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

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO — After a lengthy hearing in Tijuana for a Marine reservist jailed since April 1 on weapons charges, a judge Wednesday declined to throw out the case as urged by U.S. politicians and instead scheduled another evidentiary hearing.

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25, who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, was arrested after crossing the border at San Ysidro with a rifle, shotgun, pistol, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his pickup truck.

He had recently moved to San Diego to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Veterans Affairs hospital in La Jolla.

Tahmooressi has consistently said he crossed the border by mistake, missing the turnoff to remain in the United States. That story was challenged by Mexican officials when Tahmooressi’s explanation that he had never before visited Mexico proved to be untrue.

Wednesday’s hearing was the first time that Tahmooressi was able to explain to a judge his version of events that led to his arrest. Mexican customs officials were also set to talk to the judge about what happened the night that Tahmooressi was arrested.

A hearing in May was canceled after Tahmooressi fired his attorney. The next hearing will be set for August. The judge ordered that Tahmooressi remain in jail.

Tahmooressi’s new attorney has cautioned him and his mother, Jill, that the process could take months as multiple hearings are held. Jill Tahmooressi, who lives in Florida, attended Wednesday’s hearing; the media was not allowed to attend.

Some 74 members of U.S. Congress have called on the Obama administration to work with Mexican authorities to gain Tahmooressi’s release.

On the eve of Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), wrote to the Mexican judge, Victor Octavio Luna Escobedo, reminding him that Tahmooressi is “a Marine Corps veteran who risked his life for his nation and his fellow Marines.”

His case, the two wrote, should be “favorably resolved on the basis that he made a simple mistake at the border.”

Mexican officials have stressed that while the Mexican judicial system is different from the U.S. system, it shares one key characteristic: Cases are not decided by political pressure.

They have also noted that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that there are numerous signs warning that bringing weapons into Mexico is a crime.

Photo: Steve Hillibrand via WikiCommons

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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.