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U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak to increase train frequencies as demand returns



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Amtrak train is parked at the platform inside New York’s Penn Station, the nation’s busiest train hub, which will be closing tracks for repairs causing massive disruptions to commuters in New York City, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak said Monday it is boosting train service ahead of an expected busy summer travel season and as rail demand returns.

Amtrak said it planned to operate about 80% of pre-pandemic level Northeast Regional train departures that serve the Boston to Washington corridor. It will also boost the number of its higher-speed Acela trains that cater to business travelers along the same route and is adding trains to other routes.

Sports & General

Amber Heard says she feared she would not survive Johnny Depp marriage




© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Actor Johnny Depp reacts as he leaves for a recess during a defamation trial against his ex-wife, actor Amber Heard, at Fairfax County Circuit Court, in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S., May 5, 2022. Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via REUTERS


By Lisa Richwine

(Reuters) -“Aquaman” actor Amber Heard told jurors in a defamation case on Monday that she filed for divorce from Johnny Depp in 2016 because she worried she would not survive physical abuse by him.

Under questioning by her attorneys, Heard said she took the step after the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star threw a cellphone that hit her in the face. The incident made her realize the marriage was “falling apart” despite her attempts to repair it, she said.

“I knew I had to leave him,” she said. “I knew I wouldn’t survive it if I didn’t.

“I made the decision to file for divorce,” she added. “It was hard because I loved Johnny so much.”

Jurors were shown photos of Heard with redness and swelling on her face that she said was caused by being struck by the phone.

At this point in their marriage, “the violence was now normal and not the exception,” Heard said.

In earlier testimony, Depp said he never hit Heard or any woman and argued that she was the abuser in their relationship.

Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Heard has countersued for $100 million, arguing that Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.

The pair wed in February 2015 and their divorce was finalized about two years later.

Heard said Depp hurled the phone at her during an argument in May 2016 at a Los Angeles penthouse that he owned. The episode is one of several that Heard has described in which she said Depp assaulted her.

In his testimony, Depp said Heard was the violent one and in early 2015 threw a vodka bottle that cut off the top of his right middle finger.

Heard denied severing Depp’s finger and said she only hit him to defend herself or her sister.

She also denied Depp’s allegation that she had left feces in a bed at one of his homes following a fight on her birthday. A security guard had testified that Heard told him the feces were a “horrible practical joke.”

Heard said she did not commit any prank that day, adding that she was “not in a pranking mood.”

“I had just been attacked on my 30th birthday by my husband, with whom I was desperately in love and knew I needed to leave,” she said.

The legal case hinges on a December 2018 opinion piece by Heard that appeared in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear Heard was referencing him. The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2017.

Depp, once among Hollywood’s biggest stars, said Heard’s allegations cost him “everything.” A new “Pirates” movie was put on hold, and Depp was replaced in the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise, a “Harry Potter” spinoff.

Heard’s attorneys have argued that she told the truth and that her opinion was protected free speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a libel case against the Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife beater.” A London High Court judge ruled that he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp’s lawyers filed the case in Fairfax County, Virginia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant.

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Sports & General

‘Rust’ producer says movie will be completed – Hollywood Reporter



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The film set of “Rust”, where Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer and wounded a director when he discharged a prop gun, is seen from a distance, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt/File

(Reuters) – A producer of the movie “Rust,” whose set saw the fatal accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last year, said the movie will be completed, the Hollywood Reporter reported on Monday.

Hutchins was killed in October when a revolver that actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with during filming in New Mexico fired a live round that hit her and movie director Joel Souza. Souza was wounded but survived.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to complete the movie,” Anjul Nigam, one of the producers, was quoted as saying by Hollywood Reporter.

A representative of Nigam did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, the state of New Mexico fined Rust Movie Productions the maximum amount possible, $137,000, for what it called “willful” safety lapses leading to Hutchins’ death. The company said it disagreed with the findings.

Baldwin, also a producer on the film, has been named in several lawsuits filed in connection with Hutchins’ death, including one by her husband.

Baldwin, 64, has denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death and said live rounds should never have been allowed onto the set of the Western film at Bonanza Creek (NYSE:BCEI) Ranch.

The actor also has argued in court papers that an indemnification clause in his contract shields him from personal liability.

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Sports & General

New Mexico wildfire now ranks as largest in state history



© Reuters. A satellite image shows a natural color view of active fire lines from the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires, near Las Vegas, New Mexico, U.S., May 11, 2022. Picture taken May 11, 2022. Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

By Andrew Hay

TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) – A wildfire burning for 40 days in New Mexico on Monday became the largest in the Southwestern state’s recorded history as it forced the evacuation of a small ski resort and villages in drought-hit mountains east of Santa Fe.

Driven by relentless winds, the blaze has torched an area approaching the size of Los Angeles, destroying hundreds of homes and other properties in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Residents of the Sipapu ski resort and communities around 13 miles (21 km) south of Taos received evacuation alerts over their cellphones late on Sunday as the blaze pushed into the Pecos Wilderness.

The so-called Hermits Peak Calf Canyon fire has torched 298,060 acres (121,000 hectares), surpassing the previous largest fire, the Whitewater Baldy blaze in 2012. It was 27% contained, the Santa Fe National Forest reported.

The 45-mile-long (72-km long) conflagration began on April 6 when the U.S. Forest Service failed to contain a so-called controlled burn designed to prevent larger wildfires. That blaze then merged with another, the cause of which is under investigation.

The fire has destroyed watersheds and forests used for centuries by Indo-Hispano farming villages for building material, firewood and irrigation.

Smoke clogged the plaza of Santa Fe as the fire burned within 20 miles (32 km) of the city of 84,000, a major tourist destination, triggering evacuations in other mountain communities on Sunday.

Flames have raced through forests packed with fuel after a century of fire suppression and logging bans since the 1990s, according to biologists.

Climate change has lowered snowpack and dried out forests, while a 25-year-drought has made trees susceptible to die-off from disease and pests, they say.

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