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Federal Officials Are Finally Acting On The Crisis Of Missing Indigenous People In America

President Joe Biden last week signed an executive order to help improve public safety and justice for Native Americans. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden last week signed an executive order to help improve public safety and justice for Native Americans. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By Nicole Chavez, CNN

(CNN) — Mary Johnson was on her way to a friend’s home in Oso, Washington, the day before Thanksgiving, but she never made it. A year later, her disappearance remains a mystery.

Johnson, then 39 years old and an enrolled citizen of the Tulalip Tribes, was last seen on the reservation on November 25, 2020.

Even though family members have posted flyers, put up a billboard on a local interstate, and a reward for information was offered by the FBI, Johnson, like many other missing Indigenous women in the United States, has not been found.

“At this point, we’re information-driven, any information we get is followed up on, but leads are harder and harder to find as we get further along,” said Wayne Schakel, a detective sergeant with the Tulalip Tribal Police Department.

For years, families and activists have demanded that authorities direct more attention and resources to cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous women, arguing their cases are often overlooked or dismissed. Federal and state officials have recently publicly acknowledged that there is a “crisis of violence” against Native Americans, and have launched efforts to address it, but advocates say their response is not enough.

“Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed for our communities. The rate of violence has not decreased. The rate of prosecution has not increased,” said Annita Lucchesi, executive director of the Sovereign Bodies Institute, an organization that has been tabulating cases of missing and murdered Native Americans for several years.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies, including the departments of Justice, Interior and Homeland Security, to create a strategy within 240 days to address this “crisis of violence” against Native Americans.

“For far too long, justice has been elusive for many Native American victims, survivors, and families. Criminal jurisdiction complexities and resource constraints have left many injustices unaddressed,” Biden said in the order.

The President also said, “previous executive action has not achieved changes sufficient to reverse the epidemic.”

Nearly 5,300 American Indian and Alaska Native girls and women were reported missing last year, data from the National Crime Information Center shows. Of those cases, 578 were reported “active” at the end of the year.

Advocates and experts say those figures are not comprehensive, and a number of groups, like the Sovereign Bodies Institute, have taken it upon themselves to collect data as a way to raise awareness and hold law enforcement agencies accountable.

Lucchesi, who is a descendant of the Cheyenne Tribe, says a key issue fueling this crisis is the lack of empathy for victims from both community members and law enforcement.

“Families still have the same needs they had two years ago, five years ago. Law enforcement are still ignoring them. Cases are still going unsolved and violence continues to occur,” she said.

Federal officials are stepping up efforts

The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people is now under a spotlight, with federal officials announcing actions to bolster resources to address it.

The Department of Justice said on Tuesday it will be allocating $800,000 to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), to provide outreach, investigative support and forensic services to cases involving American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department will dedicate over $90 million in award grants to launch a committee dedicated to tackling the crisis of missing or murdered Indigenous people.

“The Justice Department has already started piloting these plans, which are driven by community needs, led by Tribes and supported by federal law enforcement. It is our hope that we will advance meaningful responses to cases of missing or murdered Indigenous people and serve as a blueprint moving forward,” Garland said during the White House Tribal Nations Summit last week.

Biden’s order and the Justice Department’s financial commitments come only weeks after the Government Accountability Office released an analysis of the federal response to this crisis of violence. The report indicates federal officials have not done enough to address the problem and have failed to fully implement two laws aimed at combating it.

The legislation, the Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act, were enacted in October 2020 and require the Justice and Interior departments to take various actions to increase coordination, training and data collection. The report shows the agencies have taken some initial steps, but have missed statutory deadlines.

While there are four federal databases that include some information on missing and murdered Indigenous people, the report’s authors did not find comprehensive data on the crisis, which prevents federal officials from knowing the full extent of the problem.

Within a month after being confirmed, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland took steps to address this crisis of violence against Indigenous people.

In April, she announced the creation of a new unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to “help put the full weight of the federal government” to investigate the cases and coordinate resources among federal agencies and Indian country.

At the state level, lawmakers in Arizona, Wisconsin, Utah and several other states have in the past three years launched task forces or created offices to fight crime against Native Americans.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Ida’s law earlier this year to secure federal funding to create a local bureau of the Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons.

The legislation was named after 29-year-old Ida Beard, a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, who went missing in 2015 and has not been found.

Lucchesi and other advocates welcome the increased awareness about the problem but remain skeptical about whether their efforts will help overcome a myriad of challenges that families face when a loved one goes missing, including jurisdictional issues and bureaucracy that often slow down investigations.

“What’s the point of creating (new) initiatives to address this crisis when the laws they’ve already passed are not being implemented?” Lucchesi said.

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How U.S. Gun Culture Stacks Up With The World

Here's a look at how gun culture in the United States compares to the rest of the world. (Mandatory Credit: CNN)
Here’s a look at how gun culture in the United States compares to the rest of the world. (Mandatory Credit: CNN)

By Kara Fox, Krystina Shveda, Natalie Croker and Marco Chacon, CNN

(CNN) — Atlanta. Orlando. Las Vegas. Newtown. Parkland. San Bernardino.

Ubiquitous gun violence in the United States has left few places unscathed over the decades. Still, many Americans hold their right to bear arms, enshrined in the US Constitution, as sacrosanct. But critics of the Second Amendment say that right threatens another: The right to life.

America’s relationship to gun ownership is unique, and its gun culture is a global outlier.

As the tally of gun-related deaths continue to grow daily, here’s a look at how gun culture in the US compares to the rest of the world.

There are 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey (SAS). No other nation has more civilian guns than people.

The Falkland Islands — a British territory in the southwest Atlantic Ocean, claimed by Argentina and the subject of a 1982 war — is home to the world’s second-largest stash of civilian guns per capita. But with an estimated 62 guns per 100 people, its gun ownership rate is almost half that of the US. Yemen — a country in the throes of a seven-year conflict — has the third-highest gun ownership rate at 53 guns per 100 people.

While the exact number of civilian-owned firearms is difficult to calculate due to a variety of factors — including unregistered weapons, the illegal trade and global conflict — SAS researchers estimate that Americans own 393 million of the 857 million civilian guns available, which is around 46% of the world’s civilian gun cache.

About 44% of US adults live in a household with a gun, and about one-third own one personally, according to an October 2020 Gallup survey.

Some nations have high gun ownership due to illegal stocks from past conflicts or lax restrictions on ownership, but the US is one of only three countries in the world where bearing (or keeping) arms is a constitutional right, according to Zachary Elkins, associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and director of the Comparative Constitutions Project. Yet the ownership rate in the other two — Guatemala and Mexico — is almost a tenth of the United States.

The gun debate in those countries is less politicized, Elkins said. In contrast to the US, Guatemala and Mexico’s constitutions facilitate regulation, with lawmakers more comfortable restricting guns, especially given concerns around organized crime, he said. In Mexico, there’s only one gun store in the entire country — and it’s controlled by the army.

In the US, firearm manufacturing is on the rise, with more Americans buying guns.

In 2018, gun makers produced 9 million firearms in the country — more than double the amount manufactured in 2008, according to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). More recently, January 2021 marked the biggest annual increase since 2013 in requests for federal background checks necessary for purchasing a gun — a nearly 60% jump from January 2020.

And in March 2021, the FBI reported almost 4.7 million background checks — the most of any month since the agency started keeping track more than 20 years ago. Two million of those checks were for new gun purchases, making it the second highest month on record for firearms sales, according to the National Shooting Sports Federation, the firearms industry trade group that compares FBI background check numbers with actual sales data to determine its sales figures.

Almost a third of US adults believe there would be less crime if more people owned guns, according to an April 2021 Pew survey. However, multiple studies show that where people have easy access to firearms, gun-related deaths tend to be more frequent, including by suicide, homicide and unintentional injuries.

It is then unsurprising that the US has more deaths from gun violence than any other developed country per capita. The rate in the US is eight times greater than in Canada, which has the seventh highest rate of gun ownership in the world; 22 times higher than in the European Union and 23 times greater than in Australia, according to Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) data from 2019.

The gun-related homicide rate in Washington, DC — the highest of any US state or district — is close to levels in Brazil, which ranks sixth highest in the world for gun-related homicides, according to the IHME figures.

Globally, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from the highest rates of firearm homicides, with El Salvador, Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia and Honduras topping the charts.

Drug cartel activities and the presence of firearms from old conflicts are both contributing factors, according to the 2018 Global Mortality From Firearms, 1990-2016, study.

But gun-related violence in Latin America and the Caribbean is also exacerbated by weapons that come from the US. About 200,000 firearms from America cross Mexico’s border every year, according to a February 2021 US government accountability office report, citing the Mexican government.

In 2019, about 68% of firearms seized by law enforcement in Mexico and sent to the ATF for identification were traced back to the US. And around half of guns the ATF checked after they’ve been seized in Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama were manufactured in or officially imported to the US.

While personal safety tops the list of reasons why American gun owners say they own a firearm, 63% of US gun-related deaths are self-inflicted.

Over 23,000 Americans died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in 2019. That number accounts for 44% of the gun suicides globally and dwarfs suicide totals in any other country in the world.

At six firearm suicides per 100,000 people, the US rate of suicide is, on average, seven times higher than in other developed nations. Globally, the US rate is only lower than in Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory with relatively high gun ownership (22 guns per 100 people).

Multiple studies have reported an association between gun ownership and gun-related suicides.

One of those studies, conducted by researchers at Stanford University, found that men who owned handguns were almost eight times as likely to die of self-inflicted gunshot wounds as men who didn’t own a gun. Women who owned handguns were 35 times as likely to die by firearm suicide, compared to those who didn’t, according to the 2020 study, which surveyed 26 million California residents over a more than 11-year period.

Regular mass shootings are a uniquely American phenomenon. The US is the only developed country where mass shootings have happened every single year for the past 20 years, according to Jason R. Silva, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at William Paterson University.

To compare across countries, Silva uses a conservative definition of a mass shooting: an event that leaves four or more people dead, excluding the shooter, and that excludes profit-driven criminal activity, familicide and state-sponsored violence. Using this approach, 68 people were killed and 91 injured in eight public shootings in the US over the course of 2019 alone.

A broader definition of mass shootings reveals an even higher figure.

The Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit based in Washington, DC and which CNN relies on for its reporting of mass shootings, defines a mass shooting as an incident leaving at least four people dead or injured, excluding the shooter, and does not differentiate victims based upon the circumstances in which they were shot.

They counted as many as 417 mass shootings in 2019. And this year, 641 incidents have been recorded.

State gun policies also appear to play a role. A 2019 study published in the British Medical Journal found that US states with more permissive gun laws and greater gun ownership had higher rates of mass shootings.

President Joe Biden’s administration has renewed calls for gun reform after mass shootings in Colorado, South Carolina and Texas this year. In March, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would require unlicensed and private sellers, as well as all licensed sellers to do federal background checks before all gun sales — and to ensure that buyers are fully vetted before making the sale.

The bills are now stuck in the Senate where, despite some Democrats’ efforts to build bipartisan support, there has been no indication they have the votes to overcome the 60-vote filibuster.

For decades, political roadblocks have stalled such efforts in the US. And that partisan divide is reflected in the population as well, with 80% of Republicans — and 19% of Democrats — saying gun laws in the country are either about right or should be less strict, according to the April Pew survey.

Meanwhile, mass shootings continue to drive demand for more guns, experts say, with gun control activists arguing the time for reform is long overdue.

Researchers from Washington University at St Louis’ Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute presented this argument to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2018, saying that the US government’s “failure” to prevent and reduce gun-related violence through “reasonable and effective domestic measures has limited the ability of Americans to enjoy many fundamental freedoms and guarantees protected by international human rights law,” including the right to life and bodily integrity.

UN bodies have also underlined these concerns, pointing to America’s “stand your ground” laws, which allow gun owners in at least 25 states to use deadly force in any situation where they believe that they face an imminent threat of harm, without first making any effort to deescalate the situation or retreat. A 2019 United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report said that the law can encourage people to respond to situations with lethal force, rather than use it as a last resort.

In a 2020 essay published by the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank, gun control advocate Rukmani Bhatia said that the US gun lobby has seized a rights-based narrative “to justify, dangerously, the right to bear, carry, and use firearms.”

Stand your ground legislation, she said, “warps people’s understanding about their rights to security and, in the worst cases, empowers them to take away another person’s right to life.”

Meanwhile, countries that have introduced laws to reduce gun-related deaths have achieved significant changes.

A decade of gun violence, culminating with the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, prompted the Australian government to take action.

Less than two weeks after Australia’s worst mass shooting, the federal government implemented a new program, banning rapid-fire rifles and shotguns, and unifying gun owner licensing and registrations across the country. In the next 10 years gun deaths in Australia fell by more than 50%. A 2010 study found the government’s 1997 buyback program — part of the overall reform — led to an average drop in firearm suicide rates of 74% in the five years that followed.

Other countries are also showing promising results after changing their gun laws. In South Africa, gun-related deaths almost halved over a 10-year-period after new gun legislation, the Firearms Control Act of 2000, went into force in July 2004. The new laws made it much more difficult to obtain a firearm.

In New Zealand, gun laws were swiftly amended after the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings. Just 24 hours after the attack, in which 51 people were killed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the law would change. New Zealand’s parliament voted almost unanimously to change the country’s gun laws less than a month later, banning all military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Britain tightened its gun laws and banned most private handgun ownership after a mass shooting in 1996, a move that saw gun deaths drop by almost a quarter over a decade. In August 2021, a licensed firearms holder killed five people in Plymouth, England, marking the worst mass shooting since 2010. After the incident, police said the gunman’s firearm license had been returned to him just months after it was revoked, due to assault accusations. The British government then asked police to review their licensing practices and said that they would be bringing forward new guidance to improve background procedures, including social media checks.

Many countries around the world have been able to tackle gun violence. Yet, despite the thousands of lost lives in the US, only around half of US adults favor stricter gun laws, according to the recent Pew survey, and political reform remains at a standstill. The deadly cycle of violence seems destined to continue.

How CNN reported this story:

For gun ownership rates, CNN relied on the Small Arms Survey (SAS), a project of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. It estimates civilian arm stocks using a combination of gun sales and registration figures, public surveys, expert estimates and cross-country comparisons. The gun ownership rate per 100 people is not the same as the share of people that own guns, as some may own multiple guns and others may own none.

For firearm deaths totals and rates, CNN used the Global Burden of Disease database compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. Firearm-related deaths include physical violence (homicide), self-harm (suicide) and unintentional injuries. While rates are preferable for cross-country comparisons, in the case of suicides we illustrated the totals to highlight the gap between the US and other countries.

When comparing US statistics with other developed countries we used a UN definition found in the United Nations’ World Economic Situation and Prospects report — which intends “to reflect basic economic country conditions” and is not strictly aligned with the UN Statistics Division’s classification known as M49.

To estimate numbers on mass shootings, including incidents, fatalities, and injuries in the US, CNN typically relies on data from the Gun Violence Archive. To enable international comparisons for this story, we also used data compiled by Jason R. Silva, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at William Paterson University. Silva’s definition is narrower than CNN and the GVA’s because it excludes incidents involving profit-driven criminal activity, familicide and state-sponsored violence.

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Why You Might Be Happier If You Don’t Buy Anything In Cyber Week

Skipping Black Friday shopping this year helps counteract overconsumption. (Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Skipping Black Friday shopping this year helps counteract overconsumption. (Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

By Christine Koh, CNN

(CNN) — I delight in finding the perfect gift for a loved one and experience joy in thoughtful personal purchases. But I bristle against spending for the sake of spending, especially for manufactured “holidays” like Black Friday.

Decisions about dollars are complicated. “The consumer dilemma is the idea that the planet clearly needs us to reduce our consumption, but our economy needs us to consume more and more every year,” said James MacKinnon, author of “The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism Saves the Environment and Ourselves.”

The pandemic revealed how vulnerable our economic system is to any kind of disturbance in people’s appetite to shop, MacKinnon noted. “We have created a system that is dependent on us acting as consumers. It’s almost as though it limits our freedoms to choose how we want to live and determines what our social role will be.”

There may be financial circumstances that drive a person’s need to make purchases on big sale days, but if you experience the financial freedom that allows you to spend, you might even be happier if you don’t buy anything on Black Friday. Here are some realities to consider:

Acknowledge that biology is in play

If you are feeling bad about compulsive spending habits, you are not alone.

“One thing about Black Friday that makes it even more pernicious is that not only can shopping release dopamine in the brain’s reward pathways — hence becoming potentially addictive — it also manipulates the social herd source of dopamine,” shared Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author of “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.”

Lembke, who refers to smartphones as the modern-day hypodermic needle that delivers digital dopamine 24/7, noted that when people feel they belong to a tribe and share experiences and emotions with other people, dopamine is released.

“That feeling of oneness or immersion is a huge source of dopamine and also serotonin,” Lembke said. She noted that these primitive brain circuits can get in the way of the prefrontal cortex’s ability to make rational decisions, such as realizing you can’t afford to spend the money you are spending.

Shop with intention

If you are looking for a different tribe, an intention-based shopping herd exists.

I recently asked on Instagram Stories whether people were opting out of Black Friday shopping and if they were doing something else instead. Many people shared that they were choosing different ways to shop this holiday season.

Carolyn Kornwitz of Boston wrote that she is opting out of Black Friday and any sale shopping altogether. “I’m going to source the majority, if not all, gifts for the kids from my local Buy Nothing Facebook group, as well as secondhand stores.”

Others shared that they were focused on supporting local businesses, independent sellers on Etsy, or putting their maker skills to use. “My pandemic hobby is knitting so everyone is getting ornate hand-knit items!” wrote Anna Brakeman of Madison, Wisconsin.

MacKinnon agreed that all spending is not created equal. “There are definitely better and worse ways to consume. Support smaller scale businesses, particularly ones that don’t have shareholders to answer to … when you spend your money, spend it in your local community thoughtfully on products that will be meaningful to you or whoever you are giving to.”

Counteract overconsumption with people and experiences

Overconsumption can result from people trying to escape their circumstances, a tactic that is understandable but ultimately doesn’t work, Lembke noted. “A potential antidote is to do the opposite and deeply immerse ourselves in our lives.”

“If we really turn towards our lives everything becomes more interesting. When we reinvest in relationships and experiences, we create new energy and new meaning and it becomes transcendent,” Lembke said.

Indeed, many people shared that they were bypassing Black Friday shopping and opting for connection time in the form of hikes with family or friends, epic games of tag, pickleball, tennis, cycling, or relaxed time at home.

Others shared that they are getting into the holiday spirit through activities such as Christmas tree trimming and experiences like “The Nutcracker” at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. “My parents are in town for Thanksgiving this year. We bought tickets to a nature walk/light show at Crystal Bridges, which is an art museum near us,” shared Liz Fernandez of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Think back to lessons from last year

Evidence for non-consumerist holiday contentment may come from your own memories.

“Last year forced us to opt out of the traditional Thanksgiving thing and got us thinking this year about how we actually wanted to spend those four days off together,” wrote Kaci Lint of Mesa, Arizona. Given that she has five children, Lint noted that material items get overwhelming quickly. This Thanksgiving, her family is intentionally choosing experiences over things by traveling to camp out and watch the sunrise over the sand dunes in Utah.

MacKinnon is eager for people to shift back to the mindset that it’s enough to spend time together and concentrate on making that time a rich experience.

“Last Christmas everyone wished they could just be together; that would have been more than enough,” he said. In contrast, he noted that this season people feel like company alone is inadequate and they need to show up with armloads of gifts.

People are capable of change

One of the most dramatic and surprising observations amid the pandemic to MacKinnon was how quickly people found their way from a consumerism value system to a new value set centered on relationships, experiences and skill building.

“What we saw as people moved into quarantine and lockdown was that they turned towards other values really quickly. People reached out to old friends they had lost touch with. They were bird watching, mastering new skills, planting things. It took a matter of days for people to find their way to a new value set,” MacKinnon said.

That said, depending on the circumstances, behavioral change may take longer depending on the severity of their addiction, Lembke noted. “People need to abstain from a behavior long enough for homeostasis in the pleasure-pain system in the brain to be restored. Eventually, people will then be able to take pleasure in more modest rewards,” she said.

There is considerable work to be done to figure out the balance of consumerism as it relates to the planet and our economy, but one thing is clear: Our relationships, experiences and well-being are things worth investing in. And we don’t need to be held to a day on the calendar or a line around the block to do so.

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Newly Discovered Covid-19 Variant B.1.1529 Is ‘Red Flag’, But U.S. Needs To Learn More

Newly discovered Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 is a 'red flag' but the United States needs to learn more, Dr. Anthony Fauci says Friday. (Mandatory Credit: CNN)
Newly discovered Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 is a ‘red flag’ but the United States needs to learn more, Dr. Anthony Fauci says Friday. (Mandatory Credit: CNN)

By Jacqueline Howard, CNN

(CNN) — The United States is working to quickly learn more about the newly identified coronavirus variant B.1.1.529, which was first identified in South Africa.

South Africa’s health minister announced Thursday the discovery of the variant, which appears to be spreading rapidly in parts of the country.

Currently, “there’s no indication” that B.1.1.529 is in the United States right now — and US scientists are working closely with colleagues in South Africa to learn more about the emerging variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday.

The virus seems to be spreading “in a reasonably rapid rate,” Fauci told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. The variant so far has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, in a traveler to Hong Kong from South Africa — and Belgium became the first European country to confirm a case.

US scientists are in “very active communication” with South African scientists to learn more about the molecular makeup of the variant so that researchers can test for the variant in the United States. This type of information also can help scientists better predict how well current coronavirus vaccines may work against the variant.

Scientists have some concern that the variant’s high number of mutations could make it more transmissible and possibly evade the vaccines used today.

“Right now, we’re getting the material together with our South African colleagues to get a situation where you could actually directly test it. So, right now you’re talking about sort of like a red flag that this might be an issue — but we don’t know,” Fauci said Friday.

“Once you test it, you’ll know for sure whether or not it does or does not evade the antibodies that we make — for example against the virus, through a vaccine,” he said. “The answer is we don’t know right now, but we’re going to find out for sure.”

The B.1.1.529 variant has more than 30 mutations in a part of the virus called the spike protein — a structure the coronavirus uses to enter the cells it attacks.

These mutations “are raising some concern, particularly with regard to possibly transmissibility increase, and possibly evasion of immune response,” Fauci said.

Yet “we don’t know that for sure right now — this is really something that’s in motion — and we just arranged right now, a discussion between our scientists and the South African scientists a little bit later in the morning to really get the facts,” he said. “We want to find out scientist-to-scientist exactly what is going on.”

In the meantime, several nations — including the United Kingdom — have banned flights from South Africa and surrounding African countries in response to the emergence of the B.1.1529 variant.

Fauci told Keilar on Friday that the United States must learn more about the variant and how well current vaccines work against it before considering a travel ban.

“As soon as we find out more information, we’ll make a decision as quickly as we possibly can. You always put these things on the table, but you don’t want to say you’re going to do it until you have some scientific reason to do it. That’s the reason why we’re rushing now to get that scientific data to try and make an informed decision,” Fauci said.

“You want to find out if in fact it does evade the vaccines that we’re doing,” he added. “You’re prepared to do everything you need to do to protect the American public, but you want to make sure there’s a basis for doing that.”

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World Athletics Finds Female Athletes Target Of 87 Percent Of Online Abuse At Tokyo Olympics

World Athletics finds female athletes were target of 87% of all online abuse at 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. This picture shows the Olympic rings and Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 20. (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)
World Athletics finds female athletes were target of 87% of all online abuse at 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. This picture shows the Olympic rings and Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 20. (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)

By Becky Thompson, CNN

(CNN) — World Athletics has found that female athletes were the target of 87 percent of all online abuse at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The findings come from a study conducted during the Games and published on Thursday.

It follows the launch of World Athletics’ new safeguarding policy last month, which highlights the concern that social media platforms need stronger safeguarding policies to protect athletes.

Using a sample of 161 Twitter handles of current and former athletes involved in Tokyo, the study tracked their accounts starting one week before the opening ceremony of the Olympics and concluded the day after the closing ceremony.

The results found sexist, racist, transphobic and homophobic abuse of athletes, as well as unfounded doping accusations.

The study said: “It also unequivocally highlights the greater levels of abuse female athletes receive in comparison to their male counterparts.”In addition, the results found that 65 percent of abusive posts were deemed gravely abusive and warranted intervention from social media platforms.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, videos and features

“When we published our Safeguarding Policy earlier this month, I said athletics clubs, schools and community sports environments should be safe and happy places for those in our sport,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in the report.

“In a world where we share so much of our lives online, this must apply to the virtual, as well as the physical world. This research is disturbing in so many ways but what strikes me the most is that the abuse is targeted at individuals who are celebrating and sharing their performances and talent as a way to inspire and motivate people.

“To face the kinds of abuse they have is unfathomable and we all need to do more to stop this. Shining a light on the issue is just the first step.”

World Athletics said in the study that it will work closely with Twitter to take appropriate action against the perpetrators and has notified the platform of the abusive posts uncovered in the research.

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Dow Tumbles 900 Points As Fears Over New Covid-19 Variant Grip Global Markets

Stocks tumble as fears over new Covid-19 variant grip global markets. (Mandatory Credit: Nikada/Getty Images)
Stocks tumble as fears over new Covid-19 variant grip global markets. (Mandatory Credit: Nikada/Getty Images)

By Anneken Tappe

(CNN) — Wall Street is in a frenzy on Black Friday as stocks around the world tumbled in the face of a new Covid-19 variant.

US equities took a dive at the open and continued their downward path Friday morning with the Dow tumbling more than 900 points. Oil prices were also badly hit.

The new variant has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel, prompting some countries to put flight bans in place.

Over the summer, the Delta variant spooked consumers and weighed on sectors like leisure and hospitality. Now investors and economists worry this new variant could do the same.

Wall Street was deep in the red around mid-morning Friday, with the Dow falling 2.5%, or some 900 points, in what is shaping up to be a volatile session. The broader S&P 500 tumbled 1.9% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.8%.

“The pandemic and COVID variants remain one of the biggest risks to markets, and are likely to continue to inject volatility over the next year” or even beyond, said Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer and chief market strategist at Truist Advisory Services, in a note to clients.

“It’s hard to say at this point how lasting or impactful this latest variant will be for markets,” he added.

It’s a shortened trading session as the New York Stock Exchange will close at 1 pm ET after being closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. Reduced trading volume during this half-day session is also likely to exacerbate the swings in the market.

Nevertheless, it could shape up to be one of the worst days of the year for stocks.

But not all stocks are taking a beating. Within the S&P 500, healthcare stocks are climbing, led by Covid vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer. Moderna shares were up some 25% around mid-morning, while Pfizer stock climbed more than 5%.

Outside of equities, other asset classes were also struggling Friday.

Oil prices are tumbling, for example. US oil futures fell 11%, or more than $8, to $69.66 per barrel around mid-morning. The global benchmark Brent dropped 9.3% to $74.57 per barrel.

The US dollar, measured by the ICE US Dollar Index, which pegs it against its main rivals, was down 0.7% Friday morning.

Cryptocurrencies also felt the heat, dropping across the board. Bitcoin was down more than 7% around mid-morning, according to CoinDesk data.

Meanwhile, investors are pushing into safe haven investments. The 10-year US Treasury bond got more expensive and yields fell more than 0.1 percentage points to 1.5% Friday morning. Gold prices also jumped.

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After Guilty Verdicts, Civil Rights Leaders Exhort Black America To ‘Never Stop Running For Ahmaud’

“The violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. Yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice,” said Attorney Ben Crump.
“The violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. Yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice,” said Attorney Ben Crump.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery would pay for their heinous crime, the 25-year-old’s family finally received justice.

A Glynn County, Georgia, convicted Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan of felony murder.

“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump exclaimed.

“Nothing will bring back Ahmaud, but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul,” Crump continued.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson called the verdicts long overdue.

“Ahmaud Arbery’s death was unnecessary and fueled by racist ideologies deeply engrained into the fabric of this nation,” Johnson insisted.

“Generations of Black people have seen this time and time again, with the murder of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, and many others,” he continued.

“The actions and events perpetrated by the McMichaels and William Bryan leading up to Ahmaud’s death reflect a growing and deepening rift in America that will be its undoing if not addressed on a systemic level.

“We must fix what is genuinely harming our nation: white supremacy.”

The jury found Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery in February 2020, guilty of all nine charges, including malice murder and four counts of felony murder.

The panel found his father, Gregory, not guilty of malice murder but convicted him on felony murder, unlawful imprisonment, and other charges.

Bryan escaped a guilty verdict on malice murder, but the jury found him guilty of three felony murder counts, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal intent to commit a felony.

The men, who also face federal charges, could spend life in prison when sentenced.

Judge Timothy Walmsley bound the men over and will soon set a sentencing date.

Immediately following the announcement of the first guilty verdict against Travis McMichael, Arberry’s father, Marcus Arbery, shouted, “long time coming.”

Judge Walmsley asked court officials to remove the senior Arbery.

“Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. This tragedy should have never happened,” said Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, who is a Democrat.

“I am keeping his family in my prayers. But we must move forward together to dispel the shadows of our past and to ensure the safety and civil rights of every American,” Demings asserted.

Crump insisted that Black America must keep fighting for civil rights and justice.

“This case, by all accounts, should have been opened and closed,” Crump demanded.

“The violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. Yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice,” Crump remarked.

“[The verdict] indicates progress, but we are nowhere close to the finish line. America, you raised your voices for Ahmaud. Now is not the time to let them quiet. Keep marching. Keep fighting for what is right. And never stop running for Ahmaud.”

Jogging In Broad Daylight Shouldn’t Put Your Life At Risk

By Jesse Jackson

(Trice Edney Wire) – On Monday, closing arguments began in the trial of the three white Georgia men who shot down Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man for the apparent crime of jogging while Black. Arbery, a former high school star athlete, stayed in shape by jogging.

On that fateful day, jogging in broad daylight in Satilla Shores, Arbery was spotted by Gregory McMichael, who saw him “sprinting” past his house, which caused McMichael to assume he was running “away from something or someone,” according to his defense attorney. McMichael and his son grabbed their guns and — joined by a neighbor, William Bryan — chased Arbery in their pickup trucks as he tried to avoid them. Bryan repeatedly tried to sideswipe him, at one point forcing him into a ditch. Gregory McMichael screamed at him to “Stop, or I’ll blow your f—ing head off.”

Finally, they cut Arbery off, with Gregory McMichael saying he was “trapped like a rat.” Under assault, with no way out, Arbery tried to defend himself, rushing the younger McMichael, who shot him three times with his shotgun. McMichael admitted on the stand that Arbery had no weapon.

He claimed on the stand that Arbery had grabbed at his gun, but he told police on the scene that he could not remember that. Arbery’s murder is a modern-day version of a lynching. And what happened after the murder is haunting evidence that the institutionalized racism of the Old South still poisons.

For two months, no one was arrested. Local judges recused themselves because they knew the elder McMichael, who was once on the county police force and later worked as an investigator with the local district attorney. The local prosecutor recused herself.

The next prosecutor decided there wasn’t probable cause for an arrest, before recusing himself. Only when a video surfaced showing the brutal hunting down of a young Black man, innocent of any crime, did the community finally react. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation and the defendants were indicted for murder. Vigilante injustice Yet, when the trial started, it was before a jury of 11 white people and 1 Black person in a county that is 27 percent Black.

The White judge allowed the defense attorneys to use preemptory challenges to strike Black jurors from the panel, even though the judge admitted in court that there seemed to be “intentional discrimination” by the defense lawyers. The defense attorneys said they wanted a jury with “bubbas” or “Joe Sixpacks” on it, and that’s what they got. The defendants invoked an 1863 Georgia law, dating back to the days of slavery, to argue that they had the right to make a citizen’s arrest of Arbery who they suspected of being guilty of a felony when police are not present. As American University law professor Ira P. Robbins noted, this is a law “used for white people to help catch escaping slaves … It’s scary because it allows vigilante injustice.”

Then the defense asked the judge to ban from the courtroom the Black ministers who were there to comfort Arbery’s mother in her time of grief. To them, Black ministers, including Al Sharpton and myself, were by definition “intimidating” — yet another racist assumption. A young man hunted down and shot to death while jogging in daylight. A local justice establishment biased in favor of the murderers from the get-go. A jury convened of 11 whites and 1 Black. A defense based on a law dating back to slavery. The outrage generated by Arbery’s death has forced changes.

The Georgia State Legislature sharply limited the law. Voters threw out the local prosecutor, who then was indicted for misuse of her office. A new Black police chief was hired. Georgia passed hate crimes legislation, which it didn’t have at the time of the crime. The federal government has promised that the defendants will be tried under federal law for hate crimes in February. It is to be hoped that the jurors will understand that Arbery was the victim, not the assailant and that it wasn’t self-defense but murder that took place that day. Yet whatever the verdict, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery has once more laid bare the entrenched racial barriers to equal justice in Georgia and in America. Surely, jogging in the middle of the day should not put one’s life at risk.

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