The Daily Moth 5-2-18

May 3, 2018

0:11 - Russia’s Floating Nuclear Power Plant Ship

3:21 - Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Settle With City for $1 Each and $200k Entrepreneurship Program

5:20 - More Details About Showdown Between Mueller and Trump

10:00 - Kanye West Causes More Controversy After Saying Slavery Was a Choice 

12:22 - All New Vehicles Must Have Backup Camera 

13:34 - CNN Investigation Shows 103 Uber Drivers Accused of Sexual Assault or Abuse

17:24 - Interview with Deaf Actress Lauren Ridloff, Nominated for Tony Award



Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, May 2. Ready for news?




Russia’s Floating Nuclear Power Plant Ship


In Russia, there is a new ship that has a nuclear power plant inside of it.


The ship, named Akademik Lomonoso, was created by state-owned company Rosatom. They say it is the world’s only “floating nuclear power plant.”


It is now being towed out of St. Petersburg. It will go around Norway, headed towards a northern Russian city, Murmansk, where it will have its two nuclear reactors loaded up with nuclear fuel.  


Then this fall, the ship will “start up” with its nuclear power. The ship will then be towed to Pevek, in the northeast corner of Russia, close to Alaska.


This journey will take more than a year. The ship doesn’t have propellers, so it has to be towed.


Once the ship arrives, it will be “plugged in” to the city grid. The ship has enough power to support 100,000 people.


Rosatom hopes the ship will be “online” in 2019.


Naturally, there are activists against this whole concept. The organization Greenpeace is concerned this could be “Chernobyl on ice.” Other group says this is a “Nuclear Titanic.”


People are concerned about high waves and strong winds in the Arctic Ocean — what would happen if the ship sunk?


But officials with Rosatom said the ship is safe and has been engineered to tolerate all kinds of weather.


There are several other countries that wants to buy similar ships from Rosatom, so we could see more of this in the future.






Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Settle With City for $1 Each and $200k Entrepreneurship Program


Here is an update on the two black men who were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia as they were waiting to meet a business partner.


The two had not yet ordered anything and a store employee called the police, causing a national outcry.


The men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, has settled with the city for $1 each and a promise from city officials that they will set up a $200,000 program to support young entrepreneurs.


The two men said they felt this was the best way to see the change they wanted to see. Both of their arrest records will be expunged.


The program will be for Philadelphia public high school students.


The Starbucks CEO and the Philadelphia Police Commissioner has apologized for this.


Starbucks will close over 8,000 stores on May 29 during the afternoon to train 175,000 employees on unconscious bias.




More Details About Showdown Between Mueller and Trump


There are more details in the news about the looming showdown between Mueller and Trump.


Mueller met with President Trump’s lawyers in the first week of March to discuss a potential interview with him. The lawyers said Trump didn’t have to show up for an interview.


Mueller then warned that he could issue a subpoena to require Trump to appear before a grand jury.


Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, told Mueller that this was not a game, that he was screwing with the work of the president of the United States.


After this, Mueller’s team gave Trump’s lawyers more information on what they wanted to ask Trump about. Another lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, then wrote down a list of 49 questions that he predicted Mueller would ask.


This list is what was leaked to the press in recent days. So we now understand this list was not written by Mueller — but by Sekulow — and is based on what Mueller is interested in.


President Trump has continued to blast the investigation on Twitter, saying it is a witch hunt.


New Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani said he has an open mind on what the right strategy is, and that he hopes they are getting near the end. He met with Mueller last week to reopen negotiations.


Some have criticized Mueller, saying his investigation is too far-reaching. They say Trump, as president, has the authority to fire people and was not obstructing justice.


Legal analysts say if the two sides continue to spar about the interview, the issue could be brought to the Supreme Court on if Mueller can subpoena Trump. It could take months of court arguments and rulings.


Trump has an option and a right to “take the fifth,” to not say anything or give evidence that would make him look guilty of a crime.


News broke this afternoon that another lawyer has left Trump — it is Ty Cobb, who was Trump’s White House counsel. He is retiring.


Now there are reports Trump is considering hiring Emmet Flood, who was a White House lawyer for George W. Bush and once represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment.




Kanye West Causes More Controversy After Saying Slavery Was a Choice


Musician Kanye West has caused more controversy after he said that slavery sounds like a choice.


This was in an interview yesterday (Tuesday) with TMZ.


Kanye said, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison.”


He asked if they felt he was thinking free and feeling free?


One TMZ employee, Van Lathan, said he didn’t think Kanye was thinking anything, that what he is doing is the absence of thought. He said there are real-world, real-life consequences with his words. He said he was disappointed and hurt that he’s morphed into something that is not real to him.

There were many who agreed with Lathan and criticized Kanye for his statements.


Kanye later tweeted a clarification that he knew slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will, saying his point was that they had stayed in that position even though they had the numbers on their side means they were mentally enslaved.


The controversy is still going on with many sharing their thoughts on the internet. It’s the second straight week of pressure on Kanye, who tweeted last week his love and support for President Trump.




All New Vehicles Must Have Backup Camera


It is now a federal regulation for all new vehicles in the U.S. to have a backup camera.


Congress passed a law in 2008 to require this. The Department of Transportation announced the new rules in 2014 and gave automakers several years to be prepared.


The time is now. Many vehicles already have it, but now even the cheapest car models will be required to have a camera and a monitor.


This is so it will be safer for people and children who walk behind the cars. Backover crashes kill more than 200 people and injure over 12,000 people every year.




CNN Investigation Shows 103 Uber Drivers Accused of Sexual Assault or Abuse


An investigative article from CNN was published that showed 103 Uber drivers were accused of sexual assault or abuse over the last four years.


In many cases women and young teenagers were groped, raped, or assaulted while drinking or inebriated.


31 of the drivers accused have been convicted of crimes with more than 24 currently facing litigation.


Here a few of the cases from the report:


– In San Diego a woman rode an Uber home after a night of heavy drinking. She passed out in the backseat. When she woke up, the driver was raping her. She escaped and call 911. The incident happened one block from her home. The police arrested the driver, John David Sanchez, 54, and later found videos of many other rapes and assaults on his computer. He has been sentenced to 80 years in prison.


– In Miami a woman passed out in an Uber on her way home from a night out drinking. She woke up the next morning with her pants and underwear on the floor. The Uber driver allegedly carried her into the apartment and sexually assaulted her. The woman is part of a class action lawsuit against Uber.


– Another woman in California fell asleep in an Uber in 2016. She woke up with the driver assaulting her. The driver was arrested the next day with her phone. He said the sex was consensual. The DA dropped the case against him. The woman is suing Uber for what happened and for promoting their services as “safe”.


One lawyer fighting against Uber since 2015 said that Uber tries to silence victims by resolving cases outside of court.


Last week Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi said focusing on preventing sexual assault is their new priority. A spokesperson said Uber wants to be a part of the solution. Uber will add new features such as an in-app 911 button and an option to share trip details with family or friends.




Interview with Deaf Actress Lauren Ridloff, Nominated for Tony Award


Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff has been nominated by the Tony Awards for Best Leading Actress in a Play for her role on the Broadway play, “Children of a Lesser God.”


Congratulations to her. I recently had an interview with Ridloff to talk about her role and her acting experiences. Here it is!



Lauren: Hello! Honored to be here.


Alex: Congratulations on your big role! What has it been like acting opposite Jackson Jackson in front of audiences?


Lauren: That's a big question, you know? I’m thrilled to be here. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I’d be here on Broadway. I feel lucky to be with a good cast that was hand-picked by the director, Kenny Leon. He has won many awards and I think his secret to having this production like this work is to look for authenticity in our performances.


Joshua Jackson is a wonderful co-lead and person to work with. He’s always trying to understand better and understand Deaf culture, the language, and I think it shows he has really thought about the Deaf community through his interviews.


Alex: You’re not the only Deaf person onstage or behind the scenes. There are several others involved, and what is that experience like?


Lauren: I want to let you know we also have a Deaf co-director — the Director of Artistic ASL, Alexandria Wailes. She is a very important player in this production. Yes I am proud to say we have a total of five deaf actors including Alexandria.


It is a very Deaf-friendly environment backstage. For example, we just started “Tuesday Family Nights” where the cast and crew will come together before the show to interact with each other with our voices turned off, using sign language. The dressing room is designed to meet our needs. There are door lights, a monitor that will read out the stage manager’s announcements, such as the house being open soon, 15 minutes to places, everything is subtitled on the monitor. There is even a light alert to notify me that the stage manager is saying something. There are always interpreter backstage and after the show so we can interact with fans backstage. There are many more things, and this really sets the standard high for providing accessibility in front and back of the stage.


Alex: Broadway as an art form seems to lean heavily towards sound and music, and in what ways does your play break through barriers in accessibility for viewers?


Lauren: There is accessibility for deaf viewers via the supertitles, which is standard for operas. I just learned this. So the supertitles is a part of the design of the stage, it all flows together, it’s not an afterthought. There is an captioning app and interpreted performances.


As for sound, it’s an interesting discussion on how sound is not yet accessible. But because this is not a musical, sound doesn’t play as a big part as musicals, which focuses on singing and music.  But this play does use sound cues for mood and to preview what is happening next. However, we have wonderful light design that gives some more information. For example, there is a scene with a duck pond. That’s outdoors. How does the audience know this? The lighting will change to show an abstract idea of leaves falling. While hearing people will hear crickets chirping. So there is information shared from light as well as sound. So this is a step, and I feel if we are able to make connections with light and sound, it’ll make a huge difference.


Alex: How much time does it take for you to practice your lines, and how did Joshua Jackson, who I assume had very little experience with ASL and deaf people prior to this, prepare for his role?


Lauren: We started about a year ago. We did readings first. Then last summer we spent three months in the Berkshires doing what is called, “pre-runs.” We did full productions and tested audiences’ reactions on if they liked it and if it was still significant today. After getting a “yes,” we moved on to Broadway. We started rehearsing on February up to opening night on April 11. We invested a lot of time in practicing and getting ready.


For the second question about Jackson, it is interesting, he has some memories of seeing deaf students in his classes in Canada when he was a young boy. There were mainstreamed deaf children. But he didn’t interact with them, he just remembered noticing them. He also saw the movie, “Children of a Lesser God,” but didn’t remember much from it. Then there was nothing up to now.


But I love his perspective on working with deaf actors. He compared it to working with a person who spoke a different language. That’s his perception. He also sees the benefit of working with deaf actors, he said they are unique in that they give so much eye contact. He said that’s something that he has struggled with previous actors, but not with deaf actors. He said he likes the deep connection we make with each other, on learning on how much peripheral vision we have, on if we can see him signing and his cues.


So it has been a learning experience so far, and the longer we work together, the more he understands. He has been fully committed to practicing for this role. He has worked with an ASL tutor and then with the consultant, Alexandria Wailes. Then over the summer we spent hours before every performance to warm up and practice signs. He’s a natural.


Alex: Did you ever watch Jackson on TV shows  “Dawson’s Creek” or “The Affair?”


Lauren: No. Oops! I did see him on “Mighty Ducks.”


Alex: Your husband, Douglas, is a well-known ASL poet who started, “ASL Slam.” Did he influence your performances in any way?

Lauren: Yes, definitely. Our ASL Artistic Director kept on reminding us to sign from our spines. I understood generally what she meant, but one morning I woke up and it just came to me what she meant exactly. Because I thought about Douglas and his ASL performances, when he is on stage, he is so big and powerful. Grandiose. He has sweeping arms. He takes up so much space on the stage. I just realized he signs from the spine, so it extends to his arms. I think that’s lovely and it helps to open up emotions and passion, as well as visibility. So that’s one big way Douglas had an influence on me in my performance.


Alex: Why should we watch the play?


Lauren: Come and see the show to support #DeafTalent. It’s not often that DeafTalent is showcased on a huge platform like Broadway.



Thank you, Lauren for your time! She explained that she got this role after being an ASL and Deaf Culture tutor to the director, Kenny Leon.


Leon wanted to meet a Deaf person and learn more about them so he could make a decision on if he wanted to direct the revival of the play.


Lauren met with him once a week for a year, at coffee shops and at various places in New York City.


After a while, Lauren was contacted to attend readings for the play. She didn’t expect to be offered anything, but after she recited the lines, she got the offer.


Lauren said this was an unique relationship as she was the teacher and Leon the student, then the role was reversed, but that it built a level of trust.


Wow, there's a story behind the story. The play is scheduled to continue up to the fall, and possibly for longer.


The Tony awards ceremony will be on Sunday, June 10 on CBS. This is the only Tony award nomination for the play.


If Ridloff wins, she will join Deaf actress Phyllis Frelich as a Tony winner for the same play — her award was in 1980.




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


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