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U.S. Will End COVID Testing Requirement for Air Travelers Entering the Country

CNN Politics reported:

The Biden administration is expected to announce Friday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lift its requirement for travelers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the U.S., according to a senior administration official.

The move, which CNN was first to report, will go into effect for U.S.-bound air travelers at midnight on Sunday.

The CDC is lifting the restriction that the travel industry had lobbied against for months after determining it was no longer necessary “based on the science and data,” the official said. The CDC will reassess its decision in 90 days and if officials decide they need to reinstate it, because of a concerning new variant, for example, will do so. The measure has been in place since January 2021.

Tim Cook Expects Our Behavior to Change When We Feel ‘Surveilled All the Time’ by Tech: ‘It Changes Society in a Major Way’

CNBC reported:

Apple CEO Tim Cook is no stranger to criticizing other tech companies for monitoring their users’ data. Now, he’s upping the ante — by indicating that such data collection could soon become a widespread problem for society at large.

At the TIME100 Summit 2022 on Tuesday, Cook said he was “quite worried” about tech companies surveilling their users because it could change the way most humans behave and interact with each other.

“I fear deeply the loss of privacy,” Cook, 61, said. “If we begin to feel like we’re being surveilled all the time, then our behavior changes. We begin to do less. We begin to think about things less. You begin to modify how you think. In a world like that where you’re restraining yourself, [it] changes society in a major way.”

Break Government Officials’ Monopoly on Public Health

Newsweek reported:

Public health initiatives in the United States are suffering from a crisis of trust. Recent polls show that only a third of the public trusts insurance and pharmaceutical companies, while just 56% trust the government health agencies that are meant to regulate these industries.

Another survey during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that only around half of Americans have a “great deal” of trust in the CDC, while a mere third have such trust in the Department of Health and Human Services.

This lack of trust is not merely temporary. Yes, our health agencies and companies have made mistakes and propagated falsehoods in the past two years. But their deep unpopularity is not merely the result of circumstance. Without alternatives, these institutions will always lack accountability, and therefore, trust. America is nothing without our unique history of popular sovereignty. We can no longer give public officials unilateral decision-making power over our public health response without competing voices, checks and balances.

Think back to late 2020. When the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 were made available to the public free of charge, a national conversation began about “vaccine hesitancy” — the phenomenon of Americans choosing not to be vaccinated even when incentivized and, in some cases, coerced.

NY Stops COVID Testing Mandate for Unvaccinated State Workers but Not yet for Teachers

Lohud reported:

New York quietly lifted its weekly COVID-19 testing mandate for unvaccinated state workers on Tuesday, ending one of the few remaining pandemic restrictions intended to limit the coronavirus’ spread.

And a similar measure requiring weekly COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated teachers and school employees will end June 30, state officials said.

Meanwhile, many healthcare facilities — including hospitals and nursing homes — are still prohibited from employing unvaccinated workers. That mandate has been in place since it led to a roughly 3% reduction in the healthcare workforce last fall.

Air Force Academy Assistant Track and Field Coach Terminated, Claims It Is Due to Refusal to Get COVID Vaccine

The Gazette reported:

Dana Lyon has spent Memorial Day in recent years receiving calls from people who send their condolences and appreciation for her husband, David, who died in Afghanistan during a suicide bomb attack in December 2017.

This year was different. The Gold Star widow said that on May 31, the U.S. Air Force Academy told her that they would not renew her contract as an athletic department employee and said that by statute, her last day would be 30 days later, on June 30. She is listed as an assistant throwers coach for the academy’s track and field team.

Lyon believes her termination was due to the fact that she has not gotten a COVID-19 vaccination. Lyon and her attorney Mike Rose appeared on Fox News on Thursday, where Lyon claimed that she was let go two months before her retirement benefits were set to kick in.

She’ll be working in an administrative capacity until August, but Lyon said she feels betrayed by the academy where she won a pair of NCAA titles in javelin, where she graduated in 2006, was inducted into the academy’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015, and has worked in the athletics department since 2014.

Rosberg Barred From F1 Paddock Over Vaccine Status

Associated Press reported:

Former world champion Nico Rosberg has not been allowed to enter the Formula One paddock this season because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. Rosberg has been working as a commentator and pundit on TV after he won the F1 title in 2016 with Mercedes and retired from racing shortly thereafter.

Rules for this season issued by F1′s governing body, the FIA, require anyone entering the paddock, where the teams are based, to be fully vaccinated or hold a medical exemption. The rules apply to team members, journalists and other staff.

“Nico Rosberg recovered from a coronavirus infection and currently holds a recovery certificate. He has his antibody levels tested regularly and, on the recommendation of his doctor, does not currently need any vaccinations,” Rosberg spokesperson Lena Siep said in e-mailed comments Friday.

That Didn’t Last Long: Shanghai Locks Down Millions for COVID, Again

Gizmodo reported:

Little more than a week after Shanghai, China crawled out of one of the most severe and taxing COVID lockdowns anywhere in the world, the city is once again on notice for COVID spread while millions are being told to hole up and prepare for mass testing.

Reuters reported Friday that city officials announced mandatory PCR testing for all residents in 14 of 16 districts to take place this weekend. The announced testing initiative was related to a cluster of community-transmitted cases tied to a popular beauty salon.

The testing initiative was announced only 10 days after officials ended their harsh two-month lockdown on June 1, and less than a month since city officials said they hit their “zero-COVID” milestone.

FTC Chair Issues a Warning Shot to the Tech Industry

CNN Business reported:

The Federal Trade Commission is keeping a close eye on Big Tech as the industry expands into newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and the metaverse.

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, FTC Chair Lina Khan said regulators risk “fighting yesterday’s war” if they fail to comprehend how tech giants might take advantage of societal technology shifts to strengthen their own position, in ways that may violate antitrust laws.

The message is a warning to the tech industry as companies ranging from Facebook-parent Meta (FB) to Microsoft (MSFT) have announced big investments in virtual reality tech, and as AI-powered smart speakers have become ubiquitous (and have already inspired some competitive complaints).

Scientism, Not Science, Drives Technocracy and Transhumanism

Technocracy News reported:

Science has long been regarded as a stronghold of logic and reason. Scientists don’t draw conclusions based on emotions, feelings or sheer faith. It’s all about building a body of reproducible evidence. Well, that’s what it used to be, but as technocracy and transhumanism have risen to the fore, it has brought with it its own form of science — “scientism” — which is basically the religion of science.

Whether the war against humanity is truly underpinned by religion or not is open for debate and interpretation. But what is clear is that something has shifted science away from its conventional foundation into something that very much resembles religious faith. In other words, it’s a belief even in the absence of evidence, or in the face of contrary evidence, and this is a very serious problem.

Big Tech Has Become a Creature of the Swamp

Wired reported:

The geeky founders of big tech companies used to view government as something to be avoided at all costs. They were building stuff. The relationship they hoped for with the wonks and suits in DC was that each side would leave the other alone. The muck of lobbying seemed a bit unsavory. So the techies did their best to ignore the government.

That changed in the late 1990s as Microsoft found itself defending against — and losing — a huge antitrust suit from the Department of Justice. Companies beefed up their DC presence, but even as late as a decade ago, rising companies tried to keep their existence on the down low.

In 2021, seven tech companies spent $70 million to lobby the federal government. The ranks of those companies are loaded with former executive branch and legislative officials.

And how is that going? Let’s see. The congressional docket is filled to the brim with bills designed to thwart tech’s appetite for domination. There’s an antitrust enforcement act that would fast-track efforts to police dominant companies, and maybe make it easier to break up Facebook. There’s a bill to rein in digital advertising, which might break up Google. Yet another bill would constrain tech platforms from favoring certain of their own products, a ban that would harm Amazon. Oh, and once again there’s a privacy bill that would address the wanton hoovering of people’s personal data.

New Research Suggests Always-On Bluetooth Could Be Used to Track Your Phone

Gizmodo reported:

If you didn’t think there were enough ways for people to know your location, then best find something soft to bite down on to keep yourself from screaming.

Your phone is effectively emitting a lighthouse-like beacon while it’s on through its Bluetooth signal, and researchers recently proved they can discern individual devices through all that electronic noise. This new technique bypasses current means of avoiding phone stalking, such as changing IP addresses or Apple’s Safety Check.

Computer scientists at the University of California San Diego proved in a study published May 24 that minute imperfections in phones caused during manufacturing create a unique Bluetooth beacon, one that establishes a digital signature or fingerprint distinct from any other device. Though phones’ Bluetooth uses cryptographic technology that limits trackability, using a radio receiver, these distortions in the Bluetooth signal can be discerned to track individual devices.

A.I. Gurus Are Leaving Big Tech to Work on Buzzy New Start-Ups

CNBC reported:

Artificial intelligence gurus are quitting top jobs at companies like Google, Meta, OpenAI and DeepMind and joining a new breed of start-ups that want to take AI to the next level, according to people familiar with the matter and LinkedIn analysis.

Four of the best-funded new AI start-ups — Inflection, Cohere, Adept and Anthropic — have recently poached dozens of AI scientists with backgrounds in Big Tech.

The start-ups are building their products and services with a relatively new “architecture,” which is a set of rules and methods that are used to describe the functionality, organization and implementation of a computer system.

The new architecture — developed by a team of Google staff in 2017 and now available for anyone to use — is known as a “transformer.” The transformer allows AI systems to be scaled in ways that had never been considered before, meaning it’s possible to make them far more powerful and capable.