Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post, one of the leading newspapers in the country. The Amazon.com founder and chief executive is one of the wealthiest people in the United States. He will pay $250 million for The Post and a number of other publications — less than 1 percent of his wealth, which is estimated at more than $28 billion. Bezos is a friend of Donald Graham, chief executive of The Washington Post Company, whose family has owned the newspaper for eight decades. Over the past six years, the company’s newspaper division has seen a 44 percent drop in operating revenue. In addition to The Washington Post, Bezos will get a number of other Post-owned businesses, including the Gazette newspapers, Greater Washington Publishing and El Tiempo Latino. The deal does not include Slate.com or Foreign Policy magazine, which are owned by The Washington Post Company, the parent company, which also owns the test prep company Kaplan, and which will change its name following the sale of the paper. Bezos said management of The Washington Post newspaper will remain the same, but it is unclear what changes might be coming. Last year, Bezos was quoted in an interview with the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung saying: “There is one thing I’m certain about: There won’t be printed newspapers in 20 years. Maybe as luxury items in some hotels that want to offer them as an extravagant service. Printed papers won’t be normal in 20 years.” The announcement about Bezos’ purchase came just days after Boston Red Sox owner and billionaire John Henry entered an agreement to buy The Boston Globe newspaper from the New York Times Company for $70 million.
The Obama administration has ordered all non-emergency personnel to leave Yemen and urged U.S. citizens currently living there to “depart immediately.” In a statement issued today, the State Department cited “the continued potential for terrorist attacks.” Meanwhile, a U.S. drone strike killed four people in Yemen today, marking the fourth such attack in less than two weeks. Yemeni tribal leaders said the dead were suspected members of al-Qaeda. One is believed to be a senior al-Qaeda member named Saleh Jouti.
The news follows revelations that electronic communications between al-Qaeda leaders were behind the shuttering of nearly two dozen diplomatic posts over the weekend. In the intercepted messages, al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri reportedly ordered the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — the group’s Yemeni affiliate — to carry out an attack as early as this past Sunday. The New York Times originally withheld the names of the leaders involved at the behest of U.S. intelligence officials, but revealed them after they were published by McClatchy Newspapers. The United States is keeping 19 diplomatic outposts in the Middle East and Africa closed through this week due to the threats. The recent security fears have been used by some lawmakers to defend the National Security Agency’s sweeping spy programs, which have come under fire after they were revealed by Edward Snowden. A reporter noted the timing of the threats during a briefing with State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.
Reporter: “Couldn’t it be argued that suddenly we’re hearing about this potential threat to U.S. interests and U.S. persons and property at a time when there’s a lot of debate and a lot of criticism of this program as well as other NSA types of surveillance.”
Marie Harf: “I can assure you that that in no way, at all, period, 100 percent, affects how we evaluate threat information coming in, specifically in terms of this threat.”
The court-martial for an Army major accused of killing 13 people during a rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, opens today at the same base where the attacks took place in 2009. Major Nidal Hasan has won the right to represent himself in court, meaning he will likely question some of the same people he is accused of attacking. Judge Tara Osborn has already struck down Hasan’s planned defense that the shootings were an attempt to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan from U.S. soldiers. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
The sentencing hearing for U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning continued Monday with testimony from a top State Department official. Patrick Kennedy, under secretary of state for management, claimed Manning’s leak of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks has had a “chilling effect” on U.S. diplomacy by making foreign officials less forthcoming in private talks. He said, “It’s impossible to know what someone is not sharing with you — and this is, in itself, I believe, a risk to the national security.” But Kennedy acknowledged the State Department never completed a damage assessment for the leaks.
Clashes have erupted in Turkey after a court sentenced former military chief Ilker Basbug to life in prison for trying to overthrow the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The court sentenced scores of other military officers, journalists and politicians, including three current members of parliament from the opposition Republican People’s Party. Opposition lawmaker Akif Hamzacebi condemned the court’s decision.
Akif Hamzacebi: “The judiciary sentenced a military commander to life in prison. This is a threat to the Turkish military and is unacceptable. If you put a commander, who was the head of the army, on trial as a member of a terrorist organization, it means you are targeting the army of the Turkish Republic. People will not accept this.”
The case has highlighted tensions between the Islamist-led government, Turkey’s secular establishment and the rising tide of protesters seeking alternatives. Following the verdicts, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets as some 10,000 protesters massed near the courthouse.
Major League Baseball has suspended New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and a dozen other players as part of a massive doping scandal linked to an anti-aging clinic in Florida. Rodriguez was banned through the 2014 season, but immediately appealed, allowing him to play Monday night, while the other players received 50-game suspensions. The league says Rodriguez used performance-enhancing drugs and then interfered with the investigation into the now-defunct Miami clinic.
Florida has executed a man diagnosed as schizophrenic after the Supreme Court denied a last-minute bid to stay his execution. Lawyers for John Ferguson say his death violated the Eighth Amendment, which requires a person to understand the reason for his execution and the impact the death penalty will have. They said Ferguson believed he would rise again after his execution to fight alongside Jesus Christ and save the country from a communist plot. Ferguson was sentenced to death in 1978 for his role in two sets of killings. He died by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Eastern time on Monday. His final words were, “I just want everyone to know, I am the Prince of God and I will rise again.”
Britain’s Metropolitan Police have apologized to the family of a man killed by an officer during London’s G20 protests in 2009. Ian Tomlinson was a newspaper seller who played no role in the protest. He was walking home with his hands in his pockets when a police constable struck him with a baton and shoved him to the ground from behind. A pathologist initially claimed Tomlinson died of a heart attack, but it was later found he died from internal bleeding. The officer, Simon Harwood, was acquitted of manslaughter last year, but later fired for gross misconduct. On Monday, police announced a settlement with Tomlinson’s family and apologized “unreservedly” for Harwood’s use of “excessive and unlawful force.” Tomlinson’s widow, Julia, called the apology “as close as we are going to get to justice.”
Rebel fighters in Syria have taken control of a key air base in the province of Aleppo, a significant gain that follows a series of recent losses to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The news comes as new reports find both sides are continuing to commit abuses. Human Rights Watch says the Syrian military is firing ballistic missiles into populated areas, killing civilians, while the United Nations high commissioner for human rights has called for an independent probe into claims rebels executed dozens of government soldiers in Aleppo province. Navi Pillay called the alleged killings “further evidence that flagrant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by all parties have tragically become the norm in the Syrian conflict.”
Japan is marking the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. On Aug. 6, 1945, the U.S. warplane Enola Gay dropped a nuclear bomb on the city. An estimated 140,000 people died from the effects by the end of the year, although some estimates have put the toll even higher. Three days later, the United States dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki. The city observed a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. local time, the moment the bomb was dropped. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke later at a ceremony.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “We, Japanese, are history’s sole victims of the nuclear attack, and we have the certain responsibility to bring about a world without nuclear weapons, and it is our duty to continue to remind the world of nuclear weapons’ inhumanity.”
The Hiroshima anniversary comes as Japan faces a nuclear crisis of a different kind at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that was battered by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Groundwater contaminated with high levels of radiation has breached an underground barrier meant to contain it, fueling concerns it could reach the surface of the ground and accelerate the leaks. A nuclear watchdog official told Reuters, “Right now, we have an emergency.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency after a train derailed and spilled hazardous materials near Lawtell, a community west of Baton Rouge. Roughly 100 homes remain evacuated following the derailment Sunday. Damaged cars have been leaking materials including sodium hydroxide, which can be fatal if touched or inhaled.
Critics of the Republican agenda in North Carolina are taking their struggle statewide with the launch of Mountain Moral Mondays. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested during 13 weeks of Moral Monday actions at the Capitol in Raleigh. On Monday, thousands gathered in downtown Asheville to continue protests against the rollback of voting rights, unemployment benefits and abortion access. Reverend William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, said the protests are coming to all 13 congressional districts.
Police at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, arrested a number of people Monday during the latest Solidarity Sing-Along, a peaceful singing protest against Republican Gov. Scott Walker held each week day in the rotunda. The singing has been a fixture at the Capitol for more than two years since the mass mobilization against Walker’s anti-union policies. But protester Steve Burns says police have arrested more than 100 people in a crackdown that began late last month.
Steve Burns: “This is the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year struggle for free speech. We’ve been in a struggle with the Walker administration that’s attempted to put a Capitol access policy in place that restricts people’s use of the people’s house as a forum for free speech. And so this latest escalation includes arresting people and then citing us for a violation of the permit policy of the Walker administration. We see sing-alongs popping up in other places. We’ve heard there’s a Michigan sing-along; there’s a Texas sing-along. People need to reclaim their state capitols. There are states that have even more restrictive laws than we have, and it’s time that the people take back their capitols as the people’s house.”