Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free.
Bill Gates Jokes About Tracking People With Vaccines
The billionaire, the co-founder and former CEO of tech giant Microsoft, has been a global health advocate for years, warning about impending pandemics years before COVID emerged and committing billions in funding for the development of vaccines.
Since 2020, however, Gates has been at the center of some COVID conspiracy theories, including one that claims vaccination against the virus is actually an excuse to implant people with tracking microchips.
At the end, Gates was asked by TED official Helen Walters how he deals with criticism from vaccine skeptics.
Elon Musk Taking Twitter Private in $44 Billion Deal
Elon Musk clinched a deal to buy Twitter Inc. (TWTR.N) for $44 billion cash on Monday in a transaction that will shift control of the social media platform populated by millions of users and global leaders to the world’s richest person.
It is a seminal moment for the 16-year-old company that emerged as one of the world’s most influential public squares and now faces a string of challenges.
Discussions over the deal, which last week appeared uncertain, accelerated over the weekend after Musk wooed Twitter shareholders with financing details of his offer.
Dozens Rally Against Bill That Would Fine Unvaccinated Rhode Islanders
Dozens of protesters gathered on Putnam Pike in Smithfield on Saturday afternoon against a proposal to fine unvaccinated residents $50 a month. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Sam Bell, would apply to all Rhode Islanders who are eligible for the vaccine.
“Forcing someone to get a vaccine or fining them $50 a month and doubling the amount that they owe on income tax, it’s just unconstitutional and it’s just plain wrong,” Nicholas Morrell said.
Earlier this week, 12 News spoke with Bell about his proposed legislation. He said on top of that monthly fine, unvaccinated Rhode Islanders would also be required to pay twice the amount of their personal income taxes.
The fine would apply to all unvaccinated Rhode Islanders over the age of 16. The fine for unvaccinated Rhode Islanders under the age of 16 would fall on the parent or guardian.
New Mississippi Law Bans COVID Vaccine Mandates
Mississippi is enacting a new law that says state and local government agencies cannot withhold services or refuse jobs to people who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The ban applies to state agencies, city and county governments and schools, community colleges and universities. COVID-19 vaccination mandates have not been widespread in Mississippi, but some lawmakers said they were acting against the possibility of government overreach.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday that he had signed House Bill 1509, and it became law immediately. “Government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing Americans to choose between the COVID-19 vaccine & putting food on their tables, sending their kids to school, or visiting a small business,” Reeves said on Twitter.
COVID Proved Our Schools Weren’t Working. Here’s What Should Come Next.
As most corners of America ease their COVID-19 restrictions, children everywhere are returning to something close to normal, attending school full time without masks or social distancing. Not everyone, however, is relieved. With Zoom classes giving parents a glimpse of what goes on in their kids’ classrooms, many came to the same stark conclusion: our educational system is irreparably broken.
We’re now knee-deep in the Information Age, which calls for innovation, disruption, initiative and unorthodox thinking — virtues that are richly rewarded in the marketplace but still frowned upon in your average high school classroom. Parents seem to realize this instinctively, which is why so many are pulling their kids from schools designed to fail them.
Mask Mandates Return to U.S. College Campuses as Cases Rise
The final weeks of the college school year have been disrupted yet again by COVID-19 as universities bring back mask mandates, switch to online classes and scale back large gatherings in response to upticks in coronavirus infections.
Colleges in Washington, DC, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Texas have reimposed a range of virus measures, with Howard University moving to remote learning amid a surge in cases in the nation’s capital.
This is the third straight academic year that has been upended by COVID-19, meaning soon-to-be seniors have yet to experience a normal college year.
Vaccination Issues Could Start Costing the Red Sox Games, and Other Thoughts
Are the Red Sox just unlucky when it comes to COVID-19, or are they paying the price for being MLB’s anti-vax poster boys?
The Sox were the only one of 10 playoff teams that did not reach 85%. In September, a dozen Red Sox players and staff got COVID. Chris Sale and first base coach Tom Goodwin made it known they were not vaccinated, and we subsequently learned that Xander Bogaerts, Christian Arroyo, Josh Taylor and Kevin Plawecki were unvaccinated.
Bogaerts, Arroyo, and Plawecki informed us this spring that they’d gotten the shots, but the Sox had another surge this past week (catchers Plawecki and Christian Vázquez — both vaccinated — came down with COVID) and had to recall Connor Wong to be an emergency catcher for Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays.
The Sox front office has been respectful (some would say fearful) about players’ privacy, but the “Who is and who isn’t?” parlor game ends this coming week when the team goes to Toronto, where a national mandate bars any unvaccinated player.
American Airlines Disputes $100K Fine for Flying Passengers Without Negative COVID Tests Into Canada
American Airlines is disputing a $100,000 fine assessed by Transport Canada for allowing passengers who didn’t produce negative COVID-19 tests to board a flight to Calgary last summer.
The airline received the maximum penalty for contraventions of Transport Canada’s COVID-19 regulations — fines of $25,000 for each each of the four travellers who boarded Flight 4291 in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Transport Canada says two other airlines have also been fined under COVID rules, but declined to name them. Neither appear to have filed appeals.
Canada’s COVID Entry Rules Are Changing (Again) Today
As summer approaches, countries continue to lower the barrier of entry for travelers. Last Friday, the Canadian government announced changes to its COVID-19 policy taking effect today.
The two most important changes apply to vaccinated adults and unvaccinated children. Fully vaccinated travelers are no longer required to make a quarantine plan in the event they test positive while in Canada. Also, children under 11 can skip the pre-arrival COVID test as long as they are accompanied by fully vaccinated adults.
Here’s what traveling to Canada looks like today:
Shanghai Erects Metal Barriers in Fight Against COVID
Volunteers and government workers in Shanghai erected metal barriers in multiple districts to block off small streets and entrances to apartment complexes, as China hardens its strict “zero-COVID” approach in its largest city despite growing complaints from residents.
In the city’s financial district, Pudong, the barriers — thin metal sheets or mesh fences — were put up in several neighborhoods under a local government directive, according to Caixin, a Chinese business media outlet. Buildings where cases have been found sealed up their main entrances, with a small opening for pandemic prevention workers to pass through.
In Beijing, authorities announced a mass testing starting Monday of Chaoyang district, home to more than 3 million people in the Chinese capital. The announcement set off panic buying Sunday evening, with vegetables, eggs, soy sauce and other items wiped off grocery shelves.
Google, Meta and the Rest Will Be Forced to Explain Their Mysterious Algorithms
The EU finalized the DSA on Friday, after 16 hours of negotiations, revealing how the piece of legislation would work in practice and which companies it would target. “The time of big online platforms behaving like they are ‘too big to care’ is coming to an end,” said Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the internal market.
While the EU hasn’t yet released the final text of the DSA, the details released show that Meta, Google, and others will need to open up their recommendations algorithms — i.e. the mechanism whereby content feeds are tailored to the individual user — to all for inspection.
Platforms will also need to offer users alternatives to algorithmic feeds, which would likely mean the reintroduction of chronological feeds, as Instagram recently announced. The goal of the DSA is, basically, to regulate huge tech giants that are headquartered in America, which has historically put them just beyond reach of the EU, despite many, many attempts to impose fines and restrict their activities.
Some of Tech’s Biggest Names Want a Future Without Passwords — Here’s What That Would Look Like
Creating the sort of long, complicated passwords that best deter cyber-thieves — especially for dozens of different online accounts — can be tedious. But it’s necessary, considering the record number of data breaches in the U.S. last year.
That’s why it’s so enticing to dream about a future where nobody has to constantly update and change online passwords to stay ahead of hackers and keep data secure. Here’s the good news: Some of the biggest names in tech are already saying that the dream of a password-less internet is close to becoming a reality. Apple, Google and Microsoft are among those trying to pave the way.