Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jan 27, 2020 in Stuff You Should Know

Coronavirus Hits China

It’s winter, and that means it’s cold and flu seasons. But while many Americans are rushing to get their flu shots, in other parts of the world, a new and deadly virus is spreading. It’s called coronavirus, and so far, it’s claimed at least 26 people in China. Almost 2,000 have become infected in China. There are five confirmed cases of the virus in the United States as of the start of this week.

Chinese health authorities are taking extreme precautions to contain the deadly, pneumonia-like virus, including quarantining the city of Wuhan–and all 11 million people who live there. Armed police guard the train station, and all trains and buses in and out of the city have been canceled, as have many flights. Anyone wishing to drive out of the city must have their temperature checked by health workers. And all across China, authorities have ordered people to wear medical masks in public places.

The outbreak comes at an especially bad time: last weekend was the start of the Lunar New Year, with hundreds of millions of people planning to travel for the holiday. Many Chinese cities canceled their New Year festivities in an attempt to limit the spread of the disease. It’s believed that the virus started in a Wuhan market, where people could purchase snakes and other exotic animals to eat. So far, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet declared a public health emergency. Scientists feel optimistic that the origin and genome sentence of the disease was identified early, and that so far, the virus doesn’t seem to be rapidly evolving–all positive signs for containment.

Dig Deeper In 2002, China was the origin of the deadly SARS epidemic. Use Internet resources to learn more about SARS. How is today’s coronavirus outbreak similar to that epidemic? How does it differ?

American Hero

Have you ever heard of Doris “Dorie” Miller? You may not remember his name offhand, but you’ve probably seen his photo in your history textbooks. That’s because in 1941, during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Miller was working as a mess attendant on the USS West Virginia (at the time, African American sailors were only allowed to do work such as cooking and cleaning). When the attack started, Miller bravely made several trips up to the deck, carrying down wounded soldiers. After that, he took over an anti-aircraft machine gun–which he had never been trained on–and fired it at the Japanese warplanes for about fifteen minutes or so, until his ammunition ran out.

Miller survived. For his courage during the Pearl Harbor attack, he became the first African American sailor to be awarded the Navy Cross. In 1943, the U.S. Navy started using Miller’s face on recruitment posters (which is probably why you’ve seen him before). Tragically, Miller was killed in battle in 1943, when the ship he was on was struck by a Japanese torpedo in the Pacific. After his death, he was awarded a Purple Heart and other honors.

Now, the Navy has announced that it will honor Miller’s memory and service by naming an aircraft carrier after him. This is historic for two reasons: first, it will be the first aircraft carrier ever to be named after a person of color; and second, it will be the first time that a sailor has ever been honored this way for his actions while enlisted.

Dig Deeper Miller was not the first African American to be awarded a Purple Heart. Who was? Use Internet resources to write a paragraph about that person’s story.

Scandal in Puerto Rico

Last week, btw brought you information about the series of earthquakes hitting Puerto Rico this year, also known as an “earthquake swarm”. On top of all of that, the island is now facing major political turmoil . . . for the second time in a year.

Here’s what’s happening: you may remember that last July, former Governor Ricardo Rossello was indicted in a scandal involving hundreds of pages’ worth of offensive texts exchanged with his top aides. Once he stepped down, finding a replacement was difficult because many of the people who were in line to replace him were also involved in the scandal. Finally, Wanda Vazquez, the former justice secretary, took over in August. Last week, however, Vazquez also came under attack, this time after the discovery of a warehouse full of disaster relief supplies that were never distributed. The warehouse, located in the southern city of Ponce, contained food and bottled water, tarps, sheets, air mattresses, and other supplies. Much of the food and water dated back to 2017 and was already expired.

Angry protestors swarmed outside the gates of the governor’s mansion last Monday. Governor Vazquez has already fired several of her top cabinet members, including the head of emergency management, the Housing Secretary, and the Department of Family Secretary. But that wasn’t enough to appease Monday’s protestors, who organized an island-wide strike and demanded the governor’s resignation.

The discovery of the contents of the warehouse comes at a particularly bad time: just last week, the White House announced that it would be sending $8.2 billion in disaster relief aid to Puerto Rico. Gov. Vazquez has stated that she doesn’t think the recent scandal will affect whether or not the island receives these promised funds.

Dig Deeper Much of the food and water discovered in the warehouse dated back to 2017. What event happened in Puerto Rico in 2017 that would have required disaster relief supplies?

Trump Adds More Countries to Travel Ban

person waiting in line at airport check-in desk
The Trump administration is proposing new changes to the controversial travel ban. Credit: Ryan McVay/Getty Images

The week he took office in 2017, Trump made one of his most controversial executive orders: his travel ban, which prevented virtually all people from certain nations from entering the United States, whether as travelers or immigrants. At the time, the hotly debated act included nations that are majority-Muslim–Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Libya–which is why many critics refer to it as the “Muslim travel ban.” North Korea and Venezuela were later added to the original ban. Despite widespread protests that the ban was racist and anti-Islam, the Supreme Court upheld a version of it, claiming that it was constitutional under the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.

Last week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump announced that he plans to add seven more countries to the ban: Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that these countries will face a total ban, they will experience varying degrees of travel restrictions.

Supporters of the ban say that it is important to national security and for protecting the safety of our citizens. They also point out that it can’t be considered an anti-Muslim ban, because it includes several nations that don’t have predominantly Muslim populations. However, critics question the necessity for these measures and say that it’s especially problematic to restrict travel from Nigeria, which is the most populous country in Africa.

What Do You Think? Use Internet resources to learn more about the 1965 Immigration and National Act. In your opinion, does this legislation allow the president to ban all people from certain countries from entering the United States? Explain.