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Seattle School Cancels Classes, Moves to Online Learning Because of Measles

The Seattle Times reported:

Aki Kurose Middle School will be closed Friday and shift to online learning next week after a student tested positive for measles, a highly contagious disease characterized by rash, fever and other potentially serious symptoms. The Hillman City school will be closed Friday so teachers can prepare for online learning, which will begin Tuesday and stretch through June 2. In-person classes will resume the next Monday.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the student who became infected is the same child public health officials referenced over the weekend or whether that child was vaccinated.

Lawmakers clamped down on vaccine requirements for public school students in 2020 following a large measles outbreak in southwest Washington in 2019. Families can no longer claim a personal or philosophical exemption from the MMR vaccine. And students are now required to show paperwork proving they received a list of shots and boosters including the combined tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis vaccine (Tdap), as well as vaccines for chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio and measles, mumps and rubella.

In early 2020, before the pandemic began, Seattle Public Schools went so far as to bar from class students who lacked complete vaccination records. As of the 2021-22 school year, about 92% of King County public school students were up to date on their vaccines; in Seattle, that number was 93%, county data suggests.

Banning TikTok Won’t Protect Kids. It’s the Opening to Mass Internet Censorship

Newsweek reported:

If the pandemic taught me anything, it was that our government is filled with short-sighted, corrupt, and inept actors who will rationalize any action, no matter how damaging it may be for the majority, in the name of safety and for alleged security. Even the terms “safety,” “security,” and “emergency” have been bastardized to the point of it being rhetorically flexible terminology that can be adjusted to create the most desirable outcome not for the American people but for America’s governmental apparatus.

Montana’s ban on TikTok is another such episode. Last week, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill banning TikTok in the state and from Apple and Google app stores within its borders — in the name of keeping Montana residents safe from a foreign adversary and trending degeneracy. In reality, it’s a tragic example of another short-sighted governmental action that promises to be the beginning of a trend of infringing on the rights of Americans.

While the bill, known as SB 419, cites concerns over alleged surveillance from the Chinese government, it also rationalizes the ban on the grounds of what Gianforte’s administration believes is TikTok’s habit of encouraging “dangerous activities” among younger users, things like “throwing objects at moving automobiles” and “lighting a mirror on fire and then attempting to extinguish it using only one’s body parts.”

The “Twitter Files” repeatedly showed us how desperate departments of the U.S. government are to censor the speech of regular people under the guise of protecting the American public from “misinformation.” And I don’t see this action made by the state of Montana as any different.

It’s time to see this for what it is: an excuse to begin a program of mass censorship. Don’t be fooled, and don’t support it.

Tennessee School District Sues Social Media Companies Over Growing Mental Health Crisis Among Students

The Daily Wire reported:

A Nashville school district became the latest education system to sue several social media companies over growing mental health concerns among students, joining more than 40 nationwide districts demanding accountability from big tech.

The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) reportedly filed a lawsuit against Meta, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Google, WhatsApp and YouTube due to the “damages and growing mental health crisis among students.”

According to a Daily Mail analysis, more than 40 school districts across the U.S. have filed lawsuits against social media giants, including Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok, alleging the platforms knowingly cause harm to children with “malicious” algorithms.

Children have been subjected to dangerous social media trends, including the “Blackout Challenge,” which persuades minors to strangle themselves. Other trends promote self-harm content, such as suicide, self-injury and eating disorders.

Court Grants New Life to Lawsuit Challenging Maine’s Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers

Portland Press Herald reported:

A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, a move that will reignite the debate over religious exemptions.

In a unanimous ruling Thursday, a panel of three judges for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found U.S. District Judge Jon Levy had not properly weighed the possible public health impact of religious exemptions, which are not allowed by the state’s policy, and ordered the lower court to review that portion of the case.

The original case, which named Gov. Janet Mills, former Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew as defendants, was brought in 2021 by eight former healthcare workers who lost their jobs after refusing to get the vaccine for religious reasons, as well as one former employer.

The Surgeon General Is Pushing for a Misguided Social Media Policy

Wired reported:

This week, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a long-overdue message warning Americans what they already know: Social media is harming kids. But looking through the 19-page advisory, the surgeon general’s solutions appear potentially more dangerous than these pariah platforms themselves.

He is pushing for a critically misguided policy that many state legislatures and regulators have already enacted, a mistake that threatens to undo what little internet privacy we have left. To protect kids from social media, he argues, platforms and lawmakers must enforce age minimums. This is tantamount to requiring ID to go online.

Looking at the states that already require proof of age to access a given website or make an online account, the situation is grim. One of the easiest ways to verify age is to require users to submit a government ID in order to access a particular service. This should be concerning to everyone who claims that they want to protect younger users. Requiring a government ID to access The New York Times or to create a Wikipedia account, for example, will prevent millions of Americans without IDs from reaping the benefits of these sites.

And even worse, those who do have IDs will have their legal names linked to everything they do online. And this isn’t just for teens. The only way to identify teen users is to card every user of any age every time they log in. This paper trail will make it easier than ever before for police and other law enforcement agencies to search our online histories.

Eating Disorder Helpline to Replace Human Staff With AI Chatbot

Gizmodo reported:

The National Eating Disorder Association has disbanded its long-running, telephone helpline. NEDA has fired the small group of human staff that coordinated and ran the helpline, effective June 1.

In lieu, the nonprofit plans to offer people seeking help access to an AI-powered chatbot named “Tessa” next month, as reported by NPR on Wednesday and confirmed by NEDA to Gizmodo over phone and email.

As the helpline’s workers approach their last days employed and the volunteer network disbands, NEDA plans to pivot to Tessa — a mental health chatbot developed by company Cass (formerly X2AI). Tessa is a separate, older AI model from OpenAI’s buzzy ChatGPT.

Helpline associate and union member Abbie Harper told Gizmodo in a pre-written, texted statement: “A chatbot is no substitute for human empathy, and we believe this decision will cause irreparable harm to the eating disorders community.”

Elon Musk Is About to Pull Twitter out of a Major Online Disinformation Agreement in Europe, Report Says

Insider reported:

Elon Musk will next week sign off on Twitter‘s plan to pull out of a disinformation agreement in the European Union, Politico reported.

Google, Meta, Microsoft and TikTok signed up last June to the EU’s code of practice on disinformation. It’s a voluntary rulebook that includes commitments like preventing fake news from making money, ensuring transparency on political ads, and cooperating with fact-checkers.

Twitter is expected to end its participation in the code in the coming days, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Politico. One of them said Twitter will officially withdraw as a co-signatory once Musk officially approves the plan next week.

The Fed Could Pop the AI Bubble, and Investors Shouldn’t Chase the Hype as Financial Conditions Tighten, Bank of America Says

Insider reported:

The Federal Reserve could pop the artificial intelligence bubble in stocks, and investors shouldn’t chase the craze as financial conditions are set to stay tight, according to Bank of America.

In a note on Friday, the bank’s investment strategists pointed to Wall Street’s excitement for artificial intelligence, with even obscure AI stocks soaring in recent months on investors’ enthusiasm for the sector.

Central bankers are set to discuss their next policy move on June 13-14. Markets have priced in a 59% chance that the Fed will raise interest rates another 25 basis points, which would lift the Fed funds rate target to 5.25-5.5%.

Congress to Investigate WHO Plans to Use ‘Listening Surveillance Systems’ to Identify ‘Misinformation’

Reclaim the Net reported:

If you’ve been following our reporting on the issue, you’ll already know that the new World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic prevention initiative, the Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET), recommends using “social listening surveillance systems” to identify “misinformation.” But as more people are learning about how unelected bodies are being used to suppress speech and potentially override sovereignty, it’s starting to get more pushback.

According to documents from the UN agency, PRET aims to “guide countries in pandemic planning” and work to “incorporate the latest tools and approaches for shared learning and collective action established during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is holding a Congressional hearing on the WHO’s pandemic accord. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, recently met with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, to discuss the accord and the “critical role” of the U.S. “in global health security.”

U.K. Pandemic Programs Failed to Protect Citizens’ Health Data, Say Campaigners

Forbes reported:

The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) repeatedly failed to take action over clear breaches of data protection law by the government, according to privacy campaigners. The Open Rights Group (ORG) analyzed the use of data in three key COVID-19 health programs: NHS Test and Trace, NHS Contract Tracing App and the NHS Datastore.

And, it says, all three programs failed to comply in full with the requirement in Article 35 of the GDPR for Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) ⁠— especially Test and Trace and Datastore, where no DPIA was carried out with providers prior to signing them up.

The programs were subject to several data breaches, including the leaking of confidential contact tracing data on social media channels by Test and Trace personnel, data being abused to harass women, and data being lost because it was stored on an Excel sheet.

They involved very large-scale and often novel processing of special category personal data by public authorities, as well as by a number of third parties ⁠— some of which were based in the U.S., with its far lower data protection standards. Sharing data with Palantir, in particular, could give predatory private researchers and pharmaceutical companies access to sensitive public health data for profit, says the ORG.

COVID-Style Lockdowns to Be Imposed on U.K. by WHO Under New Treaty

GB News reported:

Lockdown measures could be imposed on Britain by the World Health Organization (WHO) during future pandemics under new powers, MPs fear.

Member states would have to follow instructions by the agency when responding to pandemics which could see the introduction of vaccine passports, border closures and quarantine measures under a draft update to its regulations.

The new “pandemic treaty” proposals mean Britain would be required to spend 5% of its health budget on preparing for another virus outbreak.

MPs have fears over plans to increase the WHO’s powers which would see countries required to hand over the recipe of vaccines, regardless of intellectual property rights, and to counter misinformation.