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The masks come off

Human Race: Federal judge nixes public transportation mask mandate


Jay LaPrete/AP

The masks come off
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Overruled

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden administration’s public transportation mask mandate on April 18. She said the federal rule requiring face coverings on airplanes, trains, and buses exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials. The rule had been set to expire on that same day, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended the mandate to May 3. Officials said they needed more time to study the effect of the new BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus. But in her ruling, Mizelle said the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking. The lawsuit dates back to July 2021. Calls had been growing to drop the transportation mask mandate in recent months as states have eased their pandemic restrictions. Airlines lobbied to end the unpopular mask rule, arguing advanced filtration systems make virus spread on an airplane unlikely.

Died

Adelia “Dede” Robertson, a founding board member of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and a board member of Regent University, died on April 19 in Virginia Beach, Va. She was 94. Pat and Dede Robertson founded CBN in 1961, where Pat hosted the flagship show, The 700 Club, for more than 50 years. When Pat ran on the Republican ticket for president in 1988, Dede campaigned by his side and was the “glue that held the Robertson family together,” her son Gordon said. She was “a woman of great faith [and] a champion of the gospel,” her husband said.

Convicted

A federal jury on April 14 found El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, guilty on all counts of lethal kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder for involvement in abducting, torturing, and executing Western hostages in Syria. Elsheikh and two other ISIS fighters are British nationals, nicknamed “the Beatles” by hostages due to their accents. In an agreement with the United Kingdom, Elsheikh will not face the death penalty but will be sentenced to life in prison. Elsheikh’s victims included humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller from Prescott, Ariz., who was abused and raped before being killed.

Protected

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on April 15 that the agency will add Cameroon to the list of countries to which it is too dangerous for immigrants to return. Roughly 11,700 Cameroonians legally in the United States will receive Temporary Protected Status. This means they will be protected from deportation for the next 18 months and are allowed to apply for work permits. Mayorkas cited extreme violence in the African nation from an ongoing civil war between government forces and armed separatists, along with increasing attacks from the Boko Haram extremist group. Cameroon will be the 14th country added to Homeland Security’s list. Critics say the Temporary Protected Status program has become “amnesty-lite” because the government often extends the 18-month deadline. Roughly 200,000 El Salvadorans have had temporary status since 2001.

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