West Point Decides No Punitive Action for Female Cadets in Raised-Fists Photo

iStock/Thinkstock(WEST POINT, N.Y.) -- West Point has decided that no punitive action will be taken against 16 black female cadets who posed in a photo with raised fists.

The photo had been criticized by some who said it violated rules against political expression while in uniform, but the U.S. Military Academy concluded that no Army or Defense Department regulations were violated by the cadets who posed in the graduation picture. The raised fist, which has long been a symbol of unity for African Americans, is also associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

"The U.S. Military Academy announced today that no punitive action will be taken after an inquiry concluded that 16 cadets who appeared in a photograph with raised fists did not violate Department of Defense or Army regulations," said a school statement issued late Tuesday night.

"The inquiry concluded that the photo was among several taken in the spur-of-the-moment," said the statement. "It was intended to demonstrate 'unity' and 'pride,' according to the findings of the inquiry.

The statement adds, "that based upon available evidence none of the participants, through their actions, intended to show support for a political movement.”

“As members of the Profession of Arms, we are held to a high standard, where our actions are constantly observed and scrutinized in the public domain,” said Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Jr., academy superintendent, wrote in a letter to cadets. “We all must understand that a symbol or gesture that one group of people may find harmless may offend others. As Army officers, we are not afforded the luxury of a lack of awareness of how we are perceived.”

The school had launched an investigation into the photo after it drew criticism that it violated rules against political expression in uniform.

The photo in question is known as an “Old Corps” photograph.

“There’s a tradition at West Point for seniors where they pose and they have a very stoic look on their face intended to be a throwback to the old days,” Anthony Lombardo, editor of the Army Times told ABC News. “What makes this photo different is everyone is kind of doing the pose but then there is the clenched fist in the air. If these men and women are in uniform, and they’re making a political statement, they could afoul of the Defense Department regulation, and they could be in serious trouble for that.”

The New York Times reported that the 16 cadets in the photo represented all but one of the black women in West Point's 2016 graduating class of about 1,000.

Defending the young cadets is Brenda Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate, former Army captain, and chairwoman of the U.S. Military Academy’s Board of Visitors.

“When I spent time with these cadets and heard them tell their stories and laugh and joke with each other, there’s no doubt in my mind how much they love West Point, they love the Army and they support each other,” Fulton told the Army Times.

She tweeted out a different photo of the women without raised fists with the caption, “THIS. Fearless, flawless, fierce. Ready.” That tweet was then retweeted by Patrick Murphy, acting secretary of the U.S. Army.

“I would not have re-tweeted the raised-fist photo because I am well aware that our culture views a black fist very differently from a white fist,” she said. “I knew it was their expression of pride and unity, but I am old enough to know that it would be interpreted negatively by many white observers. Unfortunately, in their youth and exuberance, it appears they didn’t stop to think that it might have any political context, or any meaning other than their own feeling of triumph.”

Graduation for the West Point class of 2016 will take place on May 21.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Labrador retriever flunks out of bomb-sniffing school for not wanting to detect bombs

Labrador retriever flunks out of bomb-sniffing school for not wanting to detect bombsRuskpp/iStock/Thinkstock(MCLEAN, Va.) -- A Labrador retriever named Lulu has flunked out of bomb-sniffing school after she displayed to her handlers that she was no longer interested in detecting bombs, according to the CIA.

"We are sad to announce that Lulu has been dropped from the program," the CIA announced in a press release Wednesday.

Lulu did not make the cut to graduate with her fellow fall 2017 puppy classmates after she began to show signs that she wasn't interested in sniffing out explosive odors a few weeks into training.

We’re sad to announce that a few weeks into training, Lulu began to show signs that she wasn’t interested in detecting explosive odors. pic.twitter.com/c6lxHPfC09

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017

There are a million reasons why a dog has a bad day & our trainers must become doggy psychologists to figure out what will help pups. pic.twitter.com/iaeRpGiSUR

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017


Pups often have off days when they're training for such an important job, the CIA said. The issue -- which can often be fixed with more playtime and breaks -- is often temporary.

"After a few days, the trainers work the pup through whatever issue has arisen, and the dog is back eagerly and happily ready to continue training," the CIA said. "But for some dogs, like Lulu, it becomes clear that the issue isn’t temporary."

Lulu wasn’t interested in searching for explosives.
Even when motivated w food & play, she was clearly no longer enjoying herself. pic.twitter.com/puvhDk1tRX

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017


Lulu was no longer motivated to search for explosives and was "clearly not enjoying herself any longer" when motivated to do so with food and play.

"It's imperative that the dogs enjoy the job they’re doing," the CIA said.

Trainers made the "extremely difficult decision" to drop Lulu from the program for her physical and mental well-being, the CIA said.

Lulu's handler adopted her, so she now enjoys cushy work-free days that include playing with his children and sniffing out rabbits and squirrels in the backyard. She even has a new friend -- a fellow Labrador retriever -- to hang out with all day.

Lulu was adopted by her handler & now enjoys her days playing w his kids & a new friend, & sniffing out rabbits & squirrels in the backyard. pic.twitter.com/WOImM75P1D

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017


"We’ll miss Lulu, but this was the right decision for her," the CIA said. "We wish her all the best in her new life."

We’ll miss Lulu, but it was right decision for her & we wish her all the best in her new life!https://t.co/nPZl6YWNKb pic.twitter.com/Mbcr9C7wUY

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017

Lulu's handler is still on the search for an explosive detection K-9 partner, the CIA said.

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