Believe it or not, another week has passed us by as the majority of the world sits idly at home, wondering when this crisis will end. Fortunately, not everything is about COVID-19 . . . Ok, most things are, but that’s not all that is happening right now.
The world is a big place, and it continues to spin with various current events going on all the time. There were certainly a lot of news items over the past week that had to do with the ongoing crisis, but as you’ll find on this list, not all of them do.
10 Saudi Arabia Pressed The Pause Button In Yemen
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been engaged in armed conflict against the Houthi rebels in Yemen for five years, but on Thursday, they called a ceasefire. Hostile actions are on hold between the two parties for the next two weeks, according to coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki. The break in hostilities has nothing to do with the conflict itself; rather, the fear of COVID-19 spreading in the wartorn nation pressed the Kingdom to back off, if only for a little while. Fortunately, the ceasefire may help the conflict finally come to an end.
Al-Malki also mentioned that the temporary ceasefire could be used to pave the way for peace talks between the Saudi-backed government in Aden and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels currently occupying the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen at the UN, said of the announcement, “I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Coalition for recognizing and acting on this critical moment for Yemen.” The five-year conflict has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of many more.
9 Acting Secretary Of The Navy Resigns
A little more than a week after Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the man who gave him the pink slip has resigned over the whole affair. Former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned his position on Tuesday, a day after a speech he gave to the crew of the Roosevelt leaked. In that clip, Modly told the crew of the Navy’s Aircraft Carrier that their former commander was “too naive or too stupid” to continue his role as Captain of the ship.
Capt. Crozier was relieved of command after an email he sent declaring an emergency on his ship due to the spread of COVID-19 was leaked. When Capt. Crozier departed the ship in Guam, his former crew members could be heard chanting his name in a show of support. Modly flew out to Guam at significant expense to explain his position, which ultimately led him to put in his letter of resignation, in which he stated that, “It is not just missiles that can take us down, words can do it too, if we aren’t careful with how and when we use them,” Modly said. “It’s my fault. I own it.”
8 NASA Unveils Plan For Artemis Base Camp On The Moon
While things on the planet Earth are looking somewhat haggard, NASA is continuing its plan to establish a permanent United States presence on the Moon via the Artemis program. The agency submitted a 13-page report in early April to the National Space Council, which is an advisory group chaired by the Vice President. The report, titled, “NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development,” lays out the plan for justifying and accomplishing a Moon landing in 2024.
The establishment of an Artemis Base Camp is the first major step towards human exploration of the solar system. While probes have been sent to all the planets, and beyond, humans have never been more than 250,000 miles from Earth. Artemis aims to change that in the long-term, but in the near future, it will host up to four astronauts at the Moon’s southern pole for visits of up to one week. As the base develops, it will become the “gateway to Mars,” and the rest of the solar system, though it will be many years before that becomes a reality.
7 The Earth Isn’t Shaking As Much—Possible Side-Effect Of COVID-19
Every day throughout the COVID-19 crisis, people are seeing the effects the disease is having on the world. From pictures of doctors and nurses to empty arenas and highways, the virus has had a significant impact on human activity around the globe. Interestingly, it turns out that the decrease in human movement may have had another impact few people have noticed; the Earth isn’t shaking as much as it normally does. Shaking, in this sense means that the seismic noise detected all over the world has fallen noticeably… at least, noticeably if you’re a seismologist.
All across the planet, seismologists like Andy Frassetto have reported receiving signals “with less noise on top, allowing you to squeeze a little more information.” Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, said, “There’s a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements.” At the same time as people have stopped moving about, Brussels has seen a drop of up to 50% in ambient noise on its measurements. The drop in noise is expected to aid in the detection of smaller earthquakes and volcanic activity more effectively than ever before. Of course correlation does not imply causation, but the timing is interesting regardless.
6 Trump Administration Labels Russian Nationalists As Terrorists
Throughout the United States’ history, the government has recognized numerous foreign organizations as terrorists. There are more than most people realize, but the one group that has managed to avoid the label has finally been hit with the designation by President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, the Trump administration labeled the Russian Imperialist Movement as a terrorist organization. According to the New York Times, “In 2017, the Russian Imperial Movement came up at a trial in Sweden of three men who were accused of plotting bomb attacks targeting asylum seekers. Prosecutors said two of the defendants had traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, to attend 11 days of paramilitary training at a camp operated by the group, fueling their radicalization.”
Nathan Sales, Assistant Secretary of State for Counterterrorism, said of the designation that “these actions are unprecedented…. This is the first time the United States has ever designated white supremacists as terrorists, and this illustrates how seriously this administration takes the white supremacist terrorist threat.” The designation makes it possible for the government to freeze American assets, and take other measures to counter the threat the group poses to National Security. The label only applies to foreign organizations, which is why the Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1865 to continue the fight against Republican efforts to free the slaves after the civil war ended, is excluded.
5 Cardinal George Pell Freed After High Court Overturns Sex Abuse Conviction
On Tuesday, Cardinal George Pell was freed from prison after Australia’s High Court came to the unanimous decision to overturn his conviction on five counts of child sex abuse. The decision handed down by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel brings a five-year legal battle to a close. Pell’s original conviction came as a result of a man coming forward, who alleged that Pell sexually abused him as a child in the mid-1990s. At the time, Pell was the Vatican Treasurer, making him the highest-ranking Catholic official to be publicly accused of child sex offenses.
Upon his release from prison, Pell issued a statement, in which he said, “I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough…. The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not.” His accuser also released a statement following Pells release, where he wrote, “I would hate to think that one outcome of this case is that people are discouraged from reporting to the police. I would like to reassure child sex abuse survivors that most people recognize the truth when they hear it. They know the truth when they look it in the face.”
4 Space Criminal Anne McClain Cleared Of All Charges
Yes, you read that correctly; there really is such a thing as a ‘space crime,’ and this week, an astronaut who had such a charge was cleared after her accuser was found to be lying. Army astronaut Lieutenant Colonel Anne McClain was alleged by her wife, Summer Worden, to have illegally accessed her bank account as the couple were going through a divorce. The allegations were made while McClain was circling the planet, aboard the International Space Station. At the time the charges were made, McClain became the first person to have committed a “space crime.”
McClain was investigated for committing the crime while aboard the ISS, but instead of seeing the astronaut end up behind bars, it seems her accuser might wind up spending some time in jail for making false allegations. Worden, herself a former Air Force intelligence officer, now faces a two-count Federal grand jury indictment in Houston, Texas, over filing a false complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. The other count alleges she made a false statement in an interview with NASA investigators. Worden now faces up to five years in prison on each count and a $250,000 fine.
3 China Lifted The Lockdown On Wuhan, The Origin Of COVID-19
When word of a new SARS-like coronavirus began making news in late 2019, there weren’t many people outside of Wuhan, China that were as concerned as the doctors and nurses working in the city. It took some time, but the Communist Party of China took action by locking down the city of 11 million people. That lockdown was finally lifted after the city’s residents waited in their homes for a total of 76 days. While the numbers have been called into question for their validity, China has reported that more than 50,000 Wuhan residents were infected, and more than 2,500 died.
The lockdown was lifted at midnight local time on Wednesday, and almost immediately, thousands of people took advantage of the relaxed restrictions to leave the city by train, or by car. There were some restrictions still in place, though, and only the people who could prove to authorities via a government-sanctioned app, that they weren’t at risk to spread the virus could leave Wuhan. The easing of restrictions is a signal of hope to the rest of the world, which has seen more than 83,500 deaths from COVID-19 infections.
2 Transgender Sports Ban Passed In Arizona
Arizona lawmakers have just passed a bill preventing people from competing in women’s sports if they are not biologically female. The bill, called the “Save Women’s Sports Act” caused a great deal of upset with the Democrats in the Arizona congress who vehemently opposed the law citing “hundreds” of businesses that want to see male to female transgenders competing in women’s sport.
The bill initially required a physical exam from a doctor in disputed cases where the competitors gender may not match her sex at birth, but was altered for the sake of privacy in favor of DNA tests being performed without genital exposure. The bill comes as a reaction to college campuses conflating sex with gender and allowing a person to compete based on their self-assessed gender identity. It is not yet known whether the bill will be signed into law by the Arizona governor, Republican Doug Ducey.
1 Bernie Sanders Bowed Out Of The 2020 US Presidential Race
On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign for President. His announcement came as a surprise to many, as he still had a mathematical possibility of winning the needed number of delegates to secure the nomination. Granted, that was unlikely, but Sanders showed no signs of backing down until he finally did on April 8. The Vermont Senator issued a statement in which he said, “I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth. And that is that we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible.”
The 2020 Democratic Primary has been wrought with problems since COVID-19 hit the country with social distancing guidelines, making it all but impossible for states to hold their elections. Those issues were likely in mind when he opted to suspend his campaign, though he acknowledged his supporters’ desire to see him continue. “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.” Biden issued a statement following the news, in which he said Sanders “has put his heart and soul into not only running for President but for the causes and issues he has been dedicated to his whole life.”