Need to know: Here are the top 5 national news stories from the busy day of June 30, 2021.
1. Bill Cosby Released From Prison
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction, and the comedian and actor have now been released from prison. He is currently back at his home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
Bill Cosby, who was once a household name, was sentenced in 2018 to 3 to 10 years for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. This sentencing also came after a total of 60 women came out revealing they had been assaulted by Cosby.
Cosby, now 83, sentencing came at a time during the #MeToo movement where women were standing up against men in the workplace who sexually assaulted them. The movement took full force when women came out against famous and powerful men.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ground for releasing him from prison comes after findings that Cosby was denied protection from self-incrimination.
Today the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Cosby’s prosecution should have never happened due to a deal he made with former prosecutor Bruce Castor. Castor previously agreed not to criminally prosecute Cosby if he agreed to give a deposition for the sexual assault case.
During Cosby’s deposition, Kevin Steel, the newly elected DA, used the actor’s incriminating statements to charge him in 2015.
Montgomery County DA Kevin Steel stated, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the release of William H. Cosby Jr from state prison. He was found guilty by a jury, and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime. I want to commend Cosby’s victim Andrea Constand for her bravery in coming forward and remaining steadfast throughout this long ordeal, as well as all the other women who have shared similar experiences.”
He added, “My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assault by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever, and to whomever, it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law, including those who are rich, famous, and powerful.”
Gloria Allred, the attorney who represented many of the women who came out against Cosby stated, “My heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified in both of his criminal cases.”
Allred added that despite the court’s ruling, “It did not vindicate Bill Cosby’s conduct and should not be interpreted as a statement or a finding that he did not engage in the acts of which he has been accused.”
The actor from the hit show the Cosby Show, who was once referred to as America’s Dad, served more than 2 years of the initial sentencing.
Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court stated they cannot retry Cosby again on those same charges. Cosby has maintained his innocence throughout the years.
Bill Cosby’s team spoke briefly with the press saying, “What we saw today was justice for all Americans. Mr. Cosby’s conviction being overturned is for the world, that all Americans who have been treated unfairly by the judicial system, and some bad officers, because all officers are not bad. So we want to thank this entire team we want to thank Mr. Cosby, the families. I want to thank my family, and just thank you all for those who decided to tell the truth, and allow us to tell the truth.” Bill Cosby, who made an appearance, did not actually speak himself.
On Twitter Cosby wrote, “I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.”
As for Andrea Constand, she and her attorneys are reviewing the court’s decision.
2. House Votes To Create Select Committee To Investigate Capitol Riot
On Wednesday, the House voted to create a January 6 select committee to investigate the attack on the Capitol from earlier this year.
The House voted 222-190 to create the committee. This vote comes just weeks after the Senate blocked a bipartisan committee to investigate the attack in January. Just last week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the select committee.
Only two Republicans, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger voted with Democrats.
“The attack on January 6th was an unprecedented assault on Congress and the functioning of our democratic process. That day, almost all of us recognized immediately the gravity of what had occurred,” said Cheney in a newly released statement. She added “Since January 6th, the courage of my party’s leaders has faded. But the threat to our Republic has not.”
Republicans who were in opposition of the committee have argued that the committee will be a partisan effort that will be used to come after former President Trump.
This new select committee will be made up of 13 House members. House Speaker Pelosi will appoint eight members, and House Minority Leader Mccarthy will appoint the five other members.
The purpose of the committee will be to investigate security failures from January 6, and what events led up to the attack.
3. Death Toll Rises
Now on day 7 after the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, the death toll has tragically risen to 16, still with 147 individuals left unaccounted for.
Search and rescue teams are still on the ground working hard to find the over 100 unaccounted for individuals.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are set to travel to Surfside, Florida to meet with families going through this difficult time, and also meeting with search and rescue teams for their hard work.
Weeks before the condo collapsed, town officials warned the Champlain Towers South Condo that changes need to be made to the property. In a courtesy notice issued on May 26, 2021, Surfside town officials stated that an exit light was missing on floor II, a gate by the pool did not close properly, the pavers where the gazebo was located needed to be replaced, and the hedges on the property needed to be trimmed for emergency vehicles.
The town officials had asked that the condo complies with those requests to fix these issues by June 25, 2021.
As search and rescue continue to work, there has been a memorial set up around the site to honor the lives lost in this tragic incident. Over $1 million has been raised in support of those affected by the collapse.
4. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Has Died
On Wednesday, the family of former Defense Secretary Donal Rumsfeld announced that he had died. Rumsfeld died at the age of 88.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather,” announced the family in a statement Wednesday.
Rumsfeld served as the Defense Secretary for Gerald Ford and for George W. Bush. He is best known for his action after the tragic 9/11 attacks in 2001. The Defense Secretary led the Pentagon in its attacks on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld died surrounded by family in Taos, New Mexico. “History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends, and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country,” said his family.
5. WHO Mask Recommendations
The Delta variant is continuing to spread in the United States, as it now makes up more than 20% of Covid cases in the nation. This new variant is now opening the conversation that Americans might need to put the masks back on.
After the recent rise of Delta variant cases in Los Angeles, LA County officials have encouraged residents, vaccinated or unvaccinated, to wear a mask indoors. Yesterday the World Health Organization also came out announcing their recommendations for even fully vaccinated people to wear a mask indoors to protect themselves from the extremely transmissible delta variant.
However, some Americans might become confused due to conflicting statements. Today, CDC director Dr. Walensky stated that people who are fully vaccinated are “safe” from all variants, including the Delta variant, and do not need to wear a mask.
Dr. Lewisnky made clear that the WHO made that statement because they are looking at the world stage, where everyone is not as vaccinated as here in the U.S.
Despite Dr. Walensky’s reassurance, many doctors have come out saying that this rise in Delta cases could cause a surge in the upcoming fall season.
Today, Surgeon General Murthy stressed that when it comes to the delta variant, those individuals who are not vaccinated are “in trouble.”
Health officials still continue to urge all Americans to get vaccinated to protect themselves and help stop the spread.