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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (R) talk before a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel March 28, 2015 in Lausanne. Talks have expanded as deadline for a nuclear deal looms. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/REUTERS

    US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (R) talk before a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel March 28, 2015 in Lausanne. Talks have expanded as deadline for a nuclear deal looms. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/REUTERS

    LAUSANNE, Switzerland  — Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program picked up pace on Saturday with the French and German foreign ministers joining U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in talks with Tehran’s top diplomat ahead of an end-of-March deadline for a preliminary deal.

    With just four days to go until that target, negotiators in the Swiss town of Lausanne settled in for another round of lengthy sessions that they hope will produce an outline of an agreement that can become the basis for a comprehensive deal to be reached by the end of June.

    Iranian negotiator Majid Takht-e Ravanchi denied a news report that the sides were close to agreement, and other officials also spoke of remaining obstacles.

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters as he arrived that the talks have been “long and difficult. We’ve advanced on certain issues, not yet enough on others.”

    Iranian nuclear agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi described one or two issues as becoming “twisted.” He told Iran’s ISNA news agency that the sides were working to resolve the difficulties.

    Kerry met early in the day with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, ahead of talks with Fabius and Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The foreign ministers of Russia, China and Britain also were expected in Lausanne over the weekend.

    Diplomats at the talks said their presence does not necessarily mean a deal is almost done.

    Steinmeier avoided predictions of an outcome, saying only that a nuclear deal could help ease Mideast tensions.

    “The endgame of the long negotiations has begun,” he said.

    Iran says its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful; other nations fear it is seeking to develop weapons.

    Progress has been made on the main issue: the future of Iran’s uranium enrichment program. It can produce material for energy, science and medicine but also for the fissile core of a nuclear weapon.

    The sides tentatively have agreed that Iran would run no more than 6,000 centrifuges at its main enrichment site for at least 10 years, with slowly easing restrictions over the next five years on that program and others Tehran could use to make a bomb.

    The fate of a fortified underground bunker previously used for uranium enrichment also appears closer to resolution.

    Officials have told The Associated Press that the U.S. may allow Iran to run hundreds of centrifuges at the Fordo bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites. The Iranians would not be allowed to do work that could lead to an atomic bomb and the site would be subject to international inspections.

    Instead of uranium, any centrifuges permitted at Fordo would be fed elements used in medicine, industry or science, the officials said.

    Even if the centrifuges were converted to enrich uranium, there would not be enough of them to produce the amount needed to make a weapon within a year – the minimum time frame that Washington and its negotiating partners demand.

    A nearly finished nuclear reactor would be re-engineered to produce much less plutonium than originally envisaged.

    Still problematic is Iran’s research and development program.

    Tehran would like fewer constraints on developing advanced centrifuges than the U.S. is willing to grant.

    Also in dispute is the fate of economic penalties against Iran.

    In addition, questions persist about how Iran’s compliance with an agreement would be monitored.

    Fabius suggested that France was not yet satisfied on that point.

    The post Iran nuclear talks expand as deadline for deal approaches appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    CY MUSIKER: Many who come here tonight may not know a lot about classical music, but that’s part of the experiment.

    MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Soundbox is designed to appeal to people, many of them younger people, who never have attended many classical concerts before.

    CY MUSIKERThis is a laboratory for the San Francisco Symphony and music director Michael Tilson Thomas, who are looking for ways to create new musical experiences — and entice new audiences.

    MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Since the 1970s, I’ve been really interested in how the installation of music can change the audience’s perception of it. Of course, for musicians it’s all enveloping, it’s all around us, it is a kind of separate world, but how to bring people who are listening to the music more inside the world that we the performers are experiencing?

    CY MUSIKERBy day, the space is a cavernous rehearsal hall.

    By showtime, lighting, a bar and custom acoustics designed for the event completely transform the space.

    The musicians are members of the same orchestra that performs on the main stage of Davies Symphony Hall, where they’ve honed their skills playing classical symphonies. But in this venue, there are multiple stages…and opportunities to broaden the repertoire.

    NICOLE CASH: Playing in Soundbox is a completely different experience. Musically, we do get to do different things. The piece that I played was a very angular, loud, rambunctious piece.

    CY MUSIKEREach set lasts 20 to 30 minutes, with ample intermissions to mingle and buy drinks. And at $25, the price of entry here is a fraction of higher-tier symphony seats.

    NICOLE CASH: It’s a more relaxed atmosphere and I think that is the first thing that kind of turns younger, maybe, less exposed people off the whole symphony experience. They think they’re going come in here and they have to be quiet and it’s stuffy and everyone is wearing a tuxedo or a ball gown and you can’t talk and you can’t move and you don’t know when to clap.

    CY MUSIKERThe free-flowing atmosphere is targeting a younger, more diverse audience, but the goal is to hook them into serious music.

    MARY GOREE: It is very challenging music, I usually tend to, when I go out, go to more kind of either rock-oriented shows, or hip hop shows, or kind of more modern shows. But I find that. It blew my mind.

    CY MUSIKERThe series is just four months old, and the symphony has made some unusual marketing choices — like not putting a link to Soundbox on its homepage, says classical music critic Joshua Kosman.

    JOSHUA KOSMAN: It’s a sort of an anti-marketing strategy where you kind of make sure not to give too much information that will bring in the regulars and squeeze out the new comers and the adventurers.

    CY MUSIKERKosman said that symphonies need to justify their existence in a landscape crowded with entertainment options.

    San Francisco Symphony board president Sakurako Fisher argues that Soundbox is about more than selling tickets. It’s about staying relevant.

    SAKURAKO FISCHER: It’s not a business. It is part of the necessity of the human heart. It’s a part of what makes a vibrant community, and as long as we think that’s important, I think that, sure, would we like to be more like a business? Who wouldn’t. It’s not. I accept that. Let’s move forward then.

    CY MUSIKERIf the current run of sold-out performances means anything, Soundbox may be the prototype for the next era in classical music.

    The post To draw fresh crowds, symphony offers modern take on classical music appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: And now to Viewers Like You: Your comments about some of our recent work.

    We heard from many of you about last Sunday’s signature piece exploring whether gambling on sports events should be legalized.

    Many of you told us you think it’s a bad idea.

    Donna Williams-Terry wrote us: It would be extremely addictive for too many people. More so than regular casino gambling because sports in itself is addictive.

    Diane Roman said: Making it legal doesn’t cure the disease.

    And Larry Scheller told us he’s seen the harm gambling causes: Legalized gambling was a bad idea from the start! I know two people that have mortgaged their homes and lost them due to their gambling addiction.

    Normanium Eldred said: Gambling is basically a tax on the poor and desperate.

    Kurt Rex Cooper worried there’d be too much opportunity for corruption.

    And William Giegrich called the idea “disgusting, totally disgusting.”

    But more of you thought states should try to take advantage of an activity many people are engaged in anyway.

    Erik Somoroff said: Make it legal. Not my place to judge, and I’d rather see some revenue for the states come in and be properly managed, of course.

    Jason Michael O’Rourke wrote: Tax and regulate. Those that will gamble what they don’t have to lose will do it anyway. The law should never be designed to protect one from oneself.

    From Bill Slocum: Like marijuana, legalize it and tax the hell out of it.

    Andrew Jones said: It’s legal in other countries that seem to do OK. Like the drug war, driving it underground just makes it harder to control in a reasonable manner.

    And finally this from Nathan Engle: Since we apparently can’t even indict the Wall Street gamblers who crashed the global economy, I’m not sure I see the point in persecuting sports fans for putting their money where their mouths are.

    As always, we welcome your comments at pbs.org/newshour, on our Facebook page, or tweet us at @NewsHour.

    The post Viewers respond to report on the controversy surrounding sports gambling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A combination picture shows the Brandenburger Tor gate before (top) and during the Earth Hour in Berlin March 28, 2015. Earth Hour, when everyone around the world is asked to turn off lights for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time, is meant as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

    A combination picture shows the Brandenburger Tor gate before (top) and during the Earth Hour in Berlin March 28, 2015. Earth Hour, when everyone around the world is asked to turn off lights for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time, is meant as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

    Following the warmest year on record, cities around the world are going dark Saturday in observance of Earth Hour, a World Wildlife Fund initiative meant to raise awareness for climate change.

    For the first time this year, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo joined 169 other countries and territories across 24 time zones to turn out the lights between 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time.

    “We do this [turn out the lights] each year to call attention to the need for climate action now and the brighter future that lies ahead if we act together,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a video address. The United Nations will go dark for an hour on Saturday night.

    A combination picture shows St. Basil's Cathedral before (L) and during Earth Hour in Moscow March 28, 2015. Earth Hour, when everyone around the world is asked to turn off lights for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time, is meant as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

    A combination picture shows St. Basil’s Cathedral before (L) and during Earth Hour in Moscow March 28, 2015. Earth Hour, when everyone around the world is asked to turn off lights for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time, is meant as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

    The largely symbolic event, which began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, is meant to demonstrate the impact people around the world can have when joining forces on a particular project at a specific time.

    And it has given rise to more initiatives and produced real results that combat the effects of climate change.

    In 2014, officials in Ecuador banned plastic bags in the Galápagos Islands, months after the WWF Galapagos and members of Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Government Council led a campaign in support of such a ban during Earth Hour 2014.

    That same year, participants in Isfahan, Iran, used the event to highlight the politics of water mismanagement by creating a 3,000 square feet Earth Hour logo in the dried out riverbed of the once flowing Zayanderund River that is a major artery for the city.

    According to the National Climatic Data Center (NOAA), the average temperature in 2014 was more than one degree above the average for the previous century, making it the highest since records were first kept in 1880 and exceeding those set in 2005 and 2007.

    The post Cities around the world hit the lights for Earth Hour 2015 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Credit: Samra Habib

    Credit: Samra Habib

    As a child, photographer and editor Samra Habib lived within what she describes as the strict “culture of surveillance” of mainstream Islam.

    But as she grew into her 20s, Habib began to question her sexuality — as well as her own understanding of what it meant to be Muslim.

    “There’s a wide range of diversity that exists within Islam,” she said in an interview with PBS NewsHour. “The conversations I would have with other queer Muslims, I realized this was a voice that wasn’t being heard.”

     Credit: Samra Habib

    Credit: Samra Habib

    Inspired by her peers, many of whom attend Unity Mosque, a “human positive” mosque in Toronto, Canada, Habib decided to begin taking portraits of Muslim people who also identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

     Credit: Samra Habib

    Credit: Samra Habib

    Habib said she’s been encouraged by the feedback she’s received from people who have reached out to her from across the globe after seeing her photographs.

    “I’ve had a bunch of people who identify as conservative Muslims thank me in emails for opening up a dialogue where Islam doesn’t feel so exclusive that you can’t practice it,” she said.

     Credit: Samra Habib

    Credit: Samra Habib

    Today, her work is chronicled on the Tumblr, “Just me and Allah” and is being showcased at an exhibit this weekend at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center in New York City.

    The post ‘Just me and Allah': Photographer seeks to capture diversity of Islam appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    DENVER — Thanks to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, it’s becoming even clearer that immigration is the banana peel of 2016 Republican presidential politics.

    Just ask Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

    He stepped up as a Senate leader on immigration only to slip and fall in a tea party ruckus over the issue. In a moment of candor, Rubio remembered the months of trying to get back up as “a real trial for me.”

    Others, too, have shifted on the matter.

    Now it’s oops for Walker.

    In 2013, Walker said it “makes sense” to offer a way to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. Early this month, however, he said he no longer supports “amnesty.”

    Complicating that switch, Walker recently discussed immigration with New Hampshire party leaders. One of them, state leader Jennifer Horn, says that Walker favored legal status, a position many conservatives equate with “amnesty.”

    Worse for Walker, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that he actually said he favored a path to citizenship, though Horn denies Walker said that.

    Even former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has a strong voice – and a book – on immigration, has wiggled.

    Rubio and Walker are not alone in embracing an immigration overhaul at some point. But doing so raises the specter of “amnesty” in the minds of those who want people unlawfully in the country to be given no relief from the threat of deportation.

    “All the candidates have mixed statements – they have statements that seem to support amnesty and they all have ones that seem to oppose it,” said Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA, which seeks to reduce immigration. “They’re torn between the big-money people who gain from high immigration and the voters who oppose it.”

    Luis Alvarado, a California-based GOP strategist, said most Republican officials privately acknowledge that the country has to legalize the status of people who are here unlawfully while also bolstering border security. “They believe that no one in their conscious mind can deport 11 million people from this country,” Alvarado said. “But, politically, they have to play word games to be elected in the primary.”

    Among the potential 2016 hopefuls:

    • Bush has said he will not back away from his support for giving legal status to many in the country illegally. But his 2013 book outlining that stance marks a departure from an earlier position that envisaged eventual citizenship.
    • Before he shied away from the issue, Rubio co-wrote a bill with a path to citizenship that passed the Senate and failed in the House. He now says the bill does not have the support to become law and the first focus should be on border security, a standard GOP position. Rubio ultimately wants to create a process that leads to legal status and then citizenship.
    • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul voted against Rubio’s bill but says the millions of people in the country illegally cannot all be sent home.
    • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once supported an overhaul; now he won’t say where he stands. His state, though, is backing other Republican-led states in a suit against President Barack Obama’s orders deferring deportation for some immigrants.
    • Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is talking tougher on immigration than when he called his 2012 campaign rivals heartless if they opposed a law that lets some children of immigrants in the U.S. illegally pay in-state tuition at public colleges. Even so, he says the U.S. will not deport all people here illegally.
    • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the only declared candidate so far, has kept a fairly consistent tough line on the issue.

    Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said “the ground has shifted” on the issue for two reasons. He cited the influx of Central American youth crossing the border illegally last summer overwhelmed federal officials, and said Obama’s unilateral acts to shield some immigrants from deportation made it politically impossible for a Republican to embrace a pathway to citizenship.

    “You’ve got to cut these guys some slack,” Schlapp said of the presidential hopefuls and their wavering words.

    But Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, which supports an overhaul, said some of Bush’s rivals are “going to be accused of flip-flopping and that’s going to become a character issue” playing into Bush’s hands.

    The wide-open nature of the GOP race also brings to light a tension between what some Republican fundraisers want – an overhaul with a legal path – and what conservative primary voters wish for.

    Spencer Zwick, finance chairman for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, is one donor who has said he will only support candidates who favor such an overhaul. At this early stage, the competition for dollars has been more intense than the competition for votes.

    “Once they get into the debates, this all changes,” Beck of Numbers USA predicted, meaning he expects the candidates to rally behind a harder line.

    The post Mixed statements on immigration from 2016 GOP contenders appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    INDIANAPOLIS — The heat over Indiana’s new religious objections law spread Friday across social media and to the White House as many local officials and business groups around the state tried to jump in and stem the fallout.

    Use of the hashtag #boycottindiana spread across Twitter, spurred on by activists such as “Star Trek” actor George Takei, who argued that the measure opens the door to legalized discrimination against gay people. Apple CEO Tim Cook also tweeted his objections, saying he was “deeply disappointed” in the Indiana law.

    Supporters of the bill that Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed Thursday say discrimination claims are overblown. They maintain courts haven’t allowed that to happen under similar laws covering the federal government and in 19 other states. The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state and local laws that “substantially burden” the ability of people – including businesses and associations – to follow their religious beliefs.

    Some national gay-rights groups say lawmakers in Indiana and about a dozen other states proposed such bills this year as a way to essentially grant a state-sanctioned waiver for discrimination as the nation’s highest court prepares to mull the gay marriage question.

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday noted the negative reaction to the Indiana law from many businesses and organizations around the country.

    “The signing of this bill doesn’t seem like it’s a step in the direction of equality and justice and liberty for all Americans,” he said.

    The Arkansas Senate approved a similar proposal Friday despite opposition from home-state retail giant Wal-Mart. Another measure stalled Thursday in the Georgia Legislature after opponents cited the fallout over the Indiana law.

    Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican who opposed the law, said he and other city officials would be talking to many businesses and convention planners to counter the uproar the law has caused.

    “I’m more concerned about making sure that everyone knows they can come in here and feel welcome,” Ballard said.

    Groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce have taken to social media with messages that the state is full of welcoming businesses. Democratic South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg touted on Twitter his city’s civil rights ordinance’s protections for gays and lesbians, while Republican Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke wrote that the law “sends the wrong message about Indiana.”

    Stickers touting “This business serves everyone” have been appearing on business windows in many Indiana cities.

    Pence, after signing the bill Thursday, said opponents had been mischaracterizing the measure and that it was solely a limit on government restricting people’s religious liberties.

    Last year, Mississippi enacted a religious objection law just weeks after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed a similar effort there amid criticism from major corporations. Mississippi hasn’t had any high-profile instances of the law being used by businesses to deny goods or services to gays.

    Indiana University law professor Daniel Conkle, who testified in favor of the bill in Indiana legislative committees, said he was a supporter of gay rights and that the predictions of negative implications from the law were unjustified.

    Conkle, who has written extensively on religious legal issues, said he didn’t know of any cases under the similar state laws or the federal statute, which dates to 1993, where a court had sided with a religious objector in a discrimination case.

    “This `license-to-discriminate’ argument that seems to have this relentless repetition is just legally wrong,” Conkle said Friday. “It is as if you just keep repeating something often enough it takes on a life of its own.”

    Chris Gahl, a vice president of Visit Indy, said the tourism agency was pointing out to convention planners that cities such as Chicago, New Orleans and St. Louis are in states that already have religious objections laws.

    That’s part of protecting city’s tourism and convention business, which is estimated to have a $4.4 billion annual economic impact with some 75,000 jobs.

    “We know that their ability to work is largely dependent on our ability to score convention business and draw in events and visitors,” Gahl said.

    This report was written by Tom Davies of the Associated Press.

    The post Controversy surrounds new Indiana religious objections law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Undated file picture of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: While definitive answers remain elusive, new information emerged today about the young co-pilot who authorities believe deliberately flew a Germanwings Airbus into the side of a mountain in the Alps. All 150 people on board were killed.

    For the latest, we are joined by Jack Ewing of “The New York Times”. He joins us tonight via Skype from Montabaur Germany, where the copilot was from.

    So, what do we know today?

    JACK EWING, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Good afternoon.

    The latest, as my colleague Nicola Clark in Paris has determined, he had sought treatment for vision problems some time before the crash. So, that suggest that’s perhaps his ability to fly was in question, and perhaps gives us some idea what his motivation might have been. And he had concealed this from his employer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And we’ve got these reports that perhaps his long-term relationship ended just the day before this crash?

    JACK EWING: I’ve seen that speculation. I haven’t been able to confirm it myself. We know he had a girlfriend. What the status of the relationship was — you know, whether there was any problems, I haven’t been able to determine that with certainty.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the doctors’ notes that he had. Did that include the day of this crash? I mean, was he basically supposed to stay home or had an excuse to stay home from the doctor for whatever the medical reason was?

    JACK EWING: Yes, that’s my understanding. In Germany, the way the system works, if a doctor gives you one of these certificates, you’re supposed to stay home. You’re obligated to stay home and you should inform your employer about that. And it seems that he did not do that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There was also a report today that the girlfriend had said that he at some points woke in the middle of the night and said, “One day, I’ll do something. My name will be known forever.”

    JACK EWING: Yes. Well, this is coming from what is called the “Bild” site, a German tabloid newspaper. I would take that with a grain of salt — grain of salt. They don’t say who this person is and we have no way of really knowing how credible that account is.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What’s the state of the investigation now?

    JACK EWING: Well, I think the– both the French and the German authorities are going through material that they’ve seized from his apartment in Dusseldorf, and, apparently, also from his parents’ house here in Montabaur, and they’re trying to determine what his motivation might have been, you know, what — when he knew about these conditions that he had, and how much he had told the Germanwings and Lufthansa, his employers.

    So, they’re just trying to determine the whole sequence of things and find out as much as they can about why he might have done this terrible thing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jack, you’ve been looking into the life of this copilot. What more you have learned?

    JACK EWING: Well, the one thing that you get over and over again when you talk to people about him is they say he seemed very normal. He was friendly. He fit in pretty well. He wasn’t a loner.

    At the same time, he was pretty reserved. He wasn’t somebody that stood out. And you keep hearing that over and over again, that he was very normal. The one thing that stood out was that he extremely passionate about flying. That was really his big thing.

    And he started when he was 14 here in Montabaur, learning how to fly a glider. And I talked to the president of the glider club today and all they remembered was he was very motivated to fly and they say they had no inkling that anything like this would ever happen.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Jack Ewing of “The New York Times” joining us via Skype from Montabaur, Germany, where the co-pilot was from — thanks so much.

    JACK EWING: You’re welcome.

    The post Investigators reveal new details on life of co-pilot behind Germanwings crash appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (R) talk before a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel March 28, 2015 in Lausanne. Talks have made progress but are also still facing obstacles as deadline for a nuclear deal approaches. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/REUTERS

    US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (R) talk before a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel March 28, 2015 in Lausanne. Talks have made progress but are also still facing obstacles as deadline for a nuclear deal approaches. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/REUTERS

    LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Iran may accept new constraints on uranium enrichment but is pushing back about the length of limits on technology it could use to make nuclear arms, Western officials told The Associated Press on Sunday.

    Tuesday is the target date in the nuclear talks for a preliminary agreement that would set the stage for a further round of negotiations toward a comprehensive deal by June 30. The goal is a long-term curb on Iran’s nuclear activities, with Tehran gaining relief from the burden of economic penalties imposed by the West.

    Foreign ministers and other representatives from Iran and the six powers in the talks have said the negotiations have a chance of succeeding by Tuesday.

    The two Western officials who outlined the state of the talks spoke on condition of anonymity because the officials were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said U.S. negotiators were aiming for a strong deal. By accepting constraints on their atomic activities, the Iranians would “live up to their rhetoric that they are not trying to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said in Washington on ABC’s “This Week.”

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu renewed his vocal criticism of what he considers a looming diplomatic victory for Iran, and feared that any deal would not stop Tehran from having the ability to produce nuclear arms.

    He said the provisions of the deal being worked on appear to “corroborate all our concerns and then some.”

    Officials said the sides are advancing on limits to aspects of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which can be used to make the core of a nuclear warhead.

    Over the past weeks, Iran has moved from demanding it be allowed to keep 10,000 centrifuges enriching uranium, to agreeing to 6,000. The officials said Iran now may be ready to accept even less.

    Tehran also is ready to ship out all the enriched uranium it produces to Russia, which the officials said was a change from previous demands that it be allowed to keep a small amount in stock.

    One official cautioned that Iran had previously agreed to this but changed its mind.

    Iran’s official IRNA news agency later cited an unidentified Iranian negotiator as denying his country was ready to move all enriched uranium to Russia.

    Uranium enrichment has been the chief concern in over more than a decade of international attempts to cap Iran’s nuclear programs.

    Tehran says it wants to enrich only for energy, science, industry and medicine. But many nations fear Iran could use the technology to make weapons-grade uranium.

    The United States and its allies are seeking a deal that stretches the time Iran would need to make a nuclear weapon from the present two months to three months to at least a year.

    The officials said differences on the length of an agreement remain one of the main disputes.

    They said Iran wants a total lifting of all caps on its activities after 10 years, whereas the U.S. and others at the talks – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – insist on progressive removal after a decade.

    One official said the two sides may give differing interpretations of any deal – the Iranians insisting that they are free to do what they want after 10 years, the others listing areas where restrictions remain.

    A senior U.S. official characterized the issue as lack of agreement on what happens in years 11 to 15. That official demanded anonymity in line with State Department briefing rules.

    Reflecting the tenuous state of talks, the official said no decision had been made on how and in what detail any preliminary deal may be communicated to the public. The real work to be done would begin after Tuesday, the official said, as the sides focus on meeting the June deadline for a comprehensive agreement.

    Limits on Iran’s research and development of centrifuges also remain unresolved, according to the Western officials.

    Tehran has created a prototype centrifuge that it says enriches uranium 16 times faster than its present mainstay model. The U.S. and its partners want to constrain research on such and other advance models, because it would greatly increase the speed that Tehran could make enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb, once limits on its programs are lifted.

    One official said Russia remains opposed to American insistence that any U.N. penalties lifted in the course of a deal be quickly reimposed in case Tehran reneges on any commitments, saying Moscow fears establishing a precedent.

    Both officials said monitoring remains a problem, with Iran resisting attempts to make inspections and other ways to make sure there is no cheating as intrusive as possible.

    There is tentative agreement on turning a nearly-finished reactor into a model that gives off less plutonium waste than originally envisaged. Plutonium, like enriched uranium, is a path to nuclear weapons.

    Iran and the U.S. are discussing repurposing an underground bunker Iran used to enrich uranium to let Iran run centrifuges there. Instead of enriching uranium, the machines would produce isotopes for peaceful applications, they said.

    With the deadline close and problems remaining, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry canceled plans Sunday to return to the United States for an event honoring his late Senate colleague Edward Kennedy.

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius, his French counterpart, also called off planned trips.

    Kerry has been in discussions with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Swiss town of Lausanne since Thursday. The foreign ministers of Britain, China and Russia were to arrive late Sunday.


    The post Officials: Iran nuclear talks show progress, but obstacles remain appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley speaks at a campaign rally for Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Democratic nominee for Maryland governor in College Park, Maryland October 30, 2014. Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," O'Malley said, "The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families." Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley speaks at a campaign rally for Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Democratic nominee for Maryland governor in College Park, Maryland October 30, 2014. Appearing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” O’Malley said, “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families.” Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Potential Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said Sunday that the country needs fresh perspectives for confronting its problems and criticized the prospects of the Clinton and Bush families yet again seeking the White House.

    “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families,” the former Maryland governor told ABC’s “This Week.”

    O’Malley spoke as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is considered a likely candidate and clear front runner for the Democratic nomination. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is considered a probable contender for the Republican nomination.

    “I think that our country always benefits from new leadership and new perspectives,” O’Malley said. He added, “We need a president who’s on our side, a president who’s willing to take on powerful, wealthy special interests” to restore the economy.

    Asked if Clinton would take on special interests, O’Malley said, “I don’t know. I don’t know where she stands. Will she represent a break with the failed policies of the past? I don’t know.”

    O’Malley said he will decide whether to run for president this spring and questioned whether his party’s nomination of Clinton – also a former senator and first lady – is inevitable.

    “History is full of times when the inevitable front-runner is inevitable right up until he or she is no longer inevitable,” he said.

    O’Malley’s response to questions slowed noticeably when asked what he considers the top foreign threat faced by the U.S.

    “Uh, the greatest danger that we face right now on a consistent basis in terms of man-made threats, is uh, is uh, nuclear Iran and related to that, uh, extremist violence. I don’t think you can separate the two,” he said.

    The post O’Malley: presidency ‘not some crown’ to be shared by two families appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Credit: NewsHour Weekend

    Many of us have been there: That moment of panic when your go-to Netflix, HBO or Hulu password doesn’t work. Immediately, you send an urgent email to your mom, friend or ex-boyfriend, hoping that it’s a password change and not a deleted subscription.

    If this scenario sounds familiar, you may be a millennial — or are otherwise part of a growing number of people who share online streaming subscriptions as part of their media diet.

    Millennials, people 18 to 33 years old, are part of an ever-growing group of cord-cutters and “cord-nevers.” Over the past five years, 3.8 million American homes have opted to cancel their cable subscription or not sign up at all.

    PBS NewsHour producers Hannah Yi and Zachary Green share their media habits with Jeff Greenfield.

    Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said he believes online streaming subscriptions are appealing to younger consumers because of convenience and cost.

    “They come to Hulu and they watch “South Park,” they watch “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” they’ll watch “Law & Order: SUV,” they’ll watch all of these types of shows,” he said. “They definitely value the programming. I think what they’re struggling with as a generation is the willingness to pay a lot of money for it. What has changed is the ability to get access to a lot of content outside of the pay TV bundle, which is satisfying many of their needs today.”

    But even the cost of Hulu Plus or Netflix deter some consumers who are increasingly watching video on YouTube or Snapchat — for free.

    The Roku 3 television streaming player menu screen featuring Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Hulu, and Redbox Instant is shown on a television in Los Angeles, California, U.S. Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    The Roku 3 television streaming player menu screen featuring Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Hulu, and Redbox Instant is shown on a television in Los Angeles, California, U.S. Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    “The millennial generation isn’t saying, ‘I need a better way to get my Turner Broadcasting or my Viacom or Fox channels,’” industry analyst Craig Moffett said. “They’re existing in an entertainment ecosystem that operates entirely outside of the pay TV system that we know today. It’s content that’s developed for a tenth of the cost per hour of traditional content. And it’s not distributed via cable and satellite operators. It’s distributed by social media companies.”

    Hopkins said he thinks it’s likely that millennials will come back to the cable ecosystem and also pay for online streaming services like Hulu as they age and earn more.

    However, he said, “I think that the kind of content that Vimeo and YouTube make will continue to resonate with them, and that’ll be a part of what they consume.”

    Full report: Some of the biggest players in television are looking beyond cable by offering services that bundle and stream programs without a cable or satellite hookup.

    Moffett has a different take. It’s unlikely that millennials who grow up to have families and a home with multiple televisions will come back into the fold, he said.

    “Millennials are disengaged from the entire ecosystem and having children isn’t going to make them suddenly abandon Netflix and go back to pay TV,” he said. “They’re simply going find their programming through a different venue.”

    That different venue may come in the form of new offerings from traditional media players.

    Satellite provider Dish Network has introduced Sling TV, a $20-per-month service that offers live television from channels like ESPN, TBS and AMC.

    Sling TV’s CEO Roger Lynch calls his product “the next-generation television service” specifically for millennials, cord-cutters and cord-nevers who will pick and choose what goes into their media diets.

    “Each person will put together their own puzzle of the content they want, and we’ll be a piece in that puzzle,” Lynch said. “We may be an important piece in it because we bring live sports and programming. We know that they will have other things that they’ll put together along with Sling TV to round out their entertainment needs.”

    Are you a cable TV subscriber, or have you cut the cord to stream media online? Share your media diet with the PBS NewsHour team on our website or on Facebook

    The post Are millennials missing out by scrapping cable TV subscriptions? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Shown is a display of 'Round-up,' the herbicide which made Monsanto a successful force in the agribusiness inside Monsanto headquarters in St Louis, Missouri, 21 May 2009. Photo by by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.

    Shown is a display of ‘Round-up,’ the herbicide which made Monsanto a successful force in the agribusiness inside Monsanto headquarters in St Louis, Missouri, 21 May 2009. Photo by by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.

    Health officials are raising new concerns about the most widely used herbicide in the world.

    Earlier this month, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer announced findings that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp line of pesticides, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The research, published in The Lancet Oncology, relies on studies conducted on the chemical over the last few decades.

    Use of glyphosate – which the EPA has deemed safe — has soared in the last two decades with the introduction of crops genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Glyphosate is also a main ingredient in a new product called “Enlist Duo” recently introduced by Dow Chemical.

    Monsanto vice president of global regulatory affairs Philip Miller told Reuters that the company questioned the “quality of the assessment.”

    As NewsHour reported last fall, widespread use of the chemical has also come under fire because weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to it. Dow has marketed its new product, a mix of glyphosate and the herbicide 2,4-D, as a new tool for farmers battling herbicide-resistant weeds.

    But agriculture experts say farmers should look at other ways to manage weeds, like cover-cropping, increased rotation and mechanical removal.

    This week, environmental groups sent a letter to the EPA renewing their calls for the agency to reconsider its decision to approve Enlist Duo. The groups also called on the EPA to reexamine its findings that glyphosate is safe.

    Monsanto has come out swinging. In a press release, Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robb Fraley said the company is “outraged” and, “This conclusion is inconsistent with the decades of ongoing comprehensive safety reviews by the leading regulatory authorities around the world that have concluded that all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health.”

    Monsanto has demanded a retraction of the report has asked to meet with the WHO about its evaluation, Reuters reported.

    The post WHO: Long-cleared Roundup ingredient ‘probably’ causes cancer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Former JetBlue pilot captain Clayton Osbon, is removed from the plane after erratic behavior forced the crew to land in Amarillo, Texas, March 27, 2012. Osbone is suing the airlines $16 million. Photo by Steve Miller/The Reporters Edge/REUTERS.

    Former JetBlue pilot captain Clayton Osbon, is removed from the plane after erratic behavior forced the crew to land in Amarillo, Texas, March 27, 2012. Osbon is suing the airline for more than $16 million.
    Photo by Steve Miller/The Reporters Edge/REUTERS.

    A former JetBlue Airways Corp. pilot whose midflight breakdown three years ago forced an emergency landing of the plane he was co-piloting sued the airline for more than $14 million on Friday. He claims the airline acted negligently in permitting him to fly despite signs of mental health issues.

    Clayton Osbon, 52, filed the lawsuit three days after a Germanwings co-pilot crashed a passenger jet into a mountain in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. German prosecutors believe the co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane and may have been hiding a mental illness from his employer.

    Osbon said his erratic behavior stemmed from a “complex partial brain seizure” he suffered before the flight, Reuters reported.

    The complaint also stated that “JetBlue failed to make any effort to ensure that Captain Osbon was fit to fly,” Reuters reported.

    During a 2012 JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas, Osbon ran through the plane screaming about terrorism and asking passengers to embrace religion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Another co-pilot locked Osbon out of the cockpit, diverted the plane and made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.

    Though Osbon faced criminal charges for interfering with a flight crew, a federal judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

    Three dozen passengers on the flight later sued JetBlue, claiming the airline had been grossly negligent in allowing Osbon to fly.

    Incidents like Osbon’s breakdown and the recent Germanwings disaster have prompted some to criticize airlines for what they see as insufficient psychological screenings and mental health checkups for flight crews.

    “When you get hired at an airline, they do a psychological test. And that’s the last you get of a psychological test,” NewsHour aviation specialist Miles O’Brien said in an interview with Gwen Ifill. “The first-class medical done by medical examiners every six months doesn’t include a psychological test. They might say, hey, how you doing, that kind of thing, but nothing much more beyond that.”

    “Pilots who are are grappling with mental health issues are loathe to self-report, because it might mean the end of their career,” O’Brien wrote. “Airlines need to work to change the stigma.”

    The post JetBlue pilot who had midair meltdown sues airline for more than $14M appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers testifies before a House (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington November 20, 2014. The NSA considered abandoning its secret program to collect and store American call records before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the practice, intelligence officials say. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers testifies before a House (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington November 20, 2014. The NSA considered abandoning its secret program to collect and store American call records before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the practice, intelligence officials say. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency considered abandoning its secret program to collect and store American calling records in the months before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the practice, current and former intelligence officials say, because some officials believed the costs outweighed the meager counterterrorism benefits.

    After the leak and the collective surprise around the world, NSA leaders strongly defended the phone records program to Congress and the public, but without disclosing the internal debate.

    The proposal to kill the program was circulating among top managers but had not yet reached the desk of Gen. Keith Alexander, then the NSA director, according to current and former intelligence officials who would not be quoted because the details are sensitive. Two former senior NSA officials say they doubt Alexander would have approved it.

    Still, the behind-the-scenes NSA concerns, which have not been reported previously, could be relevant as Congress decides whether to renew or modify the phone records collection when the law authorizing it expires in June.

    The internal critics pointed out that the already high costs of vacuuming up and storing the “to and from” information from nearly every domestic landline call were rising, the system was not capturing most cellphone calls, and program was not central to unraveling terrorist plots, the officials said. They worried about public outrage if the program ever was revealed.

    After the program was disclosed, civil liberties advocates attacked it, saying the records could give a secret intelligence agency a road map to Americans’ private activities. NSA officials presented a forceful rebuttal that helped shaped public opinion.

    Responding to widespread criticism, President Barack Obama in January 2014 proposed that the NSA stop collecting the records, but instead request them when needed in terrorism investigations from telephone companies, which tend to keep them for 18 months.

    Yet the president has insisted that legislation is required to adopt his proposal, and Congress has not acted. So the NSA continues to collect and store records of private U.S. phone calls for use in terrorism investigations under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Many lawmakers want the program to continue as is.

    Alexander argued that the program was an essential tool because it allows the FBI and the NSA to hunt for domestic plots by searching American calling records against phone numbers associated with international terrorists. He and other NSA officials support Obama’s plan to let the phone companies keep the data, as long as the government quickly can search it.

    Civil liberties activists say it was never a good idea to allow a secret intelligence agency to store records of Americans’ private phone calls, and some are not sure the government should search them in bulk. They say government can point to only a single domestic terrorism defendant who was implicated by a phone records search under the program, a San Diego taxi driver who was convicted of raising $15,000 for a Somali terrorist group.

    Some fault NSA for failing to disclose the internal debate about the program.

    “This is consistent with our experience with the intelligence community,” said Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. “Even when we have classified briefings, it’s like a game of 20 questions and we can’t get to the bottom of anything.”

    The proposal to halt phone records collection that was circulating in 2013 was separate from a 2009 examination of the program by NSA, sparked by objections from a senior NSA official, reported in November by The Associated Press. In that case, a senior NSA code breaker learned about the program and concluded it was wrong for the agency to collect and store American records. The NSA enlisted the Justice Department in an examination of whether the search function could be preserved with the records stores by the phone companies.

    That would not work without a change in the law, the review concluded. Alexander, who retired in March 2014, opted to continue the program as is.

    But the internal debate continued, current and former officials say, and critics within the NSA pressed their case against the program. To them, the program had become an expensive insurance policy with an increasing number of loopholes, given the lack of mobile data. They also knew it would be deeply controversial if made public.

    By 2013, some NSA officials were ready to stop the bulk collection even though they knew they would lose the ability to search a database of U.S. calling records. As always, the FBI still would be able to obtain the phone records of suspects through a court order.

    There was a precedent for ending collection cold turkey. Two years earlier, the NSA cited similar cost-benefit calculations when it stopped another secret program under which it was collecting Americans’ email metadata – information showing who was communicating with whom, but not the content of the messages. That decision was made public via the Snowden leaks.

    Alexander believed that the FBI and the NSA were still getting crucial value out of the phone records program, in contrast to the email records program, former NSA officials say.

    After the Snowden leaks, independent experts who looked at the program didn’t agree. A presidential task force examined NSA surveillance and recommended ending the phone records collection, saying it posed unacceptable privacy risks while doing little if anything to stop terrorism. The task force included Michael Morell, a former deputy CIA director, and Richard Clarke, a former White House counter terrorism adviser.

    “We cannot discount the risk, in light of the lessons of our own history, that at some point in the future, high-level government officials will decide that this massive database of extraordinarily sensitive private information is there for the plucking,” the report said. Times, dates and numbers called can provide a window into a person’s activities and connections.

    A separate inquiry by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board concluded the same thing.

    David Medine, chairman of that board, said the concerns raised internally by NSA officials were the same as theirs, yet when NSA officials came before the privacy board, they “put on a pretty strong defense for the program. Except their success stories didn’t pan out,” he said.

    The post NSA considered scrapping phone program before Snowden leaks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    Credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    On NewsHour Weekend Sunday, we explore how some of the biggest players in television are looking beyond cable by offering services that bundle and stream programs for consumers without a cable or satellite hookup.

    As we reported the story, we had a number of conversations around the newsroom about this topic, which brought up a variety of questions:

    Is it ethical to use a friend’s Netflix password? How long is it reasonable to use your parents’ HBO GO login before you should purchase your own subscription? Are live stream options sufficient or is cable still worth the cost?


    Some members of the NewsHour Weekend team share how they consume media. Photo credit William Brangham/ NewsHour Weekend

    All of the back and forth got us thinking: How do each of us consume media, and how do our habits that compare to those of our online community?

    Here’s a selection of media habits from a few of our newsroom team members.

    Hari Sreenivasan, PBS NewsHour Weekend anchorhari_sreenivasan-01_homepage_blog_horizontal
    Cable? Yes.
    Favorite shows: Sherlock, Black Mirror, Top Gear and many others that get me through flights when I stay offline.
    What does your media diet look like? I have cable, but reluctantly so. I’ve thought seriously of cutting the cord and the obnoxious bill for hundreds of channels I never care to watch, but realize that my provider makes unbundling to just have internet almost as expensive as keeping the cable box. I tried Aereo for a quick minute but the bandwidth was not ready for primetime. I have an Apple TV at home, and use it to access Netflix, PBS and HBO (which I pay for) because the interface, while far from perfect, is infinitely better than the cable box from the company that shall not be named. I’m watching video almost as much on my laptop as on a large screen.

    bethBeth Ponsot, Online News Editor
    Cable? No.
    Favorite shows: Broad City, Shameless, Top Chef, House of Cards
    What does your media diet look like? I have a TV, but I don’t pay for cable. I use an HDMI cord to hook my laptop up to my TV, turning it into a giant computer screen. I share logins for streaming services like Netflix and HBO GO and then watch on my ‘TV’ (or my phone if I’m on the go). If I want to watch a particularly cinematic show and be sure the quality won’t be interrupted — Downton Abbey or Mad Men, for example — I’ll download the season in HD from iTunes‎. I watch PBS NewsHour on YouTube and Frontline documentaries on pbs.org.

    William_B.rev_William Brangham, Producer/Correspondent
    Cable? Yes.
    Favorite Shows: The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Sherlock, Louie
    What does your media diet look like? I have an older TV (720p!) and grudgingly pay for a bundled cable service. I’m a family of five, so the variety cable affords with all those channels is helpful. For example, my wife loves Downton Abbey and Modern Family, we all watch 60 Minutes, and my kids range anywhere from The Simpsons and Brooklyn Nine-Nine to Premier League Soccer and Disney’s Jessie. We have an Apple TV through which we watch a lot of Netflix and HBO GO, though we’re increasingly watching more and more on a laptop or tablet.

    268804fAndrew Mach, Multimedia Editor
    Favorite shows: Portlandia, Sherlock, The Leftovers, Broad City
    What does your media diet look like? I rock a Roku and mainly watch movies and series at my leisure on a television, but occasionally I’ll use my iPad or iPhone. Most often, it’s via the Netflix and HBO GO apps (for which I share passwords), and sometimes it’s on YouTube or iTunes. I can’t remember the last time I watched something on cable, and I find it annoying when televised events like award shows aren’t available to stream online.

    Hanna_Yi.rev_Hannah Yi, Producer
    Cable? Nope.
    Favorite shows: Broad City, House of Cards, Last Week Tonight, The Jinx, The Mindy Project
    What does your media diet look like? I don’t own a television so I’m watching everything on either my iPad or laptop. I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus and use a friend’s HBO GO password. I’m also able to watch 60 Minutes or PBS shows like NewsHour and Frontline documentaries through their apps. So even without cable, I feel fully connected and able to comfortably watch from my smaller screens.

    Connie.revConnie Kargbo, Associate Producer
    Cable? Yes.
    Favorite shows: Walking Dead, The Good Wife, Game of Thrones
    What does your media diet look like? I’m one of those cable die-hards. I have a TV and there’s something nice and easy about coming home and just turning on the cable to watch a show. I do have access to a family member’s HBO GO, Netflix, and Showtime accounts. These come in handy when paired with my Chromecast USB hookup. As newer, more catered TV cable collections come out, I do see myself eventually cancelling my cable subscription.

    Zachary_Green.rev_Zachary Green, Associate Producer
    Cable? Yes.
    Favorite shows: The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight, Better Call Saul, New Girl, Kroll Show, Community, The Americans, Justified, Broad City, Archer (the list goes on…)
    What does your media diet look like? There’s a weekly line-up of shows that my wife and I watch on cable, like New Girl and Broad City. Cable shows that are on later at night, like The Daily Show, I’ll DVR and watch in the morning before I go to work. We have Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts that we use to watch shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orange is the New Black, The Americans or Justified. We use a friend’s HBO GO password to watch shows like Game of Thrones or HBO movies like Behind the Candelabra.

    Now we want to know — what does your media diet look like?

    Share yours in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook.

    The post What’s your media diet? See how you compare to the NewsHour team appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A boy washes his hands before going to school in Monrovia, Liberia, February 16, 2015. On Sunday, Liberian officials urged Ebola survivors to abstain from sex. Photo by James Giahyue/Reuters.

    A boy washes his hands before going to school in Monrovia, Liberia, Feb. 16, 2015. On Sunday, Liberian officials urged Ebola survivors to abstain from sex. Photo by James Giahyue/Reuters.

    Liberian officials on Sunday urged Ebola survivors to observe a period of strict sexual abstinence after they recover from the deadly virus.

    The recommendation comes amid fears that Liberia’s latest case of Ebola was the result of sexual transmission. That patient, 44-year-old Ruth Tugbah, died Friday.

    Before Tugbah’s March 20 diagnosis, Liberia had gone several weeks without a new case, raising hopes that the West African country might have seen the last of the virus.

    The abstinence recommendation is one of several recent indications that officials may be giving more credence to the idea that Ebola can be spread through sexual contact.

    Research on whether Ebola can be transmitted sexually is inconclusive. The World Health Organization has said traces of the virus can be found in the semen of recovering men at least 82 days after they first show symptoms.

    But it is unclear whether that fluid can then infect others, says Ann Kurth, Associate Dean for Research at New York University’s Global Institute of Public Health.

    There is “no direct evidence or epidemiologic studies trying to test the precise primary research question of whether sexual transmission is a contributor,” Kurth said in a phone interview. She cautions that anecdotal reports indicate sexual transmission “is a risk,” however.

    Though the WHO has previously advised Ebola survivors to practice abstinence or at least safe sex, the organization had not explicitly warned that sexual transmission might be a concern after the 42-day deadline.

    Such revisions are sometimes necessary in public health policy, Kurth said.

    “As the knowledge base grows, you sometimes have to update the messages,” she said. “That is a part of public health — we don’t always have all the answers right at the beginning.”

    The post Liberian officials urge abstinence for Ebola survivors appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The decision today by the 21 nations of the Arab League to create a joint military force because of the crisis in Yemen raises the question, why didn’t the organization mobilize the same way to fight ISIS in Iraq?

    For more about this and for the latest on the military situation in Iraq, we are joined via Skype by Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal.

    So, why is it that the Arab states very quickly got involved in Yemen — it’s almost a proxy war for Shia and Sunni states — but that’s not the case in Iraq?

    MATT BRADLEY, The Wall Street Journal:  Well, they did get involved rather quickly in Iraq.

    The problem was, was that Iraq was led at the time, on June 10, when Islamic State rampaged through Northern Iraq, they were — Iraq was led by Nouri al-Maliki, who was a personal problem for many of the Sunni Arab leaders in the region.

    So, he was considered to be very closely aligned with Iran, but also a lot of the Sunni leaders in the region simply just didn’t like him.  They didn’t consider him to be a reliable partner.  And now it’s part of the reason why some of the Sunni states, such as Saudi Arabia, were so reluctant to get behind Maliki’s effort to repel Islamic State.

    And in some ways, they were more than willing sort of tacitly back Islamic State, until they found out the true nature of the threat.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  In Iraq, how likely are we to see any ground forces from the Arab League or even part of the U.S. coalition?

    MATT BRADLEY:  It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be ground forces from the Arab League any time soon.

    The Arab League ground forces is — is not — is not a fully developed force quite yet.  And so that would have to — if that were to be deployed, it would be quite a long time in the future.

    I don’t think that the United States or the Iraqis or the Iranians, for that matter, have the kind of patience to wait for a fully developed Arab League force to come together strategically, militarily, and legally to form that kind of legal apparatus that would build an Arab army that has long been the dream of many of the Sunni Arab states.

    And they want to move to Mosul later this year and retake Iraq’s second largest city from Islamic State, before that city stays too long under Islamic State control and really atrophies economically and politically.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, what is an update on the fighting in the battle for Tikrit?

    MATT BRADLEY:  Well, Tikrit is now entering — tomorrow, it will be entering the fourth week of its — of the assault on Tikrit.

    And what was so unusual about this was that these Iranian-backed militias started the fight in Tikrit on March 2.

    And they didn’t warn the United States, and they didn’t make any effort to coordinate with U.S. airstrikes that have successfully repelled some Islamic State elements throughout the country and in Syria, especially in Kobani, where the United States was really flogging Islamic State.

    So, for the first two weeks, these Iranian-backed Shiite militias were able to repel Islamic State from the areas outside of Tikrit.  But once it entered the third week, the fight sort of stalled.

    And that is when, after a couple of days of that impasse, Baghdad went to the United States and asked them to intervene.  And so the United States said, we will intervene, as long as these Shiite militias take a backseat role in the continuing fighting in Tikrit.

    So what we are seeing now is a very difficult moment, where these Shiite militias have been asked to sort of withdraw from the front lines while the United States moves forward.

    But, without these Shiite militias, who are backed by Iran, in Tikrit, the United States doesn’t have a strong, reliable, on-the-ground partner capable of moving in to Tikrit and really liberating it from Islamic State.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  All right, Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal, thanks so much.

    MATT BRADLEY:  Thank you.

    The post What does an Arab League joint military force mean for the crisis in Yemen? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    SCOTT SHAFER, KQED: For some, landing in Silicon Valley is like arriving in Shangri-la — the place that Apple, Facebook and Google call home. But even in paradise, there’s traffic.

    RADIO TRAFFIC REPORT: Heading in a northbound direction break lights…

    SCOTT SHAFER, KQED: The commute along this 49-mile stretch of freeway between San Francisco and San Jose can take a couple of hours.

    Drivers have plenty of time to stare out their windows at the seemingly endless stream of ads for tech companies. Some billboards promote the familiar, but others seem to require a translator.

    Stanford University marketing professor Pedro Gardete says the billboards use a private language aimed at the tech set.

    STANFORD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR PEDRO GARDETE: These billboards are different than anything we have seen before. These companies have found a way to do it, putting up some riddles in a sense, saying this ad is you. And it really makes sense in the micro-climate we live in.

    SCOTT SHAFER, KQED: Among those driving by are some of the biggest names in venture capital and high tech.

    STANFORD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR PEDRO GARDETE: One of the major strategies when you build a new startup is to get bought. So there is nothing like getting awareness to get people to consider you for a purchase.

    SCOTT SHAFER, KQED: Natasha Raja created the much buzzed about billboards for the tech recruiting firm, Dice. The ads feature real engineers in their underwear. A commuter herself, Raja thought drivers would appreciate some humor.

    NATASHA RAJA, DICE: You want to put a smile on people’s face, but you also want people to pay attention. We wanted to make sure it was funny.

    SCOTT SHAFER, KQED: Since it put up the ads, Dice says it got a big boost in calls for its services. Using an old-school technique to promote high-tech firms may seem counterintuitive, but if the ads work, expect to see more of them.

    The post Drive-by jargon: Decoding Silicon Valley’s puzzling tech billboards appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A woman shows her clean syringes at the Aids Center of Queens County needle exchange outreach center in New York in 2006. Indiana Governor Mike Pence has launched a 30-day needle-exchange program to stop the virus, which officials say is being spread by addicts sharing infected needles. Credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

    A woman shows her clean syringes at the Aids Center of Queens County needle exchange outreach center in New York in 2006. Indiana Governor Mike Pence has launched a 30-day needle-exchange program to stop the virus, which officials say is being spread by addicts sharing infected needles. Credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

    Indiana Governor Mike Pence this week declared a public health emergency because of 79 H.I.V. cases among injection drug-users in the southern part of the state.

    Pence has launched a 30-day needle-exchange program to stop the virus, which officials say is being spread by addicts sharing infected needles. Needle-exchange programs allow anyone to hand-in used syringes in exchange for clean, free ones.

    Pence has long opposed needle-exchange programs, which he argues promote drug use, but he said he was willing to temporarily reverse course.

    “I do not enter into this lightly,” he said. “In response to a public health emergency, I’m prepared to make an exception to my long-standing opposition to needle exchange programs… I don’t believe effective anti-drug policy involves handing out drug paraphernalia.”

    Back in the 1990s, Vancouver, British Columbia found itself grappling with a severe epidemic of HIV/AIDS among intravenous drug users.

    “Vancouver experienced what has been described as the most explosive epidemic of H.I.V. ever observed outside of Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Thomas Kerr, an H.I.V. researcher in British Columbia.

    Officials in British Columbia created what has been hailed as one of the most effective H.I.V. prevention programs in the world — one that’s being studied by China and the U.S. for its success containing the virus among a very hard-to-reach population.

    PBS NewsHour Weekend traveled to Vancouver last year to examine how their program works, including a look inside a controversial facility where medical staff help addicts inject illegal drugs safely.

    You can see that full report here below. [Editor’s note: This video report contains depictions of intravenous drug use that may be disturbing to some viewers.]

    The post As HIV epidemic rages in Indiana, lessons to be learned from Vancouver appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Firefighters battle fire at the site of a building collapse and fire in New York City's East Village neighborhood on March 26, 2015. Rescue workers pulled two bodies from the rubble Sunday afternoon. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Firefighters battle fire at the site of a building collapse and fire in New York City’s East Village neighborhood on March 26, 2015. Rescue workers pulled two bodies from the rubble Sunday afternoon. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Rescue workers recovered two bodies from the wreckage of a fire in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood Sunday afternoon.

    One of the bodies has been identified as Nicholas Figueroa, 23, according to a New York Daily News report.

    Figueroa was one of two men missing in the wake of the fire. The other, Moises Ismael Locón Yac, was still unaccounted for as of Sunday evening.

    The seven-alarm fire, which followed a Thursday afternoon explosion on Second Avenue, destroyed three buildings and wounded 22 people, four of whom were injured critically.

    New York City Fire Department firefighters battle fire at the site of a residential apartment building collapse and fire in New York City's East Village neighborhood, March 26, 2015. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    New York City Fire Department firefighters battle fire at the site of a residential apartment building collapse and fire in New York City’s East Village neighborhood, March 26, 2015. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Officials cite a gas explosion as the likely cause of the blaze, and some outlets have reported on illegal gas siphoning at the building where the fire began.

    Speaking at a Friday news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that “there is a possibility that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building.”

    The post Two bodies recovered from rubble of East Village fire appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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