here are just a handful of the heartbreaking—and insightful—tweets from students:

All the things Fox News blamed the Parkland shooting on other than the gun


he cable news outlet blamed everything—and everyone—except the weapon.

Seventeen people were gunned down at a high school in Parkland, Florida yesterday (Feb. 14) in the 18th school shooting in the United States this year. The alleged shooter, a 19-year-old former student of the school who was expelled for violent behavior, posted disturbing images of guns and knives on social media, and reportedly had expressed white supremacist sentiments to classmates.

He was still able to legally purchase the AR-15 military-style rifle used in the massacre. But you won’t hear much about that if you watch Fox News.

Instead, the Fox News response to the horrific shooting was an exercise in avoiding that one fact—a coordinated effort to intentionally and specifically frame the tragedy as a security issue and not a gun issue. While railing against advocates for gun control for “politicizing” the tragedy, the network’s stable of talking heads were far quicker to blame the school’s administration, its security guard, the shooter’s parents, drugs, and the students themselves than they were the machine the shooter used to kill 17 people.

“You could stop a person with an AR-15 with a slingshot if you know how to use it.”

This morning on Fox & Friends, Andrew Napolitano, a former judge with no military or law enforcement experience, suggested that all it takes to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a… slingshot?

Napolitano recommended training and arming teachers in the US like they do in Israel as part of the country’s compulsory military service. “All the teachers have been in the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, every adult, except for certain religious groups, spends time there,” he said. “In that time period they are trained and select teachers, quietly, not ostentatiously, are armed and quietly trained.”

The Sackler family’s blood money disgraces museums around the world

The Sacklers have made a fortune from OxyContin, the painkiller blamed for sparking the deadly opioid crisis. They cloak their shame with philanthropy.

‘The Sackler name is emblazoned on, and disgraces, dozens of the world’s greatest museums, universities, and performing arts centers.’

There is no Pablo Escobar Wing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and no El Chapo Guzman Museum at the Smithsonian. Columbia University doesn’t host a Sinaloa Drug Cartel Center of Developmental Psychobiology. Oxford would no longer be Oxford if its library were named in honor of the Cali drug cartel.

Our most revered institutions hold themselves to an ethical standard that does not allow accepting money from wealthy drug dealers – however tempting the prospect or worthwhile the project. They refuse to become philanthropic money launderers, cleansing dirty reputations by selling prestigious naming rights.

There is one notable exception to this institutional honor code: the Sackler family. The Sacklers have made a fortune from OxyContin, the painkiller blamed for sparking the deadly opioid crisis. They are world renowned donors – despite also being world class drug pushers, responsible for almost as many deaths last year as the drug cartels in Mexico.

The Sackler name is emblazoned on, and disgraces, dozens of the world’s greatest museums, universities, and performing arts centers. So far, none has turned down their donations, none has returned their money already given. We agree to aggressively prohibit the sale of blood diamonds, but we allow the Sacklers’ clever use of blood money to cloak their drug shame under philanthropic fame.

This despite the fact that the Sacklers and the cartels both make money off highly addictive drugs that destroy countless lives.

The unique traits Americans developed from decades of immigration

American, Smile

This should be fun.

The US Congress is again debating how to permanently welcome Dreamers, the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.

A core question for lawmakers will be whether that means significantly downsizing the ideal of America as a country of immigrants: In exchange for letting Dreamers stay, Donald Trump is demanding an end to “chain migration,” the family reunification policy that, by the president’s own definition, describes how millions of immigrants became Americans.

But that kind of anti-immigrant push is nothing new. In the early 1900s, a backlash against immigrants led to stiff restrictions in 1924. By 1965, Americans were up on immigration again, and the restrictions were replaced with a more open immigration system. US politicians have gone back-and-forth on immigration many times since—even as immigrants have kept coming.

If Donald Trump succeeds in passing his nativist agenda, history suggests Americans will eventually reverse it. As studies in psychology, sociology and political science show, immigration is deeply imprinted on US culture, from the way Americans smile to the environments that make them feel most at home.

US wasting billions on nuclear bombs that serve no purpose and are security liability – experts

• Washington to spend billions upgrading cold-war-era B61 bombs
• NTI report says weapons are potentially catastrophic liability

A B61-12 model at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee.

The US is to spend billions of dollars upgrading 150 nuclear bombs positioned in Europe, although the weapons may be useless as a deterrent and a potentially catastrophic security liability, according to a new report by arms experts.

A third of the B61 bombs in Europe under joint US and Nato control are thought to be kept at Incirlik base in Turkey, 70 miles from the Syrian border, which has been the subject of serious concerns.

The threat to the base posed by Islamic State militants was considered serious enough in March 2016 to evacuate the families of military officers.

During a coup attempt four months later, Turkish authorities locked down the base and cut its electricity. The Turkish commanding officer at Incirlik was arrested for his alleged role in the plot.

A report on the future of the B61 bombs by arms control advocacy group the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) , made available to the Guardian, said the 2016 events show “just how quickly assumptions about the safety and security of US nuclear weapons stored abroad can change”.

Since then, US-Turkish relations have soured further, largely over Washington’s support for Kurd forces in Syria. The national security adviser, HR McMaster, and secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, have made trips to Turkey this week to try to heal the rift.



If you have even a moderate amount of anxiety about flying, the thought of being on United Airlines flight 1175 from San Francisco to Honolulu yesterday is, in a word, paralyzing.

The Boeing 777-222 had to make an emergency landing after the engine cowling ripped off less than an hour before its scheduled landing. Thankfully, the twin-engine aircraft is able to fly on a single engine (although it’s unlikely many people would know that), and thus the plane was able to make an emergency landing. All passengers de-planed safely.

Can’t imagine what it must’ve been like on board? Well, you don’t have to. Several passengers documented the incident on social media with a mixture of humor and terror and accidentally profound brevity. Naturally, documentation of the heavily shaking and damaged plane—as well as those tracking the situation on the ground—had the makings of a Twitter Moment.

One passenger, Google engineer Erik Haddad, had a particularly harrowing view of the problem and proceeded to post a video (which was widely used by news outlets) and to make jokes and puns on Twitter amidst the terror.

Tweeting or Snapping in a life or death moment is of course not unique to yesterday’s United flight. After the false missile alarm was issued in Hawaii, many people, reasonably thinking the end was nigh, shared sentiments on social media ranging from fear and love for family members to jokes about golf. It’s fair that some might feel that the last thing they’d be doing in their final moments would be typing 280 character messages into their phone, but something about the impulse is heartening—and telling about who we are as human beings.

SEC Kills Chinese-Linked Takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange

• Donald Trump blasted deal during the presidential campaign
• Chicago exchange wanted to become a hub for Chinese stocks

The offices of the Chicago Stock Exchange in Chicago, Illinois.

U.S. regulators rejected a bid by a Chinese-linked consortium to take over the Chicago Stock Exchange, extinguishing an ambitious dream of starting an international listing venue from a minuscule market.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision ends a process that lasted two years and took place in the crucible of a presidential campaign and a new administration that’s expressed skepticism over China’s policy motives. Now that it’s over, the exchange founded in 1882 is left handling less than 1 percent of daily U.S. stock trading, missing out on an audacious project to court smaller companies, particularly those based in China.

In a document posted on the SEC’s website Thursday, the regulator said the deal didn’t comply with U.S. rules governing stock exchanges. The SEC said it couldn’t resolve concerns about the proposed ownership structure, which would’ve given 29 percent of the company to a China-based shareholder. The Chicago Stock Exchange couldn’t supply documents the regulator requested about relationships among the proposed buyers, according to the SEC.

What We’re Still Not Teaching Kids About Consent

If I’m remembering correctly, sex ed in the ’80s consisted of the following lessons:

— First grade: Tell someone if a grownup (who isn’t a doctor) touches your private parts

— Fifth grade: You’re going to bleed from your private parts one day, catch these free diaper-sized maxi pads as we lob them at your head

— Tenth grade: You know what sex is, right? Don’t do that unless you like making babies. And if you’re going to have sex, wear a condom because of AIDS. Good luck!

If you’re wondering where the big lessons on consent were, so am I. If I’m being generous, I can conjure up a fuzzy memory of a tenth-grade coach/teacher in belted short shorts telling the boys in the room, “Guys, no means no. I mean it.” And that would have been the final word on the subject, because we all thought we were using the same language when it came to consent. Yes was yes, no was no, where’s the confusion?

The confusion, as we’ve mentioned before, is in how pop culture tells men that no really means “maybe, try again,” and tells women that if you didn’t say no hard enough, you probably didn’t mean it in the first place. Maybe work on your communication skills, body language, and drinking schedule for next time, girly. The confusion comes in real-world situations in which body parts are already slippery and engorged and you want this but not that, and you aren’t sure how to say you want this but not that. The confusion comes when no one teaches that “maybe,” “not yet,” “let’s just kiss” and *gentle push to create distance* should be treated as “no,” full stop.

Consent is sticky and confusing not just because sex itself can be sticky and confusing, but also because we haven’t given future sexual beings the language, tools, or authority to communicate what they want out of sex. And yes, when I say “future sexual beings,” I mean kids. This is a column about kids and sex.

I’m sorry.

No, I’m not.

Parents, it’s on us to do better by our kids. Because lessons about consent start on Day One.

#4. Teach Your Kids That They Don’t Owe Anyone Hugs And Kisses

Day One of Parenthood: So you’ve got a floppy-headed baby who can’t see straight, can’t do anything but sleep, cry, poop, and latch (if you’re lucky), and is basically a hair scrunchie in human form. Day One isn’t the best day to start teaching consent, I guess. Whatever, let’s fast-forward.

Skip ahead to Day 730ish. Now you’ve got a toddler, and this toddler is so effing cute that you’re considering renaming them “Pixar.” We’re talking about chipmunk cheeks, 20 perfect square teeth that aren’t crowded or decayed in any way, a big fat Buddha belly accentuated by a onesie that this child has no shame in wearing, turkey drum limbs, and a Frankenstein gait that only makes them more squeezable. I just LOVE TODDLERS SO MUCH. Parents, I want to hug your squishy toddlers.

Also, I’m your problem.

Your job as a parent is to teach your child that that they own their adorable squishy bodies, and that grandmas, aunts, uncles, fun cute adult friends who seem to pose zero harm (like me!) aren’t deserving of their hugs just because they’re big and nice and want the hugs.

Let’s put it this way: When you’re a toddler, every other human is a Mountain.

Why the world’s “top online brothel,” a notorious child trafficker, is registered in Delaware

Safe Haven

The $2.5 billion industry of human trafficking through massage parlors makes widespread use of shell companies.

Backpage.com is the world’s second-biggest classified advertising website. It is also the world’s “top online brothel” and a hotbed of human trafficking, according to US law enforcement.

In the US, the website is involved in seven out of ten reported child trafficking cases. In California alone, 2,900 suspected cases of child-trafficking were linked to the site between 2012 and 2016. There are several open lawsuits against Backpage.com, including one by the California attorney general’s office for 26 counts including money laundering, but US law law enforcement officials have so far failed to shut it down.

Backpage doesn’t deny (pdf, p.4) that people use its site to traffic children for sex, but it is protected by court rulings that say a site isn’t responsible for what users post on it. It also cites first amendment defenses of free speech. The firm operates in 97 countries and 943 locations, but in the US it is formally registered in the tiny state of Delaware, where authorities said last week that it is a company “in good standing,” and that they don’t have the power to shut down because it doesn’t have a physical presence in the state.

Delaware, which has 1.3 million businesses and less than one million people, is beloved of nefarious businesses. While a lot of firms flock to the state for its low corporate tax rates, a Senate investigation found that Backpage picked Delaware for another reason: secrecy. Delaware law allows companies’ owners to hide their true identity. This makes it very difficult to crack down on criminals who launder money through them.

In Backpage’s case, company founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin apparently tried to make it seem like they’d sold the firm by setting up a complex web of international and American shell companies, starting in Delaware. In reality, they loaned $600 million to the company’s CEO Carl Ferrer to make it seem as if he had bought it from them, while they continued to control the company and receive large bonuses from it.

Dutch cow poo overload causes an environmental stink

Dairy farms in the Netherlands are producing so much dung they can’t get rid of it safely. Now the WWF is calling for a 40% cut in herd numbers to protect the environment.

Ammonia emissions from the Netherlands’ 1.8 million cows are affecting air quality.

There is a dirty stench emanating from the Dutch dairy sector. The industry is, by most measures, hugely successful: despite the small size of the country, it is the fifth largest exporter of dairy and has a much-touted reputation as the tiny country that feeds the world.

But there’s a catch: the nation’s 1.8 million cows are producing so much manure that there isn’t enough space to get rid of it safely.

As a result, farmers are dumping cow poo illegally, the country is breaking EU regulations on phosphates designed to prevent groundwater contamination, and the high levels of ammonia emissions are affecting air quality.

As a result, WWF is calling for a 40% cut in cow numbers over the next decade, and a return to a dairy sector that can deal with its own dung.

“We have improved productivity and efficiency substantially over the past decades but against what environmental costs? We have the lowest biodiversity in Europe after Malta, with only 15% of our original biodiversity left,” says Natasja Oerlemans, head of agriculture at WWF Netherlands.

About 80% of farms in the Netherlands produce more dung than they can legally use on their farm. To get around the limits, farmers pay an estimated €550m a year to get the manure removed. A recently uncovered fraud found a number of them had been avoiding the cost altogether by transporting the manure off-farm on paper, but in reality dumping it on farm fields.

China’s state TV ran a racist skit with blackface as Africans for its Lunar New Year show

Sino-Blackface Relations

How is this still happening?

In what is probably one of the world’s most watched non-sports live broadcasts, Chinese state television thought blackface was a fitting tribute to Sino-African relations.

As part of CCTV’s New Year’s Gala on Thursday (Feb. 15), producers included a skit about Africa that had a Chinese actress in blackface and prosthetics meant to be protruding buttocks and large breasts. The annual variety show forms part of Lunar New Year celebrations, and has an estimated 800 million viewers.

The skit opens with Shakira’s “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ntn1-SocNiY” target=”_blank”>Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”-produced for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa—and a group of African dancers in generic costumes that were meant to be traditional gear on a stage with a jungle backdrop and animal puppets.

The plot of the 13-minute skit sees the presenter’s African friend ask him to pose as her date to avoid a blind date her mother has set up for her. Enter actress, playwright and producer Lou Naiming in blackface with a basket of fruit on her head. She’s accompanied by a monkey, played by a black actor.

At the end of the skit, when the presenter’s Chinese bride exposes the lie, the mother character apparently says she can’t be angry “because China has done so much for Africa…I love Chinese people! I love China!,” according to What’s on Weibo, a site that monitors China’s social media network.

Mullet Fest: Australian town to crown ‘best mullet of them all’

Kurri Kurri festival to judge entrants on hairstyle, overall presentation and stage presence.

Australian rules footballer Warwick Capper models his legendary mullet in 2001. The town of Kurri Kurri’s Mullet Fest will celebrate the hairstyle.

A small Australian town is laying claim to the title of being the country’s home of the mullet by hosting a festival to celebrate the hairstyle that’s all about business at the front, party at the back.

The inaugural Mullet Fest in Kurri Kurri, 150km north of Sydney, will honour the best cuts in five categories – everyday, grubby, “ranga” (red hair), women’s and junior. Entrants will be judged on haircut, overall presentation and stage presence.

The person with the “best mullet of them all” will then be crowned, according to the festival host, hairdresser Laura Hawkins.

Hawkins – whose husband sports a razor-shaved “skullet” – said the mullet scene was strong in Kurri Kurri, a Hunter Valley mining town that is home to 6,000 people.

“We’ve already had 50 entries,” she said. “There’s such a variety: there are the hardcore, tough mullets, but also the coiffed, well cared for kind.”

Using an air dryer after you wash your hands may just make them dirtier

The Microbes All Around Us

Think about your next step after washing.

Bacteria are like biology’s glitter; they get absolutely everywhere.

Scientists still don’t understand how bacteria can make their way into seemingly every nook and cranny on Earth. Most recently, researchers at the University of Connecticut discovered (pdf) that bacterial spores they had been growing in labs somehow wound up in the air of 36 bathrooms, some in the same building wing as the lab and some in two other wings connected to it. Subsequently they found that air dryers in these bathrooms played a large part in circulating these bacteria—meaning the machines are probably coating the newly-washed hands of anyone using them with bacteria.

To be clear, this work doesn’t necessarily mean air dryers pose a health risk for hand-washers. It does, however, suggest in some cases paper towels may be superior to air dryers. In areas where there are pathogens known to cause people harm (like certain labs), or where a large portion of potential air-dryer users have compromised immune systems (like a retirement home or perhaps certain wings of a hospital), it’s best not to spread around microbes any more than necessary.

Peter Setlow, a microbiologist and one of the lead authors of the paper, frequently studies spores of the benign bacterial species Bacillus subtilis, and so needs to produce huge quantities of them for his work. He and his team were curious to see if these spores, which should be unique to his lab, were capable of making their way into other parts of the building he worked in—namely the bathrooms, which are communal space accessed at some point by everyone in the facility.

The brutal world of sheep fighting: the illegal sport beloved by Algeria’s ‘lost generation’

Algeria’s ‘lost generation’ has been shaped by years of conflict, unemployment and state repression. Sheep fighting offers an arena where young men can escape the constant supervision of the state.

Last August in Algiers, one week before the holiday of Eid al-Adha, men in tracksuits and trainers were guarding their sheep in anticipation of the fights to come. Kbabshis, as these men are known, scour villages looking for lambs that are fast, belligerent and shock-resistant. They then spend years raising them to be champion fighters. Coaches are tough but also surprisingly tender. They treat their sheep like mistresses, stopping by the garages where they install them, bringing food, caressing and massaging them before they head out together for long walks on the beach.

Professional trainers toughen their sheep by chaining their horns to a wall: as they pull and twist to break away, the resistance thickens their sinewy necks. Unlike with cockfighting, there is no gambling on sheep fights, but speculation on the sheep market can make it a lucrative trade. Each fight lifts the value of its victor and sentences the loser to slaughter. A champion ram might fetch as much as $10,000 – although most sheep trainers on a winning streak prefer to chase glory than cash. The sheep are given names that inspire fear, like Rambo, Jaws or Lawyer. In the third round of one recent match, Hitler delivered a brutal defeat to Saddam.

Combat taa lkbech, which means sheep combat in the Algerian Arabic dialect, is a bit like football. It releases the pent-up energies of otherwise unoccupied men and allows them to safely act out potentially divisive strains of nationalism, regionalism and neighbourhood pride. But sheep fighting lacks the artistry, skill and precision that make football so enthralling: a sheep confronts an identical opponent and bludgeons him into submission using only his face. Matches are a festival of brute force and domination. When the sheep lose interest in a match, or prefer palling around with each other to smashing heads, the trainers take over, whispering and urging their beasts back into combat until they lock eyes once more and attack.

The men who train sheep for combat belong to a lost generation of Algerians, now in their 20s and 30s, moulded by an era of fear, fighting, corruption and curfews. There are few jobs and no productive roles for them to play in society. They lack relevant skills and education. Most are unmarried. They are not poor by most standards, but they depend on state subsidies that allow them to buy fuel, food and housing for next to nothing. They feel disposable, purposeless, humiliated. Most feel the future lies elsewhere. For many, that means Europe.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Prepare to spend a while; it’s The Long Read.

Russian opposition leader Navalny’s name shifts snow in Moscow

ctivists spray-painted “Navalny” on several large snow drifts.

Moscow residents say they have found that the only way to get the council to clear snow is to write the name of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on it.

Posts on Facebook and Twitter have received thousands of likes, after disgruntled residents took to social media, saying that they tried spray-painting “Navalny” on the city’s deep snow out of frustration at the authorities’ slowness in removing them.

One user said the move prompted immediate reaction and that council workers removed the graffiti “within hours”.

Mr Navalny is Russia’s best-known critic of President Vladimir Putin, and state media never mention him by name. President Putin famously refuses to call Mr Navalny by his name, usually referring to him as “that person” when asked about him.

Moscow has seen huge snowdrifts pile this year, and has experienced some of the heaviest snowfall in decades.


Image from the cover of Exploring Calvin and Hobbes – An Exhibition Catalogue

It was on November 18, 1985, when Calvin met Hobbes. As the first appearance of this legendary comic strip shows, Calvin sets a trap for a tiger using a tuna sandwich because “tigers will do ANYTHING for a tuna fish sandwich.” Sure enough, hanging by one foot and munching on the sandwich, Calvin’s freshly caught tiger confirms this, “We’re kind of stupid that way.”

Almost exactly ten years later, the comic’s elusive creator, Bill Watterson, abruptly called it quits, despite the comic’s extreme popularity. So how did it come together? Why did it last only a decade? And what has Watterson been up to in the over two decades since he retired at the young age of just 38?

Watterson was born in Washington D.C. in 1958 and lived in Alexandria, Virginia with his mother and father, who was a patent attorney. But when Watterson was six, they moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio (about 24 miles east of Cleveland). In later interviews, Watterson talked a lot about how growing up in a small town encouraged him to use his imagination more, just like his creation, Calvin. As a child, he was a big Peanuts fan, despite saying that “at the time, most of (Peanuts) went over my head.”

In fact, in the fourth grade he wrote Charles Schultz (the comic strip’s creator) a letter. To his amazement, he got a response encouraging him to keep drawing (a letter that he claims he still has). By the time he was in the seventh grade, Watterson knew he wanted to be a cartoonist… or an astronaut. “The latter was never much of a possibility,” Watterson once said, “I don’t even like to ride in elevators.”

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

This segment originally aired February 8, 2018 FULL EPISODE of VICE News Tonight on HBO.

3:35 VICE News speaks with pastor Steve Berger about the National Prayer Breakfast and leading a congregation in the age of President Trump.

7:41 US coal markets experienced a small but unexpected revival in 2017. But, with domestic coal use still on the decline, it’s clear that Trump’s regulatory rollbacks weren’t behind it

9:47 As the #MeToo movement continues to build in the United States, women in other countries are pushing for change in their cultures too. But in France, the movement’s critics have been almost as vocal as its supporters.

16:30 According to local reports, police in Israel will recommend that PM Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges. VICE News looks at what happens next and what this could mean for the country.

19:45 How does art generated by algorithms stack up against human creativity? VICE News talks to famed art critic Jerry Saltz as he critiques AI-generated art.

THANKS to HBO and VICE News for making this program available on YouTube.

Beatrice Vio cultivated a passion for fencing when she was five years old. At 11, she contracted severe meningitis. In the hospital, the doctors gave her an unimaginable choice: Keep her limbs and risk death, or amputate all four to ensure survival. She chose life. Now, Vio is a Paralympic champion and the only fencer in the world who competes without arms or legs.

“Beatrice” was directed by Lorena Alvarado. It is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators, curated by The Atlantic.

Desi Lydic talks to a Texas business owner who voted for Donald Trump, despite having a golf course that would be impacted by the now-president’s proposed border wall.

A helpful guide to who is in (and recently out) of the Trump White House.

The people of Pittsburgh have the “ugliest accent in America” – or at least that’s what one online survey found. BBC Pop Up’s Matt Danzico asks why people enjoy bashing Pennsylvania.

Max twirling the lock from his cage door.

Ed. This track put my head in my happy place yesterday, so I wanted to play it again.


New bill would prohibit employers from firing workers based solely on positive marijuana tests

It will be illegal in Colorado for employers to fire workers solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana if a newly proposed bill is passed at the state house.

The Marijuana Consumer Employment Discrimination Protection Bill would clarify that a positive drug test for traces of marijuana can’t be grounds to fire an employee unless the person “used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana during the hours of employment.”

The bill, which is being proposed by the marijuana advocacy group NORML, would also require employers to provide objective evidence that an employee was unable to perform their job because of marijuana use.

Judd Golden, legal counsel for NORML, says the bill would “protect people against suspicion-less random drug testing.”

Colorado law protects employees from being fired for participating in lawful activities outside of work, but Golden says the state law is beholden essentially to “a drafting error,” in that because marijuana is still prohibited at the federal level, consuming it can be deemed an “unlawful activity.” This bill would clarify that when it comes to marijuana, laws should reflect the state’s legality of marijuana, not the federal government’s view of it.

“In Colorado, you’re letting the federal illegality define what can happen between you and your boss,” Golden says. “But if you think it’s right — the voter-supported legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes — how could you allow employers to treat it like it’s illegal? It’s not fair.”

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?