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Aug 18, 2022

New York’s Hudson Valley Community College Rejects State COVID Vaccine Mandate + More

Hudson Valley Community College Rejects State COVID Vaccine Mandate

Times Union reported:

Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) will allow students to return to classes this fall without a COVID-19 vaccine — despite the fact the State University of New York system, of which HVCC is a part, requires students to be vaccinated against the virus.

In a two-page written response sent to the Times Union after the newspaper inquired about the college’s posted vaccination rules, HVCC’s Vice President of Student Affairs Louis Coplin wrote, “Vaccination does not prevent infection or transmission of the virus. As one example, U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden have recently become infected after being vaccinated and boosted.”

Coplin also said the rule is unfair to students because teachers and staff do not have to get vaccinated.

COVID, the CDC and the Commission on Higher Education’s Continuing Discrimination Against the Unvaccinated

BusinessWorld reported:

The big news about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s “Summary of Guidance for Minimizing the Impact of COVID-19 on Individual Persons, Communities and Healthcare Systems,” released on Aug. 11, was actually about how subdued the reporting it got from mainstream news sources.

The CDC changed its tune, media downplayed it. The simple fact is: nothing has changed. Doubts regarding the efficacy of mandatory vaccination, masking, distancing and lockdowns have all been expressed from the beginning, only to be duly suppressed by medical “experts” and news media.

Indeed, data have ultimately proven the skeptics right. Japan, Australia and New Zealand, despite high vaccination rates and oftentimes utterly restrictive COVID measures, are seeing record-topping COVID cases and COVID-related deaths. U.S. COVID cases and deaths, on the other hand, have basically taken a cyclical pattern.

And seemingly being brushed under the rug are reported cases after cases of healthy young adults suddenly dropping dead, all from heart or blood-related issues, and of countries seeing this year drastically dropping birth rates.

Exclusive: Marine Faces Court Martial for Not Taking COVID Vaccine, Refuses to Be Sent Back to U.S. for Separation

The Epoch Times reported:

Lance Corporal Catherine Arnett is on the brink of court martial for decisions made in opposition to what she considers an “unlawful order” to take a COVID-19 vaccination shot.

Immediately following the secretary of defense’s order to vaccinate against COVID-19 on Aug. 24, 2021, Arnett sought religious exemption — which was denied the following month.

Having submitted her appeal against the decision in November, it was denied in January 2022. This began an administrative separation process from the Marine Corps, prompting Arnett to declare she “cannot consent to it.”

The 24-year-old Lance Corporal held firm in her beliefs, telling The Epoch Times that “if your mandate is illegal, then your separation orders are illegal.” In April 2022, Arnett received a letter from her command, giving her 30 days to leave Japan and report to California’s Camp Pendleton to be processed for separation. The Marine Corps does not separate individuals from duty stations overseas or outside the continental United States.

Germany’s Constitutional Court Upholds Measles Vaccine Mandate for Children

Reuters reported:

The German constitutional court upheld the country’s measles vaccine mandate for children on Thursday, ruling against a challenge brought by parents.

In its final decision on the matter, the court in Karlsruhe said that while the mandate interfered with the rights of children and their parents, this was justified due to the high infection risk with measles and the potential for serious illness.

The measles vaccine mandate came into effect in March 2020 and requires all children to be vaccinated or have already recovered from a course of the disease in order to attend kindergarten or childcare facilities.

Exceptions are allowed only if the child has a medical intolerance for the vaccine.

City in China Orders Fish Swabbed for COVID

The Guardian reported:

In the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen, it’s not just the mouths of fishers being swabbed for COVID-19, but also the fish they’ve caught.

As China maintains its commitment to zero-COVID, city authorities are working to ensure there is no avenue for the virus to enter, ordering all fishers and their catch to undergo a daily nucleic acid test.

“At present, all people in Xiamen City need nucleic acid testing, and the fish catches must be tested as well,” an employee at the Xiamen municipal ocean development bureau told local media. TV news reports showed officials swabbing the mouths of fish and the underside of crabs.

There was no report that any trace of the virus had been detected.

‘I Want Freedom’: One Man’s Escape From Zero-COVID China to Seek His American Dream

CNN World reported:

Unlike many of the thousands aiming to cross the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border illegally each day, Wang Qun was not fleeing poverty or violence south of the wall.

Instead, the 33-year-old Chinese citizen was running from China’s unrelenting zero-COVID policy and growing authoritarianism under leader Xi Jinping.

From the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Wang left his family behind to travel thousands of miles by plane, bus, boat and motorcycle. He trekked through deep jungles and across barren mountains and spent days in multiple detention centers — all in pursuit of freedom and opportunities in the United States.

Amazon’s Two Big Deals Have One Big Thing in Common — Data

Yahoo!Finance reported:

Amazon (AMZN) is buying two different but high-profile companies — Roomba-maker iRobot and concierge healthcare provider One Medical. At first glance, these two companies have little in common. Roombas — which I find terrifying — are mobile robots that vacuum your home, while One Medical provides a tech-powered primary care network.

As it is, Amazon can already get a “robust picture” of you from devices like Alexa and Ring, according to Ian Greenblatt, who leads J.D. Power’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Intelligence practice.

In addition, Greenblatt added that your name, address, searches and recordings can be collected by Amazon when you speak to its Alexa Voice Assistant.

That’s just the beginning: Cookie trackers that enhance shopping experiences on the company’s e-commerce site, payment and delivery information and facial recognition are all also feeding into the data that Amazon has on us.

Amazon’s Ring Quietly Fixed Security Flaw That Put Users’ Camera Recordings at Risk of Exposure

TechCrunch reported:

Amazon-owned Ring quietly fixed a “high-severity” security vulnerability in May that could have allowed malicious actors to access camera recordings from Ring video doorbells and extract users’ personal data.

Researchers at Atlanta-based application security company Checkmarx found that the app had several bugs, which when chained together could have allowed attackers to exploit the vulnerability by creating and publishing a malicious app — or pushing an update to an existing app — running on the same device.

If a would-be victim is tricked into installing a malicious app, it would allow the attackers to obtain authentication cookies, which are small files that keep a user persistently logged in without having to constantly re-enter their passwords.

With these cookies, an attacker could access a user’s account without their password, allowing the malicious app to steal a Ring user’s full name, email address and phone number and Ring device data, such as camera recordings and geolocation data.

Mozilla Slaps 18 Period and Pregnancy Tracking Apps and Devices With a ‘Privacy Not Included’ Warning Label

Insider reported:

Eighteen popular reproductive health apps — including Flo, Glow and Ovia — just got slapped with a privacy warning label from Mozilla.

Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Mozilla investigated 25 period and pregnancy tracking apps and wearable devices to better understand their privacy and security practices.

Researchers looked at some of the most popular apps, as denoted by downloads, as well as those most often recommended by news outlets.

Of those investigated, 18 have opaque privacy-protection policies, and didn’t provide clear guidelines on what data could be shared with law enforcement institutions, said Jen Caltrider, the lead researcher on Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included project.

Aug 17, 2022

New York City Drops Random Testing for School Students, but Vaccination Still Mandatory for Teachers + More

New York City Drops Random Testing for School Students, but Vaccination Still Mandatory for Teachers

The Epoch Times reported:

​​New York City schools will no longer require students to be randomly tested for COVID-19 when the new school year begins on Sept. 8, but face masks will be mandatory in some cases and teachers are still required to have the COVID-19 vaccine, according to new guidelines issued on Aug. 16.

Instead of random testing for students, schools will provide home test kits for students, parents and teachers that can be used if they’re exposed to the virus. Students will also no longer be required to submit to a daily health screening to enter the building.

Masks are now “strongly recommended” indoors and will be available to those who need or want them at the school, but they are mandatory for students and staff who have been exposed to the virus and are returning to school on the sixth day after testing positive, and they must wear them through the 10th day after a positive test or the onset of symptoms.

In late 2021, New York City schoolteachers who did not comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate were placed on unpaid leave by the city’s Department of Education. The vaccine mandate is yet to be lifted and many teachers have filed lawsuits against the city.

California Appeals Court Rejects COVID Fines for Church

Associated Press reported:

A California church that defied safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic by holding large religious services won’t have to pay about $200,000 in fines, a state appeals court ruled.

Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastors were held in contempt of court and fined in 2020 and 2021 for violating state and county limits on indoor public gatherings.

On Monday, California’s 6th District Court of Appeal reversed those lower court decisions, citing a May 2020 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in February 2021 that a ban by Gov. Gavin Newsom on indoor worship services in counties where COVID-19 was surging violated freedom of religion.

The decision by a new conservative majority court came less than a year after the high court previously ruled the ban was justified on health and safety grounds.

Artificial Intelligence Was Supposed to Transform Healthcare. It Hasn’t.

Politico reported:

Investors see healthcare’s future as inextricably linked with artificial intelligence. That’s obvious from the cash pouring into AI-enabled digital health startups, including more than $3 billion in the first half of 2022 alone and nearly $10 billion in 2021, according to a Rock Health investment analysis commissioned by POLITICO.

And no wonder, considering the bold predictions technologists have made. At a conference in 2016, Geoffrey Hinton, British cognitive psychologist and “godfather” of AI, said radiologists would soon go the way of typesetters and bank tellers: “People should stop training radiologists now. It’s just completely obvious that, within five years, deep learning is going to do better.”

But more than five years since Hinton’s forecast, radiologists are still training to read image scans. Instead of replacing doctors, health system administrators now see AI as a tool clinicians will use to improve everything from their diagnoses to billing practices.

AI hasn’t lived up to the hype, medical experts said, because health systems’ infrastructure isn’t ready for it yet. And the government is just beginning to grapple with its regulatory role.

Maryland County Brings Back School Mask Mandate

The Daily Wire reported:

A Maryland county is bringing back the school mask mandate as the 2022 school year starts, citing an uptick in COVID cases.

Prince George’s County Public Schools announced Friday that face masks will be mandatory again at all schools and facilities in the district.

The policy took effect on Monday, and it will stay in effect until further notice, the district said.

Indian-Origin Cardiologist Calls for Review of COVID Vaccine Mandates

The Economic Times reported:

A leading Indian-origin consultant cardiologist based in the U.K. on Tuesday called for an urgent review of government health authorities’ mandated COVID-19 vaccination policies and the release of raw data from vaccine trials for expert analysis globally.

Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a National Health Service (NHS) trained cardiologist who has had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, said being pro-vaccination and pro-transparency are not mutually exclusive.

“Global vaccine mandates for COVID-19 must stop until we have the full data on the efficacy of all available vaccines,” said Malhotra. Malhotra’s call for an urgent review has been backed by other senior medical professionals worldwide, who also demanded transparent access to data for analysis.

“COVID vaccine mandates passports were instituted on the false thought that the COVID vaccines stop transmission of disease and that COVID recovered people somehow do not possess as strong immunity and protection as vaccinated people,” said Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at the University of Stanford.

COVID Lockdown Patrols ‘Triggered Fear and Trauma’ Among Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Inquiry Hears

SBS News reported:

Police and military on the streets at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns traumatized refugees and asylum seekers who had fled war-torn countries and didn’t understand what was happening, an inquiry has been told.

Helicopters hovering over some Sydney suburbs ordering people to stay indoors had been intimidating and unhelpful, a witness told an NSW parliamentary hearing on Tuesday. People felt like criminals, Arab Council Australia CEO Randa Kattan said.

Senior members of the community were among those particularly vulnerable because most did not have smartphones to access government messaging, or they did not understand it.

Twelve local government areas housing culturally and linguistically diverse communities were under the tightest lockdown restrictions in Sydney.

Lawmakers Demand FBI, DHS and Others Reveal Purchases of Personal Data That Circumvent Warrants

Gizmodo reported:

Two top Democrats in the House of Representatives have issued requests to a host of federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, demanding details of alleged purchases of Americans’ personal data.

The lawmakers accuse the seven federal agencies of using commercial dealings with data brokers and so-called location aggregators to sidestep warrant requirements in obtaining Americans’ private data.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland and six other agency heads on Tuesday, Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Bennie Thompson said that recent reports had found many law enforcement agencies — “including yours” — had purchased data or direct access to it “instead of obtaining it through statutory authorities, court order, or legal process.”

The lawmakers said companies trading in data have been known to package and sell a range of personal information, including, among others, records of internet browsing activity and precise locations.

Meta Rolls out Plan for Midterms, Pledges to Remove Misinformation

The Hill reported:

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, pledged to remove misinformation about voting and invest an additional $5 million in fact-checking ahead of the midterm elections, according to a Tuesday blog post.

Much of Meta’s plans for midterm-related content use the playbook the company implemented in 2020.

The social media giant will continue its policy of removing posts with misinformation about dates, locations, times and methods of voting, as well as false claims about who can vote and whether a vote will be counted and calls for violence related to voting, Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg wrote.

TikTok to Clamp Down on Paid Political Posts by Influencers Ahead of U.S. Midterms

Reuters reported:

TikTok will work to prevent content creators from posting paid political messages on the short-form video app, as part of its preparation for the U.S. midterm election in November, the company said on Wednesday.

Critics and lawmakers accuse TikTok and rival social media companies including Meta Platforms (META.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) of doing too little to stop political misinformation and divisive content from spreading on their apps.

While TikTok has banned paid political ads since 2019, campaign strategists have skirted the ban by paying influencers to promote political issues.

Aug 16, 2022

Lawsuits Coming for Entities That Don’t Change COVID Mandates After CDC Update + More

Lawsuits Coming for Entities That Don’t Change COVID Mandates After CDC Update: Lawyer

The Epoch Times reported:

Entities with COVID-19 vaccine mandates that don’t pay heed to the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance will face lawsuits, a civil liberties lawyer says.

“We don’t have a new lawsuit in the works yet. But if we see that colleges and universities and public employers are not responding to the new CDC guidance the way that they should be, then we would certainly tee up a new lawsuit,” Mark Chenoweth, president and general counsel at the New Civil Liberties Alliance, told The Epoch Times.

The response to the updated guidance should be, at a minimum, a lifting of mandates for people who have recovered from COVID-19, Chenoweth added. Such people have a high level of protection against severe illness and death, according to a number of studies. Many studies indicate the protection is higher than that from the COVID-19 vaccines — including one funded by the CDC.

Stop Testing Asymptomatic Children in Schools for COVID

Los Angeles Daily News reported:

When children were forced to stay home as the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, numerous voices called out in protest. In contrast to adults, children did not appear to be suffering from either a high burden of infection or a risk of severe complications, and the consequences of school closures were numerous, from worsening socioeconomic disparities including food insecurity and increased rates of physical abuse to a substantial loss in learning.

Many experts agree that the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have far-reaching negative ramifications for years to come.

As a strategy to keep kids in school in spite of the pandemic, routine surveillance testing within schools was widely recommended. This past week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its recommendations, no longer recommending universal surveillance testing within schools, but instead suggesting schools consider surveillance testing under certain circumstances such as when students return from vacation.

But as of this writing, the California Department of Public Health continues to recommend routine surveillance testing of asymptomatic students and staff for the 2022-2023 school year.

Philadelphia School District Mandates Masks for First 10 Days of School Year, Pre-K Must Mask up All Year

Fox News reported:

The School District of Philadelphia is mandating that students and staff wear masks for the first 10 days of the school year, and is requiring that pre-kindergarten attendees mask up all year.

Officials from the school district and city made the announcement in a letter to parents on Friday, stating that after the first 10 days of the school year, from Aug. 29 through Sept. 9, most schools will go mask-optional.

Students and staff at the district’s Pre-K Head Start program, the district’s income-driven pre-kindergarten program for ages 3-5, will be required to wear a mask for the entire 2022-2023 school year, according to the announcement.

DC Mayor Dodges Question on Why She Won’t Allow Unvaccinated Black Students in Schools This Fall

The Daily Wire reported:

Washington, DC, Mayor Democrat Muriel Bowser appeared to avoid addressing a question on why she will not allow unvaccinated black school children back in the classroom this fall by claiming that the statistics she was provided with were inaccurate.

Though many school districts have moved away from such restrictive measures, Washington, DC, mandates that children 12 and older be “up-to-date on required vaccinations before returning this August.”

A significant portion of DC’s black students is not vaccinated, sparking concerns that the mandate disproportionately impacts these children. And on Monday, The Daily Signal’s Douglas Blair questioned the DC mayor about “how she could justify forcing 40% of unvaccinated black students to stay home from school.”

Parents, Doctors Lament ‘Devastating’ Effects of Pandemic School Closures as Mental Health Crisis Worsens

Fox News reported:

Nearly two-and-a-half years after COVID-19 first took the U.S. by storm, parents and doctors are speaking out on the devastating effects that the school shutdowns and mandates continue to have on children, including a relentless mental health crisis.

“What I’m seeing happening — particularly with younger kids — is social delays, communication issues,” family therapist Tom Kersting told “Fox & Friends First” Tuesday.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen with teenagers is a rise in anxiety disorders,” he added. Kersting said shutting children and teens out of society for more than two years is behind the decline.

Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, a pediatrician, told host Todd Piro that the U.S. has seen a “tragic” increase in mental health issues among children and teens since the dawn of the pandemic, including in-patient psychiatric treatments.

Watchdog Sues Biden Administration Over Refusal to Provide Studies on Masks

The Epoch Times reported:

A watchdog group is suing the Biden administration for allegedly refusing to provide information on studies on the efficacy of cloth masks. Functional Government Initiative (FGI) says the Department of Health and Human Services and two subagencies have violated federal law by refusing to provide the information.

FGI in February sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the department, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases seeking details on how the agencies have analyzed the effectiveness of cloth masks, including information on any studies the agencies have funded on the matter.

Scoop: Oracle Begins Auditing TikTok’s Algorithms

Axios reported:

Oracle has begun vetting TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation models to ensure they aren’t manipulated by Chinese authorities, Axios has learned.

The effort is meant to provide further assurance to lawmakers that TikTok’s U.S. platform operates independently from the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

TikTok is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance. ByteDance bought the U.S. lip-syncing app in 2017 and merged it with its version of a similar app called TikTok. The app has since skyrocketed in popularity in the U.S.

Judge Orders Twitter to Give Elon Musk Former Executive’s Documents

Reuters reported:

Twitter Inc. (TWTR.N) needs to give Elon Musk documents from a former Twitter executive who Musk said was a key figure in calculating the amount of fake accounts on the platform, according to a Monday court order.

Bot and spam accounts on Twitter have become a central issue in the legal fight over whether Musk, who is Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) chief executive, must complete his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company.

Twitter was ordered to collect, review and produce documents from former General Manager of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour, according to the order from Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery.

Beykpour, who left Twitter after the social media company agreed in April to be acquired by Musk, was described in Musk’s court filings as one of the executives “most intimately involved with” determining the amount of spam accounts.

Amazon Accuses FTC of Harassing Executives Including Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy

Ars Technica reported:

Amazon has accused the U.S. Federal Trade Commission of harassing its top executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and chief executive Andy Jassy, as part of a probe into the e-commerce group’s Prime membership scheme.

Since March 2021, the regulator has been investigating whether Amazon uses deceptive techniques to lure customers into signing up for Prime, the subscription service that offers free delivery and other benefits at a cost of $139 a year.

The FTC is also examining whether Amazon unfairly complicates the process for customers who want to cancel their membership.

The company called for the FTC to “quash or limit” the demands, which it alleged served no other purpose other than to “harass Amazon’s highest-ranking executives and disrupt its business operations.”

Space Junk Is Unregulated, Harmful and Putting People at Risk

Mashable reported:

Along with a rising number of space missions by government agencies and private industry, comes a fresh set of problems for Earthlings: potentially dangerous space junk.

A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy concluded: “that current practices have on order a 10% chance of one or more casualties over a decade.” In other words, according to researchers from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia, there’s roughly a one-in-ten chance that the next decade will witness falling space junk kill someone.

But that’s just a small part of the problem the study outlines.

Chinese Internet Giants Hand Algorithm Data to Government

BBC News reported:

Chinese internet giants including Alibaba, Tiktok-owner ByteDance and Tencent have shared details of their algorithms with China’s regulators for the first time.

Algorithms decide what users see and the order they see it in — and are critical to driving the growth of social media platforms. They are closely guarded by companies.

In the U.S. Meta and Alphabet have successfully argued they are trade secrets amid calls for more disclosure.

Aug 15, 2022

Hospital and Drugmaker to Build Vast Database of New Yorkers’ DNA + More

Hospital and Drugmaker Move to Build a Vast Database of New Yorkers’ DNA

The New York Times via The Buffalo News reported:

The Mount Sinai Health System began an effort this week to build a vast database of patient genetic information that can be studied by researchers — and by a large pharmaceutical company.

The goal is to search for treatments for illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to kidney disease, but the effort to gather genetic information for many patients, collected during routine blood draws, could also raise privacy concerns.

The data will be rendered anonymous, and Mount Sinai said it had no intention of sharing it with anyone other than researchers. But consumer or genealogical databases full of genetic information, such as and GED match, have been used by detectives searching for genetic clues that might help them solve old crimes.

The health system hopes to eventually amass a database of genetic sequences for 1 million patients, which would mean the inclusion of roughly 1 out of every 10 New York City residents. The effort began this week, a hospital spokesperson, Karin Eskenazi, said.

America’s Kids Unmasked Two Years Later: Examining COVID Mandate Consequences as Students Return to Class

Fox News reported:

As a new school year starts ramping up, many children nationwide will experience their first day back to school without mask requirements or other COVID-related mandates for the first time in more than two years.

But for many, the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic remains. That is especially true in California, where schools implemented some of the strictest COVID policies in the country. The state was also among the last to reopen its schools.

Multiple parents who spoke with Fox News Digital said they were relieved that mask mandates have been dropped but say the impact of the past 2.5 years of COVID policies lingers.

“Isolating children, especially in Los Angeles, socially, academically and emotionally from their peers has had detrimental effects, the likes of which we are only beginning to feel,” Daniella Bloom, whose children attend school in the Los Angeles area, told Fox News Digital.

Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati Due to COVID Vaccination Status

CBS Sports reported:

World No. 6 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati because of his COVID-19 vaccination status. The unvaccinated tennis star’s participation in the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 29, is still uncertain.

The hard-court tournament in Cincinnati is set to take place Aug. 13- 21. At this moment, unvaccinated foreigners are not allowed to travel to Canada or the United States. Earlier this month, Djokovic had to pull out from the Canadian Open in Montreal. He also had to miss the Australian Open in January after being deported from the country due to his unvaccinated status.

Djokovic doesn’t necessarily need to rule out the U.S. Open yet, as the CDC could still change its guidelines to allow unvaccinated travelers into the country in the next few weeks.

Mask Mandate Didn’t Work Against COVID in LA, Say Doctors From USC and UCLA

Los Angeles Daily News reported:

A letter from top-level doctors and researchers arguing against the effectiveness of indoor mask mandates, along with pushback from health departments, cities and business groups, possibly played a role in a surprise decision not to re-institute the mandate in Los Angeles County last month.

This newspaper obtained a copy of a February 2022 letter signed by doctors from UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine and USC’s Keck School of Medicine sent to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, asking the county to end the mask mandate that was in effect this past winter, claiming the policy did not work.

The letter from the group of doctors cites the county’s statistics, and studies in Europe and some U.S. states, showing that after mask mandates were imposed, the transmission of COVID-19 did not slow down. It contends that vaccines and boosters, plus immunity from those who’ve been infected, form a safeguard against high levels of serious illness and that masks are not necessary for mid-2022, unlike during the early stages of the pandemic.

New Jersey Dropping Some COVID Requirements for Schools, Childcare Settings and State Contractors

CBS Philadelphia reported:

New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday easing some COVID-19 requirements. Soon, it will no longer be necessary for school districts, childcare settings and state contractors to require their unvaccinated workers to undergo routine testing.

The change in New Jersey goes into effect immediately for schools and childcare facilities and on Sept. 1 for contractors. However, the governor says those employers can still create their own vaccination or testing policy if they wish.

Colorado Department of Corrections to Review COVID Vaccine Mandate as It Scrambles to Fill 1,800 Open Positions

The Colorado Sun reported:

Colorado Department of Corrections officials are revisiting a policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees as the department scrambles to fill nearly 1,800 open positions.

The vaccine mandate and testing requirements for prison workers remained under administrative review Friday, and a potential rollback could come this week, the DOC confirmed.

The move comes amid efforts to speed hiring and chip away at a backlog of vacancies that has swelled to nearly one-quarter of the DOC’s 8,000-person workforce, fueling safety concerns among workers at state prisons.

Chaos at Shanghai Ikea After Store Attempted to Lock Down Over COVID Threat

Newsweek reported:

Videos circulating on social media Sunday show the moment chaos ensued at an Ikea store in Shanghai, China after authorities ordered it to shut down over a COVID-19 scare.

Shoppers rushed for the exits as health authorities attempted to lock down the building after learning that someone who had been in contact with a COVID-19 patient had visited.

In one video, an announcement can be heard inside the store saying authorities asked for an immediate shutdown and to stop people from entering or exiting.

Bloomberg reported that one visitor who shared her experience on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, said those who weren’t able to leave the store were forced to remain inside from 8 p.m. until just after midnight. They were then reportedly relocated to quarantine hotels.

Apple Finds Its Next Big Business: Showing Ads on Your iPhone

Bloomberg reported:

Before even talking about how Apple Inc. could expand its advertising business, I need to address the elephant in the room: how the company’s privacy efforts have stymied third-party advertising on its platform.

Last year, Apple launched a feature called App Tracking Transparency, or ATT. It allows consumers to decide whether apps can track them across other applications and websites — a key way for marketers to gather data and then serve up more relevant ads. Typically, the better the ad, the more money it generates.

You may not feel too bad for social media giants like Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc. that have claimed to have lost billions of dollars as a result of Apple’s changes, but smaller developers also say the feature has upended their businesses.

With that in mind, what you’re about to read may seem a bit ironic: Apple is going to, over time, significantly expand its own advertising business.

Police Used Baby’s DNA to Investigate Its Father for a Crime

Wired reported:

If you were born in the United States within the last 50 or so years, chances are good that one of the first things you did as a baby was give a DNA sample to the government. By the 1970s, states had established newborn screening programs, in which a nurse takes a few drops of blood from a pinprick on a baby’s heel, then sends the sample to a lab to test for certain diseases. Over the years, the list has grown from just a few conditions to dozens.

The blood is supposed to be used for medical purposes — these screenings identify babies with serious health issues, and they have been highly successful at reducing death and disability among children. But a public records lawsuit filed last month in New Jersey suggests these samples are also being used by police in criminal investigations.

The lawsuit, filed by the state’s Office of the Public Defender and the New Jersey Monitor, a nonprofit news outlet, alleges that state police sought a newborn’s blood sample from the New Jersey Department of Health to investigate the child’s father in connection with a sexual assault from the 1990s.

Crystal Grant, a technology fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, says the case represents a “whole new leap forward” in the misuse of DNA by law enforcement. “It means that essentially every baby born in the U.S. could be included in police surveillance,” she says.

‘They Can Do Audio, Video & Physical Surveillance on You 24 Hours/365 Days a Year’: Rex Lee on Intrusive Apps

ZeroHedge reported:

In this special episode, The Epoch Times’ Tiffany Meier sat down with Rex M. Lee, the cybersecurity adviser at My Smart Privacy. He helps shed light on China’s cyberattacks on America, how they affect us in our daily lives and what can be done to stop them.

“A single intrusive app enables the developer to collect over 5,000 highly confidential data points associated with the end user’s personal information, business information, medical information, legal information and employment information because the surveillance and data mining done by these companies is indiscriminate, meaning that they’re not only collecting consumer information, they’re collecting every bit of information from the end user, including text messages, email, email attachments, calendar events and so forth,” he added.

“So they can do audio, video and physical surveillance on you 24 hours, 365 days a year while collecting those 5,000 highly confidential data points on the end user. What they’re doing is they package that and they monetize it. But also, as we’re seeing in the news, is that these tech companies are aligned with governments. So the information a lot of times is ending up in the hands of the government.”