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No Religious Exemptions to COVID Vaccine Approved Among Armed Forces Despite Over 12,000 Requests

Washington Examiner reported:

The military has not approved a single religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine, even as more than 12,000 service members have sought one.

Every active-duty military member must be vaccinated, now that each branch’s deadline has passed, unless the person has been granted or is awaiting a response on an exemption request.

According to data released by each branch, 1,746 soldiers, 2,751 sailors, 4,756 airmen, and 3,144 Marines have asked specifically for religious exemptions. While none have been approved thus far, many have not yet been denied either.

Last month, a group of nearly three dozen Navy sailors, the majority of whom are Navy SEALs, filed a lawsuit seeking to get their religious exemption requests approved. The SEALs and sailors involved in the suit are either Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant.

‘It’s Not the Government’s Job to Dictate My Healthcare,’ LA Firefighters File Case Against City’s Vaccine Mandate

CBS Los Angeles reported:

It’s been nearly a month since John Knox last worked a shift for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Knox, along with more than 100 Los Angeles city firefighters have been suspended without pay for refusing to comply with L.A.’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Over the past 22 months, without that shot, we’ve been here helping the public,” said Knox. “There has never been an issue until the city put this mandate out. Until the city turned us from heroes to criminals. We continued to come out and serve the public.”

Knox and the rest of the “Firefighters For Freedom”  have filed a lawsuit challenging the city and its vaccine mandate. Their day in court is next Monday when a state judge is set to hear the case.

Courts Keep Chipping Away at Biden COVID Vaccine Mandates

Associated Press reported:

Federal judges in Louisiana and Texas continue to chip away at Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

The latest of the piecemeal blows to the vaccine mandates came Thursday in lawsuit filed by Louisiana, Indiana and Mississippi. In that case, U.S. District Judge Dee Drell in Alexandria, Louisiana, declined to block a requirement that all employees of federal contractors get vaccinated — noting that there is already a nationwide block on that mandate issued by a Georgia-based federal judge.

But Drell did issue a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate in federal contracts or grant agreements between any of the three states and the federal government.

Also, a Texas-based federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate for healthcare workers in that state. With that ruling, dated Wednesday, the health worker mandate is now blocked in half the states. The federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has not said whether it will enforce the mandate in the other states.

Biden Asks Supreme Court to Revive Health Worker Vaccine Mandate

The Hill reported:

The Biden administration on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a vaccine mandate for health workers at hospitals that receive federal funding after lower courts blocked the order in roughly half of the country.

Rulings by federal judges in Missouri and Louisiana have effectively halted the public health measure in 24 states in recent weeks as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 800,000.

Separately this week, a Texas judge on Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction to the state of Texas against the vaccine mandate.

CDC’s School Mask Guidelines Fuel a Culture War That Europe, WHO Avoided

Newsweek reported:

The use of face masks for children as a means to combat the spread of COVID-19 has rapidly become a major point of contention and added fuel to the fire of the long-running U.S. culture war.

The issue of mask-wearing has been at the center of controversial school board meetings across the country, with arguments and objections hitting headlines and footage sometimes going viral on social media.

Strict advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seems to have stoked that culture war. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Europe’s top infectious diseases agency have largely avoided controversy by issuing guidelines that differ significantly from the CDC.

CDC Endorses Schools’ Coronavirus ‘Test-to-Stay’ Policies

Associated Press reported:

U.S. health officials are endorsing “test-to-stay” policies that allow close contacts of students infected with the coronavirus to remain in classrooms if they test negative.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to more firmly embrace the approach, already used by many school districts, after research of such policies in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas found COVID-19 infections did not increase when using the approach.

CDC’s official guidance for schools has been that when someone in a school tests positive for COVID-19 infection, those who were deemed to be in close contact should stay out of school, in home quarantine, for 10 days. With the announcement Friday, the CDC is saying both test-to-stay programs and quarantining approaches are both equally good options for schools.

Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration Happening for Now for Fully Vaccinated

Newsweek reported:

The New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City’s Times Square is still scheduled to take place, but officials said they’re watching the spread of COVID-19 very carefully amid an increase in infections.

The New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that for now, the event will continue as planned, but only for fully vaccinated people.

The celebration was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Multiple Broadway shows, including “Hamilton,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” called off performances in recent days because of virus cases in their all-vaccinated casts and crews. California and New York brought back indoor mask mandates.

Compulsory COVID Jabs ‘Calamitous’ for Dental Services in England

The Guardian reported:

Dentists’ leaders have said mandatory jabs for healthcare staff will have a “calamitous” impact on dental services in England, as a survey revealed that one in 10 dentists have not been double-vaccinated.

MPs voted this week to approve regulations requiring NHS and social care staff to be vaccinated by April next year. All frontline health and care staff must be fully jabbed with two COVID-19 vaccines before 1 April or risk losing their jobs.

But the British Dental Association (BDA) said compulsory vaccination risked “dropping a bomb on a service already stretched to breaking point” because it meant that thousands of dental workers would quit. The mass exodus would have devastating consequences for millions of patients, it said.

With Christmas COVID Surge Looming, Denmark Closes Public Venues, Limits Gatherings

Newsweek reported:

Denmark will soon see public venues like theaters and museums closed, restaurant curfews go into effect and limits on gatherings advised as the country looks to squash a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced the new measures, most of which will take effect early Sunday, six days before Christmas.

In addition to theaters and museums, cinemas, concert halls, amusement parks and art galleries will also be required to shut doors with the new restrictions. Stores smaller than 2,000 square meters, the equivalent of 21,528 square feet, and restaurants must also limit the number of patrons allowed inside at one time.

Additionally, restaurants are required to close by 11 p.m. and the government is advising people to restrict the number of people they see over the holidays.

Meta Says 50,000 Facebook Users May Have Been Spied on by Private Surveillance Firms

CNBC reported:

Meta has said that around 50,000 Facebook users have been targeted by private surveillance companies.

Meta, which also owns and operates Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, said in a blogpost Thursday that it has alerted the people who it believes were targeted by the malicious activities. The companies targeted people including journalists and human rights activists in over 100 countries on behalf of their clients, Meta said, adding that they created fake accounts, befriended targets and used hacking methods to acquire information.

“The global surveillance-for-hire industry targets people across the internet to collect intelligence, manipulate them into revealing information and compromise their devices and accounts,” wrote Meta’s David Agranovich, director of threat disruption, and Mike Dvilyanski, head of cyber espionage investigations.

Boeing Wants to Build Its Next Airplane in the ‘Metaverse’

Reuters reported:

In Boeing Co’s (BA.N)factory of the future, immersive 3-D engineering designs will be twinned with robots that speak to each other, while mechanics around the world will be linked by $3,500 HoloLens headsets made by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O).

This is emblematic of a digital revolution happening globally, as automakers like Ford Motor Co (F.N) and social media companies like Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) shift work and play into an immersive virtual world sometimes called the metaverse.

So how does the metaverse — a shared digital space often using virtual reality or augmented reality and accessible via the internet — work in aviation?

Big Tech Is Luring Congress Into a Regulation Trap

Newsweek reported:

In recent years, Big Tech executives have all said the same thing about the prospect of sweeping federal reform of legacy social media platforms: bring it on. By openly calling for regulation, Big Tech is luring Congress into stifling free market competition — and lawmakers are taking the bait.

At a recent hearing, the top executive of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, told the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security that the company supports federal oversight of the social media sector. He proposed implementing an industry panel that would regulate safety standards for social networking apps.

There is a very good reason why all these legacy social media giants are so supportive of government action: federal regulations will make it even harder for new platforms to compete with established tech giants.