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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By Charlene Crowell NNPA News Wire Columnist

Although the former Corinthian Colleges, once one of the nation’s largest for-profit colleges, closed its doors last year, many of the problems incurred by its former students persist. The now-defunct college is the only questionable actor among for-profit colleges.

To date, investigations, and lawsuits have focused on a growing list of other for-profit schools and colleges including but not limited to Computer Systems Institutes, DeVry University, ITT Tech, Marinello Schools of Beauty and Trump University.

With tuition costs higher than many public colleges and universities, many for-profit college students are financially forced to take on private student loan debt at interest rates that exceed those of federal student loans. Others are advised to add related charges to credit card accounts.

One of the worst financial abuses perpetrated are against the men and women who sought to successfully transition from military to civilian life. Many veterans enrolled and even graduated from for-profit institutions, like Corinthian, but now find there are three strikes against them: the promised better careers and high earnings never materialized, and thirdly, educational benefits that underwrote a portion of the so-called educational cost have now been suspended.

In response, eight state Attorneys General have challenged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to “restore the educational and vocational rehabilitation benefits that thousands of veterans are deprived of due to misleading advertising, or enrollment practices of predatory institutions, such as Corinthian Colleges, Inc.” These Attorneys General (AGs) represent the states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

“Most of the student relief flowing from enforcement actions against predatory educational institutions has, however, pertained to student loans – not the hard-earned benefits of our nation’s veterans,” wrote the AGs.

Two taxpayer funded programs, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program are at the heart of the AGs’ concerns. G.I. Bill benefits, funded by Title IV federal student aid, provide up to $21,084 per year for tuition; additional funding covers housing, books and supplies. VR&E benefits are awarded for service-related disabilities that can include job training and education, workplace accommodations and career coaching.

Legally, for-profit colleges may receive up to 90 percent of their annual revenues from Title IV. VR&E assistance is not included as part of Title IV. If both Title IV funds – which also include Pell Grants — are combined with VR&E benefits, taxpayers are almost completely funding for-profit enterprises.

“[T]he VA’s decision to provide funds to Corinthian for student veterans’ attendance at these programs should be deemed an administrative error,” said the AGs. “This administrative error deprived student veterans of their right to use their benefits at an institution that was free of erroneous, deceptive, and misleading advertising, sales, and enrollment practices.”

For the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the apparent lack of actual benefits derived from enrollment at DeVry are at the heart of a lawsuit filed in late January. Its complaint charges that one of DeVry’s key claims was deceptive — that its graduates had 15 percent higher incomes one year following graduation.

FTC also cited how DeVry promised that its graduates would find jobs in their fields of study and would earn more than those graduating with bachelor’s degrees from other colleges or universities. In most cases, these promises never materialized.

On March 10, according to FTC, DeVry filed a motion to have the case dismissed. On May 2, a hearing will be held to hear oral arguments from both sides.

“Millions of Americans look to higher education for training that will lead to meaningful employment and good pay,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “Educational institutions like DeVry owe prospective students the truth about their graduates’ success finding employment in their field of study and the income they can earn.”

In at least one case, ‘university’ was used in the name of a for-profit enterprise even though it lacked a required state charter to do so.

According to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, between 2005 and 2011, Trump University operated as an unlicensed educational institute that promised to teach real estate investment techniques. The office’s investigation revealed that participating consumers paid up to $1,495 for a three-day seminar. While in attendance, they did not receive the real estate training promised but were encouraged to sign-up for programs ranging in costs from $10,000 to $35,000.

In 2005, the New York State Education Department advised the enterprise of its state law violation. The enterprise’s name was not changed until 2010. Through it all, it never received a license to operate in the state.

“More than 5,000 people across the country who paid Donald Trump $40 million to teach them his hard sell tactics got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch,” said AG Schneiderman.

The pending lawsuit filed in Manhattan’s New York Supreme Court, seeks full restitution for consumers defrauded of more than $40 million.
A separate but similar 2010 cased filed in San Diego filed against Trump University is a second class-action lawsuit, and is scheduled for a May 6 pretrial hearing.

As for the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, recent news accounts reveal how the purchaser of the former colleges, nonprofit Zenith Education Group, has failed to correct many of the problem students continue to face. While ownership may have changed and enrollment dropped, other issues like allegations of fraud and mismanagement by the same people who worked under Corinthian persist.

In response the Department of Education confirmed to Associated Press on March 15 that the law firm hired to monitor the college turnaround was fired and further that a replacement will be hired.

Last fall the Center for Responsible Lending released research that found how high-cost, for-profit colleges make millions each year by targeting students of color. As students of color enroll more often at for-profit colleges, they are also disproportionately harmed.

The quest for financial justice continues....

Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

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