Billy Graham Passes Away at 99; Winter Olympics Updates; At Least 250 Killed from Bombing in Ghouta, Syria ; Incidents of Police Arresting People for School Shooting Threats; Florida High School Students Demand Action from Lawmakers; Two Police Officers Killed in 24 Hours; DeafBing: Not My Phone
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, February 21. Ready for news?
Billy Graham, the famous Christian preacher/evangelist, has passed away at 99 at his home in North Carolina.
In his life and career, he traveled the world giving sermons to large audiences both in-person and via television and radio. His nickname was “America’s Pastor.”
He has met with all U.S. presidents after World War II — from Truman to Trump, either at the White House or at a different event.
He was also close to Martin Luther King, Jr. Billy was against segregation and had his church services and rallies integrated.
His wife, Ruth Bell, passed away in 2007. They were together for 65 years and raised 5 children.
His son, Franklin, is the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Rest in peace — he lived on Earth from 1918 to 2018.
Updates with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea:
Norway is the medals leaders with 33 total, 13 of them gold. Germany is second with 23 medals, Canada in third with 20 medals.
The U.S. is still in fifth, with 15 medals.
The U.S. just won a gold medal in team cross country (skiing) sprint freestyle: Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins barely beat out Sweden after six laps (three each). It is the first time an American won a gold in cross-country skiing.
Other highlights for U.S. athletes:
Downhill skier Lindsey Vonn won a bronze. She said it is her last Olympics.
A silver medal in the two-woman bobsled: Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs.
A silver medal in 1000m speed skating by John-Henry Krueger. Canada’s Samuel Girard won that race.
Now Canada’s highlights:
A tie for gold medal in the two-man bobsled. They tied with the German team with the exactly the same time.
A gold medal in ice dancing: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They won a silver in 2014, a gold in 2010. They said it’s their last Olympics.
Canada also won gold medals in the men’s ski cross, men’s long-track speedskating, and women’s ski halfpipe.
Other Olympics highlights:
Norway’s skier Marit Bjoergen is the most decorated Winter Olympian in history — with 14 medals, four of them in Pyeongchang.
French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis had a wardrobe malfunction on Monday night — a part of her dress came undone, exposing her left breast. She continued and finished her dance with partner Guillaume Cizeron. The two recovered and won silver, second to Canada.
There are reports and pictures of heavy bombing in Ghouta, Syria from the Syrian regime (led by President al-Assad). This is near Damascus, the capital city.
At least 250 people, including many children, are reported dead. It is said that warplanes and helicopters are circling civilian populations, dropping bombs and barrels with shrapnel.
People in the area say they are overwhelmed and are afraid to go down in basements because they don’t want to be trapped, but there’s nowhere safe. There are terrible pictures of children injured, bloody, and killed.
Some world leaders have called on al-Assad and their ally, Russia, to stop the bombing. But Russia says they are not involved.
The violence and war just keeps going on and on in Syria, with other battles reported in other parts of the country.
There were several incidents of people being investigated by police for threatening to shoot up schools.
Yesterday at Southern California high school, a security guard heard a 17-year old student saying he would go home, get guns, and open fire at the school. He was angry because a teacher said he couldn’t use his headphones.
The security guard alerted the police, who went to the student’s home, finding several guns and ammunition.
The school is El Camino High School. There will be more information (on if the boy was arrested, who owned the guns) at an upcoming news conference.
The second incident was also yesterday in Texarkana, Texas — a 24-year old man, Ricky Rankin, posted a picture on Instagram of an AR-15 rifle with a comment, “I’m thinking about finally going back to school.”
People alerted the police, who arrested him for making terroristic threats.
The third incident was on Monday in Wellston, Michigan — a 17-year old boy, Cullen Shafer, was arrested and charged with terrorism after a high school said they got a threat that he would do a shooting.
When police went to his home, they recovered an AR-15 rifle. Cullen said he was just joking, but he’s now in jail on a $100,000 bond with upcoming court appearances.
There are more similar threats and arrests reported on media.
I read some discussion on the internet talking about “copycats” — when people feel somewhat inspired by the Florida high school shooting. But we see that police officers take threats seriously and will quickly investigate and make arrests.
Students from the Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people died during the Valentine’s Day shooting, have continued to put pressure on Florida lawmakers to do something about gun control.
Yesterday there were several students at the state capitol building in Tallahassee, with more arriving today by bus, riding for more than 400 miles. News showed swarms of students. Their movement is called “NeverAgain.”
Many students in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. walked out of class yesterday and today to demand action on gun control.
Yesterday state lawmakers rejected a proposal to debate a ban on assault weapons, while students watched from the balcony, some crying.
It won’t be easy to change laws in Florida, as pro-gun rights Republicans mostly control it — but Florida Governor Rick Scott ( R ) and the legislature have said they do want to improve background checks, mental health services, and school security.
This isn’t enough for the students and Democratic politicians — as they want a ban on military-style firearms, and a raise in age for gun ownership.
The Florida legislature has a few more weeks before they close their session. Gun issues will be big during the upcoming 2018 elections, which include the governor race. This could also have a cascading effect on nationwide midterm elections.
In related news, yesterday a Florida State Representative’s aide was fired because he said two survivors from the high school, Emma G. and David H., who did a lot of news interviews, were not actually students but paid actors.
There was also criticism on Donald Trump, Jr. for “liking” two tweets saying the student David H. was “coached” by his father, who used to work for the FBI, as a cover-up for their “failed” job in catching the shooter.
So the students are now going through very tough political and media heat, but they don’t look like they’ll be stopping.
There is also a lot of people angry at the NRA National Rifle Association. Someone vandalized a billboard in Kentucky with the words, “Kill the NRA.”
The NRA posted this image on their Facebook wall and commented, “To all American gun owners, this is a wakeup call. They’re coming after us.”
Two police officers from different states were shot and killed within the past 24 hours.
The first is an Alabama officer, Justin Billa. He died last night when approaching the home of a person suspected of killing his ex-wife earlier that day. Police returned fire and after a three-hour standoff, his body was found dead inside.
Billa was an office for two years and leaves behind a wife and a baby son.
The second is an officer in Maryland. He died when he tried to protect a woman in a domestic violence situation. The gunman left in a vehicle with other police officers pursuing him — he shot at them while driving. When he stopped and tried to run into woods, he was shot and killed by officers.
His identity will be released later today.
Fox News reports that at least 15 police officers were killed on duty this year (in the past two months). 12 of those deaths were by gunfire.
Guest DeafBing: Not My Phone by Brandon “Tree” M.
Brandon: Deaf Bing What? You know, when you go out to eat at a restaurant with a group or someone else — you would sometimes put your phone on the table. As you chat, you feel a vibration. You think you got a message, but there’s nothing. Then you find out it’s the other person at the table. That Deaf Bing.
That is all for today! See you tomorrow and stay with the light!