The Daily Moth 12-19-17

December 20, 2017



Updates on Amtrak Derailment; FDA Approves First Gene Therapy For Genetic Blindness; Five Men From Charlottesville Rally Indicted; North Korea Blamed for “WannaCry” Cyberattacks; Woman Delivers Baby That Was Frozen For 24 Years As Embryo; UK Cinema Turns Off CC During “Star Wars” Screening; Deaf Malaysian Man Accused of Murdering Four Deaf Family Members




Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Tuesday, December 19. Ready for news? 




Here are updates on the Amtrak train derailment yesterday in DuPont, Washington:


— At least three people are confirmed dead with around 100 people injured, many critically. 


— The train was going 80 mph when it made a curve at a 30-mph zone. The railroad parallels with I-5 on the north side and the curve is where the railroad “crosses” I-5 to parallel on its south side. That curve is a 30-mph zone. There was a 30 mph speed sign two miles before the area and another sign just before the curve. 


— The cause of the derailment seems to be speed. There was no word of an obstacle on the track that caused it to derail. 


— There was no train control system called “Positive Train Control” on that Amtrak train, which would have prevented dangerous situations such as excessive speed. The track itself, built by company Sound Transit, had the train control system installed, but the Amtrak train didn’t have “their part.” d


— The train was the first on a new, different route between Seattle and Portland that was faster, as a part of a $181 million project to retrofit the tracks to fit the Amtrak. There were previous tests, but none with a “full load” with 80 people on the train and their baggage. 


— ABC News posted several pictures of the inside of the train by a survivor. It was shown on “Good Morning America.” The images show serious damage and crushed ceilings. Imagine those things hitting your head. 


— The Seattle Times did an interview with a person who was one of the first to help the victims of the derailment — Daniel Konzelman. He was driving to work at 60 mph with his girlfriend and saw the train zipping past him and as he approached the trestle, he saw cars braked and the derailment. He said there were people climbing out of the train on the trestle with bleeding heads and injuries to their backs or hips. He met a police officer and went inside some of the train cars on the road, helping many injured people, many with broken ankles, some shivering from the cold. He said he saw four people who were deceased and three people who were pinned under the train, still alive, and he tried his best to comfort them until first responders arrived. 


— Today there are cranes that is on I-5 to remove the train cars and load them on flat-bed trucks. Each train car weighs 65 tons. 


— Investigators from the NTSB National Transportation Safety Board said they found the train’s “black box” — the event data recorder — that records data and sounds. It will be a key part of the investigation.




The FDA Food and Drug Administration has approved the first gene therapy to treat a genetic disease in the U.S. — to treat people with blindness caused by a retinal mutation. 


This disease is called “Leber congenital amaurosis.” It causes people to have partial or complete blindness due to not being able to produce an important enzyme. Around 1,000 to 2,000 people in the U.S. have this. Some cases are diagnosed as “retinitis pigmentosa” 


The treatment works during eye surgery by issuing a healthy copy of the gene (without any mutations) directly into a patient’s retinal cells — (which a part of the outer layer of the “back” of the eye) — using a virus.


The healthy copy will then replace the mutated genes to produce the enzymes and give the person improved vision. 


This treatment is called Luxturna, created by Spark Therapeutics. It will be available to both children and adults. The treatment could cost more than $1 million per patient, but the final amount has not yet been announced. 


FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said this is a gene therapy milestone and that this field has the potential to treat a wide-range of challenging diseases. 


The FDA has previously approved other gene therapies for blood cancers, but this is the first that is approved for direct patient use with a hereditary disease. 


It’s not hard to predict that somewhere in the future, there might be gene therapy developed to treat hereditary deafness. There have already been studies at Harvard that has successfully treated mice born deaf. There are also ongoing studies for gene therapy to treat Usher’s Syndrome.


Should people in the Deaf community celebrate those medical advances or look at this with concern that our culture could be wiped out?




A grand jury has indicted five men in relation to the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. 


James Alex Fields, Jr. — who is accused of driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing a woman, Heather Heyer and injuring others — has been indicted with first-degree murder. He faces 20 years to life in prison. 


The four others were indicted on various crimes such as beating a person or firing a weapon near a school. 


In separate but related news, the police chief of Charlottesville — Al Thomas Jr. — has left the department, abruptly retiring after a recent investigation report faulted the police for not being prepared enough and failing to order officers to intervene when there was serious fighting between the rally-goers and counter-protesters. The officers instead pulled back to a “safe zone.” 


One more related news story — the rally-goers wanted to do another rally next year in Charlottesville on the same days — August 11 and 12 — but their permit applications were denied due to safety concerns. One of the white supremacist leaders, Jason Kessler, said they would sue to get the permits and said they would still do a rally next year anyway.




The US and UK governments have blamed North Korea for starting and spreading the computer malware “WannaCry” that hit computers using Microsoft Windows programs in hospitals, businesses, and banks around the world. 


It would take over the computer with a screen telling people they had to pay $300 in Bitcoins in order to remove the “lock.” But the malware would spread itself to infect other computers and would still “lock” computers even after payment. This was in May of this year.


An official from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Thomas Bossert, said evidence points to North Korea, and that other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, also agreed that it was North Korea. 


The UK Foregin Office said North Korea did this to get around sanctions. 


Bossert said they would hold North Korea accountable for this, but did not say specifically what they would do.




In Knoxville, Tennessee — a woman gave birth a few weeks ago to a healthy baby girl — but this is not a “normal” baby because she was an embryo that was frozen for 24 years — since 1992.


The baby’s name is Emma Wren and her mother, Tina Gibson, is currently 26. So this means the baby and the mother are only “18 months apart” in age. 


The embryo was made in 1992 (a fertilized egg), for IVF fertility treatment for another couple, but it was not used, so it was cryopreserved (frozen) and kept in storage for a future couple.


The father, Benjamin (33), has cystic fibrosis, which often causes infertility. The couple planned to adopt and had fostered several children. But later Tina’s father suggested embryo implantation — called “embryo adoption.” 


After doing research, Tina reached out to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, did an application, and was approved. They looked through various profiles of frozen embryos (their parents’ information) and chose several top candidates, and found out their embryo was a “record” holder for the oldest one. 


The embryo was thawed in March and then implanted in Tina, and the pregnancy and birth was successful. 


The National Embryo Donation Center is a faith-based organization founded in 2003 that takes in “unused” embryos for free, because it is their belief that embryos should be protected. 


So this is a baby that is… 24 years old, or a month old? It depends on what you perceive as the “start” of life.




In England, a hearing mother and her two Deaf daughters went to the new Star Wars movie screening a few days ago and expected it to be subtitled, because it was advertised on their website (Odeon Cinemas) that it was captioned. But when they went, there were no subtitles. So the mother and two other people who wanted subtitles went to the desk to complain. The movie was restarted with subtitles on. 


But that caused hearing people in the audience to complain, with some leaving. Later the movie stopped showing subtitles and the people who worked in the theater said they would offer refunds. The five people left with refunds and felt the theater “chose” the hearing people’s wishes, even though they had advertised that it would be subtitled. They informed a UK Deaf news/blog site “The Limping Chicken” about this, who wrote an article on it. They tweeted about it yesterday. 


Odeon Cinemas replied to them on Twitter that it was a technical fault and that they’ve apologized and offered full refunds and passes to return on a date of their choosing. There were many replies criticizing Odeon, saying they were lying and was “discriminatory.”


This was picked by BBC News and other local media, who did articles on this. Hopefully this will make movie theaters in the UK to be serious about keeping subtitles on if they advertise it.




In Malaysia, a deaf man was charged with murder in relation to an incident last week in which four deaf people, an elderly couple (ages 73 and 68) and their two young grandsons (ages 9 and 3) were stabbed to death in their home, which was then set on fire. A third grandson, 12 years old, survived and is in the hospital. 


Today the deaf man, Sang Chang Heng (38), appeared in a magistrate’s court, but his case was postponed to January because there was no interpreter available for him. 


Police there say Sang is the boyfriend of the deaf daughter of the elderly couple and that there was a possible financial dispute. 


He was charged with murdering one of the four people. He is expected to be charged for the three other murders in January. Sang is a factory worker and was arrested on Friday. Terrible news. It’s captured media attention in the country. 


***Correction: According to other Deaf people familiar with the situation, the four victims are not deaf, but were parents of deaf children. The grandsons are CODAs. The accused murderer is deaf and his name is Kang Chang Heng.


The Daily Moth based this report on an article from "The Star" Online:…/factory-worker-arrested-over-…/




That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!

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