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Biden Touts Grocery Coupons for People Who Get Vaccinated Again

The Daily Wire reported:

The White House amplified multiple grocery stores and pharmacy chains’ offers to provide $20 vouchers for Americans who get another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Officials are encouraging Americans to receive boosters before embarking upon holiday travel over the next two months. The White House said in a statement that President Joe Biden has called upon pharmacies to “double down” on efforts to increase vaccination rates, prompting the organizations to send “tens of millions of texts, calls and emails to customers, multimedia marketing campaigns,” while federal pharmacy partners are extending hours and accepting walk-in appointments.

Albertsons, a grocery store chain with most locations in the western part of the nation, will discount groceries by 10% for people who receive the vaccine in-store, with total benefits capped at $20. CVS Health is likewise offering $5 off any regular purchase of $20, while Rite Aid will offer coupons for $5 off a purchase of $25 or more. Southeastern Grocers will provide $20 vouchers when individuals receive their COVID vaccine and booster at the same time.

Beyond the companies offering discounts, Walgreens is spending millions to “encourage vaccinations across Black and Hispanic communities,” while Walmart and Sam’s Club will play a reminder over store loudspeakers three to four times each hour in the hopes that shoppers will opt to receive their vaccines.

Baker Offers to Reinstate Dozens of State Workers Fired Under Strict COVID Vaccine Mandate

The Boston Globe via MSN reported:

Massachusetts officials are offering to reinstate dozens of workers who lost their jobs after Governor Charlie Baker required that all executive branch employees be inoculated against COVID-19, a strict policy that, at its inception, was among the furthest-reaching in the nation.

State officials said Tuesday that about 50 employees have been offered their jobs back, a group that labor officials said appeared scattered across agencies and reportedly included the Department of Transportation. More than 1,000 were fired or quit after declining to get vaccinated against COVID-19, officials said in January.

Baker, speaking Tuesday, indicated the state made offers to those who previously sought a medical or religious exemption but had been denied. In February, state officials told WBUR that the administration had approved just 256 of more than 2,300 exemption requests, the majority of which were for religious beliefs.

Judge Tells NYC to Rehire Workers Fired for Refusing Vaccination

The Washington Post reported:

A group of sanitation workers who were fired for refusing to comply with New York City’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for government employees should be given back their jobs, as well as retroactive pay, a New York state judge ruled.

The city’s requirement for government workers to be vaccinated was “arbitrary and capricious,” state Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio, a Republican whose jurisdiction includes the conservative stronghold of Staten Island, wrote in an order filed Tuesday.

The city has appealed the decision; New York’s Supreme Court is a trial-level court and its decisions are subject to review by higher appellate courts.

Americans Don’t Need More Pills — They Need Sports

Newsweek reported:

On Oct. 11, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended all children ages eight and up be screened for anxiety, even if they have no symptoms. The justification? Anxiety is the most common mental illness among minors, and universal screening will allow America’s troubled youth to receive the therapy and medication they need to manage their symptoms.

Before COVID-19, only 11% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, compared to 40% during the pandemic, a number that had dropped only to 33% by June 2022. These rapid shifts raise a question: what has changed during the pandemic that still endures today?

Two important variables stand out: social isolation, wrought by lockdowns, remote work and crumbling social institutions; and declining physical activity resulting from not going outside, shutting down gyms and spending every waking moment in front of a screen. We know social isolation and lack of exercise are major factors behind anxiety, so why are we medicalizing what we know to be a social and technological problem that inaccessible therapy and popping pills can’t possibly fix?

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Signals Opposition to COVID Vaccine for Children

Fox News reported:

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signaled opposition to mandating coronavirus vaccines for children to attend school during Michigan’s final gubernatorial debate before Election Day.

Whitmer was asked during Tuesday’s debate about new guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging children to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“I do not support requiring the COVID vaccine for children,” said Whitmer, who proceeded to defend her record of battling the pandemic. “We made quick decisions to save lives and studies show we saved 1,000s. I am proud of that.”

Gov. Mills Won’t Rule out Future COVID Vaccine Mandate for Schools

The Maine Wire reported:

It was a small moment with big implications. Last night during the second major gubernatorial debate, Maine Gov. Janet Mills said that she does not support imposing a vaccine mandate on Maine school children “at this time.”

Mills did not elaborate, nor did the moderator ask her to. But the implication is clear: Mills is leaving the door open to impose vaccine mandates on Maine schools after Election Day.

The comment follows last week’s vote by Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah in support of adding the controversial COVID-19 shots to the federal schedule of vaccinations. Shah, who is a member of the federal CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), joined the other 14 members of that committee in recommending the mRNA COVID-19 shots produced by Pfizer, Moderna and other major pharmaceutical companies for all American children and adolescents.

Oscar Winner Flames Actors’ Unions Over ‘Discriminatory’ COVID Vaccine Policies

The Daily Wire reported:

Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins laid into two major actors’ unions on Tuesday, calling on them to put an end to their “discriminatory” COVID vaccine policies.

Robbins called out both SAG-AFTRA (The Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and Actors Equity, and said that it was “way past time” for the unions to abandon vaccine mandates, citing the New York Supreme Court ruling that reinstated New York City workers whose jobs had been terminated when they did not comply with the city’s vaccine requirements.

Robbins continued with a quote from Staten Island Judge Ralph J. Porzio, who said in his ruling, “Being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting COVID-19. As of the day of this Decision, CDC guidelines regarding quarantine and isolation are the same for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.”

China’s COVID Curbs Disrupt Production at World’s Biggest iPhone Factory

Hong Kong Free Press reported:

Millions of people in China were under tight COVID restrictions on Wednesday as sporadic outbreaks across the country prompted business closures and disruption at the world’s largest iPhone factory.

China is the last major economy welded to a zero-COVID strategy, persisting with snap lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines in a bid to keep infections to a minimum.

But fast-spreading virus variants have challenged that approach in recent months, with shutdowns and an ever-shifting patchwork of curbs sparking public exasperation and rare pockets of protest.

The world’s most populous nation recorded just 1,241 new local cases on Wednesday, the majority of which displayed no symptoms, according to the National Health Commission. But they include an outbreak at a factory in the central city of Zhengzhou that employs around 300,000 people and is known as the largest producer of iPhones in the world.

TikTok Won’t Stop Serving Me Horror and Death

Vox reported:

TikTok’s all-powerful, all-knowing algorithm appears to have decided that I want to see some of the most depressing and disturbing content the platform has to offer. My timeline has become an endless doomscroll. Despite TikTok’s claims that its mission is to “bring joy,” I am not getting much joy at all.

What I am getting is a glimpse at just how aggressive TikTok is when it comes to deciding what content it thinks users want to see and pushing it on them. It’s a bummer for me, but potentially harmful to users whose timelines become filled with triggering or extremist content or misinformation.

This is a problem with pretty much every social media platform as well as YouTube. But with TikTok, it feels even worse. The platform’s algorithm-centric design sucks users into that content in ways its rivals simply don’t. And those users tend to skew younger and spend more time on TikTok than they do anywhere else.

Meta and Microsoft Can’t Self-Regulate Their Metaverses, U.K. Regulator Warns

CNBC reported:

The boss of the U.K. media regulator Ofcom warned that “metaverse” forays from tech giants like Meta and Microsoft will be subjected to incoming rules forcing platforms to protect users from online harm.

Speaking at an event in London hosted by policy consulting group Global Counsel on Tuesday, Ofcom Chief Executive Melanie Dawes said self-regulation of the metaverse, a hypothetical digital world touted by Meta and others, wouldn’t fly under U.K. online safety laws.

The Online Safety Bill is a set of legislation that seeks to curb harmful content from being widely shared on the internet. The rules would impose a duty of care on firms requiring them to have robust and proportionate measures to deal with harmful materials such as vaccine disinformation or posts promoting self-harm.

Violations of the law — once it is approved — could lead to fines of up to 10% of annual global revenues. Down the track, senior tech executives may also face criminal liability for more extreme breaches.

DHS Emails Confirm the Feds Are Monitoring Tweets

Gizmodo reported:

The Department of Homeland Security has its eyes online. Following the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, the agency took to Twitter to monitor the public response, according to a report from Bloomberg that references internal DHS emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The notion of federal agents keeping tabs on social media shouldn’t be particularly surprising. After all, the FBI has been open about its interest in social media monitoring for years. Local police forces also surveil posts. And Homeland Security itself started collecting a wide array of online data (including social media activity) on immigrants back in 2017.