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Biden Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors Is Blocked Nationwide

Bloomberg reported:

The Biden administration’s mandate for federal contractors’ employees to be vaccinated will be halted nationwide, amid a slew of challenges from states that say the president overstepped his authority in requiring the COVID-19 shots.

Led by Georgia, the seven states that challenged the mandate set to take effect on Jan. 4 are likely to succeed in their lawsuits against the administration’s order, U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker of the Southern District of Georgia said in an order issued Tuesday.

Baker’s order follows a Kentucky federal judge’s grant last week of a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit involving Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. Baker echoed what his Kentucky counterpart said, that blocking the mandate didn’t indicate that the vaccine wouldn’t be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but rather that Biden didn’t have the power to issue such an executive order.

Popular Safety App Life360 Is Reportedly Selling the Precise Location Data of Millions of Kids and Their Families

Business Insider reported:

Popular family safety app Life360 is selling the raw location data of millions of children and their families, according to an investigation by The Markup released Monday. The company, which is in the midst of acquiring Tile in a deal worth $205 million, sells the information to dozens of data brokers who then sell the data “to virtually anyone who wants to buy it,” the outlet reported.

This can include hedge funds and firms involved in targeted advertising, or in some unique cases, government agencies such as the CDC and the U.S. Department of Defense.

As Life360 struggles to become profitable, selling location data has become a key money-maker for the app. Last year, the company made $22 million from location data sales and partnerships, accounting for approximately 20% of its yearly revenue, The Markup found.

Unvaccinated Illinoisans Would Pay COVID Hospital Bills Under New Proposals

Newsweek reported:

Legislation filed at the Illinois House of Representatives on Monday proposed that “a person who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated shall pay for healthcare expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID-19 symptoms.”

Such a bill would apply to any health insurance policies “amended, delivered, issued, or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2023.”

The legislation has been criticized by Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, who likened it to “taking healthcare away from Illinoisans.”

Over 200 UMass Memorial Health Employees Fired After Not Receiving COVID Vaccine

CBS Boston 4 reported:

About 200 UMass Memorial Health employees are out of a job because they missed the healthcare system’s COVID vaccination deadline.

UMass Memorial announced the mandate over the summer with a deadline to get vaccinated or receive an exemption by Nov. 1.

Employees were let go on Dec. 1 if they did not get the vaccine.

White House Mocks Idea of Mailing Every American Free COVID Tests

Gizmodo reported:

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mocked the idea of mailing out free COVID-19 tests to every American household on Monday, in just the latest sign that President Joe Biden’s lack of imagination is making the pandemic worse.

The Biden administration announced a plan last week to reimburse people for the costs of rapid COVID-19 tests through insurance, but there are an estimated 28 million Americans without health insurance of any kind.

And on Monday the White House press pool wanted to know why a complicated rebate scheme was being implemented when the U.S. could just follow the lead of other countries and make the tests free.

Oregon Moves to Make Indoor Mask Mandate Permanent

Summit News reported:

Oregon is moving to make its indoor mask mandate permanent, meaning the rule will only be able to be repealed in the highly unlikely event of Republicans winning the state.

Authorities are progressing in making compulsory face coverings an indefinite mandate and have taken “the first step in making the rule permanent,” reports KATU.

Dr. Paul Cieslak, the medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), defended the proposal by ludicrously attempting to argue that permanent doesn’t mean permanent. “Permanent means indefinite. It doesn’t necessarily mean permanent,” Cieslak said.

Belgian Health Workers Rally to Oppose Mandatory Vaccines

Associated Press reported:

Thousands of Belgian healthcare workers rallied Tuesday in Brussels to oppose mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and to demand better working conditions as a surge in new cases weighs heavily on hospitals.

Starting Jan. 1, healthcare workers in Belgium will have a three-month window in which to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Those who remain unvaccinated will be notified that their contracts will be suspended unless they provide a certificate proving recovery from COVID-19 or a recent negative test.

From April, those without a proper justification for refusing to comply could be dismissed. According to some estimates, around 60,000 health workers across the country of 11.5 million people are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fact Check: Has Israel Announced a Fourth COVID Vaccine Shot for All Citizens?

Newsweek reported:

For most people, a booster shot means a third dose of the COVID vaccine, but in Israel experts are already preparing to consider what might happen when protection from that third dose wanes.

On Dec. 5, Eli David, an artificial intelligence researcher and co-founder of the Deep Instinct cybersecurity firm, tweeted that Israel “announced today it will soon approve the 4th vaccine shot.”

He said: “It will mean that all those with 3 shots who don’t get the 4th shot will have their COVID passes revoked (as happened to those with 2 shots).”

Fines: What’s The Latest on Austria’s Compulsory Vaccine Plan?

ZeroHedge reported:

Austria’s planned vaccine mandate law will take a step towards becoming reality this week, and will reportedly apply from the age of 14, with fines of €600 which can be issued multiple times. According to the media reports, the law will come into effect on Feb. 1, but fines will not be issued until Mar. 15, allowing people the chance to get vaccinated after the law becomes reality.

The law would require three doses: the second between 14 and 42 days after the first, and a third between 120 and 270 days after the second. The Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines would be recognized.

People who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons would be excluded, as they have been from 2G requirements. Pregnant people would also be excluded from the mandate, as would those who had recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection, although only for 180 days following the infection.

Instagram Introducing Tool Allowing Parents to Monitor How Much Time Kids Spend on App

Newsweek reported:

Instagram launched a new tool on Tuesday, and announced more to come, striving to encourage parents and children to spend less time on the app.

The newest feature, “Take A Break” alerts users when they have been active on the app for a certain amount of time allotted, and is now available for app users in the U.S., United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and Australia.

Instagram has also announced another new tool specifically for parents that will be available in early 2022 that not only allows parents to monitor how much time their children spend on the app, but gives them the ability to set time limits for their children’s scrolling habits.

Scoop: Over 200 Papers Quietly Sue Big Tech

Axios reported:

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news.

What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.

Elon Musk Said Neuralink Hopes to Start Implanting Its Brain Chips in Humans in 2022, Later Than He Anticipated

Business Insider reported:

Elon Musk has said that Neuralink, his brain-interface technology company, hopes to start implanting its microchips in humans next year.

Neuralink, cofounded by Musk in 2016, is developing a chip that would be implanted in people’s brains to simultaneously record and stimulate brain activity. It’s intended to have medical applications, such as treating serious spinal-cord injuries and neurological disorders.

Musk said that Neuralink’s “standards for implanting the device are substantially higher than what the FDA requires.”

Meta Has a ‘Moral Obligation’ to Make Its Mental Health Research Transparent, Scientists Say

The Verge reported:

In an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg published Monday, a group of academics called for Meta to be more transparent about its research into how Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp affect the mental health of children and adolescents.

The letter calls for the company to allow independent reviews of its internal work, contribute data to external research projects, and set up an independent scientific oversight group.

The open letter comes after leaks from Facebook revealed some data from the company’s internal research, which found that Instagram was linked with anxiety and body image issues for some teenage girls.

It’s a longstanding frustration that big tech companies don’t release data, which makes it challenging for external researchers to scrutinize and understand their products.