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Michigan Republicans call for investigation into Gov. Whitmer over Coronavirus nursing home deaths

Whitmer
© AP
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Republican state legislators are calling for an investigation into Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over coronavirus deaths at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The legislatures have sent a formal letter to U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel requesting an investigation.

Fox News reports that State Sen. Jim Runestad spearheaded the letters, which were signed by seven other Republican state senators.
"Gov. Whitmer's regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities. Questions remain regarding the accuracy of data, compliance with CDC guidelines and compliance with our state's Freedom of Information Act. There is a critical need for a full investigation into these matters."
The senators also pointed to "discrepancies" in cases and death data "in the state's long-term care facilities." The letter continued:

Comment: See also:

DOJ asks for COVID-19 data from Gov. Whitmer in response to nursing homes


Eye 1

Judge 'disturbed' to learn Google tracks 'incognito' users, demands answers

Google box
© Google
A US District Judge in San Jose, California says she was "disturbed" over Google's data collection practices, after learning that the company still collects and uses data from users in its Chrome browser's so-called 'incognito' mode - and has demanded an explanation "about what exactly Google does," according to Bloomberg.

In a class-action lawsuit that describes the company's private browsing claims as a "ruse" - and "seeks $5,000 in damages for each of the millions of people whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016," US District Judge Lucy Koh said she finds it "unusual" that the company would make the "extra effort" to gather user data if it doesn't actually use the information for targeted advertising or to build user profiles.

Comment: Breaking the law or is just 'deeply misunderstood', Google manages to get what it wants and then holds leverage.


USA

At CPAC, Hawley tells crowd: 'You're not gonna back down, you're not going anywhere'

Hawley
© Getty Images
Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri)
Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley on Friday urged the attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference to refuse to yield ground in the face of liberal pressure, citing his own experience in that regard and telling the crowd: "You're not gonna back down."

To wild applause, Hawley told the crowd that 'radical left and their corporate allies' have tried to
"cancel me, censor me, expel me, shut me down, stop me from representing the people of Missouri, [and] stop me from representing you. I'm here today, I'm not going anywhere, and I'm not backing down. And neither are you, am I right? You're not gonna back down. You're not going anywhere."
Hawley argued that the country is "facing an unprecedented alliance of radical liberals and the biggest, most powerful corporations in the history of the world." He cited Google, Facebook and Twitter, companies that have lately made major moves to censor conservative voices on their platforms.

Dollar

Judge approves $650M Facebook privacy lawsuit settlement

Facial recognition
© Shutterstock
A federal judge on Friday approved a $650 million settlement of a privacy lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly using photo face-tagging and other biometric data without the permission of its users.

U.S. District Judge James Donato approved the deal in a class-action lawsuit that was filed in Illinois in 2015. Nearly 1.6 million Facebook users in Illinois who submitted claims will be affected.

Donato called it one of the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation.

"It will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated," he wrote, calling it "a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy."

Jay Edelson, a Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit, told the Chicago Tribune that the checks could be in the mail within two months unless the ruling is appealed.

"We are pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders," Facebook, which is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a statement.

Comment: See also:


Pirates

Portland 'protest' turns chaotic with businesses trashed, fist fights on the street and bike cops slamming into 'press'

portland police riot gear
© REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
Dressed in riot gear, Portland police deal with another night of mayhem
At least two arrests were made after a mostly peaceful protest in Portland turned violent. Banks and other businesses were trashed as beleaguered residents pleaded with protesters to "go home!" and leave them in peace.

A group of dozens of people were reportedly demonstrating against immigration policy under the Biden administration in the Pearl District in downtown Portland, but quickly began vandalizing the area.

Businesses had their windows smashed, vehicles were vandalised and graffiti was sprayed over a number of walls in the area, as video uploaded to social media purports to show.

Comment: With their supposed goal of electing a progressive president already met, it's all too clear that Portland's "protesters" are just mindless Antifa thugs out to cause as much damage as possible.


Wolf

Another headache for Italy: Mafia shifts business model during COVID-19 lockdown

Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda Rome
© Getty Images
View of the Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda, empty, with no tourists and closed shops and restaurants , on January 27, 2021.
The Italian mafia it tightening its grip on small businesses during lockdown.The fear is that these businesses will become an 'instrument for money laundering and recycling illicit capital'

Italy's mafia reportedly provided stimulus for some struggling small businesses in the country and there is concern that these establishments will become beholden to these mobsters going forward.

The Financial Times, citing a study by Rome's interior ministry on organized crime, reported that small or mid-sized businesses in the country were given the funds, but the mafia then reverted to the "traditional intimidatory conduct aimed at acquiring control of their economic activities."

There is fear that these businesses could become "an instrument for money laundering and recycling illicit capital."

Light Saber

Arizona win: Judge rules Maricopa County must turn over 2.1M November election ballots to state Senate

Maricopa County Election Department
© Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images
A poll worker sorts ballots inside the Maricopa County Election Department in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 5, 2020.
A judge on Friday ruled that Maricopa County must provide some 2.1 million ballots from the Nov. 3 election to the Arizona state Senate and allow access to its election equipment to conduct an audit.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ruled that subpoenas issued by Arizona's state Senate are valid and should be enforced, and he disputed arguments from Maricopa County officials saying the subpoenas are unlawful. The county previously stated that multiple audits have been sufficient and said ballots should be sealed.

"The Court finds that the subpoenas are legal and enforceable," Thomason wrote (pdf) in his ruling. "There is no question that the Senators have the power to issue legislative subpoenas. The subpoenas comply with the statutory requirements for legislative subpoenas. The Senate also has broad constitutional power to oversee elections."

Comment: It's been a long, strange trip and it's far from over.


Star of David

Tel Aviv sees protests against vaccine coercion, green passports

vaccine protest israel passport health green
© Avshalom Sassoni/MAARIV
Israelis protest the government's COVID-19 vaccination campaign near HaBima Theater in Tel Aviv, Feb. 24, 2021.
Protesters demonstrate against vaccine coercion, green passports in Tel Aviv Speakers and protestors called for more "government transparency," and to "stop tyranny."

Demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest against forced vaccination and the green passport program which allows vaccinated individuals and recovered COVID-19 patients to take part in certain activities, including attending mass gatherings.

Among the speakers at the rally, which drew a crowd in the hundreds, were lawyer Oren Pasternak, the main organizer of the event, and Tamir Hefatz, a founder of Higayon Habari (Common Sense Model). Arieh Avni, founder of the Rapeh (Only Health) Party was also present, as were some of the party's candidates.

Comment: Israel seems to be unusually eager to implement its coronavirus policies.


Padlock

New Zealand: Auckland to go into seven-day Covid lockdown

Otara testing station  Auckland
© David Rowland/AFP/Getty Images
Motorists queue at the Otara testing station in Auckland after a positive coronavirus case was reported in the community. Photograph:
New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the country's biggest city, Auckland, will go into a seven-day lockdown from early morning on Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus of unknown origin emerged.

It comes two weeks after Auckland's nearly 2 million residents were plunged into a snap three-day lockdown when a family of three were diagnosed with the more transmissible UK variant of coronavirus.

Health officials, who could not immediately confirm how the person got infected, said genome sequencing of the new infection was under way. The patient developed symptoms on Tuesday and is regarded as having been potentially infectious since Sunday, officials said. The person visited several public venues during that period.


Comment: Yep, that's right, ONE person.


"Based on this, we are in the unfortunate but necessary position to protect Aucklanders again," Ardern said, announcing the lockdown.

Comment: See also: Biggest city in New Zealand locked down - for 3 Covid positive covid tests


Passport

Vaccine passports are a betrayal of British values

vaccine passport
A debate is raging about whether the British public should be forced to have vaccine passports to reclaim our liberties. The relentless ID card champion Tony Blair has, predictably, been on the warpath claiming vaccine passports are "inevitable" and the "only way" we can once again be free. I suppose this works in a world where "we" means only the people who have a vaccine and excludes everyone who is medically advised against it, and "free" means not free to choose what you put into your body. Thankfully, that's not the topsy turvy world in which we live - yet.

But the current climate in which the revived ID debate is raging does feel topsy turvy against our British sensibilities. Our country survived the Twentieth Century because our forebearers gave up their lives for freedom. Today, some Brits are willing to give up their freedom for just about anything.

I had to pinch myself this week when the Foreign Secretary, sitting with the Union Jack hanging behind him, said a domestic vaccine passport for access to supermarkets was "under consideration". The idea that we should all carry digital IDs with our health data and a vaccine inventory for inspection at the Sainsbury's checkout is ludicrous. What kind of pointless bovine future does this Government envisage for our nation?