Cruise ship “Viking Sky” rescued from rough waters in Norway; Pittsburgh jury says former police officer Rosfeld not guilty in death of Antwon Rose; ISIS no longer has land in Syria and Iraq; Michael Avenatti charged with fraud and extortion; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas to pay $75,000 to settle deaf discrimination lawsuit; Emily Blunt criticized for considering role of woman with Usher syndrome
Cruise ship “Viking Sky” rescued from rough waters in Norway
On Saturday, a cruise ship called the Viking Sky with 1,373 people onboard was traveling west of Norway when it lost power due to engine failure. They sent out a distress signal.
The ship was in the rough Norwegian Sea and there was bad weather where 25 to 30-foot high waves crashed into the ship.
Videos posted on the internet showed passengers struggling to keep their balance as objects slid across the floor with debris falling from the ceiling. There was water rushing inside of the ship.
Due to bad weather, first responders struggled to reach the ship with helicopters and rescue ships, but eventually were able to airlift passengers after hours of waiting.
About 475 people were airlifted off and 20 of those rescued were injured.
Three of the four engines were restarted and the weather improved, so the evacuations stopped.
After more than a day, the boat, accompanied by several tugboats, arrived safely in Molde on Sunday.
Viking Ocean Cruises, which owns the cruise, hasn’t said why the engine failed yet.
An engineer and technical writer from Texas, Trevor English, said that the type of failure in this case is rare and that cruises on large vessels are generally very safe.
He also explained that engines can be fixed quickly, but the storm made it very difficult.
Pittsburgh jury says former police officer Rosfeld not guilty in death of Antwon Rose
On Friday, a jury in a Pittsburgh court said that the former East Pittsburgh police officer, Michael Rosfeld, who shot and killed a 17-year old teenager Antwon Rose, was not guilty of criminal homicide.
The shooting happened last summer after police officers pulled over a car that was involved in a drive-by shooting about ten minutes earlier.
Rose was in the passenger seat, riding with a driver and another person in the back. There was a video that showed Rose being shot as he tried to run away from police officers.
Rose did not have a gun on him, but had an empty handgun magazine in his pocket. There were two guns found in the car.
The former officer Rosfeld was arrested a few days after the shooting and was charged with criminal homicide.
The trial began last Tuesday and after four days the jury decided Rosfeld was not guilty.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explained that Pennsylvania law allows police officers to use force to prevent a suspect from evading arrest if the suspect had attempted a felony or posed a danger to human life.
Attorneys on Rose’s side said Pennsylvania law needs to be changed. There were rallies by people who supported Rose.
The attorney for Rosfeld said the jury had some African-American individuals and said the case had nothing to do with race.
The driver of the car from the shooting last year was not charged. He was an “unofficial taxi driver” who was paid to drive. He wasn’t charged.
The third person, Zaijuan Hester, pleaded guilty two weeks ago to assault and firearms charges related to the drive-by shooting. He is 18 years old.
There was a surveillance video that showed Hester firing a gun at a man standing on a sidewalk, who returned fire.
Rose was in the front seat of the car. He did not fire a weapon.
ISIS no longer has land in Syria and Iraq
On Saturday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is supported by the US, declared that ISIS has lost control of their last land in Syria in the city of Baghouz.
The SDF said a total of 11,000 of its fighters died fighting ISIS.
US military officials and analysts warn that this doesn’t mean that the ISIS is fully eliminated.
They say that ISIS is still a threat in Iraq and Syria and they still have access to hundreds of millions of dollars according to experts’ estimates.
The White House said in February that it would leave 400 US soldiers in Syria for now to keep the peace.
Throughout the war against ISIS, tens of thousands of people have been killed by ISIS with thousands enslaved and many still missing.
The Pentagon said the war has cost the US at least $28.5 billion.
The US started the campaign to fight ISIS, called “Operation Inherent Resolve” in June 2014 and there have been 72 US military deaths with 16 of those killed in action.
Michael Avenatti charged with fraud and extortion
Michael Avenatti was arrested in New York City and charged with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike. He was separately charged in a second case in Los Angeles of embezzling a client’s money and defrauding a bank in Mississippi.
Avenatti was arrested 15 minutes after he tweeted that he would hold a press conference on a scandal involving Nike and high school and college basketball athletes.
Federal officials said Avenatti demanded Nike pay his client $1.5 million to not hold the press conference and then demanded Nike to hire Avenatti to conduct an internal investigation on Nike for between $15 million to $25 million.
The Los Angeles charges accuses Avenatti of lying to a client about a $1.6 million settlement payment — that he took the money for personal use.
He is also accused of submitting fake tax returns to a bank to get over $4 million in loans.
Avenatti is famous for his representation of Stormy Daniels in his lawsuits against President Trump on hush money payments. Daniels said she made a decision to terminate Avenatti’s services weeks ago because he was dishonest.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas to pay $75,000 to settle deaf discrimination lawsuit
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas will pay $75,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit from a deaf woman, Sheryl Meador.
The EEOC explained that Meador was seeking a job with Blue Cross as an open claims examiner. She applied online and sent her resume.
She was invited to take a 35-minute assessment exam, but there was an audio portion that did not have captions or anything that made it accessible.
The lawsuit said Meador contacted Blue Cross to explain she was deaf and needed the audio portion to be accessible, but Blue Cross never responded to her. She tried several times to contact them, but received no response. She never could complete the application and was not hired.
The EEOC and Disability Rights Texas filed a lawsuit in federal court in Texas saying Meador was a qualified individual with a disability and that Blue Cross violated the ADA.
The settlement will require Blue Cross to provide monetary relief to Meador, have annual training on ADA, to inform applicants and employees with disabilities of their rights, and implement a communication policy for deaf applicants to make sure they have access.
Emily Blunt criticized for considering role of woman with Usher syndrome
Deadline Hollywood reported that actress Emily Blunt is in talks to act in a role of a woman who became deaf and blind due to Usher syndrome type III. It has sparked controversy.
This character is based on a memoir written by Rebecca Alexander titled “Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found.”
I read in a National Institutes of Health article that explained there are three different types of Usher Syndrome — type I, where people are born almost completely deaf and loses vision during childhood, type II, where people are are born with some hearing and loses vision during the teenager or adult years, and type III, where people are born with normal hearing and vision but lose the senses later in life.
Alexander has type III and wrote her memoir on her experience. There will be a movie about this with John Krasinski, Blunt's husband, as one of the producers.
Clearly, this is a problematic issue to activists who believe only disabled actors should play disabled roles, as well as to those who support the #DeafTalent movement.
An contributing author for Forbes, Kristen Lopez, who focuses on disabled representation, said this was ten steps back in Hollywood’s progress on disabled actors.
She said it was sad to see her take this role because last year she and Krasinski advocated for authentic deaf representation in the casting of Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds in “A Quiet Place.”
#DeafInMedia tweeted that this was a step backward in terms of casting and borderline #inspirationPorn.
However, Alexander herself tweeted that she was beyond touched and humbled that Blunt and others have teamed up to share her story.
Gallaudet University: [gallaudet.edu]