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Happening Today: Net Neutrality, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Russell Simmons, Tavis Smiley

What to Know

  • Advocates brace for a long fight as the government prepares to unravel net-neutrality rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet
  • a Republican state lawmaker in Kentucky who defiantly denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl had died, coroner says
  • Three women have told The New York Times that music mogul Russell Simmons raped them

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As “Net Neutrality” Vote Nears, Some Brace for a Long Fight

As the federal government prepares to unravel sweeping net-neutrality rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet, advocates of the regulations are bracing for a long fight. The vote scheduled at the Federal Communications Commission could usher in big changes in how Americans use the internet, a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight. The proposal would not only roll back restrictions that keep broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from blocking or collecting tolls from services they don't like, it would bar states from imposing their own rules. The broadband industry promises that the internet experience isn't going to change, but its companies have lobbied hard to overturn these rules. Protests have erupted online and in the streets as everyday Americans worry that cable and phone companies will be able to control what they see and do online. That growing public movement suggests that the FCC vote won't be the end of the issue. Opponents of the move plan legal challenges, and some net-neutrality supporters hope to ride that wave of public opinion into the 2018 elections.

Trump Aide Forced Out of White House, Sources Say

Omarosa Manigault Newman, a White House aide and former "Apprentice" contestant, was forced out of her job, even though the White House said she resigned, according to a senior Trump administration official who spoke to NBC News. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Manigault Newman's last day will be Jan. 20, one year since Trump's inauguration. The president bid her farewell. Manigault Newman was an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, working on outreach to various constituency groups. But a source close to the White House said Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, made the decision to terminate Newman's employment. She was escorted off the White House grounds after trying to re-enter the residence to debate the terms of her departure, the source said.

Kentucky Lawmaker Facing Assault Allegations Found Dead, Coroner Says

Dan Johnson, a Republican state lawmaker in Kentucky who defiantly denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl in the basement of his home, died in an apparent suicide, the county coroner said. He was 57. Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died of a single gunshot somewhere on a road. Billings said Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge in a secluded area, then got out and walked to the front of the car. He said an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning. Johnson was elected to the state legislature in 2016. Recently, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an account from a woman saying Johnson sexually assaulted her in the basement of his home in 2013. At the time, the woman told police, who investigated the incident but closed the case and did not file charges.

3 Women Accuse Russell Simmons of Rape, According to Report

Three women have told The New York Times that music mogul Russell Simmons raped them, the latest in a cascade of serious allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in entertainment, media, politics and elsewhere. Simmons vehemently denied what he called "these horrific accusations," saying in a statement emailed to The Associated Press that "all of my relations have been consensual." The allegations reported by the Times stem from the 1980s and 1990s. One woman said Simmons assaulted her in his downtown apartment in 1995, when she was an executive at Def Jam Recordings, reporting to Simmons. Through his lawyer, Simmons acknowledged to the newspaper that he engaged in "inappropriate conduct" with the woman while she worked at Def Jam. But he "emphatically states that he did not have sex with her," his lawyer said. Another woman said Simmons raped her in the early '90s, when he was her manager. Through his lawyer, Simmons told the Times he had "no recollection of ever having any sexual relations” with the woman. A third woman, a music journalist, dated Simmons briefly in 1987. A year later, in 1988, Simmons invited her to his Manhattan apartment for a party, she told the Times, but when she arrived she was the only one there, and Simmons led her to his bedroom, pushed her on the bed and raped her. The Times said that Simmons, through his lawyer, acknowledged he had dated Sallie but denied nonconsensual sex.

PBS Suspends Distribution of Smiley Show Amid Misconduct Allegations

PBS said it has indefinitely suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley's talk show after an independent investigation uncovered "multiple, credible allegations" of misconduct by its host. PBS said it had engaged an outside law firm to investigate "troubling allegations" against the host, it said in a statement. A representative for PBS declined to specify the nature of the allegations against Smiley. His nightly program has aired on PBS since 2004. Representatives for Smiley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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