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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.”

Up Next

Public Health
US’s First Drive-Thru Coronavirus Clinic Opens in Seattle
drive-thru coronavirus clinic
Public Health
US’s First Drive-Thru Coronavirus Clinic Opens in Seattle
A Seattle hospital system has opened a drive-thru coronavirus clinic, a place where people can be tested for COVID-19 without leaving their cars.

A Seattle hospital system has opened a drive-thru coronavirus clinic, a place where people can be tested for COVID-19 without leaving their cars.

Music
Chance the Rapper is Bringing Music Back to Chicago Schools
Chance the Rapper is Bringing Music Back to Chicago Schools
Music
Chance the Rapper is Bringing Music Back to Chicago Schools
On the far South Side of Chicago, as far south as you can get — a traffic light away from neighboring Riverdale —...

On the far South Side of Chicago, as far south as you can get — a traffic light away from neighboring Riverdale — the Ira F. Aldridge Elementary School is offering its students something rare in the forever-strapped Chicago public school system: opportunity. With a grant from Chance the Rapper's charity SocialWorks, the school can now offer a more robust music program, ensuring an instrument in every student's hands. "I...

Catalysts
Shedding the Stigma of Substance Use
Shedding the Stigma of Substance Use
Catalysts
Shedding the Stigma of Substance Use
By achieving fitness goals together, The Phoenix community is peeling off the shame, regret, and stigma often associated with addiction.
By Esther Landhuis

By achieving fitness goals together, The Phoenix community is peeling off the shame, regret, and stigma often associated with addiction.

Catalysts
Diversity in the Outdoors: Bridging the Adventure Gap
diversity in the outdoors
Catalysts
Diversity in the Outdoors: Bridging the Adventure Gap
This DC nonprofit is defying statistics by promoting diversity in the outdoors and connecting people from all walks of life with the wonders of nature.

This DC nonprofit is defying statistics by promoting diversity in the outdoors and connecting people from all walks of life with the wonders of nature.

Global Health
The Next Pandemic Is Out There. Is the Private Sector Ready?
Event 201 works with private sector for global pandemic preparedness.
Global Health
The Next Pandemic Is Out There. Is the Private Sector Ready?
Johns Hopkins' simulated, international catastrophe is helping business, government, and public health leaders improve global pandemic preparedness.

Johns Hopkins' simulated, international catastrophe is helping business, government, and public health leaders improve global pandemic preparedness.

Independent Watchdogs Invisible Institute Helps Police Accountability
How to Hold Police Accountable
Watch Now
Independent Watchdogs Invisible Institute Helps Police Accountability
The Invisible Institute is making Chicago police complaints easily available to the public—and is helping hold police accountable.
Watch Now

A Freethink update: It's been several months since we first brought you the story of journalist Jamie Kalven and his influential "Sixteen Shots" expose in Slate that depicted a corrupt Chicago police department in the midst of a cover-up following the racist killing of teenager Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. Since then, Kalven has written another critical piece, this...

Grandkids on Demand
Grandkids on Demand
Watch Now
Grandkids on Demand
A new service provides “grandkids on demand.”
Watch Now

Seniors often need help or companionship - but there might not be anyone to call. Papa is a new service that connects them with college students for help with household tasks, transportation, technology--and companionship. This allows seniors to maintain independence and stay in their homes rather than assisted living facilities. It also provides college students with a great way to earn extra cash and develop work...

Coffin-Building Club Helps Seniors Face Death and Enjoy Life
Coffin-Building Club Helps Seniors Face Death and Enjoy Life
Watch Now
Coffin-Building Club Helps Seniors Face Death and Enjoy Life
These seniors are tackling the stigma around death by decorating their own coffins.
Watch Now

Most people are afraid to even talk about death, but New Zealand’s Kiwi Coffin Club is facing it head on. Founded by Katie Williams, a former midwife and hospice nurse, members build and then decorate their own customized coffins as a way of celebrating their lives and highlighting their unique personalities. "Death's pretty natural, you know," says Williams. "It shouldn't be a frightening sort of situation. It's part of...

Rise
The Untold Story of Rio’s Largest Favela
The Untold Story of Rio’s Largest Favela
Rise
The Untold Story of Rio’s Largest Favela
Meet the proud, hopeful, ambitious people determined to build the life they’ve dreamed of.
By Michael O'Shea

Meet the proud, hopeful, ambitious people determined to build the life they’ve dreamed of.