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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Marianne Elliott is one of a group of groundbreaking women featured at last weekend's MUSE camp at the Caldera Arts Center in Sisters, Ore. The camp is a three-day all-female retreat which aims to inspire women and girls to change the world. A former United Nations peacekeeper, who has risked her life to monitor human rights in Gaza and Afghanistan, Elliott turned her experiences into the acclaimed book: "Zen Under Fire."
Elliott spoke to The Skanner News on Wednesday Aug 21 at Nicholas restaurant in Southeast Portland. 

TS: Is this your first visit to Oregon?
ME: I think it's my seventh. I have a strong connection to Portland because I have a lot of friends here. So I have visited the beach once, and seen some other parts of Oregon, but I have never been south so I am very excited to visit Sisters. In fact, my ex-boyfriend in Afghanistan, who is my boyfriend in the book, is from Portland.

TS: You trained as a lawyer in your home country New Zealand. So can you describe what your work was like in Afghanistan?
ME: I was there as a human rights officer with the United Nations.  You don't have to be a lawyer to do the humanitarian work I was doing, although a lot of people who do it are lawyers. It is a mix of monitoring conditions and promoting human rights. So I was looking into the justice system, at conditions in prisons, and responding to complaints of human rights violations. The promotions part of the work could be something like, meeting with the headmistress of a school to talk about child marriage and how to reduce rates of child marriage – or meeting with a chief of police to discuss the treatment of prisoners.
It's a very broad role with a lot of opportunities to identify the needs of the people and focus on those issues.

TS: How do you persuade people who believe child marriage is normal and fine, that it is not a good thing?
ME: On issues with deep cultural sensitivities, I worked with Afghan counterparts who could talk about issues from a point of view deeply embedded Afghan values and Islamic values. In fact, Afghan law prevents child marriage. But it's hard to enforce because it happens in remote areas and out of sight.
But one piece of what my Afghan counterparts would talk about is the importance of girls' education, and the value that Islam puts on education. There is evidence that if girls get education that's what helps lift the whole community.
So now what's needed is awareness raising. And in fact, here's another Portland connection: the NIKE foundation sponsors a project called the Girl Effect, which has done a lot of research on the impact of girls' education on the whole community. Sara Posada Bowers of the NIKE foundation and I worked together in Afghanistan.
So if anyone were to ask me where the money should go in Afghanistan, I would say to girls education. It is such a powerful lever for the wellbeing of the community.

TS: We've followed the story of Malala Yousafi, the girl who was shot for pursuing her education. She's from Pakistan, right next door to Afghanistan.
ME: Yes and the two countries have a lot of shared challenges and cultural traditions. What's wonderful about Malala, apart from the fact that she survived, continued her education and has the full support of her family, is how she has gone on to be an advocate for girls education.
She's been able to bring attention to this because she is such an inspiring young woman. Her suffering and her courage have brought huge attention to the issue of girls' education.

Born to Inspire: Girls at MUSE camp

TS: What are you going to talk to girls and women about at the MUSE camp?
ME: I chose as my topic, "Writing as Activism." When we see the state of the world something touches us; something moves us; it breaks our hearts. And it's essential to the integrity of our souls that we act. But what if we don't know what to do?

One of the worst feelings in the world is seeing something that really bothers us, then feeling there is nothing we can do about it. That turns into despair.
I think that raising our voices through writing is a really powerful way to act. So I'm going to give examples of how writing has had influence on policy through powerful storytelling. It could be anything from writing a letter to a politician to writing your own story. Maybe you have a story about recovering from an eating disorder. If you write about that you can help somebody else recover.
Writing down your story doesn't just help you to take action, it can be a powerful way to make change.

TS: Is there a particular writer you know you will talk about?
ME: Yes and she is a Portland writer: Meg Worden. She went to prison for selling the drug ecstasy. She is a middle-class white women and she has written about her time in prison. That took a lot of courage, especially since she is a mother. But telling her story has reached a whole lot of people who normally would think prison is for other people, not "people like us."  She was honest and brave and she has changed the way people think. So that's a beautiful example.

TS: What do you plan to do in future?
ME: I have two main passions and I plan to continue working on those. One is to promote the wellbeing of people who are doing this momentous work of protecting the human rights of vulnerable people.
My own experience was that I didn't have a strong foundation in caring for myself. The work I was doing took a toll, and it didn't just affect me, it affected my relationship and the quality of my work. So I got very interested in, 'What does it take to take care of yourself when you are doing traumatic work?' So I write about that and I do yoga.
So my strong interest is in the wellbeing of the people who are working with people experiencing a lot of trauma, as well as the people experiencing it themselves. They are living and working often in places where there is great danger.

TS: So you found yoga helped you deal with the stress of working in a war zone?
ME: Yes. Yoga was perfect for me, although it isn't perfect for everyone. I used to be a runner, but you can't run when you can't leave your compound. Other people like team sports. But again you can't do those when you are under lockdown inside a compound.
Yoga is very portable. You can do it anywhere. You can do it in a very small space. You can do it by yourself. And you can do it under security lockdown. So for me it was really helpful.
The more I did it, the more I came to understand how subtle it is and how it works on the nervous system, which is so important when you are under a lot of stress.

TS: And your second passion?
ME: My other passion is telling stories that connect people in different parts of the world. I've been working in radio, which I think is almost more powerful that video or television, because it is so intimate. You can be in your kitchen and have a woman from Afghanistan right there with you.

TS: Working as a human rights lawyer in Gaza and then as a peacekeeper in Afghanistan, you have often been the only woman in a leadership role. Have you experienced hostilities because of your gender?
ME: As I write in Zen Under Fire, I've encountered sexism in every job I've ever had – and in many aspects of my personal life. What surprises many people, though, is that most of the Afghan men who I worked with – including senior Afghan officials in the military and police – were very respectful of my role and my work and I faced very little explicit sexism from them.
The systems and structures we were working within were often inherently sexist. I had to sleep in police stations where there was no separate sleeping space or bathroom for women, for example. But the most openly hostile comments I faced because of my gender were not from Afghans, but from other international staff working for the UN or from the international military forces based in Afghanistan.

TS: The area you are working in is mostly male dominated. Was there support by your colleagues?
ME:  By and large my colleagues were very supportive, but some of them were not. In at least one instance, which I describe in Zen Under Fire, I had a colleague directly undermine me because of my gender. Sexism is prevalent in most organizations I've worked in and the United Nations is no exception.  I also saw more than one of my female Afghan colleagues was subjected to sexist slurs and harassment, so there is no question that sexism existed. At the same time, most of my male Afghan colleagues were very supportive of me and of my work.

TS: Will you go back to Afghanistan?
ME: I'd like to go back so I can keep telling those stories. But after 2014, the security situation will change. Nobody knows what it will be like. And if the Taliban come back into power, I am much less likely to go back.

Follow Marianne Elliott and read more about Zen Under Fire at her website

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