Inside the CDC’s Campaign To Police COVID Speech

“”According to a trove of confidential documents obtained by Reason, health advisers at the CDC had significant input on pandemic-era social media policies at Facebook as well. They were consulted frequently, at times daily. They were actively involved in the affairs of content moderators, providing constant and ever-evolving guidance. They requested frequent updates about which topics were trending on the platforms, and they recommended what kinds of content should be deemed false or misleading. “Here are two issues we are seeing a great deal of misinfo on that we wanted to flag for you all,” reads one note from a CDC official. Another email with sample Facebook posts attached begins: “BOLO for a small but growing area of misinfo.”

These Facebook Files show that the platform responded with incredible deference. Facebook routinely asked the government to vet specific claims, including whether the virus was “man-made” rather than zoonotic in origin. (The CDC responded that a man-made origin was “technically possible” but “extremely unlikely.”) In other emails, Facebook asked: “For each of the following claims, which we’ve recently identified on the platform, can you please tell us if: the claim is false; and, if believed, could this claim contribute to vaccine refusals?”””

Airplane lavatories deliver new hope for the CDC’s variant hunt

“after a successful test run at New York’s JFK Airport, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pursuing talks with airlines and port authorities to start collecting samples from long-haul international flights’ wastewater after they land.”

If You Oppose COVID Emergency Powers, You Should Oppose Title 42 Expulsions

“Gorsuch didn’t say that there aren’t problems at the border or that the transition from Title 42 wouldn’t prove challenging. “But the current border crisis is not a COVID crisis,” he wrote. “And courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency. We are a court of law, not policymakers of last resort.”

Policy makers would be wise to scrap the pandemic-era Title 42 order. It’s accomplished the opposite of what proponents promised, leading to more frequent and less predictable migrant inflows. Since a Title 42 expulsion carries no reentry penalty, repeat crossings roughly quadrupled in 2021 compared to their 2019 rate. Smugglers have taken advantage of repeat crossings by charging migrants more for the inflated number of northward journeys. With asylum largely inaccessible at ports of entry, migrants desperate to enter the country have attempted to cross the border in less surveilled, more dangerous terrain. These things have all contributed to chaotic scenes at the border, providing fodder for immigration restrictionists.”

Covid-19 and overdose deaths drive U.S. life expectancy to a 25-year low

“Life expectancy in the United States dropped last year to its lowest since 1996, extending a downward trend that began in 2020, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest figures from the CDC, which leave expected U.S. lifespans well below those in other large, wealthy nations, reflect the federal and local governments’ ongoing struggle to meet the demands of concurrent public health crises.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had “a domino effect,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, by “exacerbating the already very severe problem that we have in overdose deaths.”

The two crises, the Covid-19 pandemic and rising drug addiction and overdoses, are “a wake-up call” for government, added Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “It clearly is what’s cutting into the health of our communities, unlike almost anything we’ve seen before.””

“The ongoing politicization of the U.S. Covid response has negatively impacted many Americans’ decisions about vaccination and other mitigation measures. Roughly 14 percent of Americans and 36 percent of people 65 and over have received the latest booster, according to the CDC.

At the same time, Volkow believes the pandemic drove social changes that made people more vulnerable to taking drugs as a way of escaping. The pandemic also made it harder to get help. “Resources that were able to support people in the past were no longer available,” she said.”

Five ways lawmakers smacked down Biden’s Pentagon plans

“By signing the bill, Biden will be forced to agree to a repeal of the Pentagon’s policy requiring troops to receive the Covid vaccine or face expulsion from the military.
The repeal is a victory for Republicans who pushed to do away with the policy during negotiations on a final defense bill. Conservatives have hammered the administration for forcing out thousands of military personnel and piling onto an already rough recruiting environment.

Rescinding the August 2021 mandate is a black eye for Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who still back the policy as a matter of health and readiness for the armed forces.”

“The bill, however, doesn’t prohibit a new vaccine requirement in the coming months, meaning Austin could implement a new policy when the 2021 directive is repealed. Doing so, however, would spark a battle with the Republican-controlled House next year.”

“Both parties roundly rejected Biden’s $813 billion military spending plan as too low to meet worldwide threats and counter the impacts of inflation on the Pentagon.

Instead, Congress endorsed that hefty $45 billion increase to Biden’s budget, which already would have boosted defense by about $30 billion over last year’s level. The final bill amounts to an increase of roughly $75 billion, or nearly 10 percent, from the previous year.

The additional money went toward buying more weapons as well as efforts to blunt the effects of inflation on Pentagon programs, troops and construction.

This marks the second straight year that Congress has significantly rewritten Biden’s budget. Defense legislation approved last year authorized an increase of $25 billion to the administration’s first proposal. It’s a pattern Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who is set to chair House Armed Services next year, chalked up to Congress and the White House rarely seeing eye to eye on federal spending.”

“Congress foiled one of the few major changes Biden proposed to the nuclear arsenal, keeping alive a sea-launched cruise missile first proposed by the Trump administration.

Proponents of canceling the developmental program criticized it as costly, destabilizing and redundant, because Biden kept low-yield nukes fielded by the Trump administration deployed aboard ballistic missile submarines. A 2021 report by the Congressional Budget Office estimated the missile will cost $10 billion through 2030.

But lawmakers ultimately authorized $45 million to continue the program after top military brass, including Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, publicly expressed support for the weapon, in a split with Austin and other top civilians who argued the missile isn’t needed.”

“Lawmakers also voted to require the Pentagon to keep most of its inventory of B83 nuclear gravity bombs, which Biden proposed retiring. The agreement prohibits retiring or deactivating more than 25 percent of the stockpile until the Pentagon provides Congress with a study on how it will field capabilities to strike hard and buried targets.”

“Lawmakers authorized $32.6 billion to buy new ships, boosting the budget by $4.7 billion and ordering up three new hulls the Navy didn’t ask for.

The additions include a third unrequested Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, which the White House said it “strongly opposes” when the House approved it. Navy leaders have questioned whether a strained shipbuilding base can handle a rate of three destroyers per year. The bill also set a legal floor of 31 amphibious warships for the Navy, which the administration also opposes, arguing it would “unduly constrain” military planning.

Congress also threw a wrench into Navy plans to retire two dozen ships. The move was aimed at saving money but it also drew criticism on Capitol Hill because the plans would have scrapped some troubled littoral combat ships relatively early in their service lives.

The compromise bill ultimately bars the Navy from retiring a dozen warships it had planned to decommission, including five littoral combat ships and a Ticonderoga-class cruiser.

The legislation also crimps efforts by the Pentagon to retire dozens of aircraft. It jams up the administration’s plans to retire Navy EA-18G Growler electronic warfare jets, requiring the service to maintain a fleet of at least 158 aircraft through fiscal 2027. The bill similarly blocks efforts by the Air Force to retire some F-22 fighters through fiscal 2027.

Lawmakers also limited the Air Force’s ability to reduce its fleet of E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System planes below a certain level. Those restrictions would be eased if the service submits an acquisition strategy or awards a contract for its successor, the E-7 Wedgetail.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, boosted procurement for a swath of aircraft across the military services. Most notably, Armed Services leaders approved $666 million for eight Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets the Navy didn’t seek in its budget, keeping the production line active.”