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FBI report: Sharp increase in anti-gay hate crimes

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WASHINGTON — The number of US hate crime victims rose slightly last year to nearly 9,700 from 9,500 in 2007, with most people targeted because of their skin color, the FBI said Monday.

However, as Think Progress notes, “Hate crimes based on sexual orientation had the largest increase — nearly 11 percent.”

More than half of hate crimes committed in the United States were racially motivated, and three-quarters of the victims were black, the FBI’s annual report on hate crimes said.

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Of the 6,927 known perpetrators of all hate crimes — which include attacks driven by not only racial bias but also by the victims’ religious affiliation, sexual orientation, ethnic origins or disability — 61 percent were white. Blacks perpetrated attacks in around 20 percent of cases.

The report was compiled after the issue of race was thrust into the center of US politics with African American Barack Obama’s successful bid to be elected the first black president of the United States.

Around 17 percent of hate crime victims were attacked because of their sexual orientation, the overwhelming majority, 96 percent, because they were gay or lesbian.

Nearly 20 percent were attacked for their religious affiliation, with Jews making up around two-thirds of the victims of those attacks.

Muslims were the targets of less than eight percent of religious hate crimes, putting them in third place behind Jews and followers of unspecified “other religions” attacked in 13 percent of religion-fueled hate crimes.

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In 2007, Muslims represented about eight percent of victims attacked because of their religion, and in 2006 they made up 12 percent of victims of religion-motivated hate crimes.

Members of the large US Hispanic community were victims of 64 percent, or nearly two-thirds, of the 1,148 hate crimes driven by a bias against a person’s ethnicity or national origin.

Most hate crimes targeting individuals were intimidation or simple assault, but seven murders and 11 rapes were counted among the hate crime statistics.

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The FBI compiled the report using data submitted by 13,690 law enforcement agencies in most of the 50 states. More than 80 percent of the participating agencies reported no hate crimes in their jurisdictions in 2008.

(Editor’s note: Headline originally erroneously reported that racial hate crimes went up sharply instead of slightly, additional reporting by RAW STORY)

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Privacy rights may become next victim of killer pandemic

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Digital surveillance and smartphone technology may prove helpful in containing the coronavirus pandemic -- but some activists fear this could mean lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.

From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens' movements in an effort to limit contagion. In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing "anonymized" smartphone data to better track the outbreak.

These moves have prompted soul-searching by privacy activists who acknowledge the need for technology to save lives while fretting over the potential for abuse.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards honors staffer who died from COVID-19

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Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) offered a moving tribute to a member of his staff who died from COVID-19.

"On behalf of the first lady and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19," he posted on Twitter, along with photos.

"She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her," he continued.

"She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community," he wrote.

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Washington state nurses share shocking stories from their war against coronavirus

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by Ken Armstrong and Vianna Davila

Nurses at one hospital in southeastern Washington state have alleged that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they were ordered by supervisors to use one protective mask per shift, potentially exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus.

At another hospital, just east of Seattle, nurses had to use face shields indefinitely.

At a third hospital, on Washington’s border with Oregon, nurses reported that respirators were expired. The hospital responded, the nurses said, by ordering staff to remove stickers showing that the respirators might be as much as three years out of date.

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