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Biden can’t dishonorably discharge troops for refusing COVID-19 vaccine



The claim: President Joe Biden ordered dishonorable discharges for 46% of troops refusing the COVID-19 vaccine

A widespread claim on social media suggests U.S. service members who refuse to comply with the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate may soon face reprimand courtesy of President Joe Biden.

“Biden Orders Dishonorable Discharge for 46% of Troops Who Refuse Vaccine,” reads text in a Sept. 29 Instagram post. Another version of the post received more than 5,000 likes in five days before it was deleted.

It’s a screenshot of a now-deleted Sept. 23 article from blogger Sandra Rose.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in an Aug. 24 memo that COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandatory for service members, writing that the country needs a “healthy and ready force.” Four senators responded by introducing a bill that would prohibit the Department of Defense from dishonorably discharging service members who refuse vaccination.

The White House said in a statement that it “strongly opposes” the bill. But it did not threaten dishonorable discharges for service members who haven’t received the shot, as other independent fact-checking organizations have reported.

Fact check: Ad agency behind viral ‘Don’t get vaccinated’ ad, not funeral home

“The president has absolutely no authority to order a service member dishonorably discharged,” Richard Rosen, director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech University, told USA TODAY in an email.

Rose told USA TODAY she is “not a trained journalist” and that readers view her blog for “entertainment and gossip,” not news. She declined to comment further.

USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user who shared the claim for comment.

Biden can’t order dishonorable discharges, experts say

The Biden administration hasn’t proposed dishonorably discharging service members who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But even if it did, experts say the president doesn’t have that authority.

Rosen said only a general court-martial, the military’s highest level trial court, can sentence service members to dishonorable discharge. If a service member is found guilty in a trial, the court-martial is still not obligated to dishonorably discharge them.

Commanding General of Fort Gordon and Cyber Center of Excellence Paul Stanton stops by a mass vaccination event at Eisenhower Medical Center on Friday morning, Oct. 1, 2021. All active duty military have to get vaccinated by Dec. 15, 2021.

Dwight Stirling, CEO of the Center for Law and Military Policy think tank, said in an email that a service member’s refusal to get vaccinated would likely result in “adverse administrative action.” That could include: a written reprimand, a derogatory comment in a performance evaluation, a demotion or – “in the most extreme instances” – an involuntary discharge.

There are five types of discharge a service member can receive upon separation from the military, Stirling said: honorable, general, other-than-honorable, bad conduct and dishonorable. The last two can only be issued via conviction by a court-martial.

Stirling said while it’s not impossible for a service member to face a court-martial for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s unlikely.

“In the unlikely event that a service member is involuntarily discharged via administrative action for refusal to take the vaccine, he would most (likely) receive one of the first three types of discharge, most likely an other-than-honorable,” Stirling said. “An other-than-honorable discharge, while not something any service member wants as it is analogous to being fired, is a far cry from a dishonorable discharge, which is analogous to a felony conviction.”

Fact check: Defense firm General Dynamics has not yet announced vaccine mandate

Lindsay Cohn, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, agreed it is unlikely troops would be court-martialed for refusing the vaccine, unless there were “exacerbating circumstances” – like a service member trying to convince others to disobey.

“The military tends to prefer to resolve issues at the lowest effective level, and will elevate to court-martial only if they have no other choice,” Cohn said in an email. “Could the president order them to court-martial everyone who refused the vaccine? Yes, but there is no good reason to do so.”

A Pentagon spokesperson told USA TODAY in an emailed statement that the claim in the social media posts is false. USA TODAY reached out to the White House for comment.

Service members still have time to get vaccinated

Despite the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, service members still have at least a few weeks to receive their first shot.

In mid-September, the Army released a service-wide directive on vaccine requirements. Active-duty troops have until Dec. 15 to get the shot, while soldiers in the Army National Guard and Reserve have until June 30, 2022.

Meanwhile, reported Air Force service members must be vaccinated by Nov. 2, while Air National Guard members must be vaccinated by Dec. 2. Marines and sailors have until Nov. 28, while reserve component service members have until Dec. 28 to get the shots.

Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Wood told USA TODAY that, as of Oct. 2, there had been no Marines court-martialed for failing to get fully vaccinated.

“Marines who refuse the vaccine today may choose to be vaccinated tomorrow,” he said in an email. “Every effort is made to provide service members with accurate information regarding the vaccine and Marines are encouraged to discuss any hesitancy they may have with qualified medical providers.”

Service members can seek exemptions for a number of reasons, including religious objections and health issues. Those exemptions can be temporary or permanent, the Associated Press reported.

Fact check: Post tying Pfizer’s Q2 earnings to vaccine ‘risks’ is false

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll, chief of media relations for the Coast Guard, said the Coast Guard was not directed to dishonorably discharge members who refuse to take the vaccine. However, it is considering “a number of administrative and disciplinary options” for those who refuse the shot.

About 22% of service members unvaccinated

Rose’s blog post claims “46% of troops” – or about 600,000 active-duty service members – have declined to get the the COVID-19 vaccine. But those numbers aren’t quite right.

According to June data from the Defense Department, there are about 2.15 million members of the U.S. military. That includes 1.38 million active-duty service members and 770,000 in the National Guard and reserves.

The Pentagon’s COVID-19 data shows about 1.3 million service members were fully vaccinated as of Sept. 30, with an additional 380,197 who had received one shot. That means about 60% of troops were fully vaccinated and about 78% were at least half vaccinated.

Bradley Sharp, of Saratoga, New York, gets the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from registered nurse Stephanie Wagner in New York.

Bradley Sharp, of Saratoga, New York, gets the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from registered nurse Stephanie Wagner in New York.

About 22% of service members have not been vaccinated at all – not 46%, as the post claims.

Lt. Cdr. Patricia Kreuzberger of the Navy said that, as of Oct. 6, 84% of Navy service members were fully immunized and 94% had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The Army declined to comment for this fact check. USA TODAY reached out to the two other military branches for comment.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Biden ordered dishonorable discharges for troops refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. The Biden administration did not order the Pentagon to dishonorably discharge unvaccinated troops, and the president doesn’t have the authority to do so.

Fewer than 46% of U.S. troops are unvaccinated. Service members have at least a few weeks to get their shots, and if they don’t, experts say involuntary discharges are unlikely.

Our fact-check sources:

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Biden didn’t dishonorably discharge unvaccinated troops


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Jimmy Kimmel Hits Donald Trump Jr. With The 2024 Campaign Ad Of His Nightmares




Porn star Stormy Daniels testifies ex-lawyer Michael Avenatti ‘lied to me’

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Adult film actress Stormy Daniels told jurors at her former lawyer Michael Avenatti’s criminal fraud trial on Thursday that he “stole from me and lied to me” by diverting proceeds from a book she wrote. Testifying as a prosecution witness, Daniels said in Manhattan federal court that Avenatti – whom she had retained to help her escape a non-disclosure agreement with then-U.S. President Donald Trump – told her he would “never take a penny” from the 2018 memoir, titled “Full Disclosure.” But Avenatti embezzled nearly $300,000 of proceeds intended for Daniels, prosecutors have said, in part by forging her signature on instructions to the publisher about where to send the funds.


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Fox News’ Tomi Lahren told officers at a policing conference that prominent police killings could have been avoided if people ‘would just comply’



Tomi Lahren in Pasadena, California.Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP

  • Tomi Lahren was among several who spoke at a police training conference in Atlantic City in October.

  • Lahren described Black Lives Matter as “thugs, felons, and criminals” and as a “terrorist organization.”

  • She went on to say police shootings could be avoided if people “would just comply with police.”

Fox News personality Tomi Lahren told police officers that significant numbers of police brutality cases could have been avoided “if people would just comply with police, would follow orders, and not resist arrest.”

The Washington Post reported that Lahren, a political commentator for the Fox Nation shows “Final Thoughts” and “No Interruption,” made the comments in October at the Street Cop Training Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

More than 1,000 police officers from departments across New Jersey and other states attended the conference, The Post reported. During her speech, Lahren described Black Lives Matter as “thugs, felons, and criminals” and a “terrorist organization.”

“If I’m wrong, please point it out,” Lahren said, according to a sound clip of her remarks shared by The Post. “But all these major headline incidents that we’ve had in this country involving law enforcement in the last, at least, five years could have all been prevented if people would just comply with police, would follow orders, and not resist arrest.”

The audience can be heard applauding and cheering in the clip.

Her comments were consistent with previous statements she has made on her shows and social media.

The Post’s investigation found Lahren’s sentiments were typical of those made in commercial police training settings, even as calls for reform grow. The outlet spoke with 18 trainers and experts in addition to watching or attending conferences in New Jersey and Idaho, many of whom balked at police reform.

Several blamed the media for overplaying the public’s desire for reform and dismissed reformers as a small cohort, The Post found. The outlet also said many portrayed violence as an inherent part of policing.

“The curriculum is that you are a good person and reveling in violence and being an expert in violence is not morally wrong,” Michael Sierra-Arévalo, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin who attended the Street Cop Conference, told The Post. “In fact, it’s your moral duty because you’re a paladin. You are this kind of warrior.”

Calls for police reform grew during the racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Congress engaged in bipartisan talks about a potential police reform bill last summer, but they fell apart without reaching a deal.

Sources told NBC News that President Joe Biden plans to sign executive orders on police reform as early as this month.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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Family who died in freezing cold by US-Canada border identified



Police used snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles to navigate the deep snow

Canadian authorities believe the deaths of four Indian nationals found steps away from the Canada-US border are connected to a human smuggling scheme.

Jagdish Patel, 39, Vaishailben Patel, 37, and their children Vihangi, 11, and Dharkmik, 3, died from exposure due to the frigid cold near Manitoba, Canada.

Temperatures dropped to -35C (-31F) on the night the Patel family attempted to cross into the US on foot.

The family was found in a field north of the border on 19 January.

Their identities were announced by Canada’s High Commission of India and later confirmed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, RCMP superintendent Rob Hill said the Patel family first arrived in Canada on 12 January, on a flight from Toronto. From there, they made their way west to Manitoba, before travelling to Emerson – a border town – on or around 18 January. Their bodies were found the next night.

No vehicle was found near the Canada-US border in Emerson, suggesting that someone drove the Patel family to a drop-off point before they began their journey on foot.

“This is an extended period of time for a family who is unfamiliar with Canada to be travelling across the country”, Mr Hill said. It is believed that someone may have facilitated the family’s travel.

The RCMP would not comment on whether the Patels’ case was connected to a group of seven other Indian nationals also found by border agents on the evening of 19 January. Steve Shand, a 47-year-old Florida resident, has been charged with human smuggling after authorities found him driving a 15-person van along the border, on the same night the Patels were found. Mr Shand had two Indian nationals as passengers in his car, and cases of food and water in his boot.

The deaths of the Patel family have rocked the Indian community in Manitoba.

“There’s a common sense of feeling guilty, like something has gone wrong,” Ramandeep Grewal, president of the India Association of Manitoba, told the BBC.

Questions remain as to why the Patel family set out on foot in the dark, in Canada’s punishing winter weather.

Mr Grewal said he heard rumours the family walked for 11 hours. “You don’t expose yourself to that degree of cold for minutes, let alone hours,” he said.

Such questions have consumed Indian communities in Winnipeg, said Hemant Shah, an Indian ex-pat, who organised a virtual prayer for the Patel family this week.

“There are lots of Patel families here, lots of Indo-Canadians,” he said. “Everybody’s talking, making their own theories.”

While perilous border crossings have become typical to the United States’ southern border, this type of journey is less common from the north.

“I’ve never seen this in Canada,” Mr Shah said. “This is unheard of.”

The RCMP has launched an “extensive” investigation into how the Patels made their way to Canada, co-ordinating with the US and India. It is so far unknown if the Patels had family in Canada or the US.

A special team led by a senior Indian consular officer was dispatched to Manitoba to help Canadian authorities with the investigation. The Consulate General of India in Toronto has been in touch with relatives to provide support.

Last week, a US Homeland Security official said they were also investigating the Patel case, alongside a “larger human smuggling operation of which [Steve] Shand is suspected of playing a part”.

There had been three other recent incidents of human smuggling in December and January in the same location where Mr Shand was apprehended, according to court documents.

The India Association’s Mr Grewal said he hopes other families contemplating a similar journey may now reconsider.

“If there’s anybody else who’s in the same boat, who’s trying to cross… Don’t go, don’t listen to people who are telling you they can help.”


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Gallup's Mohamed Younis- Foreign Policy Interventionism A 'Low Desire' For Americans



Gallup's Mohamed Younis- Foreign Policy Interventionism A 'Low Desire' For Americans


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Palestinian children play in the snow-covered West Bank city of Ramallah



Palestinian children play in the snow-covered West Bank city of Ramallah


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U.S. Capitol Riot Made 1 Chilling Thing ‘Impossible To Deny’



University of California professor Barbara Walter, an expert on civil conflicts, said the U.S. Capitol riot had “made it impossible to deny and ignore that there really was this cancer growing” of anti-democratic sentiment in America.

Walter, after CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan showed her footage of Donald Trump supporters repeating the former president’s 2020 election lies and claiming democracy in the United States was dead, said her response to such rhetoric only 10 years ago “would have been shock and disbelief.”

“I would have thought, ‘Well she’s an outlier and she’s not representative of anything larger than a fringe movement maybe,’” Walter said. “But of course, that’s not the case anymore.”

Experts on civil wars had been talking about the warning signs in the U.S. “but nobody wanted to believe it,” she said.

“Citizens do believe what they are hearing and if they hear it long enough and consistently enough and if that’s all they hear, they absolutely don’t think it’s a lie, they think it’s the truth,” she continued, referencing falsehoods spouted by Trump, right-wing politicians and conservative media, before slamming cynical leaders for “feeding them lies consistently.”

“They’re priming their supporters to believe that democracy isn’t worth defending because they don’t want democracy anymore,” she added.

Watch the video here:

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.



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A witness has corroborated the claim that Rep. Matt Gaetz was told he had sex with a minor in 2017, report says



Rep. Matt Gaetz.Getty

  • A witness told federal prosecutors he was there when Matt Gaetz was told he had sex with a minor, The Daily Beast reported.

  • Joe Ellicott was in the room when Joel Greenberg conveyed the information to Gaetz in a phone call in 2017.

  • Ellicott struck a plea deal and is among several people cooperating in the sex crimes probe into Gaetz.

A witness has confirmed to federal prosecutors that Rep. Matt Gaetz was informed in 2017 that he had sex with a minor, sources told The Daily Beast.

In a letter obtained by The Daily Beast in April of last year, Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg said he discovered a girl he and the congressman had engaged in “sexual activities” with was 17 at the time.

“Immediately I called the congressman and warned him to stay clear of this person and informed him she was underage,” Greenberg wrote, according to the outlet. He added Gaetz was “equally shocked and disturbed by this revelation” and that “there was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday.”

According to The Daily Beast, someone else was in the room when Greenberg called Gaetz to convey that information: Joe Ellicott, Greenberg’s close friend and a former employee at the Seminole County tax office. Both men are now cooperating with federal investigators in the sex crimes probe into Gaetz.

Ellicott’s decision to cooperate is likely bad news for the embattled Florida congressman, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in connection to the sex-trafficking probe.

“After nearly a year of false rumors, not a shred of evidence has implicated Congressman Gaetz in wrongdoing,” his chief of staff told ABC News on Wednesday. “We remain focused on our work representing Floridians.”

Among other things, Ellicott and Greenberg reportedly exchanged text messages via the encrypted messaging app Signal, in which Ellicott disclosed that a woman they both were associated with “knew [the minor] was underage the whole time, had sex with her, and they both went to see other guys.”

Greenberg pleaded guilty to sex trafficking in May and agreed to cooperate with fully with the government on other investigations. Ellicott agreed to cooperate this week and will plead guilty to two federal crimes, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and distribution of a controlled substance, in a separate case from the Gaetz investigation, ABC News reported.

No charges have been brought against Gaetz. But several recent developments indicate the investigation is heating up. Among other things, Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend testified before a federal grand jury earlier this month. NBC News reported that the ex, whose name Insider is withholding to protect her privacy, has been talking to prosecutors for months and was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony.

NBC also said prosecutors are investigating Gaetz for three separate crimes: if he sex-trafficked the 17-year-old; if he violated the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose” across state lines; and if he obstructed justice.

With respect to the obstruction probe, investigators are said to be scrutinizing a three-way call after the investigation started between Gaetz, his ex, and another woman who was cooperating with federal authorities and who was reportedly recording the phone call. NBC reported that authorities suspect Gaetz of obstructing justice during that conversation; he’s denied the allegation.

An attorney for Ellicott declined to comment on reporting about his client’s cooperation deal. A spokesperson for Gaetz and a lawyer representing Greenberg did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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