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Granada Hills Charter High Bars Unvaccinated Students From In-Person Graduation
Having attended Granada Hills Charter High School for four years, after months of remote learning due to COVID-19 school closures, Andrew Luna was finally looking forward to a more normal senior year to close out high school.
But last fall the school informed families that beginning in the second semester, students 12 and older, with few exceptions, would not be allowed on campus if they didn’t get vaccinated against the coronavirus. For Luna and other unvaccinated students, that meant transferring to the school’s online independent study program.
Now, in the final days of school, it means not being allowed at the culmination ceremony for eighth-graders, or for seniors like Luna the in-person June 2 graduation, Senior Awards Night and other year-end events.
Granada Hills Charter, in the San Fernando Valley, announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for students and staff last fall after the Los Angeles Unified School District announced similar mandates. But the LAUSD school board has since delayed its student vaccine mandate twice — first from January to this coming fall semester, then again to no sooner than July 2023.
Surveillance Tech Didn’t Stop the Uvalde Massacre
On Tuesday, a horrific but familiar story unfolded: a disturbed 18-year-old had traveled to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where he used a legally purchased assault rifle to murder 21 people: 19 children and two teachers.
Before the dust had settled over the Texas border town, the conversation turned to the prevention of future shootings. Schools across Texas quickly promised increased security and new protective measures.
But how do you protect against something that often seems as pitiless and arbitrary as a bolt of lightning? For years, some have insisted that the best strategy is to adopt new security measures and invest in emergent surveillance technologies — the hope is that new products paired with hyper-vigilance will identify and stop the next shooter before he pulls the trigger.
According to the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD)’s security page, the district employed a safety management system from security vendor Raptor Technologies, designed to monitor school visitors and screen for dangerous individuals. It also used a social media monitoring solution, Social Sentinel, that sifted through children’s online lives to scan for signs of violent or suicidal ideation.
Monkeypox 21-Day Quarantine Backlash Spreads Before Mandates Even Begin
Monkeypox: It’s the disease that has dominated headlines since the first cases emerged in the U.K. at the start of May. Now in 19 countries outside Africa, the outbreak has led to wild conspiracy theories and angry rhetoric stemming from the COVID pandemic and the mandates that were introduced to curb its spread.
Belgium and Germany have already announced 21-day quarantine guidelines to stem the spread of monkeypox. Belgium was the first country to do say, with health authorities introducing a compulsory 21-day quarantine for monkeypox patients on May 20. Germany’s rules were less strict, asking people who contract the virus to self-isolate for 21 days.
On Monday, President Joe Biden said it was unlikely that U.S. quarantines would be necessary. “I just don’t think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with COVID-19, and the smallpox vaccine works for it,” The Washington Post quoted him as saying.
Three Air Force Cadets Refused the COVID Vaccine. They May Have to Pay Back $200,000 of Tuition.
Three Air Force cadets refused to get a COVID-19 vaccination and could be forced to pay back tuition money up to $200,000 or higher.
The Air Force Academy said that the cadets would be able to get their bachelor’s degrees (graduation was Wednesday), but that they would not be able to receive a commission because they had decided not to get vaccinated.
Academy spokesman Dean Miller said that the three “will not be commissioned into the United States Air Force as long as they remain unvaccinated.”
A fourth cadet had been holding out against getting the COVID-19 vaccine but ended up getting one.
Monkeypox Tracker Map Shows How Virus Cases Are Spreading Around the World
Monkeypox, a virus normally found in West Africa, is currently having an outbreak in countries where it’s rarely seen. This map, developed by Global.health, shows the virus’ progress across the world, and tracks both confirmed and suspected cases as they arrive in each country.
The team behind the map had been developing infrastructure for tracking and surveillance for outbreaks for many years, but during COVID-19, they formalized a lot of the efforts to collect data in the early course of major infectious disease emergence.
So far, monkeypox cases have been detected in 19 countries, with over 300 suspected or confirmed cases. The strain of the virus in the latest outbreak appears to be similar to one involved in a 2018 outbreak and scientists are trying to determine why it is spreading so successfully now.
“We built up this infrastructure to support not only response to COVID, but the idea is that it could be quickly deployed to respond to future outbreaks,” Professor John Brownstein, the Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and Global.health team member, told Newsweek.
Politics and Pandemic Fatigue Doom California’s COVID Vaccine Mandates
In January, progressive California Democrats vowed to adopt the toughest COVID vaccine requirements in the country. Their proposals would have required most Californians to get the shots to go to school or work — without allowing exemptions to get out of them.
Months later, the lawmakers pulled their bills before the first votes. One major vaccine proposal survives but faces an uphill battle. It would allow children ages 12 to 17 to get a COVID-19 vaccine without parental permission. At least 10 other states permit some minors to do this.
Other states have also largely failed to adopt COVID vaccine requirements this year. Washington, DC, was the only jurisdiction to pass legislation to add the COVID vaccine to the list of required immunizations for K-12 students once the shots have received full federal authorization for kids of those ages.
A public school mandate adopted by Louisiana in December 2021 was rescinded in May. The most popular vaccine legislation has been to ban COVID vaccine mandates of any kind, which at least 19 states did, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.
UCLA Reinstates Mask Mandate as California COVID Cases Surge
The University of California, Los Angeles said Thursday it will reinstate an indoor mask policy as coronavirus cases surge in the nation’s most populous state, which now forecasts hospitalizations will nearly triple in the next month.
UCLA’s 45,000 students and all faculty, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks inside starting Friday following “a consistent rise in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and on our campus,” school officials said in a statement.
Mastercard’s Newly Launched Face Recognition Payment System Is Already Raising Accuracy Concerns
Mastercard recently launched a new facial recognition payment system that lets shoppers make payments with their face or hand gestures. This new payment system is being rolled out to biometric payment systems including fingerprint scanning and facial recognition.
With this new tech, the company aims to change the way we pay but it also raises concerns relating to data storage, customer privacy and crime risks.
To use facial recognition-based payments, Mastercard’s biometric checkout system will provide biometric authentication with third-party companies. The company has already partnered with Payface, NEC, Fujitsu, Aurus, PopID and PayByFace.
According to reports, customers have to install a third-party app that will take their pictures and payment information. All the information will be stored on third-party servers. While checkout, the customer’s face will be matched with the stored data to make a payment.
WHO Partners With Deutsche Telekom to Push Global Vaccine Passport System
The COVID pandemic is truly turning into “a gift that keeps on giving” when it comes to governments and organizations using it to usher in long-term policies and schemes that are questionable, from the privacy, data security and even national sovereignty point of view.
The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) is now preparing to roll out a worldwide pandemic treaty and is teaming up with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, one of the world’s biggest telecoms, to “link every person on the planet to a QR code digital ID” that will allow for the establishment of a global vaccination passport system.
The plan for the treaty was approved by WHO’s Health Assembly last December, which reports said held only its second session since it was founded in 1948, highlighting the importance the WHO gives to the treaty.
Not for nothing — if all goes to plan and the treaty is agreed on by 2024, governing authority during a pandemic will be effectively transferred from sovereign countries to this UN body, reports the Brownstone Institute.
Shanghai Students to Return to School, as Chinese City Slowly Emerges From Lengthy COVID Lockdown
Shanghai schoolchildren will gradually resume some in-person classes in June with daily COVID-19 tests, the local government said Thursday, as the Chinese metropolis gradually emerges from a lengthy lockdown that brought it to a standstill.
Some of the city’s restrictions have recently eased as cases dwindle, though much of the population is still not allowed to venture outside for more than a few hours a day at most. Schools have been shut since March 12, weeks before the megacity’s lockdown officially began.
U.S. Bill Would Bar Google, Apple From Hosting Apps That Accept China’s Digital Yuan
Republican senators want to bar U.S. app stores including Apple and Google from hosting apps that allow payments to be made with China’s digital currency, amid fears the payment system could allow Beijing to spy on Americans.
The bill, unveiled Thursday and first reported by Reuters, states that companies that own or control app stores “shall not carry or support any app in [their] app store(s) within the United States that supports or enables transactions in e-CNY.” It is sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Braun.
According to Cotton’s office, the digital yuan could provide the Chinese government with “real-time visibility into all transactions on the network, posing privacy and security concerns for American persons who join this network.”
Why Elon Musk Is Being Sued by Twitter Shareholders
Yet it appears the world’s richest man is once again making the headline news (when is he not) — but this time it’s all down to a legal dispute with Twitter shareholders, who are suing him.
They are suing him over claims that he was allegedly manipulating the stock by deliberately delaying disclosure of his stake in the social media platform. The company claims that by doing so, he has saved himself $156 million, as he had purchased more than 5% of Twitter by March 14.
Stolen MGM Resorts Customer Data Dumped on Telegram for Free
A major (but seemingly old) database filled with personal information has been dumped in a Telegram group, for free, for anyone who would care to look.
Cybersecurity researchers from vpnMentor discovered the 8.7GB file dump earlier this week, finding it contained data on at least 30 million people. The data seems to have been picked up from MGM Resorts, a hotel and casino chain whose endpoints were compromised three years ago.
If indeed this is the same database, as some media suggest, then it contains data on more than 140 million MGM Resorts users. The data includes full names, postal addresses, more than 24 million unique email addresses, more than 30 million unique phone numbers and dates of birth. Luckily enough, no payment data appears to have been included, but users may still be at risk of identity theft.