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Fresno State College Republicans Earn Backlash for Criticizing Some Military Members as “Glorified DMV Employees”

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Though the group did not apologize, it eventually deleted the social media posts causing outrage and implied that they were shared by someone who should not have had access to the organization’s account.


College Republicans Affiliate Attacks Veterans

The Fresno State College Republicans a student organization is facing widespread backlash after mocking a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and criticizing other members of the military.

On Wednesday, the group specifically took aim at TikTok user Patrick Loller, a former Army medic who served in Afghanistan.

Loller, who uses they/them pronouns, has previously shared videos discussing their PTSD and criticizing anti-maskers. Earlier this week, they said some conservative groups on Twitter began circulating a TikTok they created in February.

“If you don’t wear a mask, it’s because you’re a coward. And that’s coming from me, a combat veteran!” Loller said in the video. “You’re terrified other people will think that you’re weak because you are.” 

Fresno State College Republicans retweeted the video and wrote, “You’re such a hero that you’ll break down when I light fireworks next door.” 

Source: @PatrickLoller via TikTok

The GOP group later deleted the tweet, but then posted another one doubling down.

“Maybe guys who are actually fighting in combat are brave and whatnot, but the vast majority of our military are glorified DMV employees,” it wrote. “They work against what we as conservatives believe all the time with few exceptions.”

Source: @Bajada23 via Twitter

That post was also deleted after receiving criticism. On Wednesday, the official Fresno State Twitter page posted a statement that appeared to reference the group without explicitly naming it.

“We have been made aware of recent social media posts by a student organization that are deeply concerning and inconsistent with the University’s core values. Fresno State strongly supports our nation’s military and its veterans,” the school wrote.

“This matter has been referred to the Dean of Students for further review.”

College Republicans Groups Respond

On Thursday, the Fresno State College Republicans account shared a vague statement that seemed to imply the tweets were posted by someone who should not have had access to the account.

“The CSU Fresno College Republicans have always supported and appreciated our military members, veterans and all who have made sacrifices for our great nation,” the group tweeted. “Security passwords have been changed to avoid any further distasteful posts and need for anything similar to be removed.” 

Many users condemned the student organization for not apologizing or taking responsibility. In fact, the post got so much backlash that the group disabled comments.

Later in the day, the official Twitter account for the California College Republicans defended its affiliate, claiming the group’s remarks were protected under the First Amendment. It then posted multiple tweets threatening legal action against the university.

“Offensive speech is free speech,” it wrote. “You don’t have the right to not be offended.” 

Loller Responds

Loller, meanwhile, has continued to mock the groups on Twitter and TikTok.

“That’s right! Their dads will sue! Don’t you dare stop those students from using university accounts to call veterans cowards!” they wrote. “The GOP stands for one thing, and  that’s calling vets glorified DMV employees!” 

“Just get a good look at what they wrote,” Loller said in a TikTok sharing the group’s initial tweet. “That’s making fun of me because I have PTSD from the war! I just feel so thanked for my service.”

@patrickloller

I would hate for these upstanding fellas to not get the recognition they deserve #veteran #vet #medic #wearamask

♬ original sound – Patrick Loller

Fresno State has not clarified what possible actions it will take against the student organization. Loller, for their part, told Fox26News they are not sure if the people who posted the tweets should be punished.

“You’re allowed to say whatever you want! I don’t know in like a public-facing university capacity what rules they broke, but go ahead – mock me all you want!” they said. 

“But you’re doing it on the internet and you look stupid, so I’m gonna show everybody what you said. I’m all for them having the freedom to say that stupid thing. I just think there are also consequences to free speech.”

See what others are saying: (Fox26News) (The Fresno Bee) (ABC30ActionNews)

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Amazon Backs GOP Bill to Legalize Marijuana in Effort to Ramp Up Lobbying

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The proposal is the first Republican-sponsored marijuana bill Amazon has backed since the company first began lobbying for legalization last summer.


Amazon Endorses States Reform Act

Amazon announced Tuesday that it is endorsing a Republican-backed proposal to legalize marijuana.

The move comes as the e-commerce giant has ramped up its efforts to legalize cannabis on the federal level since it came out in support of the idea last summer. Amazon argues that the move would remove hiring barriers — which disproportionately impact people of color — and, in turn, could increase the company’s application pool and boost employee retention.

The company has previously backed similar proposals by forward by Democrats, but Tuesday’s announcement marks the first time Amazon has put its support behind a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at addressing the issue.

The legislation, called the States Reform Act, was authored by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.). Among other measures, it would remove cannabis as a Schedule I substance, allow states to create their own laws, impose an excise tax, and regulate the drug in a similar fashion to alcohol.

While Mace’s bill is fundamentally very similar to others put forth by Democrats, by proposing it herself, the Republican hopes to rally other members of her party around the idea that legalization is pro-business, pro-state’s rights, and anti-big government.

The measure has already received support from the highly influential conservative group, American’s for Prosperity, which is funded by the Koch brothers.

Potential Momentum

Mace and Amazon have painted the company’s endorsement as a game-changer for garnering more support — both from other large corporations and politicians on either side of the aisle. Mace specifically told reporters she believes Amazon’s decision will push other companies to do the same. If more major corporations like Amazon back the effort, other Republicans may be more persuaded to jump on board.

That sentiment was echoed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, who said in an interview with The Washington Post that the company was “particularly excited by Congresswoman Mace’s bill because it shows that there’s bipartisan support for this issue.”

Huseman also emphasized that, as part of its decision to back her bill, Amazon will use its powerful influence in Washington to try and drum up bipartisan support.

“We are talking with members of both parties, including Republicans, about why we think this is the right thing to do, especially from the standpoint of a major employer and what this means for our business and our employees and broadening the employee base,” he continued.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Forbes) (Marijuana Moment)

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CDC Data Shows Booster Shots Provide Effective Protection Against Omicron

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Public health experts have encouraged Americans to get boosted to protect themselves against the omicron variant, but less than 40% of fully vaccinated people who are eligible for their third shot have received it.


A First Glimpse of Official Data on Boosters and Omicron

COVID-19 booster shots are effective at preventing Americans from contracting omicron and protecting those who do become infected from severe illness, according to three reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Friday.

The reports mark the first real-world data regarding the highly infectious variant and how it has impacted the U.S.

One of the CDC reports, which studied data from 25 state and local health departments, found that there were 149 cases per 100,000 people among those had been boosted on average each week. 

In comparison, the figure was 255 cases per 100,000 people in Americans who had only received two shots.

Another study that looked at nearly 88,000 hospitalizations in 10 states found that the third doses were 90% effective at preventing hospitalization. 

By contrast, those who received just two shots were only 57% protected against hospitalization by the time they were eligible for a booster six months after their second dose.

Additionally, the same report also found that the boosters were 82% effective at preventing visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers, a marked increase from the 38% efficacy for those who were six months out from their two-shot regime and had not yet received a third.

Low Booster Shot Vaccination Rates

Public health officials hope that the new data will urge more Americans to get their booster shots.

Since the emergence of omicron, experts and leading political figures have renewed their efforts to encourage people to get their third shots, arguing they are the best form of protection. 

The CDC currently recommends that everyone 12 and older get a booster shot five months after their second shot of Pfizer and Moderna or two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Still, in the U.S., less than 40% of fully vaccinated individuals eligible for a third shot have gotten one.

While COVID cases in the country have begun to drop over the past several days from their peak of over 800,000 average daily infections, the figures are still nearly triple those seen in the largest previous surges.

Hospitalizations have also slowly begun to level out over the last week in places that were hit first, such as New York City and Boston, but medical resources still remain strained in many parts of the country that experienced later surges and have not yet seen cases slow.

Some experts predict that the U.S. will see a sharp decline in omicron cases, as experienced in South Africa and Britain. Still, they urge American’s to get boosted to ensure their continued protection from the variant, as well as other strains that will emerge.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (The New York Times)

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California Bill Would Allow Kids 12 and Up to Get Vaccinated Without Parental Consent

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Nearly one million California teens and preteens between the ages of 12 and 17 are not vaccinated against COVID-19. 


State Senator Proposes Legislation

Legislation proposed in California on Thursday would allow children age 12 and up to get vaccinated without parental consent. 

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Bill 866 in the hope it could boost vaccination rates among teenagers. According to Wiener, nearly one million kids aged 12- to 17-years old remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 in the state of California. 

“Unvaccinated teens are at risk, put others at risk & make schools less safe,” Wiener tweeted. “They often can’t work, participate in sports, or go to friends’ homes.”

“Many want to get vaccinated but parents won’t let them or aren’t making the time to take them. Teens shouldn’t have to rely on parents’ views & availability to protect themselves from a deadly virus.”

Currently, teens in California can receive vaccines for human papillomavirus and hepatitis B without parental consent. They can also make other reproductive or mental healthcare choices without a guardian signing off. Wiener argues that their medical autonomy should expand to all vaccines, especially during a pandemic that has already killed roughly 78,000 Californians. 

Vaccine Consent Across the U.S.

“Teens shouldn’t have to plot, scheme or fight with their parents to get a vaccine,” he said. “They should simply be able to walk in & get vaccinated like anyone else.”

Bill 866 would allow any kids ages 12 and up to receive any vaccine approved or granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Pfizer’s COVID vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for those 16 and older. It has received emergency authorization for ages five through 15. 

Across the United States, vaccine consent ages vary. While the vast majority of states require parental approval for minors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, kids as young as 11 can get the jab on their own in Washington, D.C. In Alabama, kids can receive it without parental consent at 14, in Oregon at 15, and in Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, providers can waive consent in certain cases in Arkansas, Idaho, Washington, and Tennesee.

In October, California became the first state to announce plans to require that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend class. The mandate has yet to take effect, but under the guidelines, students will be “required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span.” 

In other words, once the FDA gives a vaccine full approval for those aged 12 and up, it will be required the following session for kids in grades 7-12. Once it does so for kids as young as five, the same process will happen for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. There will also be room for exemptions from the mandate. 

The Fight to Vaccinate California

This week, a group of California state legislators formed a Vaccine Work Group in order to boost public health policies in the state. Wiener is among the several members who are “examining data, hearing from experts, and engaging stakeholders to determine the best approaches to promote vaccines that have been proven to reduce serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”

“Vaccines protect not only individuals but also whole communities when almost everyone is vaccinated at schools, workplaces and businesses, and safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have already prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said in a press release. “Public safety is a paramount duty of government, and I am proud to join a talented group of legislators in the pro-science Vaccine Work Group who want to end this disastrous pandemic and protect Californians from death and disability by preventable diseases.”

While vaccine policies have been a divisive subject nationwide, including in California, state politicians and leaders are hopeful public health initiatives will prevail. 

“If we allow disinformation to drive our state policy making we will not only see more Americans needlessly suffer and die, but we will sacrifice the long term stability of our society having effectively abandoned the idea that we all must work together to protect each other in times of crisis.” Catherine Flores Martin, the Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, added. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News) (Sacramento Bee)

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