Tuesday | December 12, 2017
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Nation and World briefs for December 6

Top gossip editor accused of sexual misconduct

NEW YORK (AP) — The top editor for the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and other major gossip publications openly described his sexual partners in the newsroom, discussed female employees’ sex lives and forced women to watch or listen to pornographic material, former employees told The Associated Press.

The behavior by Dylan Howard, currently the chief content officer of American Media Inc., occurred while he was running the company’s Los Angeles office, according to men and women who worked there. Howard’s self-proclaimed nickname was “Dildo,” a phallus-shaped sex toy, the former employees said. His conduct led to an internal inquiry in 2012 by an outside consultant, and former employees said he stopped working out of the L.A. office after the inquiry.

Howard quit soon after the report was completed, but the company rehired him one year later with a promotion that landed him in the company’s main office in New York. It was not clear whether Howard faced any discipline over the accusations. AP is not aware of any sexual harassment allegations involving Howard since he was rehired.

The AP spoke with 12 former employees who knew about the investigation into Howard’s behavior, though not all were aware of every detail. The outside investigator hired to examine complaints about Howard’s behavior also confirmed to AP that he completed a report.

In a brief phone interview with the AP, Howard characterized the ex-employees’ claims as “baseless.”

Conyers resigns from Congress amid harassment allegations

DETROIT (AP) — Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned from Congress on Tuesday after a nearly 53-year career, becoming the first Capitol Hill politician to lose his job in the torrent of sexual misconduct allegations sweeping through the nation’s workplaces.

The 88-year-old civil rights leader and longest-serving member of the House announced what he referred to as his “retirement” on Detroit talk radio, while continuing to deny he groped or sexually harassed women who worked for him.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” said the congressman, who called into the radio show from the hospital where he was taken last week after complaining of lightheadedness. “This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

He endorsed his son John Conyers III to succeed him.

Conyers, who was first elected in 1964 and went on to become a founding member in 1971 of the Congressional Black Caucus, easily won re-election last year to his 27th term in his heavily Democratic district in and around Detroit.

GOP leaders now backing Moore, despite allegations

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leaders in Washington are coming to grips with the possibility — perhaps even probability — that Alabama’s Roy Moore will win his special election next Tuesday and join them in the capital.

Looking past allegations of sexual misconduct with Alabama teenagers, President Donald Trump formally endorsed Moore, and the Republican National Committee quickly followed suit, transferring $170,000 to the Alabama Republican Party to bolster Moore’s candidacy.

“I think he’s going to do very well. We don’t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me,” Trump said Tuesday during a lunch with Republican senators. “We want strong borders, we want stopping crime, we want to have the things that we represent and we certainly don’t want to have a liberal Democrat that’s controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer, we don’t want to have that for Alabama.”

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who once called on Moore to get out of the race, changed his rhetoric over the weekend to say that it was Alabama voters who should decide.

The changed tone — and Trump’s decision to do away with any facade of distancing himself from the race — make it clear they are increasingly confident in Moore’s chances of victory despite the continued unease of some other Republicans.

Protesters decry corruption in Ukraine, prevent arrest

MOSCOW (AP) — Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Kiev and called for the ouster of Ukraine’s president following a botched attempt Tuesday by authorities to arrest Mikheil Saakashvili, a former Georgian president-turned-Ukrainian opposition leader.

The turmoil is just the latest challenge for the Ukrainian government, which has been weakened by months of political infighting and accused of not halting official corruption.

Tuesday’s standoff began when officers of Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU, went to Saakashvili’s home in Kiev to detain him. Trying to resist the arrest, he climbed onto the roof and threatened to jump off, but SBU agents took him down and put him into a van.

Several hundred protesters then surrounded the vehicle and blocked it from moving. They clashed with police, who unsuccessfully tried to disperse the demonstrators with tear gas.

After a tense standoff that lasted for hours, Saakashvili was freed by his supporters and led them on a march to parliament to demand President Petro Poroshenko’s resignation.

Kennedy seems conflicted in Supreme Court wedding cake case

WASHINGTON (AP) — On a sharply divided Supreme Court, the justice in the middle seemed conflicted Tuesday in the court’s high-stakes consideration of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012.

The court’s fault lines were laid bare in a riveting argument that focused equally on baker Jack Phillips’ right to refuse to put his artistic talents to use in support of something in which he disagrees and the Colorado couple’s right to be treated like any other two people who wanted a cake to celebrate their marriage.

Both views were reflected in the questions and comments of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of all the court’s major gay-rights decisions and a fierce defender of free speech. The outcome of the case seemed to rest with the 81-year-old justice, who often finds himself with the decisive vote in cases that otherwise divide the court’s conservatives and liberals.

Phillips and the couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, were in the courtroom for arguments in the closely watched case that could affect other situations where there’s a clash between social conservatives’ claim of religious freedom and the LGBT community’s fight to preserve hard-won rights.

President Donald Trump’s administration is supporting Phillips in his argument that he can’t be forced to create a cake that violates his religious beliefs. It appears to be the first time the federal government has asked the justices to carve out an exception from an anti-discrimination law.

 

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