Weekend’s spending drops, National Retail Federation says

A person wears a face mask while carrying shopping bags in Columbus Circle on November 28, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

Fewer holiday shoppers bought gifts during the five-day period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, and those who did spent less, as discounts started early this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The retail trade group said about 186.4 million shoppers bought holiday gifts, food or decorations from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. That’s less than the 189.6 million shoppers who bought items during that period last year, but higher than the 165.8 million who shopped in 2018.

Over the weekend, average spending on gifts, decorations and food was $311.75, down about $50 from last year, the NRF said.

On a call with reporters, NRF Chief Executive and President Matt Shay said shoppers concentrated less of their shopping during the weekend since many began buying items in October. Yet he said Americans are still enthusiastic about celebrating the season and indicated that they have half of their shopping to finish.

“We have seen that pretty much whatever segment, whatever brand, one consistent theme is that consumers have gotten a head start on holiday shopping,” Shay said.

This year, online shopping played a more important role for retailers during Black Friday weekend. Shay said about 57% of holiday shoppers indicated they plan to shop more online because of the pandemic. Those new habits cut across consumers of all ages and backgrounds, he said.

“As the coronavirus cases have spiked across the country over the past few weeks, we continue to see consumers prioritize their personal health and safety as well as public health and the health of the communities in which they live and work,” Shay said. “They continue to adjust their shopping behavior online to avoid large crowds.”

Shoppers also could be looking to make their money matter. The number of online shoppers during Small Business Saturday rose 17% to about 68 million people. A growing number of Americans have expressed a desire to support local shops and Black entrepreneurs during a year when the pandemic has hurt small businesses and the George Floyd protests have highlighted Black Americans’ unequal access to opportunity. That’s also fueled spending on Etsy, a website that features unique, handmade and personalized gifts made by small businesses.

The number of shoppers who bought items online only during the weekend increased by 44% to 95.7 million shoppers, the group said.

Even with the significant shift to online shopping this year, Shay said he expects crowds to return to stores for Black Friday in the future. He said Americans will want to resume traditions after the Covid-19 vaccine.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Friday next year was the biggest in history,” he said. “I just think that there’s going to be an enormous amount of pent-up demand for all of us to go out and to socialize and to be together and to experience some of the things that we

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Women’s national team, U.S. Soccer settle part of their lawsuit

U.S. women’s national team players and the U.S. Soccer Federation settled their long-running lawsuit over inequitable working conditions compared with the men’s team while leaving their dispute over unequal pay for additional litigation.

The parties filed a redacted public notice of the settlement with the federal court in Los Angeles on Tuesday while providing the complete agreement to U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner. The deal with the world champion American women and the sport’s U.S. governing body calls for charter flights, hotel accommodations, venue selection and professional staff support equitable to that of the men’s national team.

“I hope that the women and their lawyers see that we are taking a new approach,” said Cindy Parlow Cone, a former player who became the first female USSF president in March.

“We want the women’s team as well as their lawyers to see that we want to move in a different direction,” Parlow Cone said. “We want to have a different relationship with them. We want to work together. And I think they’re starting to see that. And we have to continue down this path.”

Players sued the USSF in March 2019 claiming they have not been paid equitably under their collective bargaining agreement that runs through December 2021, compared to what the men’s team receives under its agreement that expired in December 2018. The women asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Klausner dismissed the pay claim in May, ruling the women rejected a pay-to-play structure similar to the one in the men’s agreement and accepted greater base salaries and benefits than the men, who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

But Klausner allowed aspects of their allegations of discriminatory working conditions to be put to trial, which had been scheduled for next month. With those issues settled, the players may now ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to restore the wage claims.

“We are pleased that the USWNT players have fought for — and achieved — long overdue equal working conditions,” players’ spokeswoman Molly Levinson said. “We now intend to file our appeal to the court’s decision, which does not account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job.

“We remain as committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve. Our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”

The lawsuit got international attention. Following the U.S. victory in last year’s World Cup final in Lyon, France, the crowd chanted “Equal Pay!” as players celebrated on the field.

In May, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden posted to Twitter: “To @USWNT: don’t give up this fight. This is not over yet. To @ussoccer: equal pay, now. Or else

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US Soccer reaches deal with women’s national team in fight for equal working conditions, but not equal pay

The United States Soccer Federation and the US Women’s National Team have reached an agreement — but not about equal pay.

Carli Lloyd et al. playing football on a field: FRISCO, TX - MARCH 11: USA midfielder Megan Rapinoe (#15) celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal during the SheBelieves Cup soccer game between the USA and Japan on March 11, 2020, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

© Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
FRISCO, TX – MARCH 11: USA midfielder Megan Rapinoe (#15) celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal during the SheBelieves Cup soccer game between the USA and Japan on March 11, 2020, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The two sides have reached a deal resolving the unequal working conditions claim that the USWNT put forth as part of a larger lawsuit from March 2019, which claims the women were paid less than the men’s team and were also subjected to unequal conditions.

The latter claim, US Soccer announced Tuesday, has been resolved, with both parties having filed a proposed settlement. In it, the federation pledges to implement policies specifically related to “hotel accommodations, staffing, venues, and travel.”

In a statement, Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the USWNT players, emphasized the deal does not indicate the end of the legal battle, saying the team still plans to appeal the court’s decision this past May dismissing the team’s equal pay claims.

The deal, Levinson said, doesn’t “account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job.”

“We remain as committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve,” she said. “Our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”

Cindy Parlow Cone, US Soccer president and a former USWNT player, called Tuesday’s deal a “positive step forward,” and she urged the team to accept the standing offer to discuss contract options.

“As a former USWNT player, I can promise you that I am committed to equality between the USWNT and USMNT,” she said in a statement, referring to the men’s national team. “My goal is, and has always been, to come to a resolution on all equal pay matters and inspire a new era of collaboration, partnership and trust between the USWNT and the Federation.”

US Soccer president: Equal pay demands would ‘bankrupt’ the organization

In a conference call following the announcement, Cone told reporters that the federation has reached out to the team and offered them the same contract as the men for games controlled by US Soccer. However, Cone said, the team is requesting the federation make up the FIFA World Cup prize money, a “vast majority of the $66 million they’re requesting in back pay.”

Making up that money, Cone said, would likely bankrupt US Soccer.

“This would be devastating to our budget and to our programming,” she said. “But given Covid, not to be overly dramatic, but it would likely bankrupt the federation.”

In May, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” after the court dismissed the team’s

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OSU’s COVID-19 TRACE project gets $2 million gift for national expansion

Oregon State University’s project that helps find how widespread COVID-19 is in a community will soon expand across the nation. 

a person standing in a room: Tracer staff bring samples back to their staging area in Eugene.

© Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard
Tracer staff bring samples back to their staging area in Eugene.

OSU’s TRACE project sent people from the university into communities, knocking on doors and asking people to voluntarily submit a sample to see if they have COVID-19. The purpose is to get a better picture of how prevalent the virus really is in a community, because not everybody has access to testing or may be asymptomatic. 

The program started in April in the Corvallis area, and has since expanded to communities like Eugene, Bend and Newport. Now, with a $2 million gift from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, OSU will create a national TRACE Center and expand the project to interested communities across the nation, a university news release said. 

“The number of confirmed cases in a community is different than the number of people who have the virus,” Ben Dalziel, director of the project and assistant professor in OSU’s College of Science, told The Register-Guard. “Not everyone has access to testing and because folks can be asymptomatic yet still transmit. The value proposition of the center is to try to estimate the number of people in the community (who) are infected with the virus at a particular time, which continues to be relevant, as much or even more so heading into this new sort of phase with the vaccine hopefully rolling out.”

More than 100 research universities across the nation have the capacity to roll out the TRACE project in their own areas, Dalziel said, and many institutions have expressed interest in the project, which spurred the expansion. 

Right now the project is designed to be run through a university-public health partnership, so OSU spokesman Steve Clark said it’s likely they’ll expand it through universities and colleges. But it could be in areas where there isn’t a college or university, and the county public health department chooses to take it on instead. 

“Institutions could include colleges, universities and local health departments,” Clark said. 

The new national center is open to changing up its approach since one-size-fits-all won’t apply. 

“One thing that’s important with the center is to make sure that whatever happens in a particular community is tailored to that community,” Dalziel said. “So we’re not going to come in and say ‘this is how you do it.’ It’s going to be a two-way endeavor.”

The new national center won’t require any new brick and mortar additions to campus. Its employees will still work at OSU, with a focus on the TRACE Center. The $2 million will mostly go toward full-time positions in the center that will focus on consulting with the communities in other states running the project.

There will also be some funding delegated to making sure they have the right infrastructure for storing and collecting all the data, especially because managing private health information can be a heavy lift

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The NFL Fan Style 2020 Holiday Giveaway (hereafter, “Sweepstakes”) is open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and District of Columbia who are eighteen (18) years of age at the time of entry. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives (and the respective children or legal wards of each) of the NFL Properties LLC (hereafter, “Sponsor”), the NFL Entities (defined as National Football League, its member professional football clubs, NFL Ventures, Inc., NFL Ventures, L.P., NFL Enterprises LLC and each of their respective subsidiaries, affiliates, shareholders, officers, directors, agents, representatives and employees), and each of their respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, suppliers, advertising and promotion agencies (hereafter collectively, “Released Parties”), and each such individual’s immediate family members (spouse, parents, legal guardians, in-laws, grandparents, siblings, and children, regardless of where they reside) and those living in their same households, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate or win. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state, and local laws apply. Instagram is neither a Sponsor of nor affiliated with this Sweepstakes. By entering, you understand that you are providing your information to the Sponsor and not to Instagram.

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Entries must be received by 11:59PM p.m. ET on December 15th to be eligible. There is a limit of one (1) Entry per person per Instagram account for the duration of  the Promotion Period. Additional Entries received from the same Instagram account in excess of the aforementioned limitation will be void. If you choose to participate using your mobile phone, standard data fees may apply. See your wireless provider for pricing plan details. Other than for prize notification or conditions as previously stated, neither Sponsor, nor anyone acting on its behalf, will enter into any communications with any entrant regarding this Sweepstakes or acknowledge any Entry not meeting all Entry requirements stated herein, and such entries will be disqualified. Released Parties are not responsible for late, lost, stolen, incomplete, misdirected, delayed, garbled, damaged, inaccurate, or undelivered direct messages, or Entries, or for telephonic, human or computer failures, problems, or errors, interruptions in service due to system upgrades, repairs, modifications, or other causes, failures, or malfunctions of connections, satellite, network, cable, Internet Service Provider (ISP), phones, phone lines, or telephone systems, traffic congestion on the Internet, technical or mechanical malfunctions, or other malfunctions or errors, whether caused by equipment, programming,

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How national model worker took the bull by the horns

YINCHUAN-Hu Caihong is the first woman in her village to artificially inseminate cattle, the first to ride a motorcycle and the first to receive the honorary title of a national role model worker.

Hu, who studied veterinary medicine, returned to her home village in Guyuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, after working at a cattle farm in the city for 10 months in 1994. Guyuan is located in the Xihaigu region, which used to wallow in grinding poverty.

In Hu’s village, few women can read. All they do is slog away in the kitchen and take care of the elderly and children.

But Hu was determined to help local cattle farmers improve breeds via artificial insemination, thus increasing productivity and profitability.

“My family opposed my decision to do the ‘indecent’ job of artificially inseminating cattle. Even local cattle farmers did not trust me. They thought women would be unable to do it well,” said Hu, 47.

To dispel doubts, she provided free on-site guidance on artificial insemination and breeding techniques to cattle farmers.

She became the first woman in her village to buy and ride a motorbike. Sometimes, she had to travel more than 30 kilometers a day between different cowsheds, despite blizzards and rainstorms.

Her diligence and excellent breeding skills finally won her praise, and more villagers began to accept advanced breeding techniques.

“I will fear nothing as long as people can understand me and my endeavors,” Hu said.

In 2007, Hu set up a rural cooperative and provided cattle breeding services for residents of five townships. The service was free for poverty-stricken villagers. With better-quality beef and a shorter growth cycle, an improved cattle breed can fetch every farmer about 2,000 yuan ($300) extra a year.

Hu also began raising chicken in recent years. With her help, about 1,500 local cattle and chicken farmers saw their annual income rise by an average of 1,500 yuan.

“She can do everything well if she wants,” said 52-year-old Lei Junxia, Hu’s sister-in-law.

Encouraged and assisted by Hu, Lei has also learned how to improve cattle breeds and ride a motorbike.

“I can earn 5,000 yuan a month,” Lei said. “Without Hu, I would not have dared dream of such good days.”

Over the years, Hu has won many county-level and national-level awards, including being dubbed a national role model worker in 2010.

At a gathering in Beijing on Tuesday, 1,689 people from all walks of life were honored as national role model workers and 804 as exemplary individuals.

Hu’s given name is Caihong, which means “rainbow” in English. She is an icon in her village now, and many women aspire to lead a life like hers.

The honors she has earned have not diminished her pioneering spirit. From morning to night, she is busy at her chicken farm, which is home to some 15,000 fowl.

“No matter what you raise, being diligent is always right,” Hu said.


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How can I stay safe while shopping? 25 common virus questions answered | National News

Oxford scientists expect COVID-19 vaccine data by Christmas

FILE – In this Thursday, April 23, 2020 file screen grab taken from video issued by Britain’s Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK to test a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in England. A key researcher at the University of Oxford says scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas. Dr. Andrew Pollard, an expert in pediatric infection and immunity at Oxford, said Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 that research was slowed by low infection rates over the summer but the Phase III trials are now accumulating the data needed to report results.

What does COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness mean? It refers to the likelihood that a coronavirus shot will work in people.

Two vaccine makers have said that preliminary results from their late-stage studies suggest their experimental vaccines are strongly protective. Moderna this week said its vaccine appears nearly 95% effective. This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its shot appeared similarly effective.

Those numbers raised hopes around the world that vaccines could help put an end to the pandemic sometime next year if they continue to show that they prevent disease and are safe.

Effectiveness numbers will change as the vaccine studies continue since the early calculations were based on fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases in each study. But early results provide strong signals that the vaccine could prevent a majority of disease when large groups of people are vaccinated.

U.S. health officials said a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% effective before they would consider approving it for use. There was concern that coronavirus vaccines might be only as effective as flu vaccines, which have ranged from 20% to 60% effective in recent years.

The broad, early effectiveness figures don’t tell the whole story. Scientists also need to understand how well the vaccine protects people in different age groups and demographic categories.

For both vaccines, the interim results were based on people who had COVID-19 symptoms that prompted a virus test. That means we don’t know yet whether someone who’s vaccinated might still get infected — even if they show no symptoms — and spread the virus.

Also unknown is whether the shots will give lasting protection, or whether boosters will be required.

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US women’s soccer team wears Black Lives Matter jackets and kneels for national anthem before game in Europe

The United States women’s national soccer team took part in a social justice protest during pregame warmups in the Netherlands on Friday.

The team walked out of the locker room wearing outfits emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter,” and almost every member of the team took a knee for the national anthem, according to ESPN.

“We love our country, and it is a true honor to represent America,” the team said in a statement before the game. “It is also our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms that our country was founded on extend to everyone.”

The match was the team’s first since the death of George Floyd on May 25 due to a stoppage in play caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The team defeated the Dutch national team by a score of 2-0, with goals from Rose Lavelle and Kristie Mewis.

Earlier this week, President Trump criticized two NFL quarterbacks for kneeling during the national anthem before a game on Thanksgiving, tweeting to his followers, “No thanks!”

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U.S. women’s national soccer team shows support for Black Lives Matter

The U.S. women’s national soccer team faced off against the Netherlands Friday in its first game in almost nine months  — and did so while protesting racial injustice and demanding “that the liberties and freedoms that our country was founded on extend to everyone.”

a person standing in front of a crowd: Netherlands USA Soccer

© Dean Mouhtaropoulos / AP
Netherlands USA Soccer

In a 50-second video posted on Twitter, the team showed off their jackets, which had “Black Lives Matter” spread across the front over lines of red and blue. 

“As a team we work towards a society where the American ideals are upheld, and Black lives are no longer systemically targeted,” team members narrated throughout the video. “We collectively acknowledge injustice, as that is the first step in working towards correcting it.” 

The team concluded their video message with a tribute to former congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who died in July. They reiterated Lewis’ quote that urges “good trouble” as a way to stand up to unjust issues.

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, say something. Do something. Get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” 

USWNT defender Crystal Dunn posted a separate message of support on Friday, saying, “it is our duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms that our country was founded on extend to everyone.” 

“We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people,” Dunn wrote. “We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for Black and Brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team.”

Prior to the start of Friday’s game, several players — while donning their Black Lives Matter jackets — kneeled during the national anthem. 

Friday’s game was the U.S. team’s first match abroad since they defeated the Netherlands 2-0 to claim their fourth World Cup title in 2019. The U.S. defeated the Netherlands again on Friday with the same score. 

The U.S. women’s soccer team has not shied away from taking a stand on social justice issues in the past. One of the team’s most famous fights is the one for equal pay and an end to gender discrimination within U.S. Soccer. 

After U.S. Soccer responded to a lawsuit in March by saying the women’s team had less responsibility than the men’s and that men’s soccer requires more skill, the women’s team responded by wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out, hiding the U.S. Soccer crest, at the SheBelieves Cup.

A judge dismissed the claims for equal pay, but the team’s allegations of gender discrimination are still being tried. 

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Rose Lavelle Leads US Women’s National Team to 2-0 Win vs. Netherlands | Bleacher Report

United States players celebrate with teammate Rose Lavelle, right, who scored her side's first goal during the international friendly women's soccer match between The Netherlands and the US at the Rat Verlegh stadium in Breda, southern Netherlands, Friday Nov. 27, 2020. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Pool via AP)

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Associated Press

In a rematch of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final between the United States and the Netherlands, the USWNT once again prevailed Friday 2-0 in an international friendly played at Rat Verlegh Stadion in Breda.

It marked the first match played by the USWNT in more than eight months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, after they last played in the SheBelieves Cup in March.

Midfielder Rose Lavelle was fittingly the biggest difference-maker, as she scored the first goal in spectacular fashion in the 41st minute:

It was Lavelle who scored a highlight-reel goal in the 2019 World Cup final to extend the United States’ lead to 2-0, which ended up being the final tally.

Meg Linehan of The Athletic commented on yet another beauty of a goal produced by Lavelle against the Dutch:

While those who follow the USWNT have grown accustomed to Lavelle’s mesmerizing offensive ability, few could have predicted how the second goal would be scored.

Making her first appearance for the United States in six years, Kristie Mewis netted after Lynn Williams sprung her with a perfect touch pass:

To make the moment even more special, Mewis’ younger sister, Sam Mewis, was also on the field when the goal was scored.

Aside from the goals by Lavelle and Mewis, another significant happening in Friday’s match was forward Alex Morgan‘s appearance as a substitute at the start of the second half.

While it had been eight months since the USWNT’s last match, Morgan hadn’t made an appearance for the USWNT in 509 days:

Prior to Friday, Morgan’s last cap was that 2019 World Cup final. A big reason for that was the birth of Morgan’s first child, daughter Charlie Elena Carrasco, on May 7.

Morgan’s official return to soccer came back on Nov. 7 when she played in her first match for Tottenham Hotspur.

Friday’s result was never in doubt, as the stacked USWNT imposed its will on the hosts throughout with 14 shots while the Dutch were only able to attempt two, with none on goal.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher secured a clean sheet for the U.S., although she was far from busy and can largely attribute it to the fine defensive play of her teammates.

The Americans have no additional matches officially scheduled at this time, but with the 2020 Summer Olympics scheduled

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