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Johnny Depp libel trial set to start in London

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A libel trial was due to begin on Tuesday between Hollywood actor Johnny Depp and a British tabloid newspaper over claims that he was violent to his former wife, Amber Heard.

Depp, 57, is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun, and its executive editor Dan Wootton for an April 2018 article which referred to him as a “wife beater”.

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The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star strenuously denies the accusation.

The case, which was delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak, will be heard over 15 days at the High Court in London.

The couple settled a divorce out of court in 2017. She donated a settlement of $7 million (£5.6 million, 6.2 million euros) to charity.

Depp denies being abusive towards Heard, 34, and has brought separate libel proceedings against her in the United States.

As well as Depp and Heard, his former partners Vanessa Paradis, the French singer, and the actress Winona Ryder are due to give evidence.

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In pre-trial witness statements Paradis — his former long-time partner with whom he has two children — has described the actor as “kind” and “non-violent”.

Ryder said she could not “wrap my head around” Heard’s accusations that Depp was abusive.

– Text messages –

NGN failed last week in a last-ditch bid to have the case dismissed, arguing Depp was in breach of a court order for failing to disclose documents from the US case.

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Nicol, who will rule on the case, agreed he was in breach but decided the trial should go ahead nonetheless.

The Sun is relying in its defence on 14 separate claims of domestic violence that Heard alleges occurred between early 2013 and May 2016.

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During pre-trial hearings, NGN lawyers said Depp had failed to hand over details of text messages from 2015, which allegedly referred to drug-taking.

They argued they were “profoundly damaging to his case”.

The messages were sent shortly before what Heard has claimed was a “three-day ordeal of physical assaults” in Australia, the court heard.

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Judge Nicol had previously refused an application by Depp’s legal team to require Heard to disclose evidence, including a secret recording of a conversation with the actor.

The request also involved communications between Heard and “Rocketman”, a contact saved in her phone who Depp claims is the SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, as well as with actor James Franco.

Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne told the court last week that Heard had affairs with both Musk and Franco while she was going out with or married to his client.

The couple met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in February 2015.

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Virus outbreak in Houston-area nursing home kills 17

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A novel coronavirus outbreak at a Missouri City nursing home, outside of Houston, has killed 17 residents, according to data from state officials.

City officials issued a press release this week raising alarm over 19 deaths that they said occurred at the Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home but nursing home officials told The Texas Tribune that the number is incorrect and declined to provide the correct number.

The city also reported that the facility has 24 infected staff members and the nursing home reported 11 currently infected residents who are in stable condition.

“This harrowing development speaks to the severity of this pandemic and how everyone needs to take it even more seriously,” said Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford of the outbreak in a Wednesday press release.

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‘Gullible’ Trump administration paid up to $500 million too much for these ventilators: investigators

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Citing “evidence of fraud, waste, and abuse,” a congressional subcommittee investigating the federal government’s purchase of $646.7 million worth of Philips ventilators has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to launch its own investigation of the deal.

The House subcommittee launched its review after ProPublica stories in March and April showed how a U.S. subsidiary of Royal Philips N.V. received millions in federal tax dollars years ago to develop a low-cost ventilator for pandemics but didn’t deliver it. Instead, as the coronavirus began spreading around the globe and U.S. hospitals were desperate for more, Philips was selling commercial versions of the government-funded ventilator overseas from its Pennsylvania factory. Then in April, despite having not fulfilled the initial contract, the Dutch company struck a much more lucrative deal to sell the government 43,000 ventilators for four times the price.

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Pastor slams Trump for lying about a ‘dystopian dreamscape’ if Biden wins: ‘Pandering to the worst level’

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As President Donald Trump loses ground with evangelicals realizing he's not actually a Christian, the right-wing has scrambled with the only strategy they have: try to claim Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, is somehow not a Christian.

"Nobody ever would ever even think possible because he's following the radical left agenda," said Trump in Ohio. "Take away your guns. Destroy your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He's against God."

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