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Life’s oldest ancestor; problems plaguing the Olympics; and a controversial speaker silenced at DePaul

By News

illustration Sophie Lucido Johnson.

illustration Sophie Lucido Johnson.

DePaul Blocks Conservative Speaker

DePaul University, a Chicago college with campuses in the Loop and Lincoln Park, canceled conservative writer Ben Shapiro’s proposed speaking event last week. Citing safety concerns, the university said in a statement that the Office of Public Safety “was not in a position to provide the type of security that would be required to properly host this event.” California State University, Los Angeles, also canceled a planned speech by Shapiro this summer after students protested. Students said the event was comparable to an “undercover KKK meeting,” but the writer appeared anyway, causing protests.

“Basically, we now have the rioters’ veto,” said Shapiro on Monday after DePaul’s decision, to Fox News’ “The Kelly File.”

The decision to ban Shapiro came in the wake of racial tension on DePaul’s campus, as Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor for Breitbart News, sparked protests a few months ago for the DePaul stop of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. Following the event, a noose was found on campus along with graffiti in the Lincoln Park quad reading, “Trump 2016 Fuck Mexico.”


Rio Olympics Off to a Rocky Start

Fifty days before the Rio Olympics, Brazil declared a “state of public calamity.” With the Olympics beginning on Friday, things are still looking pretty grim.

Among several issues for athletes over the past couple of weeks have been blocked toilets, exposed wiring, and increasingly-leaking pipes. Kitty Chiller, the chef de mission in Rio de Janeiro for the Australian Olympic Committee, said that the Olympic Village was not in good shape, and there were “dirty floors in need of a massive clean.” A small fire broke out a couple days ago in the Australian delegation barracks, and reports of stolen property were immediately imminent. Health experts in Brazil have also warned athletes to keep their mouths closed, due to the incredibly-contaminated waters of Rio de Janeiro. The city promised seven years ago to stop the pollution, but environmentalists are now saying that the pollution is even worse now.

Chiefly among issues, however, is the breakout of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus. The CDC recently released a list of advisements for visitors in Rio, including to not travel around the city at night, and for pregnant women to steer clear, due to severe birth defects if they become infected. Although, Zika is not only restricted to Brazil, as the CDC just recommended pregnant women not go to a neighborhood in Miami that has had cases of Zika.


Scientists Discover Life’s Oldest Common Ancestor

We may now know the origin of all life on earth.

Scientists led by William F. Martin of Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany discovered more information about the Last Universal Ancestor (Luca) at the end of July. A single-celled, bacterium-like organism, Luca lived approximately four billion years ago, when earth was still a ripe 560 million-year-old. The scientists pinpointed 355 genes showing the properties of Luca; they have learned that that Luca metabolizes hydrogen for energy, and possesses other attributes that made it able to live in high temperatures. The new findings support the belief that life emerged in the extreme environment of underwater volcanoes or deep sea vents rather than the Darwinian “warm little pond.” Martin told the New York Times he was “flabbergasted at the result.”

However, Martin took a controversial step forward in his findings, drawing criticism from rivals in the field. He claimed that Luca was extremely close to the origin of life, only “half-alive,” as he said, but rivals argued that Luca and the beginning of life are “events separated by a vast distance of evolutionary innovation,” as Jack Szostak of Massachusetts General Hospital said.

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