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Senator Ron Johnson Says Mandates ‘Basically’ Put World’s Unvaccinated ‘Into Internment Camps’

Newsweek reported:

Republican Senator Ron Johnson on Tuesday criticized the treatment of people who choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine and claimed they are being put “basically into internment camps” around the world.

The Wisconsin senator made the comparison during an interview on Your Talk Show, a program on the Janesville-based radio station WCLO. “We are demonizing [unvaccinated] people,” Johnson said.

Johnson told Newsweek in a statement that “other countries like Austria, Australia, and Germany are arresting their citizens for not wearing masks outside, and ordering lockdowns for those who are not vaccinated. In Australia, an article from The Age writes, ‘the quarantine camp is likely to still have a use for unvaccinated people.’

Biden’s COVID Vaccine Mandate Takes Another Hit in the Courts

Fox News reported:

A U.S. district court in Georgia became the fourth court to enjoin a Biden administration vaccine mandate this week.

As with the other trial and appellate courts, District Judge R. Stan Baker found that President Joe Biden had exceeded his authority in mandating the vaccine for all federal contractors. In the meantime, outgoing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered all private workers to be vaccinated.

All of these mandates are on course for a showdown in the Supreme Court, where three justices have already expressed skepticism over the mandates.

Amtrak to Congress: Service Cuts Are Coming Over Vaccine Rules

The Washington Post reported:

An Amtrak executive told Congress on Thursday the railroad doesn’t expect to have enough people to operate all of its trains next month, when a federal coronavirus vaccination mandate takes effect.

Amtrak President Stephen Gardner said about 5% of its workforce has yet to get vaccinated less than four weeks before the Jan. 4 deadline.

Amtrak last month warned it would send letters to uncompliant workers starting Dec. 8 in preparation for termination Jan. 4. The railroad is expected to publish a revised service schedule next week to reflect the cuts. Gardner said the carrier is still determining what trips will be removed, adding that the railroad wants to give passengers enough time to rebook trips.

New York to Issue Mask Mandate for Businesses Without Vaccine Requirements

The Hill reported:

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Friday that the state will implement an indoor mask mandate for businesses that do not require vaccinations for customers and staff, citing rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Starting Monday, all indoor businesses will have to either validate people’s vaccination status or mandate all people age 2 and older wear a mask.

The policy is slated to last until Jan. 15 when the state will “re-evaluate based on current conditions,” the governor said in a release, saying the measures are meant to get “through the holiday season.”

Violations could cost businesses a maximum fine of $1,000 per infraction.

Union Pacific, BNSF Pause COVID Vaccine Mandate After Court Ruling

Reuters reported:

U.S. railroad operators Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) and BNSF Railway said on Thursday they were suspending their COVID-19 vaccine mandate for their employees, two days after a judge blocked the Biden administration’s inoculation rule for federal contractors.

The company and its unions have filed lawsuits against each other after the Nebraska-based railroad made COVID-19 vaccines compulsory under a rule issued by U.S. President Joe Biden for federal contractors. read more

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc-owned (BRKa.N) BNSF said it was pausing its implementation of the federal mandate for its about 35,000 employees, adding that its stance remained that the decision to be vaccinated is a personal one.

Chief Justice Rejects Request to Block Air Travel Mask Mandate

Axios reported:

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday dismissed an emergency request to block the federal mask mandate for air travel amid litigation in the lower courts.

Michael Seklecki, a Florida resident, filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration on behalf of himself and his 4-year-old son, and Lucas Wall, from Washington, joined the suit, all citing medical reasons.

The government argued in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that Congress had authorized the policy for safety reasons and noted “the challengers had not pursued an available procedure for obtaining medical exemptions,” per the New York Times.

Minnesota Bar Owner Who Defied Virus Orders Found Guilty

Associated Press reported:

The owner of a bar in Albert Lea was found guilty Thursday of six criminal misdemeanor charges and sentenced to 90 days in jail for defying Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders to close her business last winter.

The jury found Lisa Hanson, 57, guilty after deliberating for an hour, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Prosecutors had asked that Hanson be fined $500 and jailed for several days, but Judge Joseph Bueltel gave her a 90-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine, saying he wanted to send a message to people who violate executive orders.

Hanson has also been hit with fines totaling over $27,000 from separate legal actions brought after she left the state while facing the charges. Her business, The Interchange, closed in February.

Philly Could Require Proof of Vaccination for Indoor Dining, Like New York

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

Philadelphia officials are considering implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate at all indoor dining establishments, requiring both patrons and employees to show proof of vaccination, according to two sources briefed on the matter.

The proposed mandate would bring Philly closer in line with cities like New York and San Francisco that have required proof of vaccination since August for entry at restaurants and indoor events.

According to sources who were briefed by Philadelphia officials this week, the mandate would likely include standard exemptions for religious and medical reasons, as well as for children under 5.

South Carolina GOP Removes Private COVID Vaccine Ban in Sudden Switch

Associated Press reported:

For five hours Thursday, the South Carolina House debated a proposal to prevent private companies in South Carolina from firing employees who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Then, just before members were set to vote, Republican leadership stripped that ban from the bill, leaving it only banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates for state and local government employees, contractors and public school students.

The proposal requires employers to honor religious or medical exemptions and said a medical exemption can include a prior positive COVID-19 test, pregnancy or presence of coronavirus antibodies. It also makes businesses pay unemployment benefits to a worker fired for not being vaccinated.

Japan Researchers Use Ostrich Cells to Make Glowing COVID Detection Masks

Reuters reported:

Japanese researchers have developed masks that use ostrich antibodies to detect COVID-19 by glowing under ultraviolet light.

The discovery by Yasuhiro Tsukamoto and his team at Kyoto Prefectural University in western Japan could provide for low-cost testing of the virus at home, they said in a press release.

In a small study, test subjects wore the masks, and after eight hours, the filters were removed and sprayed with a chemical that glows under ultraviolet light if the virus is present. The filters worn by people infected with COVID-19 glowed around the nose and mouth areas.

Germany Mandates Vaccines for Healthcare Workers

Reuters reported:

Workers at German hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes must prove that they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 by mid-March as part of new legislation passed by the parliament on Friday.

Beyond compulsory vaccinations for certain professions from mid-March, the new legislation also allows for Germany’s 16 federal states to close bars and restaurants as well as to ban large events due to high infection rates.

Mark Zuckerberg and Wife Priscilla Chan Invest $3.4 Billion for Science Advances

Fox News reported:

The company that runs the philanthropy of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, is investing up to $3.4 billion to advance human health over 10 to 15 years, according to a spokesperson for the organization.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, or CZI, announced Tuesday its new effort is aiming to “observe, measure, and analyze any biological process throughout the human body — across spatial scales and in real time.” It will focus its science work over the next 10 years on developing new research, institutes and technologies that can help its mission.

Jeff MacGregor, a CZI spokesperson, said $500 million will be given to establish an institute at Harvard University that focuses on artificial intelligence.

Bill Gates Predicts Our Work Meetings Will Move to Metaverse in 2 to 3 Years

USA TODAY reported:

Getting work done in the metaverse might happen a lot sooner than we think. Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates predicts most workers will take their virtual meetings within the metaverse in the next two or three years.

“There’s still some work to do, but we’re approaching a threshold where the technology begins to truly replicate the experience of being together in the office,” said Gates.

The metaverse is a digital realm combining technology such as VR, augmented reality and video where users “live” in a virtual universe. Supporters of the metaverse including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg believe the metaverse could supplant the modern internet.