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News24.com | US Court Reinstates Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Big Businesses

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The United States appeals court reinstated President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for some businesses.
The White House was pushing this mandate to workers at businesses with more than 100 employees.
Earlier, the federal appeals court dad halted this mandate by the Biden Administration, a decision that has since been appealed. 

An appeals court in the United States has reinstated President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for large businesses.

Friday’s ruling by the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed a decision by a federal judge in a separate court that had paused the mandate.

The rule from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) applies to businesses with at least 100 workers and covers 80 million American workers.

It was due to take effect on 4 January.

Republican-led states joined with conservative groups, business associations and some individual businesses to push back against the requirement as soon as OSHA published the rules in early November.

They argued the agency was not authorised to make the emergency rule, in part because the coronavirus is a general health risk and not one just faced by employees at work.

The panel’s majority disagreed.

Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote in her majority opinion:

Given OSHA’s clear and exercised authority to regulate viruses, OSHA necessarily has the authority to regulate infectious diseases that are not unique to the workplace. Vaccination and medical examinations are both tools that OSHA historically employed to contain illness in the workplace.

– Gibbons was nominated to the court by former President George W Bush.

Gibbons said the rule “is not a novel expansion of OSHA’s power; it is an existing application of authority to a novel and dangerous worldwide pandemic”.

She was joined by Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch, an appointee of former President Barrack Obama, a Democrat.

The case was consolidated in the Sixth Circuit, which is dominated by Republican-appointed judges. Earlier this week, the circuit’s active judges rejected a move to have the entire panel consider the case on an 8-8 vote.

The dissent came from Judge Joan Larsen, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, who said Congress did not authorise OSHA to make this sort of rule and that it did not qualify as a necessity to use the emergency procedures the agency followed to put it in place.

Larsen also argued that vaccinated workers “do not face ‘grave danger’ from working with those who are not vaccinated”.

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The White House welcomed the ruling saying in a statement that it will protect workers.

“Especially as the US faces the highly transmissible Omicron variant, it’s critical we move forward with vaccination requirements and protections for workers with the urgency needed in this moment,” it said.

Republican state attorneys general and business groups said they would appeal Friday’s decision to the US Supreme Court.

“The Sixth Circuit’s decision is extremely disappointing for Arkansans because it will force them to get the shot or lose their jobs,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who also is chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, said in a Twitter message Friday that he was confident the mandate could be stopped.

The vaccine requirement would apply to companies with 100 or more employees.

Under the rules, workers who are not fully vaccinated would have to wear masks and be subject to weekly Covid-19 tests. There would be exceptions, including for those who work outdoors or only at home.

The rule is separate from other vaccine mandates announced by the administration of US President Joe Biden that apply to federal government contractors and workers in health care facilities that receive funding from Medicaid or Medicare.

All the rules are under assault from conservatives and have been paused in at least some parts of the country.

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News24.com | Thousands Protest in Madrid Against NATO Summit

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A crowd demonstrates against NATO.

Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto

Carrying the hammer and sickle flags of the former Soviet Union, thousands protested in Madrid on Sunday against a NATO summit which will take place in the Spanish capital next week.

Amid tight security, leaders of the member countries will meet in Madrid between 29-30 June as the organisation faces the unprecedented challenge of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

NATO is expected to consider the bid, opposed by alliance-member Turkey, for Finland and Sweden to join.

The Nordic nations applied in the wake of the Russian assault on Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the war a special military operation he says in part responds to the accession to NATO of other countries near post-Soviet Russia’s borders since the 1990s.

READ | Biden said Putin’s goal of weakening NATO by invading Ukraine backfired spectacularly

“Tanks yes, but of beer with tapas,” sang demonstrators, who claimed an increase in defence spending in Europe urged by NATO was a threat to peace.

“I am fed up (with) this business of arms and killing people. The solution they propose is more arms and wars and we always pay for it. So, no NATO, no (army) bases, let the Americans go and leave us alone without wars and weapons,” said Concha Hoyos, a retired Madrid resident, told Reuters.

Another protester, Jaled, 29, said NATO was not the solution to the war in Ukraine.

Organisers claimed 5,000 people joined the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 2 200.

READ | Pandor says Finland’s bid to join NATO indicates a decline in international security

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday that the summit would also focus on the threat from Europe’s southern flank in Africa, in which he said Russia posed a threat to Europe.

“The foreign ministers’ dinner on the 29th will be centred on the southern flank,” he told El Pais newspaper.

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News24.com | Turkey Police Break up Istanbul Pride March, Detain Dozens: AFP

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Hakan Akgun/dia images

Turkish police on Sunday forcibly intervened in a Pride march in Istanbul, detaining dozens of demonstrators and an AFP photographer, AFP journalists on the ground said.

The governor’s office had banned the march around Taksim square in the heart of Istanbul but protesters gathered nearby under heavy police presence earlier than scheduled.

Police detained protesters, loading them into buses. AFP journalists saw two buses of people who had been held, including AFP’s chief photographer Bulent Kilic, who had been handcuffed from the back.

Kilic, who was also detained last year during the Pride march, is currently in police custody.

Hundreds of protesters carrying rainbow flags pressed ahead with the rally in defiance of police.

Although homosexuality has been legal throughout the period of the modern Turkish republic, LGBTQ individuals point to regular harassment and abuse.

Istanbul Pride has taken place every year since 2003.

The last march which took place without a ban – in 2014 – drew tens of thousands of participants in one of the biggest LGBTQ events in the majority Muslim region.

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News24.com | NASA Blasts Off From Australian Outback in ‘historic’ Launch

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NASA’s first-ever launch from a commercial site outside of the United States blasted off from Australia’s Outback late Sunday, in a “historic” moment for the country’s space industry.

In the first of three planned launches from the Arnhem Space Centre, the rocket, carrying technology likened to a “mini Hubble” telescope, lifted off — blasted about 350 kilometres (218 miles) into the night sky.

“It is a momentous occasion for us as a company in particular, but it’s historic for Australia,” Equatorial Launch Australia CEO Michael Jones told AFP ahead of the lift-off.

Jones, whose company owns and operates the launch site in the far north of Australia, described it as a “coming out” party for the country’s space industry and said the chance to work with NASA was a milestone for commercial space firms in the country.

After a series of rain and wind delays, the suborbital sounding rocket soared into the sky to study x-rays emanating from the Alpha Centauri A and B systems.

After reaching its apogee, the rocket’s payload was to capture data on the star systems before parachuting back to earth.

READ | NASA is slowly powering down the Voyager probes. Here are 18 photos from its 45-year mission.

According to NASA, the launch offers a unique glimpse of the distant systems and unlocked fresh possibilities for scientists.

“We’re excited to be able to launch important science missions from the Southern Hemisphere and see targets that we can’t from the United States,” Nicky Fox, NASA’s Heliophysics Division director in Washington, said on announcing the mission.

Jones said the unique location had made preparations hard, with years of work to get regulatory approval and the need to haul rockets on barges to the launch site – about 28 hours drive from Darwin in northern Australia.

“I think for the team, it’s gonna be, you know, a huge relief that it’s done,” he said.

READ | ‘Giant leap forward’ – South Korea space rocket launch puts satellites in orbit

But with the next launch already looming on July 4, the break would be short-lived.

“We need to, you know, dust ourselves off, take a day off and then get back into it in readiness for the next launch because it’s just as important.”

It is the first NASA rocket to launch from Australia since 1995, and the project was hailed as the start of a “new era” for the country’s space industry by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

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