PolitiFact - Rulingshttp://www.politifact.com/The latest factchecks PolitiFact.com has revieweden-usTue, 20 Dec 2022 22:37:20 +0000https://static.politifact.com/img/pf_rss_logo.png<![CDATA[Joe Biden - No evidence to support Joe Biden's anecdote about giving uncle a Purple Heart while vice president]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/joe-biden/no-evidence-support-joe-bidens-anecdote-about-givi/Joe Biden - No evidence to support Joe Biden's anecdote about giving uncle a Purple Heart while vice presidentTue, 20 Dec 2022 22:37:20 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/joe-biden/no-evidence-support-joe-bidens-anecdote-about-givi/

When President Joe Biden participated in a Delaware town hall for U.S. veterans, he told the crowd a story about awarding a Purple Heart to his late uncle, Frank H. Biden, while vice president.

Biden's voice grew tender as he recounted the story about his uncle's refusal to accept the award because "the others died." He likened that sense of character to the generation of soldiers who fought in Iraq. 

The Purple Heart is a military decoration awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who were wounded or killed in action against an enemy, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In Biden's telling of the story, it happened sometime after the 2008 election. Here are Biden's full comments about his uncle and the Purple Heart:

"My dad, when I got elected vice president, he said, ‘Joey, Uncle Frank fought in the Battle of the Bulge.’ He was not feeling very well now — not because of the Battle of the Bulge. But he said, ‘And he won the Purple Heart. And he never received it. He never — he never got it. Do you think you could help him get it? We'll surprise him.’

"So, we got him the Purple Heart. He had won it in the Battle of the Bulge. And I remember he came over to the house, and I came out, and he said, ‘Present it to him, OK?’ We had the family there.

"I said, ‘Uncle Frank, you won this. And I want to … ’ He said, ‘I don't want the damn thing.’ No, I'm serious. He said, ‘I don't want it.’ I said, ‘What's the matter, Uncle Frank? You earned it.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but the others died. The others died. I lived. I don't want it.’"

In the days after the event, conservative media outlets, the Republican National Committee and fellow fact-checkers called Biden's story as he described it into question. Our review lands at a similar conclusion.

Obituaries for the president’s uncle show he died in 1999, almost a decade before Biden became vice president. Biden's father died in 2002, while Biden represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate.

The White House did not respond to our request for comment.

Biden’s uncle died in 1999; Biden was elected vice president in 2008

PolitiFact reviewed obituaries for Frank H. Biden published in The News Journal, a newspaper in Delaware, and the now-defunct Tribune in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 

According to the obituaries, Biden's uncle died Nov. 28, 1999, nearly a decade before Biden was elected vice president. The retired car salesman died at 81. 

So, Biden's uncle couldn't have refused a Purple Heart after Biden was elected vice president in 2008. Both obituaries mention Frank H. Biden's military service, but do not mention a Purple Heart.

Images of the uncle's gravestone — included in a Facebook post from the U.S. Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration — don't mention the recognition.

The absence of this detail doesn't necessarily mean Frank H. Biden didn't receive a Purple Heart. However, PolitiFact was unable to confirm that he did, and his name is not listed in directories of recipients online. (Enrollment in those listings is voluntary.)

The U.S. Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration's Facebook post recognizing Frank H. Biden on Jan. 20, 2021 — the day of Joe Biden's inauguration as president — provided more insight into the military service of the president's uncle.

Frank H. Biden entered the U.S. Army on July 17, 1941, and was discharged July 24, 1945 — about seven months after the Battle of the Bulge — at McGuire General Hospital in Virginia. 

Our ruling

Biden said that after the 2008 presidential election, he tried to give his uncle a Purple Heart medal for his World War II military service.

Although it’s possible Frank H. Biden refused the award, it couldn't have happened after Biden was elected vice president in 2008. Biden's uncle died in 1999, almost a decade before Biden was elected vice president. And Biden's father — another prominent person in Biden's story — died in 2002. 

It’s possible that such an event occurred under different circumstances while Biden was serving in the U.S. Senate, but PolitiFact found no evidence to corroborate the claim as described by Biden. We rate Biden’s claim False.

Yacob Reyes
<![CDATA[Joe Biden - Despite his claim, Joe Biden has not visited Afghanistan or Iraq as president]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/joe-biden/despite-his-claim-joe-biden-has-not-visited-afghan/Joe Biden - Despite his claim, Joe Biden has not visited Afghanistan or Iraq as presidentTue, 20 Dec 2022 22:34:16 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/joe-biden/despite-his-claim-joe-biden-has-not-visited-afghan/

President Joe Biden mentioned his travels through war zones and the Middle East during a summit about veterans health care at the Delaware National Guard headquarters.

The facility is named for Biden’s late son Beau, who served in Iraq with the Guard.  

"I’ve been in and out — not as a, obviously, combatant — but in and out of Afghanistan, Iraq and those areas, 38, 39 times," he said Dec. 16. "Not as president; only twice as president."

Biden’s description of his travels to the two countries has not held up under scrutiny.

In his 2022 State of the Union address, Biden said: "I’ve been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 40 times." 

We rated his statement False. The actual number was about half that, including visits while he was vice president and senator. 

He had not been to either country as president before that March 1 speech, and that remains unchanged.

The White House referred us to the National Security Council, which did not reply to our requests for information.

Afghanistan has become more unstable during Biden’s time as president, given that U.S. troops were at war there until he oversaw the completion of their withdrawal. The country fell into chaos and Taliban control in August 2021, as the U.S. completed its withdrawal, begun under former President Donald Trump. 

In our earlier review of Biden’s travels, we found the last time Biden visited Iraq was in 2016, when he was vice president.

His last trip to Afghanistan was in 2011 for meetings about drawing down U.S. forces.

As for Biden’s reference to "those areas," Biden has visited the Middle East twice as president.

In July, Biden took a trip to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia that included a summit in Saudi Arabia for Arab leaders. High gasoline prices in the U.S. at the time were believed to be one reason for the visit to Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest oil producers. Biden also met with Israeli officials to maintain U.S.-Israel ties and with Palestinan officials for diplomatic reasons.

In November, Biden went to Cairo and addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia share a border. Another Middle Eastern nation, Iran, shares a border with Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is more than 2,000 miles away from Egypt.

Our ruling

Biden said he has been to "Afghanistan, Iraq and those areas" twice as president.

As president, he has not visited either country.

We rate Biden’s statement False.

RELATED: No evidence to support Joe Biden's anecdote about giving uncle a Purple Heart while vice president

RELATED: Fact-checks on and about Joe Biden

RELATED: Republican National Committee fact-checks

Tom Kertscher
<![CDATA[Karen Bass - Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass conflates county, city deaths among people without homes]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/karen-bass/los-angeles-mayor-karen-bass-conflates-county-city/Karen Bass - Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass conflates county, city deaths among people without homesTue, 20 Dec 2022 22:01:31 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/karen-bass/los-angeles-mayor-karen-bass-conflates-county-city/

Hoping to address homelessness, newly elected Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass unveiled a plan to move swaths of unhoused people from encampments into hotels and motels during her first 100 days in office.

In a national TV interview, Bass said her "Inside Safe" housing plan will be voluntary and will not involve sweeps, where city officials forcibly clear out encampments.

"This is not coercing people. This is not ticketing people or incarcerating people," Bass said during a Dec. 18 interview on NBC’s "Meet the Press."  

Bass said during the interview that Los Angeles has around 40,000 unhoused people, and homelessness is so severe "literally five people a day die on our streets."

Bass’ number for deaths is not entirely accurate.

Bass’s office didn’t immediately respond to our query about her source for the figure on daily deaths. So we looked through a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which released its 2022 point-in-time count of the unhoused population in Los Angeles County in September. The agency coordinates housing and services for individuals and families in the county experiencing homelessness.

Its count found that 69,144 people in the county lived without a permanent home. Of those numbers, around 41,980 people experiencing homelessness were in the city of Los Angeles.

Although a count was not conducted in 2021 because of COVID-19, the agency said policies enacted during the pandemic including eviction moratoriums and a statewide initiative to provide emergency housing for unhoused people to stem the spread of the virus helped slow the growth of homelessness in Los Angeles. 

The city saw a 1.7% rise from the last count in 2020, which saw 41,290 people living without a permanent home. The population of unhoused people in the city was 35,550 in 2019

‘Five people die a day on our streets’

Bass’ statement on five unhoused people dying a day is a bit shakier than her estimate for the city’s unhoused population.

The figure appears to come from a recent study that looked at deaths of people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County one year before and after the start of the pandemic. The report did not include a city-by-city breakdown of where the deaths occurred. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found that 1,988 unhoused people died across the region from April 2020 through March 2021, averaging about five deaths per day. Drug overdoses caused a majority of the deaths among the county’s unhoused population, about 715 deaths. 

The report found 309 people died of coronary heart disease, 179 of COVID-19, 150 of traffic injury, 104 of homicide, 64 of suicide and 57 from unintentional injuries.

Los Angeles County has a population of about 10 million. The population of the city of Los Angeles is closer to 4 million.

While COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death among the unhoused population, the report said the pandemic "may have exacerbated stressors already present in the lives of (people experiencing homelessness, leading to increases in other causes of death." 

Jennifer Hark Deitz, CEO of the local nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless, told PolitiFact in a statement that the homelessness crisis has existed hand-in-hand with the housing crisis in the city for decades, with one feeding the other. A coordinated outreach effort to move people from encampments into housing is a necessary step to avoid further traumatizing unhoused people, Dietz said.

Our ruling

Bass said "literally five people a day die on our streets" from homelessness. 

The estimate Bass used appears to be drawn from a study looking at homeless deaths across Los Angeles County, not just the city. 

The study found 1,988 unhoused people in all of Los Angeles County died from April 2020 through March 2021 — about five deaths per day. 

The study is the most recent information the county has on homeless deaths, comparing death rates one year before and after the start of the pandemic, and may not reflect the current trend in the city of Los Angeles, where Bass is mayor. We rate this claim Mostly True. 

Andy Nguyen
<![CDATA[Kari Lake - Sorting through confusing recounts in an Iowa state House election]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/kari-lake/sorting-through-confusing-recounts-iowa-state-hous/Kari Lake - Sorting through confusing recounts in an Iowa state House electionTue, 20 Dec 2022 21:45:40 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/kari-lake/sorting-through-confusing-recounts-iowa-state-hous/

Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for Arizona governor who lost her election by more than 17,000 votes and has refused to concede defeat, invoked her home state of Iowa in her bid to discredit the vote count that hands her the Arizona loss. 

On Dec. 10, she tweeted about Iowa House District 81’s election results in an attempt to show that voting machines are fallible. She added her false claim that voting machines attributed to her own loss to Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state. 

"Meet Luana Stoltenberg. She originally LOST her race for Iowa State House when Machines declared the Democrat the Winner," Lake wrote on her Twitter account. "A Hand-Recount later reversed the results and gave Luana the WIN. I’m old enough to remember when an Obama judge dismissed my case against Machines." 

Lake grew up in the Davenport area that includes the district Stoltenberg will represent beginning in January. It was controversial in Iowa, as Lake is in Arizona and nationally, so we decided to unpack the facts about Stoltenberg’s narrow win.

On Nov. 9, the day after the Nov. 8 general election, Scott County’s unofficial election results showed Luana Stoltenburg, a Republican, in a close lead over her Democratic opponent Craig Cooper. She had a 29-vote margin in the House District 81 race, which covers northwest Davenport, on election night giving her the unofficial win in the District 81 race. 

On Nov. 10, the Scott County Auditor’s office discovered that 470 absentee ballots had not been counted in the election results. Scott County Auditor Kerri Tompkins, a Republican, ordered a Nov. 15 absentee ballot recount.

However, during that recount, the machines tabulating absentee ballots frequently jammed and the ending totals didn’t match hand-counted audits of machine counts, Tompkins’ told the Quad-City Times. This resulted in a hand count of the ballots and another subsequent machine count where the totals were similar, but not the exact same.

The machine-counted and hand-audited results showed Cooper in the lead by 6 votes. Tompkins said she was confident in the results, according to the Quad-City Times. The Scott County supervisors certified that canvass on Nov. 21 in a 4-1 vote, with Democrat Ken Croken voting no. 

Stoltenberg filed for a recount and a three-member recount board selected by the candidates conducted it as required by Iowa law. This board’s hand-counted tally found 45 fewer votes than the auditor had tallied in the November administrative recount: 31 fewer for Cooper and 11 fewer for Stoltenberg. Meanwhile, a machine recount by the recount board had the same results as the county canvass. 

Tompkins told the reporters she believes the recount board missed a box of votes that were counted by the machine. According to Iowa Code 50.48, the recount board has discretion over the report filed with the county auditor’s office for the county canvass.

According to the Times, recount board members said they’re confident in their counting and the election results. 

Stoltenberg won by 11 votes in the official canvass signed by the recount board.  The Iowa State Board of Canvassers — composed of Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate, State Auditor Rob Sand, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald — finalized a state canvass from recounts in Iowa House Districts 59, 73 and 81 on Dec. 16. That board certified votes for all other races Dec. 1. 

Voting Machines aren’t the problem

Iowa’s voting systems don’t rely on Electronic Ballot Marking Systems that mark voters’ choices on paper ballots, in place of voters marking on the paper ballots themselves. Instead, Iowa hails paper ballot security while using vote tabulation machines that electronically count votes. Iowa audits voting tabulation machines before and after each election to ensure the accuracy of the vote counts. 

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, required hand-counted audits of two races per county in the 2022 midterm to ensure machine tabulations match hand-counted audits.

"Our post-election audits consistently match the ballot tabulators perfectly," Pate wrote in a press release. "Adding another race to the process gives greater protection, transparency, and security to the process. We want Iowans to know their vote counts."

The Brennan Center for Justice found that electronic voting systems like those used in Maricopa County’s elections in Arizona are more likely to fail than paper ballot systems. Lake has tried to discredit these electronic voting systems in her campaign by filing a lawsuit against Maricopa County to prohibit the use of voting machines there. 

However, the Federal Election Commission and independent audits have found Dominion voting systems, such as those in Maricopa County, are secure. Maricopa County performs audits before and after the election to ensure the accuracy of the vote tabulation.  

The Lake campaign did not respond to our request for comment.

Our ruling

Lake claimed in a tweet that voting machines erroneously gave a Democrat the win in the House District 81 race before a hand count overturned the result. However, a county canvass, not machines, declared Democrat Craig Cooper the winner, plus, Stoltenberg initially had been declared a winner after an election night count by machines. 

Election results are not final until certified by the Iowa State Board of Canvassers. Before that certification, though, a three-member panel selected a paper audit over the machine count and declared Stoltenberg the winner. Lake’s claim leaves out important context from a line of events outlined in election law. We rate this statement as Half True.

Liam Halawith
<![CDATA[ Bloggers - No, Tesla didn’t launch this cryptocurrency trading platform]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/blog-posting/no-tesla-didnt-launch-this-cryptocurrency-trading/ Bloggers - No, Tesla didn’t launch this cryptocurrency trading platformTue, 20 Dec 2022 21:01:30 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/blog-posting/no-tesla-didnt-launch-this-cryptocurrency-trading/

What looks like a BBC News article about a new Tesla project is spreading on social media, promising people "the single biggest opportunity to build a small fortune fast."

"SPECIAL REPORT: Tesla launches its newest platform Bitcoin iFex 360 Ai — aims to help families become wealthier," the supposed headline says. "Due to the financial crisis around the world, Tesla has launched a new project promising to help families become wealthier." 

A Facebook post sharing the link was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

First of all: This isn’t a real BBC News article. It’s a blog post with a url including  cokuysal.com, and references to a Tommy Hilfiger "mini reporter bag in black." When we tried archiving the blog post, it saved not the story about the supposed bitcoin project, but a retail page selling the aforementioned bag for $129.

We reached out to Tesla about the post but didn’t hear back. However, we found no evidence such as press releases from Tesla that would connect the company to "Bitcoin iFex 360 Ai," which the blog post claimed is a new cryptocurrency trading platform that Tesla said "can transform anyone into a millionaire within 3-4 months." 

A Belgian television broadcaster reached the same conclusion in November, when it looked at a French-language version of the claims in this post. 

As we were reporting this story, the blog post text changed to reflect that Tesla had launched a platform by a different name: "+360 iFex App BTC." Whatever the name, this is wrong.

We rate this post False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Facebook posts - No, this video doesn't show Matt Gaetz threatening Robert Mueller with jail time]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/no-video-doesnt-show-matt-gaetz-threatening-robert/ Facebook posts - No, this video doesn't show Matt Gaetz threatening Robert Mueller with jail timeTue, 20 Dec 2022 20:53:53 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/no-video-doesnt-show-matt-gaetz-threatening-robert/

In a video clip circulating on social media, did U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., appear combative as he questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller? Sure. Did he threaten Mueller with jail time? Not quite. 

"‘DID PUTIN TELL YOU’ Matt Gaetz ramps up against Mueller with JAILTIME after makes up Putin’s words," a Dec. 12 Facebook post sharing the video says. It promises an "update as of" that day.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

We watched the eight-minute video, and not only does Gaetz not mention Russian President Vladimir Putin, nor suggest that Mueller falsely attributed something to Putin, he doesn’t suggest incarceration for Mueller, who led an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

There’s also no Dec. 12 update to speak of. 

The clip comes from a July 2019 House Judiciary Committee hearing during which Gaetz questioned Mueller about the Steele dossier, a research memo containing claims about former President Donald Trump. 

We rate claims that this video shows Gaetz threatening Mueller with jail time False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Instagram posts - Altered video appears to show Elon Musk saying he’ll buy Meta]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/instagram-posts/altered-video-appears-to-show-elon-musk-saying-hel/ Instagram posts - Altered video appears to show Elon Musk saying he’ll buy MetaTue, 20 Dec 2022 20:49:10 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/instagram-posts/altered-video-appears-to-show-elon-musk-saying-hel/

Elon Musk bought Twitter. Is he eyeing Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, next? 

A video recently shared on Instagram appears to show Musk predicting that he would buy Meta "tomorrow." 

"Facebook and Instagram will be mine, too," Musk appears to say in the video. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The footage in the video comes from an April 2022 interview Musk gave while appearing at the TED2022 conference. But he didn’t mention Meta.

He mentioned Facebook and Instagram once in the context of how much Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg controls them. He did not say he would purchase Meta, which is a publicly traded company valued at around $300 billion as of Dec. 19, 2022. Musk purchased Twitter for about $44 billion, and Forbes estimates that Musk’s net worth is around $160 billion.

A TikTok account promoting an app to alter videos "where you can make any celebrity say anything" includes other posts with the same footage of Musk appearing to say things that he didn’t. Among them: that Musk loves Angelina Jolie, that he’s "starting to sell the first tickets to Mars," and that Apple CEO Tim Cook "pissed me off."   

These videos are altered, and so is the one in the Instagram post. We rate claims that it’s authentic False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Facebook posts - No evidence fake postal workers are robbing people at gunpoint]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/no-evidence-fake-postal-workers-are-robbing-people/ Facebook posts - No evidence fake postal workers are robbing people at gunpointTue, 20 Dec 2022 19:25:02 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/no-evidence-fake-postal-workers-are-robbing-people/

A frightening warning is circulating on social media, advising people to beware someone who may appear to be a U.S. Postal Service worker. 

"Please be alert the United States Postal Service uniform store was broke in over the weekend uniforms were stolen & they are wearing them showing up at people homes stating they have a package for them & when the door is opened they force there way in robbing people at gun point & tying them up getting away with money & valuables," reads the warning.

One post sharing it was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Postal Service’s law enforcement arm, told PolitiFact the agency didn’t know of any postal uniform thefts. 

Because the Facebook post included a comment that this happened in "Nutbush, Tennessee," we also reached out to the postal service’s regional office in Tennessee. A postal inspector based in Memphis said it has "no information related to the claim," adding that Nutbush is a "very small rural unincorporated community." The inspector said she doesn’t think there’s a postal service uniform store there. We didn’t find evidence of one, either. 

Searching for news articles about fake postal workers robbing people at gunpoint, we found only coverage of mail carriers themselves being held up. 

If evidence emerges to corroborate this claim, we’ll reconsider our ruling. For now, it’s False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Instagram posts - No, the FDA did not say that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clots]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/instagram-posts/no-fda-did-not-say-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-causes/ Instagram posts - No, the FDA did not say that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clotsTue, 20 Dec 2022 19:08:31 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/instagram-posts/no-fda-did-not-say-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-causes/

A recent study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about vaccine safety surveillance in elderly Americans is being used by some on social media to incorrectly claim that the agency announced that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clots.

A Dec. 17 Instagram post by the Hodgetwins, a pair of conservative commentators, read, "So the FDA finally came out and said that Pfizer’s Covid shot causes blood clots? Only 2 years late!" 

The post shared a screenshot of a tweet from the same user name that showed Twitter owner Elon Musk amplifying the claim to his 122 million followers with the reply, "Much will come to light as (Dr. Anthony) Fauci loses power."

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

We found multiple examples of social media users making a similar claim about what the FDA study showed, many linking to an article in the conservative Epoch Times.

But researchers did not say that the Pfizer vaccine caused blood clots. Their findings should be "interpreted cautiously," they concluded, "because the early warning system does not prove vaccines cause the safety outcomes."

About the study 

The FDA has been monitoring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., and researchers released new findings from what they called a nationally representative early warning system on Dec.1.

The study, published in the journal "Vaccine," evaluated 14 safety outcomes following COVID-19 vaccination. It looked at data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, covering more than 30 million people ages 65 and older — about 17 million of whom had been vaccinated — from Dec. 11, 2020, through Jan. 15, 2022.

Researchers said they compared the rate of observed safety outcomes with expected rates prior to COVID-19 vaccination. They found "modestly elevated risks" in four categories following vaccination with Pfizer’s vaccine.

The four areas that met the threshold for a statistical signal were: 

  • pulmonary embolism (when a blood clot gets stuck in the lungs); 

  • acute myocardial infarction (heart attack); 

  • disseminated intravascular coagulation (an abnormal blood clotting condition); 

  • and immune thrombocytopenia (a blood platelet disorder).

Researchers said no statistical signals were found in any categories after someone received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The findings varied when compared with different control groups. For example, when they compared the data with the "peri-COVID" period (Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 10, 2020, when COVID began and before vaccines were available), the statistical signal for pulmonary embolism was no longer there. But the signal remained when compared against people in an in-patient setting.

"To me the only take home from the study is that there was no strong association, if any, between the vaccines and any of the 14 adverse outcomes studied," said Dr. Yazan Abou-Ismail, a University of Utah assistant professor and thrombosis expert who specializes in diagnosing and treating blood clots. "The modest correlation that was found with four of those outcomes was not consistent with different types of analyses in the same study."

The report, which was an update of initial results the FDA disclosed in July 2021, said the statistical signals are "not necessarily causal" from vaccines and may be due to other factors. 

"Database studies have major limitations, which is why they are not really a standard in evaluating safety or efficacy of anything," Abou-Ismail said.

The study’s limitations

We reached out to the FDA and one of the study’s authors but did not immediately get a response.

But in their findings, the researchers noted several limitations of their study, such as the analysis not adjusting for underlying risk factors such as comorbidities.

Smoking, for instance, is a known risk factor for clots, so if one group had more smokers, that could affect the results, Abou-Ismail said.

In addition, certain conditions may be under or overestimated due to diagnosis billing codes in claims data because of reimbursement priorities, the researchers wrote.

The researchers added that the report’s findings may not be "generalizable to those younger than 65 years" and adults with commercial or no health insurance.

What it means

The FDA "strongly believes" the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risks of infection, it said. The FDA is not taking any regulatory actions based on the findings because they require "more robust study," the report concluded.

Abou-Ismail said he has no concerns about the Pfizer vaccine causing blood clots as a result of this study.

"This study does not tell me much. There have been many other studies on mRNA vaccines that did not show this relationship," he said. "It is common for ‘weak’ studies to show conflicting results, which is why they cannot be used to determine causation."

He pointed to other recent studies that showed no risk of venous thromboembolism after COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, recent studies have shown an increased risk of blood clots from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Our ruling

An Instagram post claimed that the FDA said that the Pfizer vaccine causes blood clots.

The FDA did not say that. A study by FDA researchers of Medicare and Medicaid data showed that in four categories, including pulmonary embolism, there was a "modestly elevated risk" after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in people ages 65 and over.

But the researchers said the early warning system does not prove causation from a vaccine to an outcome, and that more robust studies are underway to evaluate the findings. 

We rate the claim False.

Jeff Cercone
<![CDATA[ Viral image - ‘The Simpsons’ didn’t predict Pizzagate]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/viral-image/the-simpsons-didnt-predict-pizzagate/ Viral image - ‘The Simpsons’ didn’t predict PizzagateTue, 20 Dec 2022 19:06:45 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/viral-image/the-simpsons-didnt-predict-pizzagate/

It’s been six years since the advent of Pizzagate, a conspiracy theory that a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., was a front for a child sex ring run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager. 

But a recent Facebook post suggests that these purported crimes were predicted years earlier, by none other than "The Simpsons." 

"The Simpsons predicted Pizzagate," reads text over several images in a Nov. 16 Facebook reel. The images include four still photos from the long-running "Simpsons" television show and a photo of the sign outside Comet Ping Pong, the pizzeria at the conspiracy theory’s center.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

"Simpsons" fans: You didn’t miss an episode about Pizzagate.

The post shows a still photo from a 2011 episode in which Bart’s principal arranges for him to take a girl to a pizza arcade called Zip Zap and ’Za, which bears a sign that says "the kidnapping was at our other location," according to a Simpsons’ fan forum.  

Another image, showing someone holding an issue of BusinessWeek magazine with the cover story, "Cannibalism: The New Gold?," comes from another 2011 episode in which the Simpsons family convenes for Christmas 30 years into the future. 

A third shows a joke at former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.’s expense, and the fourth shows a bit from a 1990 Halloween episode in which the Simpsons are abducted by aliens. Lisa presents what appears to be a book called "How to Cook Humans." The alien blows some dust off of it to reveal a title that says, "How to Cook For Humans." Lisa blows more dust and shows it says "How to Cook Forty Humans," before the alien blows off even more dust to reveal the full title: "How to Cook for Forty Humans." 

Pulling together disparate jokes from different episodes that aired in different years does not add up toa Simpsons prediction. We’ll add it to our canon of fact-checks debunking other things the show was supposedly prescient about, including Queen Elizabeth II’s death, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack, and COVID-19.

We rate claims that the Simpsons predicted Pizzagate Pants on Fire! 

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Facebook posts - Video shows Jim Jordan denying he said the election was stolen]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/video-shows-jim-jordan-denying-he-said-election-wa/ Facebook posts - Video shows Jim Jordan denying he said the election was stolenTue, 20 Dec 2022 18:57:22 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/video-shows-jim-jordan-denying-he-said-election-wa/

You don’t have to watch a 13-minute-long video recently shared on Facebook for very long before realizing that its premise is flawed. 

"‘THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN’ Jim Jordan SILENCE the entire Democrat in Congress with STUNNING testimony," reads an oddly-phrased description in the Dec. 18 post

It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)


The video consists of two clips. 

The first shows Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in a contentious back-and-forth with U.S. House Rules Committee chair Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., during an October 2021 hearing related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that year. 

The video opens with McGovern telling Jordan that when he previously appeared before the rules committee, "I asked you to say five simple words — ‘The election was not stolen’ — and you were unable to say them then. Can you say those five words today?"

"I never said the election was stolen, Mr. Chairman, I’ll give you the same answer," Jordan replies. "I never said it was."

The second clip in the video shows December 2021 remarks Jordan made about a bill to limit presidential power and election interference, but he didn’t say the election was stolen then, either.

CNN fact-checked Jordan’s claim that he never said the election was stolen and called it "highly misleading." Jordan participated in "stop the steal" events, questioned how former President Donald Trump could have lost the election and objected to Electoral College results despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

But that doesn’t make this Facebook post’s framing of the committee exchange more accurate. 

Around the video’s xix-minute mark, Jordan says that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "the 2016 election was stolen," but otherwise, he says nothing like what the Facebook post claims. 

We rate claims that this video shows Jordan saying the 2020 election was stolen False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Facebook posts - Video shows migrants reacting after authorities fired tear gas]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/video-shows-migrants-reacting-after-authorities-fi/ Facebook posts - Video shows migrants reacting after authorities fired tear gasTue, 20 Dec 2022 15:19:49 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/facebook-posts/video-shows-migrants-reacting-after-authorities-fi/

As people walk and run in the background, and smoke wafts through the trees, a man can be seen in a video clip holding a child over a fire, rubbing the toddler’s back while a woman next to them wails and flaps her hands by her face. The crying of others can be heard in the background. The scene is chaotic. 

But according to a 2020 Facebook post that’s getting fresh attention, it’s staged. 

"When we say fake news … there was double meaning behind, ‘the whole world is a stage,’" the caption on the post says. "This isn’t just local … this is world wide. … Illegal migrants are deliberately shaking young children in order for them to cry in front of the cameras in Greece and throughout Europe." 

Though the video is nearly three years old, it’s attracting new viewers and comments, including suggestions that the war in Ukraine is staged and that the video shows a "film set." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Searching online for evidence to corroborate this claim, we found other similar allegations, also unsourced, and lots of speculation, but no evidence that the person in the video is trying to make a child cry for reporters. 

We found plenty of evidence that the video shows people dealing with the aftermath of tear gas.

The footage was posted on YouTube by Turkish public broadcaster TRT World on March 3, 2020.  

"Greek security forces are using tear gas on refugees and migrants, including young children, in an attempt to stop them from entering the country," the caption says. 

Some people commenting on both the Facebook post and YouTube video suggested that the man was holding the child over the smoking fire to alleviate tear gas. 

Other news outlets shared similar footage in 2020 of tear gas fired by Greek authorities to try to keep migrants from crossing from Turkey into Greece. Sky News posted a clip on YouTube of a woman dabbing bottle water on the eyes of a sobbing child. 

"Migrants blasted with tear gas at Turkey, Greece border," a Feb. 29, 2020, New York Post headline said alongside a photo of people carrying children and luggage, covering their mouths. 

We rate claims that this video shows migrants faking distress for news cameras False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Viral image - No, this isn’t a real Elon Musk tweet about journalists getting ‘murdered’]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/viral-image/no-this-isnt-a-real-elon-musk-tweet-about-journali/ Viral image - No, this isn’t a real Elon Musk tweet about journalists getting ‘murdered’Tue, 20 Dec 2022 15:14:47 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/20/viral-image/no-this-isnt-a-real-elon-musk-tweet-about-journali/

Twitter recently suspended the accounts of several journalists and Elon Musk, the company’s owner, polled users on the social media platform about when he should reactivate them. 

But a purported tweet from Musk comparing the situation with the killings of journalists in other countries is not real. 

"You know, in some parts of the world, journalists get murdered for crossing the wrong people," reads what looks like a Dec. 16 Musk tweet. "Banning the reporters I don’t like from my own platform feels like a pretty innocuous alternative to me."

A Facebook post sharing this screenshot was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

We found no evidence that Musk tweeted this. The tweet doesn’t appear on his account, nor among tweets he deleted that have been archived by PolitiTweet, which tracks the deleted tweets of high-profile figures. 

We found it posted on Reddit on Dec. 16 with the label "Satire/Fake Tweet," but not in any forums credibly claiming the tweet is real. 

Musk’s suspension of journalists’ accounts drew intense media coverage, and such a comment would be widely reported. It wasn’t. 

We rate claims that this is a real tweet False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[Elon Musk - Elon Musk said he wouldn’t ban the Twitter account tracking his jet. Weeks later, he suspended it]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/elon-musk/elon-musk-said-he-wouldnt-ban-the-twitter-account/Elon Musk - Elon Musk said he wouldn’t ban the Twitter account tracking his jet. Weeks later, he suspended itMon, 19 Dec 2022 23:34:27 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/elon-musk/elon-musk-said-he-wouldnt-ban-the-twitter-account/

"Free speech" has been the refrain of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. 

Before he purchased the company in October for $44 billion, Musk had criticized Twitter’s content moderation policies, which he said unfairly censored conservatives.

In April, soon after he revealed plans to buy the company, he tweeted, "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."

He celebrated his Oct. 27 acquisition of Twitter by tweeting that day: "The bird is freed." 

Then, on Nov. 6, Musk tweeted: "My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk."

But in the weeks that followed, Musk changed Twitter’s policies and suspended accounts, including @ElonJet, the plane-tracking account he specifically mentioned in his Nov. 6 tweet.

We put Musk’s statement about the account @ElonJet on PolitiFact’s Flip-O-Meter, which evaluates whether a person has flip-flopped, and to what extent. The Flip-O-Meter does not make a value judgment on such shifts, but seeks to document them. Some people may agree with a person’s shift on a stance while others may see it as a sign of inconsistency.

Twitter suspended account tracking Musk’s private jet

Twitter suspended the automated account @ElonJet, which shared publicly available data to track the movements of Musk’s private jet, Dec. 14. The account remained suspended as of Dec. 19.

(Screenshots from Twitter.)

@ElonJet was one of several flight-tracking bot accounts run by Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old college student. Initially, only @ElonJet was suspended among Sweeney’s accounts, but throughout the day Dec. 14, Sweeney’s personal account and several other automated, plane-tracking accounts he operated also were suspended

A little after 7 p.m. Eastern Time Dec. 14, Musk announced a new Twitter policy.

"Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation," Musk tweeted. "This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok."

(Screenshot from Twitter.)

Musk added in a subsequent tweet, "Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood. Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family." One of Musk’s children is named X Æ A-Xii, and Musk calls him X.

Police told The Washington Post they have found no connection between the incident Musk tweeted about and the jet-tracking account.

On Dec. 15, Twitter suspended the accounts of more than half a dozen journalists, many of whom had reported on Twitter’s rule change that led to the suspension of the @ElonJet account. Twitter did not clearly explain the journalist suspensions, according to news reports

That night, Musk claimed without evidence that the journalists’ accounts had "posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service."

Facing backlash about the suspensions, and following two Twitter polls by Musk asking whether the accounts should be reinstated, most of the journalists’ accounts were reinstated by Dec. 18. On Dec. 18, Musk said that moving forward, there would be "a vote for major policy changes." 

(Screenshots from Twitter.)

Not long after that, he asked Twitter users to make another decision: "Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll," he wrote

In the end, 57.5% of the more than 17.5 million Twitter users who responded to the poll supported Musk stepping down. As of publishing, it remains unclear whether Musk will abide by the results.

Twitter did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment. News organizations have reported that the company no longer has a communications department.

Our ruling

Musk said, "My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk." It was a reference to the Twitter account @ElonJet.

Twitter suspended the @ElonJet account Dec. 14 and it remained suspended Dec. 19. 

The account suspension was a complete change in position. So for now, we rate his position a Full Flop. 

PolitiFact senior correspondent Louis Jacobson contributed to this report.

RELATED: No, this isn’t a real Elon Musk tweet about alleged Twitter suppression

Madison Czopek
<![CDATA[ Facebook posts - No, Russia’s Army wasn’t ‘destroyed’]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/facebook-posts/no-russias-army-wasnt-destroyed/ Facebook posts - No, Russia’s Army wasn’t ‘destroyed’Mon, 19 Dec 2022 23:02:24 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/facebook-posts/no-russias-army-wasnt-destroyed/

A recent description of a Facebook video might cheer supporters of Ukraine, but it doesn’t reflect reality. 

"Revolt in Russia! Treasure bankruptcy, mass protests, Army destroyed!" the caption on the Dec. 18 post says. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

The post’s nearly 12-minute video discusses Russia’s economy, but neither "mass protests" nor claims that Russia’s army was destroyed. It’s akin to a recent post we checked that wrongly alleged that the war in Ukraine is "all over;" we rated that False

The Guardian reported Dec. 18 that "fragile morale almost certainly continues to be a significant vulnerability across much of the Russian force," according to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. But Russian forces haven’t been outright "destroyed," as the post claims, and the war continues.  

Reuters reported Dec. 17 that Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought commanders’ proposals for how the country’s Ukraine invasion should proceed. Putin recently said that the Russian military is conducting military exercises in Belarus, and that Russia continues to attack Ukraine with drone strikes. 

We rate claims that Russia’s army was destroyed False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Facebook posts - Video of cellphones used to pop popcorn kernels is part of viral marketing campaign]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/facebook-posts/video-cellphones-used-pop-popcorn-kernels-part-vir/ Facebook posts - Video of cellphones used to pop popcorn kernels is part of viral marketing campaignMon, 19 Dec 2022 20:21:44 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/facebook-posts/video-cellphones-used-pop-popcorn-kernels-part-vir/

An old video newly circulating on social media should come with a warning: Don’t try this at home — if you want popcorn. 

In the video several people sit around a coffee table that holds four kernels of popcorn flanked by three cellphones. The phones begin to ring and buzz, and, after a moment, three of the kernels appear to pop. 

A text overlay on the video says, "Proof that cell phones emit radiation."

A post sharing this video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

The video is one of four popcorn videos that drew media attention in June 2008. They were traced back to a pair of French YouTube accounts, the Guardian reported then. Later that month, Cardo System, a Bluetooth headset maker, revealed that they were produced by a marketing agency for a marketing campaign.  

Lou Bloomfield, a University of Virginia physics professor, told Wired in 2008 that it’s physically impossible for phones to pop kernels as the video portrays. 

We rate claims that this video actually shows cellphones popping popcorn kernels False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[ Viral image - Pelosi unveiled her own portrait at the U.S. Capitol]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/viral-image/pelosi-unveiled-her-own-portrait-us-capitol/ Viral image - Pelosi unveiled her own portrait at the U.S. CapitolMon, 19 Dec 2022 19:34:53 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/viral-image/pelosi-unveiled-her-own-portrait-us-capitol/

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pulls back a blue curtain to reveal a portrait as a crowd applauds, in a video circulating on Facebook. 

The person depicted in the gold frame? Sam Brinton, the former deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition in the U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy, who was recently accused of stealing luggage at a Las Vegas airport. 

But this video has been altered, and a post sharing it was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

The real footage shows Pelosi unveiling her own portrait at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 14. 

We rate claims that Pelosi unveiled a portrait of Brinton False.

Ciara O'Rourke
<![CDATA[Rita Harris - Florida's property insurance overhaul doesn't promise 'immediate relief']]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/rita-harris/floridas-property-insurance-overhaul-doesnt-promis/Rita Harris - Florida's property insurance overhaul doesn't promise 'immediate relief'Mon, 19 Dec 2022 17:51:49 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/rita-harris/floridas-property-insurance-overhaul-doesnt-promis/

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Dec. 16 signed a sprawling bill to overhaul the state's property insurance market. Democrats said it didn't relieve the financial burden on homeowners. 

The state's residents are already on the hook for some of the highest property insurance rates in the U.S. Florida homeowners face annual premiums averaging $4,231, the Insurance Information Institute reported in August

DeSantis called for a special legislative session to remedy Florida's insurance market woes. Republicans, who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, dominated the direction of insurance reform. The governor warned such relief would not be instantaneous. 

"The issues in Florida's property insurance market did not occur overnight, and they will not be solved overnight," DeSantis said in a Dec. 16 press release. "The historic reforms signed today create an environment which realigns Florida to best practices across the nation, adding much-needed stability to Florida's market."

Meanwhile, Democratic state Rep. Rita Harris of Orlando criticized the law as deficient.

"I was looking forward to working together with my colleagues across the aisle to find a solution that would provide immediate relief," Harris said in a Dec. 14 statement. "SB 2A does not provide that relief, and in fact, instead of reducing costs, it will force some of my constituents to pay up to 20% more for their property insurance."

Will Florida's insurance reform hike costs for some of the state's homeowners, as Harris suggested? Experts told PolitiFact that Harris' statement is accurate, but clarified that the law was designed to address a broader set of issues affecting the market. 

Mark Friedlander, a spokesperson for the nonpartisan Insurance Information Institute based in New York City, said Florida's SB 2A is not intended to lower premiums for homeowners immediately; it's to "lay the groundwork" for a stable market. 

"We do not expect to see immediate relief for consumers, but the eventual goal is to moderate premium increases," Friedlander told PolitiFact. "Most likely Floridians are going to see higher cost of insurance next year" because of existing issues in the market, including outstanding lawsuits against insurers. 

When we asked Harris about the 20% figure, she cited provisions in the bill centered on the "depopulation" of the state-run insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

Florida lawmakers created Citizens in 2002 as an insurer of last resort — a backstop when residents can't find coverage in the private market. However, against the backdrop of devastating hurricanes, aggressive litigation and insurers leaving Florida, the state-run insurer is now a major competitor in the market. 

In 2019, when DeSantis took office, Citizens had 425,000 policies. Enrollment in Citizens topped 1 million in 2022, and Citizens is now Florida's largest property insurer. 

To drive consumers back into the private homeowners insurance market, the law will not allow homeowners to renew their coverage with Citizens if they receive an offer from a private insurer that is no more than 20% more expensive than their current policy. 

The law also mandates homeowners purchase flood insurance as "a condition of eligibility for Citizens coverage." That requirement alone will make keeping such policies costlier. 

"The bill has many provisions that allow for further increases in consumer premiums," said Zac Taylor, a professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who studies climate risk and the insurance sector.

Policyholders outside of Citizens will not be impacted by the flood insurance mandate.

Asked about Harris' claim, the governor's press secretary Bryan Griffin said the legislation will encourage "competition among insurers which will ultimately lower rates for Florida's homeowners."

Patricia Born, a professor at the Florida State University's risk management program, said the state's insurance reform won't bring immediate rate reductions, but it aims to address market conditions that drive those rates. 

"This act does not save money for homeowners," Born told PolitiFact. "We need to prop up the insurance market, and once we get some of the issues they're dealing with under control, then we might see rates stabilizing or coming down." 

Our ruling

Harris said Florida's SB 2A will not provide immediate "relief" and will force some homeowners to "pay up to 20% more for their property insurance."

A provision of the law will not allow homeowners to renew their public insurance policies if they are enrolled with the state-run insurer and receive an offer from a private insurer that is no more than 20% more expensive.

But experts told PolitiFact the legislation was designed to address broader market conditions with the long-term goal of moderating premiums.  

Harris' claim is accurate but needs clarification. We rate it Mostly True. 

Yacob Reyes
<![CDATA[Ro Khanna - US trade deficit with China now $400 billion per year, much higher than in the 1990s]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/ro-khanna/us-trade-deficit-china-now-400-billion-year-much-h/Ro Khanna - US trade deficit with China now $400 billion per year, much higher than in the 1990sMon, 19 Dec 2022 14:00:00 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/19/ro-khanna/us-trade-deficit-china-now-400-billion-year-much-h/

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked California Rep. Ro Khanna whether he would consider serving as the top Democrat on the new GOP-led House Select Committee on China. 

When the committee formed, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said it would "ensure America is prepared to tackle the economic and security challenges posed by the" Chinese Communist Party.

Khanna said he would be open to taking the position, adding that his concerns transcend national security.

"Our trade deficit with China has gone from about $80 billion a year in the 1990s to $400 billion a year," he said Dec. 12. "We've lost steel production, we've lost aluminum production, we've lost paper production, we've lost industry after industry to China. It has hollowed the middle class and working-class in this country, and it has left us less self-reliant."

Khanna’s claim on the figures is essentially on the money, although some experts disagree with what he says the numbers imply.

What a trade deficit means

A country’s trade balance is the difference between the value of its imports and exports. A trade deficit occurs when imports exceed exports. 

The U.S. buys much more in goods and services from China than China does from the U.S.

Khanna’s office did not cite any figures to PolitiFact to back his statement. 

But the trade deficit can be measured in goods, or in goods and services, which is the more inclusive measurement. Both support Khanna’s claim. 

Two sets of figures back Khanna’s claim

For goods, the highest the U.S. trade deficit with China reached in the 1990s was $69 billion in 1999. So, it was lower than what Khanna described, which means the increase is higher than what he stated.

In 2022, the goods deficit was $338 billion as of October, the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures show. Although we don’t yet have data for 2022’s last two months, the full-year deficit is likely to surpass $400 billion, based on the monthly average deficit for the previous 10 months. 

The last time the goods deficit exceeded $400 billion was in 2018 (when it was $418 billion).

The figures are similar when considering both goods, such as consumer products, and services, such as telecommunications.

The deficit was $67 billion in 1999 and on pace to exceed $400 billion in 2022, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Implications of the deficit

Although they didn’t challenge Khanna’s numbers, two experts took issue with his connecting the trade deficit to the loss of manufacturing.

Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said the deficit doesn’t cost U.S. jobs, but high levels of imports from China make the U.S. vulnerable. 

For example, he said, "China dominates the production of chemical ingredients used in pharmaceutical products. What happens if they get upset with the U.S. over Taiwan?" 

Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, also a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said that "with current inflation worries, the trade deficit with China is a blessing. Imports respond to strong U.S. demand for consumer goods and help contain inflation."

Our ruling

Khanna said the U.S. "trade deficit with China has gone from about $80 billion a year in the 1990s to $400 billion a year."

Whether measured in goods alone, or in goods and services, the U.S. annual trade deficit with China is on pace to be around $400 billion for 2022.

That’s significantly higher than in the 1990s, when it topped out at $69 billion for goods and $67 billion for goods and services, although some experts disagreed with Khanna’s suggestion that the trade deficit is bad for U.S. manufacturing.

Khanna’s statement is slightly off on the 1990s numbers, and the figure for 2022 is a projection. We rate it Mostly True.

RELATED: Fact-checks on trade

RELATED: Fact-checks on China

Tom Kertscher
<![CDATA[ Viral image - No, these images don’t show politicians acting inappropriately with children]]>http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/16/viral-image/no-these-images-dont-show-politicians-acting-inapp/ Viral image - No, these images don’t show politicians acting inappropriately with childrenFri, 16 Dec 2022 22:12:46 +0000http://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/dec/16/viral-image/no-these-images-dont-show-politicians-acting-inapp/

A Facebook video shows photos of politicians apparently caught in compromising positions with girls. The photos appear interspersed with disturbing images of children and clips of celebrities on red carpets. 

"Wake up!" implores text above the images of President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

But these images are altered or misleadingly presented. 

A post sharing the video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook.)

We’ve fact-checked claims about some of these images before. One photo shows Biden leaning down by a boy with his hand cupping the child’s face. Previous social media posts have falsely framed this image as evidence that Biden is a pedophile

The original photo accompanied a June 2015 Associated Press story about the funeral of Beau Biden, the president’s son who died of brain cancer.

The caption says: "Vice President Joe Biden embraces his grandson Hunter before funeral services for Hunter’s father, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Saturday, June 6, 2015, at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del."


Patrick Semansky, who took the photo, told PolitiFact in an email that "the extended Biden family walked in a procession behind a hearse carrying Beau Biden’s casket. They stopped roughly 30 feet in front of me, at the church’s front door, as a military honor guard removed the casket from the hearse and carried it inside for a funeral service. At different moments, the VP leaned over to comfort his grandson and granddaughter as they watched the honor guard and then followed the casket inside."

The images of Obama have been similarly shared in a way that could lead viewers to think something sinister was happening. But that’s not the case.

The photos were taken on a boat on Lake Como in Italy with several people, including actor George Clooney, his wife, Amal Clooney, former first lady Michelle Obama, her daughter Malia Obama and other unidentified guests in 2019. 

The photo of a man identified as Schumer shows him kissing a child — but it’s not Schumer. It doesn’t look like him, a spokesperson for the senator said it isn’t him, and the image has previously been published in connection with reports of British men exploiting children in Gambia.

We rate claims that this video shows politicians in compromising positions with children Pants on Fire!


Ciara O'Rourke