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Sat, 10 Apr 2021
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans COVID-19 vaccine passports: 'Don't tread on our personal freedoms'

© Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has banned government-mandated COVID-19 vaccine passports in a new executive order.

What are the details?

Abbott announced on Tuesday morning the ban on any government-mandated COVID-19 vaccine passports.

The executive order, issued on Monday, prohibits any regulation requiring Texans to show any proof of vaccination.

In a Tuesday morning video, Abbott said, "Every day, Texans return to normalcy as more people get the COVID vaccine. In fact, this week, Texas will surpass 13 million doses administered. Those shots help slow the spread of COVID, reduce hospitalizations, and reduce fatalities. But, as I have said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced. Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives. That is why I issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas."

"We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health and we will do so without treading on Texans' personal freedoms," he added.


Glenn Greenwald's new book on journalism, exposing corruption, and the resulting risks, dangers and societal changes

glenn greenwald

Glenn Greenwald
In 2015, I travelled to Sweden for an event with former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. It was billed as a conversation about modern journalism between the reporter who had broken the biggest story of the prior generation (Watergate) and the one responsible for the biggest story of the current one (NSA/Snowden revelations).

A couple of years earlier, at the height of the Snowden reporting, Bernstein and I had traded some barbed insults through the media. So before traveling to Sweden, he generously reached out to invite me to dinner in order, essentially, to clear the air so that we could have a civil conversation. The night before the event, we met for dinner at the hotel restaurant. We quickly laughed off the acrimony — it had been a couple of years prior, and both of us have had much worse said about us — and proceeded to have a perfectly enjoyable conversation.

Gold Seal

Listen to the moms: There's something else going on with trans teens

transgender children
© uwe umstätter / Global Look Press
Let's start with a caveat: I love passion. I do. And I have a deep, strong instinct to stick up for people whom I think are ignored or mistreated. I'm a typical bleeding-heart liberal. You know me: coexistence bumper sticker and a cloth grocery sack. I feel your pain, I do.

So let me assure you, I love those incredibly self-assured, brash, righteous, young activists who are screaming for trans rights. I see you. I've been one of you, too, believe it or not. And occasionally, I still go out with my protest sign and my sensible sneakers to make some noise on behalf of those who are ignored or mistreated. That's all okay - and it's good, and it's necessary.

But today, I'd like you all to just take a deep breath and center some voices that are being silenced and ignored: the moms of the world. Because we moms might have a few things we've learned along the way, and you might save yourself a hoarse voice and some embarrassment by just stopping for a minute and listening. You might just shift your idea of who needs our protection right now.


'You don't know what it's like to experience totalitarianism,' says the North Korean defector running for Council election in Britain

Jihyun Park
© REUTERS / Phil Noble
Jihyun Park
Jihyun Park arrived in Britain in 2008 as a desperate refugee with no English. Now she wants to cap an extraordinary story by becoming a councillor - and has words of advice for those who say the UK has become too authoritarian.

Award-winning human rights activists tend not to join Boris Johnson's Conservative Party. It's for the elite, the rich, the upper class. You also wouldn't expect one to stand up for the prime minister, who embodies privilege, having attended Eton College and Oxford University. But Jihyun Park is different.

"Sometimes I see people describe the prime minister as totalitarian or a dictator, but they've never been under a totalitarian system or dictatorship," she says. "They say these words and they are allowed to. No one punishes or tortures them. They have freedom of speech. I'd say to anyone in Britain: your life is better than that in so many other countries. Enjoy your life, don't complain, but communicate with your local government to improve it."

Eye 2

Norway considers Covid vaccinations for children, despite ongoing safety trials

So far, no vaccine has been approved for use on children and early teens. However, several vaccine companies are currently testing their vaccines on youngsters to determine their safety and efficiency.

Comment: Enrolling children in an unnecessary experiment such as this is a damning sign as to the state of society today: UK children to be test subjects of latest AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trials

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) has said that it may become "relevant" to vaccinate children as several vaccine manufacturers are currently testing their vaccines on young people.
"The infection among children and young people has increased with these new virus variants. And the pandemic is not completely over even when everyone over the age of 18 has been vaccinated. So we must think ahead as well, whether it will be relevant to vaccinate children," FHI specialist director Frode Forland told national broadcaster NRK.


Border patrol arrests two Yemeni illegal aliens on no-fly, terror watch lists

US border patrol
© USCBP/Photo
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have arrested at least two Yemeni illegal aliens near Calexico, California who appeared on both the FBI's Terrorism Watch List and No-Fly list.

Agents arrested the first illegal alien, a 33-year-old male, on January 29 in the middle of the night. In addition to discovering that the migrant was on both watch lists, border patrol also "found a cellular phone sim card hidden underneath the insole of his shoe" before transferring him into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

Border patrol apprehended the second alien, a 26 year-old-male, in the same area at the end of March before discovering that he was on both watch lists as well. The second man is in "federal custody pending removal."

Comment: See also:


New York's vaccine passport program is already failing

excelsior pass
Liberty advocates, rejoice! The idiocracy is going to save us from another form of COVID tyranny. Thanks to a combination of bungling authoritarians and decaying legacy corporations, these entities are simply too incompetent to pull off a functioning vaccine passport program.

New York's rollout of its vaccine passport already has the markings of a five alarm dumpster fire. The New York State "Excelsior Pass" vaccine passport system, which was created by IBM, has so many issues that I wouldn't be surprised if the program was scrapped altogether before the end of the calendar year. It has massive security flaws, a shrinking customer base by design, it remains incredibly impractical, and it's incredibly easy to manipulate. Excelsior Pass sucks, thanks to the idiocracy that was responsible for its design and implementation.

A rigid system

Say you want to attend a Knicks game this evening at Madison Square Garden, a partner to the Excelsior Pass program. It's 9 a.m. and your event is at 7:30 p.m. If you don't have the vaccine yet, that means you will need to obtain a negative COVID-19 test to receive your pass. Want to take that test this morning? Not so fast! The antigen test needs to have been administered within the last 6 hours, so you better plan your entire day around navigating that short window between your COVID test and the event this evening.

Comment: See also:


Hunter Biden says his name was like 'gold' to Burisma

hunter biden
President Joe Biden's son Hunter said his family name was "gold" to Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that recruited him to its board when his father was vice president, even as he complained that his prominent family was a burden to him.

In his latest interview to promote his new memoir Beautiful Things, the 51-year-old told the BBC he simply had not expected the level of scrutiny he received even though his father was the Obama administration's point man on relations with Ukraine.

"I don't belong to an administration, I belong to a family," he said.

Comment: See also:


Neck restraint used on George Floyd 'absolutely' violated dept policy, Minneapolis police chief says in Chauvin trial

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo Derek Chauvin
© Reuters / Jane Rosenberg
A courtroom sketch shows Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo as he testifies on the sixth day of Derek Chauvin's murder trial, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 5, 2021.
Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin broke with department policy during the fatal arrest of George Floyd, the city's police chief said, joining other officers who argued the neck restraint he used was not part of his training.

Testifying on the sixth day of Chauvin's murder trial, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the former officer "absolutely" violated MPD policy when he kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during a botched arrest last May. Floyd was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

"It's not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics and our values," Arradondo said on Monday, adding that the officers' use of force should have ended "once Mr. Floyd stopped resisting," and especially after he "was in distress and verbalized it."

Comment: See also:

Eye 1

A secretive Home Office unit has hoarded data on millions of people

Data Services Analytics unit
© Getty Images / WIRED
A data analytics team close to the heart of government has collected data on more than 650 million people, including children under the age of 13, according to newly unearthed documents.

The Data Services & Analytics unit is described as "one of the most advanced data analytics centres in government" and forms part of the Home Office's Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) department. It builds decision-making tools and provides data-driven insights to the rest of the Home Office - although details of exactly what it does remain tightly guarded.

The huge amount of data being analysed and the Home Office's lack of transparency has prompted accusations from privacy campaigners that the unit could be creating a "super database" that risks exacerbating racial biases among law enforcement agencies.

On top of transparency concerns, two of the unit's projects are currently being reviewed by the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group, a government advisory body investigating "ethical issues in the use of complex datasets". When asked what these projects were and on what basis they were being looked at, a Home Office spokesperson declined to comment.