We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Vandal in disguise throws cake at Mona Lisa in Paris
A 36-year-old man posing as an elderly woman in a wheelchair threw a cake at the famous Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre in Paris this past week. Museum-goers heard the man exclaim in French, “Think of the Earth! There are people who are destroying the Earth!” before security officers removed him.
According to the Associated Press, “The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday that the 36-year-old man was detained following Sunday’s incident and sent to a police psychiatric unit. An investigation has been opened into the damage of cultural artifacts.” A Louvre statement confirmed the attack involved a “patisserie.”
Thankfully, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting is protected by glass and was not damaged. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Majority of Eastern Ukraine is occupied by Russia, as U.S. sanctions increase
On Thursday, the war in Ukraine reached the 100-day mark. Russia now occupies 20 percent of Ukraine. Bombing in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine has continued to intensify, as Moscow focuses their strategy on completely taking over the area which is home to Russian sympathizers.
As of Tuesday, Russia now controls most of the crucial city, Severodonetsk, which is key to Moscow’s strategy in the Donbas region. Some estimates say more than 70 percent of the city is now occupied after Ukrainian defense forces tried to fight off Russian forces street-by-street.
The United States is sending medium-range, advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, which can pinpoint enemies nearly 50 miles away, hoping that this will assist in the on-the-ground battle being fought by Ukrainians. Additionally, the United States has issued a new round of sanctions on the Russian elite and government officials close to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.
Sweden has announced to give Ukraine additional aid equal to over $100 million, including financial aid and military equipment. In late February, Sweden first sent assistance to Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian invasion, breaking its doctrine of not sending weapons to countries in active conflict for the first time since 1939.
Amid fears that the war could threaten the global food supply, in a meeting in Moscow with Martin Griffiths, the United Nations’ undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Russian officials said that grain could be exported from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea through humanitarian corridors. They promised to ensure the safe passage of these ships.
Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil, fourth-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat. U.S. Intelligence had previously found that Russian troops were blocking the ports, thus halting the export of these crucial goods. Russian officials have claimed that the United States and other western countries that have imposed sanctions are the ones responsible for a global food crisis. —Gabriella Patti
Verdict is reached in Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation suit
In the defamation suit Johnny Depp filed against his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, jurors came to a verdict Wednesday. After 13 hours of deliberation, the jury found that Heard had defamed Depp in her 2018 opinion piece published in the Washington Post, entitled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
Heard was present for the verdict, and Depp was not, as the jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages in his defamation suit. The judge subsequently reduced the punitive damages to $350,000, Virginia’s legal limit.
Heard had countersued for $100 million and claimed that she only ever acted in self-defense. The jury found Depp guilty of defaming Heard on one count, awarding her $2 million in compensatory damages but $0 in punitive damages.
Clips from the celebrity suit became viral social-media fodder in the weeks preceding the verdict, highlighting Depp and his lawyer Camilla Vasquez in a positive light, alongside numerous clips mocking Heard.
After the verdict, Depp posted on social media saying, “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome.” He said, “six years later, the jury gave me my life back.”
Heard also posted a social-media response, saying, "The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband. I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously." —GP
Supreme Court blocks Texas ‘anti-censorship’ law
On Tuesday, the U.S Supreme Court ruled to suspend a Texas law that banned online platforms from restricting user posts based on their political views. The court voted 5-4, after social media companies argued that the law violates their freedom of speech rights. The Supreme Court decision temporarily blocks the law from taking effect after an appeals court decision that allowed the law.
Supporters of the law, known as HB20, expressed that they thought it was necessary to fight social media companies’ liberal bias.
In September, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill and said that social media are “our modern-day public square…There is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.” —GP
10-year-old Uvalde victim posthumously awarded one of Girl Scout’s highest honors
Fourth-grader Amerie Jo Garza, who was killed in her elementary school classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, was posthumously honored with the Bronze Cross, which is awarded "for saving or attempting to save life at the risk of the Girl Scout's own life."
10-year-old Garza spent her last moments reassuring her best friend that everything would be ok, and she had pulled out her phone to dial 911 when the gunman shot her. She was one of 19 children who died.
“On May 24, 2022, Amerie did all she could to save the lives of her classmates and teachers and gave her life attempting to protect those around her,” Girl Scouts chief executive Sofia Chang wrote to Garza’s family. “Through her willingness to take decisive action in the midst of this devastating emergency, Amerie serves as a true example of leadership in action.”
Garza had joined the Scouts in December 2021, but according to the Washington Post, she was already known for living out the Girl Scout’s pledge “to help people at all times.” Garza was known to look after her toddler brother, she defended her classmates against bullies, and in 2021 she was awarded the school’s Heart of Gold award.
On Tuesday, Garva was the first of the 19 children to be buried and memorialized by the community. Garza loved the color purple and playdough, and her friend’s mom described her as a "beautiful soul" who "touched everyone's hearts around her” and “lit up every room she walked into.” —GP
Good News of the Week
Fourteen-year-old Angel Growns has spent many years of her life hospitalized due to the health condition Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency and Sacral Agenesis. After spending time in a hospital in which her window stared directly at a luxury hotel, she began to dream of one day staying there.
Angel’s dream became reality with Make A Wish UK sponsored her and her family to a two-night stay at The Shard building’s Shangri-La hotel. “The room was decorated with balloons, flowers, and edible decorations. Angel and her family were told to ‘go mad’ on room service, with the chef even arranging a special selection of Angel’s favourite food and drink,” reports Kent Online news.
“It’s a once in a lifetime thing and it will be a memory she will cherish forever,” her mom said. “We all will.” —MRS
Watch of the Week
This week, President Zelenskyy shared a video to mark 100 days of defending Ukraine.