Facts Matter: Kamala Harris eligible for presidency

  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who it was announced this week was chosen to be Joe Biden's running mate, is constitutionally eligible to be president.

    Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who it was announced this week was chosen to be Joe Biden's running mate, is constitutionally eligible to be president. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/15/2020 5:51 PM

Reports of breaking news, weather emergencies or other events are routinely followed by misinformation. Presidential candidate Joe Biden's announcement of his pick for vice president was no exception.

As California Sen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday became the first Black woman to take that spot on a national ticket for a major party, some social media posts questioned her qualifications.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If Biden would be unable to serve his full term, "Kamala cannot by constitutional law become president," one Facebook post read.

Not true.

Harris' mother was born in India and her father was born in Jamaica, but she was born in Oakland, California, making her a natural-born citizen and eligible to be president, as stated in Article II of the Constitution. Requirements for president and vice president are the same.

"There is no reason to look at where her parents came from, how long her parents were U.S. residents before she was born or where she was raised," Catholic University law professor Sarah Duggin told PolitiFact.

When asked about the false information during a Thursday press briefing, President Donald Trump said he didn't know whether Harris is eligible.

"So I just heard that, I heard it today, that she doesn't meet the requirements," Trump said. "I have no idea if that's right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked it before she gets chosen to run for vice president. But that's a very serious ... you're saying that they're saying that she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country?"

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Legionnaires' disease not counted as COVID-19

Recent social media posts claim bacteria in face masks can cause Legionnaires' disease, and due to similar symptoms, those cases are being counted as COVID-19.

The claim, shared thousands of times on Facebook, is false, according to The Associated Press.

Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia, occurs when Legionella bacteria is spread in buildings through air conditioning or water systems, not transmitted person to person like coronavirus, the AP said.

"There is no way that the environment that would be produced from a damp mask is going to be suitable for Legionella to grow in any kind of quality to cause Legionnaires' disease," Ohio State University pulmonologist Jonathan Parsons told the AP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who recently tested positive for coronavirus, and others have incorrectly suggested people are getting sick from masks.

"The science clearly shows that masks both prevent the acquisition of COVID and prevent transmission of COVID to other people," Dr. Seth Cohen, of the University of Washington Medical Center Northwest, told the AP.

Trump repeats false claim

Speaking Aug. 8 from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump claimed he got the Veterans Choice program passed.

"They've been trying to get that passed for decades and decades and decades and no president's ever been able to do it, and we got it done," he said.

But, in 2014, President Barack Obama was the one who signed the program into law. Trump has made the false claim that he "got it done" more than 150 times, according to CNN.

"Why do you keep saying that you passed Veterans Choice?" CBS News reporter Paula Reid asked the president.

Trump didn't answer. When Reid persisted, the president ended the briefing and left the room.

In 2018, Trump signed into law the VA Mission Act, which expanded and modified the Veterans Choice program.

Artwork not a miracle

A meme circulating on social media shows a man at a table, hands folded, seated next to an image of Jesus fashioned out of salt.

A caption with the image claims a man was mocked for praying before his meal. "Then his salt shaker fell and the image of Christ the Savior appeared. The group of nonbelievers fell to their knees and prayed for forgiveness."

The photo is real, but the explanation is "ridiculous and fabricated," according to Snopes.com.

The man in the photo is Texas artist Rob Ferrel who uses salt, brushes and cardstock paper to create portraits of famous people, Snopes said.

Ferrel posts photos of his completed pieces on Instagram. His artwork includes likenesses of John Lennon, Snoop Dogg, LeBron James and Cheech and Chong.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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