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Thousands of National Guard Members in Texas Refuse Vaccine

Associated Press reported:

Texas officials indicated Tuesday that thousands of National Guard members are refusing COVID-19 vaccines in the latest challenge against a Biden administration order that requires all members of the military to get one.

A lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton comes a week after a federal judge rejected a similar challenge brought by Oklahoma’s governor, amid growing Republican opposition to the vaccination mandate for Guard members.

Texas has more than 20,000 National Guard members, the largest contingent of any state. About 40% of its Army National Guard are currently refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccination “for either religious accommodation needs or otherwise,” according to the lawsuit filed in a federal court in East Texas.

It added that more than 200 airmen in the the Texas Guard are also refusing the vaccine.

Mayo Clinic Fires 700 Workers Who Failed to Comply With COVID Vaccine Mandate

NBC News reported:

The Mayo Clinic is firing roughly 700 employees who failed to comply with the nonprofit medical center’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Workers at the Mayo Clinic had been given until Monday to get their first dose of a vaccine or obtain a medical or religious exemption to the rule. They were also expected not to delay on receiving a second dose if they had already gotten the first jab.

Hundreds of employees failed to meet those requirements and were let go, the Mayo Clinic said in a statement shared with NBC News on Wednesday. The clinic added that the majority of medical or religious exemption requests made by workers were granted.

With Omicron Spreading, Will Schools Mandate COVID Vaccines for All Students and Teachers?

Fast Company reported:

This week, most students in the U.S. returned to school. Also this week, the U.S. is setting grim new records for daily COVID-19 cases. The result is a full-blown logistical and policy-making mess for school and government officials, parents, and the kids themselves — mostly about whether or not to require vaccines.

Here’s a quick look at the ways school districts and local officials nationwide are responding, to help you predict how all this is likely to pan out as the spring semester unfolds.

What is the policy on vaccines at most schools? It varies tremendously, like most public-health rules for this pandemic.

Regardless of whether you’re looking state by state, city by city or school district by school district, it’s a patchwork of orders mandating vaccines and orders barring vaccine mandates.

Stigmatizing the Unvaccinated: Human Today, Not Human Tomorrow

Technocracy News reported:

You know you’ve entered a twilight zone of insanity when a police officer tells you you’re a criminal simply because you’re unvaccinated. That’s exactly what happened the other day in Germany. The police officer insisted the unvaccinated man was “a murderer” because he “might infect someone,” and that he’s “not a human.”

It’s beyond irrational. But then again, insanity does not obey reason, and according to professor Mattias Desmet, a Belgian psychologist, the world has indeed been hypnotized into a state of mass psychosis.

The stigmatization and dehumanization of the unvaxxed is all the more irrational when you consider that the COVID shot doesn’t prevent infection or spread of the virus. Those who have received one, two or even three doses are STILL contracting the infection, and at ever-increasing rates, and are spreading it to vaxxed and unvaxxed alike.

Real Estate Firm Sues NYC Over Workplace Vaccine Mandate

Associated Press reported:

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging New York City’s sweeping mandate requiring nearly all private-sector businesses to ban unvaccinated employees from the workplace, asserting that the city’s attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic deprives tens of thousands of businesses from pursuing their livelihoods.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday contends businesses like Cornerstone Realty, a Staten Island real estate firm that is the primary plaintiff in the case, are being unduly forced to fire unvaccinated workers and asserts the city’s vaccination edict lacks mechanisms for businesses to appeal.

The lawsuit argues the city is violating the constitutional rights of business owners to make a living, and New York City has no authority under federal law to impose vaccine mandates on private-sector companies, although such requirements already exist for restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms and other indoor gathering places.

CDC Recommits to Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines Without Tests

Politico reported:

After days of criticism over new isolation and quarantine guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday doubled down on its policy, pointing to data that it says supports its guidance that Americans who contract COVID-19 or have not been boosted and are exposed to the virus can return to normal life after five days if they wear a mask.

And for individuals exposed to the virus who are unvaccinated or are not yet boosted, the CDC recommended that they quarantine for five days and wear masks for another five days.

The CDC also said boosted Americans could return to work after exposure but that they should wear a mask for 10 days.

Public health officials and scientists criticized the agency’s decision not to recommend Americans receive a negative test before emerging from isolation and quarantine, saying testing could limit transmission post infection.

Macy’s Requests Vaccination Status of All U.S. Employees

The New York Times reported:

Macy’s began requesting the vaccination statuses of employees on Tuesday, a sign it was preparing for a potential mandate of vaccinations or weekly testing ahead of a special Supreme Court hearing about such rules on Friday.

In a memo sent to employees that was obtained by The New York Times, the retailer — which also owns Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury — told workers in the United States to upload their vaccination statuses to a third-party platform by Jan. 16 “regardless of whether you work in a store, a supply chain facility, an office or are remote/hybrid.”

For employees who say they are unvaccinated, Macy’s said it would “review your submission and you may be contacted by someone from the Colleague Advisory team to discuss next steps.”

New Washington Secretary of State Mandates Vaccines for 30% of Unvaccinated Staff

Newsweek reported:

The new Washington Secretary of State, Steve Hobbs, mandated a vaccine for his staff, of which approximately 30% is unvaccinated.

Hobbs, a Democrat, gave his staff of around 300 a deadline of Feb. 25 to become fully vaccinated. If they refuse, they could face termination.

Hobbs’ office will adopt Gov. Jay Inslee‘s vaccine policy, Hobbs said, which the governor announced for healthcare workers, educators and state employees last summer. Within Inslee’s vaccine mandate, there is also an option for employees to seek exemptions and accommodations to keep working.

Macron Pledges to Infuriate France’s Unvaccinated by Tightening Restrictions Amid Omicron Surge

The Washington Post reported:

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to make daily life more inconvenient for unvaccinated people in the country, which is facing a spike in coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant.

“I am not for pissing off the French however, the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off,” he said in an interview published Tuesday in the French newspaper Le Parisien.

“I’m not going to throw [the unvaccinated] in prison. I’m not going to get them vaccinated by force. … We put pressure on the unvaccinated by limiting their access to social activities as much as possible.”

Macron’s remarks come as his government moves to impose more restrictions on the unvaccinated. The government is pushing through a bill that would remove the option of providing a negative test for entry.

China Places Multiple Cities Under Lockdown as COVID Cases Grow Before Olympics

Newsweek reported:

At least 14 million people in China are living under total lockdown, as the country persists with a strict “zero-tolerance” COVID policy ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Public health officials are taking no chances amid a rise in infections across the country, bringing China’s seven-day average cases above 200 for the first time since March 2020.

Two cities are now experiencing a form of full lockdown not seen since the early days of the pandemic, when the former epicenter, Wuhan, in the central Hubei province, was shut down for 76 days.

Djokovic Stuck at Airport, Awaiting Australian Government Visa Decision

Reuters reported:

Novak Djokovic was left stranded at an Australian airport overnight, caught in a political maelstrom over whether to honour the World No. 1’s medical exemption from vaccine requirements or send him home due to a visa blunder.

Djokovic, who is seeking a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam win at the Australian Open, was still awaiting permission early Thursday morning to enter the country after it emerged that his team had applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions.

That prompted the local government of Victoria, the state where the Open is played, to say it would not support Djokovic’s application, putting his fate in the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The 10 Tech Trends That Will Transform Our World

Forbes reported:

What makes the fourth industrial revolution so different from previous industrial revolutions is the convergence and interaction between multiple technology trends at once.

In this article, I list the ten major technology trends that are driving the fourth industrial revolution – trends that I believe will forever alter how we do business and live our lives.

Google is Manipulating Browser Extensions to Stifle Competitors, DuckDuckGo CEO Says

The Washington Post reported:

Google is already facing mounting legal challenges from regulators globally who accuse the tech giant of maintaining an illegal monopoly over its search and digital advertising businesses.

But now one of its most prominent rivals is alleging that the titan is abusing browser extensions to favor its products and stifle competitors, adding a new wrinkle to the high-stakes antitrust debate and momentum to calls for new regulation.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg, whose company offers a competing search engine that touts its privacy protections, told myself and Gerrit De Vynck during an interview Tuesday that Google is deploying manipulative design features, known as “dark patterns,” to trick users into abandoning rival products.

Federal Trade Commission Settles With Data Analytics Firm After Millions of Americans’ Mortgage Files Exposed

TechCrunch reported:

The Federal Trade Commission has approved a settlement with a mortgage data analytics firm for a 2019 security lapse that exposed millions of sensitive mortgage documents containing private information of thousands of Americans.

The settlement, announced late December, orders the Texas-based firm Ascension to strengthen its security practices and ensure that its vendors also maintain proper data security safeguards.

The order comes two years after a TechCrunch investigation found that OpticsML, a New York-based vendor working for Ascension, left a database of highly sensitive financial data exposed to the internet without a password.