The New York Times reports that Amazon is slowing deliveries of certain popular books to a crawl, apparently in retaliation against publisher Hachette Books. For example, if you want to buy Stephen Colbert's America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't from the online retailer, you'll have to wait several weeks for shipment, as opposed to the customary two days.
It remains unclear what the beef is between Amazon and Hachette. A spokesperson for the publisher said Amazon was slowing deliveries "for reasons of their own," and an Amazon publicist acknowledged that the company is holding "minimal stock" of Hachette books. However, this is not the first time that Amazon has used its monopoly-like clout to play hardball. Here's the Times:
The bookseller pulled all the "buy" buttons for Macmillan books in 2010 in a dispute over e-book pricing. Two years later, Amazon was negotiating for a higher discount with the distributor Independent Publishers Group. "They decided they wanted me to change my terms," the IPG president, Mark Suchomel, said at the time. "It wasn't reasonable. There's only so far we can go."
During her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, if she was sitting in front of him due to the hefty contributions she has made to the GOP.
DeVos, whose father founded a manufacturing company that came to be worth more than $1 billion and whose father-in-law co-founded Amway, wasn't able to recall how much money her family has contributed to the Republican Party over time, but said it was "possible" they donated $200 million. "I don't mean to be rude, but do you think if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family has not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Republican Party, you would be here today?" Sanders asked. DeVos, who has no professional experience working in public schools, has never held public office, and has spent decades lobbying for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools, responded by saying she worked "very hard on behalf of parents and children for the past almost 30 years, to be a voice for parents and voice for students and to empower parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, primarily low-income children."
Sanders then pressed DeVos on whether she would work with him on making public colleges and universities tuition-free. "I think that's a really interesting idea, and it's really great to consider and think about, but we also need to consider the fact there's nothing in life that's truly free, somebody's going to pay for it," she said. Sanders said she's correct, and proposals to lower tax breaks for billionaires would help pay for the plan. "We can work together and work hard on being sure college or higher education in some form is affordable for all young people who want to pursue it," DeVos responded.Catherine Garcia
Vice President Joe Biden is torn when it comes to the presidential election — he still questions his decision not to run and regrets not going with a different message while campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
In a series of interviews with Jonathan Alter, published in The New York Times Magazine on Tuesday, Biden said he wished "to hell" he'd kept repeating the positive messages from his Democratic National Convention speech in July and said more about Clinton's plan for the middle class, as opposed to focusing so much on Donald Trump's lack of qualifications for office. He's also still coming to grips with not running for president himself — before his son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer in 2014, he encouraged his father to run, but he was told by several friends, including President Obama, that he emotionally wasn't ready. Biden concedes that he was "more broken" over his son's death than he thought he was. "I don't know what I'd do if I was in a debate and someone said, 'You're doing this because of your son,'" he said. "I might have walked over and kicked his ass."
On Trump, Biden says he reminds him of the bullies from his childhood, who mocked him for having a stutter, and wherever he goes, he's asked if "American leadership" is "going to continue." Biden admitted he's worried about what might happen should Trump be all bluster and no action when it comes to matters of global importance — if Trump "just stays behind the lines — hands off — it could be very ugly. Very, very ugly," he said, adding, "It's like a Rubik's Cube trying to figure this guy out. We have no freakin' idea what he's gonna do." Read more about Biden's thoughts on Trump, how he became close friends with Obama, and the advice he received as a freshman senator that helps him while working with Republicans, at The New York Times Magazine. Catherine Garcia
More than 100 refugees and aid workers were killed and more than 200 wounded Tuesday when a Nigerian air force fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram accidentally bombed a refugee camp, government officials said.
Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor confirmed that "some" civilians were killed in the northeastern town of Rann, The Associated Press reports. In the military's fight against Boko Haram extremists, bombardments take place nearly every day in the area, and villagers have previously reported civilian casualties from airstrikes; it's believed this is the first time the Nigerian military has admitted it hit the wrong target. The general said he had information that Boko Haram insurgents were gathering in the area, and that's why he ordered the operation.
The International Committee for the Red Cross said six workers with the Nigerian Red Cross have died and 13 were wounded. "They were part of a team that had brought in desperately needed food for over 25,000 displaced persons," spokesman Jason Straziuso said in a statement. Dr. Jean-Clément Cabrol, the director of operations for Doctors without Borders, called the bombing "shocking and unacceptable." Catherine Garcia
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice who accused Donald Trump of making unwanted sexual advances during a 2007 business meeting, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump over statements he made in response to her allegations.
In October, Zervos alleged that Trump kissed her on the lips, groped her breast without consent, and pressed himself against her during the meeting. The suit, filed Tuesday, claims that Trump went on to publicly call Zervos a liar while on the campaign trail, and say Zervos and the other women who have accused him of sexual harassment only want "ten minutes of fame." The suit also states Trump knew his inflammatory comments would subject the women to "threats of violence, economic harm, and reputational damage."
Her attorney, Gloria Allred, said Zervos would be willing to dismiss the lawsuit without any monetary damages if Trump would agree to retract his remarks about her and admit the accusations she made against him were true. Trump's spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, told NBC News there is "no truth to this absurd story." Catherine Garcia
Esteban Santiago, the man charged in the Jan. 6 shooting at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, claims he was inspired by the Islamic State, an FBI agent testified Tuesday at Santiago's bond hearing. The 26-year-old Iraq war veteran also told investigators he "chatted online with Islamic extremists" ahead of the shooting, which killed five people in the baggage claim area of the airport's Terminal 2, Reuters reported. It was not immediately clear whether Santiago was inspired by the terrorist group, or if he had connections to it; CNN noted ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
Santiago has been charged on three counts connected to the shooting, two of which carry the death penalty. Authorities said Santiago has "admitted to all of the facts with respect to the terrible and tragic events of Jan. 6."
Santiago is being held without bond. His next court appearance is slated for Jan. 30. Becca Stanek
On Tuesday, President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking classified military documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. After nearly seven years in jail, Manning will be released in May 2017, long before her initial release date of May 2045; she was originally sentenced to 35 years, which The New York Times reported marked "the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction."
Many, including NSA leaker Edward Snowden, have urged Obama to commute Manning, who has twice tried to commit suicide and gone on a hunger strike to fight for gender reassignment surgery. At a press conference Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that while Manning's leaks were "damaging to national security," they were not as "serious" and "dangerous" as those by Snowden, who has also applied for clemency. "Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing," Earnest said. "Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange indicated last week that he would agree to be extradited to the U.S. if Obama granted Manning clemency. Assange, who has been hiding out in London at the Ecuadorian embassy, could face the death penalty in the U.S. because of WikiLeaks' role in releasing numerous classified documents. Becca Stanek
Republicans' timing couldn't be worse when it comes to repealing ObamaCare, at least according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday. The survey found that right now, just as Republicans have passed the first hurdle toward repeal, Obama's signature health care plan is more popular than ever among Americans.
Forty-five percent of Americans now say the Affordable Care Act is "a good idea," which NBC News noted is "the highest percentage here since the NBC/WSJ poll began asking the question in April 2009." Conversely, 41 percent of Americans say the health care law is "a bad idea."
Even though that's still a large swath of Americans doubting the merits of the ACA, Americans aren't particularly optimistic that Republicans will be able to solve the problem either. Just 26 percent of Americans said they have a "great deal" or "quite a bit of confidence" in congressional Republicans finding a suitable replacement. Fifty percent said they had "very little" or no confidence that the GOP would come up with a viable replacement plan.
The poll was taken from Jan. 12-15 among 1,000 adults. Its overall margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Becca Stanek