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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Alyssa Pagan, second from right, leads a chant against high rents and low wages as a group of protestors sit in the doorway of the governor's office at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 in Salem, Ore. The Oregon House of Representatives on Thursday approved landmark legislation that not only raises the state's minimum wage for all workers to the highest level in the country, but does so through an unprecedented three-tiered system that sets different rates by geographic region. (Molly J. Smith/Statesman-Journal via AP)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers have approved landmark legislation that propels the state's minimum wage for all workers to the highest rank in the U.S., and does so through an unparalleled tiered system based on geography.

The measure passed the state House on Thursday and is headed to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who said in a statement she will sign it.

The move makes Oregon a trailblazer in the broader debate about minimum wage unfolding nationwide as the federal threshold remains unchanged from Great Recession levels.

Fourteen other states have raised their rates over the past two years. Another dozen or so are considering taking up the issue this year, either through legislative action or ballot initiative, as issues of wage inequality and middle-class incomes have climbed to the forefront of presidential campaigns by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton.

Oregon's plan imposes a series of gradual increases over six years. By 2022, the state's current $9.25 an hour minimum — already one of the highest in the nation — would climb to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities such as Salem and Eugene, and $12.50 in rural communities.

Those minimums dethrone Massachusetts — where the statewide rate will climb to $11 an hour next year — from the top spot, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a D.C.-based think tank that tracks wage laws across the nation.

The measure was crafted as a compromise between what unions, businesses and farmers want and as an attempt to thwart more aggressive proposals that could go before voters in November. Those two proposals call for a statewide minimum of $13.50 or $15, and would be phased in over half the time. Labor unions have not yet indicated whether they'll follow through with ballot initiatives.

Other states that have boosted statewide minimums above $10 include California and Vermont. That stands in stark contrast to more conservative states such as Idaho, which has blocked previous efforts to raise its minimum beyond the federal level, and Arizona, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would block state funding to municipalities that set a local minimum wage.

While there are varying approaches to raising the minimum wage, the three-tiered regional system is uniquely Oregon's.

States have targeted wage hikes for government employees or certain industries, as seen recently in New York for fast-food workers, while others allow local jurisdictions to set their own rates above the state threshold, prompting recent hikes in cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles.
Oregon, however, would be the first state without a one-size-fits-all statewide minimum.

"Oregon has always been at the forefront of new ideas in the country. We were the first to actually have a minimum wage," said Rep. Paul Holvey, a Democrat from Eugene. "Trust me, we're not solving all the problems, but we are making a substantial dent in it by pushing up from the bottom some wage equality ... from the huge disparity we have in incomes."

The state is deeply divided between west and east by economic, cultural and political differences. The goal of the tiered approach is to balance the needs of the more urban west — where living costs have soared in rapidly growing Portland — and struggling farming communities in the east.

Division over the minimum wage — currently at $7.25 in federal law — is also often split along party lines and pits low-wage workers against business groups, as has been seen in Oregon this year. Republicans, the minority party in the Oregon Statehouse, have opposed the increase.
Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said Thursday's vote shows Democrats don't value family agriculture.

"This enormous increase will force many family farmers to try to find ways to mechanize or transition away from labor-intensive products Oregon is known for, like apples, pears, milk and berries," Bushue said. "Unfortunately, some will give up and sell, while others will simply go out of business."

David Cooper, an economic analyst the Economic Policy Institute, said wage increases have never lead to widespread damaging effects, but he also expressed hesitation about Oregon's regional approach.

"I think any time you create these sorts of somewhat arbitrary geographic districts, that's when you can create opportunities for some sort of economic disruption," he said.

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