Ahmaud Arbery’s mother is grateful for the guilty verdicts reached in her son’s murder trial. Wanda Cooper-Jones reflected on the outcome on Thanksgiving Day, nearly two years after Arbery was gunned down in an affluent, mostly white Georgia suburb. ”My family and I are really, really thankful for the verdict we got yesterday,” she said in an interview with “Good Morning America” on Thursday. ”We finally got justice for Ahmaud,” Cooper-Jones added. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was out for a jog in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick when he was confronted by Gregory McMi...
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was slapped with a $15,000 fine for an "obscene gesture" and warned for swearing during a news conference by the NBA's disciplinary officials on Friday.
"LeBron James has been fined $15,000 for making an obscene gesture on the playing court and warned for using profane language during media availability," said league spokesman Byron Spruell in a news release.
This is the second time this week that the league has disciplined James for an on-court incident.
James was hit with a one-game suspension for a bloody altercation with Detroit Pistons' Isaiah Stewart in a game last Sunday. It was the first suspension of James's career.
The ban meant James missed the Lakers' 106-100 loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
He returned Wednesday to face the Indianapolis Pacers and scored 39 points in a 124-116 overtime win. Late in the fourth quarter, James drew the ire of league officials for making an obscene gesture after sinking a three-point basket that extended the Lakers lead to six points.
James slammed the one-game suspension after the Pacers game, describing the punishment to reporters as "some bull----."
The NBA issued a warning Friday to James against "using profane language during media availability."
James also had a pair of fans ejected from the Pacers game in overtime, after they heckled him from their courtside seats.
In nine games this season, James is averaging 24.6 points, five rebounds and 4.6 assists.
© 2021 AFP
Opening statements Monday are set to launch the much-anticipated sex crimes trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite charged with recruiting and grooming underage girls for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The 59-year-old daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell faces an effective life sentence if convicted in New York of sex trafficking minors for Epstein, her former lover who killed himself in prison over two years ago.
Following the death of Epstein -- a multimillion-dollar money manager who befriended countless celebrities, including Britain's Prince Andrew -- prosecutors vowed to pursue co-conspirators, resulting in Maxwell's arrest in July 2020.
She has since been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where she has complained of unsanitary and inhumane conditions.
Maxwell's alleged crimes occurred between 1994 and 2004, and relate to four unnamed women, including two who say they were just 14 and 15 years old when they were sexually abused.
Prosecutors say Maxwell befriended girls with shopping and movie theater trips, later coaxing them into giving Epstein nude massages at his various residences, during which he would engage in sex acts before giving them money.
US government attorneys say she sometimes participated in the alleged abuse, at her London home and at Epstein's properties in Manhattan, Palm Beach and New Mexico.
Epstein died aged 66 in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges, in what New York's official coroner ruled a suicide.
The 12 jurors and six alternates who will decide Maxwell's fate will be officially seated the same day opening arguments begin. The trial, taking place in Manhattan federal court, is expected to continue into mid-January.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all six counts, which include sex trafficking of a minor, and faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
The French-born heiress has also been charged with two counts of perjury, due to be tried after her sex crimes trial.
The charges relate to testimony she gave in 2016 in a defamation case filed against her by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.
Giuffre alleges Epstein lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates, including Prince Andrew.
Maxwell, a long-time friend of Andrew, is known to have introduced the prince to Epstein.
Giuffre has sued the royal in New York, alleging he had sex with her more than 20 years ago when she was 17 and a minor under US law.
That civil lawsuit is expected to be heard before a jury in late 2022.
Prince Andrew has not been criminally charged and has denied the allegations.
Giuffre, now 38, is not part of the criminal case against Maxwell.
The alleged victims are expected to testify that Maxwell operated a ring of girls and young women who were taken across state lines to provide sex acts and sexualized massages for Epstein, for which they received hundreds of dollars.
The defense argues that Maxwell is being tried only because Epstein escaped justice.
They have indicated they will attack the accusers' credibility by referencing alleged previous substance abuse.
They also intend to challenge their recollection of events by calling psychologist Elizabeth Loftus -- an expert on "false memories" -- to the stand.
She told the trials of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby that memories become distorted over time, particularly during questioning years later.
The prosecution intends to call psychologist Lisa Rocchio to testify about common strategies used to groom children, such as developing trust before normalizing sexual contact.
The proceedings against Maxwell come after convictions of Weinstein and the singer R. Kelly, cases that also saw the defense rely on challenges of credibility -- that ultimately failed.
"The atmosphere is ripe for cases like this," former prosecutor Julie Rendelman told AFP.
But, she added, "it's always difficult when you're dealing with accusations that occurred so many years ago."
Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages, but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal.
The holder of multiple passports, Maxwell has been denied bail six times, with judges deeming her a flight risk.
She is unlikely to testify.
An anti-Covid pill developed by Merck has proved effective in treating the disease, the US Food and Drug Administration said Friday in a much-awaited preliminary report.
But the report, from an FDA advisory panel, cautioned that pregnant women should not use the drug, known as molnupiravir, saying the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks for those patients.
The report is meant to provide guidance to an FDA experts panel convening Tuesday to consider whether to authorize emergency use of molnupiravir.
Approval, analysts say, would represent a major step forward in the battle against the global pandemic, handing healthcare professionals a powerful new tool to help those infected.
Merck released the full results of the drug's clinical trial Friday, which found the pill would reduce by 30 percent -- much lower than its initial figure -- the rate of hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk Covid patients who took it soon after infection.
The preliminary FDA report confirmed the drug's effectiveness in patients with mild to moderate Covid or at risk of hospitalization.
In adding a caution against the drug's use by pregnant women, the report noted that no pregnant women were included in the clinical trials.
But it said tests involving pregnant rats and rabbits found higher rates of developing underweight and malformed fetuses after taking the drug.
It cited "both known and possibly unknown risks ... in pregnant or lactating individuals and pediatric patients."
Merck, in its authorization request, said its data stemmed from trials conducted in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in people with mild to moderate cases of Covid-19 and with at least one additional risk factor.
They were given the drug within five days of symptoms first appearing.
Merck initially said the drug, in a clinical trial, had been found to halve the rate of hospitalizations and deaths, before decreasing the rate in Friday's full results.
Those interim results were produced on the basis of studying slightly more than 700 patients, half of whom received the pill and half of whom got a placebo.
The finding -- a 48 percent reduction rate -- was statistically significant, and considered persuasive enough that an independent data review committee decided, in consultation with the FDA, to halt the drug trial ahead of schedule.
The full results were based on analysis of more than 1,400 patients, resulting in the more modest reduction rate of hospitalization and death.
Both the interim and complete results "support the efficacy and overall favorable benefit-risk assessment of molnupiravir" for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 in high risk adults, Merck said in a press release.
The full results found the hospitalization rate among patients who received the drug was 6.8 percent, compared to 9.7 percent for those given a placebo.
Just one of those treated died, while the second group saw nine deaths.
Antiviral drugs like molnupiravir work by reducing the ability of a virus to reproduce itself.
The drugs may be useful not only in keeping infected people from developing more serious symptoms, but in preventing people who have had prolonged exposure to the virus from falling ill.
The pill can be dispensed by a pharmacy and taken at home, whereas the three authorized monoclonal antibodies authorized for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 in at-risk individuals must be administered intravenously or through injection, the FDA report noted.