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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There is a new Black student success plan being created by the Oregon Department of Education, community based organizations, teachers and parents.

The landmark plan focuses on closing the achievement gap for African American students -- and most importantly, it is funded. Around $ 3 million will be used to plan and fund grants for Black student success initiatives.

Markisha Smith, an education equity program specialist with the Oregon Department of Education said this endeavor is a way to bring together the extensive community knowledge of Black students’ needs with institutional funding.

“We know works well… we know what works for our kids and it’s a matter of putting resources behind that and believing that the traditional way in which we do things is not necessarily the only way that we can do things,” Smith said.

The plan and funding come from the Oregon State legislature House Bill 2016 which was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown on July 1, 2015.

It was signed amidst a tense national conversation about race as South Carolina debated the removal of the Confederate flag after the horrific Charleston church shooting committed by Dylann Roof.

The bill directs the Oregon Department of Education to create and implement a statewide education plan for Black students. To this end, ODE has created a Black student success plan advisory group and has hired Education Program Specialist Kendra Hughes to coordinate these efforts.

Smith said the advisory group is consists of a mix of individuals who are dedicated to education; from Pre-K through higher Ed. Advisory group members include community advocates Ron Herndon from Albina Head Start, Tony Hopson with Self Enhancement, Inc., Nkenge Harmon Johnson of the Urban League of Portland and Charles McGee from the Black Parent Initiative.

Smith said the advisory group has a wealth of insight from working for Black students for many years.

“We've got good folks behind this who are really driving the conversation and making those key recommendations,” Smith said. “They are doing that based on research, based on experience; I think that is a game-changer.”

A full list of advisory group members can be found here.

The advisory group has been meeting about once a month since October 2015. In April the group will deliver the plan to the legislature and begin the grant proposal process. There will be a request for proposals from education and community based organizations.

Smith said after the grants have been approved the funding will be available for some summer activities and programs that will start in the fall 2016 school year.

Right now, the $ 3 million investment is for one year of funding. Smith said the group will be looking to fund programs that are evidence-based and results oriented. The funding provides an opportunity to prove to the legislature that backing black education can close the achievement gap.

If the 2016 school year shows good results, the advisory group can make the case for continued investment in black student success.

Ron Herndon, who is a part of the advisory group, said there are a lot of knowledgeable people making recommendations and he believes the end product will be good, but he is concerned the plan wouldn’t be enacted.

“The big question is ‘What happens with the work when the committee is finished?’, there have been studies done for the last 200 years regarding the condition of Black people in this country and most of them end up gathering dust on someone's shelf,” Herndon said. “If you took all these reports and stacked them up, it would be higher than the Empire State Building.”

Herndon would like to see close monitoring of the implementation of the plan and to see results that change local and state policies.

The group will use Oregon Department of Education data to track progress. They will look at things like graduation rates, absenteeism, attendance and disproportionate discipline. They will also look further into culturally responsive curriculum and teaching practices as well as investing in early learning programs.

Smith said House Bill 2016 goes beyond legislative equity policy that gives only a mention to the needs of the underserved, instead of planning and financing to change the outcomes. She calls this investment and prioritization of Black students in Oregon a “historic moment”.

“It is … specifically calling out what needs to happen for African American and Black Students in the state to be successful --  and ways in which we can go about that -- and ways in which we can invest in that,” Smith said.

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