Today in Awesome
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Yogcast: Jingle Jam
Marvel Entertainment: Marvel Studios’ Black Widow – Official Teaser Trailer
How to Drink: Buddy the Elf’s Coffee
The Infographics Show: How To ACTUALLY Survive a Crocodile Attack
Binging with Babish: Osso Buco from The Office
Comedy Central: Cartman’s Guide to Love – South Park
Comedy Central: Lie Detector Test: Friends Edition – Not Safe with Nikki Glaser
At Least 60 Treated After Delta Jet Dumps Fuel Over LA Schools
- A Delta flight headed for Shanghai was ordered to return to LAX shortly after departure due to an engine issue.
- To reach a safe landing weight, the plane released jet fuel that showered over six LA schools, causing minor injuries to at least 60 students and adults.
- Though rare, fuel dumping typically happens at high altitudes or over an unpopulated area.
- Local officials are demanding answers and accountability and the Federal Aviation Administration is launching an investigation to understand why normal fuel dumping procedures were not followed.
Dozens Treated for Injuries
At least 60 people were treated for minor injuries on Tuesday after a Delta flight making an emergency return to Los Angeles International Airport dumped fuel over several local schools.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School district confirmed that a low-flying plane discharged jet fuel around noon, however, the district could not confirm how many campuses were affected. Based on reports of injuries, it’s estimated that it was at least six.
Approximately 20 schoolchildren and 11 adults from Park Avenue Elementary School were treated after they were exposed to fuel that rained on over a playground, according to LA County firefighters.
In a statement, the district said, “Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes. Schools immediately called paramedics, who are on the scene and are treating anyone who is complaining of skin irritation or breathing problems.”
“Educators are also visiting every classroom to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff,” it added.
Several other students and adults treated were from San Gabriel Avenue Elementary and Tweedy Elementary in South Gate, Jordan High and 93rd Street Elementary in South Los Angeles and Graham Elementary in Inglewood.
Many patients complained of skin and eye irritation but were treated with soap and water and were not taken to the hospital. Others also reported a strong toxic smell that lingered in neighborhoods, making it hard to breathe.
LAX officials said a Delta Boeing 777 on its way to Shanghai when it declared a mechanical emergency shortly after takeoff and was ordered to return to the airport.
According to an online flight tracker, the plane turned around just 24 minutes after departure.
None of the 149 passengers on board were injured and the aircraft landed safely after the release of fuel, which Delta said was “required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight.”
However, according to aviation safety experts, the move is rare and in most cases, it’s done over water or unpopulated areas at a high altitude so that the fuel can disperse and vaporize before reaching the ground.
Delta released a statement about the incident acknowledging the impact it had, saying, “We are concerned about reports of impacts on the ground from the fuel release, and are in close communication with Delta and first responders as their investigators continue. We thank LA County Fire, the LA Fire Department and other responding agencies for their fast response and we are working to learn more.”
Locals Demand Investigation
Residents and local officials have expressed anger over the incident, demanding answers and action.
“Sadly, our entire community has been adversely impacted by this incident, including dozens of children,” Cudahy City Councilman Jack Guerrero said. “I am calling for a full federal investigation into the matter and expect full accountability from responsible parties.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration promised to investigate.
“The FAA is thoroughly investigating the circumstances behind today’s incident involving a Delta Air Lines flight that was returning to Los Angeles International Airport,” the agency said in a statement before acknowledging that the move was unusual.
“There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major U.S. airport. These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground,” the agency added.
Health officials advise anyone who might have been hit by the jet fuel to shower, get rid of the clothing sprayed, and seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
See what others are saying: (CBS LA) (Los Angeles Times) (USA Today)
Adam Driver Fans Donate Nearly $70,000 to His Non-Profit in Honor of Ben Solo Performance
- A GoFundMe page dedicated to honoring Adam Driver’s performance in recent Star Wars films has raised nearly $70,000 for the actor’s non-profit.
- Driver’s organization, Arts In The Armed Forces, provides arts programming to active duty members, veterans, and their families free of cost.
- The actor thanked his fans for their support in a video message posted Tuesday.
While Star Wars fans may have mixed opinions about The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker, it seems that most agree actor Adam Driver delivered a stellar performance as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo in all three films.
Just before the release of The Rise of Skywalker, posts appeared on a subreddit dedicated to leaks and rumors about the Star Wars franchise confirming previously guessed details about the film’s plot. Of course, that quickly set off heated debates about the movie, but rather than endlessly spewing criticism online, some decided to focus on praising Driver for his work.
On December 18, a GoFundMe page was created by a user named “Matt the Radar Technician,” on behalf of the /r/StarWarsLeaks subreddit. The user encouraged people to donate to Driver’s non-profit, Arts in the Armed Forces, to honor him for his performance.
Driver, who previously served as a U.S. Marine, founded the organization in 2006 with his now-wife Joanne Tucker with the goal of bringing free high-quality arts programming to active-duty members of the armed forces, as well as veterans, military support staff, and their families. The organization offers a variety of opportunities and experiences including film screenings, internships, contests, stage productions, and more.
The GoFundMe page descriptions reads: “Adam Driver’s portrayal of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo has been one of the greatest things to ever happen in the last three movies of the Star Wars saga. As a way of showing gratitude and appreciation for his hard work and because we believe in the mission of AITAF – using art as a tool to more fully understand ourselves and heal – we at r/StarWarsLeaks have decided to set up this fundraiser.”
The user went on to say that they hope this gesture shows how much Driver’s work impacts people.
Fans Raise Thousands
The page quickly spread across social media and was met with support from both fans and critics of the film. For some critics, it became an opportunity to channel their frustration about the film’s ending into something positive.
instead of responding to any negative replies, donate instead to adam driver’s non profit charity. we’re saving what we love y’all 💕 https://t.co/n1sGUXPMca— 𝓭𝓮𝓮⚡️ (@thislilstangirl) December 31, 2019
Those who donated to the cause also showed their appreciation in messages left alongside their contributions.
“Ben Solo’s ending may have left many of us feeling stunned and wanting a different ending, but being able to channel and rationalize those stirred emotions into something positive brings us closer to closure – it serves to reminds us what a great actor you are and how we want to say a heartfelt thank you by supporting what’s close to your heart,” one supporter wrote.
“I had plans in December to go and see TROS many times in the theatre so hopeful was I to see Ben Solo get justice…We didn’t get that. So instead of giving my money to DLF, I gladly put it to good use for AITAF,” another shared.
Driver Thanks Fans
Though Driver isn’t on social media himself, news of the GoFundMe page caught his attention. On Tuesday, the actor shared a video message to his fans via the AITAF’s Twitter account.
“It means a whole lot to me that this thing exists, and that so many people have participated in it,” he said in the post. “Not only did you buy a ticket to see the movie, but now you’re also giving money on top of it to this organization that I deeply care about, so I just wanted to take a moment from me to you to say: thank you very much.”
Joonas Suotamo, who plays Chewbacca in the sequel films, then took to Twitter to share the message and encourage fans to increase the fundraising goal to $75,000.
Donations have continued to pour in and stand at about $70,000 as of Wednesday morning.
AOC and Sanders Ask for HIV Medicine Patent to be Rejected
- A petition filed by advocacy group PrEP4All Collaboration alleges that biotech company Gilead Sciences suspended the development of a potentially safer HIV prevention drug for five years in 2005 so they could continue to profit from their current monopoly on the market, despite the fact that it was less safe.
- Gilead is asking now asking to extend the patent on the new drug while PrEP4All is asking for this patent to be rejected.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also wrote a joint letter urging the Trump administration to reject this request, calling the alleged practice a “disgrace.”
- Gilead has denied these accusations.
Petition Filed Against Gilead
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are calling on the Trump administration to reject a patent extension request from Gilead Sciences after the company was accused of delaying the development of a safer HIV prevention drug.
A petition filed by advocacy group PrEP4All Collaboration alleges that when Gilead suspended the development of a newer and potentially safer HIV prevention drug in 2005, it did so in order to maximize its monopoly on profits from its less-safe drug that was already on the market. The petition says they wanted to leave this old drug on the market until its patent expired, and before generic competition came up. The company did not submit the new drug, tenofovir alafenamide, or TAF, to the Food and Drug Administration until 2010. It was approved in 2015.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Gilead is currently requesting that its patent on TAF be extended for another three years. PrEP4All is asking the Patent and Trademark Office to reject this request because of this allegation.
TAF is meant to prevent HIV infections via a process called pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP. Extending the patent would make sure they had a monopoly on the drug.
Letter from Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez
PrEP4All’s fight got a new push of support on Monday when Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez gave their support. In a letter to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office obtained by The Guardian, the leaders condemned Gilead for these accusations.
“It is an absolute disgrace that in America, a greedy drug company like Gilead can deprive hundreds of thousands of Americans of lifesaving HIV medicine to extract more profit, lie about it, and then have the audacity to ask the US government to award it with a longer monopoly to reap tens of billions more in profits,” Sanders wrote.
Ocasio-Cortez said this practice “inhibited efforts to end the HIV epidemic.”
Together, the two urged the Trump administration to “not reward Gilead for this immoral behavior.”
If the Trump administration followed their requests, it would not be the first time they took action against Gilead. In November, the administration sued the company in a patent infringement case. They accused the company of profiting off of taxpayer-funded research without giving taxpayer money back.
Statements From Those Involved
Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have not been the only ones to speak out.
“Gilead has not only intentionally delayed clinical development of a drug to artificially manipulate its eligibility for a patent-term extension, but it has done so despite the apparent harm to patients,” said attorney Christopher Morten, who filed PrEP4All’s petition in a statement to the Washington Post.
The Post says that the petition cites statements made by the company’s executives in 2011, where some indicated a desire to “avoid cannibalizing sales of the old drug” with the expectation that TAF could maintain the patent longevity of their HIV drug franchise. The petition also says that Gilead stated that clinical trials had indicated that TAF is safer than older drugs. A study funded by them found that restricting patients from the new drug could cause 16,000 deaths over the course of nine years.
Still, the Washington Post said the outcome of PrEP4All’s petition is not set in stone.
“Odds of success are steep because the patent office will review such third-party petitions only in ‘extraordinary’ circumstances, according to its rules,” their report said.
“Patient safety is of foremost importance to us, and any implication that Gilead delayed the development of a drug known to be safer than [the older drug] is false,’’ Gilead spokesperson Ryan McKeel said in a statement obtained by the Post.