Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free.

Biden’s Plan for a Digital Dollar Is a Massive Threat to Freedom

Newsweek reported:

If the federal government and Federal Reserve were to ultimately issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC), it would be the first time in a century that America has released an entirely new currency.

Although the Biden administration’s executive order’s language leaves the door open for federal agencies to recommend against the creation of a digital dollar, the evidence strongly suggests this will not occur, and that the White House will formally propose a plan for a digital currency by the end of the year.

Once the transition to a digital dollar is complete, you wouldn’t be able to go to the bank or an ATM and get physical cash out of an account that contains your digital currency.

More importantly, a digital currency would likely be designed in a way that would give government and/or the Federal Reserve substantial control over its use and supply.

NYC Keeping Private-Sector COVID Vaccine Mandates, School Masks for Kids Under 5

ABC 7 NY reported:

Private-sector vaccination mandates will continue indefinitely in New York City, Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said Friday, and masks will continue to be worn by children under 5 in public schools.

His announcement comes as concerns are growing over the new BA.2 Omicron subvariant, which is expected to become the dominant strain of the coronavirus.

Dr. Vasan also said masks will remain mandatory for public school students under 5, noting their lack of vaccination makes them most vulnerable.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News that we should not be surprised to see an increase in cases in the next few weeks.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s Archewell Audio Staying at Spotify After COVID Misinformation Concerns Resolved

Fox Business reported:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are keeping their podcast studio at Spotify after reportedly considering leaving the streaming platform. The Sussexes had concerns about the manner in which Spotify handled the spreading of information regarding the coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the production company, Archewell Audio, told FOX Business on Thursday that in an effort to mitigate the spread of misinformation, they are committed to working with the content streamer to continue the conversation surrounding transparency regarding Spotify’s policies and practices.

Spotify found itself in hot water last month when musician Neil Young accused the streamer’s podcast host Joe Rogan of spreading false information about COVID-19 vaccines through Rogan’s exclusive Spotify show.

HHS Launches Vaccine Ad Campaign Targeting Parents

The Hill reported:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week launched an ad campaign featuring medical professionals and aimed at encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated.

In the videos, the healthcare leaders tapped by HHS stressed that the vaccine is safe, while contracting COVID-19 is not.

According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January, 31% of parents for children aged 5-11 said they would probably or definitely will not vaccinate their child against COVID-19. Another 26% said they would probably get their child vaccinated or were still unsure.

Among older children, these percentages were lower, though less than 10% of parents among older age groups of children said they would “definitely” get their child vaccinated.

GOP Revives Anti-Vax, Pro-Ivermectin Measure in Kansas

Associated Press reported:

Conservative Republican lawmakers on Thursday revived a proposal to weaken Kansas’ vaccination requirements for children enrolling in school and daycare and to make it easier for people to get potentially dangerous treatments for COVID-19.

The Senate health committee approved a bill that would allow parents to get a no-questions-asked religious exemption from requirements to vaccinate their children against more than a dozen diseases, including measles, whooping cough, polio and chickenpox.

The measure also would limit pharmacists’ ability to refuse to fill prescriptions for the anti-worm treatment ivermectin and other drugs for off-label uses as COVID-19 treatments.

Texas Appeals Court Sides With Schools in Fight Over Whether Districts Can Require Masks

The Dallas Morning News reported:

A new Texas appeals court decision issued Thursday sided with school districts in the ongoing battle over mask mandates.

The decision came after 19 school districts — including Dallas, Lancaster, DeSoto and Fort Worth — sued the state last year over the governor’s ban on mandating face coverings in schools.

A trial court previously granted a temporary injunction on Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, but attorneys for the state appealed. On Thursday, Texas’ Third Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s decision, reinforcing the injunction.

Army Kicks Out Its First Three Coronavirus Vaccine Refusers

Stars and Stripes reported:

The Army has issued its first three separations for soldiers who refused to get their mandatory coronavirus vaccinations, the service announced Friday.

The Army is the last of the service branches to begin kicking out troops who do not get the shots. Technically, the three soldiers were separated for “refusing a lawful order” to receive the vaccine, according to the Army.

The announcement comes more than six months after the Army’s deadline to receive the vaccine, and about six weeks after Army Secretary Christine Wormuth ordered service commanders on Jan. 31 to begin the process of involuntarily separating vaccine refusers “as expeditiously as possible.”

Last week, the Army approved its first permanent religious waiver for the vaccine order. The service has granted one more as of Friday, according to an Army statement released Friday.

DC Residents Heard Shouting Profanities at Trucker Convoy on Streets

Newsweek reported:

After working around the various trucker convoys in Washington, DC, since early March, residents have reached their boiling point and can be heard screaming for them to “go home!”

The convoy is part of a larger movement of conservative truckers that began in Canada. Originally formed in protest of COVID-19-related mandates, the convoys soon spread to other countries, including the U.S., where they have caused traffic disruptions in cities around the world.

The People’s Convoy, which has been held mostly to the edge of DC this past week by law enforcement, is reportedly made up of around 500 trucks that have been circling a number of highways in the DC metropolitan area, according to WJLA-TV. This has led to significant delays in traffic, according to local news outlets.

How to Cope With COVID Anxiety Two Years After Monumental Lockdown

Fox News reported:

It’s been two years since the historic COVID-19 lockdowns — and as people reflect on what occurred in the spring of 2020, many are experiencing anew the feelings of stress, anxiety and other emotions that they felt back then.

To cope with various levels of emotion and trauma, Itai Danovitch, M.D., chair of the Cedars Sinai Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in Los Angeles, suggested people first acknowledge that it’s OK to be stressed or anxious. He also shared the reminder that the pandemic era has been a worrisome period of uncertainty — and that the best way to address worry is to address the cause.

German Lawmakers Vote to Abolish Most Pandemic Restrictions

Associated Press reported:

German lawmakers voted Friday to abolish most of the country’s coronavirus pandemic restrictions despite a surge in infections, with almost 300,000 new daily cases reported. The Bundestag passed an amendment to the pandemic rules in a 364-277 vote with two abstentions. The upper house of parliament, made up of Germany’s 16 states, approved the measure later Friday.

The changes mean that the requirement to wear face masks can be dropped for most public settings beginning Sunday, though all German states have said they will keep them in place for up to two weeks. Masks may still be required on public transport beyond then. Visitors to nursing homes will also continue to need negative COVID-19 tests, but these will not be required any longer in other walks of life.

Health minister Karl Lauterbach defended lifting the restrictions. “We can’t continue to put the entire country under a shield in order to protect a small group of people who are unwilling to get vaccinated,” he said. “The balance is being shifted.”

Tens of Millions of Chinese People Are Back in Strict Lockdown. Residents Say They Feel ‘Trapped.’

Business Insider reported:

As people in the U.S. and other countries get rid of masks and plan summer vacations, tens of millions of people in China are back in strict lockdown, causing frustration among residents and hampering global supply chains.

Surging COVID-19 case numbers, driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant, have prompted the new measures, as Chinese health officials stand by what they call a “dynamic” “zero-COVID” policy. That means rapid lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions when clusters emerge.

In Shenzhen, China’s Silicon Valley, 17.5 million people are under stay-at-home orders for at least a week, with exceptions being permitted only for “essential reasons.” In Shanghai, China’s commercial hub of 24 million people, schools and restaurants are closed.

Half of Americans Accept All Cookies Despite the Security Risk

TechRadar reported:

Although cookies have become a normal and necessary part of using the internet, new research from NordVPN has revealed that half of American users ‘accept all cookies’ on every website they visit.

For those unfamiliar, an HTTP cookie or a browser cookie is a piece of data that’s stored in your browser whenever you visit a website. With cookies enabled, a website will remember your preferences as well as any small changes you made during your last visit.

While most cookies are safe and used by companies to offer more personalization on their sites, some can be used to track you without your consent. At the same time, cookies can even be spied upon or used to fake the identity of a user so that an attacker can gain access to their online accounts.

The AI Placed You at the Crime Scene, but You Weren’t There

Wired reported:

Like a lot of tech solutions to complex problems, facial recognition algorithms aren’t perfect. But when the technology is used to identify suspects in criminal cases, those flaws in the system can have catastrophic, life-changing consequences.

People can get wrongly identified, arrested, and convicted, often without ever being told they were ID’d by a computer. It’s especially troubling when you consider false identifications disproportionately affect women, young people, and people with dark skin — basically everyone other than white men.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior writer Khari Johnson joins us to talk about the limits of facial recognition tech, and what happens to the people who get misidentified.

Meta Has a New Scam Ads Problem Down Under

TechCrunch reported:

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instigated proceedings against Facebook owner Meta for allowing the spread of scam ads on its platforms and — it alleges — not taking sufficient steps to tackle the issue.

The watchdog said today that it’s seeking “declarations, injunctions, penalties, costs and other orders” against the social media giant, accusing it of engaging in “false, misleading or deceptive conduct” by publishing scam advertisements featuring prominent Australian public figures — activity the ACCC asserts breaches local consumer laws.