April 24, 2015

American history teachers will soon have a powerful tool in their arsenal.

Paramount Pictures' Home Media Distribution division announced that it will provide a complimentary copy of Ava DuVernay's Selma to every public and private high school in the U.S. Selma chronicles the march that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led from Selma to Montgomery for equal voting rights.

"By providing DVDs to all of the high schools in the country, we hope to reach all 18 million high school students with the film's powerful and inspiring story," Megan Colligan, a Paramount executive, said in a statement. "With many of these students preparing to vote for the first time in next year's elections, it is especially fitting that they witness the bravery and fortitude of those who fought to establish the Voting Rights Act of 1965." Meghan DeMaria

6:49 a.m.

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. rose to $3.008 a gallon Wednesday, the first time gas prices have topped $3 a gallon since 2014, Bloomberg News reports, citing AAA data. The proximate cause of the rise in gas prices is the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline due to a suspected Russian ransomware cyberattack. The pipeline carries 45 percent of all fuel to the East Coast, and news of the pipeline suspension, plus the resulting higher prices, led to gas shortages throughout the Southeast.

"This is our fault," Devin Singer of Wilmington, North Carolina, told The Washington Post. "This whole thing. The people's fault. Same thing with the whole toilet paper shortage. Everybody wants something and nobody has it, so we all freak out and then nobody can get it. It's mass hysteria." Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm essentially agreed with that analysis Tuesday evening and asked Americans to stop "hoarding gasoline."

But the rise in gas prices also coincided with a shift toward the summer driving season, when gas prices are higher, and concerns on Wall Street about rising inflation. Stock futures were slightly lower in the U.S. early Wednesday in anticipation of the Labor Department's monthly report on consumer prices. Peter Weber

5:58 a.m.

The U.S. was administering an average of 3.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses a day in mid-April, and then, to the alarm fo public health officials, the numbers started steadily declining, dropping to a seven-day average of 1.98 million doses a day on May 8. Since then, the numbers have started rising again, hitting an average of 2.2 million daily doses administer by Wednesday, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data tabulated by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Andy Slavitt, a White House COVID-19 adviser, gave the slight uptick a thumbs-up on Tuesday.

About 44.7 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, including 71.6 percent of people 65 and older, the Journal reports, though those number varies from state to state. Connecticut, for example, has fully vaccinated 56.3 percent of all adults, while Alabama has vaccinated 33.2 percent. The overall vaccination rate is primed for a bump as adolescents age 12 to 15 become eligible, likely later this week.

The U.S. recorded its fourth straight day of fewer than 40,000 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday — Johns Hopkins University recorded 33,000 new cases, down from Monday's 36,898 cases. The last time the seven-day average of new cases — 38,826 as of Monday, the Journal reports — was that low is back in the mid-September trough between two waves of infections. Another 684 Americans died of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the recorded U.S. pandemic total to 582,800 deaths. Peter Weber

4:56 a.m.

"Today, President Biden met with six state governors to discuss ways that they can get more Americans vaccinated," Jimmy Fallon said on Tuesday's Tonight Show. "They spent about 15 minutes coming up with ideas and three hours talking about if Bennifer is back." The Biden administration "is teaming up with McDonald's to raise vaccine awareness, so get ready for the all new McDerna," he joked. "You know we're living through historic times when McDonald's is giving public health advice."

"Meanwhile, over in Italy, a nurse accidentally gave a woman six doses of the Pfizer vaccine in one shot," Fallon said. "I'm 99 percent sure this is how every Marvel movie starts."

The six-dose vaccine shot "was all part of Olive Garden's famous promotion, unlimited needle sticks!" Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. "There are so many hopeful signs, at long last, that America may be emerging from the pandemic," including that "more than 58 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one shot," kids 12-15 will soon be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, "and Bennifer is back! Nature is healing."

New York City will start vaccinating people at subway stops, and Biden announced Tuesday that Uber and Lyft will drive people to and from vaccination appointments for free, Colbert noted. "This is great for patients and even greater for any Uber drivers who have thought, 'I love working during the pandemic but I just wish there was a way to make sure that 100 percent of my passengers were unvaccinated.'"

The Late Show also found a cure for another contagious disease, "Foxitis."

Vaccination drives are "just what the subway needs: More random band-aids and needles on the ground," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. New York City is also incentivizing vaccinations with "free food, free tickets to events, and the opportunity for one lucky vaccinee to to be starting quarterback for the New York Jets this season."

"Here in California, Caitlyn Jenner's learning that running for governor isn't exactly like running in the Olympics," Kimmel said. "She is polling at 6 percent in our upcoming recall election, well behind two other Republicans. You know who those other Republicans are who are ahead of Caitlyn Jenner? No, no one does, no one has any idea, because none of them were on the E! network." He ended with a surprise for the menthol soap guy who went viral on TikTok. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:15 a.m.

"A conspiracy ripping through the anti-vax world may finally drive some anti-maskers to do the unthinkable: wear a mask and keep their distance," Vice News reports. The conspiracy theory claims, falsely, that vaccinated people "shed" certain proteins that can infect unvaccinated people and cause some sort of harm, usually tied to reproduction. ("It is biologically impossible for a vaccinated person to spread the vaccine to someone who hasn’t been vaccinated," The Associated Press says.)

For those who do believe that vaccinated people can somehow infect them with vaccine proteins — one private school in Miami barred vaccinated teachers from interacting with unvaccinated students — some "anti-vax influencers" are suggesting they protect themselves by "social distancing, the very strategy the have long decried," Vice reports. Others "conspiracy theorists are wondering if perhaps their longtime bane, the mask, could become their salvation."

Several people who study the anti-vax and anti-mask movements said they are skeptical mask-wearing will take hold in those communities. Other observers found the conundrum delightful and perhaps a little too perfect to be true.

In any case, "while the conspiracy is baseless, the fear it is causing vaccine skeptics is very real," Vice says. "And where there is a fear, there's money to be made." You can read more at Vice News. Peter Weber

1:50 a.m.

Over the last 20 years, so many forests have regenerated worldwide that they could fill up France, according to a new World Wildlife Fund study.

There were different ways the forests were regenerated — in some areas, nothing was done, while in others native trees were planted, invasive plants removed, and livestock fenced off, BBC News reports. Natural forest regeneration is "cheaper, richer in carbon, and better for biodiversity than actively planted forests," WWF's William Baldwin-Cantello said.

The documented forest regeneration occurred in northern Mongolia, Canada, central Africa, and Brazil, where an area about the size of the Netherlands has regrown since 2000. These regenerated forests could absorb the equivalent of 5.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which is more than the U.S. emits every year, BBC News reports.

To "realize the potential of forests as a climate solution," there needs to be more than just the restoration of natural forests, Baldwin-Cantello said. The world must also combat deforestation. Catherine Garcia

12:38 a.m.

"Israel versus Palestine — and I know that even saying that sentence means I'm losing followers online and I'm on the verge of being blocked on all social media and in life," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "But guys, we have to talk about it. Because this is one of the most difficult stories that has existed in our lifetime," even more than India versus Pakistan, China versus Tibet, or "white people versus rhythm."

Israel versus Palestine "is a 73-year-old beef that has that has stumped everybody," Noah said, and because it has gone on for so long, "people forget that it is ongoing — that is, until there are flare-ups that the world cannot ignore," like what happened this week. What makes the conflict so difficult to discuss is "all the layers that are packed into it," he said. "No matter how much you try and break it down, people are always going to say that you're leaving out some crucial piece of context," and "they're probably right."

There's the Holocaust, Britain's seizure of Palestine, clashing religions, and surrounding countries with their own agendas, Noah said. "And you know what makes it even harder is the fact that who's right and who's wrong always seems to change depending on when you start measuring time. This week was the perfect, perfect example of it." But "I don't want to have that argument," he said, "the part where we say who's good and who's bad and who started it. Let's step away from that and instead ask a different question. Instead, let's look at who's dead and who's alive this week."

It's just not a fair fight, Noah concluded, "and I know this is contentious, and I know people are going to hate me for this, but I just want to ask an honest question here: If you are in a fight where the other person cannot beat you, how hard should you retaliate when they try to hurt you?" He ran through some imperfect personal analogies, admitted he didn't have any answers, and left viewers with one question: "When you have this much power, what is your responsibility?" Peter Weber

12:37 a.m.

The reason why some gas stations are running out of fuel isn't because of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday, but rather because people are panic buying.

"Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline," Granholm told reporters.

Running from Texas to New Jersey, the Colonial Pipeline transports 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel supply. It shut down on Friday when the company learned it was the target of a ransomware attack, but the pipeline is expected to be "substantially operational" by the end of the week, Granholm said.

On Tuesday, more than 1,000 gas stations in the South and along the East Coast reported being out of fuel. There are long lines at other stations, and this is due to a "supply crunch" rather than a worrisome shortage, Granholm said. With summer approaching, gasoline prices are starting to go up, and Granholm warned gas station owners there will be "no tolerance for price gouging." Catherine Garcia

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