American Legion Daily News Clips 3.25.20

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Wednesday, March 25, 2020 which is International Waffle Day, American Red Cross Giving Day, National Lobster Newburg Day and National Medal of Honor Day.

Today in History:

  • In one of the darkest moments of America’s industrial history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burns down, killing 146 workers, on this day in 1911. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of factory workers.
  • The first colonists to Maryland arrive at St. Clement’s Island on Maryland’s western shore and found the settlement of St. Mary’s. In 1632, King Charles I of England granted a charter to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, yielding him proprietary rights to a region east of the Potomac River in exchange for a share of the income derived from the land. The territory was named Maryland in honor of Henrietta Maria, the queen consort of Charles I. Before settlement began, George Calvert died and was succeeded by his son Cecilius, who sought to establish Maryland as a haven for Roman Catholics persecuted in England. In March 1634, the first English settlers–a carefully selected group of Catholics and Protestants–arrived at St. Clement’s Island aboard the Ark and the Dove.
  • 1932: The Supreme Court hands down its decision in the case of Powell v. Alabama. The case arose out of the infamous Scottsboro case. Nine young black men were arrested and accused of raping two white women on train in Alabama. The boys were fortunate to barely escaped a lynch mob sent to kill them, but were railroaded into convictions and death sentences. The Supreme Court overturned the convictions on the basis that they did not have effective representation.
  • On March 25, 1774, British Parliament passes the Boston Port Act, closing the port of Boston and demanding that the city’s residents pay for the nearly $1 million worth (in today’s money) of tea dumped into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773.


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Stripes: Two veterans die from coronavirus at New York VA hospitals
Published: March 24, 2020
WASHINGTON — Two more veterans died after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday.
Both veterans were being treated at VA facilities in New York — one at the New York Harbor Healthcare System and the other at the Bronx VA Medical Center. The veterans’ identities had not been made public Tuesday. The veteran at New York Harbor, in his or her 70s, died Friday, and the veteran at the Bronx VA, who was in his or her 60s, died Saturday.
The announcement doubled the number of coronavirus deaths at VA facilities from two to four. A 70-year-old man died at the VA hospital in Portland, Ore., on March 14. A veteran in his mid-90s died March 19 at the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont.
The VA, which operates 172 hospitals and serves more than 9 million veterans, reported Tuesday that it had administered 2,726 coronavirus tests nationwide.
The department had 296 positive cases across 74 VA facilities Tuesday. On Monday, the VA reported 204 cases across 50 locations.
New Orleans continues to account for many of the coronavirus patients in the VA system, with 63. Behind New Orleans, the locations with the most cases were Atlanta with 17, New York Harbor with 13 and Washington, D.C., with 10.
A spokesman for the New Orleans VA Medical Center said Monday it was unclear why the facility had so many more patients than other VA hospitals.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told veterans organizations Sunday he had sent teams of medical professionals to help with the pandemic response in New York City and was preparing to send more to New Orleans.
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

Army Times: Three Army field hospitals ordered to New York, Washington states

Kyle Rempfer
15 hours ago
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has issued deployment orders to three Army hospital centers, the service said Tuesday afternoon.
The orders will deploy the 531st Hospital from Fort Campbell, Kentucky; the 627th Hospital from Fort Carson, Colorado; and the 9th Hospital from Fort Hood, Texas, to deploy to New York and Washington states.
All of those units are active duty, an Army headquarters spokesperson said. The field hospitals could arrive at their destinations in as few as seven days or less, they added.
New York and Washington have been among the worst hit states thus far by the coronavirus pandemic. Washington has reported more than 2,000 cases, while New York’s numbers surpass 20,000, according to the Center for Disease Control.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that Army field hospitals, which can have as many as 250 beds each, will likely be sent first to New York City and Seattle, two cities with hospital systems overwhelmed by the pandemic.
“Once that’s confirmed, we will look at sending to other places,” Esper said. “We will, of course, take our sourcing guidance from” the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal agency that coordinates disaster response plans.
There are other hospitals and expeditionary medical facilities across the other military services that could eventually be tapped, the defense secretary said.
Esper also said that a majority of medical professionals in field hospitals and hospital ships that could be called upon will come from the reserves components.
“The balance will likely come from active-duty military treatment facilities,” he added. “We’re very conscious, as we draw people to staff up the ships or the hospitals.”
The Army hospitals will bring with them a suite of facilities that amount to full hospital capability, Army headquarters said in its press release. Though they’re designed to be trauma hospitals, the units can also function as full-service medical facilities for all types of patients.
The hospitals come with intensive-care-unit beds, immediate-care beds, operating rooms, an emergency department, X-ray technology and pharmacies.
The Army’s deployments come after it was announced that the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort will deploy to New York within two weeks to assist overcrowded hospitals there.
Esper noted that deployed units will be working with FEMA and the CDC during their stateside missions, but cautioned that the U.S. military will have to retain assets for internal needs.
“We only have so much capacity to begin with because again, at the end of the day, we have to protect our mission capabilities,” Esper said Monday. “There’s going to be a limit to what we can provide if we want to safeguard our military capability."
The Pentagon has also tasked the Army Corps of Engineers to retrofit hotels and other facilities into medical clinics and the National Guard chief has stated that he expects tens of thousands of Guard personnel to ultimately be called upon during the public health crisis.

Military Times: Panel to recommend making women register for the draft

Leo Shane III
17 hours ago
A panel charged with evaluating the Selective Service System will recommend requiring women to register future military drafts, according to congressional sources briefed on the upcoming report.
The bipartisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service — which spent the last two years holding information sessions on the issue — is set to release its findings on Wednesday.
They will include for the first time requiring women between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for potential conscription in the event of a prolonged war, as all young men are currently required to do.
The idea has gained traction among some women’s rights groups and complaints from some conservative activists in recent years. In the past, courts have ruled against adding women to the draft because certain combat posts were closed to them, but Pentagon officials in recent years have lifted nearly all those restrictions.
In a statement on Tuesday, House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, praised the commission’s work and promised to closely consider the findings.
“Opening Selective Service to women is just one of their recommendations,” he said. “I look forward to examining the data and arguments the commission has compiled more closely.
“In the meantime, it is important that my colleagues have an opportunity to hear from the Commission directly. I believe that public hearings in the Armed Services Committee and other relevant committees are essential.”
When those public hearings might be held is unclear. Currently, nearly all congressional hearings have been postponed indefinitely because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump earlier this month recommended keeping any public gatherings to fewer than 10 people in an attempt to slow the spread of the illness.
Legislative proposals have stalled out in Congress, over both concerns with traditional family roles for women and the viability of the Selective Service System itself. The system costs about $23 million a year to maintain.
Congress will have to adopt new legislation in order to make the change of adding women to the draft. Or they could opt to get rid of the Selective Service System altogether.
Recent legislative proposals regarding registration of women have stalled out in Congress, over both concerns with traditional family roles for women and the viability of the Selective Service System itself. The system costs about $23 million a year to maintain, and several studies have questioned how effective it would be if officials needed it to replenish troop levels.
That hasn’t happened in more than 40 years, and Pentagon officials have repeatedly said they prefer the current all-volunteer force to the idea of a mostly conscripted military.
Men between the ages of 18 and 25 who don’t register for the draft face possible fines and jail time, and may be ineligible for benefits like federal student loans. Advocates for adding women to the registration system have argued in the past that levying those penalties only on men is unfair.
The report will be posted online at the commission’s web site on Wednesday. As 4 Troops in Afghanistan Test Positive, General Asks for Reduction in Violence

24 Mar 2020 | By Richard Sisk
The first four confirmed cases of coronavirus among coalition troops in Afghanistan were reported Tuesday as the commander of U.S. and coalition forces issued an urgent plea to the Afghan people to stop fighting each other and turn to combating the spread of the disease.
"All sides need to reduce violence so we can stay focused on preventing the spread of this virus," Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller said in Twitter posts and in a teleconference with Afghan security officials.
Containment of coronavirus by a rudimentary and underfunded Afghan health care system already lacking in the basics "would be difficult even under normal circumstances but almost impossible if we have violence," he said.
Miller’s command, NATO Resolute Support mission headquarters in Kabul, announced Tuesday that four of the 1,500 U.S. and coalition troops recently arrived in Afghanistan had tested positive for coronavirus. The nationalities of the four troops were not immediately released.
They are the first coronavirus cases among the estimated 12,000 U.S. and 16,000 troops from coalition nations in Afghanistan, Resolute Support officials said. Another 38 personnel who have flu-like symptoms have also been placed in isolation and are receiving medical care, according to the announcement.
In a precautionary move, all 1,500 have been held in what Resolute Support described as "screening facilities" for at least 14 days to make sure they do not carry the virus.
The four who tested positive were moved into isolation and "we have taken the necessary precautions to identify and quarantine any personnel these four service members may have been in contact with," the statement said.
The coalition lacks labs in Afghanistan to analyze tests. As a result, tests must be flown to Landstuhl, Germany, for analysis, Resolute Support said last week.
In his teleconference with Afghan National Defense and Security Forces officials, Miller sought to assure them of continuing U.S. "commitment and support" despite the political turmoil in Kabul, the spread of coronavirus, and the drawdown of U.S. and NATO forces.
Miller spoke a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried and failed to broker an agreement between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah, who both claim to have been the winner of presidential elections last September.
On his one-day visit, Pompeo then announced that the U.S. would be withholding $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan this year, and possibly another $1 billion next year, in an effort to press the Kabul government to reach a peace deal with the Taliban.
Pompeo later flew to Doha, Qatar, where he met with Taliban representatives and said they were adhering to calls for a reduction of violence. But Miller gave a different estimate.
"If the Taliban escalate violence — and they have — they know they’ll get a response," Miller said. "For our part, the Taliban explicitly know and agree that we have the right to defend not only ourselves, but our Afghan security force partners. And so if they attack, there will be a response."
He again stressed the urgency in turning to combat the virus. Afghanistan is among the world’s least prepared nations for the fight, according to the World Health Organization.
In 2017, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development had spent $1.5 billion since 2002 on improving Afghanistan’s health care system, with little to show for it.
The Afghan government "lacks funds to operate and sustain its health care facilities; hospitals are unable to provide adequate care; health care facilities lack qualified staff; and corruption throughout the system remains a concern," the SIGAR report said.
On Tuesday, Afghanistan’s Health Ministry said that 32 new confirmed cases of coronavirus had been detected, bringing the known total to 74 in the country, Afghanistan’s Tolo News agency reported.
However, Afghanistan’s Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz said at a news conference that the spread of the disease is widely underreported.
"According to WHO (World Health Organization) predictions, there is the possibility of 16 million people becoming infected with the virus," or about half the country’s population, Feroz said.