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Boston"s vaccine mandate set to take effect despite some business objections

Boston restaurateurs and venues have had plenty of challenges in the past two years, but they’ll get another one come Saturday: enforcing the city’s new proof-of-vaccination requirement......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 14th, 2022

Trump and Republican lawmakers applaud the Supreme Court striking down Biden"s "disastrous" vaccine-or-test mandate for large private companies

The court's ruling "is a welcomed rejection of an arbitrary, aggressive, and authoritarian government," top Republicans said Thursday. Trump greets the crowd before he leaves at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on December 08, 2020 in Washington, DC.Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Top Republicans praised the Court's decision to block Biden's vaccine-or-testing mandate for large private businesses. "Biden's disastrous mandates are unconstitutional," Trump said. The court's conservative majority found the administration doesn't have congressional authorization to impose the policy. Former President Donald Trump and several Republican lawmakers on Thursday celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for large private companies."The Supreme Court has spoken, confirming what we all knew: Biden's disastrous mandates are unconstitutional," Trump said in a statement shortly after the court handed down its ruling.He went on, "Biden promised to shut down the virus, not the economy but he has failed miserably on both—and mandates would have further destroyed the economy. We are proud of the Supreme Court for not backing down. No mandates!" Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, who led a recent effort in the Senate to overturn the administration's private business mandate, told Insider at the Capitol on Thursday that he was "jumping up and down" as a result of the court's decision."That's a great result. I was hoping for it, I wish it hadn't taken this long to come down," said Braun. "That's great news."Braun also referenced recent comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical advisor and the nation's top infectious-disease expert, who said that the Omicron variant "will ultimately find just about everybody.""We can't keep drowning in anxiety and disrupting the economy," said Braun. "Maybe we need to find another approach."President Joe Biden's vaccine rule would have required private companies with over 100 employees to have their workers vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. The policy would have covered more than 80 million workers, but included exemptions for people with religious objections and for those who don't work closely with others, such as individuals working from home. The administration estimated that if implemented, the mandate would have prevented 250,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations and saved over 6,500 lives in the next six months. But Republican states and businesses immediately challenged the mandate, claiming it amounts to government overreach.In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court's conservative majority found that Congress hasn't given the Biden administration the "power to regulate public health more broadly." The court's liberals dissented.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday slammed Biden's vaccine mandate as "an unlawful power grab."The court's ruling "is a welcomed rejection of an arbitrary, aggressive, and authoritarian government," McCarthy wrote in a joint statement with top Republicans Reps. Steve Scalise and Elise Stefanik.Still, the nation's highest court on Thursday allowed a separate Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at federally funded facilities to take effect nationwide.McCarthy denounced that decision and tweeted that Republicans will "continue to fight for our health care workers who've been on the front lines against COVID." In a statement on Thursday, Biden welcomed the Supreme Court upholding his administration's mandate for healthcare workers, but said he was "disappointed" with its ruling on the workplace requirement.The president then urged states and employers to consider requiring their workers to get vaccinated."The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as president to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans' health and economy," Biden said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

Florida Governor Calls for Special Session to Counter Vaccine and Mask Mandates

Florida Governor Calls for Special Session to Counter Vaccine and Mask Mandates By Jannis Falkenstern of The Epoch Times, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Oct. 21 called for a special legislative session to consider bills countering vaccine and mask mandates. The move follows a series of covid vaccine mandates imposed by the administration of President Joe Biden. This does not sit well with the Florida Governor, and he has “had enough” of federal interference into state business, Christina Punshaw, Press Secretary told the Epoch Times. The legislative proposals include the provision of reemployment assistance to people who are fired due to failure to comply with an employer’s vaccine mandate. Under another proposal, Floridians who have an adverse reaction to a vaccine would be eligible for workers’ compensation. Employers who fire workers solely based on the vaccine mandate would be prohibited from enforcing non-compete agreements against the employees, according to another proposal. Another provision would require employers to provide and religious and health exemptions to vaccine mandates. Meanwhile, companies that fail to notify employees about the exemptions would be liable to lawsuits by fired employees. President Joe Biden last month ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a rule to require all private employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccines or require them to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The rule could affect nearly 80 million workers according to administration officials. Businesses could face fines up to $14,000 per violation. Although the rule is not yet in effect, a large number of private companies have mandated vaccines for their employees in anticipation of the rule. According to Charlotte County attorney Charles Heekin, the Florida legislature could tackle the vaccine mandate issue by building on the right-to-work protection in Florida’s Constitution. Florida is an at-will employment state. Employers can fire, demote, hire, promote and discipline employees for almost any reason, or no reason at all. As a result, the strongest recourse for private company vaccine mandates is through legislative action. In April, DeSantis signed an executive order banning vaccine passports in the Sunshine State. In May, he signed a bill into law codifying the ban. The law (pdf) prohibits businesses from requiring customers to prove their vaccination status. It also prohibits government entities in Florida from issuing such documents. “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision,” DeSantis said in May before he signed the bill into law. Republicans in Texas, Wyoming, and Nebraska are considering statewide laws against vaccine mandates. A special session in Texas wrapped up without a vote on a bill countering the vaccine mandate backed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Lawmakers in Wyoming will hold a special session next week to consider bills to counter vaccine mandates. In Nebraska, Republicans need more votes to trigger a special session to consider similar bills. In a news release, the senators say there is a “growing concern that employers will require their employees to choose between their jobs or being vaccinated without regard to their good faith personal objections.” Tyler Durden Thu, 10/21/2021 - 15:02.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 21st, 2021

Could This Be A Blow-Off Top For Tyranny?

Could This Be A Blow-Off Top For Tyranny? Submitted by Mark Jeftovic of Bombthrower.com Could This be a Blow-Off Top for Tyranny? King John’s military failure at the Battle of Bouvines triggered the barons’ revolt, but the roots of their discontent lay much deeper. King John ruled England in a ruthless manner at a time when the instruments of government and the practices of the courts were becoming consolidated. Eventually the barons could no longer abide the unpredictable ruling style of their kings. Their discontent came to a head during John’s reign. — Magna Carta, Muse and Mentor   There was a lot of defeatism evident in the comments on my recent series of posts, Why the West can’t ban Bitcoin, How we know Bitcoin is a force for good and No-Coiners don’t get that it’s not up to the government.  The overall timbre being that governments are all-powerful and that they will simply ban or outlaw emergent phenomenon that doesn’t suit their purposes. For awhile this was also my concern. When I wrote Domestic Terror is a Government Without Constraints it was motivated from a place of angst and hopelessness. However as we’ve all been watching events unfold, my mindset around this has been shifting. I have been coming across instance after instance of historical accounts on how seemingly unassailable and despotic regimes were swept away in mere moments of time, when it was least expected, when they seemed to be at the height of their power and poised to consolidate it even more. It is in these inflection points where nobody is aware of their existence, a grain of sand shifts somewhere and suddenly a geopolitical Minsky Moment ensues. Then it’s all over: The fall of the 300-year old Romanov dynasty and 800 year line of Tsars in a weekend over 1917 a few months after an obscure prince named Felix Yusopov murdered a peasant scoundrel named Rasputin The collapse of the Soviet Eastern Bloc in 1989 after gateway between Austria and Hungary was opened one weekend during a Pan-European picnic. It led to the collapse of the USSR after a failed hardliner coup in 1991. In 1945, the government of Haiti was overthrown in an uprising three days after the French writer and revolutionary Andre Breton gave a speech on Surrealism in Port-Au-Prince. Back in the days of William Buckler’s The Privateer newsletter, there was another, lesser known but just good newsletter by Mark Rostenko called The Sovereign Strategist (I have to admit modelling The Crypto Capitalist on both). Rostenko once wrote: “Nothing is bigger than the market. Nothing.” Rostenko quit in disgust and moved to the wilderness, I had brief communications with him over the years including this interview on my old blog. But my last couple emails to him have gone unanswered. What Rostenko may have lost faith in, for the moment, was that “the market” is really another word for The People. Every individual should be free to conduct their daily affairs in a way that serves their rational self-interest. I can hear the collectivists shrieking at that statement. To them I would simply dismiss their claims on everyone else’s autonomy by saying that when particular self-interested behaviours begin to adversely impact on the commons of everybody, then in an undistorted,  free market we would see it in rising costs or other market signals that would change the incentive structure and with it, everybody’s behaviours would adjust. Example: in a truly catastrophic global pandemic with a Black Plague, Ebola or Spanish Flu level of lethality, nobody would have be compelled to wear a mask, stay off the streets or queue up for a vaccine. In my piece that government can’t ban crypto, the naysayers converged around two objections: FDR’s gold ban of 1932 and Communist Centralist China now. FDR’s Gold Ban of 1933 This is one of those episodes in history where people simply don’t look beyond the headline. All they know that is in 1933 a series of executive orders were passed to remove the ability to hold gold privately or specify it as a payment method in contracts and they assume that was it: in a puff of edict, all privately held gold simply disappeared from the public’s hands (“checkmate, Bitcoin cultist”). Everybody is expecting one of these for a specialized area of mathematics called Bitcoin. But that isn’t what happened. In Kenneth R. Ferguson’s “Confiscation: Gold as Contraband 1933-1975” we get a more nuanced look at what the effect and implications of the gold ban were, including the haunting parallels to today’s Lockdown Society and it’s war on small business and the middle class. Our lack of insight into this era… “gives short change to the legitimate concerns of the people who were most opposed to President Roosevelt’s gold policies—farmers, blue collar workers, small business proprietors—and who believed democracy had been circumvented. Just a few years earlier, in the late 1920s, the mere thought of gold confiscation would have been inconceivable to everyone, including those who later supported it.” The gold ban came after FDR and the Democrats ran a campaign premised on a balanced budget and reduced government spending (yes, really). By the time he came into office the Great Depression was in full swing, the S&P had come off 80% from its 1929 high, unemployment was at 25%. England was forced to abandon its gold standard in 1931 and 25 other countries followed suit within the year. The newly elected president came into office facing a wave of  bank runs and took over the entire financial sector on his second day in office, “emergency executive control over all banking and currency transactions.” FDR blamed gold hoarding for the nation’s banking crisis, however: He failed to explain hoarding as a way of protecting a life savings in the face of frequent and increasing bank insolvency coupled with no depositor insurance, or to identify speculative activity abroad as foreigners exchanging their dollar assets for gold in anticipation of dollar devaluation. Most people would understand these choices as rational, but Roosevelt labeled them “unwarranted” and “speculative” in an emotional appeal to wrongdoing. The emphasis is added, because it highlights our main assertion: at some point rational self-interest creates an environment that incentivizes certain behaviours in spite of those that the government is attempting to induce. In fact, the harder the government may try to impose behaviours that are against the rabble’s own interests, the more vigorously they may adapt the discouraged behaviour  (also see: Bitcoin). FDR’s administration escalated the war on savers by ratcheting up the restrictions against gold: “The gold policies of President Roosevelt over a ten-month period provided a classic example of a political slippery slope. On April 5, the President declared “hoarding” to be illegal, and on August 28 the crime was elevated to “holding.” On December 28, 1933, the Secretary of the Treasury finalized the mandate by “requiring the delivery of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates to the Treasurer of the United States” (that is, from the theoretically-temporary hands of the banks into the more permanent possession of the government itself.) This is the definition of confiscation; it merely took ten months to be so stated.” Ferguson’s book does a masterful job detailing the machinations of this chapter in US and economic history, in details far exceeding my available bandwidth here. So what actually did happen? Compliance turned out to be low: it was estimated that $287 million USD of gold was in the public hands at the time of the ban. This excludes gold already exported out of the country by those who saw it coming (Canada was a favourite destination and waypoint) and the wealthy who were speculating against a USD currency devaluation using gold held offshore. Of that remaining stash in US public hands, compliance was estimated to be less than 50% by some tallies. The total face value of all gold coinage surrendered between 1933 and 1965 was less than $12 million USD, or approximately 4% of outstanding gold coinage. China’s Bitcoin Ban From my latest Crypto Capitalist letter, I cover the general situation in China: China’s crypto ban is actually less about crypto and more about state control over everything. There are rumours that China will soon break up Alipay, the overarching pattern is that China perceives Big Tech and decentralized tech as threats to the CCP hegemony, and they are moving to crush all opposition. Only by moving to outlaw entire industries, especially the ones poised to inherit the future, China may be repeating the same error that made over 500 years ago, when they ceded passage over the open seas to Europe, who went on to shape the trajectory of the world while China atrophied into centuries of internal strife and conflict: “More than five centuries ago, three ancient civilizations made three crucial decisions that largely preordained their subsequent collapse. As always, during periods of stress, these choices were not perceived as either critical or damaging. Indeed on the contrary, they were viewed positively as constructive responses to the contemporary problems that helped to strengthen their respective societies. In a matter of several decades between 1433 and 1485, China, Russia and the Ottomans independently decided that interactions with foreigners, trade, innovation, civil and property rights, education, and freedom to exchange views were contrary to the interests of the state and social cohesion” — Victor Shvets, The Great Rupture Is China making the same mistake now? We can already see that an outright ban on Bitcoin and crypto-currencies in China has had no effect on them globally. Zero. Think about that. Also note that reminiscent of how gold was exported from the US ahead of the gold ban in 1932 (not because anybody saw the ban coming per se, but because a devaluation of the USD was seen as likely), the largest Chinese crypto exchanges have been exiting China since 2017. Binance is still operating full-tilt having moved their HQ from Hong Kong to Bahamas, which is quite literally a page from The Sovereign Individual playbook – moving from a jurisdiction hostile to your interests to one accommodating to them.  Binance has its own exchange token (BNB) which at a $64B market cap makes it the 5th largest crypto currency in the world, and a Layer 1 blockchain (Binance Smartchain) that currently has a little under $20B TVL in DeFi, which definitely puts it somewhere on the Network State / Crypto-clave spectrum. Something similar happened with Chinese miners, who are moving to the West or other Asian jurisdictions. Interestingly, most of the crypto entities that arose there and then fled, came up in Hong Kong, which has had a taste of free market capitalism until the big rug pull in that respect in recent years. In mainland China itself, they’ve always been living under totalitarianism and the population is inculcated to it. But even there, how long can the Chinese people, catching glimpses through the Great Firewall of far  more marginally freer people, especially those in Hong Kong, abide by tyranny? How long can that centralized, top-down repression truly continue for? Life in liberal democracies is traditionally supposed to be anything goes except that which is expressly illegal. But we’ve had two years of rule by edict and that which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. How long can this continue for? On a local level, some restaurants in Toronto are deciding not to enforce vax mandates. The longer the mandates continue, I expect more restaurants to begin eschewing them, because their economic self-interest is served by doing so. Even fully vaxxed people are curbing their outings because dinner and a movie feels more like internment into a gulag than a family night out. Venues that help people regain that sense of normalcy and comfort will attract the business, not the ones who force you to show “your papers please” on the way in. In Australia, the peasants are revolting, and even if the civil aviation authority is trying to ban drones from capturing the footage of these occurrences, they are still occurring and footage is getting out nonetheless. Varying US states ruling against vaccine and mask mandates, people are setting up job boards for those who aren’t vaxxed (or those who are but don’t want to work for companies that require it). The transportation system is grinding to a halt as air traffic controllers, air crew and pilots are calling in sick, resulting in mass flight cancelations, who knows where it will spread next. Why? The MSM is trying hard not to find out, but guys like Ron Paul suspect vaccine mandates. Right now we’re in civil disobedience, nullification and secessionist territory, but when I think about escalation: as the financial crisis that seemed imminent before COVID seems to be edging back into the frame (inflation, energy costs, supply chain constraints, cascading debt collapses: Evergrande and now the entire Chinese bond market) governments who seized on the COVID opportunity to introduce emergency measures may see a need for doubling down. After chasing the goalposts for almost two years now, I’m not sure the rabble is going to take it much longer. And if it doesn’t, what would that mean? #WorldWarWe In a recent podcast I was listening to (I think it was Sahill Bloom on Bankless, but it’s possible I’m misremembering and I’m sorry if so), he said something almost off-handedly: He said, in effect, “the next world war will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen” – and I expected him to talk about non-conventional warfare, such as bio-weapons, information warfare, and economics (“war by other means”), but instead he said “World War III will be everybody against their own governments” When you think about it, one realizes that today’s technology, with decentralization, cryptography, 3-D printing and drones could actually make this a possibility. In David Hambling’s Swarm Troopers: How Small Drones Can Conquer the World, he outlines how governments, whose military used to have technologies 20 years ahead of the general populace, have become so bureaucratized and sclerotic that they now move at a fraction of the pace of the highly competitive private sector: “If a commercial product goes through a generation every two years and the military cycle takes six years per generation, then in twelve years the military product goes from being four times as powerful as the competition to a quarter as powerful.” An example of this dynamic we can already see having played out is the Internet, which came out of the military industrial complex and in its day, was light-years ahead of anything the general public had (Compuserve, GEnie). But the “genie” did indeed get out of the bottle, and once the private sector got onto it and ran with it, it changed the fundamental architecture of power. The groundwork was laid for the evolution of societies in ways that would challenge, and will inevitably overwhelm the nation states that let it out. Say hello to the Network State and crypto claves. So now that we’re here in The Jackpot, do we honestly believe that the slowest, most bureaucratic, rigid an inflexible entities (governments) are actually going to win the race for primacy in a rapidly decentralizing world? When the gargantuan imbalances they created over the last century finally experience their all-encompassing, self-induced Global Minsky Moment? It was under FDR’s gold ban that dissenting Supreme Court Justice McReynolds ruminated that it meant the demise of the US Constitution: It is impossible to fully estimate the result of what has been done. The Constitution as many of us have understood it, the instrument that has meant so much to us, is gone. The guarantees heretofore supposed to protect against arbitrary action have been swept away. The powers of Congress have been so enlarged that now no man can tell their limitations. Guarantees heretofore supposed to prevent arbitrary action are in the discard… Shame and humiliation are upon us now. Moral and financial chaos may confidently be expected. While in those days the ban on gold was ineffective and compliance less than half, it did succeed in stripping the US citizenry of constitutional protections which has only escalated into the present day. We have all been treating what happened under COVID as something unprecedented. But if you think of Lockdown Society and The New Normal not as the implementation of a quasi-one-world government , ushering in a global police state, but instead as the crescendo, of a roughly century long process of creeping tyranny…. one of those infamous blow-off tops that are unrecognizable to us now because we are immersed in it, still experiencing it. Despite the overwhelming arsenals of governments, the militarization of civilian police forces, and near ubiquitous surveillance capabilities, there’s never been a time in history when the people have the means to rebel, both within the system and without. Especially here in North America, where to avoid retyping all this, allow me to simply excerpt a passage from the most recent edition of The Crypto Capitalist letter…. “The Future of Life Institute made docudrama short-film called “Slaughterbots”, it’s 7 minutes long and nothing short of chilling, but we’d be fools to think that if technology has this capability already, it won’t be used. By somebody: Mexican cartels are already using drones to smuggle drugs, not to mention weaponized drones in combat with each other and on at least one occasion used them to attack the police. It’s still under-appreciated how significant a change this is. On par with the gunpowder revolution and aerial warfare, autonomous weapons and drones are yet another technology in the process of changing the rules of the game. This brings us to the important part: we can already see that these technologies won’t just change the nature of conflict between governments. Drones are also accessible to non-state actors, perhaps even more-so. They will alter the relationship of power across society as a whole. When also you factor in their close cousin, 3-D printed weapons, we really begin to understand what a fundamental shift in the landscape decentralization and digital technology really implies. One of the defining characteristics that makes America, and certain other countries so different from, say, China, or even Australia, is the level to which the citizenry is armed. Especially in North America. The US and Mexico are two of the only three countries in world where gun ownership is a Constitutional right (the third is Guatemala) while even here in Canada, where it isn’t, we have one of the higher per-capita levels of gun ownership (somewhere around 34 guns per 100 people). Imagine a future in which all these gun owners have the capability and incentives to print up their own weapons on 3- D printers. Then deploying them via drones, possibly swarms of them, for whatever purpose. There is no technological barrier from them doing so, and doing so right now. What scenarios or conditions would have to exist to galvanize that kind of behaviour en masse? How close are we to those conditions now? Are we moving toward those conditions or away from them? Most importantly, do you think whoever is in government could stop it? If you consider this, then we can get a sense of why governments and policymakers are so eager to assert their authority now and to appear to be unassailable and omnipotent. I think it’s fear.” To be clear: I am not advocating an armed rebellion against incumbent governments. I’m observing how decentralization and cryptography have changed the architecture of power and asking what kind of incentives would have to be in place to make what I describe inevitable. The Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movements were the second half of the one-two punch that set all this in motion. The Internet freed the flow of information, and in a world where “whosoever controls the monetary system, controls society (Zarlenga)”, cryptos have taken the punch-bowl of monetary control away from the State in a truly Promethean manner, and open-sourced it. Who controls money now? Everybody. There is a point beyond which the citizenry will stop viewing each other as enemies (left vs right) and start viewing their own governments as the enemy (overlords vs rabble). If that happens, then the incentives and conditions will be in place for #WorldWarWe. Coda: As per the comment from Matt below, I am deeply saddened to learn that Mark Rostenko passed away July 26, 2020. We never met, but I considered him an internet friend and I respected him a lot. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

I tried the bus startup using luxury coaches with motion-canceling seats on a trip from NYC to DC and it was one of the most comfortable travel experience I"ve had

The plush seating, free snacks and booze, attentive attendant, and fast WiFi made traveling on the Jet an absolute joy. The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/Insider I tried the Jet, a luxury bus startup that travels between New York City and Washington DC. Tickets start at $99, which is more expensive than a comparable Amtrak ticket or a ride on a budget bus service.  The snacks, drinks, kind attendant, and comfortable motion-canceling seating made my carsickness worth it. I took a luxury bus service from New York City to Washington DC for $99, and it was one of the plushest travel experiences I've ever had.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderI've never had a pleasant intercity bus experience (until now), but the complimentary snacks and beverages, fast WiFi, and motion-canceling seats made the ride enjoyable and comfortable.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderThat is until I got carsick. But more on that later.The seats at the front of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderI, like many other travelers in the US, do not have fond memories of sitting in intercity buses like Greyhound or Megabus.A Greyhound bus in Texas in 2021.Jose Luis Gonzalez/ReutersEnter the Jet, a luxury bus startup looking to provide another option different from those sometimes-uncomfortable budget bus experiences.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderUnlike the classic Flixbus or Greyhound, the Jet has comfortable seats, in-ride treats, and fast Wifi, among other bonuses. It's more expensive, but the company is betting riders who can afford to will pay for the luxury and exclusivity.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderChad Scarborough, the Jet's founder and CEO, predicts the company's passengers are the top one to 2% of bus riders, or "people who want a nicer option" but don't want to pay for an Amtrak, he said the first time I toured one of its buses in late 2021.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe startup isn't a new concept: Luxury coaches like Vonlane have fared well in other markets, Scarborough noted.The back of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut unlike Vonlane, which operates primarily in Texas, the Jet targets two cities with low car ownership: New York and Washington, DC.A view out the windows while we were still in Manhattan.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Titlemax Tripperbus, which also calls itself a "first-class bus service," runs a similar route from Arlington, Virginia, and Bethesda, Maryland to New York City.Rachel Mendelson/InsiderSource: Tripperbus But the Jet drops off and picks up its passengers right in the heart of DC at Metro Center, about a 10-minute walk to the White House.The White House south facade, in Washington, D.C.Raymond Boyd/Getty ImagesOn January 7, the morning after New York's first snow in the new year, I decided to take a ride on the Jet for a roughly five-hour ride from New York City to Washington, DC to test its offering.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe Jet only has two departure times from New York: 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. I booked the former hoping to get some work done on my Friday afternoon ride.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe Jet departs from Hudson Yards. This outdoor departure away from any terminal means I didn't have to navigate the large, often busy corridors of an indoor station. It also means passengers board from the curb, just like discount carrier Megabus.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe 45-foot-long black coach with "THE JET" embossed on side told me I was in the right place. I arrived earlier, so I had plenty of time to pick up breakfast before checking in with the bus attendant, who operates like a flight attendant.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderI already reserved my spot on the 14-seat bus so there was no need to rush onto the vehicle in hopes of getting a prime seat or space in the luggage compartment.My messy seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd the rows of seats are six feet apart as per COVID-19 protocols, providing ample legroom and space for my bags.The back of the bus.Brittany Chang/Insider"We've had some people tell us [this] feels safer than taking a train or a plane because there's so few people," Scarborough said in 2021.The bathroom.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd I agree. Besides me, there were only nine other people on the bus including the driver and attendant. Everyone was required to mask up unless they were eating or drinking.Snacks on the Jet.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere's also a UV filtration system that sanitizes the air every 10 minutes, according to the company.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderOther than the person sitting next to me (who I live with) everyone felt distanced from my seat, making the Jet feel safer than any plane ride I've been on during COVID-19. And unlike planes, the Jet is also now enforcing a vaccine mandate.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe pre-booked seats, ample spacing, and warm attendant made for one of the safest-seeming and most relaxing boarding experiences I've ever had on any mode of transportation.Inside the Jet.Brittany Chang/InsiderAll I had to do was get on the bus, throw my bags on the floor in front of me, confirm my seat with the friendly attendant, and I was all good to go.My messy seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderThroughout the bus ride, the attendant checked on the passengers and offered us a selection of complimentary snacks, water, wine, beer, coffee, and soda. And at the end of the bus ride, she collected our trash.Snacks on the Jet.Brittany Chang/InsiderI don't drink soda, and I passed on the free booze (I was, after all, still working), but just having these options made the Jet feel more luxurious than an economy seat on a plane.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderWe were offered The Jet-branded blankets to use during the bus ride, but I was already bundled in a thick sweater, so I passed.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere's also a bathroom at the rear of the bus next to the attendant's galley. The clean bathroom — although smaller than Amtrak's — had the basics: a toilet, sink, mirror, and hand sanitizer.The bathroom.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut because it was freezing the night before, the bathroom pipes were frozen, putting the porcelain throne out of commission for the first half of the ride.The bathroom.Brittany Chang/InsiderLuckily our driver scheduled a quick bathroom stop halfway through the journey, which was perfect for a quick stretch.The Jet on a cold January morning during out bathroom stop.Brittany Chang/InsiderSnacks and a clean bathroom are great, but the Jet has an even stronger standout feature that sets it apart from any other luxury bus competitor or mode of travel: the motion-canceling "hoverseats."Inside the Jet.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: Insider These seats are the Jet's pièce de résistance and its biggest draw.A reclined seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe seats use a suspension technology developed by Bose to block 90% of the bus ride's uncomfortable bumps and movements.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe tech can be more commonly found in the long-haul truck industry, making the Jet the "world's first" bus with motion-canceling seats, according to the company.Buttons to adjust the seating.Brittany Chang/InsiderSource: The Jet These seats made road traveling feel more like flying, but better.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe gel and memory foam seats are 22-inches wide and plusher than my couch at home.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhen my seat was fully reclined 45-degrees, I could have comfortably fallen asleep.A reclined seat.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd because there's six feet between each row, I didn't have to worry about reclining too far.The seats at the front of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderLuckily, the seats' armrests have a built-in tray table, allowing me to lay back while tapping away on my laptop.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut unfortunately, I had to work, and couldn't take the nap I so longed for.Working on the Jet.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe coaches are equipped with the same WiFi used on Google and Facebook's employee shuttles, Scarborough previously explained.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe WiFi was no joke. It was reliable and the fastest I've ever used on a mode of transportation.The galley.Brittany Chang/InsiderAlmost every passenger was pattering away on their laptops during the bus ride, but I never encountered disruptions with the network, even when I was streaming music and videos.Inside the Jet.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe seats also have outlets that kept my laptop running throughout the entire journey.Working on the Jet.Brittany Chang/InsiderSo far so good, until around two hours into the ride. That's when I hit my first metaphorical bump in the road.The bathroom.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe motion-canceling seats did a great job of blocking the smaller bumps, but I could still feel the rocking motion of the bus. This was expected and would have otherwise been fine if I hadn't been staring at my laptop.The seats.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe longer I stared at the screen, the harder it became to read smaller blocks of text, a side effect that brought me back to my concussion four months ago.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe longer I worked, the worse my carsickness-induced nausea — a familiar feeling from stop-and-go traffic but never from long bus rides — became.The bathroom.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe headache, woozy uneasiness, and churning stomach made the remaining almost two hours more difficult to kill.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut when I looked around, most other passengers were still on their laptops and phones, a sign that nobody else was feeling as sick as I was.A view out the windows while we were still in Manhattan.Brittany Chang/InsiderFinally, after about five hours on the road, we arrived in DC at around 4 p.m. I quickly gathered my belongings, said my thank yous, and ran out to get some fresh air.The seats at the front of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut honestly, despite my carsickness, the Jet was the most comfortable intercity travel experience I've ever had (noting that I've never used a luxury bus service before).The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderBoarding and departing the bus in an uncrowded outdoor area was an underrated luxury.The Jet on a cold January morning.Brittany Chang/InsiderIt seems like I'm not alone in enjoying the Jet.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderIn December, the startup averaged at above 70% ridership, peaking at 86% during the week of Thanksgiving, Scarborough told Insider in a statement.The bathroom.Brittany Chang/InsiderJanuary has been "slower" at around 40% ridership ahead of a mid-month weekend, but this is still above the company's initial projections.The bathroom.Brittany Chang/InsiderScarborough believes the Jet is "well-positioned" for the spring and summer travel boom.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe Jet ranges from almost $100 to up to almost $150. As of January 14, tickets for an 11 a.m. departure on Friday, January 28 start at $99.The galley at the rear of the bus.Brittany Chang/InsiderA business class ticket for Amtrak's Acela departing at 11 a.m. starts at $90, while a coach ticket for the 11:35 a.m. Northeast Regional sits at almost $50. It's also worth noting that an Amtrak on the same route is about one-and-a-half to two hours faster and won't have to stop for traffic or bathroom breaks.An Amtrak train pulls out of Union Station on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesSource: Amtrak Meanwhile, the cheapest 11:00 a.m. bus ticket (Flixbus) on the same day is a mere $18, making it about one-fifth as costly as a ticket for The Jet.A FlixBus at Nice International Airport in 2019.Eric Gaillard/ReutersSource: Wanderu If you're looking for luxury, the Jet may be your best choice. Though it's slower and more expensive, there's no arguing it's the most comfortable option.The galley.Brittany Chang/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

Biden has urged employers to "do the right thing" and enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates after losing his Supreme Court case

In a blow to President Biden, the US Supreme Court on Thursday blocked his administration's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for private employers. The Biden administration's vaccine mandate would have covered around 80 million Americans.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images President Joe Biden has urged employers to impose their own COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandates. He spoke after the Supreme Court blocked his administration's vaccine-or-testing mandate. Biden said he was "disappointed" with the ruling and urged employers to "do the right thing." President Joe Biden has urged employers to "do the right thing" and ensure their staff get COVID-19 shots, after the US Supreme Court blocked his administration's vaccine-or-testing mandate Thursday.Biden said in a statement that he was "disappointed" by the ruling and that it was now up to states and employers to choose whether to make workplaces "as safe as possible" by mandating vaccines or testing.He said Thursday: "The court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as president to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans' health and economy."He added: "I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities."The mandate would have applied to private businesses with more than 100 employees – covering around 80 million Americans in total – and would have required staff who refused vaccinations to instead get tested once a week and wear a mask at work, with exemptions for religious reasons.Companies including Citigroup, Uber, and Google have already introduced their own vaccine mandates, with some making the shots a condition for corporate staff to return to the office, and others saying they'll fire unvaccinated workers.Though the Supreme Court blocked the private employer vaccination mandate, it allowed a separate vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at federally-funded facilities to take effect.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 14th, 2022

Court Blocks Biden’s War On Covid – Now He Can’t Keep Doing Nothing

Court Blocks Biden‘s War on Covid – Now He Can’t Keep Doing Nothing; A Vaccination-To-Fly Rule Avoids Legal Problems – And Enjoys 95% Support Q4 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Court Blocks Biden’s War On Covid WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2022) – The U.S. Supreme Court has just blocked, indefinitely if not permanently, […] Court Blocks Biden‘s War on Covid – Now He Can’t Keep Doing Nothing; A Vaccination-To-Fly Rule Avoids Legal Problems – And Enjoys 95% Support if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q4 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Court Blocks Biden's War On Covid WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2022) - The U.S. Supreme Court has just blocked, indefinitely if not permanently, President Joe Biden's most powerful weapon for protecting Americans from Covid; an OSHA rule which mandates that large companies require their over 84 million employees to be vaccinated or undergo frequent and expensive tests. In light of this devastating and most recent court defeat, widespread and growing public dissatisfaction with Biden's handling of the pandemic generally and with his CDC more specifically, and this ever growing and most recent surge in new Covid cases, hospitalizations, and employee absences, Biden can't continue to do nothing - nothing but begging people to be vaccinated which obviously isn't working, or pledging to provide more tests which likewise would not slow the disease, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf. With the failure of this key program to get more Americans vaccinated, which is the only way to actually effectively fight the pandemic, Biden should look to other countries which require vaccinations to do many things and go many places. He should especially consider issuing a new rule in an area where he has the clear legal authority to act, and where there is clear precedent in similar rules adopted successfully by both Canada and France; rule requiring airline passengers to be vaccinated, argues Banzhaf, whose prior suggestions for fighting the pandemic are now in effect. Biden should - as the only effective and logical backup plan, and to fulfill his promise to use all the executive powers he has to protect the public - consider a rule which largely avoids the many legal issues which his other rules have raised; a requirement which has worked well without problems in at least two countries, and is much less intrusive than vaccine requirements now in effect in many U.S. cities and many dozens of foreign countries, the professor argues. Banzhaf suggests a rule, supported by Dr. Anthony Fauci and by many other experts, as well as overwhelmingly by the public, requiring adult airline passengers to be vaccinated, or to provide proof of a recent negative COVID test. Such a rule would provide very substantial additional protection for all airline passengers, especially from the added threat of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, while also creating a very strong and much needed incentive for millions more Americans to become vaccinated. Vaccine Mandate Challengers to the large-business vaccine-or-test mandate argued persuasively that it went far beyond OSHA's authority over sudden emergency grave dangers in the workplace, and was primarily adopted only to pressure about two-thirds of the private sector to get vaccinated so as to reduce risks largely occurring beyond workplaces. But a federal agency which has required passengers to wear cloth masks while flying - which even the CDC now agrees are largely ineffective, especially against the Omicron variant - in order to protect other passengers from becoming infected with Covid can certainly adopt a vaccination requirement which many experts say would provide much greater real-world protection for the same at-risk population from exactly the same danger, suggests Banzhaf. Indeed, an agency which has adopted without significant challenge now-well-accepted rules requiring airline passengers to wear masks, and to refrain from smoking for lengthy periods or from consuming their own alcoholic beverages, and also requiring them to provide government issued photo identification, not carry many arguably dangerous items with them, subject themselves to intrusive inspections, and to obey all crew instructions or face prison, can certainly also require vaccinations, the law professor argues. Unlike the OSHA “ultimate work-around” - White House chief of staff’s Ronald Klain’s characterization of the OSHA rule which Chief Justice John Roberts seized upon during oral arguments - the federal government has been regulating the conduct of airline passengers to protect other flyers from airborne medical risks since the early 1970s, notes Banzhaf, who was primarily responsible for the rules restricting and then banning smoking aboard passenger aircraft. Other regulations - e.g., requiring masks to be worn, banning many arguably dangerous objects because they might be used as weapons, prohibiting consumption of personal alcohol beverages, limiting "lascivious" behavior aboard aircraft, and mandating compliance with all crew instructions upon pain of imprisonment - make it even clearer that adopting rules that airline passengers much follow to protect fellow flyers is a central focus of the agency, not an unintended "work-around" suddenly dreamed up by the Biden administration to get around a Congress reluctant to act. Such a rule would also fall squarely within the federal government's authority to regulate interstate commerce, would not intrude upon what many might see as the prerogatives of individual states, and would be far less intrusive than the OSHA and HHS rules which threaten the very employment of most Americans, and which therefor cannot be avoided or circumvented by those opposed to being vaccinated. Requiring Vaccination To Fly In contrast, most American can choose not to fly, just as many may now choose not to go to venues which require proof of vaccination to enter, such as colleges and universities, sports and entertainment venues, and even restaurants. Moreover, the adoption of a shot-to-fly rule would now be more than justified, legally as well as in public opinion, by the greatly increased risk posed to airline passengers the highly contagious Omicron variant. Indeed, since this greatly increased risk is just beginning to be recognized by medical experts, it provides a more than sufficient legal justification to issue additional protections for airline passengers (e.g. better masks and vaccinations) on an emergency basis, says the law professor. While requiring all but the youngest passengers to be fully vaccinated would provide the greatest protection to other flyers, such a rule could do one or more of the following if necessary to reduce public opposition, the professor suggests: Apply the rule only to adults, thereby exempting older children eligible to be vaccinated, but who fly less frequently and among whom vaccination rates are much lower than with adults. Provide, at least initially, that passengers need to have received only one shot - thereby permitting them to be eligible to fly quickly in the event or an emergency or for other sudden need. Treat passengers who have recovered from Covid the same as those who have been vaccinated - as dozens of European and other countries already do in enforcing their often-even-more-intrusive vaccination requirements. Banzhaf notes that Canada and France have long required airline passengers to be vaccinated even on domestic flights, and that proof of a recent and expensive negative Covid test is required on most international flights. Since airlines and the TSA already store large amounts of information about passengers, and based upon experience with Canada's and France's airline passenger vaccination requirements, experts have debunked the argument that requiring a showing of vaccination status would unduly delay flights or be unreasonably burdensome, Banzhaf maintains. Especially since Fauci has added to his support to the growing demands for a vaccination-to-fly rule, many other experts, as well as dozens of editorials, have called for the same requirement. For example, the Boston Globe recently argued: "It’s time to require vaccinations for domestic flights. If proof of vaccination will soon be required in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in Boston (as it already is in other cities), why not airplanes?" Banzhaf adds that such a rule was supported by about 95% of respondents in a recent survey. Updated on Jan 13, 2022, 3:57 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJan 13th, 2022

Supreme Court blocks Biden"s vaccine-or-testing mandate for 80 million workers, allows vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at federally funded facilities

Republican officials and a coalition of businesses had legally challenged Biden's mandates, claiming government overreach. The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen at sunset in Washington on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images The Supreme Court blocked a Biden administration vaccine-or-testing mandate for private businesses with over 100 employees. The court allowed a separate Biden administration vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at federally funded facilities to take effect. Biden announced the two mandates last fall.  The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for private companies with over 100 employees, delivering a win to Republican challengers who claimed the requirement was an overreach of the federal government's power.But the nation's highest court allowed another Biden administration vaccine requirement for healthcare workers at federally funded facilities to take effect across the US.The decision for the workplace rule was 6-3, with the court's liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, in dissent. The court's conservative majority wrote in an unsigned opinion that the Biden administration likely did not have the authority to impose the policy. The vote for the healthcare workers mandate was 5-4, with two of the court's conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joining the liberals. "Vaccination requirements are a common feature of the provision of healthcare in America: Healthcare workers around the country are ordinarily required to be vaccinated for diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza, and measles, mumps, and rubella," the court's majority wrote in its opinion.The pair of decisions came less than a week after the Supreme Court heard lengthy arguments on both vaccine mandates announced by the Biden administration last fall.President Joe Biden rolled out the two rules that covered nearly 100 million workers nationwide in a bid to increase the US's COVID-19 vaccination rate and keep workplaces open. But a slew of Republican officials and business groups swiftly brought forth legal challenges, arguing that the requirements represent government overreach and could instead negatively harm businesses and staffing levels. The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the mandate to private businesses with over 100 employees in November, requiring workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. The rule applied to roughly 84 million workers and allowed religious exemptions. The administration estimated that the policy would have prevented nearly 250,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations and saved over 6,500 lives over the next six months.A lower court initially blocked the mandate, but then another court reversed its ruling. Parts of the mandate took effect on Monday while the Supreme Court decision was pending. The Supreme Court's Thursday decisions throw out a major chunk of the Biden administration's coronavirus pandemic response, but leaves some of it intact by allowing the enforcement of the healthcare workers mandate. That rule is issued by the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and also allows room for religious exemptions. These rulings come as the US experiences a surge in coronavirus infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. The current 7-day daily average of hospitalizations is 16,458, a 60% increase from the prior week, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

Supreme Court To Take Up Challenges To Biden"s Vaccine Mandates

Supreme Court To Take Up Challenges To Biden's Vaccine Mandates Authored by Isabel van Brugen via The Epoch Times, The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on challenges to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In an announcement on Wednesday (pdf), the nation’s highest federal court said it would on Jan. 7 take up two separate disputes challenging the Biden administration’s mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees, and for some 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving Medicaid and Medicare funding. The court, which has a 6-3 conservative-leaning majority, delayed action on emergency requests in both cases that sought an immediate decision. The workplace mandate is currently in effect nationwide, while the health care worker mandate is blocked in half of the 50 U.S. states. The mandate for health care workers was issued last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and affects roughly 17 million workers. It requires facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding to require workers to get vaccinated, and has no testing opt-out. The deadline for meeting the mandate is Jan. 4, 2022. However, OSHA said on Dec. 18 that it would not be issuing fines to businesses for noncompliance until Jan. 10. The Biden administration’s private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate, meanwhile, was promulgated by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If allowed to take effect next month, it will force every business with 100 or more employees to require proof of a negative COVID-19 test on at least a weekly basis or proof of vaccination from each worker. Companies that don’t comply would face escalating fines. The White House on Wednesday said that it is “confident in the legal authority for both policies.” “Especially as the U.S. faces the highly transmissible Omicron variant, it is critical to protect workers with vaccination requirements and testing protocols that are urgently needed,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “At a critical moment for the nation’s health, the OSHA vaccination or testing rule ensures that employers are protecting their employees and the CMS health care vaccination requirement ensures that providers are protecting their patients,” Psaki said. She added, “We are confident in the legal authority for both policies and DOJ will vigorously defend both at the Supreme Court.” The announcement comes as the Biden administration ramps up its messaging for Americans to get vaccinated and receive their booster shots. The Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus on Monday became the dominant source of new infections in the United States, accounting for roughly 73 percent of new infections nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Federal officials cited CDC figures for the week ending Dec. 18 that showed a nearly six-fold increase in Omicron’s share of infections in only one week. Infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Dec. 17 floated the idea of redefining what it means to be fully vaccinated in the United States. Currently, individuals are considered fully vaccinated after taking their second dose of a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, or after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, Fauci told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last week that a redefinition of being fully vaccinated is “on the table.” “There’s no doubt that optimum vaccination is with a booster,” he said. “Whether or not the CDC is going to change that, it certainly is on the table and open for discussion. I’m not sure exactly when that will happen. But I think people should not lose sight of the message that there’s no doubt if you want to be optimally protected, you should get your booster.” Tyler Durden Thu, 12/23/2021 - 07:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 23rd, 2021

Fauci"s Finished

Fauci's Finished Authored by James Rickards via DailyReckoning.com, In a little under an hour, Joe Biden is expected to address the nation about the new Omicron variant of the virus. An aide claims the administration is “prepared for the rising case levels” and that Biden will explain how it “will respond to this challenge.” The Omicron variant is highly contagious. Some models, along with data from Europe, suggest the number of cases could potentially double every two days. Of course, you can’t really trust models, but this variant is spreading rapidly. The good news is that it doesn’t appear to be particularly dangerous. Symptoms are generally described as those of a mild cold. But you can expect Biden to dial up the fear tomorrow. He’s probably going to try to shame the unvaccinated and warn about a “dark winter” ahead because of their refusal to take the jabs. For the fully vaccinated, he’s going to tell them to get the booster. We’ll have to see what else he has in store, but you can be sure it won’t involve telling everyone to take hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin if they start showing symptoms. Changing Goalposts It’s all about vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate! And when you’re done vaccinating, get ready for another. The goalposts are constantly changing. It was always expected that the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID vaccines would be two-dose treatments. (That’s not true of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, which was always a one-dose regimen. Janssen’s is the only vaccine that relies on a more traditional adenovirus rather than mRNA technology to instruct your cells to create the toxic spike protein.) The vaccines were initially reported to be highly effective at reducing severe symptoms and deaths. This was despite some serious side effects that have not been fully reported and are still being evaluated. The likely number of vaccine-induced deaths exceeds 20,000, based on the VAERS reporting system. We don’t know the true number because there’s no definitive evidence that the vaccine caused the death, but the spike in reported deaths since the vaccines came out is off the charts. It’s not proof of a fire, but there’s lots of smoke. Meanwhile, all of the vaccines were falsely presented to the public as preventing infection. But that was untrue. The vaccines do not prevent infection or spread of the virus. Still, public health officials went on a full-court press to achieve 100% vaccination rates regardless of side effects, religious objections, medical objections based on asthma and other conditions and regardless of the natural immunity already acquired by over 50 million Americans who have had the disease and recovered. Besides, the vaccines do not appear to be effective at preventing infections from the Omicron variant. The fully vaccinated and the boosted can still get sick. Lepers Vaccine mandates were enforced through a large number of drastic outcomes for the unvaccinated. You could lose your job; lose a government contract; be denied international travel; be discharged from the military; and be denied access to restaurants, sports venues and concerts among other activities if you did not get vaccinated. The unvaccinated were treated like lepers with the result that many got vaccinated against their better judgment solely to avoid the harsh treatment otherwise reserved for them. The only consolation was that once you were vaccinated and had your paperwork in order (and ready to present to the vax enforcers), you could go about your business when it came to work, travel or leisure. But wait, not so fast. The petty government dictators who invented these rules in the first place are now moving the goalposts. Not only do the vaccines not stop infection, but they don’t even do their job of reducing symptoms after about six months. Naturally, Dr. Anthony Fauci is saying that it’s just a matter of time before the definition of “fully vaccinated” is changed to require three shots instead of two (or two for Janssen instead of one). Boosters Forever The implications of this are enormous. It means that those who thought they had put the vaccination issue behind them will have to get in line for another shot if they want to go about their business without discrimination. The supposedly vaccinated will find themselves back in the leper colony with the unvaccinated if they don’t get the new booster. Of course, the booster will wear off after six months also. (It’s called a “booster” but it’s the same vaccine as the first shot.) And that means you will have to get boosters for the rest of your life to comply with Dr. Fauci’s dictatorship. Vaccines should be allowed as a matter of choice but vaccine mandates are mostly illegal (per recent court rulings) and counterproductive in the sense that they encourage resistance, not compliance. Though it’s not proven, mass vaccination could also be causing new variants because it forces the virus to evolve. A better strategy would likely involve targeted vaccination for the most vulnerable, with therapeutics for everyone else. That would reduce the pressure on the virus to mutate while giving natural immunity to the people who were treated early and recovered. And studies indicate natural immunity is up to 27 times more powerful than vaccine-induced immunity. Back to the Same Failed Playbook In the meantime, expect more damage to the economy as resources are wasted in a vain attempt to achieve Zero COVID. Politicians and the bureaucrats who guide them keep reaching for the same playbook, even though the plays didn’t work the first time. Mask mandates, lockdowns, school closings, vaccine mandates and other dictates did nothing to help. The evidence is clear that masks don’t work. Lockdowns turned homes into COVID incubators. The better approach was to encourage people to be outside without masks, getting exercise and fresh air. School closures deprived children of a year of education and the socialization skills that come with it. Will this end anytime soon? In some free states like Florida and New Hampshire (where I live), most of the madness has ended already. But in neo-fascist states like Michigan, Oregon and Washington, the madness continues. “Permanent… Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Permanent” For example, the state of Oregon already had a mask mandate. However, it was issued under rules that make it temporary. This means that the deadline had to be extended from time to time, which requires public notice and possibly hearings. In order to avoid these requirements, Oregon began a process to make the mask mandate permanent. When asked to explain the new policy, the medical director for communicable diseases of the Oregon Health Authority, Dr. Paul Cieslak, defended the decision by saying, “Permanent … doesn’t necessarily mean permanent.” George Orwell must be smiling somewhere at that perfect illustration of Newspeak. It’s amazing how supposedly temporary measures can become permanent. Meanwhile, Fauci was asked on a weekend talk show if we’re ever going to reach a point where we won’t need to wear masks on airplanes. Fauci replied, “I don’t think so.” So you’re always going to need to wear a mask on a plane regardless of the circumstances if Fauci has his way. Here’s another bit of madness: Three months ago an FDA advisory committee voted overwhelmingly, 16–2, against booster shots for the general public. But three months later, colleges are actually mandating boosters for the upcoming spring semester. What happened to “the science”? Americans Are Fighting Back The American people are increasingly fed up with these contradictory, destructive and non-scientific mandates from the neo-fascist bureaucrats who are mainly pursuing their own agendas. The real solution to the pandemic consists of mutations that attenuate the virus, herd immunity, better treatments, fresh air and exercise. Fauci’s dream of making everyone a vax slave will not last. His failure will require resistance by the general population. That resistance is already taking place. Fauci is conflicted, incompetent and insecure. Moving the goalposts on vaccination is making that clear to the public. He will be deposed and vaccination will be made voluntary, but not yet. In the meantime, expect the madness to continue. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/21/2021 - 13:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 21st, 2021

Supreme Court Asks Biden Admin To Respond To Flurry Of Challenges To OSHA Mandate

Supreme Court Asks Biden Admin To Respond To Flurry Of Challenges To OSHA Mandate Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), President Joe Biden’s administration was directed on Monday to reply to a flurry of fresh challenges to its private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is seen at his confirmation hearing to serve as associate justice on the Supreme Court at the Capitol in Washington, on Sept. 4, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump nominee, told administration officials to file responses to applications from faith groups, companies, and attorneys general from over half the states in the country by 4 p.m. on Dec. 30. That’s just days before the mandate’s deadline. “This case is finally where it belongs: the Supreme Court. OSHA has threatened to start punishing employers like our clients starting on January 10, and we’re grateful the court has ordered a briefing schedule that will allow for resolution of our petition before that deadline,” Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, told The Epoch Times in an email. “We’re very pleased with Justice Kavanaugh’s quick response and are confident that the court will act quickly to ensure legal predictability before the deadline,” John Bursch, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, added. Kavanaugh is dealing with the matter because the appeals court that issued the ruling that prompted the challenges is under his jurisdiction. The mandate in question was promulgated by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If allowed to take effect next month, it will force every business with 100 or more employees to get proof of a negative COVID-19 test on at least a weekly basis or proof of vaccination from each worker. Companies that don’t comply would face escalating fines. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in November entered a preliminary injunction against the mandate, questioning its constitutionality. But the case was redirected by lottery to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which on Friday dissolved the stay. OSHA said it was “gratified” by the ruling and would begin imposing the mandate on Jan. 10, 2022. The official deadline, though, is Jan. 4. The rule could be paused anew by the Supreme Court, which quickly received appeals from the Word of God Fellowship, The Heritage Foundation, Ohio’s attorney general, BST Holdings, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Absent a new stay, parties would be irreparably harmed, they argued in the filings. Institutions fear losing workers who don’t want to get a vaccine and also don’t want to get tested regularly, possibly at their own cost. “South Dakota and Florida public schools are not subject to the mandate and could attract teachers away from religious private schools,” lawyers for Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in one of the documents. Challengers say the administration is violating the state authority outlined in the U.S. Constitution and going beyond the powers Congress gave OSHA to regulate businesses. OSHA says the mandate “will protect the health of workers by mitigating the spread of the unprecedented virus in the workplace.” The agency was referring to Covid-19. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/21/2021 - 07:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 21st, 2021

OSHA Vaccine Mandate Heads To The Supreme Court

OSHA Vaccine Mandate Heads To The Supreme Court Via The Brownstone Institute, The 6th circuit Federal Court of Appeals has weighed in on the crucial mandate from OSHA that all employers with more than 100 employees must institute extreme Covid controls, while providing liberalization on the condition of vaccination. In practice, it is a vaccine mandate that covers vast numbers of workers, and it is likely to be expanded to cover everyone. The opinion was decided in OSHA’s favor, 2 to 1.  The decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court which will likely make the final judgement. As this case grinds through the court system, workers around the country are being fired, mandates are going into effect, and cities are segregating their populations based on their willingness to acquiesce to government’s mandated medicine.  The majority begins its decision with a chilling announcement that smacks of ideological bias.  Recognizing that the “old normal” is not going to return, employers and employees have sought new models for a workplace that will protect the safety and health of employees who earn their living there. In need of guidance on how to protect their employees from COVID-19 transmission while reopening business, employers turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA or the Agency), the federal agency tasked with assuring a safe and healthful workplace…. We are unaware of a single business in America that “turned to” OSHA with that question: what should we do? The court majority continues with an announcement not of law but of panic: in the face of this disease, just let the bureaucracy rule!  The record establishes that COVID-19 has continued to spread, mutate, kill, and block the safe return of American workers to their jobs. To protect workers, OSHA can and must be able to respond to dangers as they evolve. … On multiple occasions, this tone is repeated, along with highly questionable claims: “The number of deaths in America has now topped 800,000 and healthcare systems across the nation have reached the breaking point.” Given this situation, says the court, “it is not appropriate to second-guess that agency determination considering the substantial evidence, including many peer-reviewed scientific studies, on which it relied.” The “Science” prevails over law.  The court concludes with a statement that is factually questionable in every word: The ETS is an important step in curtailing the transmission of a deadly virus that has killed over 800,000 people in the United States, brought our healthcare system to its knees, forced businesses to shut down for months on end, and cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs. … First, it will be many years before we can fully sort out precisely the number of people who died from as versus with Covid, given the likely inaccuracies of testing and the financial incentive to misclassify. Regardless, the presumption of liberty embedded in the American system was never made contingent on pathogenic mortality data.  Second, many hospitals in the US were “brought to their knees” not by Covid but by the mandates that blocked them from serving patients  with elective surgeries and diagnostics, as issued by many governors early in the pandemic. As a result, many health-care centers in the US sat empty as people skipped cancer screenings, vaccinations for other diseases, and other routine checkups. This is complete rewriting of history.  Third, businesses were not shut down by the virus but by the force of law (businesses in South Dakota did not shut down because the governor did not proclaim that they must shut down).  Fourth, hundreds of thousands of workers are losing their jobs not from the virus but from lockdowns and mandates.  It’s remarkable that a court could make such claims.  The dissenting opinion is more on point: To illustrate (without intending to trivialize) OSHA’s task, consider the danger from fire in a workplace: a pizzeria. One way to protect the workers would be to require all employees to wear oven mitts all the time—when taking phone orders, making deliveries, or pulling a pizza from the flames. That would be effective—no one would be burned—but no one could think such an approach necessary. What OSHA’s rule says is that vaccines or tests for nearly the whole American workforce will solve the problem; it does not explain why that solution is necessary.  …  So an unvaccinated 18-year-old bears the same risk as a vaccinated 50-year-old. And yet, the 18-year-old is in grave danger, while the 50-year-old is not. One of these conclusions must be wrong; either way is a problem for OSHA’s rule. … The virus that causes COVID-19 is not, of course, uniquely a workplace condition. Its potency lies in the fact that it exists everywhere an infected person may be—home, school, or grocery store, to name a few. So how can OSHA regulate an employee’s exposure to it? … Here, the Secretary asks for maximum authority and maximum discretion; he wants to issue a rule of national import, covering two-thirds of American workers, and he wants to do it without clear congressional authorization, without even public notice and comment, and with a capacious understanding of necessity. Such a combination of authority and discretion is unprecedented, and the Secretary is unlikely to show that he has been granted it.  This really is stacking up to be a battle between the new and old normal, which is to say the expectation of normal freedoms vs. rule by a bio-security state. The results will fundamentally affect the relationship between business and government and workers and employers. If the majority gets its way here, it’s hard to see how traditional Constitutional restraints on states at any level can be maintained in the face of bureaucratic diktat as ordered by an executive. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 12:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 20th, 2021

Schools Usually Enforce Child Vaccinations. With COVID-19, That Job Is Falling to Private Businesses

Public-health and legal experts anticipate that New York’s policy is the beginning of a more widespread effort to vaccinate children Studio E School of Dance in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens in New York City is losing students. A city-wide policy that went into effect on Dec. 14 bars children ages 5 and up from attending certain extracurricular activities unless they’ve received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Because the majority of Studio E’s students are preschool and elementary school kids, it is particularly vulnerable to parents’ decisions to forgo activities rather than get their children vaccinated. “I’ve just been stressed out about how this will affect the business,” says studio director Nicole Siegel-Toruno, whose family has owned the business for 15 years. “We are pushing people to take virtual classes, but people are dropping out and it is affecting our businesses.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] New York City’s mandate is the broadest in the country, targeting its youngest eligible residents in an attempt to boost vaccination rates for that group as quickly as possible. In late October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in 5- to 11-year-olds. Since then, about 20% of children in that age group have gotten at least one shot nationwide. In New York City, it’s 33%, which leaves a sizable majority currently ineligible to participate in dance and various sports, as well as other after-school activities like orchestra and band. Children are also required to show proof of vaccination to enter public indoor spaces such as museums, theaters, arcades, gyms and restaurants. For the better part of two years, businesses across the country have been grappling with public health policies that limit their ability to operate but are critical to keeping their staff and patrons safe. That squeeze isn’t likely to go away as new child vaccination policies come to fruition—and could even make operations more difficult for some. Public-health and legal experts anticipate that New York’s policy is the beginning of a more widespread effort to vaccinate children, despite resistance from parents. For example, a day before New York’s policy went into effect, Philadelphia announced that, starting Jan. 3, children who are at least three months beyond their fifth birthday will need to show proof of at least one dose in order to enter restaurants, sports venues, movie theaters and any other place that serves food indoors. Local New York business groups say the rush to implement the policy before the holidays has put unnecessary stress on companies given that the mandate—announced a week before its rollout and without input from business groups—didn’t leave companies or parents enough time to prepare. As a result, they say, the vaccine requirement will negatively impact the local economy and hurt small businesses that have already experienced hardship since the start of the pandemic. Studio E, for example, has had to shutter one of its two locations. And even after adding remote class options and implementing multiple health safety protocols, the dance school hasn’t recovered from New York’s shutdown nearly two years ago. “Vaccines are super important. No one is anti-vaccine,” says Lisa Sorin, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “But I think the timing of this is atrocious.” Read More: How Do You Even Calculate COVID-19 Risk Anymore? The city’s health department did not respond directly to questions about the timing, but pointed to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s comments on the day the policy was announced, in which he said parents had “plenty of time” to get to a vaccination site or attend a school-based vaccination event. Further, he noted the urgency to launch a “preemptive strike” against rising COVID-19 cases that threatened another shutdown if not kept in check. The vaccination rate for young kids in the city rose from 19% to about 30% in the week between the announcement and the rollout—an increase likely spurred both by families wanting to protect against the Omicron variant and not wanting to forfeit their Nutcracker tickets. “A lot of public-health leadership believes that the preference is to push people to do the right thing without having to require them to do the right thing,” says Stacie Kershner, associate director at the Center for Law, Health and Society at Georgia State University. “But in an emergency situation we can’t wait for people to voluntarily do something.” Enforcing vaccinations for children isn’t at all new and has withstood legal challenges for decades. But historically, the enforcement has centered around school participation, as TIME has previously reported—not private leisure activities. In New York City, schools are playing a role in enforcing the vaccine mandate, as students must be vaccinated to participate in school-sponsored activities including theater and music programs and certain high-risk sports. But the mandate doesn’t extend into the classroom. To be sure, such school requirements are on their way. California, for instance, will make vaccination a requirement to attend school starting in the enrollment period following the vaccine’s full FDA approval. (Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for those 16 and over, but is currently available under emergency authorization for younger kids.) Similarly, Washington D.C.’s council proposed requiring students to be vaccinated by March 1 and making school enrollment for the next year contingent on it. The proposal is headed to a final vote after passing an initial vote one day before New York’s vaccine policies were announced. New York’s current policies allowing unvaccinated children to attend school is a point of both contention and confusion in the private sector. “Why are you hurting businesses when the schools aren’t enforcing it?” asks Sorin, the Bronx Chamber president. “Get the kids vaccinated at school.” “If this was required in schools then that would be easier on us,” echoes Siegel-Toruno, the dance studio director. “It’s on us to implement and it’s hurting our business because we’re the ones enforcing it.” The problem with tying vaccinations to education right now is that two-thirds of New York’s elementary school students would not be allowed in the classroom. Moreover, unvaccinated students are disproportionately from the hardest-hit communities, where adult vaccination rates have also lagged. In the city, the disparity often falls along religious and racial lines; only 19% of Black children ages 5 to 12 are vaccinated, compared with 70% of their Asian peers, for instance. Such disparities aren’t unique to New York. Other areas of the country would face similar challenges if they issued a school-based requirement at this point. In October, Washington D.C. proposed a strict mandate for students to be vaccinated by December in order to attend school. But that idea was scrapped after it was determined that such a policy would largely impact minority children. Read More: How the First American Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Feels About the Pandemic a Year Later When it comes to public health, policymakers have to weigh the impact of vaccine mandates against the risks of infection to determine how restrictive a policy should be. “There’s certainly an economic impact and an administrative complexity [on businesses],” says Kershner, describing New York’s new policy. “City leadership probably weighed that decision and put a little bit of burden on the business in order to prevent disease spread.” In restaurants, gyms and music classes, people can spread the disease more easily because they are more likely to be unmasked, in close proximity and breathing heavily. By targeting these establishments, public health officials are aiming to limit the risk of a superspreader event at places that, unlike school, aren’t an integral part of daily life. “[Policymakers] are saying, if you want to take on the privilege of being involved in these enrichment activities during the pandemic, we’re going to make sure the risk is as minimized as possible,” says Ross D. Silverman, professor of health services administration and policy at Temple University. Parents may feel such risk decisions should be theirs to make. That puts business owners in a tough spot: between the parent and the state. Another New York dance studio that caters primarily to young children is extending the deadline for its clients beyond the city’s mandate in an effort to accommodate parents whose children aren’t vaccinated. “We have been very on top of all protocols, restrictions and mandates since 2020, but I am very conflicted with this situation,” said the owner, who commented on the condition of anonymity so as to not incur fines from the city. “I could feel the unease amongst parents that are even vaccinated themselves and believe in the science.” But ultimately, the state holds the legal authority over parents and businesses. “The state has a responsibility to protect the community from the spread of infectious disease first and foremost. And it has an additional responsibility to … make sure children are protected when they are not able to fully make decisions on their own about health issues,” says Silverman. “The Supreme Court has stated that the states can take additional steps to protect children from potential societal dangers above and beyond parental decision making.” While some business owners feel overburdened by the new regulations, others are more accepting of them because they personally prefer that all their clients be vaccinated. Lacking the authority to impose their own vaccination policy, they see the public policies as a means to level the playing field. Read More: HR Departments Are on the Frontlines of Evaluating Religious Exemptions James Orfanos, director of operations at the NY Martial Arts Academy, anticipates the business may lose a small number of students. But overall, Orfanos has noticed that parents seem generally willing to comply with the new regulations, noting that several parents have asked to freeze their accounts until their kids get vaccinated. “I believe in the vaccine. I’m fully vaccinated. But I’m not here to put my views on anybody else,” says Orfanos, who runs four locations with his family, three of which are in New York City. “From a basic standpoint, whether from a pandemic or anything else, I’m here to keep my clients safe.” Patricia Kuszler, a health law professor at the University of Washington, says businesses need to step up so that children don’t get sick or spread the disease to more vulnerable people. “We all have a duty to take care of our fellow man, and that includes not exposing them to ourselves or our kids when we’re unvaccinated. It’s just that simple,” she says. You’ve got to kind of take the bigger picture and say, hey, I’m here not only as someone who’s providing this opportunity for students to learn this skill, but I have to protect them.” Having all the dancers vaccinated at Studio E in Queens would enhance COVID-19 safety, but Siegel-Toruno thinks the time pressure has been overly burdensome. The students had already been masked and practicing social distancing, and the studio has air purifiers and sanitation protocols in place. Thanks in part to those measures, there has been no COVID spread among students, she says. “I know the more we are vaxxed, the quicker it will be over, but I personally feel the policy came on very soon,” she says. Typically, the dance school holds an end-of-year performance in December, but, prior to the mandate, it was moved to June. That turned out to be a fortuitous move. “We would have had to cancel it,” she says......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 17th, 2021

Amtrak set to reduce service in January unless more employees adhere to COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Amtrak president Stephen Gardner told House lawmakers that roughly 95% of the rail system's workers have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Travelers make their way to board an Amtrak train ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pa., on November 24, 2021.AP Photo/Matt Rourke Amtrak is set to reduce service on some lines in Jan. due to the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Roughly 95% of employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine, per Amtrak president Stephen Gardner. Ridership on the passenger railroad service has rebounded to 70% of its pre-pandemic level. Amtrak will have to reduce passenger service beginning in January unless more employees abide by the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate which takes effect in January, according to The Associated Press.Amtrak president Stephen Gardner told House lawmakers on Thursday that while roughly 95% of the rail system's workers have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the remaining employees face the January 4 deadline that the corporation put into place, mirroring the deadline that President Joe Biden enacted for employees of federal contractors.In a setback for the administration, a judge on Tuesday blocked the federal vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors.However, the White House says that it will vigorously stand up for its mandate for employees of federal contractors in court.An Amtrak spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that if the mandate was still blocked on January 4, then the rail system's mandate would remain in effect for that date.Gardner on Thursday detailed scheduling issues that are likely to arise until more employees are fully vaccinated."We anticipate proactively needing to temporarily reduce some train frequencies across our network in January to avoid staffing-related cancellations — with our plan to fully restore all frequencies by March, or as soon as we have qualified employees available," he told lawmakers at a hearing of the House transportation subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials.White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday brushed off any substantial impact on Amtrak caused by the vaccine mandate, emphasizing that staffers have overwhelmingly been inoculated against the coronavirus and noted that several weeks remain until the deadline."What we have conveyed to employers is post-deadline, we expect employers will follow their standard HR process," she said during a press briefing. "That means if an employee's not in compliance they'll go through education, counseling, accommodations, and enforcement. That would be what the process would be to play out."She continued: "We don't expect these requirements will cause disruptions to services that people depend on. There is some time to implement it."The development comes as the passenger railroad service will receive an unprecedented $66 billion in funding as part of the newly-signed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that was championed by Biden, an Amtrak loyalist who took the train religiously between his Delaware home and Washington DC when he served in the Senate.At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Amtrak sharply curtailed its service due to low ridership; at one point, ridership on the passenger railroad service was a 4% of its pre-pandemic level.Gardner stated that Amtrak has restored the majority of its service and now has roughly 70% of its pre-pandemic traffic, but noted that it's going to take several years for ridership to resemble figures from 2019.Much of the traffic rebound will depend on business travel, according to Gardner.During the 2021 fiscal year, Amtrak ridership was 12.2 million, compared with 32.5 million riders in 2019.For the 2020 fiscal year, ending on September 30, Amtrak transported 16.8 million passengers to destinations across the United States.Amtrak hopes to hire roughly 2,500 to 3,500 employees by September 2022, but the company currently lacks the human resources personnel needed to screen and hire future employees, according to its own inspector general.In August, Amtrak said that employees would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face weekly testing.In September, Biden originally issued his mandate for federal workers and employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated by December 8, before the deadline was pushed to January 4.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 11th, 2021

2 Democrats joined every Republican senator in voting against Biden"s private-employer vaccine-or-test mandate

Wednesday's resolution lacked veto-proof support and is unlikely to pass the House, but a broader legal and political fight is set to rage on. Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana at a news conference about COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Wednesday.Drew Angerer/Getty Images The Senate voted Wednesday to overturn Joe Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses. Two Democrats joined the GOP opposing the mandate, but the resolution is unlikely to pass the House. The Biden administration insists the policy is needed to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Every Republican US senator and two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana — voted Wednesday to overturn President Joe Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses with more than 100 employees.Biden announced in September that the Department of Labor's Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration would require large companies to ensure all their employees were fully vaccinated by January 4 or have them tested on a weekly basis and masked in the workplace.Wednesday's vote is all but certain to fail in actually reversing the policy, however, as the measure lacked veto-proof support and is unlikely to pass in the House at all.Conservative Senate Democrats side with RepublicansMany opponents of the private-employer mandate, including GOP lawmakers, have misleadingly framed the rule as a strict vaccine mandate. In reality, the policy allows companies to decide whether their employees can opt out of vaccination and instead be tested on a weekly basis.Republicans and some Democrats, however, argue the vaccine and testing mandates will hurt the economy and American workers and amount to federal overreach. Several Republican state attorneys general sued to overturn the policy last month, and an appeals court ordered OSHA to suspend the policy.While Republican lawmakers largely say they are pro-vaccine, some are also downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. Sen. Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican who has led the effort to repeal the rule, claimed without offering evidence that there were minimal risks of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace."Hardly any transmission is occurring at the business level or what you do during the day," Braun said during a press conference Monday.At Wednesday's GOP press conference, Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas warned there would be an "economic shutdown," "brownouts," increasing inflation, and other hardships if the mandates were enforced.But Democrats — including some who are viewed as politically vulnerable — largely argue that increasing vaccination rates is essential to protect the economy and workers at risk of contracting the virus in the workplace."I think it's important that, for the purposes of Nevada's economy, we keep our businesses and people safe, and the only way we're going to do that is make sure we either get people vaccinated or a test," Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is up for reelection in the battleground state of Nevada in 2022, told Insider on Wednesday. "People have the ability to test."Democrats also warn that COVID-19 hospitalization rates in their states are simply unsustainable and say vaccination is the only way out of the crisis."In New Hampshire, we have the highest rate of transmission of any state in the country," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen told Insider. "Our hospitals are at capacity, our healthcare workers are overworked, and we need to make sure that people get vaccinated."Despite his home state governor's recent criticism of the policy, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan told Insider he was voting against repealing the OSHA rule because he was "tired of having a pandemic of the unvaccinated.""I have no tolerance for people who — unless they have legitimate objections — are not getting vaccinated," he said.Though most Democrats back Biden's COVID-19 policies, both Manchin and Tester announced well ahead of the vote that they would vote to repeal the rules for private businesses."I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19," Manchin said in a statement, announcing that he would cosponsor the measure.Sen. Joe Manchin on Capitol Hill.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images"I mean, I'm vaccinated, my staff's vaccinated, my family's vaccinated," Tester told Insider on Wednesday. "The reason I'm doing this is because I've heard from businesses that it's really hard."Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, both facing potentially tough reelection battles next year, declined to tell Insider how they would vote when asked Wednesday.Both ultimately voted against the measure.Full vaccination status in the US calls for either a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Beginning this week, employers are required to provide paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated and sick leave if they need time to recover from side effects of the shot.The OSHA rule for private employers is distinct from more stringent federal mandates for healthcare providers, Medicare and Medicaid providers, and federal government contractors.Republicans and other critics also argued that those who had recovered from COVID-19 were protected through so-called natural immunity and should be exempt from getting vaccinated.While studies have found that a COVID-19 infection provides some immunity, those who are vaccinated appear to have stronger protection against reinfection. OSHA has said it's not workable to exempt people who've been infected.Republican lawmakers argued that enforcing workplace rules would only harden opposition to the vaccines. But the mandates have significantly increased the number of vaccinated people in recent months. Still, Republicans insist that workers are being unfairly punished."If you want to earn a paycheck in America, you have to get vaccinated," Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said, "but if you want to sit at home and collect a welfare check under Joe Biden's economy, then it doesn't matter to him whether you're vaccinated or not."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 9th, 2021

The Great Realignment: Countless More Americans Will Be Moving From Blue States To Red States In 2022

The Great Realignment: Countless More Americans Will Be Moving From Blue States To Red States In 2022 Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog, We are rapidly becoming two very different nations with two very different cultures.  At one time we truly were the “United” States of America, but now we have been split into two opposing camps that deeply hate one another.  As a result, in recent years we have watched millions of Americans relocate for ideological reasons.  This has caused “red states” to become even redder and “blue states” to become even bluer.  At this point, there are just a handful of “purple states”, and it is in those states where our presidential elections are determined.  It is really not healthy for just a few states like Pennsylvania and Michigan to have such power, but that is a topic for another article.  In this article, I want to discuss why the mass exodus from blue states to red states is actually going to accelerate in 2022. Right now, there is no issue in the United States that is more divisive than the COVID vaccine. Most conservatives want to be able to have the freedom to choose whether to take the injections or not, while many on the left want to use the power of government to compel people to get injected. It has truly been frightening to watch many on the left embrace authoritarianism so eagerly, and many leftist politicians just continue to tighten down the screws. For example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just decided to impose a very strict vaccine mandate on all private employers in his entire city… Mayor Bill de Blasio announced what he called a first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate for private companies Monday. He said the combination of the Omicron variant and holiday gatherings forced him to take “bold” steps. He’s giving businesses just three weeks to make sure their workers are vaccinated. If you don’t get the jab, you won’t be allowed to keep your job. There will not be a “testing option” under this new mandate, and so anyone that refuses to comply will be kicked to the curb two days after Christmas… De Blasio said the city will release specific rules on Dec. 15, before the mandate takes effect Dec. 27. He said it will apply to in-person employees, but would not provide any details about enforcement. He also said there will not be a weekly testing option. This is complete and utter lunacy, but of course we are witnessing lots of that in blue states these days. We are being told that this new mandate will apply to approximately 184,000 businesses, and that means that vast numbers of New Yorkers will soon be forced to search for greener pastures. One of them is a woman named Cynthia.  She told a reporter that this mandate gave her yet another reason “to get the hell out of New York”… Cynthia, an employee at a Midtown marketing firm who refused to share her last name due to fear of blowback, told the Post that the new requirement is ‘another reason’ to leave the city. ‘Just terrific. Bill de Blasio just gave me another reason I need to get the hell out of New York, or at least find a job that lets me work remotely,’ she said. Where will thousands upon thousands of displaced New Yorkers like Cynthia go? One conservative member of Congress that represents New York fears that many of them will head to “the free state of Florida”… ‘Mayor de Blasio can’t leave fast enough. He has crushed small business, the economy and quality of life. How many more New Yorkers does he want to see move to the free state of Florida?’ said US Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and Brooklyn. So New York is going to get even bluer in 2022, and Florida will be getting even redder. Down in Massachusetts, hundreds of hospital workers were just ruthlessly canned because they refused to comply with a vaccine mandate… About 200 UMass Memorial Health employees are out of a job because they missed the health care system’s COVID vaccination deadline. UMass Memorial announced the mandate over the summer with a deadline to get vaccinated or receive an exemption by November 1. Employees were let go on December 1 if they did not get the vaccine. Many of those displaced health workers aren’t going to be able to find similar work in Massachusetts, and so they will head to red states. As for UMass Memorial Health, I am not sure exactly what they plan to do.  You can’t just pull people off the streets to be medical professionals.  They will probably be short-handed for a long time to come, and that is just going to hurt the people that they are supposed to be serving. In Oregon, a different sort of mandate has people thinking that it may be time to relocate. If you can believe it, officials in Oregon are actually thinking of making their indoor mask mandate permanent… The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) assembled a Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) earlier this week to address a permanent indoor mask mandate in the state. Oregon is one of a few states that still retain one nearly two years into the pandemic. The committee included several community stakeholders, including representatives from the hospitality industry, the business sector, and faith communities, according to local ABC affiliate KATU. I cannot understand why any rational decision maker would want to do such a thing, but apparently they are quite serious. There are a whole lot of very conservative people that live in eastern Oregon, and I think that even more of them are going to be moving over the border into Idaho in 2022. Before I end this article, I want to mention what Canada has just done. Beginning November 30th, all unvaccinated individuals are now banned from using any form of public transportation… In Canada, any travelers older than 12 years old must show proof of full vaccination to take any form of public transportation including domestic and international flights as well as trains. “Starting November 30 at 3:01 am EST, vaccination will be required for travel within and to depart Canada,” the Candian travel website states. “A valid COVID-19 molecular test will no longer be accepted as an alternative to vaccination unless you’re eligible for one of the limited exemptions.” Trudeau and his minions have completely gone off the deep end, and I feel so sorry for freedom-loving Canadians that are deeply suffering under his regime. Of course the Biden administration is considering something similar for domestic travel inside the United States. Let us hope that they never pull the trigger on such a move. All over the globe we are seeing governments become more authoritarian, and that certainly sets the stage for some of the things that I warned about in my latest book. Here in the U.S., countless numbers of freedom-loving Americans are fleeing to red states as they seek to escape the oppression that they have been experiencing in blue states. Unfortunately, blue state tyrants have no intention of backing down, and this is going to create a tremendous amount of tension in our nation as we head into 2022 and beyond. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/07/2021 - 18:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 8th, 2021

Judge Blocks Biden"s Nationwide Vax Mandate For Federal Contractors

Judge Blocks Biden's Nationwide Vax Mandate For Federal Contractors The Biden administration suffered yet another blow on Tuesday after a federal judge in Georgia blocked a nationwide vaccine mandate requiring employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated. Developing: a federal court has ENJOINED the Biden Administration from enforcing its federal contractor vaccine mandate. The injunction is nationwide. This is the latest defeat for Biden's unlawful mandates (the OSHA and CMS Mandates already receiving nationwide stays). pic.twitter.com/sTKiRXsDOC — Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) December 7, 2021 The mandate, set to take effect Jan. 4, would apply to approximately 25% of the US workforce and would affect companies that do business with the federal government - including Google, General Motors, Microsoft and several airlines. Tuesday's preliminary injunction follows a Kentucky federal judge's preliminary injunction granted last week in a lawsuit involving Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, according to Bloomberg Law. The mandate for businesses providing services for the federal government is part of a suite of Biden administration actions designed to increase vaccination rates. That includes an emergency regulation from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration that covers private-sector companies with 100 employees or more, a shot requirement for health-care companies paid by Medicare and Medicare, and one for federal workers. Numerous challenges to those mandates are pending in appellate courts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has temporarily halted enforcement of the OSHA regulation. The Sixth Circuit is poised to consider the consolidated challenges to the OSHA rule. Preliminary injunctions have also been issued against the Biden administration’s health care worker vaccine mandate and a similar mandate for private businesses. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/07/2021 - 13:56.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 7th, 2021

All Private Employers in NYC Will Have to Require COVID-19 Vaccination by Dec. 27

NEW YORK — From multinational banks to corner grocery stores, all private employers in New York City will have to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor announced Monday, imposing one of the most aggressive vaccine rules in the nation. The move by Mayor Bill de Blasio comes as cases are climbing… NEW YORK — From multinational banks to corner grocery stores, all private employers in New York City will have to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor announced Monday, imposing one of the most aggressive vaccine rules in the nation. The move by Mayor Bill de Blasio comes as cases are climbing again in the U.S. and the worrisome but little-understood omicron variant is gaining a toehold in New York and elsewhere around the country. “We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,” he said. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] De Blasio, a Democrat with just weeks left in office as leader of the nation’s largest city, said the mandate will take effect Dec. 27, with in-person workers needing to provide proof they have received at least one dose of the vaccine. And they will not be allowed to get out of the requirement by agreeing to regular COVID-19 testing instead. The measure will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses, ranging from big corporations to mom-and-pop businesses in the city of 8.8 million people, according to a spokesperson for the mayor. The city’s private-sector workforce is 3.7 million. De Blasio said the measure is aimed at staving off a spike of infections amid holiday gatherings and as cold weather drives more people indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread. Vaccine rules across states and cities vary widely, with some states resisting any mandates and others requiring the shots for government employees or certain sectors that run a particularly high risk, such as health care workers. But no state has announced a broad private-sector mandate as New York City has, according to the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy. President Joe Biden sought to impose a less far-reaching mandate nationally, requiring employees of businesses with 100 or more workers to either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing. But federal courts have put that on hold ahead of the Jan. 4 deadline. De Blasio said he expects his new mandate to survive any legal challenges. Workers will be able to ask for religious or medical exemptions. Also, the mayor announced that anyone 12 or older who wants to dine indoors at a restaurant, go to a gym or see a show will have to produce proof of having received two shots of the vaccine, up from the current requirement of one dose. In addition, children ages 5 to 11 will have to show proof of at least one shot, de Blasio said. De Blasio said he will release more details next week about how the mandate will be enforced. About 5.9 million adults in New York City have gotten at least a first dose, out of 7 million people age 18 and up. That translates to 84%. About 5.8 million New Yorkers of all ages are fully vaccinated. Cases of the omicron variant have been reported in about one-third of the states, but scientists cannot say for certain yet whether it is more dangerous than previous versions. The delta variant still accounts for nearly all infections in the U.S., and a rise in cases in recent weeks has swamped hospitals, especially in the Midwest and New England. Health experts have strongly urged people to get their shots and a booster, saying they believe the vaccine will still offer protection against the new form of the virus. “Vaccination is the central weapon in this war against COVID. It’s the one thing that has worked every single time across the board,” de Blasio said at a virtual news conference. “A lot of folks to me in the private sector have said to me they believe in vaccination, but they’re not quite sure how they can do it themselves,” he continued. “Well, we’re going to do it.” Vaccinations are already required in New York City for hospital and nursing home workers and for city employees, including teachers, police officers and firefighters. A vaccination mandate for employees of private and religious schools was announced last week. De Blasio, who leaves office at the end of the month and has indicated he may seek the nomination for governor of New York next year, has sought to portray himself as a national leader in the fight against COVID-19. His other vaccine mandates have largely survived legal challenges, and he has credited the policy with raising vaccination rates among the reluctant. The new mandate takes effect days before de Blasio leaves office and Democrat Eric Adams is due to be sworn in. Evan Thies, a spokesman for Adams, said in a statement that the mayor-elect “will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals.” The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which includes some 30,000 businesses big and small, said it supports the tightened measures. But other industry groups said the plan would add to the strain on businesses still struggling to recover from the pandemic and find enough employees. Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, a leading business group, said it is unclear who will enforce the mandate and whether it is even legal. “It is hard to imagine that the mayor can do what the president is being challenged to accomplish,” Wylde said. Associated Press writer Bobby Caina Calvan contributed to this report. ___ This story has been corrected to reflect that the deadline for the mandate is Dec. 27......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 6th, 2021

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio "blindsided" business leaders by announcing his private employer vaccine mandate on MSNBC"s "Morning Joe"

With the employer mandate taking effect five days before he leaves office, it's unclear if Mayor-elect Eric Adams will end up enforcing it. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.Aaron J. Thornton/WireImage New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made a major vaccine mandate announcement Monday morning. de Blasio will require all in-person private sector workers to be vaccinated. The only way to catch the announcment was on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," which drew criticism from City Hall observers. Early Monday morning, outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that all private sector employees who work in-person will need to be vaccinated by Dec. 27.Mayor de Blasio described the move as a "preemptive strike" against the Omicron variant and a "first-in-the-nation measure," but the only place to catch his announcement was on the cable news talk show, not at a public event or on a local TV outlet.The move raised eyebrows and drew swift backlash among some business leaders and City Hall observers."We were blindsided," Kathryn Wilde, the president and CEO of The Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, told a New York Times reporter. "There's no forewarning, no discussion, no idea about whether it's legal or who he expects to enforce it."—Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) December 6, 2021 After his term expires at the end of the year, de Blasio is reportedly thinking about joining the 2022 New York governor's race.With his private employer vaccine mandate taking effect just five days before Mayor-elect Eric Adams takes over, some in the City Hall press corps wondered aloud online if de Blasio's MSNBC announcement was more about building his political brand for the statewide contest than it was about informing the public across the five boroughs.—Sally Goldenberg (@SallyGold) December 6, 2021Politico City Hall Bureau Chief called out the mayor for making "a major announcement that impacts all NYers on morning cable, which is too expensive & inaccessible for many [people]." "Makes you wonder if it's really about improving the health and safety of New Yorkers or more about burnishing a political legacy," replied Julia Marsh, the New York Post's City Hall bureau chief.The mayor's press office did not return Insider's request for comment.Adams, for his part, has not committed to enforcing the de Blasio mandate."The Mayor-elect will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals," Evan Thies, Adams' spokesperson, said in a statement following de Blasio's announcement.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 6th, 2021

Colorado Confirms 3rd US Omicron Case, New York Counts Most New COVID Cases Since January

Colorado Confirms 3rd US Omicron Case, New York Counts Most New COVID Cases Since January Update (1600ET): Just hours after officials in Minnesota confirmed the second case of omicron in the US, a local ABC affiliate reports that a third case of the omicron variant has been identified in Colorado.  Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday that a case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus has been documented in his state. "Just moments ago, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed the first Colorado case of the omicron variant," Polis said in a press conference. "It is somebody who just traveled to southern Africa and returned." More details about the patient will likely be widely disseminated in the press. Despite all the hype around the third confirmed case, Omicron is still a novelty, and few would deny that it's a long way from taking over (although, as we have previously explained, speculation that omicron is more mild than delta might mean that an omicron takeover would ultimately benefit the economy and markets). But whether it's being driven by omicron or not, it appears the winter surge that scientists have been bracing for since...last year's seasonal surge appears to have officially arrived. To wit: New York state on Thursday reported the largest number of daily new cases since January. The Empire State counted 11,300 new COVID cases, the most since January, as dozens of hospitals report nearing capacity once again. Total patients hospitalized for the virus in New York has increased by more than 1K in the span of a month, reaching 3.093K on Wednesday. As of Thursday, 56 hospitals in the state had a bed capacity of 10% or less, including Albany Medical Center Hospital, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, according to the state health department. Gov. Kathy Hochul famously issued an executive order last week allowing state officials to limit non-essential hospital procedures in an effort to increase bed capacity and address staffing shortages. The order takes effect tomorrow. There were also 49 deaths reported, bringing the state's total to 46,623. Elsewhere, the US has confirmed a second case of the omicron variant in a traveler who recently visited New York City's Javits Center for an anime convention. He was confirmed to have the variant in Minnesota. President Biden unveiled his five-point winter plan to try and avert a surge in cases on Thursday afternoon. * * * After teasing various aspects of his plan to protect Americans from the omciron variant (which is arriving at the start of the latest 'winter wave') while the CDC quietly collects names of travelers who recently visited southern Africa, President Joe Biden is preparing to share his plan, which will impose tighter restrictions on foreign travelers while extending a mask mandate and (potentially) double down on vaccine restrictions for American workers (even as multiple federal judges have rejected the mandate). Biden's comments are expected later on Thursday, but during the early hours of the US session, Germany's outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor, Olaf Scholz, agreed on a plan to effectively mandate vaccinations by imposing stringent restrictions on Germans who haven't voluntarily gotten the jab. As governments scramble to use omicron as an excuse to crack down on the unvaccinated, makers of vaccines and COVID remedies have continued to share data about their products' efficacy at combating the omicron variant. And unsurprisingly, many of the big-name firms are saying they expect their jabs to "hold up" against the variant. Despite Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel's market-rattling warnings that the first generation of mRNA vaccines - including Moderna's - might need to be retooled in order for them to protect against omicron, a senior Pfizer executive told Bloomberg that the company expects its jabs to offer significant protection against omicron, with more data expected in the coming weeks. "We don’t expect that there will be a significant drop in effectiveness," Ralf Rene Reinert, vice president of vaccines for international developed markets, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "But again, this is speculation. We will check this. We will have the data in the next couple of weeks." Pfizer has already started working on new versions of its vaccine twice, with the emergence of the beta and delta variants, and concluded both times that the original shot provided good protection, Reinert said. Now its scientists will evaluate whether that’s the case for omicron, Bloomberg reports. "It’s not that we start from scratch," Reinert said. "We know what we have to do." These reassurances have arrived at a critical time: on Wednesday afternoon, the US became the 29th country to identify a case of the omicron variant. A US traveler in the San Francisco area was identified as the first patient known to be infected with the new variant (though it's likely that many others have already been infected, since the variant has been detected in Europe more than two weeks ago). The US has seen a slight uptick in new cases in recent weeks as the 'winter wave' appears to be starting. Source: Reuters The global trend is moving in the same direction as Europe and other continents see rising numbers of cases. Source: Reuters And on the medical front, Pfizer isn't alone: GlaxoSmithKline said Thursday that its COVID antibody treatment looks to be effective against the new omicron variant in early tests. Lab tests of the mutations found in the variant showed the drug is still active against the virus, Glaxo said in a statement on Thursday. GSK is now conducting in vitro experiments to confirm the response against a combination of all the omicron mutations. As a result, Sotrovimab, the GSK antibody treatment, has been approved by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency following a "rigorous" review of its safety. Meanwhile, back in South Africa, scientists are tweaking their initial warnings about the variant. One day after reporting a massive surge in new cases (which some dismissed as a quirk resulting from a change in how public health officials count positive cases), scientists for the Diseases Institute are saying that while they expect a surge in cases due to omicron, the intensity of infections should be markedly more mild. Above all, the scientists expect fewer active cases and hospitalizations during this wave. Here are some additional omicron-related headlines from Thursday: Indian officials have seen mild cases in Omicron patients. India reported two cases of the variant. UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the UK secured 54mln additional doses of the Pfizer (PFE) / BioNTech (BNTX) jabs and 60mln additional doses of the Moderna (MRNA) vaccine for the next two years which he said will help the UK to "buy time" with the new variant. South Korea's government is considering coronavirus measures including banning social gatherings and reducing business hours, while it was also reported that South Korea is considering halting its gradual return to normal life as COVID-19 infections rise and it also reported a fresh record daily increase in cases, as well as confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant. The Japanese government will temporarily invalidate special visas issued to foreign nationals who meet certain conditions in an effort to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. Finally, President Biden is planning to include additional measures like forcing insurers to pay for at-home COVID tests as part of his plan for mitigating the 'winter wave' of COVID cases. Private insurers already cover COVID tests administered in doctor’s offices and other medical facilities, but there are now at least eight at-home tests on the US market that can be used by individuals at home. Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks on his 'winter plan' beginning just before 1400ET on Thursday. He will be speaking from Bethesda, Maryland. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 16:21.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 2nd, 2021

Judge Blocks Biden’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For Federal Contractors

Judge Blocks Biden’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For Federal Contractors By Zachary Stieber of Epoch Times A judge on Tuesday blocked President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, finding that Biden likely lacks the authority to force them to get vaccinated. “This is not a case about whether vaccines are effective. They are. Nor is this a case about whether the government, at some level, and in some circumstances, can require citizens to obtain vaccines. It can,” U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, a George W. Bush nominee, wrote in the 29-page order. “The question presented here is narrow. Can the president use congressionally delegated authority to manage the federal procurement of goods and services to impose vaccines on the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors? In all likelihood, the answer to that question is no,” he said. The judge granted a request for a preliminary injunction by the attorneys general of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. “This is not about vaccines, it’s about the mandates,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, said in a statement. “The judge’s opinion clearly states that and it has been our position all along that the president cannot impose these mandates on the people.” Biden signed an executive order on Sept. 9 that led several weeks later to the White House requiring contractors force all their workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine unless the worker is entitled to an exception. Contractors who did not comply with the order, originally set with a Dec. 8 deadline, were poised to lose the government’s business. The states charged that the vaccine mandate was both illegal and unconstitutional, in part because it was imposed with little regard to “important aspects surrounding the mandate, including but not limited to economic impacts, cost to States, cost to citizens, labor-force and supply-chain disruptions, the current risks of COVID-19, and basic distinctions among workers such as those with natural immunity to COVID-19 and those who work remotely or with limited in-person contacts, among other aspects.” The government disagreed, arguing that the president does have authority to regulate contractors under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act because. Courts have ruled the president can pursue “efficient and economic” procurement, which he was in the order, lawyers asserted. Van Tatenhove sided with the states. Defendants, he said, failed to point to a single instance when the services act was used “to promulgate such a wide and sweeping public health regulation as mandatory vaccination for all federal contractors and subcontractors.” He also expressed concern that the mandate “intrudes on an area that is traditionally reserved to the States,” citing the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. A preliminary injunction means the mandate is blocked for now in the three states, with the possibility of becoming a permanent block or eventually being allowed to take effect. A preliminary injunction has already been entered against the Biden administration’s health care worker vaccine mandate and a similar mandate for private businesses. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 21:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021