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US and Europe push for investigation into COVID origins

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COVID ORIGINS

A leaked document shows the US and European Union are calling for a renewed push into the origins of COVID-19

The US and several European countries have called on China to be more transparent about the origins of COVID-19.

The document says: “we call for progress on a transparent, evidence-based, and expert-led WHO study on the origins of COVID-19, that is free from interference.”

The World Health Organisation released a report earlier this year saying the origins of the virus are most likely “natural”. However, it also called for further studies.

President Biden also called for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus last month.

The origins of the coronavirus still remain unclear. Speculation continues to grow around whether the virus was transmitted by an animal or leaked from a lab in Wuhan.

Experts warn of pandemic disaster unless we understand COVID origin

This comes after US infectious disease experts including Scott Gottlieb from Pfizer Inc said we could face ‘COVID-26’ or ‘COVID-32’ if we don’t understand the origins of the virus.

“There’s going to be Covid-26 and Covid-32 unless we fully understand the origins of Covid-19,” says Peter Hotez from the Texas hospital centre for vaccine development.

He says a team should study the virus’ origins in the Hubei province for six months to a year. He added the team should include scientists, epidemiologists, virologists and bat ecologists.

However, Chinese officials say the inquiry is evidence of “stigmatisation, political manipulation and blame-shifting”

William is an Executive News Producer at TICKER NEWS, responsible for the production and direction of news bulletins. William is also the presenter of the hourly Weather + Climate segment. With qualifications in Journalism and Law (LLB), William previously worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) before moving to TICKER NEWS. He was also an intern at the Seven Network's 'Sunrise'. A creative-minded individual, William has a passion for broadcast journalism and reporting on global politics and international affairs.

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Treason charges for Windsor Castle intruder

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An intruder who carried a crossbow into the grounds of Windsor Castle on Christmas Day 2021 has been charged under the UK’s Treason Act

20 year old Jaswant Singh Chail was charged under the 1842 Treason Act.

He is accused of ‘wilfully producing a loaded crossbow with intent’ to harm the Queen.

THE QUEEN DELIVERING HER 2021 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

Police say he was stopped within moments of entering the grounds of Windsor Castle on Christmas morning 2021, and did not enter any buildings.

The Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle that Christmas, instead of her usual Christmas stay at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

Under the Treason Act of 1842, people are prohibited from “discharging or aiming firearms, or throwing or using any offensive matter or weapon, with the intent to injure or alarm her Majesty”.

Mr Chail will appear before Westminster Magistrate’s Court on August 17.

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Officer dubbed a ‘hero’ after killing Texas school shooter

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18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos was reportedly shot and killed at Robb Elementary in Texas by the unidentified policeman

The border patrol agent was reportedly working nearby the area when Ramos opened fire at the school in Uvalde, Texas. 

Before the officer stopped him, Ramos murdered 19 students and two teachers while wounding many others on Tuesday. 

Without waiting for backup the ‘hero’ policeman allegedly rushed to the scene when the shooting was reported. 

Police say the gunman barricaded himself inside a classroom shooting anyone that got in his way.

The officer was allegedly wounded during the confrontation but was able to leave the school without sustaining further harm. 

He was reportedly part of an elite tactical unit. 

Authorities say Ramos shot his grandmother then drove and crashed his vehicle in a ditch near the school before going on the rampage.

Tuesday’s massacre was America’s worst elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012.

VictimsFirst network has pledged to donate the Texas Elementary School Shooting Victims Fund directly to the victims’ families, “with no strings attached.”

Danaya Malenda contributed to this report.

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Witnesses testify to Depp’s ‘drug problems’ in defamation suit

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Day 19: Amber Heard’s witnesses testify at trial about Johnny Depp’s drug and alcohol use

Heard’s ex-best friend, former agent, and former business manager, as well as her former attorney, provide an account of Depp’s ‘erratic behaviour’ in court on Thursday.

Ellen Barkin who had a sexual relationship with the actor in 1994 also testified that he was a jealous man who was “controlling” as well as “angry and demanding”.

A former long-time close friend testifies

Bruce Witkin was the first witness to be called on Thursday for Heard’s defence.

Witkin was Depp’s former long-time friend from 1982 and ‘best friend’ by 2018.

When recalling what ended their friendship Witkin says he wasn’t sure, except that he received a text from Depp saying Witkin had “stabbed him in the back.”

Witkin also says that during their friendship he observed Depp abusing substances and recommended Depp get sober, which he did on a few occasions.

However, Witkin alleged that during his sobriety from opiates the star continued using other substances.

Witkin testified saying, “it just seemed weird to me there was weed and wine in soberness.”

He also spoke of his surprise when he saw his friend begin using cocaine for the first time in 2014, and then again in 2016.

“In my experience, it’s deep-rooted issues he’s dealing with,” says Witkin.

“It had nothing to do with Amber, in my opinion.”

Former agent

Depp’s former agent Tracey Jacobs who helped him to become ‘the biggest star in the world’ appeared via a video link in the star’s multi-million dollar defamation suit against his ex-wife.

Testifying about the difficulties of representing the actor for roughly 30 years and her experience of his problematic behaviour during the last decade of their professional relationship.

Jacobs told the court that Depp displayed “unprofessional” conduct on sets which included being unprepared and escalating anger issues due to increased alcohol and drug use.

“Showing up late to set consistently on virtually every movie,” says Jacobs.

“I would get yelled at. I never said to him, ‘you’re a difficult client,’ but I was very honest with him and said, ‘you’ve got to stop doing this, this is hurting you.’ And it did.”

Jacobs testifying about Depp’s fall from grace says the actor’s “star had dimmed” due to his bad reputation.

On the topic of Depp ending their professional collaboration in 2016 Jacobs says, “all I know is he essentially terminated everyone in his life, and I was along for the ride, I guess”.

Former business manager

Depp’s former business manager Joel Mandel who met the actor around 1999 and worked with him until 2016, testified that he saw the actor’s behaviour become ‘erratic’.

In addition to displaying “disproportionate” reactions to things, Mandel also attested to Depp’s income and spending during the time they worked together.

He describes the star’s lifestyle as having changed when he rose to fame, saying the increase in income was followed by increased spending to maintain the new lifestyle.

Mandel says that there came a point where Depp’s income could no longer support his lifestyle, requesting that the business manager make severe cutbacks.

As a result, Mandel says he was unable to pay the actor’s taxes in October 2015.

“His financial circumstances in 2015 had reached a point where I was extremely concerned and was on a very regular basis expressing that concern,” says Mandel.

However, he says that his concerns about the dire circumstances were not met favourably by the star as he fired him.

Defamation lawsuit continues in court

In 2018, Depp sued Heard for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post, in which she described surviving domestic violence — without mentioning her ex-husband by name.

Heard filed a counter-suit against the actor for $100 million in 2020, which is ongoing and nearing its end with testimony expected to end next week and closing arguments set for Friday, May 27.

Danaya Malenda contributed to this report.

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