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Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-stricken aircraft carrier

Acting Navy Secretary Resigns

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned on Tuesday following an uproar over a profanity-laced address to the crew of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced.

Modly submitted his resignation letter to Esper on Tuesday after meeting with his boss one-on-one, a defense official with knowledge of the meeting said.

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Outgoing U.S. intel watchdog fired by Trump says he acted appropriately

Michael Atkinson says he was doing his jobMichael Atkinson, the outgoing top watchdog of the U.S. Intelligence Community, on Sunday said he was fired by President Donald Trump for acting impartially in his handling of the whistleblower complaint that triggered an impeachment probe of the president last year.

“It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General,” Atkinson said in a statement.

Late on Friday, the White House told Atkinson, the Intelligence Community’s inspector general, that he would be terminated from his position in 30 days.

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Coronavirus death toll: Americans are almost certainly dying of covid-19 but being left out of the official count

Coronavirus death toll higher than official count

The fast-spreading novel coronavirus is almost certainly killing Americans who are not included in the nation’s growing death toll, according to public health experts and government officials involved in the tally.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts only deaths in which the presence of the coronavirus is confirmed in a laboratory test. “We know that it is an underestimation,” agency spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

A widespread lack of access to testing in the early weeks of the U.S. outbreak means people with respiratory illnesses died without being counted, epidemiologists say. Even now, some people who die at home or in overburdened nursing homes are not being tested, according to funeral directors, medical examiners and nursing home representatives.

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Landmark skull fossil provides surprising human evolution clues

Landmark skull fossilScientists have solved a longstanding mystery over the age of a landmark skull found in 1921 in Zambia - the first fossil of an extinct human species discovered in Africa - in research with big implications for deciphering the origin of our own species.

The study published on Wednesday involved the so-called Broken Hill skull, also called the Kabwe skull in recognition of a nearby town, discovered by a Swiss miner working in the Broken Hill lead and zinc mine in what was then Northern Rhodesia. Until now, scientists had been in the dark about how old it was, making it difficult to know its place on the human family tree.

But two sophisticated dating methods have determined the skull to be about 299,000 years old, plus or minus 25,000 years, said geochronologist Rainer Grün of Griffith University in Australia, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature. Some experts had hypothesized it was 500,000 years old.

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Appeals court allows Texas to ban abortions during pandemic

5th District Source of AppealA federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Texas can temporarily enforce a ban on abortions as part of its coronavirus response.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay on a ruling from a lower court that had blocked Texas from enforcing the ban. State officials argue the ban is intended to conserve medical supplies for health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus response. But abortion rights advocates say states are using the pandemic as an excuse to block access.

In a 2-1 opinion, the appeals court ruled that the order from the lower court be stayed until an appeal from Texas is considered. The two judges who ruled in favor of a stay were nominated to their posts by President Trump and former President George W. Bush.

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“It was like a beacon of hope”: USNS Comfort arrives at New York Harbor

USNS Comfort

Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, arrived at New York Harbor on Monday from Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia and will begin treating patients on board by Tuesday, March 31.

“I had this incredible feeling of peace that help was finally coming,”said Mayor Bill de Blasio during a press conference at Pier 90 on Monday. Shortly before the media briefing he stood on a nearby rooftop and watched the “moving” image of the military ship pass by the Statue of Liberty on its way to Pier 88. “It was like a beacon of hope,” he added.

The hospital ship will act as a “relief valve” for overburdened New York City hospitals  and treat non-coronavirus patients, said Rear Adm. John Mustin. The ship is equipped with 750 beds, operating rooms and a pharmacy. As similar military ship, the USNS Mercy, docked in Los Angeles on Friday.

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Pentagon leaders indicate coronavirus outbreak could last for months

Mark EsperSenior Pentagon leaders said on Tuesday that the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak that has hit the United States could continue for months and the military would continue to support efforts to counter it for as long as needed.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 550 people in the United States and sickened more than 43,800.

President Donald Trump said on Monday he is considering how to reopen the U.S. economy when a 15-day shutdown ends next week, even as the highly contagious coronavirus is spreading rapidly and hospitals are bracing for a wave of virus-related deaths.

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