Chris Newton: The Government’s Free Speech Bill won’t fix universities if viewpoint diversity isn’t addressed too

Dr Chris Newton is a military historian and a former defence policy adviser in the Conservative Research Department.

As universities start a new academic year, the Government’s Higher Education (Free Speech) Bill is going through Parliament. The bill strengthens and protects university freedom of speech and is desperately needed.

University cancel culture” is not just an American phenomenon (and Peter Boghossian’s recent resignation letter to Portland State University indicates it’s still a major problem there). One needn’t go back far to find examples of academics and students in the UK having their freedom of speech threatened as well.

Just this month, the media reported that the University of Bristol dropped Professor Steven Greer’s module on Islam and the Far East. This is despite Greer being cleared by a five-month investigation into complaints about his alleged views on Islam.

In Scotland, where the bill will not unfortunately apply, Neil Thin, a senior lecturer Edinburgh University who criticised the renaming of David Hume Tower, faced an investigation after students made unsubstantiated accusations against him. While the university dismissed the complaints, Thin has spoken about the “severe psychological and social damage that can be caused by…unnecessary punitive investigations”.

These are just a couple out of a whole litany of cases where academics have been subjected to event cancellations, petitions calling for their dismissal, or witch trial style disciplinary procedures.

Their views aren’t, on the whole, regarded as particularly controversial in the real world. Academics have been denounced for defending Brexit, arguing that British history contains good as well as bad aspects, and for saying that biological sex is scientific fact. These views have been met with cries of “xenophobe”, “racist“, or “transphobe, among other slurs.

Recent research indicates that there is a deeper cultural problem. A 2020 report from Policy Exchange found that 44 per cent of academics surveyed who identified as “fairly right” and 63 per cent of those who were “very right” stated that they worked in a hostile working climate. These concerns seem to be justified as only 54 per cent of academics indicated that they would feel comfortable sitting next to a Leave supporter at lunch.

The Free Speech Bill should at the very least prevent further noplatformings. Some have argued that universities will also have to create bureaucratic structures that will ensure legal compliance. The Free Speech Union will also keep defending its members and reminding universities of their legal obligations.

These are important developments, but Nadhim Zahawi, the new Education Secretary, should consider whether the bill as it stands is still a sticking plaster that only deals with the symptoms and not the root causes of the problem.

As has been pointed out by Policy Exchange and others, universities have been able to enforce an ideological orthodoxy because they are dominated by one side of the political spectrum. The Policy Exchange report found that under 20 per cent of academics voted for right-leaning parties in 2017 and 2019, while 75 per cent voted for either Labour, the Liberal Democrats, or the Greens. For all the preaching about “diversity and inclusion” that goes on in universities, political diversity is very much forgotten.

Fuelling the intolerance is also the growing influence of radicals. The past few years have witnessed the emergence of “critical theories” or “critical social justice”, once a fringe element, as a powerful force on campus, particularly in the humanities and social sciences.

Critical theories” include postcolonialism, critical race theory, and critical gender studies, and are descendants of Marxism and Postmodernism. They believe that Western societies are structurally unequal, and ethnic minorities, women, homosexuals, and transgender people are systemically oppressed.

There is no room for individual agency; power dynamics are structural and pre-determined by group identity. An ideology that believes that those who question their claims regarding systemic oppression are “complicit” in the discrimination is not exactly going to be open to alternative views.

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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.


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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Sen. Scott Says Biden Shouldn’t Remain Silent on China’s Oppression in Hong Kong

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is calling on President Joe Biden to speak up against China’s assault on democracy in Hong Kong, after nine activists in the Chinese-ruled city were given months-long sentences for commemorating victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

“Once a thriving democracy, Hong Kong is now fully under the oppressive rule of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the Communist Chinese government. These unwarranted and unjustifiable arrests are just the latest proof of Hong Kong’s sad transformation,” Scott said in a statement.

Among those sentenced to prison on Sept. 15 was Albert Ho, former chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which has organized the annual candlelight vigil since 1990.

Hong Kong authorities banned the vigil this year and last year, citing concerns about the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

Despite the ban, thousands including Ho gathered at the city’s Victoria Park on June 4 last year to remember the student protesters.

On Wednesday, Ho was sentenced to 10 months in prison—six months for attending the unauthorized vigil, and 10 months for incitement. Several former pro-democracy lawmakers, including Leung Kwok-hung and Eddie Chu, were given a six-month prison term for participating in the vigil.

Ho, who is already serving 18 months for his role in protests in 2019, will serve the new sentence concurrently.

In December 2020, U.S.-based organization Human Rights First awarded Ho its 2020 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award, in recognition of his decades-long achievement as a human rights defender.

In all, the nine activists received sentences ranging from 6 to 10 months. Three other activists were given suspended sentences.

Participants hold candles as they take part in a memorial vigil in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Scott said: “As the world’s dictators continue their assaults on democracy, free speech, and human rights, Joe Biden is silent.

“As the leader of the free world, Joe Biden should be the loudest voice condemning Communist China’s transgressions, but he is again missing in action.”

The senator added, “Instead of continuing his failed appeasement, it’s time for Biden to clearly and unapologetically stand for the rights of Hong Kongers and the protection of freedom and democracy around the world.”

The 12 who were dealt sentences on Sept. 15 were among a total of 26 activists charged in connection with the vigil in 2020. Nathan Law and Sunny Cheung fled the city before they were summoned to court in September 2020.

Other prominent young activists, Joshua Wong, Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen, and Janelle Leung, were given jail terms in April after they pleaded guilty to unlawful assembly charges. In May, Wong was sentenced to an additional 10 months in jail.

The remaining eight defendants who face charges will face trial in November, including Lee Cheuk-yan, the leader of the Alliance. They have pleaded not guilty.

On Thursday, 61 Hong Kong and international human rights groups—including Freedom House, Hong Kong Watch, Human Rights Watch, and Safeguard Defenders—joined together to call on the Hong Kong government to drop all charges against leaders of the Alliance.

“By arresting vigil organizers, Beijing and Hong Kong authorities are telling the world they’re not only afraid of the most peaceful protests, but also of their own brutal past,” said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director.

“They should end this political persecution and immediately drop the charges and release the vigil organizers,” she added.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to his article. 

Frank Fang

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a Master’s degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.

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Federally Contracted Workers Destroy Building Materials From Trump’s Border Wall in Arizona for Scrap as Holes in the Wall Remain

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Federally Contracted Workers Destroy Building Materials From Trump’s Border Wall in Arizona for Scrap as Holes in the Wall Remain

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Novak Djokovic favored, but tough tests remain at U.S. Open

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Novak Djokovic is heavily favored ahead of the semifinals of the U.S. Open to become the first male player to complete a calendar-year sweep of the four Grand Slam events since Australia’s Rod Laver in 1969.

But his quest for history still includes two major obstacles.

The first comes in the form of Germany’s Alexander Zverev. The 2020 U.S. Open finalist has won 16 consecutive matches and has dropped only one set through his first five matches in Flushing Meadows this year.

That’s three fewer than Djokovic, who dropped a set in his opener and has lost the first set in each of his past three matches. However, the top-ranked Serbian has not lost more than three games in any other 15 sets he has played through five matches.

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Djokovic is the -260 favorite at DraftKings to get past Zverev (+195), who will be appearing in his fourth Grand Slam final.

“I played the final here last year in front of exactly six people,” Zverev said. “That was a little bit weird for me but it’s incredible to have the New York crowd back. I think the energy of the stadium, the energy of the people, we missed it for over a year all over the world,” Zverev said.

Djokovic has been backed by 82 percent of the handle and 80 percent of the total bets ahead of the semifinal clash with Zverev, who is the third favorite to claim the men’s singles title at +450.

That’s behind second-seeded Daniil Medvedev (+210 to win the title), who will face surprise semifinalist Felix Auger-Aliassime (+2500).

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Medvedev is the heavy -650 favorite to win the match and is backed by 71 percent of the bets at DraftKings. However, the book has seen some big bets on the 12th-seeded Canadian, with Auger-Aliassime backed by 57 percent of the handle ahead of his first career grand slam semifinal.

Djokovic has 20 career major titles – 20 more than the other three semifinalists combined.

Medvedev has reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the third consecutive year, dropping only one set along the way. He also has had a relatively easy bracket, with his only win against a seeded player thus far coming against No. 24 Daniel Evans in the Round of 16.

Medvedev lost in the 2019 final to Spaniard Rafael Nadal and fell in last year’s semifinals to eventual champ Dominic Thiem of Austria.

“I just want to do a little bit better than the last two times and get over this last little step, which is the toughest one,” Medvedev said after beating qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarterfinals.

–Field Level Media

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Biden Worked to Bring Back ‘Remain in Mexico’ Before Supreme Court Ruling

The Biden administration considered restarting the “Remain in Mexico” policy for illegal immigrants, or some version of it, before the Supreme Court’s Aug. 24 order requiring the government to keep it in place, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

A source with knowledge of internal deliberations told the Free Beacon top immigration officials were weighing proposals to resuscitate the Trump administration’s immigration program—which required prospective asylum seekers to stay in Mexico as their cases were adjudicated—in light of the “untenable” situation at the southern border.

“Every time we open a temporary processing facility it’s overcapacity on the first day,” the official said. “The amount of resources we were spending, not to include how much the surge bogged down our law enforcement, was staggering.”

The plans to reimplement some version of the Remain in Mexico policy undermine the promises President Joe Biden made to left-wing activists within his party. On the campaign trail, he called the policy “dangerous, inhumane, and goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants.” On his first day in office, Biden ordered the Department of Homeland Security to allow new asylum seekers to stay in the United States while they await court dates. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas formally terminated the policy—also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols—in June. On Aug. 24, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling, which said Biden violated federal law when he rescinded the policy.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, left-wing immigration activists demanded that Biden fight the policy in court, citing his promises on the campaign trail.

“Biden needs to make necessary fixes, marshal a compassionate vision of protection at the border, and restore asylum now,” wrote Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute. “The ball is in Biden’s court.”

On Aug. 25, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would “vigorously challenge” the Trump-era policy, though administration officials had already quietly begun to prepare plans to keep the policy in place. A DHS spokesman said the agency “will comply with the order in good faith” while it appeals the decision.

“DHS has begun to engage with the Government of Mexico in diplomatic discussions surrounding the Migrant Protection Protocols,” the spokesman said. “DHS remains committed to building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values.”

Private communications among administration officials did not reflect any doubt about the return of Remain in Mexico or the possibility that Biden would block it in the future.

A senior DHS official alerted immigration officials to the appeals court decision on Friday, Aug. 20, emails obtained by the Free Beacon show. The official wrote the agency would likely need 45 to 60 days to restart the program. Further emails show other senior agency officials were confused as to what court orders required the government to do. One official asked whether the administration was restarting Remain in Mexico outright. Another senior DHS official wrote in an email that the Biden administration had changed its position on Remain in Mexico altogether. Those messages were exchanged one day before the Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration.

Some DHS officials surmised that the order from the White House to begin reinstituting the policy stemmed from anticipating a loss in the Supreme Court. Rather than get caught flat-footed, the individual wrote, both DHS and Customs and Border Protection should begin the process of reopening migrant facilities in Mexico.

Politico previously reported that the Biden administration “is debating restarting … a more humane version” of the Remain in Mexico policy in response to the Supreme Court ruling, referred to by some in the Biden administration as “Remain in Mexico lite” that would provide “better living conditions and access to attorneys.”

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Open Borders Biden balances campaign promises with revised Remain in Mexico policy – HotAir

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) commonly referred to as the Remain in Mexico program was eliminated by Joe Biden on his first day in office. He promised during his presidential campaign that he would scrap the Trump administration’s policies to secure the southern border against waves of illegal migrants expecting to be admitted into the United States. Biden’s tendency to favor open borders was apparent to those seeking a chance to cross the southern border and they began their journey before he was even inaugurated. Since then we know what has happened. We’ve seen record numbers of migrants crossing over the border.

A federal judge ruled that the Remain in Mexico program must be reinstated by the Biden administration. The Supreme Court refused to rule against the federal judge’s order. So, with a bad track record so far in court, the Biden administration is now looking into a “kinder, gentler” Remain in Mexico program. Remain in Mexico lite, if you will. Nothing has even been officially proposed yet but the open borders crowd is already lodging their complaints. The administration is only now opening talks with Mexico.

“One of his campaign promises was to end MPP. He did that. He should stand by that,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of National Immigration Law Center. “The answer is not to simply find a gentler, kinder MPP 2.0. That completely flies in the face of his promise.”

DHS is putting the program back in place because of the court order but it promises to continue its appeals. Mostly though, DHS is appeasing its lefty critics.

In a statement last week, DHS indicated it would appeal the ruling in the courts but did not mention trying to end the program a second time using different reasoning.

“DHS has appealed the district court’s order and will continue to vigorously challenge it,” it said. “As the appeals process continues, however, DHS will comply with the order in good faith.”

Administration officials have declined to share specific plans for the future of the program, however, leaving those seeking asylum at the southern border in limbo once again.

The Biden administration never shares specific plans when it announces even the possibility of policy changes. It makes sweeping statements to try to please everyone yet there are never any details offered. This way, the administration thinks it will not be held accountable. What it really does is expose the fact that this administration is incompetent and ill-prepared to handle any crisis, especially one as severe as Biden’s border crisis. The administration is allowing single males to be expelled upon apprehension at the border but allows in minors and most families. This has accelerated human trafficking and the power of coyotes and cartels to make millions of dollars off the porous southern border. The humanitarian crisis at the border cannot be understated. Young children are being sent over the border alone, dumped to wait for Border Patrol agents to come and find them, or local law enforcement officers. Even the open borders advocates are frustrated by the tweaks Biden is making to policy.

“The most frustrating part of the last eight months has been just the constantly changing policies and situations on the border, particularly for the asylum seekers because they’re on the other side thinking that … ‘if we wait, Biden is going to eventually open up the ports of entry and allow us in,’” said Robyn Barnard, senior advocacy counsel for refugee protection at Human Rights First.

Advocates for the migrants are advising Mexico to not restart the program. The Biden administration is looking into using the Remain in Mexico program for a small number of illegal migrants as they work to improve living conditions at the border and to provide better access to attorneys. Again, there is no explanation of who the small group of migrants in the program would be.

Former ICE Director Tom Homan said today on FNC that the mid-term elections are on the horizon and the Biden administration is still struggling with getting the southern border under control. The news coming from the border continues to be bad. Homan said it hasn’t been announced yet but the number of apprehensions at the border will be more than 200,000 again. That, along with Biden’s horrendous handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the coronavirus pandemic are all bad news for Democrats running for office.

There have already been more than 1 million border apprehensions this year. Biden shut down every tool available for securing the border without having alternatives. His plan all along was to just open up the border and come what may. This is a dereliction of duty – the duty to secure the country and protect its sovereign borders. Biden thinks of it as an act of humanitarianism to not enforce immigration laws. It’s the opposite, as the humanitarian crisis on the border shows.

One tool the Biden administration is using is electronic surveillance. Biden will try to take credit for it but this was first tested by the Trump administration in 2018 in the San Diego Sector of the border. Now it is being installed in the El Paso Sector.

The high-tech watch poles known as Autonomous Surveillance Towers are powered by solar energy and use artificial intelligence to detect movement along a two-mile radius, sending the information in real-time to agents patrolling the area.

And they’re now being installed at different points along the nearly 2,000 miles of the US-Mexico border.

“The ASTs are in remote locations that are difficult to reach,” Border Patrol agent Joel Freeland recently told The Post. “They operate 24-hours a day and are environmentally friendly because they rely entirely on solar power.”

The point is that Joe Biden has no new ideas. His administration is not up to the job, whether it is border security or any other crisis. We were told it would be a return to normal, the grown-ups would be in charge again, and that the Biden administration would be filled with seasoned professionals. These professionals, though, are all the worst the government had to offer. This is your frequent reminder that Joe Biden has been historically wrong on making decisions, especially on foreign policy, but also on domestic policy as we all see now. The damage done to the country in such a short amount of time by this administration is not boding well for the rest of Biden’s term.

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Odds of a ‘breakthrough’ COVID infection remain low, though worsened after delta

People who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 seem to be getting infected with alarming frequency, including Georgia Bulldog football players and people on social media, and that is driving talk of booster shots before waning protection against the coronavirus grows into a crisis that fills hospitals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it knows of 12,908 hospitalizations or deaths among the 173 million people who had been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 30, though it hasn’t been closely tracking mild or asymptomatic instances of “breakthrough infections.”

Local health departments are trying to fill that gap and say the odds are still vastly in favor of people who get the shots. Available estimates show about 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 10,000 vaccinated people are infected on a given day, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“The point about breakthrough cases to emphasize is that they are almost universally mild and do not require medical attention,” he said. “They are to be expected because vaccines are not bug zappers and they were designed to prevent serious disease, which they are doing tremendously.”

Washington state recently reported 21,757 COVID-19 cases among the 4.2 million Washingtonians who were fully vaccinated — or about 0.5%.

Officials in King County, which includes Seattle, said unvaccinated people are seven times more likely than vaccinated people to become infected and 49 times more likely to be hospitalized if they are infected.

Yet those hoping to avoid any infection at all, particularly if it forces them out of work or to sit out social events, are being challenged by the aggressive delta variant.

Unvaccinated people were 10 times more likely than vaccinated people to become infected before the delta variant hit and only five times more likely after it arrived, according to a study that tracked people in Los Angeles County from May to July.

The CDC has repeatedly said the COVID-19 vaccines are good but not perfect protection against the coronavirus and warn that as the percentage of vaccinated Americans increases, the proportion of infections classified as “breakthrough” will naturally rise.

Still, well-publicized reports of cases in vaccinated people, particularly among pro and college athletes, who are tested frequently, are complicating President Biden’s push to get shots in arms.

“I think there’s a perception issue and an expectation that when we said the vaccines were 95% effective, a lot of average persons thought, ‘That’s it, I don’t have to think of this at all,’” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “Then along came delta, and delta changes that equation. It’s better able to produce these mild, breakthrough infections than did the old alpha strain.”

A New York state study showed a decrease in protection against infection from 92% in May — relatively early in the rollout — to 80% in July. A national study of 14,000 nursing homes found protection against infection dropped from 75% in March, the pre-delta era, to 53% by Aug. 1.

Those figures alarmed the Biden administration, which is pushing regulators to suggest booster shots, or third doses, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for people who completed their initial course up to eight months ago.

“Our anticipation is that if the trajectory that we are seeing continues, then we will likely see, in the future, an increase in breakthrough hospitalizations and breakthrough deaths. And that’s why we used our judgment” in recommending boosters, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently told reporters.

Also, a midsummer study from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, found that some vaccinated people who experienced breakthrough infections could transmit the virus as efficiently as unvaccinated people in some instances.

The Provincetown study prompted federal officials to reverse guidance and recommend that people wear masks indoors in high-transmission areas, regardless of vaccination status.

The shifting data and the delta threat are affecting the American psyche, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, which found that nearly half of adults — 47% — had a high to moderate fear of contracting COVID-19.

That was up 18 percentage points from late June, even as the share of adults who were vaccinated gradually rose.

“Does anyone besides me feel that the messaging over the last month in the US has basically served to terrify the vaccinated and make unvaccinated, eligible adults doubt the effectiveness of the vaccines?” Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, tweeted this month.

Some employers are mandating the shots, and federal officials are pleading with people to get vaccinated for themselves and for others. They highlight studies that find vaccinated people are still less likely to get infected and spread the virus than the unvaccinated.

A study from Los Angeles County found the incidence of infection among unvaccinated people was 315.1 per 100,000 in any given seven-day period from May 1 to July 25 compared with a 63.8 per 100,000 incidence rate among fully vaccinated people.

Data from Singapore suggests that vaccinated people may transmit the virus for a shorter period than unvaccinated people and that vaccinated people who transmit the virus tend to exhibit symptoms — an important concept that, if confirmed by additional study, could help businesses and schools operate by asking vaccinated people with coldlike symptoms to stay home.

“At the moment, the vast highway of transmission — and there are lots of cars on that highway — are the unvaccinated people,” Dr. Schaffner said. “They are the source of the vast majority of infections. It affects them, but that causes the spillover into vaccinated persons who get a milder infection but can also for a brief period of time turn into transmitters.”

A study from Britain found that vaccinated people were about 50% less likely than unvaccinated people to experience drawn-out symptoms, often known as “long COVID.”

Only 53% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and parts of the country with the lowest rates are generally experiencing higher transmission.

“The more prevalent the infection is in a geographic area, the more likely one is to come into contact with the virus,” said Dr. Adalja. “Breakthrough infections, though rare, will occur at higher rates in high-transmission areas.”

Right now, the largest outbreaks are in the South. It’s not clear whether the highly vaccinated places in the Northeast will have large outbreaks or whether their higher vaccination rates will prove a sufficient bulwark in the colder months when respiratory diseases tend to thrive.

Scientists say vaccinated people need to use their judgment on masking, avoiding crowds and taking other precautions despite the odds that any case will be relatively mild.

“What level of protection they deem necessary is a matter of personal risk tolerance,” Dr. Adalja said.

Crowds at college football games could provide a live test of how vaccination requirements impact transmission in the coming weeks.

Some colleges, such as Louisiana State University, require proof of vaccination or a negative test, and San Jose State requires unvaccinated people to wear masks. Auburn University and the University of Florida haven’t required masks in their outdoor stadiums.

Kirby Smart, the head coach of the University of Georgia football team, said he has seen many infections among the team, making it hard to maintain a full roster and mount a successful season.

“We’re talking about breakthroughs,” he told the Athens Banner-Herald. “That concerns you, not only for players on the team that are unvaccinated that are playing and not playing because we want everybody to be safe, but it concerns for players that are vaccinated that we could lose them. This is the highest we’ve been since fall camp right now.”

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Australians erupt after PM takes advantage of COVID double standards to see family while millions remain in lockdown: ‘What a disgrace of a leader’

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing intense backlash from many of his own constituents this week after the leader took advantage of his position to skirt COVID-19 lockdown measures.

What are the details?

Morrison traveled to New South Wales over the weekend in a private jet to visit family on Australian Father’s Day even as millions in the country remained in lockdown and were unable to visit out-of-state family members, the New York Times reported.

The prime minister spent time in Sydney before returning to Canberra to partake in a national security meeting, an action which critics immediately labeled as an example of double standards.

Yet instead of owning up to the blunder, Morrison defended the move in an interview published Tuesday, telling Sky News that while he understood people’s frustration, his trip did not violate any lockdown rules.

Health authorities reportedly approved Morrison’s trip due to his unique role as an “essential worker.” Politicians in the country have been permitted to bypass certain public health measures in order to conduct official business.

What has been the reaction?

Though Morrison’s trip may have been technically valid, it was certainly not a wise public relations move. After news broke about the trip, Australians took to social media to denounce the prime minister’s hypocrisy.

“One rule for all the other dads separated by border closures and one rule for the PM!” wrote one user.

“What a disgrace of a leader,” added another.

“True leadership is hard. Sometimes it means putting country before family,” wrote Labor MP Andrew Leigh. “Whether it’s holidaying in Hawaii during bushfires, visiting UK pubs, or popping interstate on Father’s Day, Morrison often struggles to make the sacrifices the job demands.”

“Scott Morrison took a private jet to see his kids over father’s day while the rest of Australian families suffered through [one] the worst lockdowns on the planet,” another commenter jousted, adding, “Top bloke.”

Labor opposition MP Bill Shorten criticized Morrison for exercising “appalling judgment.”

“It’s not that he doesn’t deserve to see his kids, but so does every other Australian. And I think when your people are doing it tough, you’ve got to do it tough too,” Shorten said. “You can’t have one rule for Mr. Morrison and another rule for everyone else.”

What else?

In his interview with Sky News, Morrison called Shorten’s criticism a “cheap shot.”

“Well, it’s a bit of a cheap shot, to be honest. I mean Bill knows full well what these rules are … in fact he took advantage of them. He went home and spent the last three weeks there rather than being in parliament,” the prime minister noted.

It’s not clear at this point whether Morrison’s lines of defense will prevail. The leader is already in hot water with constituents for allegedly mismanaging the country’s vaccine rollout and keeping draconian lockdown measures in place.

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Against campaign promise, Biden considers watered-down version of Trump-era ‘remain in Mexico’ policy

Backed into a corner by the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden is reportedly considering enacting a “lite” version of the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” immigration policy.

What is the background?

Former President Donald Trump enacted an immigration policy that forced most asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while American immigration courts ruled on their claims. The policy, also known as Migrant Protection Protocols, sought to eliminate so-called “catch and release,” whereupon migrants are released into the U.S. general public, potentially slipping into the shadows of society, while their case progresses through the immigration court system.

The policy, which proved effective, was overturned by Biden, who campaigned on a promise to end the policy. After announcing a suspension of the policy on his first day in office, the Biden administration formally ended the policy this summer.

Since the Trump policy was reversed, Border Patrol agents have reportedly encountered more than 1 million migrants at the southern border.

The Supreme Court last month upheld a lower court ruling that ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the policy “in good faith until such a time as it has been lawfully rescinded in compliance with the [Administrative Procedure Act].” That federal judge also said Biden “failed to consider several critical factors, including the benefits of the remain in Mexico policy” when canceling the policy.

The Department of Homeland Security said it would “comply with the order in good faith,” but said the agency would still seek an appeal.

What is happening now?

To comply with the court’s order, the Biden administration is considering a watered-down version of the “remain in Mexico” policy, although it’s not clear how a “lite” version would carry out the policy “in good faith” as ordered.

Politico reported:

The new proposal — what some have dubbed “Remain in Mexico lite” — would require a small number of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their cases to be processed but give them better living conditions and access to attorneys, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

The administration is starting talks with Mexico in a bid to strike a balance between abiding by a federal court order and making good on the president’s campaign promises. A federal judge ruled last month that President Joe Biden’s attempt to end the program — a pledge he made on the campaign trail — violated the law.

Immigration advocates, however, are demanding Biden ignore the Supreme Court, much like his administration did with the eviction moratorium.

Michael Tan, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said restarting MPP, even a watered-down version of the program, is “completely unacceptable.”

“What the administration should be doing — and hopefully is already doing — is working on a new memorandum that responds to the concerns of the district judge in Texas, and terminates the program again,” Tan said.

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of National Immigration Law Center, agreed.

“One of his campaign promises was to end MPP. He did that. He should stand by that,” Hincapié told Politico. “The answer is not to simply find a gentler, kinder MPP 2.0. That completely flies in the face of his promise.”

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