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Parents of Suspected Michigan Shooter Plead Not Guilty To Involuntary Manslaughter Charges

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The couple was held on $500,000 bonds each after they failed to appear for their arraignment Friday, prompting an overnight manhunt.


Suspect’s Parents Charged

The parents of a suspected school shooter who left four dead and seven others injured in Oxford, Michigan, last week pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges Saturday following an overnight manhunt.

On Friday, prosecutors in Michigan took the rare step of charging the parents of the 15-year-old accused of carrying out a mass shooting at Oxford High School with four counts of involuntary manslaughter each — one for every student killed in the attack.

During a press conference, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald argued that the boy’s parents were culpable in the most deadly school shooting this year because they allowed their son access to the murder weapon and actively ignored obvious warnings that he was considering violence.

At the briefing, prosecutors said that the suspect’s father had purchased the weapon four days before the shooting as an early Christmas gift for the teen. McDonald said the kid “had total access to this weapon” which was kept “unlocked in a drawer” in his parent’s bedroom.

Lawyers for the parents have disputed that claim, asserting that the gun was, in fact, locked.

Alarming Warning Signs

Prosecutors also noted that there were a number of incredibly alarming warning signs that the suspects parents ignored.

They noted that after the gun was purchased, authorities at Oxford raised concerns about the teenager’s behavior twice.

According to prosecutors, the day before the shooting, a teacher saw him searching for ammunition on his phone. School officials called his parents, who did not respond, but his mother later texted her son: “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

The next day, another teacher found a drawing of a gun on the suspect’s desks with images of a gun, a person who was shot, a laughing emoji, along with the words “Blood everywhere” and “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

That drawing prompted a meeting with the boy’s parents, but prosecutors said they refused to take their son home and did not ask him about the gun, search his backpack, or inform the school that they had purchased one for him.

But prosecutors noted that when news of the shooting broke a few hours later, the suspect’s parents were quick to believe it was their son.

His mother allegedly texted him “don’t do it.” Meanwhile, his father called the police to inform them that a weapon was missing from their house and that his son could be the gunman.

Manhunt for Parents

Prosecutors argued that their claims regarding the parent’s culpability were further bolstered when the two appeared to flee once the charges against them were made public.

A few hours after the announcement, authorities said police were searching for the parents, who were scheduled to be arraigned that day but had stopped communicating with their attorneys. A massive manhunt for the fugitives was launched that included sheriff’s deputies, Detroit police, U.S. marshals, FBI officers, and even U.S. Border Patrol. 

Then at around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, police said they found the couple “hiding” in a warehouse building in Detroit —  about 40 miles from where they live — after someone tipped off authorities that their vehicle was nearby.

Lawyers for the couple disputed that they were hiding, claiming that they had believed their arraignment was Saturday morning and had planned to attend, blaming a miscommunication with the prosecutor’s office.

Both law enforcement officials and prosecutors were skeptical of that assertion.

“I think where they were and how they were seems to support the position they were hiding and they weren’t looking for surrendering at that point,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

That statement was echoed by prosecutor McDonald, who noted that the two also withdrew thousands of dollars in cash from an ATM, which she cited as part of the reason they should be held on a high bond of $500,000 each.

“They sought multiple attempts to hide their location and were eventually tracked down after they parked their car somewhere a witness saw it,” she said. “These two individuals were found locked somewhere in a room, hiding. These are not people that we can be assured will return to court on their own.”

A judge agreed to the bond during the couple’s arraignment Saturday, where both parents pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Currently, the couple is being held in the same jail their son is in, though all are being kept separate. All three have also been placed on suicide watch, but officials said they passed initial mental health screenings.

The two parents face up to 15 years if convicted on the charges. Their son faces two dozen charges, including terrorism.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other news coverage, as they may contain these details.

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Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan

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The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”


Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify

A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. 

Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts. 

Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”

“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”

Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation

Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.

“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote. 

“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”

Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”

“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”

Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)

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Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.

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In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.


New Cases Flattening

After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.

Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days. 

New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.

Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.

Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.

According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.

In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.

Concerns Remain 

Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit. 

While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country. 

Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (The Wall Street Journal)

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COVID-Driven School Closures Top Record Highs, But Many Remain Open

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While some districts have implemented protective measures, many teachers say they fall short.


Schools Respond to Omicron Surge

U.S. COVID cases, driven by the omicron variant, are continuously topping new record highs, posing difficult questions for schools resuming after winter break.

According to Burbio, a data firm that tracks school closures, at least 5,409 public schools canceled classes or moved to remote learning by the end of last week due to COVID — more than triple the number at the end of December.

That is still only a fraction of the nation’s 130,000 schools, and many of the biggest school districts in the country are still insisting that students come into the classroom.

Los Angeles, which is home to the second-biggest district, is requiring that students at least test negative before they return to school this week.

In the biggest district of New York City, classes have already resumed following winter break. Although the city has said it will double random tests and send home more kits, students were not required to provide negative results.

Teachers Protest In-Person Learning

Teachers in other major districts have protested the local government’s decisions to stay open.

One of the most closely watched battles is in Chicago, where students on Monday missed their fourth consecutive day of school due to a feud between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).

Last week, the union voted to return to remote learning in defiance of a city-wide order mandating they teach in-person, citing inadequate COVID-19 protections. Lightfoot claimed the conditions were fine and that students were safe, despite record surges, instead opting to cancel classes altogether while the fight plays out.

On Sunday, the union said it was “still far apart” from making any kind of agreement with public school officials after Lightfoot rejected their demands.

Lightfoot, for her part, has said she remains “hopeful” a deal could be reached, but she also stirred up the union by accusing teachers of staging an “illegal walkout” and claiming they “abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families.”

Meanwhile, teachers in other school districts have begun to emulate the tactics in Chicago.

On Friday, teachers in Oakland, California staged a “sick-out,” promoting 12 schools serving thousands of students to close.

See what others are saying: (The Chicago Tribune) (CNN) (The New York Times)

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