05 24 2016
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  • On Tuesday, a judge ordered the 78-year-old Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges 
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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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By Cornell William Brooks (President and CEO of the NAACP)

When we think about the right to vote, it is and should be understood to be a civic sacrament in the temple of democracy. However, this presidential election will be the first in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act.

In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was enacted with the blood, sweat and tears of Americans from all across the country. But 50 years later, we’re still dealing with a multi-hued, multi-racial, multi-ethnic form of bias and discrimination at the ballot box.

To combat this assault on the right to vote, the NAACP has come together with more than 260 organizations – representing the labor, peace, environmental, student, racial justice, civil rights and money in politics reform movements – to stage a mass convergence this month on Washington, D.C. and call for democracy reforms.

On April 16-18, thousands of activists will mobilize in the nation’s capital for Democracy Awakening, a three-day event featuring a rally, march, teach-ins, lobbying and civil disobedience.

Democracy Awakening plans to fight back against business as usual in Washington, D.C., and demand a democracy that works for everyone. This means restoration of full voting rights, breaking the stranglehold corporations and the wealthy have on elections, and and demand Congress hold hearings and vote to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.

People all across the country, African-Americans, Latinos, students, and senior citizens feel as though the civic sacrament of the right to vote is being threatened. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s misguided Shelby County decision in 2013, which invalidated Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, millions of Americans are now denied the strong protection of their right to vote.

Since then, we have seen state legislature after state legislature engage in a Machiavellian frenzy of voter disenfranchisement.

More than 30 states have imposed voter ID laws, which on their face seem innocuous. But, when we keep in mind which American voters don’t possess these ID’s, we have reason to be alarmed.

Consider the state of Texas. Because of voter ID laws, it is estimated that between 500,000 to 700,000 eligible citizens do not possess the prerequisite I.D. – disproportionately affecting low-income citizens, African-Americans, and Latinos.

We know that voter ID laws also disproportionately disenfranchise the elderly. For example, 93-year-old Rosanell Eaton is legally challenging North Carolina’s voter ID law. She has voted for 70 years – but, because she was born at home, because her name does not match the name on the birth certificate or match the name on the voting roll, her franchise – notwithstanding the fact that she voted for 70 years – is at risk.

Students also are being put at risk. In Texas, a law essentially said, if you have an ID that allows you to carry a concealed weapon, it is deemed sufficient as civic proof of identification to vote. But a library card – an I.D. that allows you to carry a book of Shakespeare or of chemistry – is deemed an insufficient form of proof to vote.

Consider North Carolina, once the most progressive state in the country with respect to voting rights. But, in a few short years in the wake of Shelby, we saw a massive rollback in terms of that franchise. Among the measures that were curtailed or constrained: “pre-registration,” which allowed 17-year-olds who were about to turn 18 in time for a new election to register early; Sunday voting and early voting.

Instead of curtailing and restraining the right to vote, we should be expanding it. It is, once again, the time to stand up and fight for our right to vote.

The NAACP is committed to breaking down barriers to the ballot box and maximizing the vote. We don’t argue or campaign for any candidate, for any party. But, we do campaign against any threat to make any citizen less of a citizen and less of a member of this democracy.

From April 16-18, activists will call for solutions. Together, we will demand fundamental reform that makes our democracy work and enables us to tackle our great challenges. Please join us. Learn more at DemocracyAwakening.org.

 

Cornell William Brooks is the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most widely respected grassroots-based civil rights organization. In 2014, he became the 18th person to serve as chief executive of the Association, whose members in the United States and worldwide are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.

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