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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Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion, with more than 1.6 billion adherents worldwide, according to a Pew study released last year.

However, in the wake of extremist groups like ISIS carrying out violent acts in the name of the religion, there has been a revved up sense of fear towards Muslims locally and nationwide, including Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for a religious registry and local officials and a Dalles, Ore. city councilor’s anti-Muslim comments in November.

In response, Portland leaders have been engaged in a series of public forums focused on addressing this form of bigotry.

Earlier this month, a demonstration organized by the Center for Intercultural Organizing called “Stand for Love, Interrupt Hate,” drew hundreds to City Hall to memorialize victims of Islamophobia, homophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry.

Several speakers, one being Baher Buti, founder of the Iraq Society of Oregon addressed debates around Syrians seeking refuge in United States as their country finds itself embroiled in a bloody civil war.

“You can find Iraqi and Syrian professionals all over America,” Buti said, before claiming that since 2012 America has received less than 1 percent of refugees from Syria.

Mayor Charlie Hales, was also in attendance and offered an anecdote about students at Sunnyside Environmental School requesting to welcome Syrian families at the airport.

“They said, ‘I want to go to the airport, and greet those new families as they come to our city.’ That’s who we are,” Hales said. “When people say, ‘I’m your neighbor, I am your friend, I welcome you to my city,’ if you say that, they will feel and remember that and they will know who you are.”

According to a resolution passed by the Portland City Council in December “affirming its commitment to the Muslim community,” there are an estimated 20,000 practicing Muslims in the metro area right now.

 “There has been an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigration rhetoric in the national media, with the intended outcome of increasing patriotism and loyalty through inciting fear and hatred,” the document reads, before calling recent demands to ban Muslims from entering the country ‘unsociable.’

Recently, Dallas, Ore., city councilor Micky Garus came under fire after for comments he made on social media about three Muslim men who’d been elected to public office in Detroit.

“I agree the majority of Muslims see freedom of religion as a precious value,” Garus said in the Nov. 10 Facebook post, “but historically when Muslims gain positions of power in government, the acceptance of traditions and practices such as Sharia Law become the norm. That is a diminution of individual rights, especially for women. You only need to look as far as Germany to see examples of women being mistreated by the recent predominantly male Muslim immigrants.” The post, which has not been deleted, drew scores of comments in support of his remarks, with comments.  

Once a resident of Iraqi refugee camps, area resident, Hussein Al-Baiaty came to the United States back in the early 1990s as a child, not knowing a word of English. Today, Al-Baiaty is an entrepreneur, managing both a successful screenprinting and his own clothing line, Almaic. With “Almaic” -- a portmanteau of the words Aramaic, the language that gave birth to Arabic, and his last name -- he fuses his religion and his love of hip-hop.

Al-Baiaty’s thoughts on Islamophobia? It’s irrational.

“It is convenient for people to fear what is misunderstood,” Al-Baiaty said. “Sadly, the mainstream media is addicted to wars and protecting ‘our interests.’”

Al-Baiaty said he’s learned to pay little attention for the sake of his own peace, preferring instead to shed light on the contributions of Muslims globally through his art.

“Islam did so much for this world, and much of our society runs on these fundamentals today, yet no one realizes [this],” he said. I plan to change that through Almaic.”

Abdul Hafeedh bin’Abdullah grew up in the Christian faith, but converted to Islam later in life. Today, Abdullah works on a number of different initiatives through Multnomah County and the City of Portland -- including the Black Male Achievement program and STRYVE, all aimed at empowering youth.

Abdullah commended the city for passing its resolution, calling it “comforting.”

As an African American, he said, his experience with his faith has differed from others, even for reasons as seemingly trivial as his way of dress.

“I think Muslims [sometimes] find themselves a little more concerned about people who are bold about their dress code being more Islamic in a time when Islam is being perceived as something that is a threat to the world,” Abdullah said. “There’s lots of looks, mumblings, adverse treatment when it comes to [Muslims] all the time, but it’s a pretty unique thing because it’s primarily either because what you’re wearing, or what you say your name is. But someone can change their dress and be treated completely different.”

In terms of the real threats produced by extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, Abdullah said they represent the ideals of more Westernized thinking than they do the religion itself.

“They use various things in their culture and belief systems within their communities to justify why it’s okay to kill someone’s children also killing their children. Islam teaches differently. So the fact that those people who choose to say that it’s okay to innocently murder human beings, and murder human beings as a means of combat are literally altering the teachings of Islam, but they’re doing so in response to a condition in which their women and children are being killed.”

According to the Huffington Post, as of Dec. 16 there had been at least 73 Islamophobia-related incidents in North America since the Nov. 13 tragedy in Paris.  

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