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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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Man Who Cut Neighbors Heart Out And Cooked It For His Family Has Been Sentenced To Life In Prison




Oklahoma man sentenced to life in prison for killing 3; cut out heart from 1, cooked it (Grady County Sheriff's Office/Grady County Sheriff's Office)

A man, who killed his neighbor, cut her heart out and then stabbed two people to death, including a 4-year-old child, has been sentenced to life in prison in US’s Oklahoma state.

According to NBC News, 44-year-old Lawrence Paul Anderson committed the murders in 2021, less than a month after he received an early release from prison.

Weeks after he was freed, he murdered and carved Andrea Blankenship’s heart, carried it to his aunt and uncle’s house and cooked the organ with potatoes.

He then attempted to serve the meal to the couple before he stabbed and killed 67-year-old Leon Pye and his 4-year-old granddaughter Kaeos Yates, He also stabbed his aunt .

Lawrence Paul Anderson pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of first-degree murder and a single count each of assault with a deadly weapon and felony maiming, according to The Associated Press. Anderson was sentenced to life in prison without parole as part of a plea deal.

The prosecutor dropped plans for the death penalty following a request from the victim’s family, the AP reported. After the sentencing, the prosecutor, Jason Hicks, said in a news conference that the victim’s family did not wish to endure the pain of a trial.


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International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin




It was the first time the global court has issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

The ICC said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow — and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough.

Its practical implications, however, could be limited as the chances of Putin facing trial at the ICC are highly unlikely because Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.

But the moral condemnation will likely stain the Russian leader for the rest of his life — and in the more immediate future whenever he seeks to attend an international summit in a nation bound to arrest him.

“So Putin might go to China, Syria, Iran, his … few allies, but he just won’t travel to the rest of the world and won’t travel to ICC member states who he believes would … arrest him,” said Adil Ahmad Haque, an expert in international law and armed conflict at Rutgers University.

Others agreed. “Vladimir Putin will forever be marked as a pariah globally. He has lost all his political credibility around the world. Any world leader who stands by him will be shamed as well,” David Crane, a former international prosecutor, told The Associated Press.

The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation. The AP reported on her involvement in the abduction of Ukrainian orphans in October, in the first investigation to follow the process all the way to Russia, relying on dozens of interviews and documents.

ICC President Piotr Hofmanski said in a video statement that while the ICC’s judges have issued the warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court has no police force of its own to do so.

The ICC can impose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment “when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime,” according to its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, that established it as a permanent court of last resort to prosecute political leaders and other key perpetrators of the world’s worst atrocities — war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Still, the chances of Putin or Lvova-Belova facing trial remain extremely remote, as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction — a position it vehemently reaffirmed Friday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia doesn’t recognize the ICC and considers its decisions “legally void.” He called the court’s move “outrageous and unacceptable.”

Peskov refused to comment when asked if Putin would avoid making trips to countries where he could be arrested on the ICC’s warrant.

Ukraine’s human rights chief, Dmytro Lubinets, has said that based on data from the country’s National Information Bureau, 16,226 children were deported. Ukraine has managed to bring back 308 children.

Lvova-Belova, who was also implicated in the warrants, reacted with dripping sarcasm. “It is great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children of our country, that we do not leave them in war zones, that we take them out, we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, caring people,” she said.

Ukrainian officials were jubilant at the move.

In his nightly address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it a “historic decision, from which historic responsibility will begin.”

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, recalled that on the night of Russia’s invasion, “I said at the Security Council meeting that there is no purgatory for war criminals, they go straight to hell. Today, I would like to say that those of them who will remain alive after the military defeat of Russia will have to make a stop in The Hague on their way to hell.”

In Washington, President Joe Biden called the ICC’s decision “justified,” telling reporters as he left the White House for his Delaware home that Putin “clearly committed war crimes.” While the US does not recognize the court either, Biden said it “makes a very strong point” to call out the Russian leader’s actions in ordering the invasion.

Olga Lopatkina, a Ukrainian mother who struggled for months to reclaim her foster children who were deported to an institution run by Russian loyalists, welcomed news of the arrest warrant. “Everyone must be punished for their crimes,” she said in a message exchange with the AP.

While Ukraine is also not a member of the global court, it has granted it jurisdiction over its territory and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has visited four times since opening an investigation a year ago.

Besides Russia and Ukraine, the United States and China are not members of the 123-member ICC.

The ICC said its pre-trial chamber found “reasonable grounds” that Putin “bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abductions “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others” and for failing to “exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”

During a visit this month, ICC prosecutor Khan said he went to a care home for children 2 kilometers (just over a mile) from front lines in southern Ukraine.

“The drawings pinned on the wall … spoke to a context of love and support that was once there,” he said in a statement. “But this home was empty, a result of alleged deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation or their unlawful transfer to other parts of the temporarily occupied territories.”

“As I noted to the United Nations Security Council last September, these alleged acts are being investigated by my office as a priority. Children cannot be treated as the spoils of war,” Khan said.

And while Russia rejected the allegations and warrants, others said the ICC action will have an important impact.

“The ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to end the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long,” said Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The warrants send a clear message that giving orders to commit, or tolerating, serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague.”

Crane, who indicted Liberian President Charles Taylor 20 years ago for crimes in Sierra Leone, said dictators and tyrants around the world “are now on notice that those who commit international crimes will be held accountable.”

Taylor was eventually detained and put on trial at a special court in the Netherlands. He was convicted and sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment.

On Thursday, a U.N.-backed inquiry cited Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions, among potential issues that amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

The sweeping investigation also found crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory, including deported Ukrainian children who were prevented from reuniting with their families, a “filtration” system aimed at singling out Ukrainians for detention, and torture and inhumane detention conditions.

On Friday, the ICC put the face of Putin on the child abduction allegations.


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Father Ted creator loses TV career and marriage and on anxiety medication over trans community tweets




Graham Linehan, the creator of hit comedies Father Ted and the IT Crowd, has spoken out about losing his career and marriage after sharing a series of tweets about the transgender community.

The 54-year-old rose to prominence for co-creating sitcom Father Ted in 1995 and Black Books in 2000 – later writing The IT Crowd.

He had planned a Father Ted musical, but he later claimed it had been cancelled by producers over his divisive tweets on transgender rights.

Linehan had began tweeting his views after his testicular cancer operation in 2018 and in 2020, he was permanently banned from the social media site after airing his divisive views.

He had reportedly tweeted “Men aren’t women tho” after the Women’s Institute sent a Happy Pride message to its transgender members.

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