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Misleading information about vaccines and COVID-19 on online platforms like Facebook is killing people, Joe Biden has said.

Speaking to reporters as he left the White House on Friday afternoon, the US president was asked if he had a message to platforms like the social media giant regarding the misleading or incorrect information that frequently appears on them about the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Biden responded: “They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.”

Facebook has been accused of spreading misinformation about COVID vaccines
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Facebook has been accused of allowing misinformation to spread about COVID vaccines

On Thursday, a 22-page document from the US surgeon general called health-related misinformation a “serious public threat” and said a nationwide response was required.

Mirroring what is happening in the UK, COVID cases have tripled in the US over the past three weeks – and the number of people admitted to hospital and dying from it is rising, particularly among unvaccinated people.

Officials in the US are worried by the trend and what they consider to be needless illness and death. And, also as in the UK, cases are expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks.

In the US, the rising numbers are being driven by infection among the more than 90 million eligible Americans who have yet to get their jabs.

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In many cases this is localised, depending on the uptake rates in specific areas. Four states with low vaccination rates made up 40% of new cases last week.

Aiming to boost uptake among young people, the White House has teamed up with the former Disney Channel star Olivia Rodrigo to encourage them to get vaccinated.

The 18-year-old singer met Mr Biden and his chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci this week to film videos for the White House’s social media channels and her own. She has more than 14 million followers on Instagram alone.

Researchers and politicians have repeatedly accused social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp of failing to clamp down on incorrect or misleading posts on its platforms, particularly during the pandemic.

But Facebook points out it has introduced rules against making false claims about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Facebook spokesman Kevin McAlister said on Friday: “We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts.

“The fact is that more than two billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet.”

COVID-19: Some residents of town with high infection rates ‘ignore advice’ and ‘crowd together’

COVID-19: Will the data allow the government to lift restrictions on 19 July?

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The US’s uptick in COVID is some way behind that of the UK, where rates have doubled in the last fortnight.

And despite two thirds of the population now having been double jabbed, fewer than 40% of the under-40s have had a single jab, according to the latest vaccine surveillance report. First jab uptake rates are also slowing.

Meanwhile, the latest NHS England figures show that by far the largest group of people in the UK to be hospitalised is those aged under 54 (52% of those admitted in the week up to 7 July, the latest date for which figures are available).

But whilst England gets ready to drop legally-enforced coronavirus restrictions on Monday, some states in America are re-imposing rules. Counties in California are among those again requiring everyone to wear masks while out in public, even if they’ve been fully vaccinated.

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OJ Simpson murder trial: How the dramatic court case unfolded

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OJ Simpson murder trial: How the dramatic court case unfolded

Former American footballer and actor OJ Simpson, who has died of cancer, will be remembered most for his role at the centre of the “trial of the century”.

Accused of double murder, his case captured the attention of the US until it came to a dramatic end in late 1995.

Here’s a look back at how that trial unfolded.

12 June 1994

Simpson‘s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson was found dead in front of her home in Los Angeles with her friend Ronald Goldman, who was a waiter at a restaurant where she had just dined.

The pair had been stabbed to death outside her home in the neighbourhood of Brentwood.

Read more:
OJ Simpson has died at the age of 76, his family says

OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown
Pic:MediaPunch/AP
Image:
OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown. Pic:MediaPunch/AP

17 June 1994

After the bodies were found, suspicion quickly fell on Simpson, who had been married to Nicole for seven years until their divorce became final on 15 October 1992, little more than 18 months before her death.

Simpson had been ordered by prosecutors to surrender, but on this day, carrying a passport and a disguise, he instead fled, with friend and former team-mate Al Cowlings in a white Ford Bronco.

A white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings and carrying OJ Simpson, being trailed by Los Angeles police on 17 June , 1994. Pic: AP
Image:
OJ Simpson trailed by Los Angeles police on 17 June 1994. Pic: AP

The vehicle was soon spotted on a California freeway and pursued by police in a car chase that was televised live across the country and watched by an estimated 95 million viewers.

Cowlings, in a phone call to police, said Simpson was lying in the back seat of the car holding a gun to his own head. After eventually driving to his Brentwood home he was persuaded to surrender.

Sky News’ Steve Bennedik recalls how Simpson’s trial was covered

It was the first few weeks of 1995 when Sky News’ live coverage of the OJ Simpson court case got under way. Each evening we showed the trial and invited questions. In those days, the main form of correspondence was by letter.

But there was also a new electronic method emerging, called email. And the first of these had the simple, but deflating, sentence: “Which one is OJ?”

We asked ourselves: Is our audience ready to follow the story of a very American tragedy unfold on British TV? We decided to stick with it.

In contrast, OJ Simpson was a household name in the US. So much more than an ex-football star. But the shock of this icon being arrested for murder, the bizarre Bronco highway chase, the high-profile celebrity defence team, and ultimately the “did he do it?” question had universal attraction.

Although the case stuttered through until October, the weak Judge Lance Ito was obsequious to lawyers’ demands for delays, but the interest among Sky News viewers surged and remained undimmed.

As the court camera panned to the state of California seal, signalling another adjournment, we and no doubt the viewer sighed.

More behind-the-scenes legal wrangling, but we had an ace up our sleeve – Professor Gary Solis. Gary is a Vietnam veteran, former military judge advocate, with alma maters including George Washington University and the London School of Economics.

At the time, he was in London and ready to give up his evenings. He calmly steered our presenters, Laurie and Vivien, and our often puzzled viewers through the complexities of the Californian legal system and became a firm favourite with the newsroom and the public alike.

The court characters emerged. Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden for the prosecution, and the “Dream Team” defence – Jonnie Cochran, F Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz and Robert Kardashian, whose children would go on to outshine his fame.

It was compelling court drama, but it was also the very tragic story of two young people who’d been savagely attacked and murdered, with their families devastated by the loss, and tormented by the lingering back and forth court battle.

The proceedings had lasted months, but the jury reached their verdict in just a few hours and when they returned to the courtroom to deliver it, an early evening audience in the UK was hanging on every moment. And then it was over. OJ was a free man.

The People of the State of California v Orenthal James Simpson faded as a memory, flickering back to life with the news of his death.

24 January 1995

The murder trial, dubbed the “trial of the century” by the media, began.

Prosecutors argued OJ Simpson had killed Nicole and Ron in a jealous rage, and they presented extensive blood, hair and fibre tests linking him to the murders.

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The defence countered that the celebrity defendant was framed by racist white police.

15 June 1995

Perhaps the defining moment of the trial came on a Thursday in June, when the prosecution committed what a defence lawyer would later describe as the “greatest legal blunder of the 20th century”.

OJ Simpson grasps a marker while wearing the leather gloves prosecutors say he wore the night his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
OJ Simpson grasps a marker while wearing the leather gloves prosecutors say he wore on the night of the murder. Pic: Reuters

On this day, a prosecutor asked him to put on a pair of gloves believed to have been worn by the killer.

The gloves appeared to be too small, as OJ Simpson struggled to put on the gloves in a highly theatrical demonstration and indicated to the jury they did not fit.

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This led defence lawyer Johnnie Cochran to famously state in his closing argument: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

3 October 1995

The trial came to an end with two words – not guilty.

Read more:
OJ Simpson a ‘completely free man’ after being released from parole

OJ Simpson, who maintained from the outset he was “absolutely 100% not guilty”, waved at the jurors and mouthed the words “thank you”.

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OJ Simpson dies – the story of his complex legacy

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OJ Simpson dies - the story of his complex legacy

The death of arguably one of America’s most-talked about names in the 1990s has re-ignited conversations about who OJ Simpson was and how he will be remembered.

The former NFL star was tried and acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. He later spent time in jail for armed robbery and kidnap.

On the Daily, Niall Paterson talks to our US correspondent James Matthews as they discuss his life and the controversies surrounding the 76-year-old, who died on Wednesday following his battle with cancer.

👉 Listen above then tap here to follow the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Producers: Emma Rae Woodhouse, Rosie Gillott, Soila Apparicio
Senior producer: Annie Joyce
Editors: Paul Stanworth, Wendy Parker

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OJ Simpson death: Lawyers for families of victims still believe he was ‘a murderer’

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OJ Simpson death: Lawyers for families of victims still believe he was 'a murderer'

Lawyers for the families of OJ Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman have told Sky News they still believe he was “a murderer”.

The former NFL star and Hollywood actor died aged 76 of cancer on Wednesday.

Nicknamed “The Juice”, Simpson was tried for their double murder in 1995, in what was dubbed the “trial of the century”.

OJ Simpson is shown in his official Los Angeles Police Department booking photo following his arrest for two murders
Pic: Reuters
Image:
LA police department booking photo of OJ Simpson following his arrest for two murders. Pic: Reuters

He was found not guilty of murdering Ms Brown and Mr Goldman, but was later found liable for the deaths in a civil lawsuit.

It is claimed Simpson still owed $114m (£91m) to Mr Goldman’s family, and that they are considering how to claim it back over assets.

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How OJ Simpson’s trial unfolded

Speaking to Sky News, the Goldman family’s lawyer David Cook said: “I review and consider Simpson as what he was: that he was a bad person; he was a murderer; he got out of the acquittal here.

“He remains now and in his death as the day that he committed the crime in whatever the amount of years ago.

“He’s still the same person. And the fact that he died doesn’t change it.”

Nicole Brown Simpson is seen in this photograph that was shown to the jurors in the OJ Simpson trial February 6. Nicole's sister Denise-Brown testified that she took these picture to document injuries at the hands OJ Simpson.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
Nicole Brown seen in a photograph – shown to jurors in the trial – documenting injuries allegedly from OJ Simpson. Pic: Reuters

Gloria Allred, the lawyer for Ms Brown’s family, also told Sky News that “he killed her” and pointed to Simpson pleading no contest to spousal abuse in 1989.

“What happened five years before he killed Nicole? He gave her that black eye, she ran out of the house,” the lawyer said. “She was terrified. She hid in the bushes. The police came.

“He was arrested, charged with spousal battery and what were the consequences of that case? He admitted it.

OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson in 1993.
Pic: AP
Image:
OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson
Pic: AP

“In other words, he pled no contest to a spousal battery, but he never was sent to jail. In fact, it’s really questionable as to whether he did anything that the judge required him to do, even out of jail, community service, for example.”

Ronald Goldman
Image:
Ronald Goldman was stabbed to death at Nicole Brown Simpson’s Los Angeles home on 12 June 1994. Pic: Reuters

Ms Allred added that “it’s only going to get worse for the victim” if no action is taken against perpetrators of domestic violence and said: “That’s what happened. He killed her.”

‘No great loss’

Mr Goldman’s father Fred Goldman told Sky News’ partner network NBC News earlier on Thursday that Simpson’s death was “no great loss”.

“The only thing I have to say is it’s just a further reminder of Ron being gone all these years,” he said.

“It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron being gone.”

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In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Keith Zlomsowitch, Ms Brown’s ex-boyfriend who served as a pallbearer at her funeral, said Simpson’s death was a “relief”.

Read more:
OJ Simpson: The case that gripped the US

How the dramatic Simpson court case unfolded

He said: “I think finally some sort of justice has been served, that he’s been taken from the earth.

“So it doesn’t bring Nicole back. But it means he can no longer be who he is in this world.”

‘Good riddance’

Simpson’s team of lawyers also included his friend Robert Kardashian, the late husband of reality TV star Kris Jenner.

Caitlyn Jenner, who was previously married to Ms Jenner, tweeted just two words in response to the news of Simpson’s death: “Good Riddance.”

The former Olympian and media personality wrote in her autobiography The Secrets Of My Life that Simpson “was the most narcissistic, egocentric, neediest asshole in the world of sports I had ever seen, and I had seen a lot of them”.

Simpson was acquitted after the 1995 criminal trial watched by millions worldwide, where Simpson famously tried on a pair of blood-stained gloves allegedly found at the scene of the crime.

The gloves appeared to be too small, leading defence attorney Johnnie Cochran to say: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Alan Dershowitz, another of Simpson’s former lawyers, told Sky News earlier that the defence was “a nightmare team” and that he did not want the former sports star to take the stand.

“Ultimately it was the glove” that made Simpson refuse to take the stand at his trial, Mr Dershowitz said.

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“When he was able to go in front of the jury and show them that the glove didn’t fit, that led him to conclude, and he made the decision, not to take the stand.

“In the civil case, he took the stand and was immediately found liable.”

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