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July 22, 2022

Big Brother News Watch

Unvaccinated Fans Can Attend the U.S. Open. Why Can’t Novak Djokovic? + More

The Defender’s Big Brother NewsWatch brings you the latest headlines related to governments’ abuse of power, including attacks on democracy, civil liberties and use of mass surveillance.

The Defender’s Big Brother NewsWatch brings you the latest headlines.

Unvaccinated Fans Can Attend the U.S. Open. Why Can’t Novak Djokovic?

Newsweek reported:

Fresh off his historic victory at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic is hoping to compete at the upcoming U.S. Open for his 22nd Grand Slam — which would tie him with Rafael Nadal for the most in history.

Unfortunately, the world’s greatest tennis player appears unlikely to make the trip. Although the Serbian star looked perfectly healthy in his four-set victory over Australian Nick Kyrgios in England, current COVID-19 protocols are likely to prevent Djokovic from playing. “I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated,” Djokovic said following his victory at Wimbledon.

First, it’s noteworthy that Djokovic had COVID-19 in December. Many sporting organizations — including the NCAA — recognize prior infection as a form of immunization, and rightly so. An abundance of scientific evidence shows that natural immunity offers as much protection as vaccination alone, if not more.

Second, it’s worth noting that spectators are allowed to attend the Open regardless of their vaccination status. In other words, fans can attend the U.S. Open even if they haven’t had the shot — but the world’s greatest tennis star will not be able to set foot in the country.

Amazon to Buy One Medical for $3.9 Billion as It Expands Healthcare Footprint

CNN Business reported:

Amazon (AMZN) on Thursday said it has entered an agreement to acquire primary healthcare company One Medical in an all-cash deal valued at approximately $3.9 billion.

One Medical is a membership-based primary care service that promises customers “24/7 access to virtual care.” The company operates in a dozen major U.S. markets, according to its website, and works with over 8,000 companies to offer One Medical health benefits to their employees.

The acquisition is just the latest example of the tech giant expanding its footprint in the healthcare industry. Amazon acquired PillPack, an online pharmacy, in 2018 and later launched its own digital pharmacy in the United States.

Separately, Amazon partnered with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway on an effort to provide better healthcare services and insurance at a lower cost to workers and families at the three companies, and possibly other businesses, too. That effort, called Haven, shut down last year.

Canadian Armed Forces Poised to End Vaccine Mandate

Toronto Sun reported:

Canadian Forces members discharged from service because they disobeyed an order to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will have the opportunity to re-enroll, according to leaked details of the military’s revised vaccination policy.

That policy, expected to be unveiled later this summer, will put an end to the military’s vaccine mandate, which was introduced in October 2021.

Under the updated policy, service members will no longer have to attest to their vaccine status and new recruits will no longer have to be fully vaccinated to enroll in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Police Officers Grappling With Vaccine Mandates Weigh in on President Biden’s COVID Diagnosis

Fox News reported:

President Biden, who is fully vaccinated with two additional boosters, has contracted the coronavirus as officers in some big city police, fire, health and education departments are forced out of work for resisting vaccine mandates.

“When the pandemic hit, we had no supplies in New York City,” said John Macari, a former NYPD lieutenant who says he retired early in February at great financial cost rather than submit to the mandate. “There were no masks, there was nothing And I went to work every day to do my job like thousands of others — firemen, EMS workers, teachers, nurses. We were out there during the pandemic when everybody locked down.”

“Not only did we expose ourselves, but we exposed our families for the betterment of the city,” he said. “Now we’re being blamed for the ineffectiveness of the produce. We’re being blamed for the spread.”

“We’re approaching three years, what harm have the unvaccinated caused to America or the public that they’re being removed from society and employment?” Macari said.

Contemptible School Officials Re-Imposing COVID Mandates Are Defying Science: Dr. Nicole Saphier

Daily Mail reported:

More than two years after coronavirus first paralyzed the world the CDC, public health leaders and local officials are not following the science. They are defying it.

According to CDC guidance put in place in July 2021, when a community is experiencing ‘high’ transmission, indoor masking is encouraged. The guidance is not a mandate. But liberal parts of the country blindly follow these severe recommendations.

Don’t they realize how much has changed since July 2021? Many more Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have acquired natural immunity through infection. We now benefit from many more effective treatments. The dominant variants are far less lethal.

So when will America’s health leadership wrench their heads out of the sand and acknowledge their method of basing public policy recommendations on COVID case numbers is now obsolete? Don’t take my word for it — the evidence is clear.

Poll: RI Still Backs COVID Vaccine Requirement, but Support Is Dipping

The Boston Globe reported:

The majority of Rhode Islanders still think everyone should be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but support for such a mandate has fallen below 60% for the first time.

A new survey from the COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States found that 58.8% of Rhode Island residents believe there should be a universal requirement to get the vaccine.

That’s down from a high in June 2021, when 73.8% of Rhode Islanders supported a vaccine mandate. In March, 63.8% said they support such a requirement.

The consortium includes researchers from Harvard, Northeastern, Rutgers and Northwestern, and has conducted 18 50-state surveys during the pandemic (nine have included questions about a vaccine mandate).

Nearly 60% of Americans Want TikTok Removed From App Stores: Poll

The Epoch Times reported:

Almost 60% of Americans believe that the Chinese-owned short video app TikTok should be removed from app stores after revelations that U.S. user data have been repeatedly accessed in China, according to a new poll.

In a survey conducted by the Convention of States Action and Trafalgar Group, 58.6% of respondents said they supported “efforts to remove TikTok from app stores now that the company has revealed Americans’ user data can be accessed by TikTok employees in China.”

The results come less than a month after leaked recordings of internal company meetings obtained by BuzzFeed News allegedly show that from at least September 2021 to January, engineers in China had access to the app’s U.S. data.

TikTok employees, at times, had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how U.S. data were flowing, as the U.S. staff wasn’t authorized to independently access that information, according to the report.

Meta Is Changing Facebook and Instagram to Look and Act More Like TikTok

Insider reported:

Meta has tweaked both Facebook and Instagram‘s apps to more closely resemble its competitor TikTok. The changes appear to signal how much of an existential threat Meta perceives TikTok to be.

Instagram announced Thursday that from now on any video under 15 minutes will be converted into a Reel. If that video is posted by a public account, it will also be automatically fed into the company’s recommendation algorithms to show to other accounts.

For Facebook, the company is splitting its classic News Feed on its iOS and Android apps. Users will be immediately taken to a “Home” tab, where CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s “discovery engine” will promote content it thinks the user will be interested in.

Zuckerberg told Meta staff the company faces an “unprecedented level of competition” from Tiktok in February, Bloomberg reported.

Meta Commits Another $150 Million to Its Oversight Board

Engadget reported:

Meta has committed to keeping its Oversight Board running by providing ongoing financial support. The company has pledged to fund the board’s operations with a contribution of an additional $150 million. Meta previously earmarked $130 million for the board’s trust when it was set up in 2019.

The Oversight Board reviews certain content moderation decisions made by Facebook and Instagram and provides recommendations to Meta. Through the lens of human rights standards, it also assesses Meta’s policies and how it enforces them.

The board says it has received more than a million appeals from users against moderation decisions. To date, it has issued 25 binding decisions on cases and made 118 policy suggestions, while asking many questions about Meta’s practices.

Serving as a ‘Clinical Colleague,’ AI Shows Potential to Reduce Sepsis Deaths in Real-World Studies

STAT News reported:

Three studies published Thursday found that an artificial intelligence (AI) platform developed by Bayesian Health and Johns Hopkins University reduced deaths from sepsis by 18.2% in real-world use when physicians responded promptly to its alerts, a finding that suggests AI has the potential to become an important tool in battling a leading cause of deaths in hospitals.

The company and Hopkins researchers tested the platform at five hospitals in the Northeast — both academic and community-based — with more than 4,000 clinicians. The software, which was integrated into the hospitals’ electronic health records, monitors patient data and alerts clinicians when it spots early signs of potential sepsis.

It identified over 17,500 cases of sepsis from over 750,000 patient encounters among all adults who presented to the emergency department or were admitted to a medical or surgical unit over the course of one to two years.

ClassDojo Won Over Classrooms. Now It’s on a $125 Million Mission to Bring Kids to the Metaverse.

Forbes reported:

ClassDojo is the remote-based tech startup Liam Don co-founded with CEO Sam Chaudhary in 2011. The British friends spent the past decade building an app that won over teachers with feedback and lesson planning tools, and then parents with features to communicate and receive updates on their children’s progress at school.

Now, they’re pouring their efforts — and $125 million in previously undisclosed funding — into a software environment beyond the classroom.

After testing with tens of thousands of students since late last year, ClassDojo is now unveiling its big new act in time for the upcoming school year, with the goal, according to Chaudhary, of making the company’s virtual space available to at least half of the 51 million kids in active ClassDojo classrooms starting in August. (ClassDojo declined to share how many of those students are themselves monthly active users of its app.)

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