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GOP fears risk virus fight: ‘I don’t need the vaccine.’



GOP fears risk virus fight: 'I don't need the vaccine.'
GOP fears risk virus fight: 'I don't need the vaccine.'

GOP fears risk virus fight: ‘I don’t need the vaccine.’


Former President Donald Trump is still widely revered in this rural swath of Virginia’s Shenandoah valley, with lawn signs and campaign flags adorning the landscape. Vaccines to combat the coronavirus, on the other hand, aren’t as common.

Laura Biggs, 56, who has already recovered from the infection, is reluctant to get the vaccine. Assurances from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration have done nothing to alleviate her concerns that the vaccine might cause death.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need the vaccine at this time,” she said. “And I’m not getting the vaccine until it’s been thoroughly tested.”

That sentiment exemplifies the difficulty that public health officials will face as the United States ramps up its attempts to achieve universal vaccines that could bring an end to a catastrophic pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 530,000 people. The campaign may falter if it becomes another litmus test in America’s raging culture wars, just as mask-wearing mandates were at the outbreak of the virus.

While vaccine apprehension is on the decline in general, Republican opposition remains steadfast. According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 42% of Republicans believe they would almost certainly not get the shot, compared to 17% of Democrats — a 25-point gap.

Although demand for vaccinations continues to far outstrip supply in most parts of the world, there are already signs of registration slowing in some areas. And, according to Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, the effect will worsen when supply starts to exceed demand in late April or early May.

“This is going to be a massive problem,” he predicted. “So if we stay at 60 or 65 percent vaccinated, we’ll continue to see major outbreaks and real problems in our world, and getting back to what we think is natural will be much, much harder unless we can get that number higher.”

Ron Holloway is a prime example of the difficulties that health officials face. The virus is more likely to infect the 75-year-old Forsyth, Missouri, resident and his 74-year-old companion. He was adamant, however, that they “don’t do vaccines.”

He described the virus as “blown way out of proportion and a bunch of nonsense.” “We haven’t lost a single percent of our population yet. It’s completely absurd.”

Biggs is a Republican from Virginia who voted for Trump. In all aspects of the pandemic, she said, partisan divisions were evident among her friends and family, including vaccine acceptance.

“Left-wing family members haven’t left the house in a year,” she said, while she and her husband “went everywhere.” In 2020, we traveled more than we have in every other year of our lives…. I simply assume there was panic around it. And people, in a way, placed themselves in boxes.”

The resistance is much stronger for Holloway, who works in real estate. In general, he is critical of vaccines, as well as the government and pharmaceutical firms. He claims the virus was exaggerated in order to deny Trump a second term, which he sponsored.

“I simply do not believe that vaccines are appropriate. Holloway said, “I don’t believe it is the way God intended for us to be.” “The bulk of my colleagues and associates, including the people with whom we attend church, do not wear masks or receive shots. I’m not sure why people are so scared of it. It’s not even close to being as bad as the flu.” In reality, COVID 19 is much more lethal.

Republicans have been wary of the pandemic from the start. According to AP-NORC polling, they are less concerned about illness than Democrats and are more opposed to bans and mask-wearing. Many people asked why they should be early adopters of vaccines with possible side effects because they weren’t concerned about the virus and had already moved on in interviews over the last few days.

However, Republican pollster Frank Luntz is concerned about vaccine resistance. On Saturday, he convened a focus group with 20 vaccine-skeptical Trump voters and try to find out what kinds of messages could convince them to take the shots. Republican congressional leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former CDC Chief Thomas Frieden, attended the meeting.

“The overriding message from this session is that it will be extremely difficult,” he said. “Those who voted for Trump and refuse to take the vaccine are adamant in their refusal. They don’t believe in science. They don’t trust the media and feel that all is partisan.”

“You have to start with the truth and then add on the emotion” to persuade them to change their minds.

“You have to understand and empathize with their fears and reservations,” he said.

Some also criticized Trump, who spent most of the pandemic downplaying the virus’s risks, even after he was admitted to the hospital and needed supplementary oxygen and experimental treatments. Trump did get the vaccine before leaving office, but he did so privately and in secret, refusing to reveal the information until this month.

And, despite urging Americans to get vaccines in a recent address, he has done little to support the initiative and is noticeably absent from an ad campaign featuring former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as their wives.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said on Sunday that Trump’s “incredible impact” among Republicans would “make all the difference in the world” in overcoming apprehension.

However, Luntz claims it is too late. An advertisement featuring former presidents made participants in his focus group less likely to want to get vaccinated. Participants have reported that they had more confidence in their physicians than they did in the former president.

“My recommendation to politicians is to step back and hand over power to the medical professional,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials from the Biden administration and others claim that various outreach attempts are underway to reach out to Republicans, especially evangelical Christians. Local physicians, ministers, and priests have been encouraged by President Joe Biden to talk about vaccinations in their neighborhoods.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ chief medical officer, Marcus Plescia, said, “We need to think about how to meet the people who are maybe more reluctant.”

Others, on the other hand, are ready to shoot as soon as their turn comes up.

Lenton Lucas, 51, of Arlington, Virginia, works for his brother’s Front Royal restaurants and has spent most of the pandemic serving meals to those too afraid to leave their homes. Lukas, a Black Republican who voted for Trump, said that in his neighborhood, vaccine access is much more of a problem than vaccine hesitancy, with residents desperate to get vaccines amid a long history of prejudice and mistrust.

And, though he says he’d like to learn all about the vaccines because “all has pros and cons,” he’s ready to have his so he can spend more time with his family and his grandma, who is 70 years old.

“I have to do what I have to do in order for her to be comfortable,” he said. “It must be completed.” This article was co-written by Associated Press authors Emily Swanson and Zeke Miller in Washington, Michelle R. Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, and Anila Yoganathan in Atlanta.

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WATCH: Broncos’ Pat Surtain II intercepts Chargers’ Justin Herbert in the end zone



WATCH: Broncos’ Pat Surtain II intercepts Chargers’ Justin Herbert in the end zone

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Sharks place forward Evander Kane on waivers



Evander Kane suspended 21 games by NHL for COVID violations

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks have placed forward Evander Kane on waivers and plan to send him to the AHL if he isn’t claimed by another team.

Assistant general manager Joe Will said Sunday that Kane has been placed on waivers before his 21-game suspension for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card ends. Kane was eligible to return to play Tuesday against New Jersey.

If Kane clears waivers, he is expected to report to the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL on Tuesday. It is uncertain when he will be ready to play.

“Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing Evander’s return to San Jose,” Kane’s agent, Don Milstein, said in a statement. “We were not surprised by the Sharks’ decision to put him on waivers and, if he does clear, he will report to the Barracuda. Evander is looking forward to resuming his NHL career this season.”

Will, filling in while general manager Doug Wilson is on medical leave, said putting Kane on waivers gives the team flexibility before determining what they want to do with him going forward.

Will said Kane is now fully vaccinated.

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn



Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn

NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies’ pension funds before dying a mysterious death. She spent the second with another tycoon, Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while charged with sexually abusing teenage girls.

Now, after a life of both scandal and luxury, Maxwell’s next act will be decided by a U.S. trial.

Starting Monday, prosecutors in New York will argue that even as she was sipping cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Maxwell, 59, was secretly abetting Epstein’s crimes with girls as young as 14.

A key question for jurors: Was Maxwell an unwitting pawn of Epstein’s manipulations or an opportunist who knew all about his sex crimes?

Ian Maxwell says his sister is being railroaded by a U.S. criminal justice system intent on holding someone responsible for Epstein’s crimes.

“And she is paying a heavy price, a blood price for that,” he told The Associated Press.

Ghislaine Maxwell grew up at Headington Hill Hall, a 51-room English country mansion where politicians, business leaders and newspaper editors attended lavish parties punctuated by trumpeters and fireworks. BBC images from the time show Ghislaine as a child with a kid-size plate of food, circling in a party dress, learning how to be a master networker.

Her father, born Jan Ludvik Hoch, was one of nine children of Yiddish-speaking parents in a village in what is now southwestern Ukraine. Escaping the Holocaust, he ultimately joined the British Army, rising to the rank of captain and transforming himself into Robert Maxwell.

After the war, Maxwell built on his military connections to buy the rights to German scientific journals, the beginnings of a publishing empire that ultimately included the Daily Mirror, one of Britain’s biggest tabloid newspapers, as well as the New York Daily News and the book publisher Macmillan.

Along the way he married, fathered nine children and was twice elected to Parliament. He also earned a reputation for boorish behavior and bullying subordinates.

Ghislaine was Maxwell’s youngest child, born on Christmas Day 1961. Her brother Michael was severely brain damaged in a car accident just days later at age 15, although he lived for another seven years.

Her mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, wrote in her memoir that she and Robert were so focused on their injured son that their baby daughter was overlooked. So neglected was Ghislaine that at the age of 3 she stood in front of her mother and said, “Mummy, I exist!”

“I was devastated,’’ Elisabeth Maxwell wrote in “A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell.’’ “And from that day on, we all made a great effort with her, fussing over her so much that she became spoiled, the only one of my children I can truly say that about.’’

While studying history at the University of Oxford in the early 1980s, Ghislaine Maxwell began building contacts of her own, including Prince Andrew, who would later invite her and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s country estate.

After graduating, she worked for her father in a variety of roles. In 1991, at age 29, she became his U.S. emissary after he bought the Daily News amid efforts to compete with fellow media tycoon — and New York Post owner — Rupert Murdoch.

Later that year, Robert Maxwell fell off his yacht — the Lady Ghislaine — in the Canary Islands and died in what some saw as an accident and others a suicide. Investors would discover his wealth was an illusion: He had diverted hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds to prop up his empire.

Soon after her father’s death, Ghislaine Maxwell was photographed sitting next to Epstein during a memorial at the Plaza Hotel.

John Sweeney, a longtime U.K. journalist and creator of the podcast “Hunting Ghislaine,” told the AP he believes that “after the monster her father died, she found a second monster.”

“Robert Maxwell stole hundreds of millions of pounds from people who were dependent upon his good word; Jeffrey Epstein turned out to be a darker figure, a worse human being,” Sweeney said.

Ian Maxwell said his sister’s relationship with Epstein developed after the family advised her to remain in the U.S. because the Maxwell name was “in the dirt” at home. Amid the family’s reputational and financial woes, she had to make her own way in New York and forge new friendships, he said.

One of those was with Epstein, a onetime teacher who built his own fortune on the back of contacts like the former CEO of the parent company of lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.

“My father was a powerful man — you know, an alpha male, really. And when you have that kind of experience, all of us, all of the brothers and sisters have had to somehow deal with that,” Ian Maxwell said. “Ghislaine was no exception. But clearly to then say, ‘Well, you know, he dies, then she moves along to the next rich man.’ I just don’t buy that.”

In sworn testimony for an earlier civil case, Ghislaine Maxwell acknowledged that she had a romantic relationship with Epstein but said she later became his employee, tasked with things like hiring staff for his six homes.

“I hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool people, pilots. I hired all sorts of people,’’ Maxwell said during a deposition in April 2016. “A very small part of my job was to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult professional person.”

But in 2005, Epstein was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, and accused of hiring multiple underage girls — many students at a local high school — to perform sex acts. He pleaded guilty to a charge of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in jail.

Years of civil litigation followed, in which women accused Epstein and Maxwell of sexual abuse. Prosecutors in New York revived the case and charged Epstein with sex trafficking in 2019, but he killed himself in jail before he could face trial.

The indictment against Maxwell is based on accusations from four women who say she recruited them to give Epstein massages that progressed into sexual abuse. One was just 14 at the time. Maxwell sometimes participated in the sexual encounters and was involved in paying at least one accuser, prosecutors allege.

Annie Farmer alleges she was 16 when she was tricked into visiting Epstein’s New Mexico ranch under the guise of attending an event for college-bound students. But when she arrived, there were no other students. She said Maxwell tried to groom her by taking her to the movies and shopping, and giving her an unsolicited massage while the teenager was topless.

The AP does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward publicly. Although she is not identified by name in court documents, Farmer has described her experiences in interviews with ABC and The New York Times. When Maxwell — a citizen of the U.S., U.K. and France — sought bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it, calling her a “psychopath.”

“I do not believe that … any of the women she exploited will see justice if she is released on bail,” Farmer wrote in a letter to the court. “She has lived a life of privilege, abusing her position of power to live beyond the rules. Fleeing the country in order to escape once more would fit with her long history of anti-social behavior.”

Virginia Giuffre, who has filed a related civil lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew but isn’t part of the criminal case, has described Maxwell as a “Mary Poppins” figure who made young girls feel comfortable as they were being lured into Epstein’s web.

Giuffre alleges she was 17 when she was flown to London to have sex with Andrew at Maxwell’s house. Other encounters with Andrew occurred at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to her lawsuit. Andrew denies the allegations.

Prosecutors say Maxwell went into hiding after Epstein’s suicide, moving into a gated New Hampshire home she bought for $1 million — with a husband her lawyers have declined to publicly identify — and wrapping her cellphone in foil to ward off hacking.

Maxwell was just protecting herself from the press, her lawyers said in court papers — a notion U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan rejected.

Nathan repeatedly denied Maxwell bail, deeming the risk of her fleeing too great. The judge’s decision has left Maxwell isolated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, confined to a small cell equipped with a toilet and a concrete bed. Ian Maxwell said imprisonment is preventing his sister from receiving a fair trial.

Ghislaine Maxwell has remained mostly silent about the Epstein allegations over nearly two decades, but in a 2016 deposition in a civil case, she said she learned about the allegations against him “like everybody else, like the rest of the world, when it was announced in the papers.’’

She said she never saw Epstein getting massages from anyone under 18 and that no one ever complained to her that Epstein demanded sex.

“Never,” she declared.

With Epstein gone and no apparent recordings of alleged incidents that occurred two decades ago, the trial will likely hinge on the women’s allegations and Maxwell’s denial.

A jury will soon decide who it believes.

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