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Emmett Till investigation closed by feds; no new charges

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Emmett Till investigation closed by feds; no new charges

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department said Monday it is ending its investigation into the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, the Black teenager from Chicago who was abducted, tortured and killed after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman in Mississippi.

The announcement came after the head of the department’s civil rights division and other officials met with several of Till’s relatives.

Till’s family members said they were disappointed there will continue to be no accountability for the infamous killing, with no charges being filed against Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman accused of lying about whether Till ever touched her.

“Today is a day we will never forget,” Till’s cousin, the Rev. Wheeler Parker, said during a news conference in Chicago. “For 66 years we have suffered pain. … I suffered tremendously.”

The killing galvanized the civil rights movement after Till’s mother insisted on an open casket, and Jet magazine published photos of his brutalized body.

The Justice Department reopened the investigation after a 2017 book quoted Donham as saying she lied when she claimed that 14-year-old Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances while she was working in a store in the small community of Money. Relatives have publicly denied that Donham, who is in her 80s, recanted her allegations about Till.

Donham told the FBI she had never recanted her accusations and there is “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she lied to the FBI,” the Justice Department said in a news release Monday. Officials also said that historian Timothy B. Tyson, the author of 2017’s “The Blood of Emmett Till,” was unable to produce any recordings or transcripts in which Donham allegedly admitted to lying about her encounter with the teen.

“In closing this matter without prosecution, the government does not take the position that the state court testimony the woman gave in 1955 was truthful or accurate,” the Justice Department release said. “There remains considerable doubt as to the credibility of her version of events, which is contradicted by others who were with Till at the time, including the account of a living witness.”

Tyson did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday.

Thelma Wright Edwards, one of Till’s cousins, said she was heartbroken but not surprised that no new charges are being brought.

“I have no hate in my heart, but I had hoped that we could get an apology, but that didn’t happen,” Edwards said Monday in Chicago. “Nothing was settled. The case is closed, and we have to go on from here.”

Days after Till was killed, his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, where it had been tossed after being weighted down with a cotton gin fan.

Two white men, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, were tried on murder charges about a month after Till was killed, but an all-white Mississippi jury acquitted them. Months later, they confessed in a paid interview with Look magazine. Bryant was married to Donham in 1955.

The Justice Department in 2004 opened an investigation of Till’s killing after it received inquiries about whether charges could be brought against anyone still living. The department said the statute of limitations had run out on any potential federal crime, but the FBI worked with state investigators to determine if state charges could be brought. In February 2007, a Mississippi grand jury declined to indict anyone, and the Justice Department announced it was closing the case.

Bryant and Milam were not brought to trial again, and they are now both dead. Donham has been living in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The FBI in 2006 began a cold case initiative to investigate racially motivated killings from decades earlier. A federal law named after Till allows a review of killings that had not been solved or prosecuted to the point of a conviction.

The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act requires the Justice Department to make an annual report to Congress. No report was filed in 2020, but a report filed in June of this year indicated that the department was still investigating the abduction and killing of Till.

The FBI investigation included a talk with Parker, who previously told the AP in an interview that he heard his cousin whistle at the woman in a store in Money, Mississippi, but that the teen did nothing to warrant being killed.

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Chiefs rally past Buffalo 42-36 in OT in wild playoff game

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Chiefs rally past Buffalo 42-36 in OT in wild playoff game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce in the corner of the end zone early in overtime, and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied to beat the Buffalo Bills 42-36 on Sunday night in a sizzling finish to a wild divisional-round weekend.

The lead changed hands three times in the final two minutes of regulation before Harrison Butker, who earlier missed a field goal and extra point, drilled a 49-yarder for Kansas City as time expired to force overtime.

The Chiefs won the coin toss, marched swiftly downfield against the NFL’s top-ranked but exhausted defense, and right into their fourth straight AFC title game. They’ll play the Bengals next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl.

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Fauci says most states should hit omicron peak soon, Massachusetts on the downslope as wastewater data shows progress

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Fauci says most states should hit omicron peak soon, Massachusetts on the downslope as wastewater data shows progress

Most U.S. states should hit their omicron variant peak soon, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday as the Bay State and other New England states are already on the surge’s downslope.

In Massachusetts, the daily average of COVID-19 cases has dropped by 62% in recent weeks as the Boston-area coronavirus wastewater data has plunged — a signal that fewer cases are on the way.

Most states across the country should follow this trend soon, said Fauci, who is President Biden’s chief medical adviser, noting that most regions should reach an omicron peak by mid-February.

“Things are looking good,” Fauci said on ABC News “This Week.”

“We don’t want to get overconfident,” he added. “But they look like they’re going in the right direction right now.”

Fauci said he’s “as confident as you can be” about that mid-February prediction.

“You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus … because it has certainly surprised us in the past,” Fauci said.

“But if you look at the patterns that we have seen in South Africa, in the U.K., and in Israel, and … in the Northeast and New England and upper Midwest states, they have peaked and starting to come down rather sharply,” he said. “There are still some states in the southern states and western states that continue to go up.”

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US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

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US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

WASHINGTON  — The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion.

The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense.

The move came amid rising tensions about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation. The move had been under consideration for some time and does not reflect an easing of U.S. support for Ukraine, the officials said.

In a statement, the State Department noted recent reports that Russia was planning significant military action against Ukraine. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has accused NATO countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine with disinformation.

The State Department added: “The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”

The department’s travel advisory, which had warned against traveling to Ukraine because of COVID-19 as well as the tensions over Russia, was changed Sunday to carry a stronger warning.

“Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk,” the department advised.

The travel advisory for Russia was also changed: “Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”

The State Department would not say how many Americans it believes are currently in Ukraine.

U.S. citizens are not required to register with embassies when they arrive or plan to stay abroad for extended periods.

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