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Nearing Monday Coronavirus Vaccine Deadline, Thousands of Federal Workers Seek Religious Exemptions to Avoid Shots
With a Monday deadline looming, high percentages of federal workers are reporting they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. But tens of thousands of holdouts have requested exemptions on religious grounds, complicating President Biden’s sweeping mandate to get the country’s largest employer back to normal operations.
Federal agencies have yet to act on the requests piling into managers’ inboxes from vaccine resisters seeking accommodations that would allow them to continue their jobs unvaccinated rather than face the possibility of being fired as the administration has threatened.
The number of religious objectors ranges from a little more than 60 people at the Education Department to many thousands among the 38,000-strong workforce at the Bureau of Prisons, according to federal employee union officials.
Federal Court Blocks Biden Administration’s Vaccination Mandate
A federal court in Louisiana has blocked the Biden administration‘s mandate that millions of workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly, ruling in a suit filed by several states, companies and conservative religious groups.
“Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court,” a panel of judges for the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Saturday.
The states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah are among the plaintiffs. More than two dozen states have filed multiple legal challenges in federal court against the Biden administration’s vaccinate-or-test mandate for private businesses, arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t have the authority to issue the requirements.
NYC Kicks Off Huge Kids’ COVID Vaccine Drive — With New Paid Leave Option for Parents
New York City public schools kick off a series of in-school vaccination drives Monday, creating pop-ups in more than 1,000 buildings that serve students aged 5 to 11 as part of a week-long effort to dose the newly eligible with Pfizer’s shot.
More than 16,700 New York City kids age 5 to 11 have gotten inoculated against COVID since the CDC recommended the lower-dose shots be administered to younger children last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
Parents can already take their kids to get the Pfizer shot at city-run vaccine sites, where their kids are eligible for $100 incentives, pharmacies and private providers. Appointments are recommended but not required. Walk-ins are accepted.
Vaccine Proof Required as Strict Mandate Takes Effect in LA
Los Angeles is among a growing number of cities across the U.S., including San Francisco and New York City, requiring people show proof of vaccination to enter various types of businesses and venues. But rules in the nation’s second-most-populous city, called SafePassLA, apply to more types of businesses and other indoor locations including museums and convention centers.
While the order took effect Monday, city officials say they won’t start enforcing it until Nov. 29 to give businesses time to adjust. A first offense will bring a warning but subsequent ones could produce fines running from $1,000 to $5,000.
Hundreds of Thousands to Go On Four-Day Nationwide Strike Over Vaccine Mandates: Organizer
The event will kick off in Los Angeles on Monday. The locations of the marches have not yet been disclosed.
The walkouts involve people from various industries such as trucking and telecom. Air and rail transport workers are not federally allowed to go on strike due to a law passed in 1926 named the Railway Labor Act, but some plan to protest anonymously.
Anti-Vaccine Mandate Rally: LA City Employees Say They’re Ready to Lose Their Job Over Requirement
Hundreds of anti-vaccine mandate activists gathered in downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Park on Monday morning to protest against requirements enacted by the city and other government entities.
The demonstration, dubbed the March for Freedom rally, was being held on the same day that city’s proof of full COVID-19 vaccination mandate, one of the strictest in the U.S., went into effect.
Organizers said the event would be attended by “local firefighters, law enforcement, parents, local Latino and African-American community leaders and others who are being threatened by the vaccine mandate.”
Authors and Their ‘Progressive’ Book Publisher Sue Sen. Elizabeth Warren Over Free Speech
A progressive publishing company and the authors of a book critical of the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus emergency have sued Sen. Elizabeth Warren for allegedly attempting to pressure Amazon.com into yanking their title, The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal.
Joining Chelsea Green Publishing and authors Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopath, and Ronnie Cummins in the suit against Warren is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a well-known vaccine critic who wrote the forward to the book.
The lawsuit is based on a lengthy letter Warren wrote to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy accusing the company he runs of “peddling misinformation” by labeling the book a “best-seller” and allowing it to be at the top of results when consumers search for information about COVID-19.
Railroads Fight With Unions in Court Over Vaccine Mandates
Another major railroad has gone to court to determine whether it has the authority to require all its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
BNSF railroad filed a lawsuit Sunday against its major unions over its mandate. It joins Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, which both filed similar lawsuits against the unions last month. The unions, which have filed some of their own lawsuits in response, argue that the railroads should have negotiated with them before imposing their mandates.
The unions didn’t immediately respond in court to BNSF’s lawsuit Monday, but in the other lawsuits, they have argued the railroads were violating the terms of their contract by requiring vaccines and by offering bonuses to workers if they do get vaccinated. Both Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern are offering employees $300 if they get the shots.
Is the Pandemic School Surveillance State Here to Stay?
GoGuardian is a software company that makes, essentially, spyware: software that helps teachers and schools block and monitor what kids are doing online. When a student is using a school-issued Chromebook that has GoGuardian on it, the teacher can see just about everything they’re doing.
These technologies have been embraced by teachers and state Departments of Education alike, but students are less enthralled with having their online lives constantly surveilled.
Vaccine Mandates Inflame the Culture Wars
The brewing culture war over vaccine mandates now threatens to boil over after the Biden administration set a January deadline for all employers with more than 100 employees to require shots or regular testing.
Driving the news: Lawsuits from 15 GOP-led states rolled in mere hours after the administration last week laid out Jan. 4 as the deadline for vaccine mandates at employers with more than 100 workers.
The big picture: A recent Axios-Ipsos poll found six in 10 employed Americans agreed their employer should require COVID vaccinations. But they do not agree on what should happen for those who don’t comply. Support for firing employees was low, at 14%.
Families Reunited at JFK Airport for 1st Time in Nearly 2 Years, As International Travel Resumes to U.S.
International travel to the U.S. resumed Monday for tourists, as historic restrictions were lifted for those who are fully vaccinated.
For more than 20 months, a travel ban has prevented visitors from 33 countries from coming to the United States, but that changed Monday.
Airlines have to check to make sure international travelers are fully vaccinated with vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those approved in the U.S. Children under 18 are exempt from this rule. Land borders with Mexico and Canada are once again open for fully vaccinated tourists, and border security will be spot checking documentation.
‘Stop the Coercion:’ DeSantis Has New Plan to Beat Biden’s COVID Mandates
“No cop, no firefighter and no nurse should be losing their jobs because of these jabs,” DeSantis said. “We have got to stand up for people and protect their jobs and protect their livelihoods.”
The bills will be filed Monday in the House and Senate, and they will be taken up in a special legislative session that DeSantis has scheduled to start on Nov. 15.
The Race to $3 Trillion: Big Tech Keeps Getting Bigger
The trillion-dollar market cap club is starting to get crowded. Microsoft (MSFT) is now worth a smidge more than Apple (AAPL), making the Satya Nadella-led cloud software giant the world’s most valuable company. Both companies are worth about $2.5 trillion.
Google owner Alphabet (GOOGL) is worth just a touch less than $2 trillion, while Amazon (AMZN)is valued at $1.7 trillion. And don’t forget (as if we could) Tesla (TSLA): Elon Musk’s electric car giant recently passed the $1 trillion mark and has since surged to a market cap of about $1.25 trillion.
These five companies are now collectively worth almost $10 trillion. That’s nearly a quarter of the combined $41.8 trillion market cap of the entire S&P 500.