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COVID Vaccines Compulsory for More Than 200 Million People Worldwide
Making COVID-19 vaccines compulsory was once an unthinkable prospect. But governments around the world are losing patience with people who have decided not to get inoculated — and some are imposing mandates in efforts to save thousands of lives and avoid disastrous new waves of infection.
At least 203.15 million people worldwide are affected by these mandates, according to a calculation by Newsweek based on figures from World Population Review.
This figure does not include countries such as the U.S., which have introduced compulsory vaccination for some workers and public officials but not for the rest of the population. The calculation only includes countries that have enacted mandates for their whole adult population.
Vaccine Holdouts in Navy, Marines Hit 19,000 as Deadline Passes to Comply With Mandate
As many as 19,000 active-duty Marines and Navy sailors chose not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by their shared Nov. 28 deadline, a dilemma for military leaders who have threatened to expel personnel refusing to comply with the Biden administration’s mandate.
While the Marines’ margin of 5% unvaccinated had been anticipated, it was an unexpected outcome for the Navy, which in announcing its final tally this week acknowledged that officials had uncovered last-minute “discrepancies” with its data-tracking system that revealed a larger pool of unvaccinated sailors than had been projected.
These personnel now join more than 8,000 in the Air Force who declined to get vaccinated. Army data shows 4% of its active force — about 19,000 soldiers — have not received any vaccine dose, with the compliance deadline of Dec. 15 now less than two weeks away.
Unvaccinated Nevada State Workers to Pay Insurance Surcharge
Nevada will be the first state to charge state workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge if they aren’t vaccinated.
The state Public Employees’ Benefit Program Board voted on Thursday to charge unvaccinated workers up to $55 per month to offset the costs of testing those who haven’t gotten shots are required to undergo in certain workplaces.
“This is pandemic has been shouldered on the burden of everyone. And now this particular burden — the testing — should be shouldered on the burden of those who refuse to (be vaccinated),” said DuAne Young, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s policy director.
Biden Signs Stopgap Funding Bill to Keep Government Running
President Joe Biden on Friday signed into law the stopgap spending bill that will keep the federal government running through Feb. 18, after congressional leaders defused a partisan standoff over federal vaccine mandates.
Both chambers of Congress passed the legislation Thursday avoiding a short-term shutdown of the government into the weekend. The bill keeps the federal government running for 11 more weeks, generally at current spending levels, while adding $7 billion to aid Afghanistan evacuees.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Suspends Vaccine Mandate Enforcement
A memo issued by the agency, posted by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Twitter Thursday, said that CMS “remains confident” it will prevail in court but is “suspending activities related to the implementation and enforcement of this rule pending future development in the litigation.”
Rhode Island Union Agrees to Contract With $3K Vaccine Bonuses
The largest state employees’ union in Rhode Island has approved a new four-year contract that includes $3,000 COVID-19 vaccination bonuses, officials said.
Council 94 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 3,800 workers, overwhelmingly approved of the deal on Thursday. The contract also includes 2.5% annual raises.
NYC to Require COVID Vaccines for Staff at Private, Religious Schools
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is extending his order requiring COVID-19 vaccines to include teachers and staff at private and religious schools.
De Blasio, a Democrat, said Thursday that employees at nonpublic schools will be required to show they’ve received at least one dose of a vaccine by Dec. 20. The order will apply to about 56,000 employees at 938 schools in New York City.
The Democratic mayor had issued a mandate that took effect in October requiring the shots for workers in the city’s public school system, which is the largest in the country. De Blasio extended the mandates to cover the city’s workforce, including police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers, and broadened the order this week to include childcare workers.
Oklahoma Sues Biden Administration Over Pentagon Vaccine Mandate
The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday in an attempt to block the enforcement of its vaccine mandate for federal employees. The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) request to exempt the state’s National Guard from the mandate.
The complaint argues that the mandate is unconstitutional and “ensures that many Oklahoma National Guard members will simply quit instead of getting a vaccine, a situation that will irreparably harm Oklahomans’ safety and security.”
The suit is asking the court to block the mandate for all federal employees, not just the National Guard.
New Jersey GOP Lawmakers Defy New Statehouse COVID Vaccine Mandate, Refuse to Leave Floor
Several New Jersey Republican state Assembly members refused to comply with a new statehouse COVID-19 policy, walking past state police officers enforcing the rules and refusing to leave the Assembly floor.
“We’re standing up for people who haven’t gotten or can’t get the vaccine and those who have natural immunity,” Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber, one of the lawmakers who refused to comply with the new rules, told Fox News Thursday.
At issue was a new rule issued by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, both Democrats, Thursday that mandated lawmakers show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from up to 72 hours prior to entering the Senate or Assembly chambers.
Biden Wants COVID Testing for Air Travelers 24 Hours Before Overseas Flights
A senior administration official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday that the 24-hour testing requirement, which Biden officially announced earlier in the day, will take effect Monday. All travelers, regardless of vaccination or citizenship status, will be subject to the changed regulation.
Previously, only the unvaccinated were required to show a negative test 24 hours prior to departure, while those that were vaccinated had to show a negative test within 72 hours.
Joe Manchin Takes Aim at Biden’s Business Vaccine Mandate
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has taken aim at President Joe Biden‘s COVID mandate, saying he supports legislation that would overturn the requirement for employers to ensure staff are vaccinated or tested.
Manchin, a key Democratic vote in the evenly divided Senate, made the comments in a statement on Thursday following a deal to prevent a shutdown of the federal government.
The senator went on: “But let me be clear, I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses. That’s why I have co-sponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses.
Explainer: Must Employers Follow Biden’s Vaccine Mandates?
Millions of healthcare workers across the U.S. were supposed to have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by this coming Monday under a mandate issued by President Joe Biden’s administration. Thanks to legal challenges, they won’t have to worry about it, at least for now.
Same goes for a Jan. 4 deadline set by the administration for businesses with at least 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus.
Judges responding to lawsuits brought by Republican-led states, businesses and other opponents have blocked some of Biden’s most sweeping initiatives intended to drive up vaccination rates. Numerous other legal challenges are pending.
Maximum Censorship: School Board Critics Arrested by School Board Cops
In recent months, as parents express their frustration over COVID lockdowns, mask mandates and critical race theory, local school districts and federal law enforcement have upped the ante by monitoring parents, requesting undercover agents at school board meetings and even arresting parents who attend board meetings to express dissent.
The latest and most egregious example comes from Round Rock, Texas.
In September, with the district’s controversial mask mandate on the agenda, the school board locked the majority of parents out of the room, preventing them from speaking. A retired Army captain named Dustin Clark and other frustrated parents asked the board to open the nearly empty room to the public. Instead, school board president Amy Weir directed officers to remove Clark from school property.
Google Fired Its Star Artificial Intelligence Researcher One Year Ago. Now She’s Launching Her Own Institute.
Timnit Gebru, a prominent artificial intelligence (AI) computer scientist, is launching an independent AI research institute focused on the harms of the technology on marginalized groups, who often face disproportionate consequences from AI systems but have less influence in its development.
A year ago, she was fired from Google for a research paper critiquing the company’s lucrative AI work on large language models, which can help answer conversational search queries.
Facebook Exiting the Facial Recognition Game
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, is planning to delete more than one billion people’s individual facial recognition templates, and will no longer automatically recognize people’s faces in photos or videos as a result of this change, according to its own post.
More than 600 million daily active users on Facebook had opted into the use of the face recognition technology.
Let’s not forget that Facebook’s push into the facial recognition space came in 2012 with its acquisition of Israeli start-up Face.com. Fast forward to 2020, Facebook agreed to settle a lawsuit for $650 million for violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Essentially, Meta was collecting and storing biometric data without first getting user consent. Transparency is not necessarily something the company is known for upholding.
Amazon Charges Sellers Fees That Are High Enough to Offset Losses From Prime, a New Report Says
The massive reach of Amazon’s e-commerce platform is appealing for any small business that wants to sell its products online.
But a new report suggests that the cost of doing business can become a Faustian bargain for a third-party seller, as the fees that Amazon charges them can quickly eat into profits.
Its Amazon Prime subscription service — believed to be a money loser for the e-commerce giant — provides Amazon a loyal base of shoppers who want to get their money’s worth of free shipping. The profits Amazon makes from seller fees subsidize the losses from its Prime division, according to the report.