The Daily Moth 5-14-2019

WhatsApp hacking; Tensions with Iran; Man charged with murdering Deaf Kansas City man Matthew Calkins; Deaf couple and son survive house fire; John Maucere featured in United commercial

Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Tuesday, May 14. Ready for news?


WhatsApp hacking

WhatsApp announced that there was a hacking attempt by an advanced, unknown outside organization that targeted their users through the call function to gain access to private messages, location data, and other information.

WhatsApp said they have fixed the breach and have issued new versions of their iPhone and Android apps, and said users should update your apps.

It is not known what organization hacked in the phones, but there is a report by the Financial Times that an Israeli company, NSO Group, is behind this, and that this was to target human rights activists.

NSO said this was not true. They said that they do work with government agencies to fight crime and terror, but that they don’t operate or identify their targets.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook.


Tensions with Iran

There have been increasing tensions between the U.S. and Iran with leaders on both sides warning about a war.

This started last week when the Trump administration said they received intelligence that Iran or their supporters may be preparing attacks against American forces.

The U.S. deployed military ships, B-52 bombers, and other equipment to the Persian Gulf in response.

Today, Saudi Arabia, an ally of the U.S. and a rival of Iran, said drones attacked one of their oil pipelines, two oil tankers, and two oil tankers from other countries.

An Iranian leader said the U.S. made a mistake in sending military ships in the region and is playing a very dangerous game.

President Trump warned Iran today, saying if they attacked them, they would suffer greatly.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that top U.S. military advisors have developed a plan to send up to 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East if Iran strikes U.S. forces.


Man charged with murdering Deaf Kansas City man Matthew Calkins

Here is a major update on the murder of Deaf Kansas City man Matthew Calkins. reported that Colton Stock, who lived at the home where Calkins’ body was found after a fire, was charged with killing Calkins, dismembering his body, and setting it on fire.

The report said an autopsy determined that Calkins was shot twice. Court documents said some parts of his body are unaccounted for.

Yesterday The Daily Moth explained in a report that on May 5, there were reports of gunfire at Stock’s home and when police arrived, they saw that the basement was burning, then found the body afterwards. The reported gunshots was not related to Calkins, but to another man who said Stock tried to kill him after he went in the basement to look at a motorcycle.

Stock was charged with assault in relation to the other man, and now he is charged with murdering Calkins. It is not known his motive.

He is in the Clay County jail with a $1 million cash only bond.

During my interview yesterday with Chad Nystrom, who is a long-time friend of Calkins, he said that Calkins often went to Stock’s basement.




Deaf couple and son survive house fire

A house fire survivor, Brittany Ellenbecker, who resides in Rochester, New York posted her video that went viral. Brittany- who is pregnant with her 2nd child, her boyfriend Garrett, and her just turned 4 year old son, Levi survived a house fire two weeks ago. Brittany was downstairs in her house fixing up breakfast for her son. She started to smell smoke then the next thing she knew, her boyfriend- Garrett (who is also Deaf) came downstairs to alert her about the fire upstairs. Within seconds, their lives changed. The Daily Moth reached out to Brittany to have her share her story.

BRITTANY ELLENBECKER: I actually believe there are angels watching over my family because my partner, Garrett, was still asleep. I was nearby in the bathroom. I was getting ready for work, picking out clothes, putting on makeup, brushing my teeth, my phone and hearing aids and getting everything set up. Then my son, who’s three, came in and told me he needed to go to the bathroom. My attention shifted to him, I changed his clothes, he went to the bathroom, brushed his teeth and after that, he wanted to eat breakfast downstairs. In midst of getting ready for work, I dropped that and went with my son downstairs. All of the sudden, a fire broke out on the exact spot where I was standing just prior.

Renca: The fire started in the bathroom upstairs. Brittany also mentioned that Garrett tried to put out the fire and ended up burning his eyebrows, eyelashes, and front hair. We asked how she was feeling right now.

ELLENBECKER: Overwhelmed. Blessed. Know why? The community has been so supportive since that day. We took a gamble, a risk to ask for help which was not an easy thing to do. We did it and we’re blown away by your kindness. We’re touched and we’ve been overwhelmed everyday. You sent clothes, food, essentials, funds for the roof repair…you know that quote, “It takes a village”?

It does indeed hold true. Without the village, we wouldn’t be able to move forward in life as we have.

Renca: We asked if she could share some important tips that she learned.

ELLENBECKER: If there is a fire, you do not have time to collect your things before you go. A fire is a beast, a monster. It moves very fast. You do not have minutes to survive, because all it takes is seconds. I have some tips for you. Make sure your outlets in the kitchen and bathroom are GFCI certified where you can click on it, and test it every month. Your fire alarm should be deaf friendly with flashing lights in any location. Test this monthly also. You should have fire extinguishers set up on every floor. They should be unexpired and you have to learn how to use them. You should clean the dryer vent pipe every spring. For your important possessions, such as a phone, charger, water, or other things, try to put them in one place so if there is a fire emergency, you can quickly grab them and go.

Renca: Thank you Brittany for sharing your story. You can see her original vlog and the Gofundme page if you would like to give support. Both links are in the transcript.

On the National Fire Protection Association website, there is a page that is specifically about tips of safety for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people with a video in sign language. We included this link in the transcript too.

Original Vlog:



John Maucere featured in United commercial

Deaf comedian and actor John Maucere was featured in a United commercial with a flight attendant, Courtney, who knew ASL.

[First clip of commercial -- pick parts that show Maucere with flight attendant]

The Daily Moth reached out to Maucere to share how he got on the commercial.

[First clip of interview, 0:00 to 0:33]

JOHN MAUCERE: So here’s how it started back in January, I decided to thank this person, and how he did such a great job, on my flight from London to Los Angeles? Did you see that video? I wanted to show my gratitude and asked him if I could post the video on my Facebook. He said, Sure!

So I posted it…

The video was getting around until this one person reached out to me asking why I don’t caption my videos. I’m clueless when it comes to using computer, but they said they could create a transcript for me to add to my post. I said, “Sure and I’ll give you credit!”.

Bam, the transcript is posted.

[Show original Facebook post -- link below]

[Second clip of interview, 0:34 to end]

MAUCERE: Then boom, the video was starting to go viral.

And then United reached out to me and that was a surprise for me. They liked the story about me and the flight attendant Courtney. We started to really talk it and as a result, we created this video.

Who’s that person I’m talking about? I want to acknowledge him and thank him…

Benjamin Lewis. I thank him and now moving forward, if you are a hearing person who put in effort in learning ASL, interacting with people with positive attitudes, you should look at each other in the eyes and say, “Thank you”.

Or ask them if you can post their videos on social media with their permission.

When that video was posted, the captioning part was done by who can caption for you and give you more recognition.

More importantly, be sure to hashtag #AmericanSignLanguage, #signlanguage for the international sign languages and #Thankyou.

Yeah…thank you.

Alex: Thank you, Maucere, for sharing.

In the commercial, there was a neat part where Courtney went to visit a comedy show by Maucere. The audience had several well-known Deaf actors in it.

[Second clip of commercial -- pick parts that show stand up comedy show and the hug between Maucere and Courtney and the group picture at the end]

It’s a nice feature of a Deaf United customer and the value of employees who know ASL. We can take Maucere’s advice to acknowledge hearing employees who can sign, and feature them on our social media. You never know, you might end up being in a commercial.

United Commercial:

John Maucere Original Post:


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