Californians turned on their sprinklers in force in March, using more water than they did the year before and making a mockery of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for voluntary drought conservation. The State Water Resources Conservation Board said Tuesday that per-capita urban water usage rose 7% in March compared to a year earlier, and was up 14% when compared to March 2020. It was the heaviest consumption of water in March since 2015, when the previous drought was in its worst days. With the drought in its third year, Newsom has resisted imposing mandatory water conservation but instead has been as...
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A Montana man has been charged with one count of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl in October of last year, the Great Falls Tribune reports.
The victim said Michael Shawn Brown, 26, used the name “Michael Forstwulf” when the two were communicating on SnapChat. She said she snuck out and met with him after he offered her marijuana.
"The girl said Brown parked in front of her house in a white Volkswagen. She said she was talking to Brown through the window, then entered the vehicle. Before she could fully close the door, she said Brown began driving and locked the vehicle doors," the Tribune reports. "The girl said she saw that Brown had a large knife. He allegedly drove her to a location in Great Falls, strangled and raped her. He then drove her home, the girl said. When investigators searched the girl’s phone, they reportedly found a chat in which Brown stated, 'If you try to claim rape, I will sue you for libel and press whatever criminal charges I possibly can.'"
Police also say he has a history of espousing "Nazi ideals and racist tendencies and to carry knives and a handgun," writes the Great Falls Tribune.
"Aquaman" star Amber Heard said Thursday that she has received thousands of death threats during the "agonizing" defamation trial between her and former husband Johnny Depp.
"I am harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day," the 36-year-old Heard said on the final day of witness testimony in the blockbuster trial taking place in Fairfax, Virginia, near the US capital.
Heard said she has been the target of a social media campaign by "millions" of fans of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star and that she suffers from panic attacks, nightmares and trauma.
"People want to kill me and they tell me so every day," she told the jury, tearing up at times, her voice breaking. "People want to put my baby in the microwave and they tell me that.
"I receive hundreds of death threats regularly, if not daily, thousands since this trial has started, people mocking my testimony about being assaulted," the actress said.
"It's been agonizing, painful, the most humiliating thing I've ever had to go through," she said. "I just want Johnny to leave me alone."
The six-week trial has been attended daily by fans of Depp, some of whom have queued for hours overnight to secure one of the limited places in the public gallery.
Judge Penney Azcarate threatened to expel the spectators at one point during Heard's emotional testimony on Thursday.
"If I hear one more sound, I will clear the gallery and we will continue this testimony without anybody in the courtroom," Azcarate warned. "Understood?"
Heard's testimony came a day after Depp took the stand and said it has been "unimaginably brutal" to listen to his ex-wife's "heinous" and "outlandish" accusations of domestic abuse.
"No human being is perfect, certainly not, none of us, but I have never in my life committed sexual battery, physical abuse," the 58-year-old Depp said.
Depp said he brought legal action because he needed to address "what I've been carrying on my back, reluctantly, for six years."
Heard, who was married to Depp from 2015 to 2017, obtained a restraining order against her then-husband in May 2016, citing domestic violence.
Depp, a three-time Oscar nominee, filed a libel suit in London against the British tabloid The Sun for calling him a "wife-beater." He lost that case in November 2020.
Depp brought suit against Heard in Fairfax over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018, in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse."
The Texas-born Heard did not name Depp in the piece, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and is seeking $50 million in damages.
Heard countersued, asking for $100 million and claiming she suffered "rampant physical violence and abuse."
She said Thursday her counterclaim was a bid to reclaim her voice and name.
"Johnny has taken enough of my voice," she said. "I have the right to tell my story."
Closing arguments Friday
During the trial, which began April 11, Heard testified about multiple instances of alleged physical and sexual abuse by an intoxicated Depp, including being sexually assaulted with a bottle while they were in Australia.
Depp claimed Heard was the one who was frequently violent during their relationship and once severed the tip of one of his middle fingers by throwing a vodka bottle at him.
Both sides have claimed damage to their Hollywood careers.
Heard's legal team presented an entertainment industry expert who estimated that the actress has suffered $45-50 million in lost film and TV roles and endorsements.
An industry expert hired by Depp's side said the actor has lost millions because of the abuse accusations, including a $22.5 million payday for a sixth installment of "Pirates."
Closing arguments are to take place on Friday, after which the case will go to the seven-person jury.
© 2022 AFP