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Woman convicted of killing mother-to-be and cutting baby from her womb to be executed in US | US News

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The first woman to be executed by the US government in decades will be Lisa Montgomery, who strangled a pregnant woman, cut her open, and kidnapped her baby, the Justice Department has said.

Montgomery is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection on 8 December at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Sixteen women have been executed by state authorities since a landmark case in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre, but the federal government hasn’t used capital punishment against a female since 1953, when Bonnie Heady was put in a gas chamber in Missouri.

Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the town of Skidmore, Missouri, in December 2004.

Montgomery travelled from Kansas home to Ms Stinnett’s house saying she wanted to adopt a puppy, according to the Justice Department.

When she arrived, Montgomery throttled her victim, who was eight months pregnant at the time, but did not succeed in killing her, leaving her conscious enough to try to defend herself.

Montgomery then used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from the womb and took the child away with her, later attempting to say the girl was her own.

She pleaded insanity when the case came to court and her lawyers claimed she had been suffering from delusions at the time of the murder.

A statement from the Justice Department said: “In October 2007, a jury in the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Montgomery guilty of federal kidnapping resulting in death, and unanimously recommended a death sentence, which the court imposed.

“Her conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and her request for collateral relief was rejected by every court that considered it.”

Montgomery’s lawyers had also argued she was suffering from pseudocyesis, a condition that results in a woman falsely believing she is pregnant and exhibiting outward signs of pregnancy.

The defence argued she was abused as a child and said that because of her severe mental illness, her delusion of being pregnant was being threatened, causing her to enter a dreamlike state at the time of the murder.

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Donald Trump reinstated the death penalty for federal crimes in 2019

But during closing arguments, federal prosecutor Roseann Ketchmark said the pseudocyesis claim was “voodoo science.”

She said Montgomery was afraid because she believed her ex-husband would expose she was lying about her pregnancy and use it against her as he tried to win custody of two of the couple’s four children, NBC wrote at the time.

She would be the ninth federal convicted criminal to be put to death since the Justice Department resumed executions in July after a break of nearly 20 years.

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Influencer Dmitriy Stuzhuk dies from COVID-19 after denying its existence | World News

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A fitness “influencer” who thought COVID-19 did not exist has died from the virus at the age of 33.

Dmitriy Stuzhuk caught the disease during a trip to Turkey and had been taken to hospital upon returning to his native Ukraine, having tested positive.

The social media star, who promoted healthy living, was discharged from hospital after eight days, but the virus resulted in heart complications.

After he was rushed back to hospital, his ex-wife Sofia, 25, said he was in a “grave condition” and “unconscious”.

She told her followers that he had “problems with his cardiovascular system… his heart is not coping”.

“His state is extremely grave. No-one can do anything with this.

“I did everything I could so the father of my three children lives. But nothing depends on me now.”

Later, she announced his death, adding: “Only warm memories remain, three beautiful kids and valuable experience.”

Earlier, Mr Stuzhuk had posted on social media from his hospital bed, saying he had woken up in Turkey with a swollen neck and struggling to breathe.

He told his 1.1 million followers: “I want to share how I got sick and to strongly warn everyone.

“I was one who thought that Covid does not exist…until I got sick.

“COVID-19 IS NOT A SHORT-LIVED DISEASE! And it is heavy.”

Dmitriy and Sofia Stuzhuk split up six months ago but they had three children, the youngest just nine months old.

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Coronavirus: Yodellers reject blame for ‘one of Europe’s worst COVID outbreaks’ | World News

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The cast of a yodelling musical have rejected blame for a COVID-19 outbreak dubbed one of the worst in Europe.

The performances in Schwyz, Switzerland, were attended by 600 fans at the end of September – and coronavirus cases there have more than doubled to 1,238 since the middle of that month.

With an infection rate of 408 cases per 100,000 people, it is now the worst-hit region in Switzerland.

But a cast member from “Forever and Always”, which enforced social distancing but did not require attendees to wear face masks, has dismissed the idea that the yodellers are responsible as “pure slander”.

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A yodelling musical is being blamed for the worst coronavirus cluster in Switzerland.
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Yodel musical ‘Forever and Always’ has delayed the rest of its tour due to the pandemic. Pic: Jodelmusical

Erwin Bertschy admitted three other performers had tested positive for COVID-19 five days after the shows, but said the organisers had a “protection concept that was adhered to”.

“At the same time, the restaurants were open all night and they were full to the brim,” he told Sky News. “But it’s easier to blame an external organiser.”

Fellow cast member Maja Keller-Roth agreed, saying there were other events during that weekend in Schwyz where people could have caught the virus.

“We think it’s a shame and sad that the media are now dragging us through the mud,” she told Sky News.

Beat Hegner, the managing director of the venue that hosted the performances, appeared to accept some responsibility when he told a Swiss TV channel: “We couldn’t help what happened with this yodelling group.

“We learned nine days after the performances that several people in the troupe were infected. From there, we couldn’t control the chain of infection.”

Some scientists have suggested singing could spread the virus via airborne droplets.

A yodelling musical is being blamed for the worst coronavirus cluster in Switzerland.
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Erwin Bertschy (far left) did not test positive for the virus, but three of his fellow performers did. Pic: Jodelmusical

Intensive care wards are filling up at Schwyz hospital, prompting one of its directors, Franziska Follmi, to warn that the hospital “can’t manage” if the rise in cases continues.

“The explosion in the number of cases in Schwyz is one of the worst in all of Europe,” said Reto Nuesch in a video appealing to the public.

“It is time for you, the population, to react. Wear masks, stop partying.”

He took aim at the local government, saying that “the measures were not formulated clearly enough until now”.

The local government only announced on Monday that masks would become compulsory for all public and private events of more than 50 people.

Switzerland’s federal system gives leeway to its regions – known as cantons – to set health policy.

A yodelling musical is being blamed for the worst coronavirus cluster in Switzerland.
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Maja Keller-Roth said it’s a ‘shame’ the musical is being blamed for rising coronavirus cases. Pic: Jodelmusical

In a sign of a second wave, the country reported another daily record of 3,105 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

The Alpine nation has confirmed more than 71,000 cases in total and over 1,800 deaths.

Geneva this week limited public gatherings to 100 people, and now requires contact details to be taken for events of more than 15 people.

“If we don’t get a handle on this, we run the risk of getting into a situation that’s harder to control,” said Bertrand Levrat, general director of Geneva Hospitals.

“We are really at a turning point – things can go both ways.”

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France terror attack: Beheading of teacher heightens debate about Islamist terrorism and freedom of speech | World News

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Conflans-Saint-Honorine is a place like many others. In the outer suburbs of Paris, it is a pleasant but unremarkable grid of homes and amenities. 

And yet now, it finds itself at the very heart of the French national debate after a truly horrific murder on its streets.

Samuel Paty, 47, a well-respected teacher, was attacked and beheaded as he walked along the street at 5pm. His killer, aged just 18, was then shot dead by police as he walked along a neighbouring road.

Mr Paty is understood to be a 47-year-old history teacher
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Mr Paty had held a classroom discussion over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad before his death
Police officers secure the area near the scene of a stabbing attack in the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine, France, October 16, 2020
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Police officers pictured at the scene of the stabbing on Friday evening

Within hours, President Emmanuel Macron was on the scene, visiting the school where Mr Paty taught history and geography.

Macron normally likes to deliver long, impassioned speeches, but here his address was briefer and more restrained. He looked stunned but called for unity, while describing the murder as an act of “Islamist terror”. The education minister, Jean-Michael Blanquer, described the killing as an attack on the French Republic.

At the school where Mr Paty taught, there was a long line of teachers, parents and students on Saturday, coming to pay respects, laying flowers and leaving notes. The school, which was ringed by a line of French CRS riot police, also provided psychological support for those affected by what had happened.

Some carried signs saying “Je Suis Enseignant” (I am a teacher) in tribute to Mr Paty. Online, the similar expression “Je Suis Prof” was being widely shared.

The impact of this upon the school community will be great. But it is also affecting France, a country that has struggled enormously to cope with the effects of Islamist terrorism in recent years.

It is five years since gunmen broke into the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people. More died in the following days, the precursor to a wave of terrorist attacks across France that killed hundreds.

In Paris, the trial is now under way of men and women accused of being accomplices in those first attacks. As the trial started, Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as an exercise in free speech.

Others called it inflammatory, even reckless. Not long after, the magazine’s existing head of human resources was moved out of her home on police advice.

Last month, a man attacked two people outside the former offices of Charlie Hebdo; both suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries. And all the while, the trial continues.

Now, this murder will heighten again the question of Islamist terrorism, and its causes. It seems quite clear that there is a link between the killing of the teacher, and Mr Paty’s decision to launch a classroom discussion over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

A teacher stands with a placard reading 'I am a teacher, I defend the freedom of speech, I fight for our work conditions and against all kind of racism' near the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen
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‘I am a teacher, I defend the freedom of speech, I fight for our work conditions and against all kind of racism’
Flowers have been placed at the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen
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Flowers have been left outside Mr Paty’s school

So what to do? In a country that puts such a value on free speech and secular government, the right to insult is entrenched. But the fury sparked by these cartoons has now cost many lives, and heightened tensions dangerously.

Into this quandary walked the local mayor, Laurent Brosse. He was born and bred in this town.

“I want to tell the locals that we will recover,” he said. “We will all rise together. We will rise again thanks to our spirit of solidarity which makes the uniqueness of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.

“It is by debating, exchanging opinions and listening that we will be able to overcome this dramatic test.”

But there has been a lot of talking in France over recent years in search of an answer, to work out how to preserve the fundamental tenets of French society while also stemming the rise of Islamist terrorism.

Judging by this horrific attack, the puzzle has not been solved.

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