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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO — The former commanding officer of the Navy’s famed Blue Angels flight demonstration squad was found guilty Monday of “failing to stop obvious and repeated instances of sexual harassment,” the Navy said.

Captain Gregory McWherter was given a non-judicial punitive letter of reprimand, a move that is usually career-ending.

The guilty decision was made after an Admiral’s Mast convened at Pearl Harbor by Admiral Harry Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

A Navy investigation had found that McWherter “witnessed, condoned, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic and hostile,” the Navy said.

McWherter condoned “widespread lewd practices” and engaged in “inappropriate and unprofessional discussions with his junior officers.”

McWherter allowed pornography in the cockpits of the Blue Angels planes and also on a restricted website, the Navy said. He also allowed a painting depicting male genitalia on the roof of a Blue Angels building at its winter base in El Centro, California

McWherter was found guilty of violating various parts of the military justice system, including failure to obey an order and conduct unbecoming an officer.

An Admiral’s Mast involves an admiral reviewing documents and listening to an officer’s explanation and then meting out any necessary punishment.

McWherter was commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels from November 2008 to November 2010, and then from May 2011 to November 2012.

During the investigation, he was relieved of command as executive officer of Naval Base Coronado in April. He was set to become commanding officer of the base next year.

Several junior personnel who served with McWherter at the Blue Angels have been given counseling about sexual harassment, the Navy said.

“The behaviors that led to the outcome of the Admiral’s Mast for Captain Greg McWherter are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any Navy squadron, let alone in our elite flight demonstration team,” said Vice Admiral David Buss, commander of Naval Air Forces.

McWherter, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot, has logged 5,500 flight hours and 950 aircraft carrier landings during training missions and deployments to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and the western Pacific.

He was an instructor at the Fighter Weapons School, known as Top Gun. During his second tour with the Angels, McWherter, a graduate of the Citadel, received an award for his “leadership and contributions” to the North American air show industry.

AFP Photo/ Mark Wilson

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.