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Thousands of College Students Are Petitioning Against Three Universities’ Booster Mandates

Newsweek reported:

Three prominent universities are experiencing pushback from some students as a result of COVID-19 vaccine booster mandates.

Students at Stanford University, George Mason University and Cornell University have begun petitioning against the mandate. All three universities are requiring that students receive a booster shot before returning to campus.

Despite the majority of the student populations already being vaccinated, the petitions and letters claim that it should be up to the students to determine what is best for their health.

“It is unethical and immoral to exploit the vulnerability of students, who would lose so much by exercising their right of refusal, to take a medical treatment without their voluntary, informed consent,” George Mason law student Robert Fellner wrote on his Change.org petition.

Marines’ Claim of Granting 2 Religious COVID Vaccine Exemptions Leads to More Questions

Fox News reported:

The U.S. Marine Corps has approved its first two religious exemptions to President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but some Marines aren’t considering it a win for religious freedom just yet.

The Marines have received 3,350 requests for religious exemptions to the mandatory vaccine as of Thursday, and 3,212 have been denied. At least 351 Marines have been discharged so far for refusing the vaccine, the Marine Corps said Monday, and hundreds more face the same fate.

Several Marines who spoke with Fox News Digital said they believe they are on the receiving end of a “blanket” denial of religious exemptions to the vaccine, with their applications being rejected without consideration. Eight separate letters of denial provided to Fox News Digital were nearly identical, citing readiness as the primary reason for rejection.

Rwanda Forcibly Vaccinating People Against COVID, Victims Say

Deutsche Welle reported:

Although Rwanda says it will not mandate people to take COVID-19 vaccines, some residents — especially in rural areas — say officials have been forcing Rwandans to take the jabs.

Currently, more than 49% of almost 13 million Rwandans have been double-jabbed, and more than 61% have had at least one vaccine administered.

But some Rwandans say this number is only possible because of force by local leaders and police. DW spoke to some people who said they had been forced to receive vaccinations. For fear of possible consequences, they either chose to remain anonymous or DW decided to leave their names out of the report.

Starbucks Nixes Vaccine Mandate After Supreme Court Ruling

Associated Press reported:

Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month.

In a memo sent Tuesday to employees, the Seattle coffee giant said it was responding to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Starbucks’ reversal is among the most high-profile corporate actions in response to the Supreme Court ruling. Many other big companies, including Target, have been mum on their plans.

Here’s Why a Leaked Letter From Carhartt’s CEO Sparked an Online Debate on Vaccine Mandates

Forbes reported:

American workwear brand Carhartt found itself in the crossfire of the culture wars after a letter from the CEO informing employees the company will continue to mandate coronavirus vaccinations leaked online, drawing both support and ire.

Carhartt confirmed to Forbes that the letter was an internal message CEO Mark Valade sent Friday informing employees that a recent U.S. Supreme Court move to temporarily block President Joe Biden’s workplace vaccine mandate while a legal challenge against it proceeds will not change Carhartt’s mandatory vaccine program.

The brand’s name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday morning, as some users expressed support for the mandate while others announced they would boycott the company’s products.

Florida Health Official Put on Leave After Encouraging Staff to Get COVID Vaccine

The Guardian reported:

A health official who helped lead Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been put on administrative leave as state officials investigate whether he tried to compel employees to get vaccinated.

The state health agency is conducting an inquiry into Raul Pino, director of the Florida department of health in Orange county, to “determine if any laws were broken in this case”, the state department of health press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, said in an email.

Sources told WFTV that Pino was placed on administrative leave after he emailed staff members at the Orange county department of health regarding COVID-19 vaccination rates on Jan. 4.

A Restaurant That Was Temporarily Closed After Accepting Customers’ Dog Pictures Instead of COVID Vaccination Proof Has Reopened

Business Insider reported:

A restaurant in Canada, which was temporarily closed after accepting customers’ dog pictures instead of COVID-19 vaccination proof, has reopened, The Calgary Head first reported.

On Friday, Alberta Health Services (AHS) ordered The Granary Kitchen, a Red Deer restaurant, to close its doors after complaints that staff were allowing guests to enter with a photo of a dog in place of QR codes showing their vaccination status.

China’s Mandatory Olympics App Raises Privacy and Censorship Concerns, Watchdog Group Warns

Fox News reported:

An app that China is using to track attendees at the Beijing Olympics next month has raised concerns from a cybersecurity watchdog about “a simple but devastating flaw” that it says poses privacy concerns.

The Citizen Lab, based at the University of Toronto, said in an extensive report by research associate Jeffrey Knockel that the mandatory MY2022 app fails to validate some SSL certificates, which could leave open information to being intercepted by a malicious host, as reported by The Canadian Press.

Those who attend the Olympics, including athletes and journalists, are required to download the app and upload their health and vaccination information to track potential outbreaks of COVID-19. The report warns that sensitive data even unrelated to medical information could leak given the flaws in the app, which was built by the Beijing Organizing Committee.

“The worst case scenario is that someone is intercepting all the traffic and recording all the passport details, all the medical details,” Knockel warned.

UK Lifts COVID Restrictions, Says Omicron Wave ‘Has Peaked’

Associated Press reported:

Face masks will no longer be mandatory in public places and schools in England and COVID-19 passports will be dropped for large events as infections level off in large parts of the country, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday.

Johnson told lawmakers that the restrictions were being eased because government scientists believed it was likely that the surge of infections prompted by the highly contagious Omicron variant “has now peaked nationally.”

The government will no longer advise people to work from home and beginning next Thursday mandatory COVID-19 passes will not be required to gain entry to large-scale events. Compulsory face masks will be scrapped in classrooms starting Thursday as well, and from next week they will not be legally required anywhere in England.

Greece Imposes Rolling Fines to Push COVID Vaccinations in Older People

Reuters reported:

Greece has begun imposing recurring fines on those over the age of 60 who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 to try to boost inoculation in the most vulnerable age group even as infection rates from the fast-spreading Omicron variant are slowing.

The announcement of a monthly 100 euro ($113.36) fine in November for people over 60 who failed to get vaccinated or book a vaccination appointment by Jan. 16 has helped increase the take-up rate to more than 90% of that age group, health officials have said.

For the remaining 10%, a fine of 50 euros will be collected through tax authorities for January that will rise to 100 euros for each month from February onwards to help fund state hospitals.

ProtonMail Wants to Stop You Being Tracked Online via Email

TechRadar reported:

Privacy-oriented email provider ProtonMail has introduced a new feature that looks to prevent advertisers from tracking users reading their emails.

The ‘enhanced tracking protection’ blocks tracking pixels commonly found in newsletters and promotional emails, and hides the users’ IP addresses from third parties, keeping their location private.

Tracking pixels, the company explains, obtain plenty of user data, including when the email was opened, how many times it was opened, which devices were used to read the contents of the email, as well as the reader’s IP address.

Big Tech Critics Launch New Project

The Hill reported:

A collection of critics of Big Tech companies on Tuesday launched the Tech Oversight Project, a new group focused on pushing regulation through Congress.

The group is being funded primarily by the Omidyar Network, the philanthropic network of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and the Economic Security Project, a nonprofit led by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Both former tech executives have been critical of the current iteration of Big Tech and have pushed for greater regulation.

“We are at a watershed moment with bipartisan support to finally break up the Big Tech monopolies that hurt consumers and small businesses,” Sacha Haworth, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

The Inventor of the World Wide Web Says His Creation Has Been Abused for Too Long

TechRadar reported:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has called for a tighter focus on addressing the imbalance of power on the web.

“Right now, people’s data is being used for inappropriate purposes by large companies, in order to understand and manipulate them. Another problem is that all my private data is stored by online platforms and stuck in silos, so I can’t really use it. We have a lack of empowerment of the individual,” he said.