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Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

Former Tesla and clinic employees share how doctors blocked workers' compensation claims and put injured people back to work to avoid payouts.

Here’s A Band-Aid

Tesla’s on-site clinic, Access Omnicare, has allegedly been downplaying workers’ injuries to keep the electric automaker off the hook for workers’ compensation.

Several former Tesla employees, all of whom got hurt on the job, and former employees of Access Omnicare, told Reveal News that the clinic was minimizing worker injuries so that the automaker wouldn’t have to pay workers’ comp — suggesting that the barely-profitable car company is willing to do whatever it takes to stay out of the red and avoid negative press.

Back To Work

Reveal, which is a project by the Center for Investigative Reporting, described cases in which employees suffered electrocution, broken bones, and mold-related rashes while working in a Tesla factory — only for Omnicare to deny that the injuries warranted time off work.

The clinic’s top doctor “wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,” former Omnicare operations manager Yvette Bonnet told Reveal. “He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.”

Missing Paperwork

Meanwhile, employees who requested the paperwork to file for workers’ comp were repeatedly ignored, according to Reveal.

“I just knew after the third or fourth time that they weren’t going to do anything about it,” a former employee whose back was crushed under a falling Model X hatchback told Reveal. “I was very frustrated. I was upset.”

The automaker is on the hook for up to $750,000 in medical payments per workers’ comp claim, according to Reveal‘s reporting.

Meanwhile, both Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Laurie Shelby, the company’s VP of safety, have publicly praised Access Omnicare, Reveal found. Musk even recently announced plans to extend it to other plants, “so that we have really immediate first-class health care available right on the spot when people need it.”

READ MORE: How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ comp [Reveal News]

More on Tesla: Video Shows Tesla Autopilot Steering Toward Highway Barriers

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Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

Infertile Couple Gives Birth to “Three-Parent Baby”

A Greek couple just gave birth to a three-parent baby, the first conceived as part of a clinical trial to treat infertility.

Happy Birthday

On Tuesday, a couple gave birth to what researchers are calling a “three-parent baby” — giving new hope to infertile couples across the globe.

After four cycles of in vitro fertilization failed to result in a pregnancy, the Greek couple enrolled in a clinical trial for mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) — meaning doctors placed the nucleus from the mother’s egg into a donor egg that had its nucleus removed. Then they fertilized the egg with sperm from the father and implanted it into the mother.

Due to this procedure, the six-pound baby boy has DNA from both his mother and father, as well as a tiny bit from the woman who donated the egg.

Greek Life

The Greek baby wasn’t the first “three-parent baby” born after his parents underwent MRT — that honor goes to the offspring of a Jordanian woman who gave birth in 2016.

However, in her case and others that followed it, doctors used the technique to prevent a baby from inheriting a parent’s genetic defect. This marked the first time a couple used MRT as part of a clinical trial to treat infertility.

“Our excellent collaboration and this exceptional result will help countless women to realise their dream of becoming mothers with their own genetic material,” Nuno Costa-Borges, co-founder of Embryotools, one of the companies behind the trial, said in a statement.

READ MORE: Baby with DNA from three people born in Greece [The Guardian]

More on three-parent babies: An Infertile Couple Is Now Pregnant With a “Three-Parent Baby”

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Infertile Couple Gives Birth to “Three-Parent Baby”

NASA Is Funding the Development of 18 Bizarre New Projects

Through the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, NASA funds projects that go

Nurturing the Bizarre

NASA isn’t afraid to take a chance on the weird. In fact, it has a program designed for that specific purpose, called NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) — and on Wednesday, the agency announced 18 bizarre new projects receiving funding through the program.

“Our NIAC program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions by investing in revolutionary technologies,” NASA exec Jim Reuter said in a press release. “We look to America’s innovators to help us push the boundaries of space exploration with new technology.”

Sci-Fi to Sci-Fact

The 18 newly funded projects are divided into two groups: Phase I and Phase II.

The 12 recipients of the Phase I awards will each receive approximately $125,000 to fund nine month’s worth of feasibility studies for their concepts. These include a project to beam power through Venus’ atmosphere to support long-term missions, a spacesuit with self-healing skin, and floating microprobes inspired by spiders.

The six Phase II recipients, meanwhile, will each receive up to $500,000 to support two-year studies dedicated to fine-tuning their concepts and investigating potential ways to implement the technologies, which include a flexible telescope, a neutrino detector, and materials for solar surfing.

“NIAC is about going to the edge of science fiction, but not over,” Jason Derleth, NIAC program executive, said in the press release. “We are supporting high impact technology concepts that could change how we explore within the solar system and beyond.”

READ MORE: NASA Invests in Potentially Revolutionary Tech Concepts [Jet Propulsion Laboratory]

More on bizarre NASA plans: New NASA Plan for Mars Is Moderately-Terrifying-Sounding, Also, Completely-Awesome: Robotic. Bees.

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NASA Is Funding the Development of 18 Bizarre New Projects

NASA: Genetic Changes Caused by Space Travel Are Temporary

NASA just published the full results of its extensive study into how space travel altered astronaut Scott Kelly's health and gene expression.

Twin Study

For years, NASA has been analyzing the health effects of space travel by comparing astronaut twins Mark and Scott Kelly. In 2015 into 2016, Scott spent 340 days in orbit while Mark stayed on Earth, giving scientists rare data about how leaving the planet affects the human body.

The study, finally published Thursday in the journal Science, reveals that Scott experienced a number of genetic changes while he was in space. Surprisingly, most of them reversed once he landed back on Earth, the MIT Technology Review reports, giving researchers valuable insight as space agencies prepare for longer and deeper missions into space.

Back And Forth

Over the past few years, NASA scientists have gradually released some info about the twin study’s findings. Most surprising was how Scott’s time in space extended his telomeres, the protective caps that protect chromosome and — at least on Earth — slowly degrade over time.

While this finding will likely lead to speculation — and future research — into how spaceflight could affect human longevity, the changes were shortlived. Within half a year of his return to Earth, Scott’s lengthened telomeres returned to normal, while some new, shorter-than-usual telomeres that formed upon his return persisted.

Ready To Launch

Past research on astronauts suggested that extended space travel could compromise their immune systems. The new findings reveal that these changes are largely temporary and that astronauts quickly recover, which is a promising development for the prospect of sending people out to Mars and maybe even farther.

But because the twin study only involved one person in space, it’s hard to tell just how much each data point matters because the context is missing.

“It’s analogous to the very first time that we measured someone’s blood pressure,” lead researcher Chris Mason told MIT Tech. “We didn’t know what the actual reference numbers were until we started to measure more people.”

READ MORE: The first study of a twin in space looks like good news for a trip to Mars [MIT Technology Review]

More on the twin study: After a Year Away from Earth, Scott Kelly’s “Space Genes” Set Him Apart From His Twin

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NASA: Genetic Changes Caused by Space Travel Are Temporary

Israel’s Lunar Lander Just Crashed Into the Moon

The Beresheet lunar lander crashed into the surface of the moon after experiencing engine failure during its final descent.

Landing Attempt

Beresheet, the lunar lander built by Israeli space nonprofit SpaceIL, crashed into the surface of the Moon on Thursday.

It would have been the first privately-owned lander on the surface of the Moon, and would have made Israel the fourth country to reach the surface of the Moon — but the craft experienced engine failure during its final approach.

“We have a failure of the spacecraft,” said Israel Aerospace Industries general manager Opher Doron on livestream, according to CNBC. “We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully,”

Final Approach

As Beresheet was approaching the surface of the Moon, the main engine failed and Beresheet was forced to reset the engine.

With about 10 kilometers left to go (6.2 miles), the main engine cut out and the lander crashed into the Moon traveling at about 134 meters per second, according to the livestream.

“We failed the first try, we’ll make it in the second… within two years we’ll try it again,” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to CNBC.

Definitely Tried

SpaceIL tweeted a photo of the lander’s final approach minutes before it lost contact with the craft. In it, the Moon looms ominously in the background.

“We didn’t make it. But we definitely tried,” said SpaceIL.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional details.

READ MORE: Israeli spacecraft Beresheet falls short of history as moon landing fails in final moments [CNBC]

More on Beresheet: The Israeli Moon Lander Is About to Touch Down

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Israel’s Lunar Lander Just Crashed Into the Moon

We Wouldn’t Have the First Black Hole Image Without Katie Bouman

Katie Bouman, a 29-year-old computer scientist, led the development of the algorithm that made the first black hole image possible.

Algorithmic Assist

It took a team of more than 200 scientists to create the first image of the event horizon of a black hole — and the internet is currently in love with one of them.

Computer scientist Katie Bouman led the development of the algorithm that made the breathtaking black hole image possible, and soon after the Event Horizon Telescope team revealed the photo on Wednesday, another image — this one a shot of Bouman that she posted to her Facebook page — started making the rounds online.

“Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed,” the 29-year-old wrote of the photo, which was subsequently shared by everyone from CNN to Kamala Harris.

Here's the moment when the first black hole image was processed, from the eyes of researcher Katie Bouman. #EHTBlackHole #BlackHoleDay #BlackHole (v/@dfbarajas) pic.twitter.com/n0ZnIoeG1d

— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) April 10, 2019

Women Who Code

The online photo frenzy wasn’t over, though.

Many in the Twitterverse and beyond noted the similarities between an image of Bouman with piles of hard drives containing black hole image data and an image of another female computer scientist, Margaret Hamilton, standing next to the stacks of code she wrote to help NASA put astronauts on the Moon in 1969.

Still, Bouman, who is now an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology, is quick to note that creating the first black hole image wasn’t a one-woman job.

“No one of us could’ve done it alone,” she told CNN. “It came together because of lots of different people from many different backgrounds.”

Left: MIT computer scientist Katie Bouman w/stacks of hard drives of black hole image data.

Right: MIT computer scientist Margaret Hamilton w/the code she wrote that helped put a man on the moon.

(image credit @floragraham)#EHTblackhole #BlackHoleDay #BlackHole pic.twitter.com/Iv5PIc8IYd

— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) April 10, 2019

READ MORE: That image of a black hole you saw everywhere? Thank this grad student for making it possible [CNN]

More on the black hole image: Scientists Just Released the First-Ever Image of a Black Hole

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We Wouldn’t Have the First Black Hole Image Without Katie Bouman

SpaceX Milestone: Company Lands Three Falcon Heavy Boosters

SpaceX successfully landed all three of its Falcon Heavy boosters during the rocket's second launch ever, marking a new milestone in reusable rocketry.

The Falcons Have Landed

The second time is apparently the charm for SpaceX.

In February 2018, Elon Musk’s space company launched a Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, but it wasn’t able to recover all three of the rocket’s boosters — rather than landing on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship like it was supposed to, the center core splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. Whoops.

On Thursday, the company attempted its second Falcon Heavy launch, and this time it nailed the landing of all three boosters — marking a new milestone in reusable rocketry.

Watch SpaceX's #FalconHeavy rocket lands its center core on a ship for the first time ? pic.twitter.com/VltoKVaAox

— CNET (@CNET) April 12, 2019

Democratizing Space

The Falcon Heavy is currently the most powerful launch vehicle in operation. Because SpaceX designed the rocket to be reusable, it can keep the cost of launches lower than would otherwise be possible — and cheaper launches mean more launches, thereby advancing humanity’s efforts to study, explore, and exploit space.

Now that SpaceX has proven it can successfully recover all three Falcon Heavy boosters, it can start looking ahead to the five launches already on the rocket’s manifest — and the others that will likely follow.

Falcon Heavy’s side boosters land on Landing Zones 1 and 2 pic.twitter.com/nJCCaVHOeo

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 12, 2019

READ MORE: SpaceX launches mega rocket, lands all three boosters [Phys.org]

More on Falcon Heavy: The Falcon Heavy Launched. Here’s What’s Next for SpaceX.

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SpaceX Milestone: Company Lands Three Falcon Heavy Boosters

Space Station Mice Learned to Propel Themselves in Zero Gravity

A video of mice in microgravity reveals that the animals quickly adapted to their off-world conditions, running, eating, and cleaning themselves.

Mouse House

A first-of-its-kind study aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has yielded new insights into how humans adapt to spaceflight — and an entertaining video of mice in microgravity.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from NASA’s Ames Research Center describe how they sent 20 mice to live in the ISS’s NASA Rodent Habitat to see how they’d behave when exposed to the same conditions as astronauts, including microgravity, radiation, and confinement.

“Our approach is yielding an interesting analogue for better understanding human responses to spacefight,” the researchers wrote, “and providing the opportunity to begin to address how physical movement influences responses to microgravity.”

Squeak By

The NASA team use cameras to observe the mice in microgravity and noted in the study that the animals appeared to adapt to their space lives quickly by “propelling their bodies freely and actively throughout the habitat, utilizing the entire volume of space available to them.”

After about a week, some of the mice began zipping around the sides of the Rodent Habitat, a behavior the researchers called “race-tracking.”

As for why the mice race-tracked, the researchers hazarded a guess in the study that the behavior might have been due to stress, a response to boredom, or even a form of entertainment — similar to how mice on Earth might choose to run on a wheel.

READ MORE: The First Detailed Study of How Mice Behave in Space Reveals Strange, Coordinated Zooming [Gizmodo]

More on microgravity: Alarming Research: Zero Gravity Makes Astronauts’ Brains Age Faster

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Space Station Mice Learned to Propel Themselves in Zero Gravity

Fecal Transplants Reduce Symptoms of Autism Long Term

A new study shows that fecal transplants of healthy gut flora can help reduce the more severe symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Follow-Up

New research suggests that fecal transplants can reduce the severity of conditions associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) — and that the changes last several years after the transplants.

Back in 2017, Arizona State University conducted a study on children with ASD of varying severity. Now, research published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports shows that the reduction in ASD symptoms persisted for two years after the fact, further demonstrating the link between the gut microbiome and the brain.

Drastic Change

In the original study, 15 of the 18 children had what was considered severe autism, with difficulty communicating and handling social interactions. Two years after the study, which involved eight weeks of fecal transplants that reintroduced a greater variety of healthy microbial flora into the participants’ gastrointestinal tracts, only three participants still fall within the “severe” classification, according to the research.

“We are finding a very strong connection between the microbes that live in our intestines and signals that travel to the brain,” Arizona scientist Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown told New Atlas. “Two years later, the children are doing even better, which is amazing.”

Early Days

The scientists are now working to design a larger and more thorough clinical trial in hopes of getting their treatment approved for use by the FDA, according to New Atlas.

And while the goal isn’t to “cure” a condition that some argue doesn’t need curing, this study suggests that fecal transplants could someday provide people with a way to help children with specific communicative or social difficulties.

READ MORE: Fecal transplants result in massive long-term reduction in autism symptoms [New Atlas]

More on fecal transplants: New Study Supports the Link Between Autism and Gut Microbes

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Fecal Transplants Reduce Symptoms of Autism Long Term

The First Black Hole Photo Is Even More Amazing When You Zoom Out

A team from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has shared an image that puts the first black hole photo into stunning context.

Photo Friends

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) wasn’t the only powerful device with its gaze fixed upon galaxy Messier 87 (M87) in April 2017.

While the EHT was focused on the event horizon of the black hole at the center of M87, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was taking a wider view of the same target — and the image produced through those observations puts the black hole photo into stunning context.

Credit, X-ray: NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen; Radio: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

1,000 Light Years

The Chandra team provided additional details on the dazzling display of bright particles captured in its black hole companion image in a blog post shared on Monday:

“While Chandra can’t see the shadow itself, its field of view is much larger than the EHT’s, so Chandra can view the full length of the jet of high-energy particles launched by the intense gravitational and magnetic fields around the black hole. This jet extends more than 1,000 light years from the center of the galaxy.”

Image Credit, X-ray: NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen; Radio: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

READ MORE: Chandra and the Event Horizon Telescope [Chandra X-Ray Observatory]

More on the black hole photoScientists Just Released the First-Ever Image of a Black Hole

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The First Black Hole Photo Is Even More Amazing When You Zoom Out

Family Caught Selling Diseased Body Parts to Medical Centers

A father and son team was just charged with fraud and concealing a crime for their six-year black market operation where they sold human body parts.

Side Hustle

A father and son team from Michigan were just charged for illegally selling human body parts — and failing to disclose that the corpses carried infectious diseases.

The duo, both named Donald Greene, sold bodies that people donated to the Biological Resource Center of Illinois for the purpose of furthering scientific research, according to CBS Chicago.

No Returns

The family sold body parts to medical clinics such as the Detroit Medical Center’s sports medicine department between 2008 and 2014, according to the station, sometimes for up to $100,000 per CBS.

But they also failed to disclose that they were selling body parts that had tested positive for diseases including HIV, hepatitis, and sepsis, CBS reports.

Technicality

Strangely enough, selling body parts isn’t strictly illegal.

But selling bodies that had been donated for medical research constitutes fraud, according to the federal prosecutors who charged the Greenes, and failing to disclose the infections was against the law. Greene Sr. has been charged with wire fraud, and Jr. with concealing a crime.

READ MORE: Father And Son Charged With Selling Diseased Body Parts In Alleged Brokering Scheme [CBS Chicago]

More on body parts: Freezing And Storing Donated Organs Could Eliminate Some Transplant Waitlists

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Family Caught Selling Diseased Body Parts to Medical Centers

People Are Horrified When They Have to Torture a Virtual Person

In a virtual recreation of the infamous Milgram Shock Experiment, participants were just as reluctant to continue, even though no one was hurt.

Digital Shock

Back in 1961, psychologist Stanley Milgram shocked the world with controversial research in which everyday people followed a scientist’s instructions to electrocute someone who they thought was giving incorrect answers on a quiz — a damning indication that many people will acquiesce to brutal directives by an authority figure.

In December 2018, a team of London-based scientists repeated the experiment in a VR simulation in which they asked participants to zap a virtual avatar. Even though no one got hurt, participants were just as reluctant to pull the lever — even going so far as to try rigging the experiment so they didn’t have to, according to research published in the journal PLOSOne that breaks new ground in the psychology of how people relate to virtual characters.

Answer Key

During the experiment, participants quizzed a virtual character. A correct answer meant they could move on, while an incorrect answer meant the human participant had to administer a virtual electrical jolt. The scientists noticed that participants sometimes tried to feed the virtual avatar the correct answer by pronouncing it louder — in hopes that they wouldn’t be told to shock them.

And even though many participants continued to follow instructions, they were measurably stressed and anxious about doing so, the researchers write in a Scientific American blog post published Friday.

“At the end, even those who had cheated showed an increased stress level,” they wrote.

Big Picture

In their blog post, the scientists suggest that their research could be used to explain how people act under troubling leaders — just like how Milgram set out to explore the behavior of individual Nazis after World War II.

“If we look at our experiments as a proxy for resistance to authority, we can anticipate a psychological cost to the resisters. Even though their obedience isn’t genuine, those who persist endure additional stress compared to those who decide to quit,” they wrote. “In the long term they will also be facing the moral dilemma of engaged followership, wondering whether they engaged too much and in essence enabled a leader they did not want to obey.”

READ MORE: Would You Give a Virtual Electric Shock to an Avatar? [Scientific American]

More on Milgram: Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories – and How to Change Their Minds

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People Are Horrified When They Have to Torture a Virtual Person

Pepe the Frog – Wikipedia

"Frog meme" redirects here. For the image of a frog riding a unicycle, see Dat Boi.For other uses, see Pepe.

Humanoid frog drawing turned meme

Pepe in his original format

Pepe the Frog () is a popular Internet meme. A green anthropomorphic frog with a humanoid body, Pepe originated in a comic by Matt Furie called Boy's Club.[2] It became an Internet meme when its popularity steadily grew across Myspace, Gaia Online and 4chan in 2008. By 2015, it had become one of the most popular memes used on 4chan and Tumblr.[3] Different types of Pepe include "Sad Frog", "Smug Frog", "Angry Pepe", "Feels Frog", and "You will never ..." Frog. Since 2014, "Rare Pepes" have been posted on the (sarcastic) "meme market" as if they were trading cards.[4][5][6][7]

By 2016, the character's image had been appropriated[8] as a symbol of the controversial alt-right movement.[9] The Anti-Defamation League added certain incarnations of Pepe the Frog to their database of hate symbols in 2016, adding that not all Pepe memes are racist.[10] Since then, Pepe's creator has publicly expressed his dismay at Pepe being used as a hate symbol.[11]

Pepe the Frog was created by American artist and cartoonist Matt Furie in 2005. Its usage as a meme came from his comic Boy's Club #1. The progenitor of Boy's Club was a zine Furie made on Microsoft Paint called Playtime, which included Pepe as a character.[12] He posted his comic in a series of blog posts on Myspace in 2005.[7][13]

In the comic, Pepe is seen urinating with his pants pulled down to his ankles and the catchphrase "feels good man" was his rationale.[14][15] Furie took those posts down when the printed edition was published in 2006.[7]

"My Pepe philosophy is simple: 'Feels good man.' It is based on the meaning of the word Pepe: 'To go Pepe'. I find complete joy in physically, emotionally, and spiritually serving Pepe and his friends through comics. Each comic is sacred, and the compassion of my readers transcends any differences, the pain, and fear of 'feeling good'."

Matt Furie, 2015 interview with The Daily Dot[2]

Pepe was used in blog posts on Myspace and became an in-joke on Internet forums. In 2008, the page containing Pepe and the catchphrase was scanned and uploaded to 4chan's /b/ board, which has been described as the meme's "permanent home".[7] The meme took off among 4chan users, who adapted Pepe's face and catchphrase to fit different scenarios and emotions, such as melancholy, anger, and surprise.[2] Color was also added; originally a black-and-white line drawing, Pepe became green with brown lips, sometimes in a blue shirt.[13][14] "Feels Guy", or "Wojak", originally an unrelated character typically used to express melancholy, was eventually often paired with Pepe in user-made comics or images.[15]

In 2014, images of Pepe were shared on social media by celebrities such as Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj.[7][14][16] As Pepe became more widespread, 4chan users began referring to particularly creative and unique variants of the meme as "rare Pepes". These images, sometimes as physical paintings,[17][18] were sold on eBay and posted on Craigslist.[2][7] 4chan users referred to those who used the meme outside the website as "normies" (or "normalfags").[7] In 2015, Pepe was #6 on Daily News and Analysis's list of the most important memes and the most retweeted meme on Twitter.[19][20]

Social media service Gab uses a Pepe-like illustration of a frog (named "Gabby") as its logo. The site is popular with the alt-right.[21]

"Esoteric Kekism",[22] or the Cult of Kek,[23] is a term for the parody religion of worshipping Pepe the Frog, which sprang from the similarity of the slang term for laughter, "kek", and the name of the ancient Egyptian frog god of darkness, Kek.[24] This deity, in turn, was associated with Pepe the Frog on internet forums.[24][25] The internet meme has its origin on the internet message forum 4chan and other chans, and the board /pol/ in particular.[24][26] Kek references are closely associated with Trump and the alt-right.[27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

"Kek" originated as a variation of "lel", itself a variation of "lol",[35][36] and seems to come from the video game World of Warcraft,[37] or alternatively a Korean onomatopoeia for laughter written as "kekeke".[38] The phrase then became associated with the Egyptian deity of the same name.[24] "Esoteric Kekism" references the "Esoteric Hitlerism" of writer Savitri Devi.[22][39]

Online message boards such as 4chan first noted a similarity between Kek and Pepe.[40][25][41][42] The phrase is widely used[24] and 4chan users see Kek as the "'god' of memes".[43]

Kekistan is a fictional country created by 4chan members that has become a political meme and online movement.[45] According to Ian Miles Cheong, writing in Heat Street, the name is a portmanteau of "kek" and the suffix "-stan", which is Persian for "place of" and the end of several names of actual Central Asian countries and regions, and Kekistanis identify themselves as "shitposters" persecuted by excessive political correctness.[46][47] Self-identified Kekistanis have created a fictional history around the meme, including the invasion and overthrow of other fictional countries such as "Normistan" and "Cuckistan".[48][47] Kekistanis have also adopted Internet personality Gordon Hurd (in his "Big Man Tyrone" persona) as their president and the 1986 Italo disco record "Shadilay" as a national anthem.[47] The record gained attention from the group in September 2016 because of the name of the group (P.E.P.E) and art on the record depicting a frog holding a magic wand.[26]

Cheong credits Carl Benjamin, who uses the pseudonym Sargon of Akkad on YouTube, for popularizing the meme.[46] Benjamin claimed that Kekistanis could technically classify as an ethnic group for the British census, and contacted the Office for National Statistics to request that it be added,[49] but was unsuccessful.[50][bettersourceneeded]

During the 2016 United States presidential election, the meme was connected to Donald Trump's campaign. In October 2015, Trump retweeted a Pepe representation of himself, associated with a video called "You Can't Stump the Trump (Volume 4)".[10][51] Later in the election, Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr. posted a parody movie poster of The Expendables on Twitter and Instagram titled "The Deplorables", a play on Hillary Clinton's controversial phrase "basket of deplorables", which included Pepe's face among those of members of the Trump family and other figures popular among the alt-right.[52]

Also during the election, various news organizations reported associations of the character with white nationalism and the alt-right.[53][54][55] In May 2016, Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast wrote that there was "an actual campaign to reclaim Pepe from normies" and that "turning Pepe into a white nationalist icon" was an explicit goal of some on the alt-right.[56] In September 2016, an article published on Hillary Clinton's campaign website described Pepe as "a symbol associated with white supremacy" and denounced Trump's campaign for its supposed promotion of the meme.[57][58] The same month, the two sources for Nuzzi's Daily Beast article revealed to The Daily Caller that they had coordinated beforehand to mislead Nuzzi (particularly about the existence of a campaign) under the expectation that she would uncritically repeat what she was told, with one saying, "Basically, I interspersed various nuggets of truth and exaggerated a lot of things, and sometimes outright liedin the interest of making a journalist believe that online Trump supporters are largely a group of meme-jihadis who use a cartoon frog to push Nazi propaganda. Because this was funny to me."[59] The Anti-Defamation League, an American organization opposed to antisemitism, included Pepe in its hate symbol database but noted that most instances of Pepe were not used in a hate-related context.[60][61] In January 2017, in a response to "pundits" calling on Theresa May to disrupt Trump's relationship with Russia, the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom tweeted an image of Pepe.[62][63] White supremacist Richard B. Spencer, during a street interview after Trump's inauguration, was preparing to explain the meaning of a Pepe pin on his jacket when he was punched in the face, with the resulting video itself becoming the source of many memes.[64][65]

In an interview with Esquire, Furie said of Pepe's usage as a hate symbol, "It sucks, but I can't control it more than anyone can control frogs on the Internet".[66] Fantagraphics Books, Furie's publisher, issued a statement condemning the "illegal and repulsive appropriations of the character".[67] On October 17, Furie published a satirical take of Pepe's appropriation by the alt-right movement on The Nib.[68][69] This was his first comic for the character since he ended Boy's Club in 2012.[1] On May 6, 2017, on Free Comic Book Day, it was announced that Furie had killed Pepe off in response to the character's continued use as a hate symbol.[70][71] But in an interview with Carol Off on her show As It Happens Furie said that despite news of Pepe's death, he will eventually return: "The end is a chance for a new beginning... I got some plans for Pepe that I can't really discuss, but he's going to rise from the ashes like a phoenix... in a puff of marijuana smoke."[72][73] Soon thereafter, Furie announced his intention to "resurrect" Pepe, launching a crowdfunding campaign for a new comic book featuring Pepe.[74]

During the 2016 United States presidential election, Kek became associated with alt-right politics.[75][76][77][78][79][80] Kek is associated with the occurrence of repeating digits, known as "dubs",[original research?] on 4chan, as if he had the ability to influence reality through internet memes.[81]

Since late 2016, the satirical ethnicity of Kekistan has been used by U.S.-based alt-right protesters opposed to what they view as political correctness. These Kekistanis decry the "oppression" of their people and troll counterprotesters by waving the "national flag of Kekistan" (modeled after the Nazi war flag, with the red replaced by green, the Iron Cross replaced by the logo for 4chan, and the swastika replaced by a rubric for KEK).[45][48][82] This flag was prominently displayed at the 2017 Berkeley protest for free speech in mid-April,[83][84] and the Unite the Right rally in August 2017.[85][86]

In June 2017, a proposed app and Flappy Bird clone called "Pepe Scream" was rejected from the Apple App Store due to its depiction of Pepe the Frog. The app's developer, under the name "MrSnrhms", posted a screenshot of his rejection letter on /r/The Donald. The app is available on Google Play.[87][88]

A children's book appropriating the Pepe character, The Adventures of Pepe and Pede, advanced "racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes", according to a federal lawsuit Furie filed. The suit was settled out of court in August 2017, with terms including the withdrawal of the book from publication and the profits being donated to the nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations. Initially self-published, the book was subsequently published by Post Hill Press.[89] The book's author, a vice-principal with the Denton Independent School District, was reassigned after the publicity.[90]

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Pepe the Frog - Wikipedia

An Obituary For The Painfully Misunderstood Pepe The Frog …

Pepe the Frog, a fictional amphibian both beloved and abhorred by Americans of varying political persuasions,has died. Drawn into creation in 2005,he passed away tragically at the hands of his creator, artist Matt Furie, on Saturday.

Birthed in Microsoft Paint, and printed at a local Kinkos shortly after, he has been described by those who knew him personally as chill, peaceful and often stoned. Yet by his time of death,the Boys Club zine star was virtually unrecognizable. Hed, unfortunately, become a darling symbol of the alt-right.

Pepe had a happy upbringing. He spent his early 20s in frog years, that is doing what he loved: chugging pop, snarfing pizza and getting high with his roommates Andy, Brett and Landwolf. Furie gave him a simple life full of simple pleasures, like surfing the web for sick videos and eating so much you barf it all back up. For a few years, at least.

Things got complicated, however, in a seemingly fleeting moment that would prove to be fatal. One day, Pepes roommate caught the frog in a compromising position:peeing, with his pants dropped all the way down to his ankles. His entire butt was exposed, for no reason. It was weird. When Landwolf called Pepe out for it, Pepe responded: Feels good man. The altercation, memorialized in zine, would forever alter the course of Pepes life.

In 2008, a cartoon depicting Pepes smarmy feels good man smile popped up on the message board 4chan. There was something contagious about Pepes indulgent joie de vivre that made internet users share the image again and again and again. It soon went viral,gaining particular traction in, of all places, a bodybuilding forum.

That year, Pepe went from mere image to meme a humorous cultural touchstone, that, like a human gene, could mutate and replicate in strange ways.The more popular a meme Pepe became, the more he began to change, adopting alternate personas like Batman Pepe, Nu Pepe and Borat Pepe, which spread wildly across Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram. Each iteration featured the frogs classic mug, his unctuous expression warped this way and that to appear sleepy, dazed, sad and angry.

Pepes internet acclaim continued to grow. Katy Perry shareda bleary-eyed and crying Pepe in 2014, along with the caption Australian jet lag got me like. Nicki Minaj followed suit, posting an image of Pepe showing off his juicy behind in a pair of tight, peach-colored booty shorts.

Ive realized that Pepe is beyond my control, artist Furie told New York Magazine in 2016. Hes like a kid, he grew up and now I have to set him free to live his life. Its all good.

JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images

Pepes future was irreparably thrown off course a year before that, when, in 2015, an online community of white nationalists developed a soft spot for Pepes droopy eyelids and self-satisfied smirk. The dark pockets of the internet launched a campaign to adopt Pepe as their own personal symbol, using the cartoons absurd and somewhat adorable aesthetic to make hateful messages appear playful and benign.

In 2015 and 2016, very different versions of Pepe began proliferating online: Pepe readingMein Kampf, Pepesipping from a swastika teacup, an anti-Semitic caricature of Pepe hinting at his involvementin the Sept. 11 attacks. In style, the green critter still resembled a harmless joke, a stoner cartoon meant to elicit a blazed chuckle or two.Yet Pepes zany cuteness now served to make palatable grossly discriminatory views. As Emily Nussbaum put it: The joke protected the non-joke.

The goal of Pepes makeover, as alt-right internet user @JaredTSwift explained to Olivia Nuzziin 2016, was to use the unassuming frog to usher white nationalism into the mainstream. And it worked. People have adopted our rhetoric, sometimes without even realizing it, Swift said. Were setting up for a massive cultural shift. Pretty soon, Pepe the racist and antisemitic frog far out-shined Pepe the stoner frog in visibility and recognition.Few remembered his glory days as a Boys Club bro, instead understanding Pepe to be the creation of spiteful internet trolls.

During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump and Pepe forged an unlikely alliance when a Trump-esque Pepe adaptation, complete with yellow floppy hair, appeared to bepolicing the U.S. Mexican border and operating a gas chamber. To most of the internet, Pepe was now synonymous with hate, bigotry and Trump.Some even credit the frog with helping Trump win the election.(According to Furie, Pepe would not be the type to even vote.)

Pepe madness reached a surreal peak in September 2016, when the Anti-Defamation Leaguedeclared Pepe an official hate symbol, much to Furies confusion and disappointment. In my mind, frogs are one of the most peaceful creatures, he told HuffPost. They just chill on lily pads and eat. You never really feel threatened by frogs in nature. I think thats why theyre so popular in fairy-tales. Theyre just ... chill.

Furie did his best to alter Pepes fate, spearheading a social media campaign to#SavePepe.The artist also began to speak out, post-Pepe, against anti-Semitism and online hate at conferences and panels hosted by the ADL. He also collaborated with Save the Frogs!on a line of Pepe-centric goods,with all proceeds benefitting a wildlife organization devoted to protecting endangered frog species.

The artist made a valiant effort to protect Pepe from the garbage forces of the internet. But alas, something about Pepe had changed. And on May 6, 2017, Furie made the executive decision to say goodbye to his little green friend for good. He drew Pepe into death, featuring the frog in an open casket, his buddies toasting him farewell with a bottle of whiskey, which they then proceeded to spill on his face. Furie created the single-page comic for Fantagraphics Worlds Greatest Comics, sordidly markingFree Comic Book Day.

Pepes life was a strange one, perhaps even the first of its kind. While no artwork is immune to possible interpretations that diverge from the artists intention, few images have taken as long, winding and bizarre a journey as little Pepe.

Born a humble character in a cult stoner zine, the benevolent frog was forever altered by internet fame. When Pepe died, he left this world a nationally recognized symbol for white supremacy. Who controls an image? Who can verify its true meaning? A cute, mellow frog became a harbinger of fascism, in part because the whole progression was too weird and kind of funny to take seriously. Kind of like the story of Trump himself.

Now, we believe, Pepe is in a better place. Hopefully hes living the dream: drinking pop with one hand and helping to pee it out with the other.Fare thee well, sweet Pepe. You were too chill for this world. May you rest without fear of being appropriated by trolls for all of eternity.

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An Obituary For The Painfully Misunderstood Pepe The Frog ...

Cryptocurrency Price Forecast: Trust Is Growing, But Prices Are Falling

Trust Is Growing...
Before we get to this week’s cryptocurrency news, analysis, and our cryptocurrency price forecast, I want to share an experience from this past week. I was at home watching the NBA playoffs, trying to ignore the commercials, when a strange advertisement caught my eye.

It followed a tomato from its birth on the vine to its end on the dinner table (where it was served as a bolognese sauce), and a diamond from its dusty beginnings to when it sparkled atop an engagement ring.

The voiceover said: “This is a shipment passed 200 times, transparently tracked from port to port. This is the IBM blockchain.”

Let that sink in—IBM.

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Cryptocurrency Price Forecast: Trust Is Growing, But Prices Are Falling

Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More

Ripple vs SWIFT: The War Begins
While most criticisms of XRP do nothing to curb my bullish Ripple price forecast, there is one obstacle that nags at my conscience. Its name is SWIFT.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is the king of international payments.

It coordinates wire transfers across 11,000 banks in more than 200 countries and territories, meaning that in order for XRP prices to ascend to $10.00, Ripple needs to launch a successful coup. That is, and always has been, an unwritten part of Ripple’s story.

We’ve seen a lot of progress on that score. In the last three years, Ripple wooed more than 100 financial firms onto its.

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Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More

Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack

Another Crypto Hack Derails Recovery
Since our last report, hackers broke into yet another cryptocurrency exchange. This time the target was Bithumb, a Korean exchange known for high-flying prices and ultra-active traders.

While the hackers made off with approximately $31.5 million in funds, the exchange is working with relevant authorities to return the stolen tokens to their respective owners. In the event that some is still missing, the exchange will cover the losses. (Source: “Bithumb Working With Other Crypto Exchanges to Recover Hacked Funds,”.

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Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack

Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More

Cryptocurrency News
On the whole, cryptocurrency prices are down from our previous report on cryptos, with the market slipping on news of an exchange being hacked and a report about Bitcoin manipulation.

However, there have been two bright spots: 1) an official from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that Ethereum is not a security, and 2) Coinbase is expanding its selection of tokens.

Let's start with the good news.
SEC Says ETH Is Not a Security
Investors have some reason to cheer this week. A high-ranking SEC official told attendees of the Yahoo! All Markets Summit: Crypto that Ethereum and Bitcoin are not.

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Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More

Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto

Cryptocurrency News
This was a bloody week for cryptocurrencies. Everything was covered in red, from Ethereum (ETH) on down to the Basic Attention Token (BAT).

Some investors claim it was inevitable. Others say that price manipulation is to blame.

We think the answers are more complicated than either side has to offer, because our research reveals deep contradictions between the price of cryptos and the underlying development of blockchain projects.

For instance, a leading venture capital (VC) firm launched a $300.0-million crypto investment fund, yet liquidity continues to dry up in crypto markets.

Another example is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's.

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Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto

Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETF Rejection, AMD Microchip Sales, and Hedge Funds

Cryptocurrency News
Although cryptocurrency prices were heating up last week (Bitcoin, especially), regulators poured cold water on the rally by rejecting calls for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). This is the second time that the proposal fell on deaf ears. (More on that below.)

Crypto mining ran into similar trouble, as you can see from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMD) most recent quarterly earnings. However, it wasn't all bad news. Investors should, for instance, be cheering the fact that hedge funds are ramping up their involvement in cryptocurrency markets.

Without further ado, here are those stories in greater detail.
ETF Rejection.

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