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Activists React To Hollywood’s Silence During Johnny Depp Trial: “Where Are You and Why Are You Not Supporting Amber Heard?”



At the height of the Time’s Up movement, stars rallied in support of women during high-profile cases against the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. The absence of such solidarity today has some #MeToo proponents worried about the future of the movement.

It may seem that every TikTokker, cable news commentator and chatterbox neighbor has an opinion about the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial that concluded Wednesday in Virginia. But for many sexual violence survivors, there has been a noteworthy absence from the conversation: Hollywood. While major stars and the industry activist group Time’s Up mobilized around other high-profile #MeToo cases like Harvey Weinstein’s and Bill Cosby’s, there has been no such movement around the Depp-Heard trial, which involves allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault. (Depp said multiple times on the stand that he has never struck a woman, denied Heard’s allegation of sexual battery and called himself a victim of domestic abuse by Heard, which she denies.)

“Every single person who wore a Time’s Up pin on the red carpet of the Golden Globes, my question to you is, where are you and why are you not supporting Amber Heard?” says Alison Turkos, an activist and sexual assault survivor who organized an open letter to Time’s Up last August when it was revealed that former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought advice from top Time’s Up officials after he was accused of sexual harassment. “Why are you not willing to risk your power or privilege? It is very easy for your stylist to put a pin on your outfit and for you to walk the red carpet. Now is the time for you to show up for survivors.”

The Depp-Heard case differs from the Weinstein and Cosby ones in key ways: Depp has alleged that he, too, is a victim of abuse in the relationship; Heard is a lone victim, not part of a group who came forward; and Depp’s fan base has been vocal online, creating memes and hashtags that criticize Heard and cast doubt on her testimony. Nevertheless, Depp was widely expected to lose the case.

Time’s Up is also no longer the force it was during those trials. Its board has dissolved and two CEOs resigned last year in the months after the Cuomo scandal exploded. And while the group had provided pro bono PR for victims during the Weinstein trial and supplied press with information about sexual assault, it has not so much as tweeted about Depp and Heard. Neither have women who were among Time’s Up’s most notable members, like Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes.

The Depp-Heard defamation trial began April 11, and for several weeks prominent activists stayed largely silent about it. On May 28, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke issued a statement on Instagram saying that the cause was being co-opted and manipulated during the trial and calling press coverage “one of the biggest defamations of the movement we have ever seen.” In the caption, Burke said she and her organization “have been harassed nonstop about [the trial] — mostly by people wanting us to ‘pick a side’ in the case.” A longer statement posted on the organization’s website said that the Depp-Heard trial was “not about sexual violence at its core.”

“The stunning silence says it all,” says singer and actress Melissa Schuman, who alleged in 2017 that Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter raped her in 2003 when she was a member of the teen-girl band Dream. Carter denied the allegation, the Los Angeles district attorney declined to prosecute because the statute of limitations had expired, and Schuman became the object of online vitriol from Backstreet Boys fans, similar to the type that Depp fans have unleashed on Heard. “[The silence] is used against Heard, like, ‘Look, she is not believed.’ Nobody is willing to put their life on the line. There’s no benefit to speaking up in support of a survivor speaking out against power.”

Another entertainment industry woman who was on the brink of coming forward with an allegation of sexual assault against a man who works in Hollywood says watching the trial has given her pause. “What this shows me is that all my worst fears are true,” she says. “The reason I don’t ever want to go public is that I’m afraid I’ll be treated like Amber Heard.”

Depp’s filing of a defamation lawsuit against Heard is an increasingly common legal tool in #MeToo cases, one that is replacing the nondisclosure agreement, which new laws in states including California have begun to limit. “The use of defamation lawsuits has become a perfected art in certain industries,” says former California State Sen. Joseph Dunn, a lecturer at the University of California at Irvine School of Law and an attorney who handles clients with sexual assault allegations. “It frankly is just another tool of cover-up.”

Many who work with sexual assault victims say the Depp-Heard trial, and the public’s reaction to it, may have a chilling effect on victims’ willingness to speak out about abuse.

“What I’m seeing played out is an imbalance of power,” says Louise Godbold, a Weinstein accuser and executive director of the nonprofit group Echo, which conducts training on the subject of trauma. “[The power imbalance] created conditions ripe for abuse, it gave rise to the defamation suit to threaten and silence the victim, and is now being used to manipulate public opinion and gaslight the world into believing the abuser is the victim. And it’s working.”

After the jury issued its verdict Wednesday finding both Heard and Depp liable for defamation, but awarding significantly more damages to Depp, one prominent entertainment industry group did issue a statement.

“We are deeply concerned the Depp-Heard decision will set precedent exacerbating barriers victims face in coming forward,” tweeted Women in Film, an entertainment industry advocacy organization founded in 1973. “The trial and its reception demonstrated a regressive trend of retaliation against those who speak out about violence or abuse perpetrated by those in power.”

The group shared the phone number for its helpline, offered resources for people of any gender who have experienced sexual harassment or misconduct while working in the entertainment industry, and said, “We’re here for you.”

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US President Joe Biden turns 80 Today: New Generation’ of Democratic Leaders Takes Control in Congress




President Joe Biden will celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday, marking the first time a sitting president has reached that milestone while in office and fueling speculation about how his advancing age will affect his political future.

Biden — who was the oldest person to assume the presidency in January 2021, just 61 days after his 78th birthday — has said he intends to make another White House bid, even as his age-adjacent peers, including 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have made the decision to step away from leadership in order to make way for a younger generation.

“My intention is that I will run again. But I’m a great respecter of fate and this is ultimately a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run but we’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any hurry one way or the other to make that judgment.” he said last week, after helming what many say is the most successful midterm election for a sitting president’s party in decades, though noting that those results would not have an impact on his decision to run again.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden greets guests before speaking at an event at the White House complex, Nov. 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Biden is the oldest person to serve as commander in chief in the nation’s history. Should he seek reelection in 2024 and win, the president would be 86 by the end of his second term. He has said he’ll talk over his future with his wife and the rest of his family over the holidays.

Biden has said he is hoping that he and his wife “get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around between Christmas and Thanksgiving” and that his decision to run for reelection will likely “be early next year we make that judgment.”

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Shanquella Robinson’s Death in Cabo, Father Believes Attack Was a Set Up




Shanquella Robinson‘s mysterious death in Mexico smells like a set up to her father … he tells TMZ he believes his daughter was attacked as part of a diabolical plan.

Shanquella, who was from North Carolina, was found dead last month in her room in Los Cabos … where she was vacationing with a group of friends. Her parents say the friends told them the 25-year-old died of alcohol poisoning.

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Drunk woman steals 45ft ferry while shouting ‘I’m Jack Sparrow’




A drunken woman stole a passenger ferry on the River Dart and shouted 'I'm Jack Sparrow' and 'I'm a pirate' as she drifted away from police on the shore

A DRUNK has been jailed after she stole a 100-seat ferry and smashed into boats, yelling, “I’m Jack Sparrow! I’m a pirate!”

Alison Whelan, 51, boarded the 45ft Dart Princess with a friend after a two-day bender, where she got drunk on Lambrini and ate poisonous deadly nightshade, which causes hallucinations.

She undid the mooring ropes in the early hours and drifted up a river on the tide, bashing into other boats “like a pinball machine”.

Whelan taunted police, shouting: “What are you going to do now?” and “I believe this is out of your jurisdiction!”

Thirty police, a lifeboat crew, Coastguards and paramedics had to be called.

And when the cops finally arrested her after an hour when the ferry came to rest in calm water, she told them: “We’d have ended up in St Tropez if we hadn’t been caught.”

Whelan, of Paignton, Devon, stole the double-decker ferry in nearby Dartmouth a year ago.

She had called an ambulance, claiming to have had a seizure. Medics found her drunk and rambling, and one of them was pushed over by her friend, Tristam Locke.

The medics called police and went to their vehicle to wait, then looked in their mirror and saw the ferry drifting away from shore.

Whelan told police she untied “two or three” of the mooring ropes because she kept tripping over them.

She said she then felt the boat moving and “noticed the hotels getting a long way away”.

The ferry suffered £1500 of damage when it hit two other boats, which were also damaged. Torquay magistrates heard Whelan and Locke could have been killed on rocks if the tide on the River Dart had been going out at the time.

Locke was fined £100 last year for assaulting an ambulance technician.


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