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Shaq Rips COVID Vaccine Mandates: ‘You Shouldn’t Be Forced to Take Something You Don’t Want’

Fox News reported:

Shaquille O’Neal opened up about his thoughts on mandated COVID-19 vaccination policies, disagreeing with the notion that people should be forced to get the jab.

O’Neal, the Basketball Hall of Famer who won NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat during his career, encouraged his listeners on “The Big Podcast with Shaq” to “be safe and “take care of your family.” But he disagreed with forcing those people who don’t want it to get it.

O’Neal and his co-hoss Nischelle Turner debated whether it was fair for a private company to dismiss someone who doesn’t receive the COVD-19 vaccine. The former center suggested a worker shouldn’t have to make the decision to get vaccinated if it was “going against (their) morals.”

The Left Is Weaponizing ‘Misinformation’ to Silence Dissent

Newsweek reported:

Just as you thought the 2020s couldn’t get any more dystopian, we are now witnessing the enthusiastic embrace of corporate censorship by the Left in the name of combatting the nebulous scourge of “misinformation.”

Joe Rogan, the most popular podcaster in the English language, has found himself at the center of a firestorm of progressive ire, from scientists to celebrities to rock legends to White House spokespersons acting in their official capacity, all for the crime of allegedly spreading dangerous misinformation and endangering public health.

Labeling skepticism about official narratives “misinformation” is steadily becoming the liberal establishment’s favored tool to silence and defame dissenting perspectives. The term “misinformation” is often employed with such reckless abandon that one need not actually spread malicious falsehoods to be assailed by it. Thus, a comedian like Rogan, who makes no claim to intellectual authority or expertise, is now at the center of this ridiculous controversy.

Ottawa Protests: Tensions Grow as ‘Intolerable’ Truck Blockade Paralyzes Canada Capital

The Guardian reported:

Paul Aubue, a 64-year-old grandfather, travelled from New Brunswick to join hundreds of others as they descended on the Canadian capital. Aubue, the owner of a trucking company, said he’d been driven to protest by a recent requirement that truckers crossing from the U.S. into Canada be vaccinated against COVID.

Most Canadians, even though they’ve grown tired of the pandemic, also say they’re against the sustained protests, which have paralyzed central Ottawa and forced businesses to close.

But as tensions rise between protesters and local officials, analysts say the recent events could signal the birth of a growing populist movement which could potentially reshape Canadian politics.

On Thursday, Justin Trudeau rejected suggestions that the military might be called in to end the protest. “One has to be very, very cautious before deploying military in situations engaging Canadians,” he told reporters, adding that a military response was not on the cards “right now”.

How Many States Still Have Mask Mandates in Place?

Newsweek reported:

As the pandemic continues, many people are likely left wondering: Does my state still have a mask mandate?

While many states have let their mask mandates expire and other have never implemented them, some do still have them in place. Currently, only nine states in the U.S. still require masks to be worn in all indoor public places, according to the AARP. Those states requiring the wearing of masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington state.

In addition, Washington, D.C., has a mandate requiring that everyone who is older than 2 must wear a mask when inside all public areas. Two other states — Connecticut and Rhode Island — also have mask requirements. Connecticut has an indoor mask mandate but only for those who are unvaccinated.

Republican Officials Say Study on Lockdown Ineffectiveness Validates COVID Approach

Fox News reported:

A new study out of Johns Hopkins University indicates that lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic “have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality,” and Republican leaders are pointing to it as justification for their approach.

The review looked at 24 studies that qualified for the authors’ analysis, which included those that looked at lockdown stringency, shelter-in-place orders and various forms of “compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention.”

“This is what so many people had been talking about for so long. That it does not really have an effect on how well we were able to go through it,” House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Fox News Thursday.

“But what does it have an effect on, all these shutdowns? How many people missed a cancer screening? The mental health, the suicides for young children. This shutdown is going to have effects for decades to come.”

New Legislation Would Ban IRS From Using Facial Recognition Software on Taxpayers

Fox Business reported:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would be barred from using facial recognition software on taxpayers under new legislation introduced Friday in Congress. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., authored the bill after learning more about the IRS’ plan to require users of its online tax payment system to provide a selfie to a third-party company in order to access their accounts.

Huizenga raised concerns about the sensitive data being vulnerable to hackers and expressed distrust in the IRS after the agency targeted conservative groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating tax-exempt status.

Huizenga is not alone in his concern. Democrats and privacy advocates alike raised alarms after the IRS announced its facial ID plans with the third-party vendor ID.me that reportedly has a $86 million contract with the IRS.

Kenney to Announce Next Week the Date Alberta Will End Its COVID Vaccine Passport

The Canadian Press via Yahoo!Finance reported:

Premier Jason Kenney says his government will announce next week a date to end Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccine passport, with the actual cancellation coming soon after that.

Kenney said he will also announce next week a phased approach to end almost all COVID-19 health restrictions by the end of the month provided the pressure on hospitals continues to decline.

The passport — known in Alberta as a restriction exemption — mandates anyone using non-essential services such as bars and restaurants show proof of vaccination.

‘Live With the Virus’? For Australians, It’s Taken Some Getting Used To.

The New York Times reported:

Nearly 95% of adults are vaccinated. The coronavirus is now milder. It’s the heart of summer, after a long year and a half of snap lockdowns and closed borders.

Australia, the government says, is ready to “live with the virus,” ready for the authorities to get out of people’s lives and let them make their own health decisions. Hit the pub, enjoy life, spend some money.

But many Australians, it seems, weren’t ready. After Australia’s prime minister declared lockdowns a thing of the past, so many residents of its two biggest cities stayed inside anyway as Omicron spiked that it was labeled a “shadow lockdown.” And even as the country’s borders opened for the first time since March 2020, this travel-loving nation mostly stayed put.

Perhaps more than any other country, Australia in recent weeks has gone through a dizzying U-turn in its approach to the pandemic.

Spain to Scrap Mandatory Outdoor Masks, Other Measures as Contagion Ebbs

Reuters reported:

Spain will next week lift a requirement for people to wear masks outdoors as a measure against the coronavirus, extending a wider rollback of restrictions as the contagion slowly recedes in the country.

Spain follows several other European countries that have begun to roll back COVID-related restrictions. Outdoor masks are no longer compulsory in France and Italy announced on Wednesday it would release a timetable for a phase-out of restrictions.

Mask wearing outdoors was reinstated in late December to curb the spread of the emergent Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Facebook Feels the Cold Hand of Mortality on Its Shoulder

The Telegraph reported:

No wonder Mark Zuckerberg is plotting his escape to the metaverse. On planet earth, Facebook swings seamlessly from one crisis to the next, and this may be its most serious yet.

For the first time in its history, the Silicon Valley titan has experienced a fall in the number of users to its site as TikTok and YouTube become more popular with the younger generation.

On the face of it, that hardly constitutes a disaster. The decline is miniscule in the context of a company with its global reach — just 500,000 fewer daily log-ins, still leaving it with 1.93 billion users. But for an organization that has been able to boast quarter-on-quarter growth for 18 years, it is a pretty seismic event.

Traversing the Healthcare Metaverse — a Look Into the Virtual Healthcare Era

MedPage Today reported:

Facebook announced last year that it was committed to putting $10 billion into the virtual world: its metaverse division. And last week, news broke that Microsoft was nearing a $70 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard, the video game publisher of World of Warcraft and other top-selling games.

It’s clear that the metaverse — a new virtual reality sector that reimagines the internet as a 3D experience that users can be a part of — is being hyped by tech titans as the future of the internet, but what does it mean for the future of healthcare?

In what I’m calling the “medaverse,” a new mode of communication in health and the healthcare market will shift how patients interact with providers, receive information and care and buy products and services.

Amazon Hikes Prime Membership Fees in U.S. As Wages, Costs Rise

Reuters reported:

Amazon.com Inc on Thursday said it was raising the price of its annual U.S. Prime subscriptions by 17%, as it looks to offset higher costs for shipping and wages that it expects to persist this year.

Shares rose as much as 17% in extended trade as Amazon also beat profit expectations for the holiday season. If shares increase on Friday by that much, it would be the stock’s biggest percentage gain since October 2009 and grow founder Jeff Bezos’ wealth by about $20 billion.

For the holiday quarter, Amazon earned $14.3 billion, double its net income from a year earlier. That included a pre-tax gain of $11.8 billion from its stake in electric car maker Rivian Automotive (RIVN.O).

Exclusive: iPhone Flaw Exploited by Second Israeli Spy Firm — Sources

Reuters reported:

A flaw in Apple‘s software exploited by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group to break into iPhones in 2021 was simultaneously abused by a competing company, according to five people familiar with the matter.

QuaDream, the sources said, is a smaller and lower profile Israeli firm that also develops smartphone hacking tools intended for government clients.

​​The two rival businesses gained the same ability last year to remotely break into iPhones, according to the five sources, meaning that both firms could compromise Apple phones without an owner needing to open a malicious link.

That two firms employed the same sophisticated hacking technique — known as a “zero-click” — shows that phones are more vulnerable to powerful digital spying tools than the industry will admit, one expert said.