CNN’s Harry Enten writes, “while the reverse is true in the states with high vaccination rates.”

Dr. Vernon Rayford, an internal medicine doctor in Tupelo, Miss., told The Times that he had noticed a difference in the sources of skepticism. White skeptics often express a general distrust of government. Black skeptics are particularly mistrustful of the medical system, which has a long history of giving them substandard care — and even outright harmful treatments.

Across much of Mississippi — the state with the smallest share of residents to have received a shot — vaccine appointments are going unfilled largely because of a lack of demand. Two big reasons for the skepticism, Dr. Brian Castrucci, a public health expert, told The Times’s Andrew Jacobs, are misinformation on social media and mixed messages from Republican governors about the urgency of vaccination.

“It’s time to do the heavy lifting needed to overcome the hesitancy we’re encountering,” said Dr. Obie McNair, an internal medicine physician in Jackson.

Vaccine rates still are not high enough — in any state — to have ended the pandemic. In Connecticut and New Mexico, combined, about 11 people have died on a typical recent day. But that toll has fallen more than 80 percent since mid-January, even more than in the rest of the country.

declined to testify in his trial over the killing of George Floyd. Both sides will make closing arguments on Monday.

  • Officials in Chicago released video of the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo, 13, last month. Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the footage “excruciating.”

  • A Hong Kong court sentenced several opposition leaders to prison for holding an unauthorized protest. The sentences send a clear message that activism carries severe risks, The Times’s Austin Ramzy writes.

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Afghanistan to reassure its leaders that the U.S. would continue its support after withdrawing troops.

  • The Dallas Wings selected Charli Collier, a center from the University of Texas, as the No. 1 pick in the W.N.B.A. draft.

  • Can Biden be as transformative as Franklin Roosevelt?

    And it did.

    Lives Lived: Carol Prisant was a 51-year-old former antiques dealer with no journalism experience when she decided she wanted to work for the magazine The World of Interiors. She went on to an illustrious three-decade career. Prisant died at 82.

    will be buried tomorrow in England. The ceremony will be limited to 30 people and will have “minimal fuss,” according to the BBC, which will televise the funeral.

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    Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, Visits Afghanistan

    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday, less than a day after President Biden formally announced plans to withdraw all remaining troops from the country by Sept. 11. The trip was intended to signal continued cooperation amid the major shift in policy.

    The withdrawal, which comes nearly 20 years after the United States first sent troops to Afghanistan, has raised profound questions within the country about its effect on Afghan civilians and the ability of the government and the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal.

    Mr. Biden, laying out his plan in an address to the nation on Wednesday afternoon, said the country could no longer “continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan.”

    Following the president’s announcement, NATO’s foreign and defense ministers agreed to begin withdrawing NATO forces on May 1 and finish “within a few months,” the alliance said in a statement.

    Hours later, Mr. Blinken arrived in Kabul for the unannounced and brief trip, during which he visited the United States Embassy and then met with Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the Afghan government council that has led peace negotiations with the Taliban. By Thursday evening, Mr. Blinken had departed for Washington.

    “I wanted to demonstrate with my visit the ongoing commitment of the United States to the Islamic Republic and the people of Afghanistan,” Mr. Blinken said before his meeting with Mr. Ghani began. “The partnership is changing, but the partnership is enduring.”

    Mr. Ghani said the Afghan government respected the decision and was “adjusting our priorities.”

    Mr. Blinken and Mr. Ghani “discussed the importance of preserving the gains of the last 20 years, especially in building a strong civil society and protecting the rights of women and girls,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department.

    The pair also spoke about counterterrorism cooperation and their shared commitment to ensuring that Al Qaeda does not regain a foothold in Afghanistan.

    Mr. Blinken then met with Mr. Abdullah, who said he was grateful to the American people and the Biden administration.

    “We have a new chapter, but it’s a new chapter that we’re writing together,” Mr. Abdullah added.

    Mr. Blinken had traveled to Afghanistan from Brussels, where, alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, he briefed NATO officials on the decision to withdraw American troops.

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    Antony Blinken says the US will ‘stand up for human rights everywhere’

    The United States will speak out about human rights everywhere including in allies and at home, secretary of state Antony Blinken has vowed, turning a page from Donald Trump as he bemoaned deteriorations around the world.

    Presenting the state department’s first human rights report under President Joe Biden, the new top US diplomat took some of his most pointed, yet still veiled, swipes at the approach of the Trump administration.

    “Some have argued that it’s not worth it for the US to speak up forcefully for human rights – or that we should highlight abuse only in select countries, and only in a way that directly advances our national interests,” Blinken told reporters in clear reference to Trump’s approach.

    “But those people miss the point. Standing up for human rights everywhere is in America’s interests,” he said.

    “And the Biden-Harris administration will stand against human rights abuses wherever they occur, regardless of whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners.”

    Blinken ordered the return of assessments in the annual report on countries’ records on access to reproductive health, which were removed under the staunchly anti-abortion Trump administration.

    Blinken also denounced a commission of his predecessor Mike Pompeo that aimed to redefine the US approach to human rights by giving preference to private property and religious freedom while downplaying reproductive and LGBTQ rights.

    During Pompeo’s time in office, the state department was aggressive in opposing references to reproductive and gender rights in UN and other multilateral documents.

    “There is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others,” Blinken said.

    In another shift in tone from Trump, Blinken said the United States acknowledged its own challenges, including “systemic racism.”

    “That’s what separates our democracy from autocracies: our ability and willingness to confront our own shortcomings out in the open, to pursue that more perfect union.”

    Blinken voiced alarm over abuses around the world including in China, again speaking of “genocide” being committed against the Uighur community.

    The report estimated that more than one million Uighurs and other members of mostly Muslim communities had been rounded up in internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang and that another two million are subjected to re-education training each day.

    “The trend lines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction. We see evidence of that in every region of the world,” Blinken said.

    He said the Biden administration was prioritising coordination with allies, pointing to recent joint efforts over Xinjiang, China’s clampdown in Hong Kong and Russia’s alleged poisoning of dissident Alexei Navalny.

    Blinken also voiced alarm over the Myanmar military’s deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, attacks on civilians in Syria and a campaign in Ethiopia’s Tigray that he has previously called ethnic cleansing.

    The report, written in dry, factual language, did not spare longstanding US allies.

    It pointed to allegations of unlawful killings and torture in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, quoting human rights groups that said Egypt is holding between 20,000 and 60,000 people chiefly due to their political beliefs.

    Biden earlier declassified US intelligence that found that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorised the gruesome killing of US-based writer Jamal Khashoggi.

    While the human rights report remained intact under Trump, the previous administration argued that rights were of lesser importance than other concerns with allies such as Saudi Arabia – a major oil producer and purchaser of US weapons that backed Trump’s hawkish line against Iran, whose record was also heavily scrutinized in the report.

    The latest report also detailed incidents in India under prime minister Narendra Modi, an increasingly close US ally.

    It quoted non-governmental groups as pointing to the use in India of “torture, mistreatment and arbitrary detention to obtain forced or false confessions” and quoted journalists as assessing that “press freedom declined” including through physical harassment of journalists, pressure on owners and frivolous lawsuits.

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