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Thu, 22 Apr 2021
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Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has died

Prince Philip - the Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh has died at the age of 99
Prince Philip - the Duke of Edinburgh - has died at the age of 99, Buckingham Palace has said.

A statement from the Palace said: "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
"His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle."

Comment: See also:


DMX received Covid vaccine days before heart attack - Family says he didn't have a drug overdose, despite rumors

rapper dmx

Rap legend DMX, real name Earl Simmons, is currently in the ICU after suffering from a massive heart attack. Early reports speculated that DMX's condition may have been brought about because of an alleged drug overdose.

Comment: Update from the BBC: DMX, American rapper and actor, dies aged 50

But MTO News spoke with a member of the Simmons family who believes that it was NOT drugs that caused the heart attack.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview, MTO News spoke with DMX' family member who told us that the rapper received the COVID vaccine about a week before he suffered from the heart attack.

Comment: See also:

Mr. Potato

CDC director: 'Racism is a serious public health threat'

Rochelle Walensky
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Thursday called racism a "public health threat."

The CDC will conduct research on "social determinants on health outcomes" and make "expanded investments" for "durable infrastructure" in minority communities, Walensky said, and the agency will "foster greater diversity" in the ranks of the CDC.

"What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans," Walensky said in a statement. "As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation. Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community. These social determinants of health have life-long negative effects on the mental and physical health of individuals in communities of color."

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US suicides dropped last year, defying pandemic expectations

© AP Photo/David Goldman
In this Wednesday, March 17, 2021 file photo, morning fog blankets a cemetery in West Virginia. The number of U.S. suicides fell nearly 6% in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic — the largest annual decline in at least four decades, according to preliminary government data.
The number of U.S. suicides fell nearly 6% last year amid the coronavirus pandemic — the largest annual decline in at least four decades, according to preliminary government data.

Death certificates are still coming in and the count could rise. But officials expect a substantial decline will endure, despite worries that COVID-19 could lead to more suicides.

It is hard to say exactly why suicide deaths dropped so much, but one factor may be a phenomenon seen in the early stages of wars and national disasters, some experts suggested.

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As reforms continue, Russia's prison population drops by 38% in a decade; per-capita incarceration rate now only half that of US

russia moving prisoners
Prisoners move from the living area to the dining room in the high-security penal colony No. 17 of the GUFSIN of the Krasnoyarsk Territory.
A report produced by the Council of Europe has revealed that the number of people in Russian prisons has fallen from 574.8 to 356.1 per 100,000 residents in the last decade, meaning that the prison population has dropped by 38.1%.

This means that Russia no longer has the most people imprisoned per capita in the entire Council of Europe, with Turkey now taking the lead in that measure. It is the first time that the organization's largest member has not been at the top of the incarceration charts.

While still stubbornly high by European standards, the Russian figure is significantly lower than that of the US, which has the world's largest prison population at over 2,000,000, at an incarceration rate per 100,000 of 639.

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Court rules gov't cannot impose quarantine hotel stay, few leave anyway

Fosshótel Reykjavík iceland
© Art Bicnick
A government measure that went into effect April 1st, which compelled anyone arriving in Iceland from countries where the 14-day incidence of COVID-19 infection exceeds 500 per 100,000 population to stay in Fosshótel Reykjavík between screenings, has been ruled by Reykjavík District Court to have no legal ground to compel people who have legal residence in Iceland to stay in this hotel, RÚV reports. Nonetheless, in the wake of the ruling, few people have opted to leave the hotel.

The Minister of Health and the chief epidemiologist contended that they had the legal authority for this action, and that it did not go farther than necessary for ensuring public health, the decision itself being made in light of multiple reports of people breaking quarantine. Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has expressed disappointment with the ruling, and will appeal the matter to Appellate Court.

The basis for the complaints put before the court was that the five-day hotel stay constituted "unlawful detainment". The ruling was specifically applied to people with legal residence in Iceland, and judge Skúli Magnússon told reporters that no other circumstances were taken into consideration, e.g., people visiting Iceland who do not have legal residence here.

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Germany to enforce yet another lockdown, Merkel will take control from federal states to do so

germany lockdown

FILE PHOTO: General view of "Reeperbahn Street" in the famous red-light district "Reeperbahn" during a lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Hamburg, Germany April 3, 2021.
The president of Germany's Robert Koch Institute has called for a new lockdown of two to four weeks to end a third Covid-19 wave there, as Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to impose uniform restrictions across the country.

Comment: This is after she had to backtrack following a revolt amongst ministers against yet another lockdown.

"Every day in which we don't act, we lose lives," said Prof. Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute - a German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention - during a weekly news conference.

Meanwhile Chancellor Merkel plans to take control from federal states to impose lockdown restrictions across the country. German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said the federal government was planning to adopt new legislation next week to impose uniform coronavirus restrictions across the country.

Comment: Indeed, these days leaders are having to resort to dictatorial measure because any attempts to do so democratically fail.

Comment: See also: Ontario has had the longest lockdown in North America - which has been so successful it's just gone into another one


Former 49er Phillip Adams kills 5, then himself in South Carolina

Phillip Adams
© Maddie Meyer | Getty Images
Phillip Adams #28 of the Oakland Raiders looks into the crowd during the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 8, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The gunman who killed five people including a prominent doctor in South Carolina was former NFL player Phillip Adams, who killed himself early Thursday, according to a source who was briefed on the investigation.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said Adams' parents live near the doctor's home in Rock Hill, and that he had been treated by the doctor. The source said Phillips killed himself after midnight with a .45 caliber weapon.

The York County Sheriff's Office said they had searched for hours before finding the suspect in a nearby home.

Adams played as a defensive back for multiple teams including the 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons after starring at South Carolina State. He also suffered multiple injuries in the NFL, including concussions and a broken left ankle.

The York County coroner's office said Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.

A man who had been working at the home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person was hospitalized with "serious gunshot wounds," York County Sheriff's Office's spokesperson Trent Faris said.

Dollar Gold

BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors lands $1.4 million Topanga Canyon compound

Patrisse Khan-Cullors
© Redfin; Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
A secluded mini-compound tucked into L.A.'s rustic and semi-remote Topanga Canyon was recently sold for a tad more than $1.4 million to a corporate entity that public records show is controlled by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, 37-year-old social justice visionary and co-founder of the galvanizing and, for some, controversial Black Lives Matter movement.

Kahn-Cullors, a UCLA and USC graduate married about five years ago to social activist (and amateur boxer) Janaya Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag in 2013 in response to George Zimmerman's acquittal in the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. Since then, the largely decentralized movement has been at the influential forefront on issues of police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black people, particularly in the wake of George Floyd's killing last summer that sparked massive protests across the United States and around the globe. Kahn-Cullors' published "When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir" in 2018.

Comment: Doing quite well for herself, it appears.

Stock Down

Deaths in England and Wales now 5% below the five-year average

uk ambulance
The ONS announced today that there were 10,045 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending March 26th. This is 266 fewer than the previous week (which was the lowest since 2014 for that week). In addition, this week's number is 5% below the five-year average, and marks the third consecutive week of "negative excess deaths". Here's the chart from the ONS:
uk excess mortality
Over the last three weeks, there were 1,800 fewer deaths than you'd expect based on the average of the last five years. (And note that, because the population is ageing, the five-year average slightly understates the expected number of deaths.)

What's more, the number of deaths registered in the week ending March 26th was below the five-year average in seven out of nine English regions. (Only the East Midlands and West Midlands saw positive excess deaths.) Compared to the five-year average, weekly deaths were 7.5% lower in London, 9.3% lower in the South West, and a remarkable 10.7% lower in the East of England.

As I've noted before, there are several possible reasons why the number of deaths is so low at the moment. But whatever the exact reason, or mix of reasons, today's numbers are surely cause for optimism.