Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free.

850 More Unvaxxed NYC Teachers, Aides Fired for Not Complying With Mandate

New York Post reported:

The city Department of Education has axed another 850 teachers and classroom aides — bringing the total to nearly 2,000 school employees fired for failure to comply with a vaccine mandate increasingly struck down in court.

About 1,300 DOE employees who took a year’s unpaid leave —  with benefits — agreed to show proof of COVID vaccination by Sept. 5 or be “deemed to have voluntarily resigned.”

Of those staffers, 450 got a shot by the deadline and “are returning to their prior schools or work locations,” DOE officials told The Post. They include some 225 teachers and 135 paraprofessionals.

​​Mayor Adams never lifted the vaccine mandate, while other cities and states are dropping such requirements due to relaxed CDC guidelines.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Controversial Texas Social Media Law

Axios reported:

A federal appeals court dealt social media giants a blow Friday when it upheld a Texas law that seeks to stop platforms from removing posts if the removal can be viewed as discriminating against a “viewpoint.”

Driving the news: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the Texas law, HB20, does not violate the First Amendment rights of social media platforms.

Why it matters: If the law goes into effect, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media companies with more than 50 million users will effectively be prevented from enforcing content-related rules on any user postings that can claim to express a political view.

The ruling opens a door for similar laws to be passed by other states unless a future U.S. Supreme Court appeal reverses it.

Parents Win Key Ruling in Michigan Newborn Blood Dispute

Associated Press reported:

A judge has found key parts of Michigan’s newborn blood-testing program unconstitutional in a challenge by four parents who raised concerns about how leftover samples are used long after screening for rare diseases.

The lawsuit is not a class action. But the decision this week is likely to have an impact on how the state maintains millions of dried blood spots and makes them available for outside research. Research with newborn blood spots occurs in other states, too.

At the state’s direction, Michigan hospitals routinely prick the heels of newborns to draw blood to check for more than 50 diseases, a longstanding practice across the U.S. Leftover blood spots are sent to the Michigan Neonatal Biobank in Detroit for safekeeping. Scientists can pay a fee to use them for various research projects.

Since 2010, Michigan must have permission from parents to use spots for outside research. But attorney Phil Ellison argued that the program still violates constitutional protections against searches and seizures, and might not be fully understood by parents who are given a form soon after the rigors of childbirth.

Healthcare — Masks Are Coming off in Head Start Classrooms

The Hill reported:

In health news, Head Start, the federal education program for preschools and childcare centers, will soon end its mandatory masking policy.

The Office of Head Start (OHS), the federal program within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that provides preschool and childcare services to low-income families, announced Friday that it will soon be dropping its universal masking rule for its grant recipients.

In a statement provided to The Hill, an HHS spokesperson said, “Today, OHS notified programs that, in the near future, it intends to publish a final rule that will formally remove the requirement for universal masking in Head Start programs for all individuals ages 2 and older, which will align Head Start program masking requirements more closely with the updated CDC guidance.”

Confronting COVID’s Lost Generation

Politico reported:

On a seemingly typical afternoon in 2020 during the first week of classes in her last year of high school, 17-year-old Yasmin Maccio shuffled home after a 30-minute bus ride at the closing of the academic day. Entering her family’s home — which doubles as a kiosco, or local storefront for food and drinks — she set to work finishing her homework and helping four of her younger nieces and nephews to complete theirs.

But for this ambitious student, who dreamed of going to college, learning would effectively end for the foreseeable future. The following day her school closed its doors in the face of a raging COVID-19 outbreak, eventually offering students a chance to connect to a virtual-schooling option. However, like most of their neighbors, Maccio’s household of 11 people didn’t have a computer.

What was a deeply painful, mentally challenging interlude for students in the United States became a permanent end to learning for many students in Latin America and the Caribbean. The joint Latin America/Caribbean region is considered one of the two most severely impacted regions in the world regarding educational issues, along with sub-Saharan Africa, according to a June 2022 UNICEF report.

“Education-wise, this has been a catastrophe,” Mariana Ibanez, a longtime volunteer in Maccio’s neighborhood of Barrio 31, told me in Spanish.

St. Charles Health System to Welcome Back Unvaccinated Workers

The Bulletin reported:

Hospital administrators have lifted the requirement that all healthcare professionals at St. Charles Health System must be vaccinated against COVID-19, nearly a year after it had been put in place.

The health system said it would now allow workers who had an approved religious or medical exception to work at the health system even if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19. This follows the state’s rules requiring COVID-19 vaccination updated in April.

The changing nature of the virus that causes COVID-19 prompted the health system to amend its COVID-19 vaccination requirements, said Dr. Cynthia Maree, St. Charles Health System’s medical director of infection prevention services.

Removing the vaccination requirement puts the Central Oregon health system more in line with other Oregon hospitals, said Kevin Mealy, Oregon Nurses Association communication manager.

Did the Censors Succeed?

The Epoch Times reported:

These days I rarely encounter people who disagree that the pandemic policy was a disaster.

You can usually get a laugh at a cocktail party when making fun of sanitizer madness, 15 days to flatten the curve, ubiquitous plexiglass or 6 feet of distance. The school closures are in disrepute, as is the restriction on hospital visits or the banning of funerals and weddings. Even masking seems ridiculous in retrospect.

And yet, however many people think these things in private, these opinions were nowhere in the mainstream media for the better part of two years. The near-universal opinion was that Fauci was a genius with the best interest of the country at heart. Dissidents were silenced and punished with throttles and bans. The government collaborated with Big Tech to mark all opposition to the extremist lockdowns and mandates as misinformation.

The censors succeeded in keeping these reasonable views out of the mainstream of the public mind, which is to say that their censorship worked. You and I might be pleased to have read the right Substack or encountered a contrarian book or paper. But remember that for every one exposure of a dissenting perspective, tens of millions of others receive the mainstream line.

Bus for COVID Quarantine in China Crashes, Killing 27

Associated Press reported:

A bus reportedly taking 47 people to COVID-19 quarantine in southwest China crashed before dawn Sunday morning, killing 27 and injuring 20 others, media said.

The bus overturned on an expressway in Guizhou province, a brief statement from the Sandu county police said, without mentioning any connection to quarantine. The injured were being treated, it said.

Chinese business news outlet Caixin said Sandu officials confirmed the passengers were “epidemic-related people” being taken from Guiyang, the provincial capital, to Lido county, which is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast.

China Lifts Two-Week COVID Lockdown in Chengdu, City of 21 Million

The Straits Times reported:

The Chinese megacity of Chengdu exits lockdown on Monday, with its 21 million people allowed to leave their homes and resume most aspects of normal life for the first time since Sept. 1, provided they’re tested regularly for COVID-19.

Residents will need to be tested at least once a week for the virus, with a negative result from within the previous 72 hours required to enter public venues and take public transport, according to a statement from the local government.

The capital of the southwestern Sichuan province, Chengdu is the biggest city to have been shuttered as part of the country’s COVID zero strategy since Shanghai’s bruising two-month lockdown earlier this year.

Unsealed Docs in Facebook Privacy Suit Offer Glimpse of Missing App Audit

TechCrunch reported:

It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up… The scandal-hit company formerly known as Facebook has fought for over four years to keep a lid on the gory details of a third-party app audit that its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally pledged would be carried out, back in 2018, as he sought to buy time to purge the spreading reputational stain after revelations about data misuse went viral at the peak of the Cambridge Analytica privacy crisis.

But some details are emerging nonetheless — extracted like blood from a stone via a tortuous, multi-year process of litigation-triggered legal discovery.

A couple of documents filed by plaintiffs in privacy user profiling litigation in California, which were unsealed yesterday, offer details on a handful of apps Facebook audited and internal reports on what it found.

The revelations provide a glimpse into the privacy-free zone Facebook was presiding over when a “sketchy” data company helped itself to millions of users’ data, the vast majority of whom did not know their info had been harvested for voter-targeting experiments.

How State Attorneys General Are Leading the Fight Against Big Tech

The Hill reported:

State attorneys general are leading efforts to crack down on the power of big technology firms, as highlighted by California’s suit filed this week against Amazon and a Texas-led coalition’s measured win in its fight against Google.

The cases are just two in a long line of state-led efforts to rein in the power of tech giants that are showcasing the bipartisan angst at Big Tech and momentum on the state level to take on the industry’s most dominant companies while congressional efforts to do so are stalled.

“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, people can see what’s going on with these big companies, Big Tech companies and the power and the levers that they exert over everyday Americans, is a little bit scary,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) told The Hill. “I think people are realizing, the attorneys general are realizing, that if we don’t address this soon it may be too late, you may never be able to stop it.”

Nearly every state is suing Google and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, between three cases filed against the companies in the past two years.

Meta Shares Plunged 14% This Week, Falling Close to Their Pandemic Low

CNBC reported:

Facebook hasn’t been this cheap since the beginning of the pandemic. After plunging 14% for the week to close at $146.29, shares of Facebook parent Meta are at their lowest point since March 2020, and for a period on Friday, they had sunk even lower.

Meta has lost 61% of its value over the past 12 months, by far the biggest slide among Big Tech stocks and more than double the drop in the Nasdaq Composite. In sliding for five straight days, Meta is now trading just 28 cents above its closing price on March 16, 2020, when the early days of COVID-19 sent U.S. stocks reeling.

Since officially changing its name to Meta last October, the news for CEO Mark Zuckerberg and company has been almost all bad. Apple’s iOS privacy update made it more difficult for the company to target ads and the increased popularity of social media rival TikTok has drawn users and advertisers away from the app. Meanwhile, an economic slowdown has caused many companies to pull back on their online marketing spending.