19 States Sue Biden Administration Over COVID Vaccine Rule

Associated Press reported:

Eighteen states filed three separate lawsuits Friday to stop President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, arguing that the requirement violates federal law.

Attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming signed on to one lawsuit, which was filed in a federal district court in Missouri. Another group of states including Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Georgia.

Texas also sued individually on Friday.

9,000 New York Public Workers Put on Unpaid Leave for Refusing COVID Vaccine

The Guardian reported:

About 9,000 New York City municipal workers were put on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding that thousands of firefighters had called out sick in apparent protest.

Firehouses remained open but 18 of 350 units were out of service and “many units are understaffed,” Daniel Nigro, the fire commissioner, said.

Officials have been battling fierce resistance among a minority of workers in some critical public safety jobs, including police officers and firefighters, with a pending legal challenge to the mandate from the largest police union.

As of Sunday, one in four uniformed New York firefighters had not had a first dose of the vaccine, as required. About one in six police personnel and one in six sanitation workers were still unvaccinated.

Supreme Court Rejects Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates in 6-3 Maine Ruling

Newsweek reported:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday decided it would not step in to block a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for healthcare workers in Maine, which does not offer religious exemptions.

Most U.S. states with vaccine requirements for healthcare workers do provide opportunities for religious exemptions, a point some healthcare workers who legally contested the requirement raised in their emergency request for the Supreme Court to step in ahead of the state’s vaccination deadline.

Cook County Judge Rules in Favor of FOP, Grants Temporary Restraining Order in Aid of Arbitration

WGN 9 Chicago reported:

A Cook County judge ruled in favor of a Chicago police union request for an emergency order to halt the city’s vaccine mandate policy.

The FOP wants officers put on no-pay status to return to work while the union and city negotiate the issue at the bargaining table.

On Friday, a federal judge denied a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the mandate requested by more than one hundred city workers, many of them Chicago firefighters. The City Council voted 30 to 13 in opposition to repealing the mandate.

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Washington State Quietly Launches COVID Vaccine Verification Tool

The Seattle Times reported:

Washington state this week quietly launched a new online tool that shows proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, taking a step toward improving its verification systems as it prepares to require full vaccination or a recent negative test at all large indoor and outdoor venues on Nov. 15.

The tool, WA Verify, is fairly straightforward: Fill out your name, date of birth, contact information and a four-digit PIN number (needed to securely access digital records, the website says), and the system will text you a link to get a scannable QR code and digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination records.

‘Yeah, We’re Spooked’: AI Starting to Have Big Real-World Impact, Says Expert

The Guardian reported:

A scientist who wrote a leading textbook on artificial intelligence (AI) has said experts are “spooked” by their own success in the field, comparing the advance of AI to the development of the atom bomb.

Prof Stuart Russell, the founder of the Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley, said most experts believed that machines more intelligent than humans would be developed this century, and he called for international treaties to regulate the development of the technology.

Sheriff Warns Vaccine Mandate Causing ‘Mass Exodus’ Among Personnel

Los Angeles Times reported:

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva continues to rail against the county’s vaccine mandate, warning it is causing a “mass exodus” in his department and threatens public safety at a time when violent crime is on the rise.

“I have repeatedly stated the dangers to public safety when 20% to 30% of my workforce is no longer available to provide service, and those dangers are quickly becoming a reality,” Villanueva said in a statement that he posted on social media last week.

“We are experiencing an increase in unscheduled retirements, worker compensation claims, employees quitting, and a reduction in qualified applicants.”

U.S. Prisons Face Staff Shortages as Officers Quit Amid COVID

Associated Press reported:

Staff shortages have long been a challenge for prison agencies, given the low pay and grueling nature of the work. But the coronavirus pandemic — and its impact on the labor market — has pushed many corrections systems into crisis.

Officers are retiring and quitting in droves, while officials struggle to recruit new employees. And some prisons whose populations dropped during the pandemic have seen their numbers rise again, exacerbating the problem.

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Military Weighs Penalties for Those Who Refuse COVID Vaccine

Associated Press reported:

As deadlines loom for military and defense civilians to get mandated COVID-19 vaccines, senior leaders must now wrestle with the fate of those who flatly refuse the shots or are seeking exemptions, and how to make sure they are treated fairly and equally.

The vast majority of the active-duty force has received at least one shot, but tens of thousands have not. For some it may be a career-ending decision. Others could face transfers, travel restrictions, limits on deployments and requirements to repay bonuses.

Exemption decisions for medical, religious and administrative reasons will be made by unit commanders around the world, on what the Pentagon says will be a “case-by-case” basis.

Texas AG Ken Paxton Sues Biden Administration Over Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors

The Dallas Morning News reported:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration over an executive order that mandates vaccines for federal contractors, condemning the directive as “a dramatic infringement upon individual liberties, principles of federalism and separation of powers, and the rule of law.”

The lawsuit seeks to stop enforcement of the mandate, which Biden announced in September. Under the order, companies that contract with the federal government must require their employees to get vaccinated by Dec. 8.

Pushback Against Biden’s IRS Bank Reporting Mandate to Continue Even if Defeated

Forbes reported:

President Joe Biden’s proposal to empower the IRS to snoop on nearly every American bank account by requiring banks and credit unions to automatically provide the agency with information on account inflows and outflows, appears as though it may be dead, or at least on life support.

That’s because the latest framework for the Build Back Better bill has jettisoned the IRS reporting requirement, which triggered high-profile and bipartisan backlash.

COVID Vaccine Mandate Approaches With Pushback From Federal Border Authorities

WWLP News 22 reported:

On Nov. 22, all federal employees, including the men and women who protect the border, must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus under an executive order in President Joe Biden’s “Path Out of the Pandemic” COVID-19 Action Plan.

The executive order has come under fire, with lawmakers publicly opposing the mandate on behalf of agents from the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

An ‘Eraser Button’? Focused Ideas Could Help Bridle Big Tech

Associated Press reported:

Break up Big Tech? How about shrinking the tech companies’ shield against liability in cases where the content they push to users causes harm? Or creating a new regulator to strictly oversee the industry?

So lawmakers are getting creative as they introduce a slew of bills intended to take Big Tech down a peg. One bill proposes an “eraser button” that would let parents instantly delete all personal information collected from their children or teens.

Another proposal bans specific features for kids under 16, such as video auto-play, push alerts, “like” buttons and follower counts.

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