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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Capitol on Feb. 3. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has signed a memo ordering commanding officers and supervisors to hold a one-day "stand-down" to discuss extremism within the armed forces in the next 60 days, the Department of Defense announced Friday.

Why it matters: After multiple current service members and veterans were arrested for their actions during the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege, the Pentagon has increased efforts to combat white supremacy and other forms of extremism in its ranks, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: "This stand-down is just the first initiative of what I believe must be a concerted effort to better educate ourselves and our people about the scope of this problem and to develop sustainable ways to eliminate the corrosive effects that extremist ideology and conduct have on the workforce," Austin, the first Black man to lead the Pentagon, said in the memo.

  • "We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies. Service members, DoD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment."
  • "We owe it to the oath we each took and the trust the American people have in our institution."

Between the lines: It is unclear whether the stand down announcement was largely meant to be a symbolic move, or if the Pentagon is planning concrete steps to deal with extremism within the armed forces.

Go deeper

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Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

The week markets went wild

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio

The markets just closed out a manic week.

Why it matters: Outsized — and in some cases historic — moves were evident across the board.