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3 children ages 4 to 7 beheaded in Afghan capital

3 children ages 4 to 7 beheaded in Afghan capital

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Three children ages 4 to 7 were beheaded Wednesday inside their Kabul home, an Afghan official said, shocking even residents hardened by decades of war. Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said investigators had no suspects in custody, but believed the killings were the result of a family feud. The children’s parents, neither of whom were at home at the time of the killing, told police they have no enemies.

The mother, who did not want to be identified, told police she had left the children alone while she attended a funeral. Her two boys, ages 4 and 5, and a 7-year-old daughter had returned home from school. A family relative, Mohammad Roheen, said it appeared the perpetrator fed the children juice and biscuits before killing them. There was no evidence of forced entry.

Long Island store shooter was a ‘troubled employee’: A man who killed a manager and wounded two workers at a Long Island grocery store was a “troubled employee” who had been reprimanded in recent months for threatening and sexually harassing colleagues, police said Wednesday. Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, a shopping cart collector at Stop & Shop in West Hempstead, opened fire Tuesday in an office area above the retail floor about 40 minutes after talking to a manager about transferring to another store, Nassau County Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said.

Tips from the public led police to an apartment building about 2 miles away, where officers in tactical gear blocked off doors and cornered Wilson “like a mouse in a trap,” arresting him about four hours after the shooting, Fitzpatrick said. Wilson, 31, was arraigned Wednesday on homicide and attempted murder charges and ordered jailed without bail. If convicted, prosecutors say he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

Wilson’s lawyer, Brian Carmody, declined to comment on the charges. He said he spoke briefly with Wilson by telephone and that Wilson still suffered the “lingering effects” of being shot in the head when he was 19. Wilson was involved in a gun battle in Baltimore seven years to the day before Tuesday’s shooting that left him and another man wounded. He has a criminal record in Maryland that includes several arrests for drugs and assault, police said.

He has also been taken into custody at least twice in Nassau County for mental health evaluations, in 2016 and 2019.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said Wilson left the store after the transfer discussion and then returned around 11:15 a.m. armed with a .380 semiautomatic pistol. He went straight to the offices and fired seven shots, killing 49-year-old manager Ray Wishropp and wounding a 50-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, both in the shoulder, Ryder said.

The 50-year-old, whom Wilson had spoken to about the transfer, was shot three times and one bullet grazed his cheek, Fitzpatrick said. He said their earlier conversation lasted a minute or two and was not confrontational. Both survivors were taken to hospitals, are alert and talking to investigators.

Two women, both 47, were also targeted but were not shot, police said.

Fitzpatrick, the chief of Nassau’s homicide squad, said that a woman who worked with Wilson complained to management in recent months that he was making unwanted advances, flirting with her and giving her unwanted gifts. Other shopping cart wranglers complained that he would sometimes get aggressive with them.

Wilson worked at the school for about two years and had previously worked at a Stop & Shop in Long Beach for about two years, Fitzpatrick said.

“Gabriel was a troubled employee,” Fitzpatrick said. “He was having disputes with other workers and threatening them, and was brought into the management offices several times.”

Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union representing store workers said the shooting “is a tragic reminder that the pandemic is not the only threat these workers face.”

Perrone called on corporate and elected leaders to take action addressing the “the epidemic of gun violence that threatens workers’ lives, and continues to infect more and more workplaces.”

The store will remain closed until 6 a.m. Sunday.

The shooting in West Hempstead — about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of midtown Manhattan — followed a rash of recent mass shootings across the county, including one on March 22 that left 10 people dead at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

The New York Islanders held a moment of silence for the victims before Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers.

“With this defendant’s actions we have joined the scores of American communities that have faced ravaging gun violence and mass shootings,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “It has come to Nassau County.”

Appeals court won’t review denial of firing squad request: A federal appeals court has declined to reconsider its earlier ruling that rejected the request by a man on Georgia’s death row to die by firing squad rather than by the injection of a sedative.

Lawyers for Michael Wade Nance argued that his veins are severely compromised and that the execution method Georgia uses — injection of pentobarbital — could cause him excruciating pain in violation of his constitutional rights. They suggested instead that the state execute Nance by firing squad.

A federal judge rejected that request and a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled in December that it could not consider his request for procedural reasons. The full appeals court on Tuesday issued a 7-3 decision declining to reconsider the panel’s decision.

Nance, 59, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Gabor Balogh in 1993. Nance had just robbed a Gwinnett County bank and abandoned his own car after dye packs hidden in the stolen money exploded. Balogh was backing out of a parking space at a liquor store across the street when Nance pulled open the car door and shot him, according to court filings.

In a complaint filed in January 2020, Nance’s lawyers wrote that his veins are extremely difficult to locate by sight and those that are visible are compromised. There is substantial risk that the sustained intravenous access involved in an execution could cause his veins to lose their structural integrity and “blow,” causing the drug to leak into the surrounding tissue where it would cause intense pain and burning, they wrote.

A prison medical technician told Nance in 2019 that the execution would likely have to “cut his neck” — likely a reference to a process that involves inserting a catheter into a large central vein — to carry out the execution because that’s the only way they could get sustained intravenous access, his lawyers wrote.

Additionally, they argued, a medication Nance has been taking for chronic back pain has altered his brain chemistry in such a way that pentobarbital won’t reliably cause him to become unconscious and insensate, meaning he could suffer a prolonged and painful execution.

A federal judge ruled in March 2020 that he had waited too long to make these arguments and that his lawyers failed to show his constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment would be violated since the court must presume state officials will act “carefully and humanely” in carrying out his execution.

In a dissenting opinion Tuesday, Circuit Judge Charles Wilson, joined by Circuit Judges Beverly Martin and Adalberto Jordan, wrote that the appeals court should consider Nance’s arguments.

The 11th Circuit panel concluded that since lethal injection is the only method of execution authorized by Georgia law, Nance was effectively challenging the validity of his death sentence. Nance was procedurally barred from bringing that type of challenge, the panel said.

But Wilson argued that Nance wasn’t trying to avoid execution by asking to be executed by firing squad.

“He accepts his fate. He does not ask to be spared,” Wilson wrote. “Nance only asks that the method by which the State will take his life falls in line with his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.”

The constitutionality of the execution method “should have weighed heavily on this court,” Wilson wrote.

“Sadly, by declining to rehear Nance’s case, a majority of the court follows a pattern of employing faulty reasoning to bar relief from inhumane executions,” he wrote.

The 11th Circuit Chief Judge William Pryor, joined by Circuit Judges Kevin Newsom and Barbara Lagoa, wrote that the panel’s opinion was consistent with circuit and U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

“Federal courts do not have jurisdiction to provide remedy for every right denied,” and not every decision reflecting that fact is worthy of review by the full appeals court, Pryor wrote.

Virginia city fires police officer over Rittenhouse donation: The Virginia city of Norfolk has fired a police lieutenant after news reports that said he donated to and expressed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of killing two people during a police brutality protest in Wisconsin last summer.

City officials announced Tuesday that police Lt. William Kelly had been “relieved of duty” after an internal investigation.

“His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve. The City of Norfolk has a standard of behavior for all employees, and we will hold staff accountable,” City Manager Chip Filer said in a statement.

News organizations including The Virginian-Pilot reported they had obtained data from a Christian crowdfunding website that was hacked, apparently showing an initially anonymous $25 donation to Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund was linked to Kelly’s work email address.

According to the newspaper, the donation carried the comment: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong.” It went on to say, “Every rank and file police officer supports you.”

According to prosecutors, Rittenhouse, who is white, went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August as the city was in the throes of chaotic protests after a white police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back during a domestic disturbance. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time. Rittenhouse is accused of opening fire on protesters with an AR-15-style rifle. Two were killed and one was wounded.

He has argued he fired in self-defense after the protesters attacked him, and his case became a rallying cry for some conservatives who helped raise money for his bail in November. Others have cast him as a trigger-happy domestic terrorist.

Earlier this year, Rittenhouse was captured on video at a bar wearing a T-shirt that read “Free as (expletive)” and flashing white supremacist signs, according to prosecutors.

The Guardian first reported the news of the data breach and Kelly’s apparent donation to Rittenhouse.

Kelly was initially put on administrative duty Friday, the city said. He can appeal the firing.

It was not immediately clear if Kelly had an attorney representing him who could comment on his behalf. The Associated Press unsuccessfully attempted to reach him by phone.

Clay Messick, president of the local police union, told the Pilot that the decision to fire Kelly, not a union member, was “disappointing.”

“We were hoping for a full, transparent investigation,” he told the newspaper. “But after 72 hours, I do not believe that is what we got.”’

Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone said in a statement he hoped the “perceptions” of an individual officer wouldn’t undermine community relations with the department.

”A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them,” Boone said.

NYC judge agrees to dismiss thousands of prostitution cases: A New York judge agreed Wednesday to dismiss about 6,000 of prostitution-related offenses dating to the 1970s at the request of the Manhattan district attorney, who also said he would no longer prosecute many offenses related to sex work. The mass dismissal of charges is the latest big step in a movement to decriminalize sex work, or at least aim prosecutions at human trafficking or exploitation, rather than at mostly poor women who have historically made up the bulk of people arrested.

The cases also include charges related to loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. Earlier this year, the state Legislature repealed a 1970s anti-loitering law that opponents decried as a “walking while trans” ban. State court Judge Charlotte Davidson dismissed the cases after District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat, told the court in a video hearing that he wanted the cases dropped because the accused were “unfairly targeted” for prosecution.

“By vacating warrants, dismissing cases and erasing convictions for these charges, we are completing a paradigm shift in our approach,” Vance said in a statement after the decision. “These cases ... are both a relic of a different New York, and a very real burden for the person who carries the conviction or bench warrant.”

Vance’s office said it had identified about 6,000 cases in its records dating to 1976 where there were convictions or open warrants with top charges of misdemeanor prostitution or unlicensed massage.

In February, New York repealed a 1976 law that allowed police to arrest people who appeared to be using a public space for prostitution. Police could make that judgment based on someone’s dress or appearance. Lawmakers pointed to police reports that cited “wearing a skirt” as grounds to make an arrest.

Eight people — including five transgender woman of color — filed a 2016 lawsuit challenging the old law as discriminatory, saying it had led to arbitrary arrests of transgender people in particular. The plaintiffs said people were still being detained “simply because an officer takes issue with her clothing or appearance.”

Since then, local district attorneys had started to voluntarily stopped enforcing the law.

US sets aside habitat critical for survival of rare songbird: U.S. wildlife managers have set aside vast areas across several states as habitat critical to the survival of a rare songbird that migrates each year from Central and South America to breeding grounds in Mexico and the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the final habitat designation for the western yellow-billed cuckoo on Tuesday. It covers about 467 square miles along hundreds of miles of rivers and streams in the western states.

Most breeding in the U.S. occurs in Arizona and New Mexico, but the habitat designation also includes areas in California, Colorado, Utah, Texas and Idaho. The designation isn’t as big as initially proposed. Wildlife managers opted to exclude more than 300 square miles of potential habitat after considering updated information about ongoing conservation activities, the lack of suitable habitat in some areas and potential interference with critical infrastructure.

“This designation identifies important feeding and breeding grounds for the cuckoo to support the species’ recovery while also balancing the need in finding solutions that support current and future land-use plans,” Michael Fris, field supervisor for the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, said in a statement.

A habitat plan that spanned more than 850 square miles was first floated in 2014 but never approved. The Trump administration proposed a smaller area in 2020, prompting the latest round of public comments. As a result, the designation issued this week by the Biden administration was further reduced.

“This failure reflects the real need for the Biden administration to bring in new leadership and reform the agency,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, a group that works to protect endangered species.

Federal biologists describe the cuckoo as an elusive species. Difficult to observe, it selects its nesting spots based on habitat conditions and the availability of food. That means breeding habitat not suitable one year may become suitable the next due to increased rainfall or flooding, while favorable areas might degrade the next year.

Each spring and fall, the cuckoo uses river corridors as routes to travel between its wintering and breeding grounds. Nesting pairs find refuge in willows, cottonwoods and other trees along waterways and once their chicks hatch, their voracious appetites for insects help them fuel up for the return trip south.

Listed as threatened in 2014, biologists say the bird has seen population declines due to loss of riparian habitat and habitat fragmentation resulting from agriculture, dams and river management, erosion, overgrazing and competition from exotic plants.

Records say superintendent lied to jury investigating massacre: The superintendent of the Florida school district where 17 students and staff died in a 2018 high school massacre was arrested Wednesday after investigators said he lied to a grand jury investigating events surrounding the shooting. Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie was arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at district headquarters and charged with perjury in an official proceeding, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

According to an indictment issued by the grand jury last week and released after Runcie’s arrest, the superintendent lied when he testified before the panel three weeks ago, but it gave no specifics about the alleged falsehood. The jury is investigating whether districts are following school safety laws, including those implemented after the Feb. 14, 2018, slayings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

The grand jury, which was empaneled two years ago, is also investigating whether:

— Public agencies are using state safety grants for other purposes.

— Broward school officials misappropriated millions of dollars from a bond measure aimed at improving campus safety.

— Officials intentionally underreported on-campus crimes committed by students. Since the shooting, Runcie and district administrators have been accused by critics of lying about school crime rates and discipline problems.

To prove perjury, prosecutors must show Runcie knew his statements to the grand jury were false and not just a mistake.

Attorneys for Runcie, 59, released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he plans to plead not guilty.

“We are confident that he will be exonerated and he intends to continue to carry out his responsibilities with the highest level of integrity and moral standards, as he has done for nearly ten years in his role as Superintendent,” the statement said.

Jail records show Runcie has been released on his own recognizance.

Rosalind Osgood, chair of the Broward County school board, issued a statement Wednesday saying the district “will provide transparency, accountability and integrity.”

The statement did not say whether Runcie has been suspended and the district’s media relations office did not immediately know the answer to that question. Broward County is the nation’s sixth-largest school district with more than 270,000 students.

Tony Montalto, president of the group that represents Stoneman Douglas victims’ families, said Wednesday he is “thankful” that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the grand jury investigation into Runcie and the district.

“It is important that we get the facts about what happened and then hold those responsible accountable and implement positive change,” said Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina died in the shooting.

Also arrested Wednesday was Barbara Myrick, the school district’s attorney. Myrick, 72, is accused of unlawfully disclosing grand jury proceedings, a felony. Her indictment also didn’t disclose details. It was unclear whether she has an attorney who could comment. One Broward administrator was previously arrested on charges that he rigged contracts with vendors and accepted bribes. He has pleaded not guilty.

Runcie and Scott Israel, then the county sheriff, became the public face for Broward County’s response to the shooting, both in mourning and then in criticism for their handling of the aftermath.

DeSantis removed Israel from office days after his inauguration in January 2019 under his authority to discipline elected local officials, but said he couldn’t touch Runcie because he was appointed by the Broward County school board.

Runcie’s supporters have praised him for increasing the district’s graduation rate, improving schools districtwide and reaching out to minority communities. He came into the national spotlight after the massacre when some parents criticized him for programs they felt had been lenient toward the shooter.

Runcie, by a 6-3 vote, survived a 2019 motion before the school board that sought to have him removed. The attempt was led by member Lori Alhadef, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed in the shooting.

Alhadef said in a statement that she has asked district staff to examine how board policies pertain to Runcie’s and Myrick’s arrests.

“As more specific details come to light, I will act accordingly, in the best interests of the students and staff,” she said.

The superintendent’s critics said crimes, bullying and other school problems were routinely underreported by Stoneman Douglas and other district schools and few did voluntary security assessments. Stoneman Douglas reported zero incidents of bullying among its 3,200 students between 2014 and 2017 and three incidents of vandalism, for example.

Another target of criticism has been the district’s Promise Program, a student disciplinary system Runcie instituted shortly after he became superintendent. Under Promise, students who fight or commit petty vandalism, theft, harassment or other minor crimes, are referred to an off-campus site for up to 10 days instead of the courts.

Critics say Promise created a lenient atmosphere that allowed shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz to briefly attend Stoneman Douglas a year before the massacre despite a history of fights, threats and behavioral problems. The district says while the program needed changes, it was a success overall.

U.S. takes new aim at ransomware after most costly year: The Justice Department is taking new aim at ransomware after a year that officials say was the most costly on record for the crippling cyberattacks. Formation of a task force of FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors is an acknowledgment of the growing threat posed by ransomware attacks, in which hackers lock up computer data and demand ransom payments in order to give it back. The force is part of a broader government effort to combat cyberattacks that target vital infrastructure, including a 100-day Biden administration initiative to bolster the digital security of electricity in the nation.

Ransomware attacks have impeded hospital operations, led to the temporary closure of school classes and caused other chaos. Last year was the worst to date in terms of the economic toll, with ransom demands to victims averaging over $100,000 and in some cases totaling tens of millions of dollars, according to the Justice Department.

“Ransomware can have devastating human and financial consequences,” Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin wrote in a staff memo dated Tuesday and provided Wednesday by the Justice Department. “When criminals target critical infrastructure such as hospitals, utilities, and municipal networks, their activity jeopardizes the safety and health of Americans.”

The Justice Department has brought indictments related to ransomware attacks, including a 2018 case against two Iranian nationals whose many victims included the cities of Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey and resulted in losses of $30 million. Federal prosecutors have also accused North Korean computer programmers of launching a global ransomware campaign dubbed WannaCry 2.0.

But the threat has grown more sophisticated. As it imposed sanctions on Russia last week for election interference and the hacking of federal agencies, the Treasury Department said Russian intelligence had enabled ransomware attacks by cultivating and co-opting criminal hackers and giving them safe harbor.

The task force is designed to enhance the department’s ability to disrupt ransomware attacks and prosecute the hackers responsible for them, including through more training and resources. Another purpose is to improve partnerships with the private sector, including by encouraging victim companies to come forward and report attacks, and with international partners.

The group will include representatives from the Justice Department’s criminal and national security divisions, among others.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report creation of the task force.

At this wedding, the bride and groom were the crashers: Courtney Wilson and Shenita Jones invited family and friends to their “dream home and estate” for their weekend wedding celebration: the ceremony Saturday, brunch on Sunday.

There was just one problem: The couple didn’t own the 16,300-square-foot mansion and didn’t have permission to use it.

The suburban Fort Lauderdale estate had everything: a bowling alley, swimming pool with a waterfall, hot tub, tennis courts, a gazebo and an 800-foot bar. Wilson said it was God’s plan that the couple marry there.

Nathan Finkel, the actual owner, was stunned when Wilson showed up Saturday morning to set up and called police, according to the South Florida SunSentinel.

“I have people trespassing on my property,” Finkel told a 911 dispatcher. “And they keep harassing me, calling me. They say they’re having a wedding here and it’s God’s message. I don’t know what’s going on. All I want is (for) it to stop. And they’re sitting at my property right at the front gate right now.”

Two officers told Wilson he would have to leave. He did and no charges were filed.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Wilson told the paper.

Finkel, whose late father was an early IHOP restaurant franchisee, has been trying to sell the property for two years, now listing it for just over $5 million.

Wilson, posing as a potential buyer, toured the estate several months ago, said Keith Poliakoff, attorney for Southwest Ranches, the upscale suburb where Finkel resides.

“A few months later, this guy asked Nathan if he could use Nathan’s backyard for his wedding,” Poliakoff said. “Nathan said no.”

But that didn’t stop the couple from sending out elaborate invitations, detailing their love story: reconnecting 30 years after high school and how he proposed over pizza on Christmas Eve. The Saturday afternoon ceremony would be followed by a red carpet cocktail hour and a reception lasting past midnight. Sunday brunch would be from noon to 4.

“The guy figured it was a vacant house and didn’t realize Nathan lived on the property in a different home,” Poliakoff said. “This guy had no idea he lived there. You know the shock that must have been on his face when he showed up at the gate and the owner was home?”

Broward County records show a marriage license has been issued to the couple last week, but they had not registered as married by Wednesday.

U.K. court rules in ‘unhappy’ Russian family divorce saga: Britain’s high court ruled Wednesday that the son of a Russian billionaire conspired with his father to prevent his mother from getting her hands on what is believed to the country’s biggest ever divorce award, worth around $625 million.

Tatiana Akhmedova, 48, accused her ex-husband, 65-year-old Farkhad Akhmedov, of hiding assets and that their 27-year-old son, Temur Akhmedov, worked with him in hiding those assets. In the family division of Britain’s High Court, Justice Gwynneth Knowles said Temur Akhmedov had been his father’s “lieutenant” and “schemes” had been carried out with his “knowledge and active assistance.” The judge said very large sums had been transferred to her son and concluded he must pay her around $104 million.

“Temur has learned well from his father’s past conduct and has done and said all he could to prevent his mother receiving a penny of the matrimonial assets,” the judge said in her written ruling. “He lied to this court on numerous occasions; breached court orders; and failed to provide full disclosure of his assets.”

Knowles compared the dysfunctional family goings-on to the opening of Leo Tolstoy’s classic Russian novel Anna Karenina.

“All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” she said in her written ruling. “With apologies to Tolstoy, the Akhmedov family is one of the unhappiest ever to have appeared in my courtroom.”

Akhmedova, who was awarded a 41.5% share of her ex-husband’s fortune by another British judge in 2016, welcomed the ruling.

“Today’s judgment is the inevitable conclusion given Farkhad’s failure to behave honorably in the first instance,” she said in a statement.

The court heard that Akhmedova has so far received about 5 million pounds and that her ex-husband hasn’t “voluntarily” paid anything. She said her ex-husband had tried to put assets beyond her reach and that she has taken legal action in Britain and abroad in a bid to get hold of what she is owed.

Farkhad Akhmedov was dismissive of the ruling.

“Entirely predictably, given its original wrong and misguided judgment, the London court has ruled in favor of visiting ‘the sins’ of the father on an innocent and loyal son,” he said.

And a spokesman for the son said Temur Akhmedov had been “caught up in the break-up of his parents’ marriage” and had “never sought to take sides or get involved but inevitably found himself sucked into the vortex of a bitter family dispute.”

“While he fundamentally disagrees with this judgment, he would consider it a price worth paying for should it lead to a reasonable settlement between the parents he both loves,” the spokesman said.

Farkhad Akhmedov said that because he and his ex-wife are not British and were not married in Britain, a British judge shouldn’t have made a decision.

Akhmedova has already become embroiled in litigation with a number of trusts based in Liechtenstein, into which her ex-husband allegedly transferred assets. The court heard that Akhmedov transferred a super-yacht, the Luna, worth around 340 million pounds, and an art collection, worth around 110 million pounds, into trusts in Liechtenstein.

Queen thankful for ‘support, kindness’ after Philip’s death: Queen Elizabeth II has expressed her thanks for all the “support and kindness” shown following the death of her husband, Prince Philip. In a statement Wednesday posted on her Twitter account on her 95th birthday and which she personally signed off as Elizabeth R, the monarch said it has been “a comfort” to “see and to hear all the tributes to my husband” from within the U.K., the Commonwealth and around the world.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died April 9 at age 99. Family and friends gathered for his funeral at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor on Saturday to say their final farewells.

o thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days,” she said in her first remarks since Philip’s funeral Saturday, which was limited to only 30 guests because of coronavirus restrictions. Because of the limits on gatherings, the funeral wasn’t accompanied by throngs of people arriving in Windsor to pay their respects to Philip. Despite coronavirus restrictions, the public has found ways of getting their messages of support to the royal family. Floral tributes with cards and letters have been left at royal palaces, and an online book of condolences has been opened offering people across the globe the opportunity to share their memories of Philip. “We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life,” she added.

Philip’s death came a few months before his 100th birthday, which was due to be the focus of royal celebrations this year, while the queen’s 95th was always set to be a more low-key event.

The queen said she had received “many messages of good wishes” for her 95th birthday, which she “very much” appreciated.

She is marking her birthday in a low-key fashion at Windsor Castle. Some members of the royal family are expected to be with her on Wednesday. Her birthday falls within the two-week royal mourning period for Philip that is being observed until Friday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of many people who sent best wishes to the monarch.

“I have always had the highest admiration for Her Majesty and her service to this country and the Commonwealth,” Johnson said on Twitter. “I am proud to serve as her prime minister.”

— Associated Press

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