Comedian And TV Personality Juan Joya Borja, The ‘Spanish Laughing Guy’ Meme, Has Died At 65

Comedian and T.V. personality Juan Joya Borja, best known in America as the “Spanish Laughing Guy,” has died. Borja was 65 years old and died after what Spanish newspapers described as a “long illness.” He’d been hospitalized in 2020. 

Known as El Ristas or “The Giggles” because of his distinct laugh, Borja rose to prominence in his native Spain after being featured on a variety show called Ratones Coloraos. During an interview with host Jesus Quintero, Rojas was telling a funny story about throwing dishes into the ocean while working a job as a young man. Borja found his own story so funny that he could barely get through it between fits of laughter.

Ratones Coloraos uploaded the segment to YouTube that year and it gained popularity in Spain, but Borja’s life as a meme would come almost a decade later. Around 2014, people took the clip and uploaded it with their own subtitles completely unrelated to Borja’s original story. Typically, Borja would take the place of an employee for a large company who would cackle through a story about how stupid their boss or a customer was.

When Apple announced a new MacBook in 2015, El Ristas giggled through its poor specifications as an Apple Engineer. El Ristats stood in for every person who’d encountered a flat earther, fought with their family about Brexit, or tried to buy a new graphics card in the past year.

No matter how bad the news, Borja could help you laugh through it. He is the inverse of the Hitler downfall meme. He’s someone who tells a story or explains a concept that is so ridiculous, he can barely get through it because he’s laughing so much.

Source: Vice

GoFundMe For Shane Nguyen (Missing Indiana Man Found Dismembered In His Own Van) Gains $90K In Less Than 24 Hours

A fundraiser created for Shane Nguyen, a 55-year-old Indiana man who was found brutally murdered on Sunday, has raised more than $90,000 in less than 24 hours.

Nguyen’s body was found dismembered in the back of his own van in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on April 25, two days after he was reported missing by family and friends. According to a police affidavit, Nguyen died of blunt force to the head. His body was then dismembered and placed in plastic trash bags, as suspects involved in his murder attempted to hide the evidence and flee in his vehicle, the Associated Press reported.

Fort Wayne Police have since identified three suspects as 21-year-old Matthew Cramer, 20-year-old Jacob D. Carreon-Hamilton, and 20-year-old Cody Clements, who are each in custody.

On Tuesday, Nguyen’s cousin, Tran Hoang, created a GoFundMe page to support his wife and two children.

“Shane was a loving father, husband, and a beloved member of every community he touched. His work days were spent serving food to the public, working long hours out of a roaming food truck while waving and smiling to those he passed on the road. His spare time was dedicated to his family and to volunteering activities, where he was an active member of the local church, choir, and Bishop Dwenger band. He’ll always be remembered for being kind, welcoming, and available to help anyone in need,” Hoang wrote on the page.

“Shane was a small business owner and the primary source of income for his family. His family is devastated by this tragedy and are struggling to piece their lives together amidst the investigations and preparations for the funeral.”

By Wednesday afternoon, the page had raised $90,907 in just 20 hours.

Nguyen’s body was discovered on Sunday inside of a crashed vehicle, after police issued a missing persons report for him on Friday. Cramer told police that he encountered Nguyen when he asked him for a ride from Elkhart, Indiana, back to Fort Wayne, according to the police affidavit, the Associated Press reported.

Cramer said he had planned to kill Nguyen before they reached Fort Wayne, and told investigators that they went to a storage unit where he choked Nguyen until he fell unconscious. Cramer said he then slammed Nguyen’s head on the pavement, left his body in the storage unit, and drove to nearby stores to purchase items with Carreon-Hamilton and Clements.

Receipts showed that the men purchased tarps, a hacksaw, and a large knife. Cramer and Carreon-Hamilton then dropped off Clements before returning to Fort Wayne, where Cramer told police he used a knife to cut Nguyen’s body while Carreon-Hamilton held him down.

The two men then then loaded Nguyen’s body into the back of the van to dispose of it when they were discovered by police, the affidavit said.

Cramer has since been charged with murder, resisting law enforcement, and abuse of a corpse. Carreon-Hamilton is charged with assisting a criminal, resisting law enforcement, and abuse of a corpse, the Associated Press reported. No charges have yet been announced for Clements.

Source: Newsweek

Nike Was Unwilling To Give Kobe Bryant’s Contract Similar ‘Lifetime’ Structure Held By LeBron James And Michael Jordan

The estate of Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa are no longer affiliated with sneaker giant Nike, as the late Lakers great’s contract with the company has now expired.

“With Kobe Bryant’s five-year, post-retirement endorsement extension with Nike having expired this month, Vanessa Bryant and the Kobe Bryant estate elected not to renew the partnership, she confirmed to ESPN in a statement Monday night,” wrote Nick DePaula of ESPN.com.

Kobe Bryant spent his first several years being sponsored by Adidas, even though Adidas was never a big-time player on the basketball shoe market.

Eventually, he joined Nike, starting a fruitful partnership for both parties.

“Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21,” Vanessa Bryant, widow of the Lakers legend, told ESPN. “Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe. It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”

Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. last January.

His influence on basketball and its culture is still seen to this day, as several current NBA players still wear his signature sneakers.

Interestingly, there are reports that before his passing, Kobe Bryant was planning on leaving Nike to form his own sneaker company and disrupt the entire industry.

That desire may have been fueled by some differences with Nike.

“According to a source, Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe product during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash,” wrote DePaula. “There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids sizes, according to sources.

“Nike, sources said, had presented an extension offer that was not in line with expectations of an ongoing ‘lifetime’ structure similar to the Nike Inc. contracts held by both Michael Jordan and LeBron James.”

Source: Lakers Daily

George Takei: ‘We Were Terrorized. That’s The History Of America As I Know It’

Actor George Takei became a sci-fi legend when he starred as Mr. Sulu in “Star Trek.” But his road to success was not a sure thing in the America he grew up in. As a young Japanese-American boy during World War II, he was imprisoned with his family in the now infamous U.S. internment camps. He tells our Hari Sreenivasan about the history behind today’s anti-Asian attacks as part of “Exploring Hate,” our ongoing series of reports on antisemitism, racism, and extremism.

BG Knocc Out On Anti-Asian Violence, Defending 2 Small Asian Kids When He Was In Juvenile Hall

In the latest clip, BG Knocc Out offered his thoughts on the multiple incidents of anti-Asian violence occurring in the United States. He started by remembering the death of Latasha Harlins, whose death at the hands of a Korean store owner sparked the anger that eventually led to the Rodney King riots. BG Knocc Out spoke out against today’s anti-Asian violence and talked about a time where he defended two Asian kids in juvenile hall. To hear more, check out the above clip.

R. Kelly Associate Michael Williams Admits To Setting Accuser’s SUV On Fire In An Attempt To Silence Her

An R. Kelly associate took a plea deal Monday for trying to silence a witness in the R&B singer’s racketeering case by setting her SUV on fire.

Michael Williams, 38, copped to one count of arson for destroying the vehicle, rented by the woman’s father, which was parked in front of the Kissimmee, Florida, home where she and her family were staying.

In exchange for his plea in Brooklyn federal court, prosecutors have agreed to drop the witness tampering charge against him. He faces a minimum of 60 months in prison and a maximum of 71 months under federal sentencing guidelines.

“The plea agreement is fair in that the witness tampering charge as it relates to R. Kelly will be dismissed at sentencing,” said defense lawyer Todd Spodek.

Two hours before the June 11 blaze, Williams, a longtime friend of the jailed “Ignition” crooner, used his cellphone to search for the Florida address.

After the car was set alight, there was an explosion. A witness stepped outside and saw “an individual fleeing from the scene whose arm appeared to be lit on fire,” the complaint alleges.

Fire investigators also found accelerant on the edge of the property, court papers charge.

Williams’ distinct GMC Yukon, which has damage to the front and side and no front license plate, was captured on toll plaza cameras traveling from his home state of Georgia to Florida before the arson, then returning, the complaint states.

Ten days later, Williams Googled “How do fertilizer bombs work?” The purpose of that search wasn’t immediately clear.

He also searched the phrases “witness intimidation” and “case law for tampering with a witness,” according to court papers.

Kelly is locked up awaiting trial in Brooklyn federal court on more than a dozen criminal counts of sex trafficking, racketeering, coercion and other raps related to the abuse of six women and girls.

The three-time Grammy Award winner faces a separate indictment in Chicago, where he is charged with producing child pornography and destroying evidence.

Source: Page Six

The Story Of “A Thousand Miles” By Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton wrote “A Thousand Miles” in her childhood home as a teenager. Little did she know the song would become an international smash hit, a film-soundtrack favorite, and would be repurposed by new artists and the internet for the next 20 years.

VICE meets Vanessa Carlton, “White Chicks” actor Terry Crews, and others responsible for making the song the indelible hit still widely adored today.

Lab-Grown Embryos Mix Human And Monkey Cells For The First Time

By slipping human stem cells into the embryos of other animals, we might someday grow new organs for people with faltering hearts or kidneys. In a step toward that goal, researchers have created the first embryos with a mixture of human and monkey cells. These chimeras could help scientists hone techniques for growing human tissue in species better suited for transplants, such as pigs.

“The paper is a landmark in the stem cell and interspecies chimera fields,” says stem cell biologist Alejandro De Los Angeles of Yale University. The findings hint at mechanisms by which cells of one species can adjust to survive in the embryo of another, adds Daniel Garry, a stem cell biologist at the University of Minnesota (UM), Twin Cities.

In 2017, researchers reported growing pancreases from mouse stem cells inserted into rat embryos. Transplanting the organs into mice with diabetes eliminated the disease. But cells from more distantly related species, such as pigs and humans, haven’t gotten along as well. That same year, developmental biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and colleagues reported injecting human stem cells into pig embryos. After the embryos had developed in surrogate mother pigs for 3 to 4 weeks, only about one in 100,000 of their cells were human.

The pig study used human skin cells that had been reprogrammed into stem cells. But so-called extended pluripotent stem (EPS) cells, made by exposing stem cells to a certain molecular cocktail, can spawn a greater variety of tissues. In the new study, Izpisúa Belmonte, reproductive biologist Weizhi Ji of Kunming University of Science and Technology, and colleagues tested those more capable cells in a closer human relative—cynomolgus monkeys. They inserted 25 human EPS cells into each of 132 monkey embryos and reared the chimeras in culture dishes for up to 20 days.

The team reports today in Cell that the human cells showed staying power: After 13 days, they were still present in about one-third of the chimeras. The human cells seemed to integrate with the monkey cells and had begun to specialize into cell types that would develop into different organs.

By analyzing gene activity, the researchers identified molecular pathways that were switched on or turned up in the chimeras, possibly promoting integration between human and monkey cells. Izpisúa Belmonte says manipulating some of those pathways may help human cells survive in embryos of species “more appropriate for regenerative medicine.”

Still, the human and monkey cells didn’t quite mesh, notes UM stem cell biologist Andrew Crane. The human cells often stuck together, making him wonder whether there’s “another barrier that we aren’t seeing” that could prevent human cells from thriving if the embryos were to develop further.

In the United States, federal funding cannot be used to create certain types of chimeras, including early nonhuman primate embryos containing human stem cells. The new study was performed in China and funded by Chinese government sources, a Spanish university, and a U.S. foundation. Bioethicist Karen Maschke of the Hastings Center in New York says she is satisfied that the work, which passed layers of institutional review and drew on advice from two independent bioethicists, was performed responsibly.

Human-monkey chimeras do raise a worry, addressed in a report released last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (p. 218): that human nerve cells might enter animals’ brains and alter their mental capabilities. But that concern is moot for the chimeras in this study because they don’t have a nervous system. They “can’t experience pain and aren’t conscious,” says bioethicist Katrien Devolder of the University of Oxford. “If the human-monkey chimeras were allowed to develop further,” she says, “that would be a very different story.”

Source: Science Magazine