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January 1, VA becomes first federal agency to mandate Covid-19 vaccine



Greetings Middle Americans,

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough made Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all VA medical personnel, marking the first such mandate by a federal agency. The new rule applies to physicians, dentists, nurses, and others who work in patient-facing roles. “We’re mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it’s the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said. “Whenever a Veteran or a VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19.” Employees will have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated.

President Joe Biden announced the end of the US combat mission in Iraq. “We’re not going to be by the end of the year in a combat mission,” Biden said. “Our shared fight against ISIS is critical for the stability of the region and our counterterrorism cooperation will continue even as we shift to this new phase that we’re going to be talking about.” The president added that US forces are to remain in the country to train and assist Iraqi forces.

The tension between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy continues to rise. The boiling point arises from a heated phone call last week wherein Pelosi informed McCarthy that she would reject two of his choices for the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots. McCarthy faces pressure to introduce a “motion to vacate the speaker’s chair,” which would likely fail in practice but succeed in furthering the feud. “This isn’t about the truth. It’s not even about the last election or the next one. This is about her maintaining an iron grip on her conference and the People’s House,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND).

Cuban Americans held a sizable protest outside of the White House to persuade President Biden to take action against the communist country’s leaders. Hundreds of demonstrators chanted “libertdad” (meaning freedom) from Sunday night into Monday morning. Last week, Biden authorized sanctions on one Cuban official and government agency over their treatment of protestors. Critics are calling for the commander-in-chief to take more action amid the suppression of protests in Cuba.

Republican officials in Michigan who used Covid-19 relief funds to give themselves bonuses totaling $65,000 said they would return the money. The Shiawassee county commissioners decided to repay the funds after prosecutor Scott Koerner said the payments were illegal. The state’s constitution disallows additional compensation for elected officials “after services had already been rendered,” Koerner said. The commissioners voted 6-0 on July 15 to award themselves $65,000 as “hazard pay” for dealing with the pandemic.

The company that manufactures Marlboros said it’ll stop selling cigarettes in the UK within the next decade. “It will disappear,” Philip Morris International CEO Jacek Olczak said. “The first choice for consumers is they should quit smoking. But if they don’t, the second-best choice is to let them switch to the better alternatives.” The company is shifting its focus to completely smoke-free products. “Our ambition is that more than half of our net revenues will come from smoke-free products in 2025,” Olczak said in May.

Be well,

Fraser Dixon


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