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Judge dismisses Pennsylvania woman's lawsuit against Bill Cosby

A U.S. federal judge on Thursday dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by a Pennsylvania woman against Bill Cosby, which contended the comedian smeared her character when he accused her of lying in claiming he had sexually assaulted her in the 1980s.Renita Hill, 48, had claimed she was defamed her when the comedian and his representatives called her a liar and extortionist as he defended himself after she went public in 2014 with allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct.Hill, a Pittsburgh resident, sued in October over three comments made by Cosby and his representatives. The three statements in question "do not support a claim for defamation as defined by Pennsylvania law," U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab said in his dismissal ruling, court documents showed.Hill's attorneys have said Cosby mentored her when she was a young woman, and paid for her education at Temple University and Spelman College. They said he also arranged meetings in Atlantic City, New York and Denver, where he sexually assaulted her. Hill's first public accusation of sexual assault came in a 2014 interview with a Pittsburgh TV station. Her lawsuit concerned statements Cosby and his representatives made in response to that interview. Schwab said the remarks were protected under free speech rights, and that Hill did not prove the comments harmed her. More than 50 women have come forward to accuse Cosby, 78, of sexual assault. The allegations date back as far as the 1960s, making most of them too old for criminal prosecution. Hill and several other women have sued Cosby.Cosby's attorneys welcomed the judge's decision in a statement and said they hoped it would influence the outcome of other pending lawsuits. "The Court found opinionated speech by a defendant's attorney is protected and not actionable as defamatory," the attorneys said. "It is our hope that courts in other jurisdictions with similar matters will respond in like manner."The drumbeat of accusations has toppled Cosby from his cultural status as one of America's most-admired comedians. He built his career on family-friendly humor and was best known as the loving but often befuddled father in the 1980s television hit, "The Cosby Show."The only criminal charges against Cosby were filed last month, over the alleged sexual assault of Andrea Constand in 2004.Cosby, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, is free on $1 million bail. His lawyer has said he is not guilty and will not consider a plea bargain. (Editing by Scott Malone, Frances Kerry and David Gregorio)

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Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Durant puts free agency talk on back burner to sink Magic

Kevin Durant turned the conversation back to the court and away from his impending free agency with a final-second jump shot that lifted the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 117-114 victory over Orlando Magic on Wednesday. With daily reports focusing on Durant's possible departure from Oklahoma City following this season, the All-Star forward provided a timely reminder that his loyalty at this moment remains with the Thunder. Oklahoma City and Orlando were locked at 114-114 when Durant pulled off a nifty cross-over dribble and fired a three-pointer that found the bottom of the basket with less than a second remaining. Prior to fending off Magic defenders, Durant had spent much of his time shaking off questions about potential new suitors. "It's out of my control. Guys are going to write stories about what they want to write about (and where I could go)," Durant told reporters prior to scoring 37 points in Wednesday's game. "(The free agency talk) is ramped up a bit. I just try to stay locked in to where I am." Durant, 27, has spent his entire career with the Thunder franchise dating back to their days in Seattle before they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. But after failing to win an NBA title alongside running mate Russell Westbrook, speculation has mounted that Durant could ply his trade elsewhere and there are no shortage of rumored suitors for the four-time league scoring champion. He has been linked to the Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, and most recently, the defending champion Golden State Warriors, in various stories swirling around him. "It's just a part of this (free agency) process," Durant said. "When the time comes we'll talk about it. Right now I'm 100 percent locked in to helping (the Thunder) be the best we can be." (Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)

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Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Five works from Gurlitt art trove were looted by Nazis, task force finds

BERLIN A task force set up by the German government to determine the ownership history of more than 1,500 art works discovered in 2012 has found that only five were wrongfully taken from Jews, drawing criticism from Jewish groups.German tax inspectors discovered the art collection, which included works by Matisse and Picasso, during a raid on the Munich home of Cornelius Gurlitt. Hi father, an art dealer, had sold what Hitler dismissed as "degenerate" art.After two years of research, the head of the task force, Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, presented the final report on Thursday.She said that only five pieces had been confirmed as stolen Nazi art, although 499 were determined to have a questionable history. Of the five, four were returned to heirs of their owners, including Max Liebermann's "Two Riders on a Beach" and Henri Matisse's "Seated Woman".The announcement drew sharp criticism from Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. He issued a statement on Thursday calling the results "meager and not satisfactory". Lauder said he "expected Germany to do better, given that time is running out", and accused the task force of poor management of its work.Jewish groups have been pressing the German government to move quickly, since many of the heirs of the Nazi victims are advanced in age. Accused of carrying out her work without sufficient transparency, Berggreen-Merkel said a dispute over the validity of the will of Gurlitt, who died in May 2014 at the age of 81, had made it difficult for the task force to be more forthcoming.In the will, Gurlitt designated the Bern Art Museum in Switzerland as sole heir to his collection. A cousin is challenging that claim, arguing that Gurlitt wasn't in good psychological health when he wrote his will. A court decision on the validity of the will is due in February. Culture Minister Monika Gruetters has announced Germany is setting up a Lost Art Foundation in the eastern city of Magdeburg, which will continue research into Gurlitt's artwork. (Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Noah Barkin, Larry King)

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