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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Hales with police

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales (right) stands with police following a shooting. AP photo. 

Portland’s rocky relationship with the federal counter-terrorism program the Joint Terrorism Task Force could be coming to a close on Thursday— or it could be expanding.

Two resolutions are to be considered by City Council Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.

If the Council votes to back out from the Joint Terrorism Task Force -- which pairs local law enforcement with the FBI and other federal agencies to share intelligence and data -- it would mark a historic two times they would have done so.

Dan Handelman of the police accountability group Portland Copwatch says that if there’s a “real” threat to public safety he has no problem with the bureau working with the FBI to prevent harm—his issue is with the lack of accountability presented by the Mayor not having security clearance to the program.

“The problem is our Mayor is the Police Commissioner, and it's his responsibility to be sure our officers are conducting themselves in a way that is consistent with the U.S. Constitution, Oregon law, and local policies,” Handelman told The Skanner News. “If he does not have the security clearance to oversee the daily work of these officers, we can't hold them accountable. So having more insight is not the same as having oversight. And no, it does not make us ‘safer.’”

Pre-dating the infamous attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the nearly three decade old JTTF -- meant to combat domestic and international terrorism such as bombings and mass killings -- has undergone major national expansion in recent years. To date, 74 Joint Terrorism Task Forces have been created since the Twin Towers fell, quadrupling its members to almost 4,000.

While Portland joined the JTTF in 1997, allegations of underreported and mishandled data have come from both bureaucrats and concerned citizens – including former Mayor Vera Katz, who was frustrated  by being denied security clearance, even as Hales is now. 

By 2005, City Council made its historic decision to become the first-ever city to withdraw from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, citing the need for better oversight of the city’s own police, according to an ACLU blog post from that year.

The decision comes at an interesting time, as Chief Larry O’Dea who was sworn into the position at the top of the year made promises for a more transparent and tolerant bureau. Fritz who has been on Council when they withdrew from the program and rejoined just announced she’ll be running for a third term as Commissioner, and some of the largest protests in recent history have filled all areas of the metro-area calling for an end to structural bias the lends itself to  state-sanctioned violence.

A vote against continuing the relationship would still give the Chief of Police security clearance privileges with the FBI when there is "specific knowledge of an immediate threat of harm from criminal activity here in Portland, or at another local jurisdiction which may need support from our emergency responders."

The second resolution calls for expansion of the program giving two of the 944 sworn Portland Police officers to be assigned full time to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Right now the force only works with the program on a part-time basis – whereas most cities assign fulltime officers to the JTTF.

Reports to Mayor Hales on the specifics of the program would remain largely limited under both resolutions should the Council decide to continue involvement.

The ACLU this year wrote a public letter decrying the City’s participation in the program, which is in over 100 cities nationally saying, “The only way for the Portland Police Bureau to ensure that it is complying with Oregon laws and the Constitution is to stay out of the FBI's JTTF.”

The note goes on to say, “History has taught us again and again that the federal government, including the FBI, uses invasive and unconstitutional surveillance tactics in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’ and ‘national security.’”

The Center for Intercultural Organizing, an immigrant and refugee advocacy group, is also currently encouraging Portland residents to call City Council members to vote against continuing in the program.

“The program allows the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to work with the FBI, and largely targets Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities,” the organization said in an emailed action alert to its members.

“[The Joint Terrorism Task Force] has led to profiling and spying on our community members. There has been no transparency for the community to even know what activities PPB engages in. JTTF threatens the civil liberties and civil rights of many Portland residents.”

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