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New York City schools have been temporarily blocked from enforcing a vaccine mandate for their teachers and other workers by a federal appeals judge just days before it was to take effect.
Workers in the nation’s largest school system were to be required to show vaccination proof starting Monday. But late Friday, a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction sought by a group of teachers pending review by a three-judge panel, which will take up the motion on Wednesday.
Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said officials were seeking a speedy resolution in court.
“We’re confident our vaccine mandate will continue to be upheld once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve,” Filson said in an email.
The New York Post reported that the department sent an email to principals on Saturday morning saying they “should continue to prepare for the possibility that the vaccine mandate will go into effect later in the week.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in August that about 148,000 school employees would be required to get at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. The policy covers teachers, along with other staffers, such as custodians and cafeteria workers.
It’s the first no-test-option vaccination mandate for a broad group of city workers in the most populous city in the United States. And it mirrors a similar statewide mandate for hospital and nursing home workers set to go into effect on Monday.
As of Friday, 82 per cent of department employees have been vaccinated, including 88 per cent of teachers.
Even though most school workers have been vaccinated, unions representing New York City principals and teachers warned that could still leave the one million-student school system short of as many as 10,000 teachers, along with other staffers.
De Blasio has resisted calls to delay the mandate, insisting the city was ready.
“We’ve been planning all along. We have a lot of substitutes ready,” the Democrat said in a radio interview on Friday.
“A lot is going to happen between now and Monday, but beyond that, we are ready, even to the tune of, if we need thousands, we have thousands.”
What’s happening across Canada
- N.L. reports 14 new case as 80 per cent of eligible residents now fully vaccinated.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday , more than 231.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case tracking tool, which collects data from around the world. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In Africa, South Africa has sent a train into one of the country’s poorest provinces, carrying COVID-19 vaccines and doctors and nurses to administer them. The vaccine train, named Transvaco, is on a three-month tour through Eastern Cape province and will stop at seven stations for two weeks at a time to vaccinate people.
In Europe, several hundred protesters gathered in the Netherlands on Saturday to march against the introduction of a “corona pass” as proof of COVID-19 vaccination became compulsory to get into bars, restaurants, theatres and other venues. The new requirement to show the pass, or a recent negative coronavirus test, coincided with the lifting of almost all physical-distancing measures in the country, where 72 per cent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose.
In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s son and two members of his cabinet said on Friday that they had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing to four the number of close aides diagnosed since the far-right leader’s trip to the United Nations. The news comes three days after Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga announced that he had tested positive. Queiroga remained behind in the United States to quarantine.
In Asia, South Korea’s daily increase in coronavirus infections exceeded 3,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Officials believe the virus spread further beyond the capital region during the Chuseok holidays, the Korean version of Thanksgiving that began on the weekend and continued through Wednesday — a period during which millions usually travel across the country to meet relatives. Officials say the country may see even bigger daily jumps next week as more people get tested.
It’s not Kanye, it’s Ye, after judge approves name change
Rapper Kanye West has won legal approval to officially shorten his name to Ye.
The 44-year-old musician, record producer and fashion entrepreneur has used Ye as his Twitter handle for years and had petitioned a court to make it his full name with no middle name or last name. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court approved his request on Monday, according to court documents.
“Ye” also was the name of the singer’s 2018 album. He told a radio host that year he believed ye is the most commonly used word in the Bible, where it means “you.”
Representatives for the entertainer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The musician recently released his 10th studio album, “Donda,” named after his late mother Donda West. He has been married to reality TV star Kim Kardashian West for about seven years. The pair are in the process of getting divorced, though they remain friendly and have been spotted together recently in public.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Richard Chang)
Africa calls for climate finance tracker after donors fall short
African countries want a new system to track funding from wealthy nations that are failing to meet a $100-billion annual target to help the developing world tackle climate change, Africa’s lead climate negotiator said.
The demand highlights tensions ahead of the COP26 climate summit between the world’s 20 largest economies, which are behind 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, and developing countries that are bearing the brunt of the effects of global warming.
“If we prove that someone is responsible for something, it is his responsibility to pay for that,” said Tanguy Gahouma, chair of the African Group of Negotiators at COP26, the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which starts on Oct. 31.
In 2009, developed countries agreed to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 to help the developing world deal with the fallout from a warming planet.
The latest available estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show this funding hit $79.6 billion in 2019, just 2% more than in 2018.
The OECD data shows Asian countries on average received 43% of the climate finance in 2016-19, while Africa received 26%. Gahouma said a more detailed shared system was needed that would keep tabs on each country’s contribution and where it went on the ground.
“They say they achieved maybe 70% of the target, but we cannot see that,” Gahouma said.
“We need to have a clear roadmap how they will put on the table the $100 billion per year, how we can track (it),” he said in an interview on Thursday. “We don’t have time to lose and Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world.”
Temperatures in Africa are rising at a faster rate than the global average, according to the latest U.N. climate report. It forecasts further warming will lead to more extreme heatwaves, severe coastal flooding and intense rainfall on the continent.
Even as wealthy nations miss the $100 billion target, African countries plan to push for this funding to be scaled up more than tenfold by 2030.
“The $100 billion was a political commitment. It was not based on the real needs of developing countries to tackle climate change,” Gahouma said.
World leaders and their representatives have just a few days at the summit in Glasgow to try to broker deals to cut emissions faster and finance measures to adapt to climate pressures.
African countries face an extra challenge at the talks because administrative hurdles to entering Britain and to travelling during the coronavirus pandemic mean smaller than usual delegations can attend, Gahouma said.
“Limited delegations, with a very huge amount of work and limited time. This will be very challenging,” Gahouma said.
(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Aaron Ross and Janet Lawrence)
Facebook to pay up to $14.25 million to settle U.S. employment discrimination claims
Facebook Inc has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle civil claims by the U.S. government that the social media company discriminated against American workers and violated federal recruitment rules, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The two related settlements were announced by the Justice Department and Labor Department and confirmed by Facebook. The Justice Department last December filed a lawsuit accusing Facebook of giving hiring preferences to temporary workers including those who hold H-1B visas that let companies temporarily employ foreign workers in certain specialty occupations. Such visas are widely used by tech companies.
Kristen Clarke, assistant U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, called the agreement with Facebook historic.
“It represents by far the largest civil penalty the Civil Rights Division has ever recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision,” Clarke said in a call with reporters, referring to a key U.S. immigration law that bars discrimination against workers because of their citizenship or immigration status.
The case centered on Facebook’s use of the so-called permanent labor certification, called the PERM program.
The U.S. government said that Facebook refused to recruit or hire American workers for jobs that had been reserved for temporary visa holders under the PERM program. It also accused Facebook of “potential regulatory recruitment violations.”
Facebook will pay a civil penalty under the settlement of $4.75 million, plus up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of what the government called discriminatory hiring practices.
“While we strongly believe we met the federal government’s standards in our permanent labor certification (PERM) practices, we’ve reached agreements to end the ongoing litigation and move forward with our PERM program,” a Facebook spokesperson said, adding that the company intends to “continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world.”
The settlements come at a time when Facebook is facing increasing U.S. government scrutiny over other business practices.
Facebook this month faced anger from U.S. lawmakers after former company employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen accused it of pushing for higher profits while being cavalier about user safety. Haugen has turned over thousands of documents to congressional investigators amid concerns that Facebook has harmed children’s mental health and has stoked societal divisions.
The company has denied any wrongdoing.
In Tuesday’s settlements, the Justice Department said that Facebook used recruitment practices designed to deter U.S. workers such as requiring applications to be submitted only by mail, refusing to consider American workers who applied for positions and hiring only temporary visa holders.
The Labor Department this year conducted audits of Facebook’s pending PERM applications and uncovered other concerns about the company’s recruitment efforts.
“ Facebook is not above the law,” U.S. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda told reporters, adding that the Labor Department is “committed to ensuring that the PERM process is not misused by employers – regardless of their size and reach.”
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)
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