The Full Belmonte, 5/17/2022
A bus carrying wounded Ukrainian service members from the besieged Azovstal steel plant yesterday in Mariupol, Ukraine.
“Hundreds of people were evacuated yesterday from the massive Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine, the last holdout in the besieged city of Mariupol that had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance under relentless Russian bombardment. According to a statement by Ukraine’s military, this completes the ‘combat mission’ in Mariupol, which has been the scene of some of the most intense fighting since Russia launched its invasion in late February. Separately, Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde today signed an application declaring the country wants to join NATO. The move marks a formal step by Sweden toward joining the US-led military alliance -- ending decades of military neutrality. Russian President Vladimir President Putin said the entry of both Sweden and Finland into NATO will not create a threat to Russia, but military expansion into the territory will ‘certainly cause our response.’” Read more at CNN
“Amid a nationwide baby formula shortage, the FDA yesterday said that it will make it easier to import certain infant formulas from other countries. The US ordinarily produces 98% of the infant formula it uses, with imported formula primarily coming from Mexico, Ireland and the Netherlands, the agency said. But because of the shortage, the FDA has outlined a process by which it ‘would not object’ to importing formula products ‘intended for a foreign market.’ The baby formula manufacturer at the heart of a nationwide recall also said yesterday that it has reached an agreement with the FDA that, if approved by a court, will allow production to resume at its Sturgis, Michigan, facility within two weeks. Production at the facility was halted in February after four infants drinking formula manufactured at the facility had fallen ill with rare and serious bacterial infections. Two of the babies died. After production resumes, it will take six to eight weeks for the formula to reach store shelves, the company said.” Read more at CNN
“HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday faces the strongest test yet of his ability to shape a new generation of Republicans as GOP primary voters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina decide whether to rally around his hand-picked choices for critical U.S. Senate seats.
As this year’s midterm primary season enters its busiest stretch with races also unfolding in Kentucky, Oregon and Idaho, Trump is poised to notch several easy wins. In North Carolina, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, is expected to best a packed field of GOP rivals, including a former governor. And in Pennsylvania’s GOP race for governor, far-right contender Doug Mastriano was already leading before Trump backed him over the weekend.
But Trump’s preferred Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz, has divided conservatives who are typically in lockstep with Trump. Some are suspicious of the ideological leanings of the celebrity heart surgeon who gained fame as a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, but has been attacked by millions of dollars of TV ads from another rival, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick. That’s benefited Kathy Barnette, a conservative commentator who faced little scrutiny for most of the campaign before resonating in the final stretch with a fierce message opposing abortion in all circumstances.
Trump, who has held campaign-style rallies with Oz, insists he is the best candidate to keep the Senate seat in Republican hands in the fall. Given his level of involvement in the race — including a virtual event on Oz’s behalf late Monday — a loss would be a notable setback for the former president, who is wielding endorsements as a way to prove his dominance over the GOP ahead of a potential 2024 presidential run.
John Fetterman speaks to supporters at the Holy Hound Tap Room in downtown York, Pa., on Thursday, May. 12, 2022, while campaigning for U.S. Senate seat.Mark Pynes/The Patriot-News
Democrats, meanwhile, have their own high-profile primaries. In Pennsylvania, progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has dominated the Senate race but was forced off the campaign trail by a stroke. The 52-year-old Fetterman remains hospitalized, though he said he is expected to make a full recovery.
In North Carolina, Cheri Beasley is the clear front-runner in her 11-candidate primary for the Democratic Senate nomination. If she prevails in November, Beasley would be the state’s first Black senator — and just the third African American woman ever elected to the chamber.
Tuesday’s contests could ultimately determine how competitive the general election will be this fall, when control of Congress, governor’s mansions and key elections posts are up for grabs. That’s especially true in the perennial political battleground of Pennsylvania, where some Republicans are already worried that Mastriano is too extreme to woo moderates who are often decisive in general elections.
‘There’s definitely some concern in large factions of the party,’ said Pennsylvania Republican strategist Vince Galko. ‘Especially those in the suburban areas.’
A Barnette victory might potentially hand Democrats a Senate seat, making the GOP’s effort to retake the chamber much harder.
More fundamentally, Tuesday’s primaries could test voters’ commitment to democratic principles. Barnette is running even further to the right than Oz and participated in the January 2021 rally that turned into an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Then there’s Mastriano, who was also outside the Capitol during the mob attack and would appoint Pennsylvania’s chief elections official if he becomes governor. He has pledged to take the extraordinary step of requiring voters to ‘re-register’ to vote — even though that’s barred by the National Voter Registration Act and likely violates significant protections under federal, and possibly state, law.
‘We’re going to start all over again,’ Mastriano, who has barred reporters from his campaign events, said at a recent debate. He’s made Trump’s lies about widespread electoral fraud costing him the presidency a centerpiece of his campaign — and has even been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot following his efforts to name a slate of alternate Electoral College electors in Trump’s favor.
Trump’s safest bet on Tuesday might be Budd, who has overcome a slow start to emerge from 14 Republican primary candidates, including former Gov. Pat McCroy, as a favorite in North Carolina’s Republican Senate primary.
“Trump is the most important factor,” said David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College in the state capital of Raleigh, who also noted that another conservative group, anti-tax Club for Growth Action, has paid for pro-Budd advertising. “Trump’s endorsement turned the tide for him.”
While much of the attention during the opening phase of the primary season has focused on Trump’s grip on the GOP, the contests also serve as a referendum on Biden’s leadership of the Democratic Party. In the president’s native state of Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a moderate in the mold of Biden, is at risk of being trounced by Fetterman.
Known for his hulking, 6-foot-8 stature and tattoos, and for championing causes including universal health care, Fetterman has appealed to many Democrats with an outsider image — and that could hold despite his health scare.
Another race testing Biden’s national appeal with Democratic primary voters comes across the country in Oregon. That’s where the president used his first endorsement of the midterm season to back incumbent Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader against progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
But Trump’s influence on GOP primaries stretches far wider.
In Idaho, Trump-endorsed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is attempting to unseat Republican Gov. Brad Little. McGeachin issued executive orders banning mask mandates during the height of the pandemic when Little was out of state.
The former president’s support may also swing U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s race to keep his seat from North Carolina despite recent blunders, and political novice Bo Hines’ efforts to win the House nomination for a seat representing a district covering parts of Raleigh and points south.
Tuesday even features a Kentucky lawmaker seeking reelection who benefitted from a Trump reversal. The former president is now praising as a ‘first-rate Defender of the Constitution’ Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie — just two years after he suggested the Republican should be removed from the GOP for opposing $2 trillion in COVID-19 relief funding.” Read more at AP News
Wildfires, such as the Coastal Fire that destroyed this California house in May, are expected to become more frequent and intense in the future.PHOTO: APU GOMES/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
“Almost 80 million U.S. residential and commercial properties face some risk of wildfire damage in the next 30 years, according to a nonprofit research firm that released its own wildfire risk model Monday.
The model from nonprofit First Street Foundation represents the first attempt to make property-level wildfire-risk scores freely available for homes throughout the contiguous U.S., said Matthew Eby, the organization’s executive director.
Wildfires have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage in recent years, and many scientists expect them to become more frequent and intense in the future, fueled by climate change and other factors.
Using First Street Foundation’s fire-risk scores, real-estate listings site Realtor.com estimated that one in five single-family homes in the U.S. is at risk of being in a wildfire over the next 30 years, representing $8.8 trillion in property value.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“Social media posts by the 18-year-old White man suspected of shooting and killing 10 people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket Saturday reveal he had been planning his attack for months. The alleged gunman, Payton Gendron, shared on the chat app Discord and the hate-filled online forum 4chan that he selected a particular ZIP code in Buffalo because it had the highest percentage of a Black population close enough to where he lived. Police and other officials have described the mass shooting as a hate crime. Among the 10 people killed were a retired police lieutenant, a substitute teacher, a beloved grandmother of six and a dedicated community activist. President Joe Biden is traveling to Buffalo today meet with the families of victims.” Read more at CNN
“A deadly shooting at a Southern California church was a ‘politically motivated hate incident’ against the Taiwanese community, authorities said Monday. At least one person was killed and five people were injured when the shooter opened fire Sunday afternoon at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, which was hosting a Taiwanese congregation. The Orange County Sheriff's Department identified the suspect Monday as David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas. Chou was booked on one felony count of murder and five felony counts of attempted murder, the sheriff's department said in a tweet. The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a hate crime investigation into the shooting.” Read more at USA Today
Orange County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Steinle displays a photo of Dr. John Cheng, who was killed on May 15, 2022, at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif.Jae C. Hong/AP
“White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would not continue to serve in his role if former President Donald Trump was elected to a second term. ‘Well, no,’ Fauci said with a chuckle when asked during an interview Sunday on CNN if he would stay on in his post if Trump were to return to the White House. Fauci was a leading member of Trump's White House coronavirus task force when the virus took hold in the US in 2020 -- but often disagreed with the administration over its handling of the pandemic. Separately, the CDC yesterday updated its guidance for people traveling within the US. The agency now urges all domestic travelers to ‘consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than three days) before your trip.’ The agency also moved up four destinations to the ‘high’ Covid-19 risk category for travelers.” Read more at CNN
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
“The federal government is giving away another round of free COVID tests, and this time you can get eight.” Read more at NPR
“President Biden has reversed some Trump policies related to Cuba, making it easier for families to visit relatives in the country. The State Department yesterday announced it will reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program and increase consular services as well as visa processing. The Biden administration is also lifting the family remittance cap of $1,000 per quarter, which limited monetary transfers from American residents. The announced changes to Cuba policy, however, do leave in place some restrictions and maintain sanctions on certain entities. The US will still prohibit American tourism in Cuba and won't allow individuals to travel there for educational purposes, senior administration officials said yesterday.” Read more at CNN
“The Supreme Court split along ideological lines in striking another campaign finance restriction Monday, agreeing with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s challenge to federal limits on the use of post-election contributions to repay a candidate’s loan to his campaign.
It was the latest Supreme Court decision to knock out a part of the landmark 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act — popularly known as the McCain-Feingold Act — and reemphasized the court’s view that many restrictions on campaign finance are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment’s protection of political speech.
Few issues, along with related laws regarding voting rights, divide the court’s conservatives and liberals so cleanly. The 6-to-3 ruling, featuring the dueling opinions of conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and liberal Justice Elena Kagan, provided only the latest example.” Read more at Washington Post
“Researchers at Stanford University have reversed memory loss in mice with an infusion of spinal fluid from younger mice.” Read more at NPR
“California’s law mandating women on boards was struck down. A state judge ruled that the 2018 measure was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause. The law mandated that public companies based in the state have at least two or three women on their boards by 2021, depending on board size. Last month, another judge struck down a law requiring public companies in California to have at least one director from underrepresented groups by 2021.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
“The Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico is now the largest blaze in state history, surpassing the Whitewater-Baldy Fire of 2012. Go deeper.” Read more at Axios
Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations via AP
“This drug-smuggling tunnel runs the length of six football fields between Tijuana, Mexico, and a warehouse in the San Diego area.
The Justice Department — announcing charges against six people for conspiring to distribute 1,762 pounds of cocaine — said the tunnel has reinforced walls, a rail system, electricity and ventilation.” Read more at Axios
“Reversal from Trump: President Biden has approved a request from the Pentagon to once again deploy U.S. special forces to Somalia to address the growing threat posed by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab. Go deeper.” Read more at Axios
“Tough news for New York Dems: Preliminary redrawn New York congressional maps posted online today would substantially reduce the number of safe Democratic seats drawn by the state legislature. Go deeper.” Read more at Axios
“Microsoft is nearly doubling its salary budget as it competes in an especially tight hiring environment among tech companies, Bloomberg reports.” Read more at Axios
“NEW YORK (AP) — The foundation started by organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement is still worth tens of millions of dollars, after spending more than $37 million on grants, real estate, consultants, and other expenses, according to tax documents filed with the IRS.
In a new, 63-page Form 990 shared exclusively with The Associated Press, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Inc. reports that it invested $32 million in stocks from the $90 million it received as donations amid racial justice protests in 2020. That investment is expected to become an endowment to ensure the foundation’s work continues in the future, organizers say.
It ended its last fiscal year – from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 – with nearly $42 million in net assets. The foundation had an operating budget of about $4 million, according to a board member.
The tax filing shows that nearly $6 million was spent on a Los Angeles-area compound. The Studio City property, which includes a home with six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, a soundstage and office space, was intended as a campus for a Black artists fellowship and is currently used for that purpose, the board member said.” Read more at AP News
“LONDON (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his deal to buy Twitter can’t move forward unless the company shows public proof that less than 5% of the accounts on the social media platform are fake or spam.
Musk made the comment in a reply to another user on Twitter early Tuesday. He spent much of the previous day in a back-and-forth with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who posted a series of tweets explaining his company’s effort to fight bots and how it has consistently estimated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake.
In his tweet Tuesday, Musk said that ‘20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be much higher. My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.’
He added: ‘Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of 5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.’
Twitter declined to comment.
“An investigation by the transportation authority that oversees three New York City-area airports confirmed customers had paid as much as $27 for a beer at LaGuardia Airport over the past year, leading the organization to announce stronger measures for protecting consumers.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a news releaseThursday that it was tightening the “street pricing” policy that keeps concessions prices comparable to prices outside airports. The revised policy also caps surcharges at 10 percent. The authority regulates LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.” Read more at Washington Post
“Opposing expansion | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he won’t allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO because of their stance on Kurdish militants, throwing a wrench into plans to strengthen the military alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His remarks were the clearest indication he intends to block their membership bids, or at least extract concessions for his support.
European Union foreign and defense ministers meet in Brussels today after the bloc passed a deadlock over a proposed Russian oil ban back to its ambassadors for more deliberations.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ruled out concessions to Russia that could lead to a cease-fire and told Bloomberg TV the EU faces ‘moral failure’ if it doesn’t approve the nation’s candidacy for membership by June.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Diplomatic sparring | China’s top diplomat vowed to counter any perceived US efforts to disrupt a Communist Party meeting later this year at which President Xi Jinping is set to secure a precedent-breaking third term. Beijing should ‘resolutely respond to any words and deeds by Washington to suppress and contain China,’ Yang Jiechi wrote in a front-page commentary in the People’s Daily yesterday.
Shanghai is tentatively unraveling a punishing lockdown, even as flareups in distant cities show how China is locked in a battle to ward off the hyper-infectious omicron variant.
Hong Kong will proceed with relaxing virus curbs despite recording hundreds of cases a day, as its Covid policy drifts further from Beijing’s zero-tolerance approach.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addresses the US Congress after meeting Biden yesterday.” Read more at Bloomberg
“The US will send Special Operations troops back to Somalia to revive a counterterrorism mission ended during Trump’s administration, after the Horn of Africa nation elected a new president.” Read more at Bloomberg
“The flight of millions of Ukrainians has raised financial costs for the countries on the EU’s eastern border that are taking them in, but the case of Poland shows that providing shelter can bring economic benefits. The more than 3 million refugees — mostly women, children and the elderly carrying few personal belongings when they arrived — are boosting sales of everything from shoes to clothes and groceries, and lifting economic growth.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Sri Lanka’s crisis. Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned on Monday that the country only has a day’s stock of petrol remaining and warned that ‘next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives.’ Wickremesinghe, who was appointed last week by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has yet to choose finance minister but has attracted criticism for appointing four ministers from the Rajapaksa clan’s political party.” Read more at Foreign Policy
“France’s new prime minister. Emmanuel Macron appointed Élisabeth Borne as his prime minister on Monday, making her only the second woman to hold the office. The choice of the left-leaning Borne, who has held positions as labor, environment, and transport minister, is seen as a way to attract left-wing voters ahead of June’s legislative elections.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Yemen’s skies open. The Yemeni capital Sanaa saw its first commercial flight leave the airport in six years as a Yemen Airways plane made its way to the Jordanian capital, Amman. The flight is part of a 60-day truce agreed between Yemen’s government and the Houthis which calls for two flights per week from Sanaa to Jordan and Egypt.
Erin Hutchinson, Yemen director at the Norwegian Refugee Council, called the flight a ‘stepping stone towards a lasting peace for Yemen.’” Read more at Bloomberg
“Kenya’s election. Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga on Monday chose Martha Karua, a former justice minister, as his running mate for August’s presidential election making her the first woman to appear on a major presidential ticket in the country’s history.
The decision means both Odinga and his likely opponent William Ruto have chosen ethnic Kikuyus as running mates in a bid to broaden their appeal.” Read more at Bloomberg
“Controversy over the academic credentials of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the presumptive next president of the Philippines, bubbled up once again after an opposition activist lodged a freedom of information request with Oxford University, his apparent alma mater.
The university confirmed that Marcos did not complete his degree, but did achieve a special diploma, a fact that contravenes his own campaign narrative that his undergraduate studies were ‘completed’ at Oxford.
The activist in question, who supported Leni Robredo’s candidacy in the election earlier this month, said the omission fits ‘a pattern of disinformation that a lot of researchers have pointed out recently.’
Marcos’s academic travails have been unearthed in the past, including reports that his dictator father had arranged for his son to be moved to a different track to avoid his dropping out over bad grades. In a worrying portent for the Philippines, Marcos failed his politics exam not once, but twice.” Read more at Bloomberg
A memorial for the Buffalo shooting victims.Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times
“‘Numbers don’t lie’
Over the past decade, the Anti-Defamation League has counted about 450 U.S. murders committed by political extremists.
Of these 450 killings, right-wing extremists committed about 75 percent. Islamic extremists were responsible for about 20 percent, and left-wing extremists were responsible for 4 percent.
Nearly half of the murders were specifically tied to white supremacists:
Source: Anti-Defamation League
As this data shows, the American political right has a violence problem that has no equivalent on the left. And the 10 victims in Buffalo this past weekend are now part of this toll. ‘Right-wing extremist violence is our biggest threat,’ Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL, has written. ‘The numbers don’t lie.’
The pattern extends to violence less severe than murder, like the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. It also extends to the language from some Republican politicians — including Donald Trump — and conservative media figures that treats violence as a legitimate form of political expression. A much larger number of Republican officials do not use this language but also do not denounce it or punish politicians who do use it; Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, is a leading example.
It’s important to emphasize that not all extremist violence comes from the right — and that the precise explanation for any one attack can be murky, involving a mixture of ideology, mental illness, gun access and more. In the immediate aftermath of an attack, people are sometimes too quick to claim a direct cause and effect. But it is also incorrect to pretend that right-wing violence and left-wing violence are equivalent problems.
Fears in Washington
If you talk to members of Congress and their aides these days — especially off the record — you will often hear them mention their fears of violence being committed against them.
Some Republican members of Congress have said that they were reluctant to vote for Trump’s impeachment or conviction partly because of the threats against other members who had already denounced him. House Republicans who voted for President Biden’s infrastructure bill also received threats. Democrats say their offices receive a spike in phone calls and online messages threatening violence after they are criticized on conservative social media or cable television shows.
People who oversee elections report similar problems. ‘One in six election officials have experienced threats because of their job,’ the Brennan Center, a research group, reported this year. ‘Ranging from death threats that name officials’ young children to racist and gendered harassment, these attacks have forced election officials across the country to take steps like hiring personal security, fleeing their homes, and putting their children into counseling.’
There is often overlap between these violent threats and white supremacist beliefs. White supremacy tends to treat people of color as un-American or even less than fully human, views that can make violence seem justifiable. The suspect in the Buffalo massacre evidently posted an online manifesto that discussed replacement theory, a racial conspiracy theory that Tucker Carlson promotes on his Fox News show.
(This Times story examines how replacement theory has entered the Republican mainstream.)
‘History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse,’ Representative Liz Cheney, one of the few Republicans who have repeatedly and consistently denounced violence and talk of violence from the right, wrote on Twitter yesterday. ‘The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and antisemitism,’ Cheney wrote, and called on Republican leaders to ‘renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.’
A few other Republicans, like Senator Mitt Romney, have taken a similar stance. But many other prominent Republicans have taken a more neutral stance or even embraced talk of violence.
Some have spoken openly about violence as a legitimate political tool — and not just Trump, who has done so frequently.
At the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 attack, Representative Mo Brooks suggested the crowd should ‘start taking down names and kicking ass.’ Before she was elected to Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene supported the idea of executing Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats. Representative Paul Gosar once posted an animated video altered to depict himself killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swinging swords at Biden.
Rick Perry, a former Texas governor, once called the Federal Reserve ‘treasonous’ and talked about treating its chairman ‘pretty ugly.’ During Greg Gianforte’s campaign for Montana’s House seat, he went so far as to assault a reporter who asked him a question he didn’t like; Gianforte won and has since become Montana’s governor.
These Republicans have received no meaningful sanction from their party. McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, has been especially solicitous of Brooks and other members who use violent imagery.
This Republican comfort with violence is new. Republican leaders from past decades, like Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, Howard Baker and the Bushes, did not evoke violence.
‘In a stable democracy,’ Steven Levitsky, a Harvard political scientist, told me, ‘politicians unambiguously reject violence and unambiguously expel from their ranks antidemocratic forces.’
More on Buffalo
The gunman was able to buy an assault-style weapon despite having been held for a mental health evaluation last year.
Most mass shooters bought their guns legally.
Black Americans make up more than half of the victims of hate crimes based on racial bias.
Tops, the grocery store where the shooting happened, was a neighborhood hub.
Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 House Republican, circulated campaign ads last year that echoed replacement theory.
President Biden will visit Buffalo today.” Read more at New York Times
Actor Amber Heard testifies in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Monday, May 16, 2022. Actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a ‘public figure representing domestic abuse.’ (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool)
“FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Jurors in Johnny Depp’s libel trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, saw photos Monday of her with red marks and swelling on her face after their final fight before their divorce, and heard testimony about her expertise in covering up bruises with makeup.
Heard concluded her direct testimony in a Virginia courtroom with a third day that was centered on the final months of her marriage to Depp. His lawyers began their cross-examination later in the afternoon.
The trial is now in its fifth week, and jurors have seen multiple photos of Heard throughout the trial that purport to document the abuse she said she received during her relationship with Depp.
Several of the photos shown Monday, though, had not previously been seen by the jury and showed redness and swelling much more clearly than earlier photos.
Heard said the marks came when Depp threw a phone at her face.
The confrontation in May 2016 prompted Heard to file for divorce two days later. A few days after that, she obtained a temporary restraining order after a courthouse hearing, and was widely photographed leaving the courthouse with a clear red mark on her right cheek.
The final fight has been a key point in the couple’s ongoing dispute. Depp is suing Heard in Fairfax County Circuit Court for libel over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as ‘a public figure representing domestic abuse.’ His lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.
Depp says he never struck Heard and that she’s concocting claims she was abused. Earlier in the trial, jurors heard from police officers who responded to emergency calls during that final fight who said Heard’s face looked red from crying but that they saw no visible bruises. Witnesses also testified that they didn’t see bruises on Heard’s face in the immediate days after the fight.
Heard, in her testimony Monday, said she didn’t cooperate with officers who responded to the couple’s penthouse, and said her face-to-face interactions with officers were very limited.
She also discussed her makeup routine, using a color correction wheel that she called her “bruise kit” to cover up marks on her face. She said she learned over the years to use green shades in the first day of a bruise to cover up redness, and switch more to orange shades as the bruise turned blue and purple.
“I’m not going to walk around L.A. with bruises on my face,” she said.
On cross-examination, Depp lawyer Camille Vasquez questioned Heard about multiple photos of her that appeared not to show bruises even they were taken within days of alleged abuse incidents. Heard said she used makeup to cover bruises and ice to reduce swelling.
“You should see what it looked like under the makeup,” she said.
Vasquez also questioned Heard about her $7 million divorce settlement from Depp. Heard pledged to donate the full amount to charity but has so far only donated a portion of it. She testified she’s been unable to fulfill her pledge yet because Depp sued her for $50 million. But on cross-examination she acknowledged that she had received the full $7 million from Depp months before he filed the lawsuit.” Read more at AP News
“Lives Lived: When the semipro boxer Jürgen Blin faced Muhammad Ali in a ring in Switzerland in 1971, he knew he was fated to lose the fight. He did, as expected, in the seventh round. Blin died at 79.” Read more at New York Times