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News Brief: Week of Nov. 17-23


Navy to proceed with disciplinary action against Navy SEAL

The Secretary of the Navy and the admiral who leads the SEALs announced their intentions to resign or be fired if President Donald Trump ends plans to expel a commando accused of war crimes.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was accused of shooting civilians, murdering a captive Islamic State fighter with a hunting knife and threatening to kill anyone who reported him. Although he was acquitted of these charges, the Navy demoted him for his one convicted charge: bringing discredit to the armed forces by posing for photos with a teenage captive’s dead body.

However, Gallagher received the support of President Trump, who spoke in his favor. 

“The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” Trump said in a tweet. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

The Pentagon and Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer do not consider the President’s tweet a formal order and will continue with disciplinary actions.

Bloomberg to enter presidential race

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg formally announced Sunday, Nov. 24 he is running as a Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential election.

His multimillion-dollar ad campaign is also slated to begin on Sunday, Nov. 24. Bloomberg intends to self-fund his campaign and would not accept a salary if he is elected president. However, turning down campaign contributions means he will not be eligible to appear in any Democratic debates.

According to his introductory campaign commercial, Bloomberg intends to “restore faith in the dream that defines us where the wealthy will pay more in taxes and the middle class get their fair share. Everyone without health insurance can get it, and everyone who likes theirs, keep it.”


Study finds Medicaid non-expansion responsible for 476 premature deaths

A new study finds nearly 500 older, low-income Oklahomans died from 2014 to 2017 because the state did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

According to the report, 476 state residents between the ages of 55 and 64 died prematurely from 2014 to 2017 because the state did not expand eligibility for the health care program.

On the other hand, states which did expand Medicaid averted roughly 19,200 deaths of people in the same age range.

Republican leaders generally dismissed the results of the findings. Gov. Kevin Stitt is in the process of instituting an alternative to Medicaid.

“We want every Oklahoman to live to their full potential which will require health care reform, both at the state and federal levels, that empowers people with affordable access to patient-centered care,” Stitt said in a statement. “My administration is actively working on a plan that we look forward to sharing in the coming weeks.”

Teacher sues online charter school

A teacher is suing an online Oklahoma charter school, claiming she was fired after she questioned the school’s enrollment practices.

Ryan Aispuro is the fourth teacher to sue Epic Charter Schools. According to her lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Nov. 19, Epic pressured her to strictly enforce attendance and truancy standards on students with below-average academic ability but not on high-performing students. 

Epic offers bonuses to teachers based on student retention, attendance, test scores and students’ ability to move on to the next grade. According to Aispuro, poor student performance would negatively affect her bonuses. She is asking for $75,000 in damages.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has alleged Epic embezzled millions in state funds by artificially inflating enrollment numbers. It additionally alleged the charter school manipulated its enrollment by forcing students into truancy.

Epic has denied wrongdoing in these accusations.

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