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tv   Yasmin Vossoughian Reports  MSNBC  November 27, 2021 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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♪♪ good afternoon, everybody. i'm yasmin vossoughian. we are following major breaking news this hour. more cases of a new strain of covid that originated in south africa are now popping up around the world. the president taking the step of barring travel from countries in southern africa but is it enough to stop the spread? dr. blackstock is going to join me coming up. and covid and supply chain issues affecting what is usually the biggest shopping weekend of the year. we're going to have a live report on that coming up. representative ilhan omar demanding new action after shocking comment from colleague lauren boebert. plus we are a little more than 40 hours away from the start of the potentially explosive trial of ghislaine maxwell.
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in our 4:00 p.m. hour, we are just days away from the case that could overturn roe v. wade. the supreme court about to take up a mississippi law that is a direct challenge on the very future of abortion rights. that's ahead. we want to start, though, with the breaking news on the new covid strain, omicron. with the last -- within the last two hours, germany and italy have confirmed they have new cases. this is coming just after the uk health secretary confirmed the variant is now in england as well. this means four european nations now have confirmed cases as well as asian and african nations. let's go talk about the latest countries to be added to the do not travel list from the state department. this is causing new restrictions and increased lockdowns around the world, including a u.s. travel ban from southern africa about to take effect as well. meantime, the white house says president biden is being briefed and is in touch with world leaders about this strain. i want to bring in nbc's raf
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sanchez in tel aviv, and nbc medical contributor dr. blackstock to talk about this. let's talk first about some of the updates that we're learning, the confirmed cases of this new variant, omicron, where they are, how many, and the travel restrictions now in place coming into the united states. >> yeah, yasmin, the list of countries with confirmed cases of omicron has just been getting longer and longer over the last couple of hours. in europe, the variant has now been found in the uk, germany, italy and belgium. and just in the last hour, dutch authorities are saying they have suspected cases. now, all of these are linked to travelers who recently returned from southern africa. the uk has two such cases. prime minister boris johnson held a press conference in london earlier in response to the variant, and he announced he is tightening britain's border controls. from now on, when you land in the uk, you're going to have to
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go into two days of self-isolation until you can produce a negative pcr test. i want you to take a listen to what the prime minister had to say at this press conference. >> we now need to go further and implement a proportionate testing regime for arrivals from across the whole world. in addition to the measures we are already taking to locate those who have been in countries of concern over the last ten days, we will require all contacts of those who test positive with a suspected case of omicron to self-isolate for ten days, regardless of your vaccination status. >> reporter: now, so far, there are no confirmed cases of the new variant in the u.s., but dr. anthony fauci and other public health authorities have acknowledged it is possible that the variant is already inside america's borders and just hasn't been detected yet.
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meanwhile, here in israel, there is one confirmed case from a traveler who recently returned from malawi. israel has cut off travel, not just from southern africa but from pretty much the entire continent with only a couple of exceptions in response. the israeli government is also reopening these dreaded so-called corona hotels. these are hotels where people who have returned from red list countries have to stay for ten days, for 14 days. yasmin, i have stayed in some of these hotels. they are not fun, but it is a sign of how determined the israeli government is to head off this variant that they're open once again. yasmin? >> all right, dr. blackstock, let's get into this and i think a lot of folks just really need clarity on this new variant or as much clarity as the professionals can give us because i know not a lot is known right now. i think one of my first questions is, what do we know
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about the people that have tested positive for this new variant? were they vaccinated? were they priorly infected by another covid variant? do we know any of this information as of yet? >> hi, yasmin. thank you so much for having me. what we know so far is in south africa and specifically in johannesburg, the people who have been infected with this variant are mostly young and mostly unvaccinated. i think about between 75% and 80% of them were unvaccinated. another concern is that there seem to be a few cases of reinfection with this variant. so, that's obviously another concern. what was noted was a rapid increase over a short period of time of people being infected with this particular variant, so there's concern for increased transmissibility based on that, and then there are some spike protein mutations. the spike protein is what's very important for attaching to cells and infecting them. for the virus infecting them, rather. and there's mutations that may
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be concerning for the ability to evade immunity. so this is what we know so far. but obviously, there are more questions than answers at this point, and should be clarified over the next two to three weeks as more lab and real-life studies are performed. >> so, i got to tell you, you open up, you know, "the new york times," whatever newspaper you're reading on that day, and it's troubling, right? you feel like we're almost out of the woods and then obviously another variant pops up. there was the mu variant at one point and it turned out that kind of fizzled out. obviously, we know what happened with the delta variant. every positive case it seems like now is, in fact, decidedly delta. how worried should we be about this variant and the possibility it could once again upend our lives? >> so, obviously, there's concern but there have been other variants like you mentioned the new variants. other variants of concern that have been listed on the w.h.o.'s
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list. that, you know, have not actually become the predominant strain, and so we really need these studies over the next few weeks to show us definitively, are these -- is this particular variant, is it more transmissible? does it cause more severe disease? does it have the ability to evade the immune system, which would have implications for the effectiveness of vaccines or monoclonal antibody treatment so obviously there's concern but we know what measures actually work. again, all the variants, they are the typical tried and true mitigation measures we've always talked about, masking, testing, tracing, isolating people. ventilation. you know, and obviously, encouraging vaccinations. so one of the reasons why we're seeing the emergence of variants in general is because we've done a very poor job of vaccinating the rest of the world so
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obviously, that should be a priority right now, especially for high-income countries to do their part, because we only have about 1% of low-income countries actually vaccinated at this point. and that's why we're seeing these emerging variants. >> so, dr. fauci, today, was asked about basically these travel bans, and he said, essentially, the issue of blocking travel from a given country is to just give us time to assess it better. you actually don't think travel bans work. why is that? >> well, as we've seen already, by the time the travel bans are instituted, there's already been spread of the virus. and we've already seen this variant identified on a number of continents already. i mean, even the first specimen that was collected, the first omicron specimen is collected on november 9th and we are just now hearing about this variant. and so, most likely, the spread
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has already taken place internationally, and so if anything, the travel bans do not stop the spread. they may slow the spread and give some lead time, you know, but obviously, we're going to still focus on those measures that are important, increased vaccination and decreasing spread of the variant domestically and internationally. and i think also what the travel bans do is they end up stigmatizing the countries that end up reporting it, so south africa has a very robust genomic surveillance program and they were doing the rest of the world a service by disclosing this. but what's happening is that they seem to have been punished by instituting these travel bans. we don't want to make other countries more reticent in the future and reporting these variants, should they occur. >> so, are you fairly confident at this point, dr. blackstock, that the omicron variant is inside the united states?
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>> i think it's very, very likely. probably had a few weeks lead time. it's just a matter of our own genomic surveillance program picking it up and that's an area, really, of weakness in the u.s., and the biden administration has invested more resources and funding towards that system, but i think it's only a matter of time before we detect that variant here. >> raf sanchez, dr. uche blackstock, thank you both. appreciate it. so, even without omicron in the u.s., definitively, as dr. blackstock said, it is very possible it is already here, some states like pennsylvania are already seeing big upticks in cases and hospitalizations. officials there are recording an average of 6,000 new covid cases every single day, the state health department saying 88% of the cases from this year were among unvaccinated or those not fully vaccinated. with that, i want to go to gary grumbach, the only testing site
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that is open today in pennsylvania inside a former automotive shop at state college. tell us more about this spike. we also know nearly 46,000 students are going to be returning to state college this week from around the world. how worried are officials there about this? >> reporter: yeah, i think health officials' concern hasn't really gone away over the last few months and to that point, mt. nittany medical center here in state college is seeing more covid patients right now than they saw at this time last year. most of those patients are unvaccinated but we're here at a covid testing site, a former sears automotive center turned into a covid testing site and that's a point of all this, right? this is the epitome of getting the resources out, into the communities, into the places that need them the most and boy does pennsylvania need that right now. we are seeing a lot of positive cases across the state, as you mentioned, 6,000 cases every single day this week. that's up 60% from what it was just two weeks ago. and here in center county, where we are right now, just about 52%
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of the county is unvaccinated, and so there's a lot of concern about that among locals. there's also concern about the fact of that omicron variant that people just don't know enough about. here's what folks had to say to that. >> it's concerning. it's a little frustrating. personally, i feel like just because i feel like, you know, if more people were getting vaccinated, being more careful, it wouldn't be able to mutate as quickly, and we could get things under control a little bit. faster and more safely. >> everybody wants to get back to normal but we're in a position right now where we're going to have to be still masking, still getting vaccinated. we're not quite there yet. we're close but we're not quite there. we still have to be vigilant. >> reporter: now, yasmin, it's important to note that the gatherings that happened this week during the holiday weekend aren't really going to show up on any covid tests until next week at the earliest. yasmin? >> yeah, the development of these variants, i got to say, really shows how this is a global pandemic. it's not only important to get
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folks here in the united states vaccinated but around the world to keep this virus from mutating. gary, thank you. good to see you. so, we're following new developments on capitol hill where republican congresswoman lauren boebert is now apologizing after suggesting that fellow congresswoman ilhan omar was mistaken for a terrorist in an elevator both were riding. boebert's comments captured on video show her addressing a crowd of supporters and claiming that she and a staffer were in an elevator and noticed a capitol police officer sprinting for the door as it closed. she said, quote, what's happening? i looked to my left and there she is, ilhan omar, and i said, well, she doesn't have a backpack. we should be fine. congresswoman omar has criticized the remarks as fabrication and bigotry and has pushed for boebert to be stripped of her committee assignments. nbc's julie tsirkin is on capitol hill covering this story for us. julie, i can't imagine this is
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going over well on capitol hill, this holiday weekend. it is incredibly upsetting to see online the type of traction it's getting. tell us more about the apology we're hearing from lauren boebert and the fallout from her comments. >> reporter: yeah, yasmin, look, it's the traction and the backlash that we're seeing online that possibly led lauren boebert, the colorado republican congresswoman, to even apologize in the first place. some critics are calling it a non-apology apology. i want to read you a part of what she said. she said, quote, i apologize to anyone in the muslim community i offended with my comment about rep omar. i have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. there are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction. it's rare now in this moment of intense tension and heated rhetoric in the capital and across the country between democrats and republicans that we even get any kind of apology, particularly coming from an ally of the former president, former
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president trump, but here we did. she tweeted this yesterday. rep omar, of course, ilhan omar, was the first member of congress to openly wear a hijab when she was elected in 2018 so this moment is bigger than just her. it's about the muslim community in the united states, and that's something that boebert did allude to in her tweet there but omar shot back almost immediately after this video surfaced, and she said that the republican leader, kevin mccarthy, and speaker pelosi need to take appropriate action. normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all muslims. now, as you mentioned, at the top, omar did say this was a fabricated event, sort of alliteration by congresswoman boebert, that it didn't happen and she was just saying this for, quote, clout. we're not hearing from leader mccarthy. i reached out to his office but haven't heard back. publicly, at least, we have reaction coming in from republicans like marjorie taylor greene, the congresswoman who herself was stripped of committee assignments a couple months back for her rhetoric.
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she said that boebert did not need to apologize to omar, quote, because omar is a part of the jihad squad. we have adam kinzinger, another republican on the january 6th select committee, investigating what happened on that day and he called boebert, quote, trash. and of course, you had overnight house democratic leadership led by speaker pelosi calling on kevin mccarthy to take this more seriously. they said, quote, his repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference is outrageous. i should note this comes on the heels of congressman paul gosar who got censured a couple weeks ago for tweeting a viral video showing him murdering a progressive member of the house. >> it's shocking to me what's happening in washington right now. can we just bring up that apology real quick, the full screen that julie tossed to? i just want to see it again from lauren boebert, because what she didn't say in it was, i was wrong. what she didn't say was it was islamaphobic or racist. what she didn't say is that in
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fact she is empowering other people to think this way and ostracizing millions of muslims around this country. i mean, i don't even see that as an apology. nonetheless, julie tsirkin on capitol hill for us, thank you for covering this. coming up in our next hour, everybody, michigan congressman andy levin joins me. plus, his thoughts on the build back better bill's chances of surviving the senate. that and more at 4:00 eastern. still ahead in this hour, more on biden's approaching travel ban in reaction to the new covid variant. how it impacts americans abroad. but first, the highly-anticipated trial of ghislaine maxwell. opening arguments begin in 48 hours, why one victim says she is just as responsible as jeffrey epstein for a ring of abuse targeting underage girls. we'll be right back. e targetings we'll be right back. the experts at safelite autoglass came right to me... with service i could trust. right, girl?
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welcome back, everybody. opening statements in the long-awaited trial of ghislaine maxwell are set to begin monday in manhattan. maxwell is accused of helping jeffrey epstein recruit and abuse underage girls as young as 14 years old. she has repeatedly denied all the allegations against her. nbc's gabe gutierrez is outside the courthouse in lower manhattan. gabe, walk us through the very latest. >> reporter: yasmin, for years, ghislaine maxwell's exact role in jeffrey epstein's empire has
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been under scrutiny. now we're expected to hear at least some answers in this courtroom, but this trial will only focus on just four alleged victims. this morning, ghislaine maxwell is behind bars in brooklyn just hours away from the start of her trial. opening statements scheduled for monday. >> maxwell played a critical role in helping epstein to identify, befriend, and groom minor victims for abuse. >> reporter: prosecutors say she was the ring leader in procuring girls as young as 14 for jeffrey epstein who police say later killed himself in jail. >> she was one of the co-conspirators. she was right there with him. i mean, in my opinion, you know, she might have been just equally as bad as he was. >> reporter: jennifer has accused maxwell and others of helping facilitate epstein's abuse. maxwell has repeatedly denied the allegations against her. this is not one of the women expected to testify against maxwell, all of whom will be identified at the trial only by
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their initials. >> the biggest challenge for the government here is that these alleged crimes happened decade ago and since that time, memories can fade and that can be ripe for cross-examination by the defense. >> reporter: the defense says the prosecution just wants to blame someone, anyone, for epstein's alleged crimes. >> the authorities lost epstein on their watch in federal custody, theoretically under 24/7 guard. and they're taking it out on my sister. >> reporter: the trial is expected to be narrow in scope, not bringing up allegations from an alleged victim who said in a civil lawsuit that maxwell trafficked her to britain's prince andrew when she was 17. he's denied the allegations. it's also unlikely the prosecution will be allowed to delve too deeply into epstein's social and business relationships with names like former presidents bill clinton and donald trump. and in this trial, maxwell will face six of the eight criminal counts she's been charged with. that's expected to last six
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weeks. yasmin? >> gabe gutierrez, thank you. coming up, travel time. with gas prices at a 13-year high, the road home after a busy thanksgiving weekend could be a financial roadblock for a lot of americans. the question is, is there relief in sight? we'll be right back. is, is thef in sight we'll be right back. (swords clashing) -had enough? -no... arthritis. here. new aspercreme arthritis. full prescription-strength? reduces inflammation? thank the gods. don't thank them too soon. kick pain in the aspercreme. subway has so much new i ran out of time in the last ad... so i'll take it from here. sorry steph. spokesperson refresh! refresh wait, what? subway® just upped their bread game with the help of some world-class bakers. lookin' at you nance. gotta refresh to be fresh. how many people are in this ad? that means freshly baked new artisan italian and hearty multigrain. hmm, that would go good with... seriously? i didn't even get to finish.
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welcome back, everybody. the nhl has postponed all new york islanders games until at least tuesday due to covid cases within the team. the islanders were set to play the rangers tomorrow and were missing several players for their first home game last week. they have eight players in covid protocols. the league cited the possibility of additional cases due to spread as another factor in the postponement. all islanders players, by the way, have been vaccinated against covid-19. all right, less than three weeks after the biden administration lifted covid travel restrictions for more than 30 countries, the u.s. will
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ban travel for non-u.s. citizens from south africa and seven other nations starting monday. in an effort to curb the spread of the heavily-mutated omicron variant. nbc's josh lederman is in nantucket, mass, where president biden is spending the holiday weekend. josh, good to see you this afternoon, thanks for joining us on this. talk us through the logistics of this move by the administration. why the timing of it, monday, and do we know how long these bans could actually be in place? >> reporter: not until monday, yasmin, because the biden administration wanted to make sure they didn't leave people stranded who are already en route, wanted to make sure they didn't create mayhem at the airport. and so, they are using this weekend to coordinate with tsa officials, with airline officials as well as local officials from various countries who are affected by this travel ban. we don't know how long it will be in place, but we do know that
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it will not affect u.s. citizens as well as permanent residents who might be in one of those eight countries trying to get back to the united states. they will still be able to enter the united states as long as they have a negative covid-19 test. president joe biden, on his final full day of his vacation here in nantucket, was briefed once again by his aides this morning, according to a white house official, who said that white house aides are also staying in constant contact with health officials around the world as we learn more about this variant. we also heard just a few minutes ago from vice president kamala harris who was out and about in washington, d.c., with the second gentleman doing some small business saturday shopping. here's what she had to say about the omicron variant. >> i have been briefed, and as the president has said, we're going to take every precaution, and so that's why we've taken the measures we have. but again, i can't stress enough, one, if you have not had the booster shot, get the
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booster shot. cannot stress enough the importance of getting vaccinated for those who have not been vaccinated. i will say what i say every time, because it remains true. they are safe, the vaccines are safe, they are free, and they will save your life. >> reporter: as of now, yasmin, the cdc says they have not detected any cases of the omicron variant here in the united states, but i think we should be honest with viewers that officials do not anticipate that that is going to stay that way. dr. anthony fauci was on early today, this morning, saying, look, the goal here is to buy more time for a public health response, but that once these things start circulating, it's very difficult to keep it out of the country altogether as we saw from the delta variant. so, more likely than not, at some point, we will have cases of this variant in the united states if we don't already, yasmin. >> yeah. exactly. great point. josh lederman, thank you. all right, so happening now as well, roads across the country are busy as millions of americans are now traveling for
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the thanksgiving holiday, traveling back, that is. aaa predicting more than 48 million people are on the roads this week. that's a record number, by the way, since the covid pandemic began, but they will be paying more at the pump nationally, a gallon of gas averaging $3.42, some states like california upwards of $4.70. stephanie stanton joining us from a gas station in tampa, florida. i was covering this story last week on the road, stephanie, and i was there when the president announced the infusion of 50 billion barrels of oil to help consumers and to drive down some of those prices but that's really just going to be a blip on the road to getting those prices down. what are folks out there telling you today? >> reporter: yes. yes, well, good afternoon to you, yasmin. it is a blip because when you look at 50 million barrels of oil, that equates to about 19 million barrels of oil per day being used to refine gasoline, so maybe that's about two and a half days' worth but folks here in, you know, they're not happy
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about these gas prices. however, aaa says the gas prices themselves are not really putting a damper on holiday travel. here in the state of florida, we are seeing the highest gas prices of the year. we are up about $1.33 from where we were last year. the average price across the sunshine state, $3.35. that is slightly lower than the national average of about $3.42. it is a lot lower than what we are seeing in places like california, as you mentioned. california, the average price there in the golden state, $4.70. it is a staggering number, and in some places, they are seeing gasoline even $6 a gallon or higher. so, it is quite a bit, and officials here in the state of florida, they are so concerned about the gas prices in this state that governor ron desantis is urging the state legislature to cut the gas tax by about 25 cents a gallon, hoping that will maybe cause some temporary relief for folks who live here. but as you mentioned, the
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president last week, he is vowing to tap the spr to the tune of about 50 million barrels of oil, hoping that will ease the pain at the pump. >> we'll have to wait and see. stephanie stanton, thank you for covering the story for us. appreciate it. and also happening now, everybody, holiday shopping is beginning. small business saturday, they're encouraging everybody across the country to engage as josh lederman mentioned a few minutes ago, president kamala harris -- vice president, i should say, kamala harris was taking part, here she is in washington alongside the second gentleman doing a little shopping of their own. take a listen. >> you know what i also love about this? you know, i often say, our small businesses are part of the civic fabric of our community. >> that's correct. >> so it's not only about the economy, it's also about the culture of a community. >> right. coming together. >> it's so great to see the community coming out to support.
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>> and small business owners are hoping people take her lead. a survey by american express showing 78% of small business owners say they're relying on holiday sales to remain open, and they're hoping for lots of shoppers on this small business saturday. so if you haven't gotten out there yet, get out there. of course, after the show wraps. let's go to nbc's liz mclaughlin, covering this for us in raleigh, north carolina. good to see you. take us through it. what have you been hearing from those mom and pop owners? >> reporter: yasmin, they faced no shortage of challenges over the past couple years here because of the pandemic, and that's still the case. they're kind of making up for lost time. they say a big challenge is just reaching consumers. there's a lot of noise right now and a lot more marketing dollars behind those bigger companies. so, they're struggling to tell their consumers when they're going to be open, if they're part of some pop-up shops and things like that, and of course, the labor shortage and supply chain issues also affect those small business owners. we're out in front of house of
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swank. it's one of many small businesses here in downtown raleigh. they make some fun things, baby onesies and t-shirts with funny sayings or local references. but they've been having trouble getting smalls and mediums, you know, certain sizes, certain colors, even the adhesive to put bar codes on their price tags have been trouble to get. so, it's kind of all over the place, but these different supply chain issues can, of course, affect how their run their business and in an increasingly online shopping marketplace, small businesses, of course, relying on online shopping as well. they're facing those shipping delays and other challenges there maybe more so than a big guy like amazon who has their own shipping fleets out there. we spoke -- they are seeing, though, a lot of support from the community. people do want to support small businesses, and this holiday, the 12th small business saturday, is a big push for folks to do that, and we talked to some shoppers today as holiday markets get started
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across the country this holiday shopping season in full swing. we were at one of those markets earlier today and talked to some shoppers about why they came there to support these small businesses. let's listen. >> you know, now that i'm vaccinated, i do feel a little bit more comfortable being around more people as last year that was still pre all of that, so i feel more comfortable and excited to be around people again for sure. >> but there's a lot of great quality products and people to buy from, so if you're -- don't want to fight the crowds in the big box stores, find a local market and go shop there. support those businesses and have a really pleasant shopping experience. >> i think it's easier to shop in-person because you know exactly what you're getting and you know that the product won't be back ordered. >> reporter: and many shoppers saying the reason that they are there in-person instead of even shopping small online is because they were concerned about the supply chain issues. they don't want to get that email saying their item is back ordered or that low stock, they
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might be seeing online or on some of those black friday options, so we're seeing about half of consumers say they're going to participate in small business saturday, spending about 300 bucks throughout this holiday weekend and more are lacking for specifically female or minority-owned businesses to try to support the causes and communities they care about. yasmin? >> i love a good holiday market. love it, love it, love it. liz mclaughlin in north carolina, thank you. still ahead, everybody, a matter of pride. a michigan middle schoolteacher resigns over the administration's demand that he remove a rainbow pride flag in his classroom. we're going to talk to that teacher, russell ball, about his decision to take a stand. stay with us. stay with us as a dj, i know all about customization. that's why i love liberty mutual. they customize my car insurance, so i only pay for what i need. how about a throwback? you got it. ♪ liberty, liberty - liberty, liberty ♪ uh, i'll settle for something i can dance to. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪
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welcome back. in michigan, a new policy is now in effect at one public middle school, ordering teachers to remove pride flags from their classrooms, but one teacher is
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refusing and posted this video on tiktok that's getting a lot of attention, and for good reason. >> after ten-plus years in education, i tendered my resignation today, drove home for the last time and won't be returning. when administration came around and told me i had to take down my pride flag, i told them, no. i was not going to be an active participant in the suppression and oppression of an already marginalized group that i'm a part of. i feel like i'm being told i am invalidated, that i don't belong, and that's not a message i want to send to myself or to any of my students. the pride flag is not a political statement. it's a human rights statement. we're all human. we should all have the same rights. but we don't. >> that teacher, that courageous teacher, russell ball, is joining me now.
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russell, it's so incredible to see that tiktok video and i know probably how much it took not only to post that but to resign from your job, which i'm sure you love, and that you've dedicated your life to. your professional career to. can you just take me back to the moment in which you were asked to take that flag down? how you felt, you know, beyond what we saw in that video. >> we received the first message last friday, a week ago, and when we received that first email, it was just immediate disheartening, extremely sad for the students, and it really just left me feeling extremely sad and disappointed, and quite honestly, i was actually quite livid. i was telling me students how mad i was about the email i received, that we all received, to remove our pride flags. >> what did the students say to you? >> the students -- i told them
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that i had no intention of removing my pride flag and all throughout the day as i was talking to them, they were all really supportive. they encouraged me not to remove my pride flag. the flag has significant importance to the students. and it really matters to them to see the flag and the representation in the classrooms, and they wanted it to stay, and they want the flags to stay throughout the school. >> and were you told that you had to resign, or did you resign in protest? >> i resigned primarily in protest. i knew that if i continued, there was no way i was going to remove my flag, and if i continued to keep the flag up, i'd face disciplinary action, possibly up to termination and at that time, i just felt it was best to resign from the position and not have to move forward in that negative atmosphere. >> do you know why they asked you to remove the flag? what inspired them to do that?
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>> the only information we received from the district and has been kind of tight-lipped about it was that there was an external challenge. the rumor through the district is that a parent or two complained about the flag there, and the complaint reached the board level and at that time, the law firm that the district worked with advised that all flags need to be removed, all pride flags be removed from the classroom. >> before i let you go, russell, i want you to tell folks what the flag means to you. >> to me, the flag means -- it stands for love, inclusion, acceptance for everybody. it's not a divisive exclusionary flag, whether you're in the community or not. the flag definitely stands for you, because it stands for everybody, and if it's really about love and acceptance and treating people and seeing people the way they want to be seen, as their authentic selves and not trying to conform to a standard that's not them.
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>> russell, i'm sure an incredible teacher. we hope you're out there again teaching sometime soon. please keep in touch with us as this thing continues to develop in your community. thank you, russell, for taking the time and happy holidays. >> thank you for having me, yasmin. you too. still ahead, everybody, fallout from the convictions of the three men in the murder of ahmaud arbery, the impact of the verdict as we await sentencing. e verdict as we await sentencing ms small business owners prosper during their most important time of year. when you switch to t-mobile and bring your own device, we'll pay off your phone up to $1000. you can keep your phone. keep your number. and get your employees connected on the largest and fastest 5g network. plus, we give you $200 in facebook ads on us! so you can reach more customers, create more opportunities, and finish this year strong. visit your local t-mobile store today. >> are you ready to start a great career? a>> safelite is now hiring.. >> you will love your job. >> there's room to grow... >> ...and lots of opportunities.
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a whisper of justice. that is how some are characterizing this week's verdict in the fatal shooting of ahmaud arbery. three white men were found guilty wednesday of felony murder in the death of arbery, a black man who was running in their neighborhood, when they confronted him last year, all now facing life in prison. nbc's cal perry is outside the courthouse in brunswick, georgia, with more on this. >> reporter: yasmin, the next steps for these now three convicted murderers is going to be a sentencing date. it will still be a few, quote, weeks away, that according to the judge who's going to give both sides time to prepare. the only question in the sentencing is going to be whether or not any of these three men are given a chance at parole. those murder charges come with a mandatory life sentence that is 30 years in georgia with either parole or no parole. it again will be up to the judge. there are serious questions being asked about the system here, especially amongst how this case was handled. we've heard these questions across the country. i want you to take a listen to representative troy carter, he
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was on with our colleague earlier this morning. >> clearly, one verdict doesn't change the issue that our country faces. there's a tremendous problem in our criminal justice system. this was, in fact, a victory, but it was so outlandish, it was so clear, the evidence was so clear that it would have been very difficult to come back with anything but a guilty verdict. however, we've seen this before, which denotes that we still have a very long way to go. we should pause on this victory but recognize there's so many others, the rittenhouse and others that still require the kind of careful attention and recognition that our criminal justice system is severely flawed. >> reporter: those flaws were certainly very visible when it comes to this case. if you look at the day that ahmaud arbery was murdered, february 23rd of 2020, that day, there was no crime scene, really, created. the pickup trucks that the men used to sort of pen ahmaud arbery into that street were never impounded.
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it is those questions that are central to this case, and as we look forward to the hate crimes trial, which could take place in february, some of those questions may be answered by the federal government. it is quite possible that this community will learn more about how this case was handled. yasmin? >> all right, nbc's cal perry, thank you. let's talk more about this. i want to bring in charles coleman jr., a civil rights attorney and former prosecutor. charles, thank you for joining us on this. i want to talk through the ahmaud arbery case and kind of what differentiated it from kyle rittenhouse. we know they were both very different cases, yet they claimed the same thing, which was self-defense. right? what distinguished them? >> well, i think there were a few things that distinguished them. the first one was that in the kyle rittenhouse case, a number of the actors had weapons, and this was a chaotic scene. this was a scene where the defensive provocation was one
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that's something that the prosecution had a much harder time establishing and ultimately that the jury did not buy, whereas compared to the ahmaud arbery case, he was clearly unarmed, he was clearly outnumbered, he was clearly outgunned, and part of the reason why the provocation element of the charge that the prosecution was successfully able to get through to the jury was able to do that in the ahmaud arbery case, was in part because of the length of the encounter. if you recall, during the trial, the prosecutor laid out very clearly that this took the course of several minutes in terms of, from the time that they first initially spotted ahmaud arbery to the time that he ran away from them, continued to run away from them, and then when they blocked him in, finally ultimately leading to that fatal encounter. and so i think those big elements, although they are both parts of both cases, when you look at them and you analyze them and put them side-by-side, you start to see some pretty stark differences between the two. >> i find it fascinating.
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i want to read for you from this piece. it was from nbc. some other experts talking about the case, right, and why it seems as if this case ended the way that it did. and here's the assessment from some experts. while we can celebrate that justice was done here, if there hadn't been a video, these men probably would have gotten away with it. that was a former federal prosecutor, and then criminal defense attorney bernarda said travis mcmichael really didn't come off as credible. he knew ahmaud arbery was not armed, did not threaten him. he knew ahmaud arbery did not have anything in his pants. do you agree with their assessments, especially as we watched that video a little bit earlier as my colleague, cal perry, was speaking? the video that showed, front and center, what happened on that day. >> i do agree with both of them, particularly with bernarda villalona. i think both of those points are very strong.
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i think that ultimately, what we have to do is realize in these situations where there is a video, when we do have situations that video is a big part of the prosecution's case, whether it's this, whether it's kyle rittenhouse, whether it's the prosecution of derek chauvin for the murder of george floyd, we do not want to get into a situation where we expect video as the standard. we don't need to have a standard that is set for juries that if there is no video, they can't convict. that is a concern that i have as a former prosecutor. oftentimes, there is no video. but that should not prevent prosecutors from going forward in terms of cases, and it should not prevent juries from being able to understand that testimony is evidence. and there are a number of different forms of evidence and the fact that you may not have ocular evidence that is supporting what actually happened should not impede your ability to seek a resolution that is fair and holds people accountable. >> it is so true, because so often, in a lot of these cases,
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as with george floyd and ahmaud arbery, we point to the video to be kind of the nail in the coffin for the folks that finally get a conviction. and it's such an incredible point that you make, that you can't depend on these videos for a conviction, especially when it comes to the killing of black men. charles coleman jr., civil rights attorney, thank you. appreciate it. coming up in our next hour, everybody, abortion back on the docket in the highest court in the land, a case that could mean the end for roe v. wade. plus, does the president need an enemy? in this political landscape, why a clear villain could help bolster the president's support. p bolster the president's support. >> if you only knew the power of the dark side. obi wan told you. obi wan told you ♪♪it's a most unusual day♪♪ ♪♪feel like throwing my worries away♪♪ ♪♪as an old native-born californian would say♪♪ ♪♪it's a most unusual day♪♪ ♪♪it's a most unusual sky♪♪
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♪♪ hi, everybody, i'm yasmin vossoughian. if you are just joining us, welcome. if you are still with us, thank you for sticking around. we're going to have the very latest on that new strain of covid originating in south africa and now popping up in countries around the world. plus, there's new controversy from two members of what could be described as the gop's extremist caucus, congresswoman lauren boebert and marjorie taylor greene both making waves again as the republican leadership remains quiet. house minority leader kevin mccarthy out with a new statement just moments ago. i'm going to read it for you. in a moment, i'm going to talk to congressman andy

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