Google and Facebook among the companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees

Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October, instead of its previous target date of Sept. 1.  The company plans to mandate a policy that will require employees to be vaccinated in an attempt to fight the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant. Facebook also announced a vaccine mandate for U.S. employees on Wednesday.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email:  “This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it.” The requirement will be first imposed at Google’s Mountain View, Calif. headquarters and other U.S. offices before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where the Google operates. The vaccine mandate will be adjusted to adhere to the laws and regulators of each location, Pichai wrote, and exceptions will be made for medical and other “protected” reasons, explaining “getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead.”

Facebook President of People Lori Goler said in a statement: “As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our U.S. campuses to be vaccinated. How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations.”  Goler added that the company will have “a process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons and will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves.” 

The decision to require vaccines comes on the heels of similar moves affecting hundreds of thousands government workers in California and New York as part of stepped-up measures to fight the delta variant.

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Senate advances bipartisan infrastructure deal

Hours after bipartisan Senate negotiators reached a deal on an infrastructure package on Wednesday, the chamber voted to advance it, with a final vote on the bill expected shortly. The procedural motion was approved 67-32, with 17 Republicans joining all Democrats to begin legislative action. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, was among those voting to move ahead with the proposal.

The forward movement on the bill comes a week after a failed test vote on the deal. The bill is expected to be around $1.2 trillion over eight years with roughly $550 billion in new spending, but details on key components were still being worked out. Some procedural steps still lie ahead before the final passage.

A White House fact sheet on the deal outlines:

  • $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major projects;
  • $11 billion in transportation safety programs;
  • $39 billion in transit modernization and improved accessibility;
  • $66 billion in rail;
  • $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle chargers;
  • $73 billion in power infrastructure and clean energy transmission.

NJ Devils agree to 7-year, $63M contract with Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton has agreed to a seven-year, $63 million deal with the New Jersey Devils. The 28-year-old Hamilton’s departure from Carolina was anticipated after he and the Hurricanes were unable to reach agreement on a new contract during the season, and was granted permission to seek a sign-and-trade elsewhere.

Hamilton joined the Hurricanes in 2018, and over three seasons he notched 121 points (42 goals, 79 assists) in 184 games while averaging 21:30 time on ice per night. His career-best 50 points in a season came with the Calgary Flames in 2016-17.

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Nationals–Phillies game postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak

MLB announced that the Nationals vs. Phillies game on Wednesday was postponed in order for testing and contact tracing to be continued on the Nationals. Wednesday’s game was originally scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET at Citizen’s Bank Park.

A COVID-19 outbreak in Washington’s clubhouse was first reported after 12 members of the Nationals organization tested positive for COVID-19, including four players, according to manager Davey Martinez. It could be the largest outbreak any team has dealt with this season. Washington shortstop Trea Turner was removed from the first inning of Tuesday’s game between the Phillies and Nationals after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Dwight Yoakam joins Carrie Underwood to perform together at CMA Summer Jam

Carrie Underwood took to social media to share news about her dream-come-true collaboration during the first night of the 2021 CMA Summer Jam at the Ascend Ampitheater in Nashville.   Underwood’s special guest collaborator was the one and only Dwight Yoakam, and the two shared the stage to perform one his biggest hits, 1993’s “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere.” The song, which was written entirely by Yoakam, reached the second spot on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart following its release.

Underwood wrote on social media alongside a photo taken during her and Yoakam’s performance:  “Never in a million years would I have thought I would get to share the stage with someone this cool! @DwightYoakam you are a LEGEND and, now, a friend as well! Thank you!” 

You can watch Underwood and Yoakam’s performance of “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere”  – here.

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Dolly Parton releases new song ‘Sent From Above’ to celebrate the launch of her new perfume

Dolly Parton announced on social media the release of her new song, “Sent From Above,” the theme of her brand new fragrance, ‘Scent From Above,’ which is set to launch on July 28.

Parton said her venture into the beauty world was two years in the making. The ‘Scent From Above’ collection will be comprised of a mist and a body cream, and the fragrance includes, “fruited notes as bright as rhinestones dance,” “irresistible florals,” and southern fir and musk.

You can listen to Dolly’s new song “Sent From Above” – here.

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FX releases latest teaser trailer for Season 10 ‘American Horror Story: Double Feature’

FX has released the teaser trailer for Season 10 of American Horror Story, dubbed: ‘American Horror Story: Double Feature.’  Series co-creator Ryan Murphy first announced Season 10’s title in March, promising two stories in one: “One by the sea… one by the sand.”

The trailer showcases a mix of aliens, vampires, sharks, and bullets. It also announces subtitles for parts 1 and 2, “Red Tide” and “Death Valley.” Season 10 will AHS veterans Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Adina Porter, Lily Rabe, Angelica Ross, and Finn Wittrock, as well as newcomers Macaulay Culkin, Kaia Gerber, and Neal McDonough.

‘American Horror Story: Double Feature’ premieres Aug. 25 on FX, and on Hulu the following day. Take a look at the teaser trailer – here.

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Netflix drops the first trailer for Paris Hilton’s “Cooking with Paris”

Netflix dropped its first trailer for Paris Hilton’s unscripted reality series ‘Cooking with Paris’ which sees Hilton invite her celebrity friends over for dinner. The six episode series has Paris attempting to wow her guests with homecooked dishes she only ‘sort of’ knows how to make.

Amidst a montage of humorous mishaps seen in the trailer, Paris says: “Any b*tch can cook.” Hilton’s guests will include Kim Kardashian West, Demi Lovato, Nikki Glaser, Saweetie, and Lele Pons, as well as Nicky and Kathy Hilton.

‘Cooking with Paris’ is set to premiere August 4th on Netflix.

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CDC changes mask guidance for those vaccinated, urging mask wearing indoors and in areas with high risk of virus transmission

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidance on mask wearing. In a reversal of its earlier position, on Tuesday the agency recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors, if they live in areas with significant or high spread. Many public health experts had been urging the agency to change its policy for weeks, arguing that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor settings, especially in areas where transmission of the virus is high.

Acknowledging that people are “tired and frustrated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, ‘this was not a decision that was taken lightly.” New data shows that while vaccinated people account for a very small amount of risk, in rare cases they can get infected and spread the virus to others. The CDC’s change in position comes as the highly transmissible delta variant is causing a surge in cases around the country, and multiple cities have reinstated indoor mask mandates, including in Los Angeles County and St. Louis.  Walensky said, “the delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us.”   In addition, the agency also recommended that all teachers, staff and students of K-12 schools wear masks, even if they are vaccinated. Children remain unprotected against the virus, as the vaccines are not authorized for children under 12 and many teenagers have yet to be vaccinated.

In May, the CDC announced it was safe for fully vaccinated people to stop masking in most settings. The hope was that dropping the mask mandate would encourage more people to get vaccinated.  But just three months later, about 30% of adults in the U.S. haven’t been vaccinated, with polls indicating that up to 80% of unvaccinated adults are unlikely to change their minds.

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Capitol police officers give testimony about defending the Capitol on Jan. 6

On Tuesday, the Capitol police officers who were injured while fighting off rioters during the Jan. 6 attack described to the House select committee what it was like on the front lines. The hearing was the first for the committee, which was formed to probe the attack by radical supporters of former President Donald Trump, who were attempting to disrupt the official certification of Joe Biden as president.

The officers spoke about the physical and psychological injuries they sustained and detailed the types of attacks they and their fellow officers suffered. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell said he was beaten with a flagpole and soaked with chemical spray while defending the Capitol. As a result of his injuries, he said had surgery on his right foot, would need surgery on his left shoulder, and will need further rehab for possibly more than a year.

D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone said he was “tortured” on January 6, dragged alone into the crowd, tased and beaten with fists and metal objects. The attack rendered him unconscious and that he suffered a mild heart attack and a brain injury. Fanone said he feared for his life and pleaded with the mob, telling them, “I have kids.” He said he heard the crowd chant, “Kill him with his own gun,” and said, “I can still hear those words in my head today.”

Capitol Police Private First Class Harry Dunn, who also testified Tuesday, said he was assaulted and called racial slurs during the mob attack. Dunn said that during the siege, while in conversation with a rioter, he volunteered that he’d voted for Joe Biden. A crowd of about 20 people then surrounded him, screaming and calling him the n-word.

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