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Novak Djokovic Says He’d Rather Skip Wimbledon and French Open Than Get a Coronavirus Vaccine
The world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, Novak Djokovic, said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that he had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus and was prepared to forgo playing in Grand Slam tournaments rather than be forced to take a shot.
In an interview with BBC News, the Serbian star said it was a “misconception” and “wrong conclusion” that he was part of the anti-vaccine movement, stating that he supported the freedom to choose.
Asked whether he was prepared to skip major tournaments such as the French Open and Wimbledon, Djokovic said: “Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay. . . The principles of decision-making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”
Meta Agrees to Pay $90 Million to Settle a Lawsuit Alleging Facebook Kept Tracking Users After They Logged Off
Meta has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a decade-old lawsuit alleging Facebook kept tracking users’ internet activity after they’d logged off of the platform.
The proposed settlement was filed late Monday and still requires court approval. If approved, it would be one of the 10 biggest data-privacy class-action settlements ever, according to the document.
The 2012 lawsuit alleges that, between April 2010 and September 2011, Facebook violated privacy and wiretapping laws by using plug-ins to store cookies tracking users’ visits to third-party websites that contained “like” buttons. The social media site had users’ permission to track them while they were logged in but promised to stop when they logged out.
Besides the $90 million sum, which would be distributed among affected users, the settlement would require that Facebook delete data improperly collected on users through the use of this practice.
U.S. Says It Could Spend $22 Million a Month Testing Unvaccinated Federal Employees
The U.S. government said it faces “significant harm” if an appeals court fails to reverse an injunction barring enforcement of President Joe Biden‘s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for government workers, and that testing unvaccinated employees could cost up to $22 million a month.
White House Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jason Miller disclosed in a declaration cited late on Monday by the Justice Department that the government would be hurt on several fronts if it cannot enforce the vaccine requirements.
On Jan. 21, a U.S. judge in Texas ruled Biden could not require federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and blocked the U.S. government from disciplining employees failing to comply.
Court Allows Air Force Officer to Bypass Coronavirus Vaccine Mandate on Religious Grounds, for Now
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Air Force to let an officer stay unvaccinated against the coronavirus temporarily, without penalties, making her the first in the branch to receive a court injunction that excuses her from a military-wide vaccine mandate.
Although the military has granted hundreds of medical exemptions to service members, it has been much stricter about religious exemptions, which the officer had unsuccessfully requested. Last month, a federal court sided with 35 Navy sailors who had sued the Biden administration to grant them religious exemptions, and the Marines granted the military’s first such exemptions.
Tuesday’s preliminary injunction shields the officer from forced retirement for refusing a coronavirus vaccination until a final ruling is made. She objects to the vaccines “because of their connection to abortion,” according to her attorneys.
Supreme Court to Review New York City Schools Vaccine Mandate Despite Sotomayor’s Denial
The Supreme Court said Wednesday that it will consider a renewed request from New York City teachers and staff to block a vaccine mandate due their religious objections, despite an earlier denial by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The teachers had previously asked Sotomayor — who has jurisdiction over lower courts in New York — to consider their emergency request. Sotomayor denied the request without referring the matter to the full court, likely because she did not think her colleagues would be interested in granting the application. The court has been reluctant to get involved in state and local vaccine mandate disputes.
But the New York group then took the unusual step of directing a new request to conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, who referred it to the full court to consider.
Washington, DC, to End Vaccine, Mask Mandates
Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Monday that the city will end its requirement for people entering businesses to show proof of vaccination starting this week and will lift its mask mandate for businesses starting on Mar. 1.
Bowser cited a sharp decline in cases in the Omicron wave as justification for the loosening of restrictions. The mayor pointed to the protection of vaccines in saying the situation had changed.
The vaccination requirement for people entering businesses like restaurants will end starting Tuesday. That requirement had drawn resistance from some congressional Republicans who rallied behind a neighborhood bar, The Big Board, that defied the mandate.
Masks will still be required in schools, an area of strong controversy, and some situations like public transit, Bowser said, while the broader mandate will be lifted next month.
TD Bank Freezes Accounts That Received Money for Canada Protests
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) has frozen two personal bank accounts into which C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) had been deposited to support protesters fighting the Canadian government’s pandemic measures, a bank spokesperson said on Saturday.
The demonstrations, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccination mandate for cross-border drivers as well as other pandemic restrictions, are now in their third week. They have gridlocked the capital Ottawa and blocked U.S.-Canada border crossings, damaging trade between the two countries.
Early on Saturday, Canadian police began clearing protesters blocking a key bridge linking Canada and the United States.
TD applied to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday to take the funds, which were sent through GoFundMe and bank transfers, so they can either be sent to the intended recipients or returned to the donors “who have requested refunds but whose entitlement to a refund cannot be determined by TD,” the bank said in a statement.
Trudeau’s Power Grab Is Unconstitutional
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he would be invoking the Emergencies Act, giving him broad emergency powers to quash a nonviolent protest of truckers opposing vaccine mandates. It is only the second time the Canadian government has ever given itself such powers in peacetime.
Trudeau’s father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was the first to take such an extreme measure, in the context of an actual terrorist uprising in 1970.
First, the Emergencies Act specifies that only certain types of threats to public order can authorize emergency powers — which is why an order issued by the Governor General on Tuesday made the shocking allegation that the Freedom Convoy’s activities are “directed toward or in support” of terrorism.
It’s an astonishing claim for those who have been following the protests both in Canada’s capital and at border crossings closely. There is not a single violent incident that could possibly support a legally sufficient argument that the protests have been in support of or connected with terrorism.
Nearly 1,500 NYC Workers Get the Ax for Flouting COVID Vaccine Mandate
Nearly 1,500 city workers lost their jobs Friday after failing to comply with a mandate that they are vaccinated for COVID — a bloodletting that included dismissals from the ranks of the NYPD, FDNY and the Department of Education.
While staggering in their sheer number, the firings were a long time in the making.
A spokesperson for the mayor said Monday that a total of 1,430 unvaccinated municipal employees were fired on Friday due to their refusal to comply with the mandate. Of those, 914 worked for the Education Department, 101 worked for the New York City Housing Authority and 75 worked for the Department of Correction.
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) released a statement Monday evening disagreeing with the city’s legal authority to terminate employees based on the COVID vaccine mandate.
Unions Celebrate Court Ruling Blocking COVID Vaccine Mandate, but Mayor Michelle Wu Likely to Appeal
A trio of Boston public safety unions took a victory lap Wednesday morning, a day after an appeals court judge sided with them in their battle with Mayor Michelle Wu over her COVID-19 vaccination mandate for the city workforce.
Multiple questions about the future of the mandate linger, but, for the time being at least, members of the three labor groups who are unvaccinated will not face the threat of termination thanks to Tuesday’s appeals court ruling.
On Tuesday, Justice Sabita Singh granted an injunction blocking Wu’s administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for workers from three municipal unions until the two sides hash out a solution at the bargaining table or state labor authorities decide the matter. On Wednesday, Wu said in an interview on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” that the city would likely appeal the ruling.
Adam Silver Says New York Vaccine Mandate Rule Affecting Nets’ Kyrie Irving ‘Doesn’t Quite Make Sense to Me’
Though the mandate mostly keeps Kyrie Irving out of home games at Barclays Center, he also cannot play in “road” games at Madison Square Garden. It was perhaps fitting that NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the issue in an interview with ESPN’s “Get Up” on Wednesday morning.
“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players,” Silver said. “I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays but the home player can’t. To me, that’s a reason they should take a look at that ordinance.
The NBA itself does not have a vaccine mandate, and instead follows local guidelines.
Vaccine Mandate No Longer Necessary — EU Commissioner
EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has said he saw no reason for governments to introduce a general coronavirus vaccine mandate anymore, given the declining severity of the pandemic.
He noted the overall decrease in deaths and hospitalizations across the European Union.
“We are on the same path to loosening restrictions, country by country,” the commissioner said.
California Bills Aim at Social Media, Medical Disinformation
Two California Democratic lawmakers took separate aim Tuesday at pandemic disinformation they argue receives a broad audience and misplaced credibility through social media platforms — rejecting concerns that their legislation might carry free speech or business privacy considerations.
Sen. Richard Pan’s proposal, which still is being finalized, would require online platforms like Facebook to publicly disclose how their algorithms work and how they promote user content, including which data sets are used and how they rank the prominence of user posts.
Assemblyman Evan Low said his bill would label doctors’ promoting of misinformation or disinformation about COVID-19 to the public as unprofessional conduct that could draw disciplinary action from the California Medical Board. Disinformation is generally considered to be intentional or deliberate falsehoods, while misinformation can be inadvertent.
Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI Tells Investors It’s Seeking Massive Expansion Beyond Law Enforcement
The facial recognition company Clearview AI is telling investors it is on track to have 100 billion facial photos in its database within a year, enough to ensure “almost everyone in the world will be identifiable,” according to a financial presentation from December obtained by The Washington Post.
Those images — equivalent to 14 photos for each of the 7 billion people on Earth — would help power a surveillance system that has been used for arrests and criminal investigations by thousands of law enforcement and government agencies around the world.
And the company wants to expand beyond scanning faces for the police, saying in the presentation that it could monitor “gig economy” workers and is researching a number of new technologies that could identify someone based on how they walk, detect their location from a photo or scan their fingerprints from afar.
IKE’s Smart City Surveillance Kiosks Installed In Houston
Marketed on the basis of being free and convenient, the IKE kiosks collect data on every person who comes near them, including id’ing your bluetooth and wifi devices. Cameras record your face, examine your choices and selections. Their payback is “surveillance capitalism” where you are subsumed into the Technocrat control grid.
The City of Houston has rolled out the first in a series of digital interactive, wayfinding kiosks called “interactive kiosk experience” (IKE).
The deployment marks the launch of a city-wide initiative to build smart city infrastructure that helps to enhance the pedestrian experience for residents and visitors, while adding ‘vibrancy’ to Houston’s urban landscape.