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Biden Admin Led Massive ‘Speech Censorship Operation,’ Former State AG Will Testify
The Biden administration has led “the largest speech censorship operation in recent history” by working with social media companies to suppress and censor information later acknowledged as truthful,” former Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt will tell the House Weaponization Committee Thursday.
Schmitt, now a Republican senator from Missouri, is expected to testify alongside Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and former Missouri deputy attorney general for special litigation, D. John Sauer. The three witnesses will discuss the findings of their federal government censorship lawsuit, Louisiana and Missouri v. Biden et al — which they filed in May 2022 and describe as “the most important free speech lawsuit of this generation.”
The testimony comes after Missouri and Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, alleging that President Biden and members of his team “colluded with social media giants Meta, Twitter, and YouTube to censor free speech in the name of combating so-called ‘disinformation’ and ‘misinformation.’”
Missouri and Louisiana have been able to gather documents and depositions from federal officials as part of the discovery process — including a deposition of Dr. Anthony Fauci, in which they questioned him on the COVID lab-leak theory, efficacy of masks, vaccines and more.
Top Massachusetts Court Backs Boston in COVID Vaccine Mandate Fight, Throws Out Lower Ruling
The state’s top court has ruled in favor of the city in the battle over its COVID-19 mandate, throwing out the preliminary injunction against the Wu administration and clearing the way for future versions of such policies.
Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Elspeth Cypher wrote the opinion issued Thursday, throwing out an appellate judge’s order not to enforce the vaccine-mandate police from December 2021 — a policy under which no one’s ever been disciplined.
This fight stems from the start of the Omicron-variant surge in December 2021, when new Mayor Michelle Wu announced that every city employee would have to get the COVID-19 jab by mid-January or face suspension and possible termination.
Any employees, including the plaintiffs, could be subject to any future vaccine mandates — whether regarding COVID-19 or something else. That’s one of the reasons why the city kept pushing this case even when by its own admission the situation with COVID has changed and lessened from the depths of the Omicron-variant-driven surge of January 2022.
TikTok Is Addictive for Many Girls, Especially Those With Depression
Nearly half of the adolescent girls on TikTok feel addicted to it or use the platform for longer than they intend, according to a report that looks at social media as a central facet of American girlhood.
TikTok leads the way in total time on its platform, with girls who use it logging more than 2.5 hours a day, according to researchers from Brown University and the nonprofit Common Sense Media. But YouTube is only a bit behind, at nearly 2.5 hours, with Snapchat and messaging apps at about two hours, and Instagram at 92 minutes. Many girls surveyed, ages 11 to 15, use multiple platforms daily.
Among those most vulnerable to the downsides of social media were girls with moderate to severe symptoms of depression, who were more likely to say their lives would be better without social media. More of them used social media “almost constantly.” With TikTok, 68% said they felt addicted or used it more than intended, compared to 33% of girls with no depressive symptoms.
Jacqueline Nesi, co-author and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown, also pointed out that three-quarters of girls with moderate to severe depression symptoms who use Instagram report encountering suicide-related content at least monthly. Similarly, 69% reported the same issue on TikTok and 64% on Snapchat and YouTube.
RESTRICT Act Is Orwellian Censorship Grab Disguised as Anti-TikTok Legislation
The RESTRICT Act, introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tom Thune (R-SD), is aimed at blocking or disrupting transactions and financial holdings linked to foreign adversaries that pose a risk to national security, however, the language of the bill could be used to give the U.S. government enormous power to punish free speech.
Warner, a longtime opponent of free speech who, as Michael Krieger pointed out in 2018 (and confirmed in the Twitter Files) pushed for the ‘weaponization’ of big tech, crafted the RESTRICT act to “take swift action against technology companies suspected of cavorting with foreign governments and spies, to effectively vanish their products from shelves and app stores when the threat they pose gets too big to ignore,” according to Wired.
Bad actors listed in the bill are China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.
In reality, the RESTRICT Act has very little to do with TikTok and everything to do with controlling online content. The RESTRICT Act can also be used to punish people using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) if they’re used to access banned websites and directs the Secretary of Commerce to “identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate” that which is deemed a national security risk associated with technology linked to the above countries.
Penalties include fines of up to $1 million or 20 years in prison or both.
Ending COVID Vaccine Mandate for State Agencies Advances in NC House
House Bill 98, titled Medical Freedom Act, was recommended by Judiciary 1. It goes to the gatekeeper Rules and Operations committee.
The bill would prohibit city, county and state government agencies and certain political subdivisions from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.
HB98 also would not allow the State Board of Education, local public school districts, colleges and universities to require students to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or be vaccinated for one or multiple doses.
Kansas Senate Approves String of Bills Targeting Vaccine Requirements, Public Health Measures
The Kansas Senate narrowly approved three bills Wednesday targeting vaccine requirements and the power of local and state health officials despite low chances the policies could become law.
The upper chamber voted 24 to 16 to prohibit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment from requiring COVID-19 vaccines in schools or child care centers — something KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek has said she does not plan to do.
The Senate also approved bills removing the state-level meningitis vaccine requirement in Kansas colleges and blocking any schools or employers from questioning the validity of a religious exemption request for vaccine requirements, and stripping state and local health officials of their power to adopt rules and regulations preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
Lawsuit Seeks to Invalidate EMS Vaccine Mandate
A legal challenge filed on behalf of Mainers who lost their jobs as a result of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate could determine whether the Maine Emergency Medical Services (Maine EMS) had the authority to implement such a mandate.
Health Choice Maine (HCM), a non-profit group that advocates for medical freedom, is the driving force behind the decision to challenge the mandate. The case has 18 named plaintiffs, as well as classes of John and Jane Does.
Corey Bonnevie, a 20-year veteran paramedic who has worked in western Maine for 15 years, said even before the mandate caused the EMT ranks to shrink, he had often found himself as the only ambulance servicing an area of 1,500 square miles or more.
Bonnevie said he had a religious exemption for the flu vaccine and a medical exemption. A medical doctor provided him with the exemption after he had a serious adverse reaction to a flu immunization. But the company he worked for refused to accept his pre-existing medical and religious exemptions, he said.
American IQs Rose 30 Points in the Last Century. Now, They May Be Falling.
A new study of human intelligence posits a narrative that may surprise the general public: American IQs rose dramatically over the past century, and now they seem to be falling.
Cognitive abilities declined between 2006 and 2018 across three of four broad domains of intelligence, the study found. Researchers tracked falling scores in logic, vocabulary, visual and mathematical problem-solving and analogies, the latter category familiar to anyone who took the old SAT.
If you want to ascribe blame, look no further than this screen. Cognitive researchers hypothesize that smartphones and smart speakers, autocomplete and artificial intelligence, Wi-Fi and runaway social media have conspired to supplant the higher functions of the human brain. In its quest for labor-saving tech, the world may be dumbing itself down.
AI Ethics Group Says ChatGPT Violates FTC Rules, Calls for Investigation
A prominent AI ethics organization submitted a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission this week urging the agency to investigate ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and halt its development of future large language learning models.
CAIDP issued the complaint just one day after a wide group of more than 500 AI experts signed an open letter demanding AI labs immediately pause the development of LLMs more powerful than GPT4 over concerns they could pose, “profound risks to society and humanity.”
The complaint claims GPT4, which was released earlier this month, launched without any independent assessment and without any way for outsiders to replicate OpenAI’s results. CAIDP warned the system could be used to spread disinformation, contribute to cybersecurity threats, and potentially worsen or “lock in” biases that are already well-known to AI models.
Hawley, Paul Clash on Floor Over TikTok Ban
Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) clashed Wednesday afternoon over the future of TikTok in a spirited exchange on the Senate floor that shows disagreements over how to regulate the controversial app across party lines in Congress.
The two conservative stars butted heads when Hawley attempted to gain unanimous consent to pass his bill to prohibit TikTok from operating in the United States and ban commercial activity with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.
Paul suggested that proponents of banning TikTok are peddling fear and argued that domestic Big Tech companies also collect vast amounts of data from American users without much scrutiny or interference from the federal government. “I think we should be aware of those who peddle fear. I think we should be aware of those who use fear to coax Americans to relinquish our liberties,” he said.
“We confirmed from the testimony of the TikTok CEO that TikTok has the ability to track American’s data, to track Americans’ location, to track Americans’ personal lives whether they want it to or not,” Hawley said.
Paul, however, argued that it should be up to individual Americans whether or not to use TikTok and that the federal government shouldn’t decide for them.