05 23 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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Barack Obama and veteran in Michigan

President Barack Obama greets Ramone Davis, a veteran who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and now works at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant where the President spoke, in Wayne, Mich., Jan. 7, 2015. The President mentioned Ramone during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

“Like the rest of America, Black America, in the aggregate, is better off now than it was when I came into office,” said President Obama on Dec. 19, in response to a question by Urban Radio Networks White House Correspondent April Ryan.

What planet African Americans are doing “better off” on is unknown. What is known is that President Obama is about to leave office with African Americans in their worst economic situation since Ronald Reagan. A look at every key stat as President Obama starts his sixth year in office illustrates that.

Unemployment. The average Black unemployment under President Bush was 10 percent. The average under President Obama after six years is 14 percent. Black unemployment, “has always been double” [that of Whites] but it hasn’t always been 14 percent. The administration was silent when Black unemployment hit 16 percent – a 27-year high – in late 2011.

Poverty. The percentage of Blacks in poverty in 2009 was 25 percent; it is now 27 percent. The issue of poverty is rarely mentioned by the president or any members of his cabinet. Currently, more than 45 million people – 1 in 7 Americans – live below the poverty line.

The Black/White Wealth Gap. The wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in America is at a 24-year high. A December study by PEW Research Center revealed the average White household is worth $141,900, and the average Black household is worth $11,000. From 2010 to 2013, the median income for Black households plunged 9 percent.

Income inequality. “Between 2009 and 2012 the top one percent of Americans enjoyed 95 percent of all income gains, according to research from U.C. Berkeley,” reported The Atlantic. It was the worst since 1928. As income inequality has widened during President Obama’s time in office, the president has endorsed tax policy that has widened inequality, such as the Bush Tax cuts.

Education: The high school dropout rate has improved during the Obama administration. However, currently 42 percent of Black children attend high poverty schools, compared to only 6 percent of White students. The Department of Education’s change to Parent PLUS loans requirements cost HBCU’s more than $150 million and interrupted the educations of 28,000-plus HBCU students.

SBA Loans. In March 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that only 1.7 percent of $23 billion in SBA loans went to Black-owned businesses in 2013, the lowest loan of SBA lending to Black businesses on record. During the Bush presidency, the percentage of SBA loans to Black businesses was 8 percent – more than four times the Obama rate.
President Obama continued Bush’s economic policy by deciding not to allow the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010 and agreeing to make them permanent in 2013. While he did this Black civil rights leaders said nothing. Soon after, in the president’s budget, there were cuts to community block grants and a budget increase for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. President Obama’s support of the Bush tax cuts are support for “trickle down” economics — that is, a tax break for the top 1 percent. Billionaire Warren Buffett spoke against the Bush tax cuts. There would have been $4 trillion in additional revenue had the president simply let the Bush tax cuts expire.

In 2011, when Al Sharpton told CBS’ 60 Minutes that, “Obama already said he won’t do anything for Blacks, duh,” it signaled that Black civil rights leaders would not push the first Black president hard on Black issues. Sharpton has been in the White House 61 times since 2009, probably more than any member of Congress, including leadership, over that period. With that type of access to power one has to ask: Where are the positive policy results?

The good news is that President Obama has appointed more Black people as federal judges than any other president in American history. The federal prison population has decreased and the rate of Americans without health insurance has dropped, even with Republican governors in the South blocking the Affordable Care Act.

But the president appears to be unwilling to use the full power of his office to push targeted policy to assist African Americans as he has done for Latinos, gays and lesbians, and other groups.

As he spoke on December 19, President Obama said of African Americans that, “They’re working hard… They’re out there hustling and trying to get an education, trying to send their kids to college. But they’re starting behind, oftentimes, in the race.” Obama seems to understand the historic adversity Blacks have faced yet that understanding hasn’t translated into the hard mechanics of specific policy such as funding for summer jobs, budget increases for community block grants or substantial increases for Pell Grants or programs such as GearUp.

All segments of Black America seem willing to give President Obama a pass on his failure to deliver for African Americans.

Lauren Victoria Burke is freelance writer and creator of the blog Crewof42.com, which covers African American members of Congress. She Burke appears regularly on “NewsOneNow with Roland Martin” and on WHUR FM, 900 AM WURD. She worked previously at USA Today and ABC News. She can be reached through her website, laurenvictoriaburke.com, or Twitter @Crewof42 or by e-mail at LBurke007@gmail.com.

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