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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As of Jan 1, the clock started ticking for thousands of Oregonians who could lose their food stamps.

People in Multnomah and Washington counties will be placed under a time limit: they can receive three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits once every three years.

They can continue receiving SNAP benefits if they work at least 20 hours per week and report to DHS. If they are not working or do not have a qualifying exemption, they will lose their food assistance as early as April 1, 2016.

Annie Kirschner, the program director for Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, said the new rule change will be devastating for those living in poverty.

“A lot of people will struggle and ultimately go hungry as a result of this,” Kirschner said.

The rule change will affect able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49 who live in Multnomah and Washington counties, who earn less than $935.25 per month. Kirschner said these Oregonians are often the poorest of the poor, living far below the poverty line and on the brink of homelessness.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, 82 percent of able-bodied adults without dependents receiving SNAP make less than $5,885 a year. The average income for this group is $2,200 per year, or 19 percent of the federal poverty level.

The new rules for the time limits for SNAP benefits are actually policies stemming from the Clinton-era national welfare reform law of 1996. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act implemented time limits on assistance and workfare policies intended to move people out of poverty.

Oregon was exempt from the federal rules because the state unemployment rate was higher than the national average. As the unemployment rate declined in Multnomah and Washington counties, the 1996 rules now apply.

If the unemployment levels drop in other Oregon counties, they could face similar SNAP time limits in 2017.

Kirschner said the 1996 law had the goal of creating work requirements for welfare recipients and the goal of creating job opportunities for those in poverty. She said that in the years after the law, the restrictions were created, but the jobs and training programs were not.

Participation in workforce training also allows people to keep their food stamps, but states are not required to set up these programs. In 2015 only five states offered a qualified training placement to every non-disabled childless adult: Colorado, Delaware, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Kirschner said Oregon will not be able to guarantee thousands of jobs or job training opportunities; instead those people will most likely lose their SNAP benefits.

“The infrastructure isn't there to carry through on the stated value of trying to support people living out of poverty,” she said. “Instead it really is just creating further hardship for people who are already vulnerable.”

Kirschner said post-recession Oregonians also deal with high hunger rates and rising housing costs that make these SNAP time limits particularly hard hitting.

At the end of November the Oregon Department of Human services sent out 32,000 notification letters about the time limit and work requirements. DHS estimates that 9,600 SNAP participants will need to comply or lose their benefits.

Kirschner said if a person has received a notice or is afraid of losing benefits, that person should contact DHS immediately, preferably before the time limit begins on Jan 1.

The phone number for the Multnomah County DHS is (971) 673-2422. For Washington County it is (503) 693-4769. These phone numbers will go to SNAP specialists who can help people keep benefits if they have qualifying exemptions.

These exemptions include pregnancy, disability, going to school half-time, participation in a drug treatment program, receiving unemployment and working over 20 hours a week.

The law also allows people to continue receiving benefits if they are volunteering 20 hours a week. Kirschner said the state is currently trying to set up formalized volunteer locations, but there are no placements ready right now.

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon are also reaching out to homeless providers, mental health and health care providers as well as social service agencies. They are urging them help their clients work with DHS SNAP caseworkers to maintain their benefits.

Kirschner said the whole social service community in the Portland area will be affected by the loss of SNAP benefits to the thousands of people in Multnomah and Washington counties.

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon are also encouraging Oregonians to contact their federal legislators to urge them to repeal the 1996 food stamp time limit. Kirschner said that the intent of the law was to help people out of poverty, but the results of the rule push people farther into hardship.

“It's not okay for anyone in Oregon to experience hunger,” Kirschner said. “This law needs to be changed.”

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