Ecuador grants nationality to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Ecuador grants nationality to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Last Updated Jan 11, 2018 2:24 PM EST

QUITO, Ecuador – Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum at the nation’s embassy in London for more than five years.

The nation’s foreign minister announced Thursday that officials had decided to permit Assange’s naturalization while they look for ways to resolve his situation.

Ecuador gave Assange political asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid a Swedish extradition request on a case of alleged rape. While Sweden temporarily dropped that investigation, British officials say they’d still arrest him on charges of bail jumping. Assange also fears a possible U.S. extradition request stemming from the leaking of classified U.S. documents.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Thursday it had rejected Ecuador’s request to grant diplomatic status to Assange, who was born in Australia.

“The granting of Ecuadorean nationality does not in any way change Julian Assange’s legal status in the U.K.,” a government spokesman said. “The Government of Ecuador knows that the way to resolve the situation is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice. Nobody should pretend that granting him Ecuadorean citizenship is a route to solving this longstanding issue.”

Akubra girl “Dolly” killed herself due to bullying

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS)

 

Akubra girl “Dolly” killed herself due to bullying, company says

The post said the girl, Amy Jayne Everett, died January 3, and that “we need to make sure that anyone in crisis knows there is always someone to talk to.” It also urged people to act to stop bullying — a plea her father made Sunday.

“This week has been an example of how social media should be used, it has also been an example of how it shouldn’t be,” Tick Everett said in a Facebook post. “If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then Doll’s life will not be wasted.”

“…lets stop the bullies no matter where, but especially in our kids, as the old saying goes. You will never know what have untill it’s gone,” he said.

He added: “if by some chance the people who thought this was a joke and made themselves feel superior by the constant bullying and harassment see this post, please come to our service and witness the complete devastation you have created.”

The BBC reports the girl starred in a well-known Akubra ad campaign when she was eight years old. It also reports the family released a statement to media outlets on Wednesday saying the girl was “the kindest, caring, beautiful soul”.

“She was always caring for animals, small children, other children at boarding school who were less fortunate than herself.”

Twenty percent of children in Australia say they were bullied over the past year, according to the BBC.

The wide-brimmed Akubra hat is one of Australia’s most recognizable brands, the BBC reports.

The unbearable hypocrisy of Roy Moore’s Christian rhetoric

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS ‘THINK’)

(OPED: FAKE CHRISTIANS, PEOPLE LIKE MR. MOORE AND DONALD TRUMP ARE THE EPITOMY OF ‘LUKE WARM WATER CHRISTIANS’, JUST LIKE THE FAR RIGHT OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, IT IS THESE ‘FAKE CHRISTIANS’ WHO ARE DESTROYING THE REPUTATION OF CHRISTIANITY!) (trs)

Rev. Dr. William Barber The unbearable hypocrisy of Roy Moore’s Christian rhetoric

This isn’t Christianity, it’s an extreme form of Republican religionism.

Image: Embattled GOP Senate Candidate Judge Roy Moore Attends Church Revival Service At Baptist Church In Jackson, Alabama Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

A disturbing pattern has emerged since the Washington Post first reported that four women accused Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of offenses ranging from the creepy to the criminal. People in Gadsden, Alabama, where Moore worked in the District Attorney’s office three decades ago, say it was “common knowledge” that Moore pursued teenagers when he was in his 30s. Locals told the New Yorker that they recall being told that the local mall banned Moore for the same reason.

Accusations of criminal assault are difficult to prove in court and the statute of limitations in these cases has since passed. But Republicans outside of Alabama have started to back away from Moore following the allegations; They have chosen to believe the accusers.

Moore’s base, on the other hand, continues to support him despite the evidence. For many of them, this is a matter of faith. Jerome Cox, the pastor of Greenwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama, told NBC News he would be supporting Moore because “he’s done a lot of good for the state of Alabama… Everything else is for the Lord to sort out.”

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This is not Christianity. Rather, it is an extreme Republican religionism that stands by the party and regressive policy no matter what. It’s not the gospel of Christ, but a gospel of greed. It is the religion of racism and lies, not the religion of redemption and love.

It is unlikely that any of Moore’s accusers can definitively prove that he sexually assaulted them 30 years ago (a point the defiant former judge knows well). But even before these allegations made national headlines, it was clear that Moore’s policy agenda endangered the children of Alabama and this nation. This man, who wants to be Alabama’s next Senator, wants to repeal Obamacare, making it health care inaccessible for millions, in Alabama and elsewhere. He has said Islam is a “false religion” homosexual conduct “should be illegal.” and curtail equal protection under the law for gay and transgender people. Moore supports a tax plan that would hurt the poor and working poor.

In short, Moore’s political agenda presents a credible threat to millions of vulnerable people in America. Yet Moore claims to be the moral and Christian candidate, using religion as U.S. slave masters did before him to justify actions which fly in the face of Christ’s teachings. Like segregationists, Moore imagines the struggle for equality in America as a story of loss. At a revival meeting earlier this week, Moore complained that he was being persecuted. He also lamented the fact that the courts took prayer out of schools in 1962 and made a cryptic and confusing reference to “new rights” created in 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act was signed. Some members of the congregation responded, “Amen!”

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 Workers remove a monument of the Ten Commandments installed by Roy Moore in the Alabama Judicial Building in 2003. Tami Chappell / Reuters File

As one who survived abuse by a stranger in my own childhood, I feel deep empathy for the women who have come forward to name and confront their abuser. At the same time, my soul grieves as a Christian minister for people who are fed such a distorted view of Christianity and racism that they are willing to support Moore no matter what. I have heard the confessions of abusers: I know that people who are broken and hurting in their own souls hurt people and rally others to join them out of deep pain. But I am deeply troubled by Moore’s determination to wrap his own painful policies and pain-causing ways in the theological claim of being like Christ.

There is nothing Christian about the policies Moore has supported. They are as immoral as the terrible abuse he so vehemently denies. While he wants to compare his plight to the suffering of Jesus, there is no biblical basis for policies that hurt poor people and children.

As well as he knows his Bible, Roy Moore never quotes from the more than 2,000 verses that exhort us to care for the poor, the sick, and the stranger in our midst. He has apparently overlooked the prophet Isaiah, who said to men like Moore in his own day: “Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims — laws that make misery for the poor, that rob the destitute of their dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children” (Is.10:1-4).

National Republican leaders who claim the moral high ground while renouncing Moore now are like the Republicans who spoke out against white supremacy after Charlottesville, condemning the “hate” but never repenting of white nationalist policy. Their moral outrage rings hollow because it renounces Moore based on his personal patterns but says nothing about the disturbing pattern of his policy agenda.

What is happening right now in Alabama matters for the soul of the nation. Anyone who has any influence must help blacks, progressive whites, and Latinos; gay and straight; Christians, Muslims, Jews, and all who want to move our country forward to get out and vote. This is no time to retreat or remain idle. We must stand up for truth in the public square and reclaim our political and faith traditions which have been hijacked.

Rev. William J. Barber, II is President of Repairers of the Breach and author of The Third Reconstruction. At the invitation of local clergy, he is in Alabama this weekend preparing for the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.”

Late-night legend David Letterman’s ugly personality no laughing matter, former colleagues say

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS’)

Late-night legend David Letterman’s ugly personality no laughing matter, former colleagues say

Late-night funnyman David Letterman was hardly a barrel of laughs off the air.A new biography of the now-retired talk show host portrays Letterman as more self-loathing than self-critical — and an often miserable man who inflicted his pain on his staff.

“He was never truly comfortable unless he was seething with unhappiness at something,” one longtime writer told author Jason Zinoman in “Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night.”

In fact, few of the acerbic Letterman’s close colleagues sang his praises to Zinoman.

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Letterman’s demeanor soured after July 1995, when his CBS front-running program dipped to second place behind “The Tonight Show” with former friend-turned-enemy Jay Leno.

Letterman infamously sucked on a strand of Jennifer Aniston's hair.

Letterman infamously sucked on a strand of Jennifer Aniston’s hair.

(CBS)

Viewers flipped to NBC when Leno landed an interview with actor Hugh Grant, fresh off his arrest for soliciting a hooker improbably named Divine Brown.

Many never returned, curdling Letterman’s on-air persona.

He became more openly caustic as his comedy took a sadistic turn. One night, after his “Late Show” was whipped in the ratings by both “The Tonight Show” and “Nightline,” his rage visibly surfaced.

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A comedy bit called for a life-size Letterman doll to sit in the guest’s chair. Seemingly on the spur of the moment, Letterman punched the doll — to much audience laughter.

The laughs continued as he landed a few more blows. And then the 580-seat theater went silent when Letterman fell into a frenzy of punching and slapping his plastic alter ego.

Obviously, something was wrong with Dave.

“People don’t understand why you’re behaving the way you’re behaving,” said Rob Burnett, a trusted colleague and the head of Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company, in a candid chat with his boss.

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Letterman’s anger wasn’t all directed inward, and he became upset with pretty much everyone on the show.

A retired Letterman sporting a fierce beard.

A retired Letterman sporting a fierce beard.

(SPLASH NEWS/SPLASH NEWS)

Burnett returned as executive producer, but things became strained. His unique ability to manage his boss’ dark moods ended with a “falling-out,” according to Burnett.

Their relationship eroded to the point where they were barely speaking. According to a veteran producer, “everything changed after that.”

A veteran staffer who served under Letterman through both his late-night shows observed that getting close to the boss was perilous: “There comes a moment when he turns on you.”

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The tale of Tim Long, one of several head writers hired during the show’s run, was typical. Unable to deal with the host’s constant rejections and dark moods, Long took to chewing Coke cans — and swallowing pieces of tin.

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Competitor Jay Leno leapt to fame after viewers flipped to watch his interview with actor Hugh Grant, fresh off a prostitution sting. Letterman lost a chunk of viewers to Leno and his more affable personality.

(GETTY IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

Even the famously mellow Paul Shaffer lashed out at Letterman one night when Todd Rundgren sat in with the band.

Letterman kept pushing and needling, trying to get Rundgren to do more than the one number done in rehearsal.

“The cat flies in to do us a favor and you just want what you want,” Shaffer yelled at his boss.

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It embarrassed Shaffer so much the moment was cut from the show before airing, even though Letterman said he was fine with it.

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Letterman chatted with racing icon Mario Andretti before the start of the 2007 Indy 500.

(MICHAEL HICKEY/WIREIMAGE)

The irony: Letterman was miserable even when his ratings put the show at No. 1 in late-night viewers. In 1993, he walked away from NBC after the network chose Leno to succeed Johnny Carson, taking the 11:30 p.m. slot on rival CBS for his “Late Show With David Letterman.”

CBS offered Letterman a then-record deal with a $16 million annual salary. The payoff was immediate as Letterman seized the ratings lead against the once-invincible “Tonight.”

Yet Letterman remained miserable. “He always complained from the very beginning,” recalled one producer.

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Things went downhill from there.

Not Released (NR)

Letterman appeared alongside girlfriend Merrill Markoe during a 1982 photo shoot.

(GEORGE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES)

“It got worse when he went to CBS,” recalled Shaffer. “Any flaw, minor flaw, he exaggerated. He was most uncomfortable at No. 1.”

Comic Rich Hall, a writer for Letterman’s NBC show, was floored by the host’s new, abrasive nature when he appeared as a guest. Hall followed actress Andie MacDowell, who had just flopped in her segment. Before the cameras came on, Letterman leaned over and snarled, “How’d you like to be married to that c—?”

What the author calls Letterman’s “ferocious fear of failure” was there from the first.

‘The David Letterman Show’ debuts on NBC in 1980

The feeling of foreboding was exacerbated by the 1980 cancellation of his NBC morning show, “The David Letterman Show,” within months of its debut.

Barbara Walters appeared on Letterman's "Late Show."

Barbara Walters appeared on Letterman’s “Late Show.”

(CBS)

His girlfriend at the time and for years to come, Merrill Markoe, was a brilliantly inventive comedy writer and instrumental in shaping the show.

Markoe, who rarely comments on Letterman publicly, told the author about the resulting fallout.

“If it weren’t for you and your crazy ideas,” Letterman shouted at her on the street, “I’d still have a talk show like John Davidson!”

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It’s a comment funny only in retrospect.

Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer.

Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer.

(SUSAN RAGAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Markoe became head writer on NBC’s “Late Night With David Letterman” from the first show in 1982 — and suffered for that, too.

Every night after the show, an agonized Letterman would lock himself in his office with Markoe.

“The last 10 months have included a nightly discussion about what a failure we are,” she once noted.

David Letterman debuts bearded retirement look in St. Barts

In those days, the acid-tongued Letterman would hang out, trading barbs with the writers. His targets learned not to return in kind, as the hurt would show on Letterman’s face.

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Letterman shakes hands with late-night predecessor Johnny Carson.

(STEVE FRIEDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“He was very sensitive,” says Barbara Gaines, a producer who remained with Letterman until his 2015 retirement.

By the end of the ’80s, Letterman was the king of hip and cool. He now smoked cigars and assumed “a statelier air.” Notably, he no longer made a show of despising celebrities, as he had for a decade.

When Barbara Walters booked him as a guest interview on one of her specials, he walked around the office openly expressing his admiration for her.

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“What happened, Dave?” asked head writer Steven O’Donnell.

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Letterman at a 1982 NBC reception honoring the announcement of his show.

(AP)

“They are like my peers now,” the host told him.

It was during that era that Letterman started abruptly turning on longtime, trusted colleagues. Barry Sand, a producer and ally since the morning show, suddenly could do nothing right.

After a guest canceled at the last minute, Sand scrambled and was able to book Mel Gibson — then at the height of his fame. Letterman turned on the producer and snarled, “Who the hell wants Mel Gibson? I don’t want Mel Gibson.”

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He opted instead for Kamarr the Discount Magician. Sand was soon gone.

Letterman in a 1984 promotional photo.

Letterman in a 1984 promotional photo.

(SUSAN WOOD/GETTY IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

In the rush of his success, the formerly prudish Letterman switched up his persona, booking “leggy supermodels” as frequent and welcome guests.

The phrase “leggy supermodels” was funny, but Letterman’s leers came off as sincere and appreciative.

Boorish advances became his signature. Sitting next to Jerry Hall, whose breasts exploded from her dress, he openly enjoyed the view.

David Letterman returning to TV on climate change series

“I get the awful feeling I may have overinflated my tires,” quipped Letterman.

Letterman announced his new CBS contract in a 1993 press conference.

Letterman announced his new CBS contract in a 1993 press conference.

(ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

On one cringeworthy show, he sucked on a strand of Jennifer Aniston’s hair.

Zinoman writes that after a time, the satire faded away to show the bits for what they were — a rich and famous man indulging his fantasies.

“As he got older, Letterman increasingly played the horny creep,” he writes.

David Letterman ‘would have gone right after Donald Trump’

By the time he was an eminence grise on CBS, he became “crudely sexual” in his interviews. The camera would slowly pan over the legs of Aniston or Gwen Stefani as he delivered lascivious comments.

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

“He seemed like a pervy old man at times,” says one of his head writers, Eric Stangel.

Even before the 2009 scandal when an affair with an assistant exposed Letterman to an extortion try, the host interacted infrequently with most of the show staff.

The only trusted colleagues were those who had worked with Letterman for decades — at least, those left standing.

David Letterman thinks a woman should’ve been ‘Late Show’ host

Letterman just couldn’t bring himself to talk to people.

It seems, though, that after a year and a half in retirement, Letterman is now eager to chat.

In an interview with New York magazine, Letterman claims his son, Harry, 13, doesn’t like being in public with him.

Not because of his snow-white mountain man beard, but because he talks too much to everyone.

Letterman says he’ll fake his death if Rahal doesn’t win Indy 500

Letterman might have been kidding. Or not.

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