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Welcome back to This Week in Ideas, where we share the best stories shared on Freethink’s internal Slack channels. Let’s get started.

HTC spends big on VR in (where else!) China: Tawainese tech company HTC will spend $1.5 billion on a VR initiative in China. The race for a market-penetrating VR system is officially on.

Google Earth through VR will blow your mind: “Never have I uttered the phrase ‘holy f—k’ so many times in one virtual reality session,” writes Mashable’s Adario Strange. “That's how amazing the new Google Earth VR is when you experience it using the HTC Vive.”

**China goes all-in on gene editing:** The cutting edge (and somewhat controversial) gene-editing technology CRISPR has finally been tested on a human being. And it didn’t happen here in the U.S.: “On 28 October, a team led by oncologist Lu You at Sichuan University in Chengdu delivered the modified cells into a patient with aggressive lung cancer as part of a clinical trial at the West China Hospital, also in Chengdu.” One American researcher anticipates the trial will lead to a 21st century medical technology race between China and the U.S.

The biggest internet issue in the world isn’t net neutrality: It’s actually free speech.

A cancer “vaccine” developed in Cuba is coming to the U.S.: “The country has a whole arsenal of unique drugs locked behind the U.S. embargo,” writes The Atlantic ’s Sarah Zhang.

What science says to do if your loved one has an opioid addiction: Over at 538, Maia Szalavitz has written “an evidence-based guide about what the science of opioid addiction recommends for people trying to help a loved one suffering from addiction.”

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Future of Food
The First GMO Salmon is Coming to a Store Near You
The First GMO Salmon is Coming to a Store Near You
Future of Food
The First GMO Salmon is Coming to a Store Near You
After a 30-year struggle, Atlantic salmon modified with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon has been approved by the FDA. Its producers say it solves problems related to climate change, ocean pollution, and food scarcity. Skeptics call it playing god. Both call it the Frankenfish.
By Amelia Jaycen

After a 30-year struggle, Atlantic salmon modified with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon has been approved by the FDA. Its producers say it solves problems related to climate change, ocean pollution, and food scarcity. Skeptics call it playing god. Both call it the Frankenfish.

Power of the Pack
What Wolves Can Teach Us About Human Connection
What Wolves Can Teach Us About Human Connection
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Power of the Pack
What Wolves Can Teach Us About Human Connection
Wolves are not often thought of as therapy animals, but Wolf Connections is changing that perception while helping young people in the process.
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Wolves are not often thought of as service animals, but Wolf Connections is changing that perception while helping troubled youth in the process.  Wolf Connection is a wolf sanctuary that provides an education and empowerment program geared towards teens who are struggling through a variety of behavioral issues. At-risk youth from all walks of life learn about nature and conservation, they’re able to work through the challenges in their lives,…

Thinking Differently
Angels of Debt
Angels of Debt
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Thinking Differently
Angels of Debt
These ex-bill collectors got John Oliver's attention and started a movement. They're buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of strangers' medical debt and erasing it.
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The average American is one medical accident away from being destroyed financially. These bill collectors woke up to the brutality of their industry - and are using their insider knowledge to save strangers from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Jerry Ashton was a debt collector working on Wall Street when the Occupy Wall Street movement started. He became interested, and eventually partnered with them and his friend Craig…

Catalysts
A Game-Changer for Chronic Homelessness
A Game-Changer for Chronic Homelessness
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Catalysts
A Game-Changer for Chronic Homelessness
He turned a food truck for the homeless into a thriving 51-acre community.
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Mobile Loaves & Fishes is an organization with a new approach to tackling homelessness - putting community first. Their Community First! Village provides affordable, long-term housing for the chronically homeless. They find through housing and a community that emphasizes respect and relationships, chronically homeless individuals are able to finally heal from trauma and begin to thrive, work, and live better lives. Social entrepreneur Alan Graham started Mobile Loaves & Fishes…

The Badass Army Fighting Revenge Porn
The Badass Army Fighting Revenge Porn
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The Badass Army Fighting Revenge Porn
They’re tracking down people who post revenge porn - and getting justice.
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Sharing nude selfies with partners is increasingly common. Too often, though, these images end up posted online without consent. BADASS Army is an army of volunteers getting these images taken down and punishing people who upload them without consent—whether they’re exes posting revenge porn, a hacker releasing them, or someone stealing them through other means. What is Revenge Porn? Revenge porn, also known as nonconsensual image sharing (NCIS), is a…

Sponsored
Meet Civil, The Startup That Wants to Save Journalism with the Blockchain
Meet Civil, The Startup That Wants to Save Journalism with the Blockchain
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Sponsored
Meet Civil, The Startup That Wants to Save Journalism with the Blockchain
Can the blockchain fight fake news, restore trust in the media, and save a dying a industry?
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The news industry is in crisis. Traditional ad models have not transitioned well to the digital world and many newspapers have closed their doors. Clickbait has risen as the pressure to get views at any price rises and quality suffers. People trust the media less and less, which has made it increasingly easy for special interests to manipulate public opinion. But Civil, a new startup, wants to help solve these…

Wrong
Did Rats Start the Drug War?
Did Rats Start the Drug War?
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Wrong
Did Rats Start the Drug War?
Much of our shared understanding about drugs and addiction came from a series of studies done in the 1950s and…
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Much of our shared understanding about drugs and addiction came from a series of studies done in the 1950s and 60s on lab rats. But a skeptical researcher has designed his own study that involves, well... essentially an amusement park for rats, and the surprising results may show that everything we think we know about addiction is all… wrong.

Pop Revolution
How Skate Punks are Ushering in a New Era of Freedom in Myanmar
How Skate Punks are Ushering in a New Era of Freedom in Myanmar
Pop Revolution
How Skate Punks are Ushering in a New Era of Freedom in Myanmar
For decades, Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by a repressive military junta. Then, in 2011, things began to…
By Michael O'Shea

For decades, Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by a repressive military junta. Then, in 2011, things began to change.