5 Things to Know for Your New Day -- Thursday, December 19
CNN — (CNN) -- A reality star is in hot water, a diplomat's strip search sparks outrage, and the Worm is headed to North Korea. Again.
It's Thursday, and here are the "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."
1. DUCK DYNASTY SUSPENSION
Duck down: Things were going so well for the "Duck Dynasty" family. The reality show, following a family's duck call business, is a mega-hit and has made the Robertson family mega-rich. But now, Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the A&E show, may have given us too much of his reality. In a just-released interview with GQ magazine, Robertson said homosexuality is a sin and seemed to put it in the same category as bestiality and promiscuity. Here's the quote: "It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical." Asked what, in his mind, is sinful, Robertson replied: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
That sound you are hearing right now is the million-dollar bus stalling over at the A&E Network. Suffice to say, the network folks were not happy with this publicity. They released a statement yesterday saying A&E supports the gay community and "has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely." Let the debate begin.
2. DIPLOMAT STRIP SEARCH
Outrage and defense: The recent arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York has caused outrage in India and headaches for some prosecutors here. And amazingly, it stems from the diplomat's use of a housekeeper. Devyani Khobragade, the diplomat, said she would pay her housekeeper $9.75 an hour. But she wound up paying only $3.31 an hour, authorities say. So U.S. investigators arrested her on charges of lying on her application for that housekeeper. They say they treated her like other people they arrest, strip-searching her and holding her in jail until she paid a bond to get out. Yet the December 12 arrest has infuriated some in India, who say the U.S. humiliated one of its foreign service officers. This week, demonstrators were outside U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Yesterday, a prosecutor in the case defended the arrest.
3. BASKETBALL DIPLOMACY
Rodman departs: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is set to depart for his third trip to North Korea. Rodman and a documentary crew are due to fly there today from China. And he's going to spend four days training the North Korean basketball team for a January hoops game against a yet unannounced set of former NBA players. (Hey Dennis, call your old teammate Michael Jordan. He's not busy. Just a thought.) The whole controversial effort has been called basketball diplomacy. Rodman's trip - sponsored by the UK-based online betting company Paddy Power - is the 52-year-old's third to North Korea. Rodman said he struck up a friendship with Kim Jong Un, a basketball fan, on Rodman's first trip in February. The trip comes at a tense time in North Korea. Last week, the regime executed Kim's uncle, who had been regarded as the country's second-most powerful figure. North Korea's official news agency accused him of trying to overthrow the state. It's not clear whether Rodman, whose nickname is the Worm, will meet with Kim on the basketball training visit
4. NSA FALLOUT
Keep it: Despite the growing criticism, a team advised President Obama to keep most of the controversial National Security Agency tactics in place. The team analyzed the NSA's program of collecting Americans' phone calls and e-mails, an effort that has been criticized by some. The team said that while the tactics should continue, they should have tighter constraints. The group gave the President about 40 recommendations on how to do this, even though the recommendations were considered modest. The report, compiled by the Presidential Review Group on Intelligence, was released yesterday. The panel was created amid a political firestorm that followed leaks last summer by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
5. SUBWAY MIRACLE
Happy ending: There's a double happy ending to this story. By now, you must have heard the story of Cecil Williams and his guide dog Orlando. It was national news this week when Cecil, a blind man, fainted and fell onto a New York subway track as a train approached. The guide dog fell down on the tracks and tried to help. And luckily, a transit employee was at the train station. The employee told Williams to lie flat in a shallow trough between the rails as the train roared into to the station. The train stopped, but not until it rolled one and a half cars over the man and his dog. Emergency workers were able to get Williams and the dog out and were amazed that they were not seriously injured. But while Williams was in the hospital this week, he told news reporters he was probably going to have to give Orlando away because of insurance issues. Well, that problem is solved now too because of generous donors, Williams said. At a news conference, Williams was overcome with emotion. "I'm not a crybaby or nothing, but my eyes are misty and I'm teary right now, because you know, things like this don't happen for everybody," he said.