CDC director signs off on COVID booster shot program after overruling advisory panel

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has signed off a limited COVID-19 booster shot program on Thursday, overruling a panel of advisors.  

The plan endorses Pfizer booster shots for high-risk groups, including seniors over the age of 65, long-term care home residents, adults between 50-64 with underlying medical conditions, and adults working in hospitals, care homes, and other high-transmission settings.  

The program does not apply to those who have received the Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine.  

“While today’s action was an initial step related to booster shots, it will not distract from our most important focus of primary vaccination in the United States and around the world,” said Dr. Walensky.  

Recommendations from a CDC advisory panel on Thursday voted for booster shots for seniors, nursing home residents, and adults with medical conditions, but did not endorse the booster shots for those working in high-transmission settings, however, Walensky overruled the panel adding booster shots for those working in high-transmission settings into the program in a move that many have described as unusual.

“I am surprised that Dr. Walensky overturned one of the four A.C.I.P. votes today, and I believe others will be as well,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease expert and the American Academy of Pediatrics liaison to the ACIP, told The New York Times.  

Others disagree that Walensky made an unusual decision.  

“I wouldn’t characterize it as highly unusual or ‘overruling’ — it’s a tough spot to be in and the alternative was the FDA and CDC saying different things,” said Mayo Clinic Professor Vincent Rajkumar on Twitter. “This was a unique situation. It’s the kind of judgment call we want leaders to make. Otherwise, they would be rubber stamps.” 

The move comes as experts have debated if booster shots were necessary, as the three readily available vaccines remain highly effective at preventing serious complications or death from COVID-19.  

The Biden administration, however, accelerated the debate when they anticipated the widespread use of booster shots among Americans as early as September 20.  

“It will make you safer, and for longer, and it will help us end the pandemic faster,” Biden said in a speech at the White House last month. “This is no time to let our guard down. We just need to finish the job with science, with facts, and with confidence.” 





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Catholic radio program dropped from Florida station for anti-COVID vaccine stance 

STUART, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic radio program “without compromise” has been dropped from a Florida radio station for speaking out against COVID-19 shots. 

Virgin Most Powerful Radio was informed on September 15 by Ron Crider that their programming would be “immediately” discontinued on Prince of Peace Radio, WJPP/WPBV, based in Stuart, Florida, because of their “inconsistent” views on the morality of the COVID-19 jabs. 

It is our understanding the church supports vaccinations,” Crider wrote in an email announcing his decision.

“The Pope has been vaccinated and the council of Bishops support vaccination. And yes we are 100% Pro Life and totally are against abortion!” 

Crider continued: “Your program is inconsistent with our station with respect to the ‘vaccination issue’.”

“Otherwise we very much like your daily program.” 

Terry Barber, the founder of several major Catholic media apostolates, including St. Joseph Communications, Lighthouse Catholic Media, and the Catholic Resource Center, formed the Virgin Most Powerful radio network after The Terry and Jesse Show, which he hosts together with Jesse Romero, was dropped from Relevant Radio, formerly known as Immaculate Heart Radio.  

Barber and Romero had been speaking out on moral and health issues of the COVID-19 jabs for months on The Terry and Jesse Show. Just prior to being dropped, on September 13, they had hosted a radio show entitled “Profile in Cowardice: How Catholic Leaders Botched Abortion-Linked COVID Vaccines.” 

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United Airlines is accused of not respecting the religious and medical COVID vaccine exemptions which the company offered to employees who cannot, in good conscience or health, take the vaccine.

2,000 employees of the industry giant are represented in two court cases which have been initiated to stop United from laying-off or indefinitely furloughing workers who have sought COVID vaccine exemptions.

Please SIGN this BOYCOTT of United and send the airline a stong message that you will not support the implementation of these draconian measures.

Many United Airlines employees have sincerely held religious objections to taking the COVID vaccines, while other employees have been told by their doctors not to take the vaccine due to health concerns.

The religious and medical rights of these employees must be respected, and, will hopefully be vindicated by the courts.

But, airlines are for-profit businesses, and apart from the legal incentives, there must also be financial incentives for them to respect their employees’ religious and medical rights, and, indeed, the same rights of all Americans.

And, that’s why we are calling for a boycott.

The CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, and HR Manager, Kate Gebo, need to understand that the American public will not support businesses who force their employees or customers to violate their religious beliefs or their doctors’ recommendations.

Of course, this is totally unnecessary.

United could simply make reasonable accommodations for their employees who are claiming either a religious or medical exemption.

But, until United adopts that policy, we are asking you to consider boycotting the “unfriendly skies” and find another airline for your travel needs. By doing so, you will meaningfully stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these aggrieved United employees.

Thank you for SIGNING and SHARING this petition to boycott United Airlines over the company’s failure to respect religious and medical COVID vaccine exemptions for its employees.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

‘Pilots seek restraining order against United Airlines’ ‘unlawful, life-threatening, vaccine-mandate’’ – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pilots-seek-restraining-order-against-united-airlines-unlawful-life-threatening-vaccine-mandate/

‘United Airlines will put employees with religious, medical COVID vaccine exemptions on unpaid leave’ – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/739949/

**Photo Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Barber’s wife, Mary, who co-hosts another radio show with him, “Bible with the Barbers,” responded by email to Crider’s notice, advising him to look up the article “The Morality of Receiving Abortion-Derived Vaccines” by Fr. Leon Pereira, O.P., a biologist, medical doctor, and moral theologian.  

Mary Barber highlighted several of Pereira’s key points, saying first that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 “vaccines” had a connection to aborted fetal tissue in stages one and three of development of the shot for its design and testing. 

“In addition to that, he traces the fetal cell lines that were used and makes them personal,” she continued, alluding Pereira’s efforts to identify the babies from which the currently used fetal cell lines originated.

“We are dealing with a medical research method that uses the killing of human beings to develop/design, test or produce pharmaceuticals.”  

Mary Barber  then pointed to the document Dignitas Personae (2008), issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which states that only “morally proportionate” “grave reasons” may justify the use of such normally illicit biological material, such as danger to the health of children. And even then, as Barber noted, “pressure must be put on governments, pharmaceutical companies, researchers, etc., to find an ethically acceptable alternative!”  

In a follow-up response to Crider, Mary Barber quoted from the recent CDF “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines,” which stated, “Practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.” 

She also noted that “It is only permitted to use the vaccine when there is no other means to stop or prevent the epidemic.”  

“Thousands of doctors have testified to treating patients successfully, even patients with comorbidities, without hospitalization or vaccines,” said Mary Barber, adding that The Church is not infallible in matters of medicine/science.” 

In light of Dignitas Personae’s admonition that vaccines developed from aborted fetal tissue are permissible only when the “danger” is real, Mary Barber wrote, “Why is a vaccine necessary for a virus that 99.5% of the people infected recover from? 

Crider’s only response to Mary Barber, in answer to her question about which two vaccines are considered “acceptable to the Catholic Church,” was the text of an article entitled, “Catholic Church encourages people to get Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over Johnson and Johnson.” 

However, Crider gave LifeSiteNews a fuller explanation of the reasons behind his decision. 

“Americans are prolonging the pandemic by not getting vaccinated. I think this is selfish on their part,” he told LifeSiteNews by email.  

“However, the unvaccinated ‘are the greater majority’ of people dying.  Their stubbornness is creating a huge problem for this country,” Crider continued. 

“Stop with the religious excuse. The Popes are vaccinated. Stop with the-side effects excuse. Do you want to drag this out 5 years to see what they are[?] Where is your ‘FAITH’?” 

Crider revealed that his “entire family,” including his children and grandchildren, are vaccinated, and that they are “proud to wear a vaccination bracelet.” He further defended his position by saying that “the majority of the Catholic Church is pro-vaccination.” 

“It is my personal opinion your position makes you part of the problem and not part of the solution,” he declared.  

Many people have made reasonable decision not to take the COVID-19 jabs because of the thousands of deaths and millions of other serious injuries that have been recorded following their use.  

One of the testimonies Mary Barber had shared with Crider was from a nurse who refuses the COVID-19 jab and was made to choose between keeping their job and getting the shot. 

It’s easier to paint us as uncaring, uneducated conspiracy theorists than acknowledge that we are humans just like you, with families, beliefs, doing what we feel in our hearts to be best,” the nurse wrote. 

She emphasized that her entire career was dedicated to putting the needs of her patients before her own, sacrificing time with her own family to serve others.

“I’ve patiently spoon-fed ice cream and one pill at a time for an hour to your confused grandpa, answered hundreds of questions, reassured till I’m blue in the face, rushed in to make sure he didn’t fall,” the nurse said.  

“We forgo bathroom breaks, go 12+ hours without eating, lay down food we’ve reheated 4 times when a call bell rings, even if all that’s needed is moving a drink cup 3 inches to the right,” she continued. 

“But what is a choice if one option leaves every fiber in your being screaming NO and the other steals your livelihood, your passion, and the career you’ve given your heart to for the past 7 years? I don’t call that a choice.”  

The Catholic hierarchy is not wholly united on the morality of the currently available COVID-19 shots. Several bishops and archbishops, including Bishop Joseph Strickland and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, signed a statement on December 12, 2020, declaring their moral opposition to the currently available abortion-tainted COVID-19 “vaccines.” 

“The crime of abortion is so monstrous that any kind of concatenation with this crime, even a very remote one, is immoral and cannot be accepted under any circumstances by a Catholic once he has become fully aware of it,” the prelates’ statement reads. 

“One who uses these vaccines must realize that his body is benefitting from the ‘fruits’ (although steps removed through a series of chemical processes) of one of mankind’s greatest crimes.” 

“God knows these souls by name,” Bishop Athanasius Schneider told John-Henry Westen, referring to the babies used to develop the current COVID-19 shots. 

All of the shows hosted by Virgin Most Powerful Radio, and their accompanying recordings, can be found on their website. Recordings from The Terry and Jesse Show can be found here. 



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Judicial Watch Sues for Records on Biden Administration’s COVID-19 Community Corps Program

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services seeking all records related to the so-called COVID-19 Community Corps (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-02315)).

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after HHS failed to reply to an April 19, 2021, FOIA request for:

  • All records regarding the Department of Health and Human Services’ “COVID-19 Community Corps” program, which was announced by the department on April 1, 2021. This request includes the following:
  • All records depicting the application process and selection criteria for organizations participating in the program.
  • All records related to the consideration of any organization considered for participation in the program that were not selected.
  • All records concerning any awarded or proposed related grants or contracts with any organization participating in the program.
  • All related records of communication between any representative of the Department of Health and Human Services and any representative of any organization participating in the program.

The HHS website describes the COVID-19 Community Corps as “an initiative to increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and reinforce basic prevention measures.” The government program also seeks to enlist minors (16 and older). The site reports “over 4,000 organizations and almost 10,000 individuals across the United States have joined the COVID-19 Community Corps. They’ve committed to take action to encourage their families, friends, and members of their communities to get vaccinated for COVID-19.”

“The federal government organizing a ‘corps’ of private individuals, minors, corporations, and unions to push controversial COVID policies is concerning,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Also concerning is the Biden administration’s unlawful refusal to turn over records about this program to the American people.”

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Tennessee reports student performance improvement after summer camp program

Tennessee reported wider improvements at the elementary school level than the middle school level in summer learning camps created to make up for learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Testing was done in math and English and Language Arts (ELA) before and after the summer as more than 120,000 students statewide took place in the camps, which were paid for by federal pandemic relief money.

The largest improvements were in elementary math, where students improved their results by 11.66 percentage points.

“For math … it declines faster but it grows faster,” Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said Wednesday. “… Most importantly, we did not see differences between our economically disadvantaged and not academically disadvantaged peers.”

The state set aside $116.8 million in pandemic relief funding for the summer program with an additional $18.5 million to pay for transportation. Not all school districts have submitted reimbursement for the summer programs, but one-third of the summer camp funding ($44.7 million) has been spent, along with 35% of the transportation funds.

“Districts close their books throughout the fall, so many of our districts have not fully closed their books, and so that means that those reimbursements have not yet come in or they are still pending in process,” Schwinn said. “… We do expect that the full amount will be drawn down based on what we are seeing from what has been submitted and early reports.”

K-8 students had a 10.49 percentage-point improvement in math, and the average middle school specific improvement was 6 percentage points.

ELA scores improved 5.97 percentage points overall over the summer with a 7.34 percentage-point increase at the elementary school level and a 0.66 percentage-point increase in middle school.

“What we were balancing this year is to make sure that we were keeping assessments as brief as possible and maximizing instructional minutes,” Schwinn said. “… It is not a full [Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program] assessment. I do not think it is appropriate to give students a three-hour test at the beginning and end of the summer program.

“It does give us a directional sense of improvement.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, welcomed the improvement scores but said it’s too early to celebrate.

“I think the sample size of the students who attended summer school is pretty small, and I’d wait until we find out more about this school year and the 1 million students who have struggled this year through the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and classes shutting down for weeks due to quarantines and the lack of consistent opportunities for remote learning during those quarantines,” Dixie said in a statement. “Without taking a deep dive into the data, I applaud any learning gains but remain concerned that the lack of leadership from the Governor will wipe out any modest gains the Summer Learning Camps may have provided.”

Schwinn said her department received feedback and will attempt to embed some of the assessment program into the instructional work next summer.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said it was good to see the progress “after the work that we have done this past year to really address the challenges that our kids have faced throughout the pandemic, particularly the challenge of learning loss that we knew was coming as a result of time away from the classroom.

“We anticipated the struggles that we knew were coming. … Because of that understanding of what was coming, we decided early to be swift, to be bold and to lead in this effort, so we called a special session in January.”

Tennessee public schools will receive $4.5 billion in federal relief between spring 2020 and fall 2023.

The largest portion of those funds, $3.58 billion, go directly to Local Education Associations (LEA). Also being allocated are $385 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER), $126 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds, $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) and $45 million in competitive federal grants.

The state had reimbursed 77% of its ESSER 1.0 funds and 21% of ESSER 2.0 funds as of Sept. 15. The end dates for the three phases of ESSER funding are September 2022, 2023 and 2024.





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With vaccine mandate looming, hundreds of school districts tapping into COVID testing program

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for educators in effect Sunday, it’s expected COVID-19 testing will increase and some are calling for additional oversight of the testing program and the money spent on it.

Pritzker’s vaccine mandate for health care workers, college students and educators from Pre-K through college, says those that can’t or won’t take the vaccine must submit to weekly testing. For K-12 schools, a $235 million program provides the U of I’s SHIELD tests at no cost to the district.

“In the five-week period since Aug. 15, SHIELD Illinois has conducted approximately 133,000 tests for public K-12 schools and 24,000 tests for non-public K-12 schools in Illinois,” said SHIELD Illinois marketing and communications lead Ben Taylor.

The tests cost $35 each. Up to $10 of that could go to a third-party contractor that collects and delivers the test from the school to a lab. The fees are invoiced by SHIELD Illinois to the Illinois Department of Public health based on the test count at no cost to the school.

IDPH said 449 school districts have signed up with SHIELD and 94 are currently using the program. Around a hundred other districts are expected to launch in the next two weeks.

“The remaining schools are going through the onboarding process and we are working with SHIELD to get them online as quickly as possible,” IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold said.

“Last April, before the end of the school year, the state began encouraging schools to sign up for SHIELD testing,” Arnold said. “Unfortunately, many schools have waited until now to sign up – approximately 38% signed up after Aug. 24, 2021.”

Calling the testing program a “disaster,” state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, was critical of its rollout, especially with the governor’s vaccine mandate for educators looming.

“And they just wait until it’s past the point of no return to start figuring out the logistics,” Rose said. “You can’t scale up four- or five-hundred school districts in two weeks. It’s impossible.”

A spokesperson for SHIELD Illinois said they’re ready for the increased demand.

“With 114 more public school districts and 45 more non-public schools scheduled to launch testing in the next two weeks, and an additional 84 public and 23 non-public in the three weeks after that (through Oct. 29), we anticipate and are prepared for a continued increase in testing volumes,” Taylor said.

Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said taxpayers are still footing the bill and oversight is needed.

“You’ve got to wonder, is anybody enriching themselves, is there any corruption, is there fraud?” Dabrowski said. “I’m hopeful this government can figure it out, but I’m skeptical.”

Rose, who’s on the Legislative Audit Commission, wasn’t sure how oversight would happen.

“I mean, yeah, there’s going to be oversight, but oversight of what?” Rose said. “The goofballs that failed to anticipate what was easily anticipatable?”

To date, SHIELD Illinois says it has performed more than 826,000 total tests across all organizations, with hundreds of agreements with public and non-public schools.

“As a non-profit unit of the University of Illinois System, SHIELD Illinois operates on a cost-recovery basis, only in pursuit of our mandate as a land-grant institution to use our resources and capabilities for the public good,” Taylor said. “As part of this mission, we continue to look for ways to further reduce the per-test cost to the state and extend even more testing to our fellow citizens.”

A U of I-related company called SHIELD T3 contracts with out-of-state organizations to provide the SHIELD testing services.

In response to questions about how many tests have been performed, a spokesperson said the company “is focused on distributing the innovative saliva-based test outside of Illinois,” and “has run approximately 1.3 million tests to date.”

“We do not release revenue numbers,” said SHIELD T3 spokesperson Melissa Harris.

There are different taxpayer-funded testing programs used by private schools throughout the state, and other programs in the city of Chicago and Cook County.





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Biden Administration Blames Delay in Restarting ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program on Mexico

President Joe Biden’s administration has not returned a single illegal immigrant to Mexico under the Migrant Policy Protocols after being ordered to restart the program by the Supreme Court last month.

U.S. government officials are in talks with officials in Mexico on rebooting the program but Mexico is so far resisting a formal resumption, court documents filed this week say.

“Discussions with Mexico are ongoing and are proceeding in good faith, but, as of yet, Mexico has not yet agreed to accept returns under the Court-ordered restart of MPP,” Brian Ward, a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice, wrote in one filing.

The forms were submitted to U.S. District Judge Matthew Joseph Kacsmaryk, a Trump nominee who initially ordered the Biden administration to restart the program, commonly known as “Remain in Mexico” or MPP.

The Trump-era program centers around making many immigrants who seek asylum wait in Mexico while their claims are heard. More than 55,000 were returned through Oct. 28, 2019, under the program. Mexico’s government agreed during the previous administration to provide the migrants with protection and care, though later reports indicated that some were living in poor conditions.

The Supreme Court upheld Kacsmaryk’s ruling on Aug. 24, finding that the administration’s ending of the program was “arbitrary and capricious,” which violates federal law.

The ruling ordered the Biden administration to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith until such a time as it has been lawfully rescinded in compliance with the” Administrative Procedure Act and until the U.S. government has enough detention capacity to detain all illegal immigrants that must be deported under 8 U.S. Code § 1255 “without releasing any aliens because of a lack of detention resources.”

The Department of Homeland Security said the same day that it had started to engage with the government of Mexico on restarting the program but in the new filings, indicated that little progress has been made.

“In order to restart MPP, the two governments must reach agreement on a number of foundational matters, including: the make-up of individuals who are amenable to MPP, in what circumstances and locations returns to Mexico and reentry into the United States to attend court hearings can occur, how many individuals can be enrolled in given locations, and the types of support these individuals will receive in Mexico. All of these topics, and others, remain under active negotiation,” Ward, the U.S. government lawyer, said.

“Importantly, MPP cannot function without Mexico’s agreement to accept individuals returned from the United States under the program,” he added.

At the same time, the U.S. government is working on organizing other parts of the program, such as exploring funding and obtaining contracts to rebuild facilities used for hearings for illegal immigrants who are part of the program.

The facilities used before were repurposed and would have to be rebuilt with COVID-19 measures taken into account, the U.S. government says. The initial cost is pegged at $14.1 million for construction with another $10.5 million per month required to operate the facilities.

The contacts won’t be executed until an agreement is reached with Mexico.

Mexico’s government has said little about MPP beyond stating it was not bound by the U.S. court decisions but would discuss the matter with U.S. officials.

The U.S. government update was made to adhere to Kacsmaryk’s order, which said that as the U.S. government worked to restart MPP, it would need to file a report with him each month, beginning Sept. 15, on progress made and the situation regarding illegal immigration in the country.

U.S. border agents made over 200,000 arrests at the southern border in August, one of the highest months on record, as the Biden administration grapples with a massive influx that shows no signs of abating.

States along the border have tried fighting back in court. The order to resume MPP came from a lawsuit filed by the states of Missouri and Texas.

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.



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Paycheck Protection Program Exclusion of Nude Dancing Establishments Likely Constitutional – Reason.com

From Camelot Banquet Rooms, Inc. v. U.S. SBA, decided Wednesday by the Seventh Circuit, in a per curiam opinion by Judges Michael Kanne, Ilana Rovner & David Hamilton:

Plaintiffs in this case are about fifty businesses all over the country that offer live adult entertainment in the form of nude or nearly nude dancing. They seek to obtain loans under the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program enacted by Congress to address economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. By statute, Congress excluded plaintiffs and several other categories of businesses from the second round of the Program.

Plaintiffs assert that their exclusion from the Program violates their constitutional rights, primarily under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

For one brief shining moment, the district court agreed, and “issued a preliminary injunction that enjoins the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) from denying plaintiffs eligibility for the loan program based on the statutory exclusion.” But the Seventh Circuit stayed the injunction pending appeal; though the matter still awaits a final decision, the question whether to grant the stay required the court to take a peek at the merits, and here’s what it wrote (in an opinion that’s quite consistent with a similar Second Circuit decision from March):

The problem with plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim and the preliminary injunction here is that Congress is not trying to regulate or suppress plaintiffs’ adult entertainment. It has simply chosen not to subsidize it. Such selective, categorical exclusions from a government subsidy do not offend the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly drawn a line between government regulation of speech, on one hand, and government subsidy of speech on the other. Its decisions show that the government is not required to subsidize activity simply because the activity is protected by the First Amendment….

[A] selective subsidy program may violate the First Amendment if it is “aim[ed] at the suppression of dangerous ideas.” To take an easy example, even if Congress can exclude lobbyists entirely from the Program’s subsidies, it could not choose to subsidize Democratic lobbyists while excluding Republicans. Plaintiffs’ theory here is that Congress chose to exclude their businesses from the subsidy program because it deemed their “ideas” about sexuality to be dangerous.

This theory does not seem to distinguish between government suppression of protected activity and denial of a subsidy. Plaintiffs’ theory seems to be that the denial of a subsidy is itself the act of suppression…. [But the selective-subsidy cases] surely require[] something more, like viewpoint discrimination, than denial of the subsidy itself….

The [district court’s] theory was that even if the exclusion of plaintiffs’ businesses from the Program was not “traditional viewpoint discrimination,” the exclusion’s focus on “prurience” created a free speech problem. The exclusion, as the court saw the issue, depends on prurience, which the court saw as the expressive, “sexually arousing” “message” of the adult entertainment. The court viewed the exclusion as thus an effort to use a subsidy exclusion to suppress a “dangerous idea[.]” …

[But t]he statutory exclusion from the Program of businesses with prurient live entertainment is better understood not as viewpoint discrimination but as a permissible classification based on subject matter. The Supreme Court made this point in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul:

“When the basis for the content discrimination consists entirely of the very reason the entire class of speech at issue is proscribable, no significant danger of idea or viewpoint discrimination exists. Such a reason, having been adjudged neutral enough to support exclusion of the entire class of speech from First Amendment protection, is also neutral enough to form the basis of distinction within the class. To illustrate: A State might choose to prohibit only that obscenity which is the most patently offensive in its pruriencei.e., that which involves the most lascivious displays of sexual activity. But it may not prohibit, for example, only that obscenity which includes offensive political messages.”

In effect, the Court was telling us, it would be a category mistake to think that prurience or lasciviousness reflects a “viewpoint” that the government may not discriminate against. The terms instead identify a category or subject matter of expressive conduct that may be subject to some forms of government regulation….

Accordingly, excluding the entire category or subject matter of prurient live performances from a government subsidy program does not violate the Free Speech Clause. See Pharaohs GC v. U.S. SBA (2d Cir. 2021) (term “prurient” in SBA regulation describes subject matter, not viewpoint, for exclusion from Program); PMG Int’l Division L.L.C. v. Rumsfeld (9th Cir. 2002) (treating “lascivious” materials as articulating a “viewpoint” would “risk eviscerating altogether the line between content and viewpoint”); General Media Communications, Inc. v. Cohen (2d Cir. 1997) (“[H]ow, for example, would one go about discussing and considering the political issues of the day from a lascivious viewpoint?”).

The court also rejected the district court’s conclusion that the exclusion lacks a rational basis:

The district court appears to have applied an erroneous and unduly rigorous form of judicial review, second-guessing legislative decisions and compromises on policy grounds, and concluding that the Program was over- and under-inclusive in various respects. A government spending program, especially one responding to an economic emergency, is subject to the least rigorous form of judicial review. In enacting such legislation, Congress must respond quickly to an emergency and must hammer together a coalition of majority votes in both houses. The need for compromises and trade-offs is never greater.

When pressed in this suit to justify the exclusion of plaintiffs from the Program’s subsidies, the government pointed to the “secondary effects” of sex-oriented businesses that can be used to justify time, place, and manner regulations of such businesses. Plaintiffs and the district court responded by criticizing Congress for not having made a record on the subject at the time the legislation was enacted.

Any expectation that Congress would have taken the time to make such a record would seem unrealistic, to put it mildly. Any expectation or demand that Congress must make such a record is contrary to constitutional doctrine. The rational-relation test requires a challenger in litigation to exclude any possible rational grounds that the legislature might have deemed sufficient grounds for the statutory distinction. It does not require the legislature to have made a contemporaneous record on the subject.

Similarly, plaintiffs’ and the district court’s assertion that the rationale for excluding plaintiffs is under-inclusive is not easy to reconcile with the rational-relation test. All sorts of legislative classifications, exclusions, and compromises pass muster even if they are over- or under-inclusive. “[C]ourts are compelled under rational-basis review to accept a legislature’s generalizations even when there is an imperfect fit between means and ends. A classification does not fail rational-basis review because it ‘is not made with mathematical nicety or because in practice it results in some inequality,’ ” and “[t]he problems of government are practical ones and may justify, if they do not require, rough accommodations—illogical, it may be, and unscientific.” …

[Plaintiffs] were not singled out for this exclusion, even among businesses primarily engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment. Congress also chose to exclude from the Program businesses “primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities.” Such business activities are much closer to the core of the First Amendment than the dances at plaintiffs’ bars and clubs. Yet lobbyists and political consultants were also excluded. Congress chose not to require taxpayers to subsidize them. We do not see a plausible constitutional basis for requiring government subsidies of lobbyists, at least as long as there is no viewpoint discrimination.

Congress also excluded many other categories of businesses: banks, lenders, finance companies, and some pawn shops; life insurance companies; businesses located in foreign countries; pyramid sale distribution plans; businesses engaged in any illegal activity; private clubs; government-owned businesses; loan packagers; businesses with an “Associate” who is in prison, on probation, on parole, or who has been indicted for a felony or crime of moral turpitude; and businesses that have previously defaulted on SBA or other federally assisted loans.

These exclusions are not difficult to understand in terms of policy and politics. They all help defuse potential “gotcha” criticisms of this generous emergency program that might be used to undermine political support for the Program and the overall legislation. Such tailoring of legislation to build and maintain political support is perfectly constitutional, at least in the absence of viewpoint or invidious discrimination, of which we see no signs here.

{The Constitution does not prohibit legislation on the basis of morality. Consider, for example, the possibility that Congress might choose to exclude from this or other subsidy programs alcoholic beverage makers, casinos and other gambling businesses, weapons makers, and so on. Such line-drawing is left to the legislature, absent viewpoint or invidious discrimination.}



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New Jersey electric vehicle program paused after running out of money

A program to dole out roughly $30 million to help New Jersey residents lease or buy an electric vehicle (EV) could run out of funds sooner than expected this year.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) is pausing its Charge Up Program at 9 p.m. Wednesday. The program provides up to $5,000 to purchase or lease a new EV.

The second year of the initiative launched July 6, and the program has allocated funds to help New Jerseyans buy or lease nearly 9,000 new EVs in less than two years.

“New Jersey’s EV incentive program has been very successful,” NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said in an announcement . “There is clearly enthusiasm for electric vehicles so while the program is paused, we are evaluating all options with the hope of reopening before the next fiscal year.”

Officials said they anticipated available funding for the fiscal 2022 iteration of the program would run out Wednesday. Dealers have until Oct. 15 to complete the application process for orders placed by 9 p.m. Wednesday.

It is not immediately clear whether more funding will extend the program before reopening the next fiscal year. Gov. Phil Murphy has established a goal of 330,000 EVs on New Jersey streets by 2025.

The program is funded with $30 million annually by the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Incentive Fund.





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Aviation maintenance training program to open in Illinois

The largest aviation maintenance training program in the country will call Illinois home.

The Aviation Institute of Maintenance has opened a massive 137,000 square foot facility in Chicago, the largest in the country. They converted an old warehouse with a large hangar, 17 classrooms, a lab and offices to support students.

“AIM is thrilled to bring our proven industry training programs to Illinois as we work to prepare the next generation for exciting roles in the aviation industry,” said AIM executive vice president Joel English.

AIM received an Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or “EDGE” tax credit based on its plans to deliver a $10 million capitol investment in the McKinley park community and 75 jobs by the end of 2022.

“Our aviation training facility in McKinley Park, our district and the entirety of Illinois are reaffirming our global reputation as a proven leader in transportation investment, innovation and opportunity,” said Congresswoman Marie Newman.

Training programs will prepare students with certifications needed to work with major airlines or any number of aviation industry partners based in Illinois.

An initial 40 students will be enrolled in 2021 and there are plans to serve 200 students next year. Following approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, AIM has partnered with Southern Illinois University’s School of Aviation to allow AIM students to receive a bachelor’s degree post-graduation and will look to arrange agreements with additional Illinois colleges and universities.

Officials say graduates focusing on the field of aviation maintenance will have the potential to make $72,000 dollars a year. The job outlook for aircraft mechanics shows faster than average growth, with jobs in the industry in Illinois projected to grow 9% over the next decade, compared to just 3% for the rest of the country.





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BREAKING: Jason Kenney announces vaccine “restriction exemptions program” for Alberta

Jason Kenney has committed time and time again that Alberta will not accept or facilitate vaccine passports in Alberta — he went on to say that a vaccine passport would contravene the Health Information Act and potentially the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. He also boasted about his government amending the Public Health Act, removing a 110-year-old power allowing the government to force people to be inoculated. Furthermore, when I asked him if he would intervene on behalf of Albertan’s should the federal government attempt to enact a vaccine passport, he said he would.

Despite all these assurances, with the threat of the fourth wave looming and new political pressures, this commitment has evaporated. Kenney has declared a state of emergency and stated that Alberta must take measures to maximize healthcare capacity, slow transmission and increase vaccination.

Alberta’s Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced that the Government of Alberta will be implementing several restrictions which can be found here, on September 16, 2021.

The government is also implementing a restrictions exemptions program, which allows vaccinated individuals to be exempt for most restrictions. This is pure political theater — a “restrictions exemption program” is a vaccine passport. Kenney insists that he will not force vaccinations on people, instead he is coercing folks by create a two-tier vaccine passport system that affords different rights to different people. He should respect Albertan’s enough to call a vaccine passport a vaccine passport.

Do you oppose the use of vaccine passports in Canada? Go to FightVaccinePassports.com to sign our petition, share with us your forced vaccination story and donate to help fund our legal battles against vaccine passports across Canada.

 





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