The Florida department of health has levied a $3.5m fine against a county government for requiring its employees to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.
Amanda Holpuch reports:
The state is also investigating other government entities, schools and businesses, including a Harry Styles concert, for violating its ban on asking people to provide proof of vaccination. The ban went into effect last month and Texas put a similar ban in place on Monday.
Florida fined Leon county $5,000 for each of the 714 employees it asked to provide proof of vaccination by 1 October. The health department said 700 employees met this requirement and the 14 employees who did not were terminated several days later.
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, said the state health department would continue to enforce the ban. “We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom,” DeSantis said in a statement.
The Florida and Texas bans challenge Joe Biden’s planned rule for companies with more than 100 workers to require proof of vaccination or weekly testing. Biden announced the rule in September but its details are still being worked out.
The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack on Wednesday issued a subpoena to top Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark, escalating its inquiry into the former president’s efforts to reinstall himself in office and the 6 January insurrection.
The new subpoena underscores the select committee’s far-reaching mandate in scrutinizing the origins of the Capitol attack, as it pursues an investigation into Donald Trump’s role in pressuring the justice department to do his bidding in the final weeks of his presidency.
In targeting Clark, House select committee investigators followed up on a Senate judiciary committee report that last week detailed his efforts to abuse the justice department to support Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
The House select committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, said in a statement that he authorized a subpoena for testimony from Clark to understand how the Trump White House sought to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory during the joint session of Congress.
The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it was launching a civil rights probe of juvenile detention facilities in Texas, examining whether there was a pattern of excessive use of force as well as sexual abuse.
The Department announced the probe after a review of publicly available news reports and other information from advocates. Kristen Clarke, the head of the department’s civil rights division, noted there have been reports of sexual abuse at several facilities as well as reports of staff members paying detainees drugs and cash to attack others.
“State officials have a constitutional obligation to ensure reasonable safety for children in these institutions,” Clarke said. “The Department of Justice stands ready to protect the rights of children who end up in juvenile facilities and our investigation will ensure that the treatment of these children comports with constitutional standards.”
Advocates filed a formal complaint with the Justice Department last year, saying that children in the care of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department suffered widespread sexual abuse and other constitutional violations, according to the Texas Tribune. In 2018, federal data showed roughly 10% of youths in juvenile justice facilities reported being sexually abused, significantly higher than the 7.1% who reported it nationwide.
One of the places under review will be the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex. In 2018, KTXS reported that 34 employees had been fired from the facility over the previous 5 years.
The father of a journalist murdered on live television six years ago on Tuesday launched a complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to act against Facebook for failing to remove footage of her death.
Andy Parker argues that the company is engaging in “deceptive practices” and violating its terms of service by hosting “material that glorifies violence” on its platforms Facebook and Instagram.
Parker’s daughter, TV news reporter Alison Parker, and cameraman Adam Ward were killed by a former co-worker while reporting for a TV network in Roanoke, Virginia in August 2015.
Parker, 68, who lives in Collinsville, Virginia, filed a similar complaint last year against Google and YouTube but received no response. He was inspired to act now against Facebook by whistleblower Frances Haugen’s congressional testimony last week.
“I’ve maintained for years that Facebook and Google profit from the video of my daughter Alison’s murder in 2015 and violate what they advertise to the public, that they don’t allow violent content on their platforms,” Parker told reporters in Washington. “Now, both these companies have denied it over and over again, but we know better.
“And it’s one thing for me to say it and keep saying it but when someone with insider firsthand knowledge like Frances Haugen confirms, as she did last week in her Senate testimony, that this is what they do, it validates what I’ve maintained for all these years. Posting violent content and murder on social media is not free speech. It’s savagery.”
The complaint was filed on Tuesday by Parker and attorneys with the Georgetown Law Civil Rights Clinic. Acknowledging that the FTC could fine Facebook but has limited powers, he called for the abolition of Section 230, which gives platforms immunity from liability for content posted by users.
“The point is, it’s time to act,” added Parker, who has never watched the video of his daughter’s death. “I hope my FTC complaint gets traction but ultimately Congress is going to have to fix social media before it ruins our country and the world.”
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