Your NPR news source
Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael at the Glynn County Courthouse

Greg McMichael, center, and his son, Travis McMichael, left, at Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Along with their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, they were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.

Stephen B. Morton, Pool

The Rundown: Ahmaud Arbery killers found guilty of murder

Hey there! It’s Wednesday, and this is how I feel working while my family kicks off Thanksgiving break. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery

A jury today found Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan guilty of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and attempted false imprisonment in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased and shot while jogging in Glynn County, Ga., last year. The three men, who are white, face a minimum sentence of life in prison.

The case became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after a video showing Arbery’s death surfaced online. Defense attorneys argued their clients suspected Arbery was a burglar and they were acting in self-defense. Prosecutors said the men couldn’t claim self-defense because they started the confrontation.

In a separate case, federal authorities charged the McMichaels and Bryan with hate crimes, alleging they chased and killed Arbery because he was Black. That trial is set to begin in February. [AP]

2. Unemployment claims plummet to lowest level in more than 50 years

New weekly jobless claims fell this month to their lowest level since November 1969, the Labor Department reported today, with 199,000 Americans filing for initial unemployment benefits in the week that ended Nov. 20. That’s a significant improvement compared to this time last year, when around 700,000 claims were filed as the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the economy.

The overall unemployment rate also decreased in October, dropping from 4.8% to 4.6% as the U.S. added 531,000 jobs. While President Joe Biden celebrated the gains, he acknowledged that rising inflation has complicated the market’s recovery.

“We have more work to do before our economy is back to normal, including addressing price increases that hurt Americans’ pocketbooks and undermine gains in wages and disposable income,” Biden said in a statement. [Washington Post]

Still, inflation doesn’t seem to be keeping would-be shoppers from spending. Retail sales jumped 1.7% in October, the Commerce Department announced this week. [NYT]

3. The travel industry is bracing for a Thanksgiving rush

Heading out of town for Thanksgiving? Prepare to be patient, especially if you’re leaving today.

Around 9 million drivers are expected to hit the Illinois Tollway over the extended weekend, according to transit officials, with Wednesday projected to be the busiest travel day.

Flying? Brace yourself for long lines at Midway and O’Hare. Combined, Chicago’s two airports are expected to welcome nearly 1.6 million travelers this year — shattering last year’s Thanksgiving figures and surpassing 2019’s totals. [Sun-Times]

After months of pandemic cancellations, there’s a lot of pressure on the airline industry to prove it can handle the holiday surge.

“If it goes poorly, that’s when people might rethink travel plans for Christmas. And that’s what the airlines don’t want,” said Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial pilot who is a spokeswoman for FlightAware, an aviation data provider. [NYT]

4. Students at Chicago’s public schools say they fear gun violence after classes are dismissed

Eight weeks after two 15-year-old students at Simeon Career Academy High School were killed in separate shootings just hours apart, many students are still trying to recover and have a normal year, reports WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad.

The traumatic events at Simeon are among several high-profile shootings near schools this fall. The two Simeon students, Jamari Williams and Kentrell McNeal, were killed in September. In the weeks that followed, there were at least three other shootings near schools, including at Phillips Academy High School, where two people were injured. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Chicago public schools that voted to remove police officers are reimagining how to de-escalate conflict within school buildings. At Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side, officials have focused on improving student-staff relationships and providing more emotional support, arguing a punitive approach to discipline doesn’t create a safe learning environment. [WBEZ]

5. Chicago businesses are feeling the effects of supply-chain slowdowns

Black Friday is quickly approaching, but this year you might not be able to find everything on your list. As WBEZ’s Claudia Morell reports, many small businesses in Chicago are grappling with limited inventory due to supply-chain disruptions.

Barry Philips, who owns Affordable Portables, a furniture store on Clark Street in Lincoln Park, said he’s been having trouble importing goods from overseas, making it difficult to give customers the variety he’s used to providing.

Over in Little Village, Marco Rodriguez of Dulcelandia, which imports Mexican candy and party favors, said he’s stuck looking for someone to transport cargo across the border. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • All aboard! The CTA’s holiday train and bus will welcome passengers for the first time in two years. [Chicago Tribune]

  • University of Chicago students say the killing of a Chinese alum has sparked anti-Black sentiment on campus. [WBEZ]

  • Most items at Dollar Tree stores will now cost $1.25. [NPR]

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration will pay $100,000 to settle whistleblower complaints by two city treasurer employees. [Chicago Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

As someone once labeled the “Queen of Quarantine,” it’s taken me some time to feel comfortable easing up on my pandemic protocols post-vaccination. Luckily, NPR has this helpful guide on how to make gathering with friends and family this Thanksgiving as safe as possible.

One major takeaway: Older relatives are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infections, even if they’re vaccinated. To lower everyone’s risk of exposure, experts recommend getting a booster shot if you’re eligible, and taking precautions while traveling.

Extra anxious like me? If you’re hosting a large get-together, asking guests to get tested beforehand or providing rapid tests may offer some peace of mind. [NPR]

Tell me something good ...

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so I’d like to know: What are you thankful for this year?

Joyann writes:

“I’m thankful for Marco Polo, which is an app that lets you send video messages back and forth with friends. It’s helpful because it doesn’t require the commitment of a FaceTime, but you still have personal face-to-face conversations. I’ve gotten close to my best friend because of it and I get to connect in a meaningful way with friends across the country and even around the world.”

And Paul writes:

“I’m thankful for a lot: my wonderful wife of 36+ years, my three brothers scattered across three time zones, my friends — including several that I got to visit with this fall during trips to Colorado and Washington State, my continued employment and my health. Oh, and to be considered for inclusion in The Rundown, of course!”

Me? I’m thankful for everyone who shared their thoughts with us this week — you’ve reminded me we have a lot to be grateful for, even in hard times.

The Latest