05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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Cast of Straight Outta Compton

Gil L. Robertson IV is one of America’s foremost authorities on African American pop culture. As a journalist, author, lecturer and media consultant, he is responsible for literary works and intellectual properties that provide platforms for social change and personal growth.

Gil is the editor of the bestselling anthologies Family Affair: What it Means to be African American Today, and the 2006 release, Not in My Family: AIDS in the African American Community, both nominated for NAACP Image Awards in the Outstanding Non Fiction category.

He is also the author of Writing as a Tool of Empowerment, a resource book for aspiring journalists, and Where Did Our Love Go: Essays on Love & Relationships in the African American Community. And Just Us Books is set to release his first children’s book, Great African American Political Leaders.

On television, Gil has shared his expertise on topical issues on numerous networks, including CNN, HLN, MSNBC, E Entertainment, National Public Radio and "The Tavis Smiley Show." In addition, as a popular lecturer on the national circuit, he addresses issues that impact professional growth strategies and personal development.

Gil is a co-founder and President of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), as well as the founder of the Robertson Treatment’s Media Workshop, an annual journalism initiative presented at the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, Georgia and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.

A graduate of Cal State Los Angeles, Gil is the founder and editor of the nationally syndicated Arts & Lifestyle column, the Robertson Treatment which appears in 30 newspapers across the country boasting a readership in excess of 2 million. He is a professional member of the National Press Club, The National Association of Black Journalists, The National Academy of Recording Arts & Science, The National Academy of Television Arts and Science and The Motion Picture Academy.

Here, Gil talks about the 7th Annual African American Film Critics Association Awards ceremony which was held Feb. 10 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood. 

Kam Williams:  Hi Gil, thanks for the interview.

Gil Robertson: Thank you the opportunity, my AAFCA brother!

KW: Congratulations on the AAFCA Awards which has grown in stature in recent years.

GR: Thanks, Kam. Yes, this is our 7th year and, although we’re experiencing a little itch, it’s all good. We’re celebrating Straight Outta Compton and Ryan Coogler from Creed, as well as Teyonah Parris from Chi-Raq. Our Special Achievement honors are going to the terrifically talented John Singleton and Reginald Hudlin, as well as business phenoms Jeff Clanagan and Maverick Carter. It’s truly a special night!

KW: Is it safe to assume this year's ceremony will be better attended than ever, given the number of stars calling for a boycott of the Oscars after the Academy failed to nominate any Black actors or actresses for the second year in a row.

GR: Our show has always attracted an amazing array of executives and creatives from the film and TV community, as well as an impressive list of celebrity talent. We look forward to giving them a high-quality event.

KW: Isn't it very revealing that Sly Stallone was nominated in the Supporting Actor category for Creed, but its African American star, Michael B. Jordan, and director, Ryan Coogler, were both snubbed? And the only nomination garnered by Straight Outta Compton, which featured a black cast and director, was for its script which was written by four whites.

GR: Now let’s have real talk. While the Academy doesn’t blatantly promote itself as an organization for Whites only, it’s hard to see the Oscar as an award for all. That’s the big elephant in the room. You call yourself the Academy Awards and you say your awards are based solely on merit -- without consideration to race or gender -- but, historically, all the awards are going to White people. [There are] a few exceptions when a black performance was just so elevated that it couldn’t be ignored, like a few years ago when Lupita Nyong’o won for 12 Years a Slave.

KW: How long do you think it'll take for the Oscars to be more inclusive? Its president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African-American, recently announced plans to double the number of minority voters by 2020. But if blacks are about 4 percent now, that's just a 1 percent increase per year. Would that likely alter the outcome?

GR: Ms. Isaacs is putting the work in, and I’m very confident that the seeds she plants will grow. Change takes time and, as Hollywood mirrors larger American society, this process will too.

KW: Besides offering an alternative to the the Oscars, why should people attend the AAFCA Awards?

GR: The AAFCA Awards are necessary because they offer us an opportunity to celebrate ourselves. The Oscars are never going to give us the due that we feel we deserve -- and that’s okay. As a community, we must move past that and instead support the institutions that do. Black people, your support is necessary and you cannot sit out this party, if you’re serious about wanting to see some real change.

KW: Who are some of the luminaries you hope will attend?

GR: The room will be filled with luminaries, but we are really thrilled to welcome the cast of Straight Outta Compton, Ryan Coogler from Creed, Kenya Barris, the creator of Black-ish, the incredibly-lovely Teyonah Parris, plus an impressive lineup of hot young faces who represent the next wave of talent in Hollywood.

KW: I know that AAFCA operates year-round, not just during awards season. What sort of programs do you have planned for 2016?

GR: We are especially excited to see an expansion of our student boot camps to three more campuses across America. By the year’s end, AAFCA’s Boot Camp will literally extend to the four corners of America. The AAFCA Seal of Approval program continues to expand. Our seal will appear on releases from Array, Codeblack, Swirl and other studios this year. For 2016, AAFCA is going to especially ramp up our film festival partnerships. I can’t announce details yet, but look for us to create some significant and very strategic inroads with various films festivals throughout American and aboard. Over the summer, we’ll be back with Synergy in Atlanta with a special honoree to be announced shortly. And before the year is done, I am hopeful to announce a broadcast partner for 2017. We definitely have a big year in store. Please visit our website [www.AAFCA.com] and hook up with us via social media to remain connected.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Gil, and best of luck with AAFCA.

GR: Thanks, Kam.

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