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George, Amal Clooney donate $500,000 to Parkland shooting survivors, Oprah Winfrey matches amount

Nearly a week after the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school, George and Amal Clooney have announced they will participate in The March For Our Lives on March 24 and have donated $500,000 to the group.

>> Read more trending news 

The celebrity couple made the announcement in a statement from George Clooney. People reported the donation was made in the name of the couple’s 8-month-old twins Ella and Alexander.

“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” Clooney said in a statement. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.”

Related: Gabrielle Union, Kim Kardashian, more celebs call for gun control after Florida school shooting

On Tuesday afternoon, Oprah Winfrey said she is “joining forces” with George and Amal Clooney indicating that she will match their donation:

“George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March For Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”

The March for Our Lives event was announced by Students David Hogg, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky, Jacqueline Coren and Emma Gonzalez, five survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. On Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school, killing 17 people.

Related: Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

The March For Our Lives march will be in Washington, D.C. According to the group’s website, “the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.”

Hundreds of students walk out in mass protest, march to Parkland high school

Hundreds of Florida students at West Boca High School walked off campus Tuesday morning and thousands more at other high school campuses held rallies or remembrances in honor of the 17 students and teachers killed in a shooting rampage  at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week.

>> Read more trending news 

The West Boca High students walked off of campus and headed south to Parkland in a show of solidarity with Douglas High students who have called for stronger gun control measures in the wake of the massacre. 

West Boca High is about 10 miles north of Douglas High.

The students gathered at first in a school courtyard, where hundreds of students chanted “we want change, we want change.”

>> Related: Students to board buses for Tallahassee, where they’ll try to change gun laws 

Later, the students began streaming down the street toward Parkland, where Douglas High is located. Live footage from television news choppers showed dozens of students walking peacefully along major roads.

>> Related: Dallas Mayor pro tem tells NRA it can hold annual convention someplace else 

Kendrick Hong, a 14-year-old West Boca High freshman, said the school was having a moment of silence for Douglas, which was to last 17 minutes, but kids got frustrated and said, “let’s go!”

He said school security tried to stop them but it “just turned into a spontaneous demonstration.” 

“It’s just amazing that all of us just did it.” 

“I just didn’t feel anyone was doing anything about guns,” said Hong, who walked about 4 ½miles before getting a ride to Douglas. 

He said West Boca High Principal Craig Sommer is walking with the kids. 

Hong believes about 90 percent of the school took part in the walk. 

“We are supporting a cause. That’s what so amazing,” said freshman Joey Courtney, 14. 

>> Related: Who was Marjory Stoneman Douglas? 13 things to know about Parkland high school’s namesake

Courtney said teachers also marched with the students “because they don’t feel safe either because of the lack of gun laws.” 

No one should be afraid to go to school,” Hong said. 

Rebeca Rojas, 14, a freshman at West Boca, said, “We have a right to protest. President Trump needs to know that he needs to make a law so that someone can’t get guns so easily.”

>> Related: When is the Stoneman Douglas town hall meeting; what time, what channel? 

At the same time, students at Boca Raton High and Park Vista High west of Boynton Beach held rallies or rememberances on their school campuses.

The public manifestations came as students from Douglas High boarded a bus Tuesday afternoon for Tallahassee, where they planned to press for changes to Florida’s gun laws.

Winning numbers drawn in 'Mega Millions' game

ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday evening's drawing of the "Mega Millions" game were:

17-19-23-24-43, Mega Ball: 14, Megaplier: 3

(seventeen, nineteen, twenty-three, twenty-four, forty-three; Mega Ball: fourteen; Megaplier: three)

These are the top records ‘Black Panther’ has smashed so far 

“Black Panther” has taken theaters by storm, breaking box office goals. 

Over the Presidents Day weekend, the Marvel flick made a whopping $242 million, much more than the $150 million predicted

» RELATED: ‘Black Panther’: Five things to know about the movie’s ties to metro Atlanta

That wasn’t the only success the film saw. It also made history for Marvel, on social media and beyond.

Here’s a list of records the flick has broken. 

Biggest February opening weekend

“Deadpool” previously held the record, raking in $132 million over a Friday to Sunday weekend, according to The Numbers, a site that keeps data on films. “Black Panther” scored a $202-million weekend for its Friday-Sunday opening.

Biggest long holiday opening weekend

“Black Panther” brought in $242 million over the four-day weekend. That’s ahead of  “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which made $200 million during it’s Wednesday to Sunday debut, the Numbers said. It also surpasses “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Spider-Man 2,” which both had $180 million six-day Independence Day weekend premieres.

» RELATED: Atlanta airport nonstop flights to Wakanda from Black Panther

Biggest domestic opening for a black director

This is Ryan Coogler’s third film, behind “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station.” He’s inching closer to F. Gary Gray top selling film “Fate of the Furious,” which earned more than $1 billion worldwide, The Numbers recorded. 

“Black Panther” is also the biggest global debut for a predominantly black cast. “Straight Outta Compton” previously held the record with $66.3 million, according to BuzzFeed.

5th biggest Friday to Sunday opening weekend of all time

Here’s a quick overview of the top five, according to The Numbers:

  1. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” - $284 million 
  2. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” - $220 million
  3. “Jurassic World” - $208 million
  4. “The Avengers” - $207 million
  5. “Black Panther” - $202 million

Most tweeted about film in 2018

It’s garnered more than five million tweets, according to Variety, and inspired several hashtags, including #BlackPantherChallenge#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe and #WakandaForever. And if you type “#BlackPanther,” a Black Panther mask appears. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” took second and third place. 

» RELATED: Atlanta school surprises students with 'Black Panther' movie 

Tahirah Lamont Brown, FedEx’s first African-American woman pilot, reflects on making history

Tahirah Lamont Brown made history in 2002 as the first African American woman hired by FedEx to be a pilot. Brown works with the company as an Airbus captain and line check airman.

According to a Feb. 2 post on the FedEx blog, Brown first stepped into a cockpit in 1992.

>> Read more trending news 

“I still remember it vividly as it was exhilarating. I was 20 years old. My first flight was in a Cessna 172, a four-seat single-engine prop plane,” Brown said. “My instructor in college was with me, along with my supportive, yet reluctant father in the backseat. We took off out of Long Island and flew to Greenwich, Connecticut. I was on top of the world. I could not believe that my view was the sky.”

To make her dream a reality, she had to work two jobs to pay for college and for flight training. She even asked her family for money at one point, promising she would pay them back after.

Brown credits another history maker for helping her on her career path.

“I met Bill Norwood, the first black pilot at United Airlines, while in Tuskegee, Alabama, at Operation Skyhook and he introduced me to OBAP, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals,” Brown said. “That introduction provided me with the guidance I needed, and also helped me with scholarships for flight training.”

“I felt like the world had no limits,” Brown said. 

Read more about Brown’s experience at the FedEx Blog.

Trump sends memo to DOJ asking for bump stock ban after Parkland massacre 

In a newly-signed memorandum less than a week after a teenage gunman killed 17 people inside a Florida high school not too far from President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach estate, Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to propose regulations to ban “all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” like bump stocks.

>> Read more trending news 

>> Related: Second state bans bump stocks, the penalties could put owners away for life

“I expect that these critical regulations will be finalized — Jeff — very soon,” he added, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump made the announcement Tuesday, saying that the memo is the result of a DOJ review of bump stock devices that began in December in the wake of the October massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. He added that the review evaluated whether bump stocks were, in fact, legal under current law.

But because this ban addresses the function of bump stocks — fully automatic fire — and not the devices themselves, it paves the way to ban additional devices, like trigger cranks, that achieve the same effect.

After October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas — the worst in modern American history — House Majority Leader Paul Ryan sided with the NRA in advocating for a regulatory change for the devices instead of a legislative one, despite bipartisan interests in banning bump stocks.

Last fall, the NRA released a statement in support of “additional regulations” on bump stocks, trigger cranks and “devices intended to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles.”

That left the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to regulate bump stocks.

Several states also stepped up to ban bump stocks and or devices like bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to mimic fully automatic fire.

Winning numbers drawn in 'All or Nothing Night' game

ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday evening's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's "All or Nothing Night" game were:

01-02-03-08-09-11-14-17-18-20-22-23

(one, two, three, eight, nine, eleven, fourteen, seventeen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-two, twenty-three)

Atlanta airport offers nonstop flights to Kingdom of Wakanda

“Black Panther” fans rejoice: The world’s busiest airport is officially offering nonstop flights to the fictional Kingdom of Wakanda. Sort of.

>> Read more trending news 

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport shared a photo of a terminal showing a 7:30 p.m. departure time to the hidden city on Twitter Monday, following a holiday weekend that brought in $235 million for the film.

The person behind the airport’s Twitter account had answers to all the essential questions.

According to the state Department of Economic Development, 3,100 people working in Georgia’s booming film industry were employed during the shoot, which started in August 2016 and wrapped up in November 2017.

“We’re incredibly proud that Atlanta has such an important role in the film industry,” Reese McCranie, Hartsfield-Jackson’s director of policy and communications, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McCranie said the airport’s social media team, which he oversees, came up with the idea during a Monday meeting.

Related: ‘Black Panther’ enjoys record weekend at box office

Since its posting, the playful image shared on the airport’s official Instagram and Twitter accounts has reached hundreds of thousands of people.

“We love keeping our customers engaged,” McCraine said. “And it’s important for us to be part of the cultural conversation.”

Unfortunately, the current flight departing from Gate T3 isn’t headed to the Kingdom of Wakanda. But, McCraine said, “we are certainly looking to explore direct service connection. In the meantime, we hope everyone gets to enjoy the movie.”

As for Wakanda, the beauty and wonder of the fictional country was inspired by Africa itself. Before shooting the film, director Ryan Coogler explored the mountainscape of the tiny nation of Lesotho.

Related: 5 things to know about ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler

According to The Washington Post, Wakanda is actually farther north, along the shores of Lake Victoria. “The country is rendered as a Pan-African pastiche; viewers of Black Panther can point to Ghanaian fabrics and Zulu headdresses, Ethiopian tribal body markings and a prominent Bantu tongue,” the Post reported.

The fictional country was also inspired by several African landmarks, including South Africa’s Three Rondavels (or Three Sisters) and the canyon Orbi Gorge.

JROTC cadet who died saving fellow students posthumously admitted to West Point

A 15-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School freshman who, dressed in his JROTC uniform, died while holding a door open so his fellow classmates could escape a gunman with an assault rifle, has been posthumously admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

One of Peter Wang’s life goals was to attend West Point. Though that dream died on Feb. 14 with Wang and 16 of his classmates and teachers, officials at West Point offered him admission to the prestigious program on Tuesday, the day of his funeral. 

Officials took to West Point’s Facebook page to honor Wang, who they said lost his life in service to others.

“The U.S. Military Academy honors Peter Wang with an honorary admission for his bravery and selflessness,” the post read. “One of West Point's priorities is to develop leaders of character who are committed to the values of duty, honor, and country. Peter Wang's actions on February 14th are an example of those very principles and for this reason, the academy honors his dream of being a West Point cadet with a 2025 letter of acceptance.”

“It was an appropriate way for USMA to honor this brave young man,” an official statement from West Point’s public affairs office stated. “West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidates whose actions exemplified the tenets of duty, honor and country.”

The statement also offered the officials’ deepest condolences to Wang’s family and the Stoneman Douglas community. 

Wang has also been awarded the JROTC Medal of Heroism, along with two of his fellow slain freshmen. The Miami Herald reported that Wang would be buried with the medal pinned to his chest.

“It’s my understanding that this is an open casket service and the family requested their son be buried in his JROTC uniform,” U.S. Army Cadet Command spokesman Michael Maddox told the Herald. “The JROTC heroism medal will be on his uniform, but a second ‘keepsake’ medal will be given to the family.”

Maddox told the newspaper that Alaina Petty’s family received her medal Monday at the 14-year-old’s funeral, held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Coral Springs. The family of Martin Duque, also 14, will be presented with his metal at his funeral on Saturday. 

Like Wang, Petty and Duque were members of Stoneman Douglas’s JROTC program.

JROTC.com indicates that the Medal of Heroism is a “U.S. military decoration given by the Department of the Army to a JROTC cadet who performs a heroic act.

“The achievement must be an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding that it clearly sets the individual apart from fellow students or from other persons in similar circumstances,” the website states. “The performance must have involved the acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy fortitude and courage.”  

Maddox told the Herald that additional cadets at Stoneman Douglas may receive awards for courageous actions they took the day of the massacre. For example, junior Colton Haab and other cadets, upon hearing gunshots, ushered several dozen students into the JROTC room.

The cadets grabbed Kevlar sheets used for marksmanship practice and held them up in front of their terrified classmates to shield them from bullets.

“We took those sheets and we put them in front of everybody so they weren’t seen, because they were behind a solid object and the Kevlar would slow the bullet down,” Colton told CNN the day after the shooting. “I didn’t think it was going to stop it, but it would definitely slow it down to make it from a catastrophic to a lifesaving thing.”

“However, the immediate focus right now is on supporting the funerals with dignity and honor, so deserved by these cadets and their families,” Maddox told the Herald. 

Wang became one of the heroes in the shooting after witnesses reported that he held open doors for several other students to flee the gunfire coming from the AR-15 in the hands of accused gunman Nikolas Cruz. Cruz, 19, a former Stoneman Douglas student who was expelled last year, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

Wang’s friends and supporters established a White House petition seeking full military honors for his burial. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 66,000 people had signed the petition.

A petition must reach 100,000 signatures to get a response from the White House. 

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