Buckingham Palace announced that the Duke of Edinburgh, history’s longest serving consort, died peacefully today, as tributes began to pour in. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the prince, who was hospitalized for a month in March, "inspired the lives of countless young people." Father of heir to the throne Prince Charles, Philip was widely known for his gaffes, once replying “ghastly” when asked what he thought of Beijing while on a tour of China. He was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 74 years, a relationship portrayed recently in hit Netflix series The Crown. Plans will likely be announced for his funeral in the coming days.
2. Hip Hop World Mourns as Rapper DMX Dies aged 50
Rap legend DMX died Friday, a week after being hospitalized following a heart attack and placed on life support. The singer of “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” born Earl Simmons, was 50 years old. “Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end,” his family said in a statement. The influential MC had 5 chart-topping albums, but publicly battled mental health issues and drug abuse. Tributes are pouring in on Twitter, with Chance the Rapper tweeting: “Rest in Heaven DMX” and Missy Elliot saying “Even though you had battles you TOUCHED so many through your MUSIC.”
President Joe Biden is tired of people offering “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings. In candid comments on Thursday, the U.S. leader also said gun violence in America was an “international embarrassment,” as he announced his administration’s first steps to curb the “epidemic.” The president’s remarks came the same day a former NFL player killed five people in South Carolina. But the changes so far are minor, including a crackdown on self-assembled “ghost guns,” whereas far bigger challenges, like banning assault weapons, still face an uphill battle to garner 60 votes in the Senate.
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4. Sanctions and Border Closures Hit North Korea Hard
Wage “an arduous march.” That’s what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has urged officials to try to stem an economic crisis, using a term coined during a famine in the 1990s that killed millions. Despite having no reported cases of coronavirus, Kim said the state faces the “worst-ever” situation, after international sanctions over nuclear tests took a toll on the economy and trade came to a halt due to border closures. Aid groups have also warned North Korea faces major food shortages. However, there are now signs Pyongyang is looking to reopen its border with China, its biggest trading partner.
5. Concerns Over Russian Troop Buildup at Ukraine Border
The U.S. and Germany have expressed concern over what the White House called growing “Russian aggressions” in light of a military buildup at the country’s border with Ukraine. In a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged her counterpart to pull back troops, while he accused Kiev of “provocative actions.” Russia now has the most soldiers on the border since 2014, when it annexed Crimea and backed separatists who took control of parts of the Donbas region. Despite President Biden having labeled him “a killer” recently, Putin is set to attend the U.S. president’s climate change summit this month.
6. Unionization Side Losing as Amazon Vote Count Underway
Votes against the unionization of Amazon were leading two-to-one compared to those in favor last night, with about half the ballots counted so far. When counting halted overnight there were 463 votes for unionization and 1,100 against. Campaigners want to see the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States. The e-commerce giant is America’s second-biggest employer but has been plagued by reports of poor working conditions in warehouses and for delivery workers. Vote counting continues today but whatever the result, it could be tied up in litigation for some time to come.
Deprivation of oxygen from former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck, not drugs, was what caused George Floyd’s death, a medical expert testified at the murder trial on Thursday. Last night saw the seventh evening of unrest in Northern Ireland, as Belfast police used water cannons to contain clashes between loyalist and nationalist areas. And a Chinese court has handed suspended death sentences to two Uyghur education officials from Xinjiang accused of publishing “separatist” textbooks.
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Forget seeing Godzilla Vs. Kong in the cinema. In Thailand, shoppers at a 7-Eleven got a live viewing when a giant monitor lizard entered the store and scaled a shelf, sending products flying as he went. Freaked out shoppers could be heard screaming and laughing, but the massive reptile just wanted to chill out — literally. Upon reaching the top shelf, he sprawled out next to the ice machine until authorities came and escorted him back to some nearby bushes. Asian monitor lizards are the second largest in the world after Komodo dragons, and can be dangerous.
2. Take That, COVID! Mexicans Are Bashing Pandemic Piñatas
Fed up with COVID? Want to take out your anger on the multi-crowned virus? There’s a piñata for that. Piñata-makers in Mexico have been hit hard by the pandemic, given the dearth of parties, but some creative artisans have added coronavirus figures to their inventory — and they’re increasingly popular, with store owner Ivan Mena Álvarez explaining: “We Mexicans laugh even at death. It’s become just another monster.” Mexico has the world’s third highest COVID-19 death toll, after revised figures last month. Only 1 percent of the population has been inoculated so far, and vaccine supplies are running low.
In a rare case of superfetation, Rebecca Roberts gave birth to “super twins,” conceived three weeks apart, after she underwent fertility treatment. “This wasn't supposed to happen, but it has. The female body is amazing,” she said. Superfetation happens when two eggs are released at a single ovulation and are fertilized by two different sperm. While dubbed “super twins,” the babies actually share the same genetic relationship as non-twin siblings. There have been a few other cases like this, including one where one baby was Black and the other was white.
4. Not So Pretty on the Inside: Mrs. World Arrested for Assault
There’s at least one beauty queen who doesn’t wish for world peace. Reigning Mrs. World Caroline Jurie snatched the crown from the newly declared Mrs. Sri Lanka — Pushpika De Silva’s — head, saying that the winner of the pageant couldn’t be divorced. Jurie, also from Sri Lanka, has been released on bail after being arrested by Colombo police yesterday on an assault charge. De Silva needed hospital treatment after the incident, and the crown has been returned to her after she confirmed she was separated and not divorced. It remains to be seen whether Jurie will be stripped of her title.
5. A Freudian Slip? McIlroy Hits Dad With Golf Ball at Masters
“I'll autograph a bag of frozen peas for him!” That’s what Rory McIlroy joked after hitting his father in the leg with a ball at the Masters at Augusta National in Georgia yesterday. The 31-year-old also had a tough start to the competition, which saw him with a 4-over-par 76. Should he turn things around and triumph, the Northern Irishman, who has slid to 12th in the world rankings, could complete a career Grand Slam. England’s Justin Rose had a four-shot lead at the tournament’s opening, with the second round of the 85th Masters continuing today.
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