5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • President Obama commutes Chelsea Manning's sentence

  • Betsy DeVos faces tough questions from Sanders, Warren

  • Former President George H.W. Bush in hospital after 'shortness of breath'

  • ObamaCare popularity hits record high

  • Apprentice contestant sues Donald Trump for defamation

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. Obama commuted the federal sentences of 209 people Tuesday, including Manning.

Source: The New York Times, American Civil Liberties Union

On Tuesday, Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's pick to lead the Department of Education, was asked pointed questions by several senators, including Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who asked if she supported making public colleges and universities tuition-free. She called the idea "interesting," but said "nothing is truly free." Sanders replied that that's true, and there's a proposal that would lower tax breaks for billionaires like DeVos, who has never worked professionally at a public school or held office, in order to pay for the plan. DeVos dodged a question by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa.) about whether she would commit to keep funding for public schools intact, and wasn't let off the hook by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who brought up the fact that DeVos has "no personal experience with college financial aid or with management of higher education."

Source: NBC News

Former President George H.W. Bush, 92, is in the hospital in Houston after experiencing "shortness of breath," his office said early Wednesday, adding that the 41st president is "being monitored as a precaution and is resting comfortably." His chief of staff, Jean Becker, told the Houston Chronicle earlier that Bush would likely be released from Houston Methodist Hospital in a few days, adding, "He's fine and he's doing really well." This isn't the first time Bush has been hospitalized for shortness of breath — he spent a week in the hospital in December 2014 with the same symptoms, and six months later fell and broke a bone in his neck at his summer home in Maine. Bush, president from 1989 to 1993, has a form of Parkinson's that compels him to use a wheelchair or motorized scooter, but jumped out of an airplane on his 90th birthday in June 2014 and took a group of wounded vets fishing over the summer.

Source: NBC News, Houston Chronicle

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday shows that ObamaCare has never been more popular than it is right now — as it teeters on the precipice of repeal. Republicans have passed the first hurdle toward repealing President Obama's signature health care law, and President-elect Donald Trump, who takes the oath of office Friday, has promised to repeal the law and replace it potentially within the "same hour." But the poll found 45 percent of Americans now say the Affordable Care Act is "a good idea," which NBC News noted is "the highest percentage" since the poll first asked the question in April 2009. Conversely, 41 percent of Americans say the health care law is "a bad idea." 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 the GOP finding a suitable replacement, while 50 percent said they had "very little" or no confidence.

Source: NBC News

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 "10 minutes of fame." 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.

Source: NBC News
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