CDC, FDA, NIH workers did not report incidents of political interference, ‘fearing retaliation’ + more

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(Natural News) CDC, FDA, NIH Workers Did Not Report Incidents of Political Interference, ‘Fearing Retaliation,’ Government Watchdog Agency Says

CNN Health reported:

Just because incidents of political interference within the United States’ top health agencies are not reported, does not mean they don’t happen, a new federal report finds.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report Wednesday detailing how four public health agencies that were reviewed — the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response — do not have procedures in place that define political interference in scientific decision-making. The report also recommends how such incidents of interference should be reported and addressed.

Yet the GAO report notes that employees at the CDC, FDA and NIH have revealed in interviews and via a confidential hotline that they observed incidences they perceived to be political interference but did not report them for various reasons: being unsure how to report the issue, believing that agency leaders already were aware of the incident and fearing retaliation.

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LA County Keeps Mask Mandate at Airports, on Public Transit, Despite Federal Changes

Los Angeles Times reported:

Despite recent changes at the federal level, Los Angeles County is continuing to require travelers to mask up when aboard public transit or in indoor transportation hubs such as airports.

The new health officer order, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, means the nation’s most populous county again has face-covering rules that go beyond those set by the state.

L.A. County’s mask order covers commuter trains, subways, buses, taxis, Ubers and Lyfts; as well as indoor transportation hubs, including bus terminals, subway stations, seaports and other indoor port terminals, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. It applies to everyone ages 2 and older, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.

The order affects Los Angeles International Airport and Hollywood Burbank Airport.

How a Single Judge’s Ruling Upended National COVID Policy

The Washington Post reported:

For more than a year, a little-known group called the Health Freedom Defense Fund has been working to roll back vaccine and mask mandates all over the country, often filing lawsuits one community at a time — from a tiny town in Idaho to the Los Angeles Unified School District and beyond.

The group, created last year by a former Wall Street executive turned anti-vaccine activist to advocate for “bodily autonomy,” saw mixed results, with some local officials bending under the pressure and others winning efforts to dismiss lawsuits they viewed as coming from a fringe organization.

Until this week.

The decision Monday by a federal judge in Florida to invalidate the government-imposed mask mandate on public transportation handed the group a major legal victory, instantly upending national policy and setting off a cascade of reactions that reflected the impact on millions of Americans.

Philly Lifts Mask Mandate, Hours After Mayor Jim Kenney Defended It

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

Philadelphia’s Board of Health rescinded its indoor mask mandate Thursday night — three days after it went into effect, and hours after Mayor Jim Kenney defended the controversial policy that made his city an outlier in the national COVID-19 response.

The city still strongly recommends masking in indoor public spaces, city spokesperson Kevin Lessard said.

Officials from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health have said from the day the mandate was announced they hoped it would be brief, but they projected it being in place for weeks, not days. The mandate, which required people to wear masks at all indoor public settings, including businesses, offices, and gyms, went into effect Monday.

Louisiana House OKs Bill Aimed at Stopping State and Local Government Vaccine Mandates

KATC News reported:

A bill that would prohibit state and local governments from issuing vaccine mandates that require proof of vaccination in Louisiana has passed the House. On Wednesday, the bill authored by Representative Thomas Pressly passed the house on a final vote of 64-31. It will now go to the Senate.

If passed the bill would stop the issuing or enforcing proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for entry into public or private entities or to receive goods or services of any kind from public or private entities.

The bill would not apply to any COVID-19 vaccination mandate that is required by federal law or regulation. It would also not stop private businesses from implementing vaccination policies, procedures or requirements.

Boston Urges Masks as Battle Brews Over Transit Rule

Associated Press reported:

Boston urged people to start wearing masks Thursday and the Biden administration weighed its next legal step in what is shaping up to be a high-stakes court fight over the abrupt end of the national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit.

The Boston Public Health Commission noted a rise in hospitalizations, as well as a 65% increase in cases and an even larger spike in COVID-19 levels in local wastewater samples. It also stressed that the guidance was merely a recommendation, not an order.

Stricter Pandemic Policies Took Toll on Mental Health — Women Tended to Be More Affected Than Men

MedPage Today reported:

People’s mental health suffered when strict COVID-19 control measures were put in place by their governments, according to two new studies.

In one longitudinal analysis drawing on data from 15 countries excluding the U.S., policies with higher stringency were associated with higher mean psychological distress scores during the first 15 months of the pandemic (standardized coefficients ?=0.014, 95% CI 0.005-0.023), reported Rafael Goldszmidt, PhD, of the Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration in Rio de Janeiro, and colleagues.

People living in areas with stricter containment policies also ranked lower in scores of self-reported life evaluations (?=-0.010, 95% CI -0.015 to -0.004), they noted in Lancet Public Health.

When breaking down the policies individually, certain ones had a greater effect on mental health than others. After controlling for pandemic intensity, restrictions on gatherings, stay-at-home requirements, and international travel restrictions were each tied with greater psychological distress scores and lower life evaluations.

COVID: Quebec Prolongs Mask Mandate to Middle of May Now

Global News reported:

Quebec will extend its mask mandate in public spaces again — this time until mid-May — as the province continues to deal with the sixth wave of COVID-19.

Luc Boileau, the province’s interim public health director, announced the decision Thursday to prolong the requirement by another two weeks. Masks will also remain mandatory on public transit.

Locked-Down, Shanghai Residents Skirt Censorship to Vent Online

The Washington Post reported:

Over recent weeks, social media posts out of Shanghai have painted a dire picture of life under the Chinese government lockdown. To mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, residents have been trapped at home, while others are stuck in temporary quarantine centers, unsure when they’ll be set free.

Posts, mostly through the Chinese blogging service Weibo and messaging service WeChat, describe loved ones dying after being given improper care and people starving amid food shortages. Though the government has responded with denials about food and medical problems, the outcry has increased pressure on China’s communist party to respond to the allegations its citizens are making.

China possesses one of the most sophisticated censorship programs in the world, but it has been unable to keep the furor contained within its borders. It’s unclear just how people are escaping strict censorship protocols to share videos of life in Shanghai and questions remain about whether China’s censorship regime will eventually stifle dissent.

Twitter’s Reaction to Elon Musk Only Proves Change Is Needed

Fox Business reported:

Twitter bans hate speech — specifically, speech it hates. If Elon Musk is successful in his mission to acquire Twitter — which he will be — he will pull back the curtain. We will finally be privy to the process the company uses to decide which ideas they deem suitable for us to hear.

Musk’s takeover bid is a classic example of the free market at work. He is exercising what essentially amounts to personal antitrust action, taken in the name of free speech.

The reaction from Twitter proves he’s onto something. They are shaken to the core at the idea of having to be more transparent about how they conduct business at what has become the world’s virtual public town square.

Musk’s takeover is doable. Twitter, in spite of its enormous societal impact, is a relatively small company compared to other tech firms. Apple is estimated to be worth $2.7 trillion. Google parent Alphabet is $1.7 trillion. Musk is the richest man in the world. He has a personal net worth several times greater than the $50 billion or so he would probably have to pay for outright ownership of Twitter.

House Republicans Press Twitter Board to Preserve All Records of Elon Musk’s Offers to Buy Company

The Hill reported:

House Republicans are asking Twitter’s board of directors to preserve all records related to Elon Musk’s offer to buy the company, according to a letter sent Friday.

The request, led by House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and signed by 17 colleagues, raises the possibility of Republicans probing the Twitter board’s decisions regarding the offer if the GOP wins back the majority power in the fall.

“As Congress continues to examine Big Tech and how to best protect Americans’ free speech rights, this letter serves as a formal request that you preserve all records and materials relating to Musk’s offer to purchase Twitter, including Twitter’s consideration and response to this offer, and Twitter’s evaluation of its shareholder interests with respect to Musk’s offer,” they wrote.

The letter adds to Republicans’ unsubstantiated accusations that tech companies, particularly Twitter, are censoring content in a way that demonstrates an anti-conservative bias.

Twitter Is Worried About Free Speech…in Canada

The Daily Wire reported:

Following proposed legislation in Canada that would give the government greater oversight and control over the content on social mediaTwitter has expressed opposition to the bill due to its effect on “freedom of expression.”

In statements provided to the government, Twitter explained its objections to the proposal put forth by Liberals in parliament known as the online harms bill. According to The National Post, “The online harms bill would take aim at online posts in five categories — terrorist content, content that incites violence, hate speech, intimate images shared non-consensually and child sexual exploitation content.”

The social media giant said that the proposed law “sacrifices freedom of expression to the creation of a government-run system of surveillance of anyone who uses Twitter” and warned that flagging and removing posts might be “used as a political tactic.”

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