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

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    British Foreign Secretary Hammond, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, EU High Rep for Foreign Affairs Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif are seen after nuclear talks in Lausanne

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: From Lausanne, Switzerland, today, news of a nuclear deal. The United States and five other nations say they have achieved a political framework for a final agreement with Iran.

    After more than a year-and-a-half of negotiations, two blown deadlines, and all-nighters this week, it came down to an afternoon of announcements, starting with the E.U. foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

    FEDERICA MOGHERINI, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union: We gather here to find solutions towards a reaching comprehensive resolution that will ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program and the comprehensive lifting of all sanctions. Today, we have taken a decisive step.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Among the main points of the deal announced today: Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity will be limited for 15 years, and the number of centrifuges it operates for that purpose will be reduced from 19,000 to 6,100. Enrichment will be allowed to continue only at the Natanz nuclear facility.

    At the Arak facility, the reactor creating weapons-grade plutonium will be redesigned to halt that activity. In return, and after verification, United Nations, European Union and U.S. sanctions will be lifted.

    That sets the stage for Iran and six world powers, the U.S., France, Germany, United Kingdom, China and Russia, to negotiate the text of a final accord.

    MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Foreign Minister, Iran: We have stopped a cycle that was not in the interest of anybody.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, called it a win-win, showing Iran is dedicated to peace without giving up its right to nuclear activity.

    MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: None of those measures include closing any of our facilities. The proud people of Iran will never accept that. Our facilities will continue. We will continue enriching. We will continue research and development. Our heavy water reactor will be modernized.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the same time, he noted the fragile state of newly reopened U.S.-Iran diplomacy.

    MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: But we have serious differences with the United States. We have built mutual mistrust in the past. So, what I hope is that, through courageous implementation of this, some of that mistrust could be remedied, but that is for us all to wait and see.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And back in Washington:

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama offered his own assessment and an updated take on President Reagan’s attitude on dealing with the Soviets: Trust, but verify.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification. If Iran cheats, the world will know it. With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Obama directly addressed one of the fiercest critics of a deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. He said he would be speaking with him and with other concerned allies in the region.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the president pleaded with members of Congress, some of whom have voiced strong opposition to the administration’s course.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If Congress kills this deal — not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative — then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The nuclear negotiators will now focus on technical aspects of the Iran program, facing a hard deadline of June 30.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon congratulated negotiators on today’s agreement, and said a comprehensive deal in a few months could — quote — “enable all countries to cooperate urgently” to deal with many security challenges they face.

    Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner criticized today’s announcement, calling it — quote — “an alarming departure from President Obama’s initial goals.”

    Joining us now tonight again tonight, under very different circumstances, is Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    So, Indira, they have announced the deal. What is the U.S. side saying? Are they saying they got what they wanted?

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, Bloomberg: They are. And, in fact, I think they’re saying that they are surprised in end that they got as much as they wanted, insofar as we heard from some administration officials who were involved in the negotiation afterward that there were moments in these very difficult negotiations, as recently as yesterday and today, where they said to the Iranians, look, maybe you’re just not going to be able to agree to this. Maybe it isn’t going to work.

    In the end, if you look at this four-major, very detailed fact sheet that the White House put out, it looks like on the surface at least as if the United States has gotten everything that it has been asking for and demanding for the last year. Now, of course, the proof is going to be in the pudding, which is in the next three months, these negotiations could still potentially fall apart over the very difficult parts of the how to get those things accomplished, the actual technical steps that each side is going to have to take.

    And that’s not guaranteed yet. And Secretary Kerry made that clear, that it could still fall through. But I have to say that, on the face of it, even though some aspects are still left vague, the administration appears to be coming home to Washington with pretty much, as I said, everything it had thought and that it had hoped it would get in the last year.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, they know they are facing a skeptical Congress, though, with a Republican majority who is already raising criticisms about this. They’re not betraying any concerns about that?

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Well, they admit that they know they are going to have an uphill battle with Congress.

    And there are a lot of skeptics in Congress who are going to try to poke holes in this. We have already heard people saying today that some of the flaws, that the snap-back function of the sanctions is not clear yet, how they are going to establish the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past work, and also how the U.N. sanctions are going to be lifted.

    So, some things were mentioned as goals they want to do, but it was not clear how they are going to get there. On the other hand, even some of the most fierce critics of the Obama administration on the nuclear side came out today saying that, actually, this was a much better deal than they had expected and that it was the kind of thing that they thought would be a good deal, if in fact tough implementation measures were put in.

    And one thing Secretary Kerry said again and again is that this deal has no sunset clause. That’s interesting. So, on the verification, some last for 10 years, some for 15, some for 25, looking at the entire life of uranium in Iran.

    That’s a huge thing. And other aspects of it will never end, was the point he was making. So I think they have some strong arguments to bring back home, even though they are definitely going to face people who are dead-set against any deal with Iran because they simply don’t trust anything that the Ayatollah Khamenei would agree to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News, we thank you.

    The post What’s in the Iran nuclear framework agreement? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

    Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

    You know that feeling when you can sense spring coming, and then you get walloped with another freeze? That’s March’s jobs report. For months, economists have been celebrating a healthy rise in payrolls. But on Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the economy added only 126,000 jobs — the lowest number since December 2013. The unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey, remained unchanged at 5.5 percent.

    Not only did March’s payroll gains fall well short of the average 269,000 jobs added per month over the past year, but January and February’s impressive gains were revised downward by a collective 69,000 jobs.

    The civilian labor force shrank by 91,000, while the population grew by its typical 180,000. The labor force participation rate dipped a tenth of a percent to 62.7 percent. Besides the fact that over 100,000 fewer people were unemployed, the contracting labor force could be one reason that the unemployment rate held at 5.5 percent. Our “Solman Scale U7,” which adds to the officially unemployed part-timers looking for full-time work and “discouraged” workers, fell to another all-time low since Making Sen$e began calculating it in 2011: 13.21 percent of the population was un- or underemployed in March.

    Economists are always wary of making too much of one jobs report given the volatility of month-to-month data. But unlike meteorologists waiting for spring, economists don’t have a calendar of seasons; they can’t take comfort in knowing a full-blossomed recovery is on its way. Besides Friday’s disappointing report, there have been some worrying signs in the past several months, with the final reading of fourth quarter growth in 2014 clocking in at just 2.2 percent last week.

    The past couple of years of data point to a slow, steady recovery that’s gradually picked up speed. The three-month average for payroll gains stands at nearly 200,000 jobs per month. The Peterson Institute’s Justin Wolfers was quick to call the report “disappointing” on Twitter Friday morning, but he also contextualized the report by saying, “If you had told me a couple of years ago that jobs growth over a 3-month period averaged nearly 200k, I would have been thrilled.”

    American Enterprise Institute economist Michael Strain agreed that the gains in previous sunny reports may have been overstated.

    But Wolfers also picked up on an interesting change in BLS’ methodology, which he also noted on Twitter.

    The fact that the margin of error grew to plus or minus 105,000 jobs added (it was already fairly large at plus or minus 90,000), means that March’s payroll total could just as easily be 231,000 or 21,000!

    An obvious culprit for slower job growth is the harsh winter and heavy snows that burdened parts of the country. The fallout from declining oil prices is also thought to have played a role.

    One bright spot in March’s report is wages. Average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents to $24.86. That’s a big increase — such a big increase, in fact, that some economists are skeptical. As Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Dean Baker cautioned us when average hourly wages shot up 9 cents in November’s report, one month’s strong gains are usually compensating for a previous month’s slowdown.

    But March’s report, Baker wrote Friday, “does appear to be evidence of accelerating wage growth.” Three months makes a trend in a way that one month does not. He notes on his blog that average wage growth over the past three months is now 2.8 percent — higher than the 2.1 percent for the year.

    The stock market is closed for Good Friday, but all eyes will be watching how the market responds to this latest report on Monday, mostly because of what it means for the Fed. At her latest Federal Open Market Committee press conference, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said a June rate hike was still on the table. But the economic forecasts the Fed released at that March meeting reflected recent slowed growth and told a more dovish story about the committee’s intentions. March’s unemployment report amplifies those concerns about the economy and makes a June rate hike more unlikely.

    The post How much of March’s disappointing jobs report is just a blip? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Christian worshippers carry a cross during a procession along the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday in Jerusalem's Old City

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    MARTIN FLETCHER: For centuries, Christian pilgrims have come to Jerusalem to retrace the last hours of Jesus’ life, walking the traditional stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa — or way of suffering.

    The biggest crowds come on Good Friday but you’ll find pilgrims here every day of the year.

    The Hoods are visiting from upstate New York.

    MAN: “I just wanted to see where the different stations were and what they represent. I’ve always heard about the stations of the cross but never really understood it.”

    KEN COSTA: “I’m following the stations of the cross from one through fourteen.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: At the fifth station of the cross, where pilgrims lay their hands where they believe Jesus rested his hand, we met Ken Costa from India.

    KEN COSTA: “Very spiritual. I felt that I was touching Jesus’ hand. And since it’s imprinted here, as this is the fifth station where Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus, so my belief is that this was the way.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: But was it? Recently revealed discoveries on the other side of the city — remnants of an ancient palace which just may be the true site of the trial of Jesus — is renewing debate about the true route of the Via Dolorosa.

    This is the route of the current Via Dolorosa, going from east to west, ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. That’s the way millions of Christian pilgrims over the years have followed in the footsteps of Christ.

    But there’s archaeological evidence that they’ve got it all wrong, that the real historical Via Dolorosa ends at the Holy Church, but that it should start more than a half mile way on the west side of the city near the Tower of David Museum.

    MARTIN FLETCHER: “This is one very special street name, isn’t it? Via Dolorosa?”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: To understand better, we visited with Franciscan Father Alessandro Coniglio.

    MARTIN FLETCHER: “Christians when they come to Jerusalem, I imagine everyone walks the Via Dolorosa.”

    FATHER ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO: “Yes.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: “Why?”

    FATHER ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO: “Because this is the path that Jesus walked. It’s a unique experience.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: He took us to the very start of the traditional Via Dolorosa. Each of the fourteen stations is marked with numbers to help pilgrims find them.

    MARTIN FLETCHER: “So actually the first station of the cross is in a Muslim boys’ school.”

    FATHER ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO: “Yes.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: A school now, but at the time of Jesus it was the Antonia Fortress where it’s long been believed the trial of Jesus took place.

    FATHER ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO: ”This is the most important place for us because here Jesus started his passion. Here he was judged by Pilate.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: The second station — across the street in two Franciscan shrines — is where tradition has it Jesus takes up the cross and is flogged by soldiers.

    Station three: Jesus falls for the first time.

    Station four: Jesus meets his mother.

    Station five: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross. That’s also where we see pilgrims touching the wall.

    Station six: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

    He falls for the second time at station seven.

    And comforts the women of Jerusalem at station eight.

    Number nine: Jesus falls for the third time at this Roman pillar.

    The last stations ten to fourteen are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the exact place where Jesus is crucified, dies, and is buried. The site was identified back in the fourth century by Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor. Pilgrims have worshipped here ever since.

    But on the western side of the Old City at the Tower of David Museum, we met archaeologist Shimon Gibson, who gave us a look at the evidence in a brand new exhibit that challenges the existing route of the Via Dolorosa.

    SHIMON GIBSON, ARCHAEOLOGIST: “So this is it”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: This was once a one-story prison, long ago abandoned. No one thought very much about it. But then archaeologists started digging and kept going, uncovering layers of 2,800 years of history including what could be the foundations of the palace of Herod the Great.

    SHIMON GIBSON, ARCHAEOLOGIST: “Now these recent excavations really brought to light further proof of the existence of a monumental edifice which can be identified as the compound of Herod the Great and subsequently the praetorium where Pontius Pilate sat.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to death. If Pilate held the trial at Herod’s Palace, which Gibson and many other historians believe, then the area near the Tower of David Museum is where the Via Dolorosa should start.

    In fact originally in the first millennium, pilgrims did think the Via Dolorosa went this way.

    MARTIN FLETCHER: “When we say we have found something new today, we’re actually going back to the old route of the Via Dolorosa.”

    SHIMON GIBSON, ARCHAEOLOGIST: “Yes.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: “So why is the Via Dolorosa today where it is?”

    SHIMON GIBSON, ARCHAEOLOGIST: “The traditional Via Dolorosa was really established at the time of the crusaders. The crusaders in 1099 invaded Jerusalem. They were able then to rearrange the features within the city in order to fit in with their idea of where the holy sites should be.

    Hence they decided that the Antonia Fortress, that would be the starting point for the Via Dolorosa, and of course the end point had to be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: The theory that the traditional Via Dolorosa might go the wrong way isn’t new, but this exhibit is.

    Just opened to public, it’s got people talking. Listen to what’s happening on this tour.

    GUIDE: “And so if we can prove that Herod’s palace is here, then we can prove the historical Via Dolorosa — the historical Via Dolorosa — should start from somewhere around here.”

    VISITOR: “That will change a few things.”

    GUIDE: ”That will change a few things! Not impressed?”

    WOMAN: “I don’t like your wording. We have to be very sensitive about saying we can prove. We can’t prove. We can ask the question: might the trial have been here even though tradition says it was there?”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: ”Are you getting specifically more groups coming here because of the story that Christ’s trial may have been here?”

    EILAT LIEBER, TOWER OF DAVID MUSEUM: “Absolutely. Every day.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber has big plans for the new exhibit and hopes it will attract history buffs and pilgrims alike. Today the museum gets 300,000 visitors a year.

    EILAT LIEBER, TOWER OF DAVID MUSEUM: “We want a million visitors every year.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: No doubt there’s a business side to all this. Christian tourists account for more than half of Israel’s $11 billion dollar tourism industry. And the traditional Via Dolorosa, which is lined with tourist shops galore, is a top destination.

    But for pilgrims like Ken Costa, walking the Via Dolorosa is not about money. Nor about history.

    KEN COSTA: “It’s only faith.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: “It’s only faith.”

    KEN COSTA: “Yes, it is.”

    MARTIN FLETCHER: Father Coniglio agrees; walking the Via Dolorosa is an act of faith.

    FATHER ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO: “We don’t have a ticket for the entrance in these two shrines here, so we will not lose anything if pilgrims will start from another place. We are just trying to say that traditionally the pilgrims started from here at least in the last three centuries.”

    The post Following Jesus’ steps: Are millions of Christians on the Via Dolorosa walking the wrong way? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    moss

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    JEFFREY BROWN: In the hit series, “Mad Men”, Peggy, the secretary turned ad executive played by Elisabeth Moss, is a character from the 1960s who somehow still speaks to our own time.

    PEGGY OLSON: I always try to be honest.

    ELISABETH MOSS: She’s hugely flawed, very insecure, also very smart. Develops a great sense of humor. Really good at her job. Horrible at her personal life.

    OLSON: That’s it?

    ABE DREXLER: What do you want me to say?

    OLSON: That you give a damn.

    MOSS: She’s, there’s a lot of us in her, you know? And I think that people identify with that.”

    BROWN: People seem to be identifying a lot with Elisabeth Moss these days: the 32-year-old actress is on a major career roll…

    PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you

    BROWN: And now she’s on Broadway, playing another smart and strong, flawed and insecure woman: Heidi Holland… in the first Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s 1989 Pulitzer Prize winning play, “The Heidi Chronicles”.

    The play takes us through various episodes in the life of one woman, from the 1960s through the ‘80s…as she makes her way through the political and social upheavals of the times — sexual liberation and the rise of feminism, the devastation of aids, and more.

    MOSS: I mean, I practically said yes before I even read the play, which I hadn’t read.

    BROWN: Well, I was wondering, did you know it before?

    MOSS: No, I knew of it, but I hadn’t read it because I didn’t go to drama school or anything. I didn’t go to college, which is where you tend to read that kind of thing.

    BROWN: You didn’t go to drama school. You didn’t go to college.

    MOSS: No

    BROWN: What were you doing?

    MOSS: “The West Wing” (laughter) No joke.

    BROWN: Playing the president’s daughter on “The West Wing” wasn’t the first TV gig for the then-17-year-old actress, who was born in Los Angeles.

    ZOEY BARTLET: I don’t mind being woken up.

    BROWN: Moss has been growing up on screen, appearing in film and television since the age of eight — early roles included ‘Baby Louise’ in a 1993 television version of the musical “Gypsy.”

    MAMA: Sing out Louise!

    BROWN: As well as ‘Polly’, the burn victim in the 1999 film, “Girl, Interrupted.”

    POLLY: I feel very musical today.

    HEIDI: Peter, you need a girlfriend.

    BROWN: In ‘Heidi’, Moss says, she’s latched onto another ‘everywoman’.

    MOSS: I think there’s a lot of me in her. I think a lot of women can see themselves in her. She’s not perfect. She’s complicated. Very self-aware, very self-deprecating. And sad a lot of the time.

    BROWN: ‘The Heidi Chronicles’ originally opened off-Broadway in 1988 with actress Joan Allen in the title role. It quickly moved to Broadway where it went on to win the Tony Award for ‘Best Play.’

    It’s continued to be a popular production on regional and college stages for its honest discussion about whether women can ‘have it all’ as they struggle to navigate personal relationships, professional aspirations, and motherhood.

    Julie Salamon is author of “Wendy and the Lost Boys”, a biography of playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died in 2006.

    SALAMON: Everything that happens in that play was so close to what was going on in Wendy Wasserstein’s life, which happened to reflect what was going on with a whole generation of women.

    HEIDI: Susie, do you ever feel that what makes you a person is also what keeps you from being a person?

    BROWN: Can a woman have it all, career, family, children, marriage, etc.?

    SALAMON: Right. Well, somebody once said to me, “You may be able to have it all, but not all at the same time.” And I think at the time Wendy was writing this, you know, the women’s movement had gone from, say in the ‘70s, where women were supposed to be very focused on their careers and jobs and equality, and then all of a sudden it flipped in the mid-80s. It’s like, ‘Yes, you’re supposed to do all that and raise perfect children who go to the best schools and are fantastic.” And I think those were the things that Wendy Wasserstein was grappling with.

    HEIDI: I don’t blame any of us. We’re all concerned, intelligent, good women.

    BROWN: Elisabeth Moss says it was a big speech in the second act — when Heidi Holland has been asked to speak at her high school alma mater that helped her find her way into the character…it’s a speech questioning whether or not she made the right decisions in her personal and professional life.

    HEIDI: I thought the point was, we were all in this together.

    MOSS: It’s a beautiful speech. I think that this feeling of — and especially of this generation of that ‘I thought we were having this thing together. I thought we were not making choices together. And so I did that. And now, I’m alone.” And she feels, as she says, she feels stranded.

    BROWN: Moss, from a later generation, says the ‘have it all’ issue still resonates for her.

    MOSS: I mean, the thing that I find most interesting about that phrase is that men are never asked it. And because men are never questioned whether they can have it all, they just can.

    BROWN: And yet you don’t, do you think things have changed that much, or not so much?

    MOSS: I don’t think it’s that black and white. I think it’s very gray, as all things are. There’s just so many more ways that you can go or not go, which is how I think we’ve definitely improved. But obviously there are still things that resonate. There is still a clock that starts ticking as a woman, when you get to a certain age. There nothing anyone can do about that. There is still tremendous problems with equal pay for women.

    BROWN: Those same issues, of course, have played out in Moss’ character, Peggy Olson, in “Mad Men.”

    OLSON: What the hell do I know about being a mom? I just turned 30, Don.

    BROWN: Do you see a connection between Peggy and– and Heidi?

    MOSS: Absolutely. Absolutely. But I see a connection between both of them, and– and all women, and myself, you know? I always thought Peggy was the everywoman.

    I always thought that she was the one who is– you could identify with, you know, as a woman of any age. And I think that Heidi is the same way in that sense. They’re very different people though.

    BROWN: Have you ever thought about what would have happened to her through time?

    MOSS: To Peggy?

    BROWN: Yeah.

    MOSS: Yes.

    BROWN: Yeah. And?

    MOSS: It would be difficult to say without — saying things that I can’t say about the last season. Speculating about what happened to her is like– well, we know what happened to those women, you know? They continued to work. And sometimes they got married. And sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they had kids. Sometimes they didn’t.

    And– they became the women who were our bosses. They became the women who forged the path for all the other ladies in advertising now.

    JOEY BAIRD: See, this is why I don’t like working with women — you have no sense of humor.

    OLSON: You’re fired.

    BROWN: And where does Elisabeth Moss hope to see herself, post-Peggy Olson?

    BAIRD: OK. I’ll go apologize.

    OLSON: No. Get your things.

    MOSS: I would like to just be able to keep working and keep working with people that I admire. I love film, television and theater. So I would love to do all three. If I could just keep doing that, that would be a pretty good life.

    The post Can women ‘have it all’? Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss breaks new ground in Broadway’s ‘The Heidi Chronicles’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    France's government is likely to back a bill banning excessively thin fashion models as well as potentially fining the modelling agency or fashion house that hires them and sending the agents to jail, the health minister said on Monday. Style-conscious France, with its fashion and luxury industries worth tens of billions of euros (dollars), would join Italy, Spain and Israel which all adopted laws against too-thin models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns in early 2013. Picture taken September 23, 2014. Photo by Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

    France’s government is likely pass a bill banning excessively thin fashion models as well as potentially fining the modeling agency or fashion house that hires them, sending the agents to jail. France would join Italy, Spain and Israel which all have adopted laws against too-thin models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns. Photo by Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

    The French National Assembly has passed two measures that would outlaw hiring underweight catwalk models and promoting unhealthy behavior to lose weight.

    Under the measure passed Friday, agencies that hire models whose body mass index, or BMI, is below 18 could receive fines of up to 75,000 euros and six months in prison. A standard BMI for adults is 18.5 to 24.9, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A previous version of the bill was rejected last month over concerns that it would violate existing labor laws.

    Health Minister Marisol Touraine praised the bill, saying it was an important message to “young women who see these models as an aesthetic ideal.”

    The National Assembly voted on the measure just after approving a bill Thursday night that criminalizes the glorification of extreme weight loss. People who encourage “prolonged dietary restrictions” could be subject to a year in prison or a fine of up to 10,000 euros, a measure aimed at so-called “pro-ana” online forums that promote extreme dieting.

    The measure is necessary because current laws do not enable legal action against these websites, according to a note attached to that bill.

    Critics of the measure raised concerns that it would discourage supportive online communities for people living with anorexia. There are 30,000 to 40,000 people with anorexia in France, and 90 percent of those are women. But Parliament member Olivier Véran, who sponsored the bill, said it distinguishes between supportive forums and those that encourage harmful weight loss.

    The French Senate will vote on the measures, which mark the latest effort to reshape portrayals of women in popular French media. After French Vogue published a photo spread featuring children as young as 10 years old in 2010, the French Senate launched an investigation led by Sen. Chantal Jouanno on the hypersexualization of children. Jouanno recommended several measures for limiting unrealistic, sexualized images of children, including outlawing child beauty pageants, which the French Senate voted to approve in 2013.

    The post France moves to ban underweight models, ‘pro-ana’ websites appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally to our NewsHour Shares of the day, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    Just in time for Easter, an order of monastic nuns in rural Missouri topped Billboard’s classical music chart, their fourth consecutive number one debut since 2012.

    Monica Fitzgibbons, co-founder of De Montfort Music, tells us how the sisters, who spend most of their time singing or being silent, manage to be chart toppers.

    MONICA FITZGIBBONS, De Montfort Music: The Benedictines of Mary got into music business by chance.

    They had produced some of their homegrown sort of C.D.s, trying to drum up some donors.  We found one of them, and got the idea that we wanted to hear if they actually could sing.

    The nuns say, we probably sing more than we speak.

    And they’re in their chapel eight times per day singing really psalms. That’s really how their life is arranged. And then they’re monastic, so that means they’re in silent contemplation for the majority of the day.

    The very first time they reached number one on Billboard, I could not get in touch with them because they were out plowing the field. It took a couple days for the news to get there. They were sort of detached from how high they went on the charts. Anything that could mean a peaceful situation, this has sort of become the soundtrack for that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s a whole different type of sister act.

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    An overview shows a meeting with P5+1, European Union and Iranian officials during nuclear talks with Iran at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel  in Lausanne on March 30, 2015. Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

    Iran and six world powers agreed Thursday to a political framework for a final nuclear deal. Iran’s foreign minister called it a “win-win,” while noting the fragile state of U.S.-Iran relations. President Obama praised the deal, saying it is based on unprecedented verification, but critics remain in Washington, Tehran and beyond. Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: David Kay was the Chief Nuclear Weapons Inspector in Iraq for the International Atomic Energy Agency during the 1990s, leading numerous inspections following the end of the Gulf War in 1991. It was his job to determine the production capability of Iraqi nuclear weapons. After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and the U.S. military found no weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush appointed Kay to lead the Iraq Survey Group to scour the country to find them. In January 2004 Kay concluded that there had been no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the time of the U.S.’s invasion. Here is Kay’s assessment of the nuclear agreement reached this week with Iran.

    The Good news:

    1. That any agreement (even an agreement that is only an agreement to reach an agreement) about arrangements to limit Iran’s nuclear program could be reached between the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Russia, Germany) and Iran. It’s easy to overlook how poisoned this relationship is on both sides, filled with distrust and hateful memories that have entered their collective national psyches, and considerable divisions within the countries about any such deals.

    2. The limitations on centrifuges, both in number and type, are a considerable step forward. The IR-1 centrifuge is an unreliable, deficient design that Iran acquired from Pakistan. The more advanced centrifuges that Iran itself has developed are to be put in monitored storage.

    The Incomplete News:

    1. This is an agreement outline, not an agreement. There is really hard and difficult work to turn this into an enforceable agreement.

    2. The framework is silent on any limitations of Iran’s ballistic missile program, beyond the sanctions already in place. These sanctions have raised the cost of this program, but not significantly limited its progress. North Korea is likely to continue to aid Iran in this area.

    3. The R&D limits both with regard to centrifuges and other nuclear activities are at best vague (regarding centrifuge work) and in some areas (missile warheads suitable for nuclear weapons and work related to creating a successful nuclear device — almost all work critical to nuclear weapon design can easily be done on computers as well or better than actually physical testing) simply absent.

    The Bad News (at least for now):

    1. The framework calls for a separate “dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s Nuclear program” to monitor and approve “the supply, sale and transfer” to Iran as of now unspecified materials and technology. Why bad news? If there is any country that knows how to beat export controls it’s Iran, which has been doing exactly this for 35 years. Also the last time something like this was tried, the infamous U.N. “oil for food program” in Iraq, it led to massive corruption in Iraq and within the UN.

    2. The inspection/verification task that this agreement will require is huge and really without precedent in its comprehensiveness and duration. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguard program will require a considerable expansion before it is ready for this. Even more important, and usually overlooked, is the essential step that Iran must take before this begins. Without a full, comprehensive and accurate declaration of all of its past, current and planned nuclear related activities, effective verification cannot begin. Too many people believe, partly my fault, that effective inspections means inspectors running around a country knocking on doors demanding access. That only occurs when a country refuses to make full, accurate and complete declarations, and when it does occur, you no longer have full verification.

    The Wrong News:

    1. Too much attention has been given to how this agreement might damage Israel. Israel, will, in fact, be a big winner. First, the U.S. is certain to be required by Congress to provide Israel even more military assistance — F22s, F35s, bunker busters, more antimissile assistance, long-range refueling capability, etc. Second, this agreement will solidify the Israeli-Saudi cooperation that has emerged over the last three years. This is really important and underreported.

    The post Former inspector: The good, bad and ugly from Iran Nuclear Deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    wolfhall2

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: There’s a lot of buzz this weekend about a Tudor takeover coming to television, as Henry VIII, his many wives, and his scheming ministers are suddenly as alive as ever.

    A new series premieres this weekend on “Masterpiece,” one that already has a strong literary following eagerly awaiting the adaptation.

    Jeffrey Brown has our look.

    ACTOR: Master Cromwell…

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s on television.

    ACTOR: Your reputation is bad.

    JEFFREY BROWN: On Broadway.

    ACTOR: I was once the best cook in all of Italy.

    ACTOR: His grace would like salmon.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And in print.

    Hilary Mantel and her historic characters are seemingly everywhere.

    HILARY MANTEL, Author, “Wolf Hall”: The ever expanding Henry VIII.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Literally.

    HILARY MANTEL: With his six wives. No one else has a ruler with six wives, who cuts the heads off two of them. So you’re off to a flying start there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Mantel’s novels “Wolf Hall” and its sequel, “Bring Up the Bodies,” have been an international sensation, with more than four million books sold in 37 languages. She won the prestigious Man Booker Prize twice, a first for a woman.

    It’s a familiar story in many ways, the momentous reign in the 1500s of the Tudor King Henry, played on television by Damian Lewis, basking in power, but needing a male heir, cutting loose one wife in favor of the young Anne Boleyn, only to cut her head off when no son is produced.

    But Hilary Mantel has told the story in a new way, giving the lead role to Thomas Cromwell, played by Mark Rylance. Cromwell has long been cast as the heavy, a shadowy cruel schemer, especially as compared to his great rival, Thomas More. Mantel’s Cromwell is certainly clever and scheming, but he’s also charming and urbane.

    HILARY MANTEL: Thomas Cromwell, son of a blacksmith, who rose to be the king’s right-hand man and eventually earl of Essex.

    And my question is simple: How do you do that? What kind of a man in that hierarchical, structured society can break through all the social layers, all the factors stacked against him, and climb so high? And what is the price?

    JEFFREY BROWN: You looked at the history and you said, this is wrong, the way he’s been portrayed?

    HILARY MANTEL: I thought it was a lot more complicated and nuanced than the popular picture of Cromwell. I wanted to put the spotlight on him. And I wanted to ask my reader, or our audience, well, what would you do if you were him? Just walk a mile in his shoes, and then see what you think.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The six-hour television production adapted from the two novels went to great lengths to get the details right, including shooting on locations where the historical figures once lived.

    For the actors, there were challenges and rewards.

    MARK RYLANCE, “Wolf Hall”: It was 17 weeks, and I was in every scene. So it was physically tiring. Most films are not spanned over six hours. So that was quite — that was quite challenging, to jump about like that, to film a scene, and then go have my clothes changed, and then have another scene that was maybe 20 years later.

    It is the story of a new modern man at the beginning of a new modern Europe. Everyone really tries to serve the whims of Henry VIII.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The theater production also went for historical accuracy, from jewelry to the elaborate costumes, which took 25 seamstresses more than 8,000 hours to make.

    Mantel has worked closely with both productions, especially the play, including attending previews on Broadway, observing actor Ben Miles as Cromwell, and then giving notes and ideas to the director and cast.

    HILARY MANTEL: I don’t think of the novels when I’m in the theater, but my mind is divided, because part of me is thinking, now, this scene is looking interesting tonight. What is the king going to do next?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Really? Even you’re thinking that?

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Not everyone has accepted Mantel’s version of events surrounding this key moment in English history, when Henry defied the pope in Rome and created the Church of England.

    Two Catholic bishops criticized the series when it aired in Britain for its — quote — “perverse and anti-Catholic” depiction of Thomas More, who’s been canonized by the church.

    Mantel, though, says she grounded her fiction in years of research.

    HILARY MANTEL: I think that an imaginative writer for stage or novel has a — still has a responsibility to their reader, and that responsibility is to get the history right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You want to do that?

    HILARY MANTEL: Absolutely. That’s the absolute foundation of what I do.

    I begin to imagine at the point where the facts run out. But, like a historian, I’m working on the great marshy ground of interpretation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Which historians do, but also, you’re saying, novelists?

    HILARY MANTEL: Exactly. We all share the same sources. We share the same facts. The question is, where do we stand to view them?

    JEFFREY BROWN: So are you pleased with the way this has turned out, both on television and on stage?

    HILARY MANTEL: I think my books are so well-served and, as I say, enhanced by both media.

    I sometimes think back, though, to the day when I began, because it’s very vivid in my mind, writing the first paragraph, and having that feeling, by the time I was halfway down the first page, this is the best thing you have ever done. I was walking around with a big grin: Do you want to see my first page?

    JEFFREY BROWN: And there is one more act to come. Mantel is at work on part three of her epic tale. No spoiler alert is required. History tells us that Cromwell himself will lose his head. The pleasure for Hilary Mantel then is in the telling.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown in New York.

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    michelleobama

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, to the latest addition on the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    It’s a new biography of the first lady, “Michelle Obama: A Life” by Peter Slevin, a veteran political reporter formerly with The Washington Post.

    Recently, he sat down with Gwen Ifill at Busboys and Poets, a restaurant and bookstore chain in the Washington, D.C., area.

    GWEN IFILL: Peter Slevin, thank you for joining us.

    PETER SLEVIN, Author, “Michelle Obama: A Life”: It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks.

    GWEN IFILL: In this book, you say that at one point Michelle Obama described herself as a statistical anomaly.

    As you were putting together this history, the story of her life, what did you find out?

    PETER SLEVIN: What I found was that Michelle Obama came from a working-class family on the South Side of Chicago. She lived in a small apartment. Her parents had not gone to college. And the odds were kind of stacked against her.

    And then she managed to find her way to a magnet school, to Princeton, to Harvard, and to a position of some influence in the country.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about this. She wasn’t like a poor, underprivileged child. She had some piano lessons and she rode her bike everywhere, she and her brother.

    She had some advantages, but pretty middle-class existence without a lot of money.

    PETER SLEVIN: She really did. She had a stay-at-home mother, something that she points out a lot. She was extremely close to her father, who worked at the city water plant. And he did shift work, but he was available to her.

    GWEN IFILL: Fraser Robinson.

    PETER SLEVIN: Fraser Robinson. He worked at the city water plant, and he was there for Michelle and for her brother, Craig.

    She had a very large extended family. They were very close geographically on the South Side of Chicago and they were also very close personally. She got advice from people. She had role models in her life. She saw a path forward.

    GWEN IFILL: There seem to be several threads that run through this book. One is the story of her childhood, of her upbringing, and how it created who she was.

    The other which I found interesting was the thread of race, all the way from before she was born in her family life, through her childhood in Chicago, through her time at Princeton and at Harvard, and even in her time in the White House.

    PETER SLEVIN: Michelle grew up at a time in Chicago — she was born in 1964, the year the Civil Rights Act was passed. She grew up with parents who had not gone to college, with grandparents who came in the Great Migration from the South to Chicago.

    Both of her grandfathers experienced racism. She often said of one of her grandfathers that, if he had been born white, he would have been a banker. Her other grandfather was a man who couldn’t get a good job as a carpenter in the city of Chicago because he wasn’t allowed to join a labor union.

    GWEN IFILL: But did that history scar her, or did it shape her, or is she no longer that person?

    PETER SLEVIN: I think there was a fundamental tension growing up, something that she experienced in her household, which was not at all uncommon, that, on the one hand, she learned that the deck was stacked a little bit, that there was a great deal of inequality.

    But that very same grandfather who didn’t become a bank president or, as his relatives called him, professor, he worked in the post office, he said, you know, Michelle, your destiny is not determined on the day you’re born. Get on with it, get an education, everything is possible. She heard that from her parents, too.

    GWEN IFILL: She was a career woman. She was what she called a mom in chief.

    PETER SLEVIN: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: And now the first lady, which is always a murky definition anyhow. How are you? What’s a first lady?

    PETER SLEVIN: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: And how much of this has she shaped herself and how much of it has the world forced on her?

    PETER SLEVIN: She’s chosen to play a very dynamic role, even if, at first, she was very sort of careful and very strategic.

    And she focused on things that she cared about. And they are pulled together by some of those experiences she had growing up and as a professional on the South Side of Chicago.

    GWEN IFILL: Many first ladies, their role is also to be some sort of counterpart, a flip side of their husband. And in her case, her husband is known as being kind of opaque, people say cool. And she is not considered to be cool in that way.

    And I wonder if part of her role is to fill in those gaps for Barack Obama.

    PETER SLEVIN: Friends say that their relationship is very close in that way. She’s very direct. And yet, at the same time, she says, you know, every night he walks in the door, he doesn’t need to hear me telling him what to do.

    It’s clear that she’s a close adviser to him. She’s a real partner to him as well.

    GWEN IFILL: But her trajectory has been interesting. She’s gone from where we discussed, where she came from, now to being kind of a champion of good health and healthy eating and dancing with Jimmy Fallon and you name it.

    That was all very well-thought-out. That didn’t just evolve.

    PETER SLEVIN: We think of her as doing a lot of mom and apple pie stuff, but if you look at the heart of each her issues, if you think about her educational initiative, Reach Higher, it’s targeting disadvantaged kids.

    When you think about school lunches, 70 percent of kids who buy school lunches at public schools buy them at a reduced price. And even if you think about the military families initiative, the vast majority of soldiers who are leaving the armed forms in fact only have a high school education.

    So she’s also subtly trying in a small way to kind of unstack the deck, I think.

    GWEN IFILL: After all the friends, all the family you have talked to for this book, any indication what she does with this?

    PETER SLEVIN: What everyone says is that she herself is figuring it out.

    She has said that she will do some writing. She has said that she will continue to work on education. One of her roles that she’s taken on through her life has been as a mentor. And I think, if you look at the group she’s speaking to, it’s often girls, often teenagers, trying to share a message with them. And she’s said that she wants to keep pushing those kids in some ways the very same way she was pushed herself.

    GWEN IFILL: Peter Slevin, the author of “Michelle Obama: A Life,” thank you very much.

    PETER SLEVIN: Thank you for having me.

     

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Opening day for baseball begins this holiday weekend. The first game is Sunday night, when the Saint Louis Cardinals take on the Chicago Cubs. And then all others teams throw their first pitch on Monday.

    We recently took note of how the league is trying to make some changes to the game on the field. But there are also some changes under way behind the scenes when it comes to the management and leadership of Major League ball clubs.

    Special correspondent John Carlos Frey has the story.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: These teenagers are some of the best young baseball players in Latin America and the United States. They came here, to USA Baseball headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, to show off their talents to pro scouts, who might turn them into the future faces of Major League Baseball.

    Closely tracking their development is Kim Ng.

    KIM NG, Assistant General Manager, Major League Baseball: I run our scouting division. And that’s under my purview.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: As Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of baseball operations, Ng is one of the highest -ranking women in all of professional sports.

    KIM NG: I do travel a lot.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: She’s been in baseball for over two decades, starting as an intern with the Chicago White Sox. Then, in 1998, the Yankees called with a big offer.

    KIM NG: Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees hired me as his assistant general manager in New York. I was there for four years and then I went on to be the assistant general manager of the Dodgers for nine years.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Ng is one of only three women to ever hold an assistant general manager position in Major League Baseball.

    KIM NG: I don’t think anyone could’ve seen this 20 years ago.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Do you see yourself during that 20-year career breaking down barriers?

    KIM NG: I do. There are certain points in time when I’m able to step back and look at it and understand the magnitude of what’s happened.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Do you have to work harder because you’re a woman?

    KIM NG: Absolutely, sure. I walk into a room of 50 guys, and the only one — the only person they will probably doubt is me.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Still, Ng’s ascension to the top of baseball’s ranks may represent the inevitability of a slow trend towards diversity in the game’s management.

    FARHAN ZAIDI, General Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers: If I’m going to put my geek cap on, it’s a statistical impossibility that every — that the best candidate for every position in baseball is a middle-aged Caucasian male.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: With a bachelor’s degree from MIT and a Ph.D. in economics from Berkeley, Farhan Zaidi’s resume reads like a better fit for the World Bank than Major League Baseball.

    But after 10 years with the Oakland athletics, Zaidi is now a general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the first Muslim general manager of any major American sports franchise.

    FARHAN ZAIDI: It’s not something I wake up every morning and think about, you know, like I’m going into work today as the, you know, first Muslim-American general manager in professional sports. I think that’s probably the first time I have said it out loud.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: It’s a big deal.

    FARHAN ZAIDI: Yes. I’m proud of it, but I know I’m such a small part of what, you know, I hope happens in our sport and in sports in general, which is, you know I don’t think baseball or any sport belongs to anyone or any one group of people.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: While many will see Zaidi’s achievement as a breakthrough, for him, it is the fruition of an impossible dream for a boy born to Pakistani parents in Canada and raised in the Philippines.

    FARHAN ZAIDI: If you ask me what my dream job was, I would have said working for a baseball team, but that will never happen.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: But you weren’t working towards that goal?

    FARHAN ZAIDI: No, I mean, and, again, just because I felt it would be like saying, you know, you were working towards winning at the lottery. I mean, how do you do that, you know?

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: That answer came in Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball,” about the rise of analytics, or deep statistical analysis in baseball, championed by free-thinking Oakland athletics general manager Billy Beane.

    FARHAN ZAIDI: I was in a Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley, when I finally read the book “Moneyball.”  And I would actually say that was the first time when I felt like somebody with my background, with my sort of limited baseball background and, you know, maybe with my education profile, could contribute to a Major League front office.

    And then I came upon this posting for a baseball operations assistant position with the A’s. And it just seemed like the perfect fit, because it was with the A’s, it was with Billy Beane, and it was a very quantitative position by nature.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: It sounds like you really wanted the job.

    FARHAN ZAIDI: There was really no stone that was I going to leave unturned sort of in my preparation process. I learned the organization inside out. I learned the minor league system, you know, what people in the front office did. I just wanted to feel like, you know, I wanted to walk out of that interview saying, I spent too much time preparing.

    BILLY BEANE, General Manager, Oakland Athletics: I was lucky to have Farhan walk through those doors. I think that highly of him. He’s a great baseball executive. He’s a better person. I mean, I get upset thinking about it. He’s really special. Yes, I mean, it means a lot to me.

    Oh, hey. Nice shirt.

    (LAUGHTER)

    FARHAN ZAIDI: You get sent home if you wear the wrinkled version.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: After a decade working together in Oakland, the mentor and his protégé met for the first time as competitors at a spring training this year when Beane’s Athletics faced Zaidi’s Dodgers.

    BILLY BEANE: This is a billion-dollar industry where the best and the brightest should get the opportunity. And that’s the way we looked at it with Farhan. It looked to be a very wise decision, because here he is right now running one of the biggest sports franchises on the globe, and he deserves it.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Zaidi is part of a generation of post-“Moneyball” executives who now bring strong analytic backgrounds, but little or no on-field experience to baseball management jobs.

    FARHAN ZAIDI: Whether you’re tracking the spin of the ball or the speed of the first step of the defensive player in pursuing a fly ball, there’s so many pieces of information that you can collect on a baseball field. And from a front office standpoint, it just makes sense to use all that information to your advantage.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: It sounds a little surprising to me. I mean, we are talking about a game here. We’re talking about baseball. We’re not talking about a cure for cancer.

    FARHAN ZAIDI: Right, but we are also talking, I mean, when you are talking about the Dodgers, about a team with a $250 million payroll. And it’s a $2 billion company. There are so many meetings that I have sat in over the last 10 years where I have thought, you know, the group of people in this room is not at all representative of the face of this country.

    I don’t think it was inevitable that a Muslim with my background was going to get into baseball. It was just me being at the right place at the right time. And I think that will happen with, you know, a prominent female in sports, whether it’s position as a commissioner or as a general manager. There is an increasing number of qualified candidates.

    And I think it will be a reminder to us of how broad our fan base in baseball really is, that it crosses all age and gender and ethnic and religious lines.

    KIM NG: So, it’s been fun.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Kim Ng still has more work to do in baseball. Like those prospects she’s been tracking, she will wait for now for her next big break in the majors.

    KIM NG: I think seeing a woman general manager would be a great thing. I have actually interviewed for a number of jobs, general managerships, unfortunately haven’t gotten one yet, but I think have come close. So, hopefully, that’s still on the horizon for me or somebody else.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Do you think that a man with your same resume and experience in Major League Baseball would have already been a general manager?

    KIM NG: Hard to say.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: It’s likely?

    KIM NG: I would say so.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: So when they come down to the decision of whether to pick you or somebody as qualified, gender comes into play?

    KIM NG: I think it does. Yes, I think it’s — I think it’s hard for some people to imagine.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: I’m just kind of curious as to why they would pick the man just because he is a man.

    KIM NG: I have no answer for you on that one.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: You would be the highest-ranking women in all of Major League sports, if you were general manager.

    KIM NG: I believe so. If it were to happen, I think my mother would be very proud.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Your mother?  What about you?

    KIM NG: I would be very proud, too. There is no doubt.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: That glass ceiling would be broken for good, I would imagine.

    KIM NG: I hope so. I hope it’s not a one-time deal. You know, it will become much less of a novelty. And, hopefully, people will consider and recognize and understand what we’re capable of.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: For PBS NewsHour, I’m John Carlos Frey in Cary, North Carolina

     

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    shieldsbrooks

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    So, David, let me start with you.

    If the hard-liners or some hard-liners in Iran are opposed to this and if Benjamin Netanyahu is opposed to this, did the U.S. successfully, or U.S. and the coalition, thread the needle and try to get the negotiations that they wanted to?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I don’t think so.

    I must agree with the hard-liners over there. So, I’m skeptical of the deal. Parts of it are impressive. The inspection regime is pretty good. And so people will really know what they’re talking about saying for 10 years we will at least have access to lots of different parts of the Iranian weapons system, maybe not some of the Republican Guard forts in the areas like that, but it’s a pretty good regime.

    My problem with it are twofold. First, the whole first goal of this thing was to get rid of the Iranian nuclear program. That’s what the president said. We’re a long way from that. Second, in 10 years, lots of bad things can happen. They can really move quickly.

    Third, it’s a big bet on the nature of the Iranian regime. Is it a regime that wants to join the community of nations?  If it’s that, then it’s a home run. Barack Obama will go down in history, and he will earn the Nobel Prize he got whenever he got it.

    But I’m extremely skeptical of all that. This is a regime that genuinely talks about and acts on the basis of the idea that it’s a radical regime, with a certain mission and history that doesn’t only talk about it. It acts upon. It funds Hezbollah. It funds Hamas. It funds IEDs that kill American troops. It wants to have a certain influence on the region, which is an extremely hostile influence.

    And so when people like David Petraeus say that Iran is not the solution, it’s the problem, then I think you have to think we’re cutting — we’re going to end up enriching a regime that will end up doing us harm. So, I’m willing to give the deal a chance, but I’m a skeptic.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS: Not a big chance, but a chance, right?

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: I think the unprecedented, unrestricted inspections are very, very positive. I am very supportive of what I know about the deal so far.

    I — the reaction right now and the resistance, which has been quite outspoken in this country, reminds me of a second-term president who negotiated with a brutal regime that had enslaved hundreds of millions of people and killed millions of people. And he had an agreement to cut our nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles by 50 percent unilaterally.

    And he came back, Ronald Reagan, from dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev and said — George Will, the great conservative commentator, said this is the day America lost the Cold War. William Buckley’s “National Review” called it Ronald Reagan’s suicide pact. It was roundly roasted.

    I happen to believe that you negotiate with your enemies, with your adversaries. And I think — I think, from everything I know at this point, it’s positive. There’s great resistance in this country. Make no mistake about it. Republican candidates for 2016, by emphasizing their opposition to President Obama on anything, but certainly on this, help themselves.

    Mark Kirk, the Republican senator from Illinois, has already retired the classless demagoguery award for 2015 and maybe for 2016 as well, when he said, without having even looked at the terms, that this — that Neville Chamberlain got more out of — from Hitler out of Munich than we did.

    I am cautiously optimistic and hopeful. I don’t know what the option is, what the alternative is. I think, to bring them in, it’s always better to deal with people than to isolate them. And I don’t do it with my eyes in any way closed to Iran’s evil acts.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    So this is — the whole deal is that, is the Iranian regime Stalin or are they Gorbachev?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    DAVID BROOKS: And if they’re Gorbachev, which is to say, ideologically dead and not even believing in their own system, ready for change, then this sort of pulls them into the community of nations and, as I say, home run, home run.

    But the way they act, I think they’re closer to Stalin. I think they do believe in their revolutionary zeal. This was a country — you go back to the Iran-Iraq War. They have land mines fighting the Iraqis. How did they clear land mines?  They took kids, they gave them a string, and they had them walk across a field.

    So they’re in a different mental universe, blowing up land mines with their kids. Now, granted, that was at the high point of the revolution. But they’re not so far away. Look at what they’re doing. They’re spending all this money on Hezbollah. They’re sometimes in tactical alliances with al-Qaida.

    They are a radical regime. And so I think what we’re doing is we’re, within a few short years, they will be pumping out oil, they will be a lot richer, their influence on the region will be greater, and the Saudis will have to counter. And I already think that the region is in the midst or in the very beginning of what some people have called a 30-years war, a religious war.

    And allowing Iran to get richer and potentially nuclear in the middle of that 30-years war strikes me as risky.

    MARK SHIELDS: Two quick points.

    Half the population of Iran is under the age of 35. To me, that’s encouraging and that’s positive. I think the acclaim and the response, the positive response to this agreement there is encouraging in itself. And I don’t know. I mean, the most unequivocal voices in opposition, people like John Bolton, have recommended an attack upon Iran, to attack on its nuclear capabilities.

    And, you know, that is the shortest of short-term. That strengthens the hard-liners, that emboldens their nuclear program, and isolates — and to me roils the already troubled waters in the Middle East.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. Kind of a related topic, Bob Menendez is stepping back from the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, senator from New Jersey. How does that impact what’s happening now?  Good for the president?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, he was the ranking member. Senator Menendez has been ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and had been an outspoken critic of rapprochement in this — any treaty with Iran.

    So, to that degree, it probably helps the president’s position at the edges, at the margins, I would say.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. And the Republicans are all against. The Democrats are sort of hesitant. They’re skeptical. They’re like waiting to see.

    And I suspect, at the end of the day, the Democrats will side with the president. And, frankly, I suspect, at the end of the day, as much as the Republicans generally think it’s a bad deal, it takes a lot of moxie to actually then — it’s not just us and the Iranians, obviously. It’s an international deal with five other countries.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    DAVID BROOKS: It takes a lot to — there are costs. Even if you’re like me and you’re extremely skeptical of a deal, you have to acknowledge that if the Senate basically undercuts our own president, there are costs to that. There are huge costs to that in our ability to negotiate anything in the future.

    And so even as much as a lot of people are skeptical of a deal, whether the Congress will actually destroy it, I’m a little dubious that that will ever happen.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, the other big story this week, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, what happened in Indiana, Arkansas.

    David, let’s start with you. What does this say about where society is now?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    So, I’m pro-gay marriage. I have been pro-gay marriage out of the womb. And so I wouldn’t have supported that act. But I do think two things, first the minor thing, and then the major thing. The minor thing is substantive. There is genuinely a tension between religious freedom and tolerance and full equality for gays and lesbians.

    There are some people who have different points of view than me, and somehow we have to give them some respect and some space. That doesn’t mean they’re allowed to discriminate. So, that’s just a substantive tension there, I think, between those two things.

    To me, the larger issue is simply pragmatic. The gay rights agenda and the cause has had an amazing couple years, or decade, sweeping through the country. And it’s doing great in urban America, in suburban America. But there are large parts of America, a lot of rural, more religious, where it’s still facing a lot of opposition.

    And so the question becomes, how do you make those areas more amenable to change?  And I know so many Christians who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but they’re wrestling, they’re really wrestling with this. And to me, making it very polarized and very culture war-seeming is the wrong way to move people. It’s much better to go gently and allow the natural momentum to build up. And so some of the reaction to the Indiana law, I thought was over the top.

    MARK SHIELDS: The velocity on this issue is absolutely phenomenal.

    I would just point out that, by the standards of many in the gay rights movement today, the position of the president two years ago would have been bigoted, when he said marriage is between a man and a woman, before he evolved on the issue.

    This has moved so quickly. The only thing to compare it to, Hari, in American political experience, to me, is the attitude toward interracial marriage. At the time of the age of Aquarius in this country, when the flower children — 75 percent of Americans opposed interracial marriage. Now 90 percent of Americans endorse interracial marriage, and 9 percent oppose it. The same pattern is true, as David identified, in same-sex marriage.

    And for the Republicans, it’s a real quandary. It’s a real quandary, because it is an issue to Republicans. Republicans oppose it. Seventy percent of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage. Three out of five independents, the swing group, are in favor of same-sex marriage.

    Republicans under the age of 30, 60 percent of them support gay marriage. But, in a primary, it could be influential, especially in Iowa and South Carolina, which Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have carried respectively in Iowa, with the support of cultural and religious conservatives.

    But lost in this debate — and I think David touched on it very well — and that is the whole question of religious liberty, which is basic to our country. I mean, it truly is, whether it’s Quakers not being, the Mennonites not being forced to serve in the military, or head scarves, or head gear to religions, whether it’s Muslims or Jewish people. We have had a respect for that. And it encourages tolerance. It encourages — and I just think the gay rights movement is in such ascendancy and such dominance at this point — dominance may be the wrong word — that I do think it’s time to look for converts, rather than heretics.

    And make no mistake about it. I think the Indiana statute went too far when it gave the same rights to a corporate, a for-profit — a profit corporation the right of conscience that it bestows on an individual.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is this something that the market will essentially correct for over time?  There was — we will put up a graphic here, the Support Memories Pizza joint that decided that they didn’t want — that they would abide by the law if it was, they put out kind of a GoFundMe campaign. They were looking for $200,000, and at least $800,000 in pretty much one day from 27,000, 30,000 people.

    So, over time, is this a matter of the population shifting, their customers shifting and saying, I’m going to take my money somewhere else?  Is that more effective than a federal or a local state law?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, there’s obviously the Christian community who could support both sides.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.

    DAVID BROOKS: But that would be my solution, basically.

    A lot of this issue gets down to, say, a gay couple goes to a bakery or goes to a wedding photographer and they say, would you work our marriage ceremony?  And the baker or the photographer says, I’m not really comfortable about that. And does the government — should the government be forcing that baker or that photographer to work?  Should they coerce them into working it?

    If it was like a basic issue of voting rights, obviously yes.

    MARK SHIELDS: Right.

    DAVID BROOKS: To me, I would boycott that photographer. I would boycott that baker. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable with the government forcing them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, just about 10, 15 seconds.

    MARK SHIELDS: I hadn’t been aware of that pizza — the pizza story.

    I don’t think there’s any question. There has been, in my judgment, a wave that is irreversible. But I do think it’s the time not to take a victory dance in the end zone. I think it’s the time to reach out and reach across the divide at this point and acknowledge the goodwill of people who are on the other side. That’s missing in our politics completely.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But not here at this table.

    MARK SHIELDS: Never.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thanks so much.

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    Iran's nuclear negotiating committee arrive in Tehran

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Reaction to the nuclear agreement with Iran poured in from all over the Middle East and across the political spectrum in the United States.

    They were dancing in Tehran’s streets into the early morning hours.

    MAN (through interpreter): I haven’t made any big progress in 10 years. We are very happy that we can finally go forward. It’s a real victory for us.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Later, at Friday prayers, with Iran’s chief nuclear official on hand, a top cleric lauded the agreement.

    AYATOLLAH MOHAMMAD EMAMI KASHARI(through interpreter): I should really congratulate all the gentlemen who led the nuclear talks. Great job. President of America, and all of you who are on the other side, you have made a deal with Iran, and within the framework of that agreement, Iran will observe all it has committed itself to and will keep its end of the deal.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That was a possible signal that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and his hard-line cadre will ultimately accept the deal.

    Essentially, the framework calls for curtailing Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity for up to 15 years and requiring intensive new inspections, in exchange for sanctions being lifted.

    In a televised address, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said his government will do what it promises, but he rejected President Obama’s contention that the sanctions forced the issue.

    PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter): They imposed sanctions to make us surrender. But when they realized that surrendering was impossible, and found themselves facing a united, integrated and brave nation, then they said, the sanctions were intended for negotiations.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Iranian leader also declared the world powers that signed the deal — quote — “accept” that uranium can be enriched in Iran. Still, he said, the program poses no threat.

    HASSAN ROUHANI (through interpreter): We want better relations with countries that we have cold relations with. The enrichment and technology will not be used against any country, no regional country or any in the world.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Those words did nothing to mollify leaders in Jerusalem.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: The deal would legitimize Iran’s illegal nuclear program.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had spoken with President Obama overnight, who sought to reassure him, but to little apparent effect.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period. In addition, Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian commitment of Israel’s right to exist.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House insisted today the president wouldn’t accept an agreement that threatens Israel.

    And State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Mr. Obama is satisfied the administration didn’t concede too much.

    MARIE HARF, State Department Spokeswoman: We need to cut off the four pathways for Iran to get to a nuclear weapon, and we need to get Iran from currently two to three months of breakout time, up to six times that, so to a year, at least a year breakout time, under this agreement, and that’s what we have done. Our bottom lines here in terms of what we need to get at the negotiating table have never changed.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Other parties to the talks struck notes of caution. The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, insisted a final agreement must ensure there is no Iranian bomb.

    LAURENT FABIUS, Foreign Minister, France (through interpreter): If this agreement is not entirely solid, that would mean that Iran could get a bomb. And this is unacceptable. And if this agreement is not perceived as solid, that means that the countries of the region such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and others could also start thinking of making a bomb, and that would be a nuclear proliferation, dangerous for all.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There is no specific schedule on resumption of talks, which have a deadline of June 30.

     

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    James Brady (C), former White House Press Secretary under Ronald Reagan, looks up at his wife Sarah Brady (R) during a news conference to urge members of Congress for progress on gun control legislation, specifically passage of a ban on large-capacity ammunition clips, in Washington, March 30, 2011. Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on Reagan, during which Brady was seriously injured by a shot to the head. Also pictured is Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke (L). Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    James Brady looks up at his wife Sarah Brady during a news conference to urge members of Congress for progress on gun control legislation in Washington, March 30, 2011. Sarah Brady died Friday at the age of 73. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Sarah Brady, the widow of former White House press secretary James Brady and a fierce advocate of gun control, died Friday of pneumonia, according to a statement on the Brady Campaign website. She was 73.

    Brady’s husband was shot in the head during the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981. The shot left James Brady partially paralyzed and his speech and memory impaired, and led the couple to push for the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1993. James Brady died in August of 2014 at the age of 73.

    “All of us at the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence are heartbroken over the passing of Sarah Brady,” read a statement on the Brady Campaign website. “Together with her husband Jim ‘Bear’ Brady, Sarah was the heart and soul of this organization and the successful movement it has become today. In the history of our nation, there are few people, if any, who are directly responsible for saving as many lives as Sarah and Jim.”

    The Brady Campaign said she is survived by her son Scott and stepdaughter Melissa.

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    SLOW DOWN Monitor Gfx

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s easy to get too caught up in the expectations heading into any jobs report, but, by most measures, this month took experts by surprise.

    The overall number of new jobs were much lower than anyone predicted, far below the nearly 270,000 a month that had been the average of the past year. And with other signs of sluggishness of late, it’s time to ask if the economy is slowing down, and, if so, why.

    Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial joins us again from Chicago.

    So, Diane, those last few months of jobs numbers, were they the norm or were they an outlier?

    DIANE SWONK, Mesirow Financial Holding: They certainly were a disappointment, if anything else.

    I think they do reflect the weakness that we saw in the economy in the first quarter. And what’s difficult to tease out is how much of a role unusually harsh winter weather, strikes and work stoppages out on the West Coast ports, which affected manufacturing activity, how much did all of that play in these excuses and how much of it is fundamental weakness?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, let’s talk a little bit about some of those reasons that you mentioned.

    How about the dollar and the strength of the dollar? That’s been a storyline for the last couple of months.

    DIANE SWONK: Well, certainly, the dollar is one of the factors, along with weak growth abroad, hitting the manufacturing sector. The bulk of the effect of the dollar though is still ahead of us. And that’s what’s disturbing about what we’re seeing today, is much of the interruptions in manufacturing activity came because we literally had containers get stopped at West Coast ports and parts couldn’t make it to manufacturers.

    The weakness in the dollar and the inability to price as cheaply in these very weak economies abroad, that’s going to be affecting us and growing in momentum, a bigger headwind as we move into the spring, once we finally unload those containers and get the parts going at the manufacturers again.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, shouldn’t the price of oil, the decreasing price of oil and fuel, combat that a little bit? Shouldn’t that encourage economic activity here?

    DIANE SWONK: Well, that’s the operative word, is should.

    What we’re seeing is, the drag from oil prices, cuts in mining employment, three months in a row of declines in the mining sector, after really we saw increases in the jobs sector and the mining sector slow to almost nothing in the fourth quarter. We saw declines in the first quarter, really punctuated by March.

    That’s the effect of low oil prices on actual mining activity. The benefits of low oil prices, higher consumer spending, cheaper manufacturing costs, cheaper costs across the board, we have yet to see those benefits. And so we don’t know if the consumer is just hibernating with the bad weather or there’s hibernation with some trepidation.

    We actually saw the saving rate pick up in recent months. And what we’d like to see is that spent, so you get the offset of positive news from lower oil prices as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In these reports, there’s also the revisions. And the revisions numbers today were down a bit. Is that significant?

    DIANE SWONK: It is significant in the sense that much of the revisions we were seeing up until now were to the upside. That meant that the economy had shifted momentum and was adding more jobs than we could count by the time we did our initial cut of the data.

    This time around, it’s just something turned and we actually now saw fewer jobs than we initially thought. That is not something we’d like to see. We’d like to see it going in the other direction, that we’re actually creating new jobs and we’re underestimating what we’re actually — sort of chasing the curve, rather than now we look behind the curve.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But one of the things that people are also starting to pay to is the information in these reports about wages. What were the signals today?

    DIANE SWONK: Well, today, we saw year-over-year wage gains rose 2 — average hourly earnings 2.1 percent from a year ago. That’s a slight deceleration from what we saw earlier in the quarter.

    We had gotten a little bit of a pop from some states enacting minimum wage laws. We have now got 29 states have a minimum wage above the federal minimum wage. That said, it’s not showing much in terms of overall wage gains. And the only real wages people are seeing in terms of income growth out there is coming from plummeting prices at the pump. That’s a backdoor increase for all of it, and it’s a backdoor increase for the masses. However, as we said earlier, we have yet to see the good news from that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. People are also bracing themselves for an interest rate hike. Do job reports like today’s mean that that might be delayed?

    DIANE SWONK: I think Chair Yellen is validated in her caution on raising rates. She’s been more cautious than many of her colleagues.

    She’s the chair of the Fed. It’s called the Yellen Fed for a reason. And I think she was very validated that the Fed doesn’t need to be quick to raise rates. It’s not likely to happen in June. And even as they do, they will do so ever so slowly, because they are worried about all the potholes that still lie ahead in the road in front of us.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial, thanks so much for joining us.

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    news wrap 04.03.15

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: A yearlong streak of solid U.S. job growth has ended. The Labor Department reported today that, in March, employers added a net of just 126,000 jobs. That’s the smallest number of new positions created since December of 2013.

    It also breaks a string of 12 straight months with gains of more than 200,000 jobs. President Obama reacted to the numbers during a visit to Utah.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Parts of the globe have seen their economies weaken. Europe has had a weaker economy. Asia has been slowing down. We have had the strongest economy, but we’re impacted by what happens around the world.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The unemployment rate for March remained at 5.5 percent. U.S. stock markets will have the weekend to absorb the news. They were closed today in observance of Good Friday. But we will look more closely at the numbers after the news summary.

    A man who spent nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row walked out today a free man. Ray Hinton was convicted in two 1985 murders. But now prosecutors admit the only physical evidence, the crime scene bullets, failed to link him to the crime. Today, Hinton hugged his family and friends as he left the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham. He said he had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

    RAY HINTON: I shouldn’t sit on death row for 30 years. All they had to do was test the gun. But when you think you high and mighty and you above the law, you don’t have to answer to nobody. But I got news for them. Everybody that played a part in sending me to death row, you will answer to God.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hinton was 29 when he was arrested. He’s now 58. His fortunes improved last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hinton indeed had inadequate representation at his trial.

    Kenya was in shock and mourning today after Thursday’s slaughter at a college. Islamist gunmen from Al-Shabab, based in Somalia, killed at least 148 people.

    Dan Rivers of Independent Television News filed this report.

    DAN RIVERS: They are literally floored with grief, the relatives of this terrorist massacre finally getting the confirmation they have been so dreading.

    The bodies have been arriving at this mortuary in Nairobi throughout the day, the long queue to identify them the sign of the scale of this atrocity. Survivors have described how the Al-Shabaab gunmen hunted down students who couldn’t recite verses from the Koran. This footage gives a sense of the chaos and terror, a well-planned attack possibly masterminded with detailed local knowledge.

    Already, wanted posters are being circulated for this man, Mohamed Mohamud. He commands a network of Al-Shabab terrorists inside Kenya and is from Garissa.

    AL-HAJJ ADAN WACHU, Inter-Religious Council of Kenya: They have no reason whatsoever to have committed those heinous crimes. Our tears and tears of the parents will haunt them forever.

    DAN RIVERS: A special service was held outside the mortuary for the victims today, but, in Kenya, Good Friday has been overshadowed by evil that has left so many in mourning this Easter.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In Yemen today, Saudi Arabia stepped up aid to forces battling Shiite rebels there. In Aden, Saudi warplanes airdropped supplies and weapons to fighters loyal to the president. They also carried out new airstrikes on the Shiites. Aden is the government’s last foothold in Yemen.

    More chilling details emerged today about the Germanwings flight disaster. French investigators reported the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, repeatedly and deliberately accelerated the airliner before it slammed into the French Alps. The information came from the flight data recorder found yesterday buried in gravel.

    Late today, the Obama administration recommended designating nearly 12.3 million acres in Alaska as wilderness. The land is located in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Fish and Wildlife Service made the recommendation in a revised conservation plan for the refuge.

    This was Good Friday for Christians around the world. Thousands of pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem’s Old City. They retraced the route that Jesus is said to have taken to the site where he was crucified.

    MAN: I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to walk in the same footsteps and to share this experience with some of those who are the most close to me. I think this is something that everybody should do if given the opportunity to reinvigorate their belief in the Holy Spirit.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Elsewhere, some believers whipped themselves to demonstrate their faith. And in the Philippines again this year, at least six men had themselves nailed to crosses. One of the men has taken part in the ritual for the past 29 years.

    And a passing of note. Sarah Brady, who spent decades working for gun control, died today. Her family in Alexandria, Virginia, said she had developed pneumonia. Brady’s husband, James, was President Reagan’s press secretary. He was severely wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on the president. After that, the couple founded the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Sarah Brady was 73 years old.

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    Dabiq-Issue-8The Islamic State group has turned their recruiting toward Africa, according to the cover story of the militant group’s most recent issue of its online recruitment magazine.

    According to Newsweek, the title of the March 30 issues of Dabiq magazine is “Shariah Alone Will Rule Africa,” and includes an interviews and photos of the Islamic State child soldiers.

    One of the reasons the Islamic State is targeting Africa as a place to expand is the “rejection of nationalism,” the magazine says, driving Africans toward the militant group. Specifically, Newsweek adds, the Islamic State is focusing on Tunisia, Algeria, the Sinai Peninsula and West Africa, or the “Libyan Arena.”

    Michael Horowitz, a senior analyst at the geopolitical risk consultancy Max Security Solutions told Newsweek that focusing on Africa is due to recent losses in Kobane, Syria, and Tikrit, Iraq.

    “There is a huge focus on Africa. It has been one of the strategic objectives of IS since the beginning because the problem with IS is that it needs to convey this image of extension,” Horowitz said to Newsweek. “Africa is an opportunity because you have a lot of countries that are destabilised, you have existing groups that have drifted away from al-Qaeda.”

    This marks the eighth issue of Dabiq. The Islamic State’s periodical online magazine was first published in June of 2014 and is published in multiple languages, including English and is one of the terrorist group’s propaganda tools.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program announced by negotiators in Switzerland during a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington April 2, 2015. The new framework leaves many questions including whether it will effectively settle global fears on Iran's nuclear program. Photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters.

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program announced by negotiators in Switzerland during a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington April 2, 2015. The new framework leaves many questions including whether it will effectively settle global fears on Iran’s nuclear program. Photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters.

    WASHINGTON — The framework nuclear deal sealed by world powers and Iran leaves major questions: Could Iran cheat? Possibly. Would the U.S or anyone else be able to respond in time? In theory, yes. Are they prepared to use military force? Questionable.

    Would a final deal settle global fears about Iran’s intentions? Almost surely, no.

    But the surprisingly detailed fact sheet released by the United States after Thursday’s diplomatic breakthrough in Switzerland provides President Barack Obama significant ammunition for the fight he’ll face selling an agreement to skeptical U.S. lawmakers and Middle East allies.

    That is, if negotiators can get to that point over the next three months.

    “Many key details will need to be finalized,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, adding that “nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.”

    The parameters for a comprehensive accord by June 30 still include big holes for Washington and its negotiating partners.

    The limits are vague on Iran’s research and development of advanced technology that could be used for producing nuclear weapons.

    Inspectors still might not be able to enter Iranian military sites where nuclear work previously took place. The Americans and Iranians already are bickering over how fast economic sanctions on Iran would be relaxed.

    Obama’s assertion that the penalties could always be snapped back into force is undermined by the U.S. fact sheet describing a “dispute resolution process” in the agreement.

    But the biggest issue may be one U.S. officials have emphasized above all others: the “breakout time” Iran would need to surreptitiously produce a nuclear weapon.

    The framework imposes a combination of restrictions that would leave Iran needing to work for at least a year to accomplish that goal, rather than the current two months to three months.

    Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have cited the longer breakout period as proof they have secured a “good deal.” They say the one-year window is enough time for the U.S. to detect a covert Iranian push toward a bomb and to respond.

    That standard would hold only for a decade, however.

    Over the following five years, it’s unclear how far Iran’s nuclear program would be kept from the bomb. After the 15-year deal expires completely, there appear to be no constraints left to speak of – something congressional opponents and Iran’s regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia, cite as evidence of a “bad deal.”

    “This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the state of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after an Israeli Cabinet meeting Friday. “In a few years,” he said, “the deal would remove the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.”

    These matters and many more will now be weighed by a Congress that has watched impatiently over 18 months of negotiations. Republicans are almost universally opposed to Obama’s diplomatic effort; Democrats are divided. Together they’ll look at two possible paths for congressional intervention.

    The first would give lawmakers an up-or-down vote on a deal, something Obama may be amenable to despite past opposition. He stated his confidence Thursday in being able to demonstrate that an accord will advance U.S. and world security, and said his aides would engage Congress on how it can “play a constructive oversight role.”

    The second potential congressional action is more risky: new penalties against Iran’s economy. That could end the diplomacy altogether by jeopardizing the basic formula for a final pact, removing Western sanctions in exchange for stricter nuclear limits.

    But Obama has more working in his favor now than he did last year when the negotiations twice missed deadlines. Even then, his administration managed to hold off congressional pressure.

    This week’s deal would compel Iran to cut in half the number of centrifuges it has spinning uranium. No bomb-making material could be fed into machines at a deeply buried underground facility that may be impervious to air attack. Advanced centrifuge models would be disconnected. A heavy water plant would not be allowed to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Inspections would increase.

    The long-term arc of Iran’s nuclear activity could well argue for continued diplomacy.

    The administration and other supporters of the agreement note that in the years Washington refused to talk to Tehran, demanded that Iran stop all enrichment and sought a total dismantlement of its nuclear facilities, the Iranians expanded from several dozen centrifuges to a capacity of 20,000. They established a secondary site at a fortified underground bunker. They began enriching uranium to levels just below weapons-grade.

    Since November 2013, Iran is operating only 9,000 centrifuges and that number is to drop to just over 6,000. The Iranians aren’t producing any higher-enriched uranium anymore and are to ship out or neutralize most of their stockpiles. The threat of a plutonium bomb seems settled at least for now.

    The Iranians say they don’t seek nuclear arms, with their program focused only on energy, medical and research objectives. Iran will “remain loyal and stand by promises,” President Hassan Rouhani said Friday.

    Obama and his top advisers don’t believe the Iranians on that front. But they say the agreement makes Iran’s claims at least verifiable and does far more than sanctions or military action to ensure Iran doesn’t assemble an atomic arsenal.

    “To be clear, there is no aspect of this agreement that is based on promises or trust,” Kerry said in an opinion piece in the Boston Globe Friday. “Every element is subject to proof.”

    The post Uncertainties remain on Iran nuclear deal framework appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Pilgrims leave after the annual Good Friday "Stations of the Cross" procession at the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower in Paris Apr. 3, 2015.  Credit: Charles Platiau/REUTERS.

    Pilgrims leave after the annual Good Friday “Stations of the Cross” procession at the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower in Paris Apr. 3, 2015. Credit: Charles Platiau/REUTERS.

    This past week in the days leading up to Easter Sunday, Christians around the world observed Holy Week, commemorating the final days in the life of Jesus Christ.

    The traditional Holy Week calendar, which also marks the end of Lent, includes Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday — all days with individual customs based on biblical accounts from the New Testament.

    The week is often characterized by elaborate processions that take place in dozens of cities, mostly in Latin American and European countries with traditional Roman Catholic culture.

    Here’s a look at Holy Week festivities around the world.

    Christians take part in a procession along the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday in Jerusalem's Old City Apr. 3, 2015.  Credit: Amir Cohen/REUTERS.

    Christians take part in a procession along the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday in Jerusalem’s Old City Apr. 3, 2015. Credit: Amir Cohen/REUTERS.

    Penitents attend a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia on Apr. 3, 2015. Credit: David Mercado/REUTERS.

    Penitents attend a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia on Apr. 3, 2015. Credit: David Mercado/REUTERS.

    Penitents take part in a Holy Week procession in Marsala, southern Italy, April 2, 2015. Tens of Easter processions take place around Sicily island during Holy Week, drawing thousands of visitors. REUTERS/Tony Gentile - RTR4VWLB

    Penitents take part in a Holy Week procession in Marsala, southern Italy on Apr. 2, 2015. Credit: Tony Gentile/REUTERS.

    Holy Thursday is one of the most important procession times, especially in Marsala on the Italian island of Sicily. According to tradition, from Thursday until mass on Holy Saturday, not a church bell in the country will be rung.

    Penitents take part in a Holy Week procession in Marsala, southern Italy, April 2, 2015. Tens of Easter processions take place around Sicily island during Holy Week, drawing thousands of visitors. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

    Tens of Easter processions, like this one on Apr. 2, 2015, take place around Sicily island during Holy Week, drawing thousands of visitors. Credit: Tony Gentile/REUTERS.

    In Jerusalem on Thursday, in honor of the Last Supper, Christian clergy participated in the Washing of the Feet ceremony.

    Members of the Catholic clergy hold candles during a procession at the traditional Washing of the Feet ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City during Holy Week April 2, 2015. Holy Week is celebrated in many Christian traditions during the week before Easter. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

    Members of the Catholic clergy hold candles during a procession at the traditional Washing of the Feet ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on Apr. 2, 2015. Credit: Ammar Awad/REUTERS.

    Known as Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Spain, the most popular festivities take place in Seville, the capital of Spain’s southern region of Andalusia.

    A popular pasttime for children is creating wax balls from the dripping candles held by the nazarenos or penitents, who light the way for the procession of elaborate religious images (pasos), some dating back to the 16th and 17th century.

    People gather to watch the procession of "La Macarena" brotherhood during  Seville, Spain on Apr. 3, 2015. Credit: Marcelo del Pozo/REUTERS.

    People gather to watch the procession of “La Macarena” brotherhood during Seville, Spain on Apr. 3, 2015. Credit: Marcelo del Pozo/REUTERS.

    Spanish legionnaires carry a statue of the Christ of Mena outside a church during a ceremony before they take part in the "Mena" brotherhood procession in Malaga, southern Spain April 2, 2015. Holy Week is celebrated in many Christian traditions during the week before Easter. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

    Spanish legionnaires carry a statue of the Christ of Mena outside a church during a ceremony in Malaga, Spain on Apr. 2, 2015. Credit: Jon Nazca/REUTERS.

    Girl asks for wax drops from the penitent of La Lanzada brotherhood for her ball of wax during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of Seville. before Easter. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

    Girl asks for wax drops from the penitent of La Lanzada brotherhood in Seville, Spain. Credit: Marcelo del Pozo/REUTERS.

    Two penitents take part in the Palm Sunday procession of the "Estudiantes" brotherhood in Oviedo, northern Spain March 29, 2015. Hundreds of Easter processions take place around the clock in Spain during Holy Week, drawing thousands of visitors. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso

    Two penitents take part in the Palm Sunday procession of the “Estudiantes” brotherhood in Oviedo, northern Spain on Mar. 29, 2015. Credit: Eloy Alonso/ REUTERS.

    A penitent leaves a food shop before he takes part in the "Huerto" brotherhood in a Palm Sunday procession at the start of Holy Week in Malaga,Spain during Holy Week, drawing thousands of visitors. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

    A penitent leaves a food shop before he takes part in the “Huerto” brotherhood in a Palm Sunday procession at the start of Holy Week in Malaga, Spain. Credit: Jon Nazca/REUTERS.

    In The Philippines, penitents dress up as “Moriones” and don outfits that are interpretations of what locals believe Roman soldiers wore during biblical times.

    Penitents called "Moriones" parade along the streets of Boac town on Marinduque island in central Philippines April 1, 2015. During the annual festival, masked and costumed penitents called "Moriones" dress in attire that is the local interpretation of what Roman soldiers wore during biblical times. Holy Week is celebrated in many Christian traditions during the week before Easter. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

    Penitents called “Moriones” parade along the streets of Boac town on Marinduque island in central Philippines on Apr. 1, 2015. Credit: Romeo Ranoco/REUTERS.

    Catholics participate in the Palm Sunday procession in Suchitoto March 29, 2015. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and marks the start of Holy Week.   REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

    Catholics participate in the Palm Sunday procession in Suchitoto on Mar. 29, 2015. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and marks the start of Holy Week. Credit: Jose Cabezas/REUTERS.

    East Timorese Catholic women carry crosses during a Palm Sunday procession, marking the start of the Holy Week, in Dili March 29, 2015.     REUTERS/Lirio Da Fonseca

    East Timorese Catholic women carry crosses during a Palm Sunday procession in Dili on Mar. 29, 2015. Credit: Lirio Da Fonseca.

    The post Photos: During Holy Week, Christians across globe observe Jesus’ final days appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Police stand guard during a protest at Cathedral Basilica, after a man was fatally shot by a policeman, in St. Louis, Missouri, December 25, 2014. Whites in the United States approve of police officers hitting people in far greater numbers than blacks and Hispanics do, according to a recent survey. Photo by Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters

    Police stand guard during a protest at Cathedral Basilica, after a man was fatally shot by a policeman, in St. Louis, Missouri, December 25, 2014. Whites in the United States approve of police officers hitting people in far greater numbers than blacks and Hispanics do, according to a recent survey. Photo by Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Whites in the United States approve of police officers hitting people in far greater numbers than blacks and Hispanics do, at a time when the country is struggling to deal with police use of deadly force against men of color, according to a major American trend survey.

    Seven of 10 whites polled, or 70 percent, said they can imagine a situation in which they would approve of a police officer striking an adult male citizen, according to the 2014 General Social Survey, a long-running measurement of trends in American opinions. When asked the same question – Are there any situations you can imagine in which you would approve of a policeman striking an adult male citizen? – 42 percent of blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics said they could.

    These results come as Americans grapple with trust between law enforcement and minority communities after a series of incidents, including the deaths Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York, both black men. Thousands of people protested in the streets last year after the deaths of 18-year-old Brown and 43-year-old Garner, who gasped “I can’t breathe” as police arrested him for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. But the survey shows the gap between whites, blacks and Hispanics long predates the recent incidents.

    The poll results don’t surprise experts on American attitudes toward police, who say experiences and history with law enforcement shape opinions about the use of violence by officers.

    “Whites are significantly more likely to give police officers the benefit of the doubt, either because they have never had an altercation with a police officer or because they tend to see the police as allies in the fight against crime,” said Ronald Weitzer, a George Washington University sociology professor who has studied race and policing in the U.S. and internationally.

    However, blacks and Hispanics “are more cautious on this issue because of their personal experiences and/or the historical treatment their groups have experienced at the hands of the police, which is only recapitulated in recent disputed killings,” he said.

    The General Social Survey is conducted by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. Because of its long-running and comprehensive set of questions about the public, it is a highly regarded source of data about social trends. Numbers from the 2014 survey came out last month, and an analysis of its findings on attitudes toward police and the criminal justice system was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the General Social Survey.

    Deep racial divides exist in other law enforcement areas as well:

    - A larger number of blacks could approve police striking a murder suspect who is being questioned: 24 percent, compared to 18 percent of Hispanics and 12 percent of whites.

    - At more than half of whites, 69 percent, and half of Hispanics approve of police hitting suspects trying to escape from custody but only 42 percent of blacks approve.

    - Two-thirds, or 66 percent, of whites say they favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, while 44 percent of blacks and 48 percent of Hispanics agree.

    - Almost everyone seemed to approve of police officers hitting suspects back when attacked with fists, but whites again outpaced blacks and Hispanics with their approval. Nine in 10 whites approved of police hitting a person when attacked by fists, with 74 percent of blacks and Hispanics agreeing.

    Charles R. Epp, a University of Kansas professor and author of the book about race and police stops, said the majority of whites believe they are going to get “reasonable and fair” treatment from officers, and that encounters ending in violence are caused by the suspect.

    “My strong sense is that African Americans and Hispanics have too often experienced or have heard of experiences of police officers acting unfairly, so they’re less willing to support the use of force by police officers,” Epp said. “They’re not sure it will be used fairly.”

    There were areas of agreement: Similar small percentages of whites, blacks and Hispanics approved of police hitting suspects for using vulgar or obscene language toward an officer (9 percent for whites, 7 percent for blacks and 10 percent for Hispanics). Similar percentages agreed there is too little spending on law enforcement (47 percent of whites; 49 percent of blacks; 40 percent of Hispanics).

     

    The post National survey shows whites more likely to approve of police hitting citizens appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Credit: Getty Images

    Credit: Getty Images

    A team of researchers successfully changed the gender in the brains of newborn rats from female to male, according to findings published this week in Nature Neuroscience.

    “Physically, these animals were females, but in their reproductive behavior, they were males,” Bridget Nugent, the lead author said in a press release. “It was fascinating to see this transformation.”

    For the study, groups of female rats were injected with DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitors ten days after birth.

    The inhibitors mimicked the masculinizing effects of estradiol, a steroid commonly used in humans to treat the effects of menopause, and one that surges in the brain during prenatal development in male rats.

    The goal of the experiment was to show that in order to preserve a female brain in the animal, high levels of DNMT needed to be sustained.

    Scientists introduced the inhibitors into the preoptic area of the brain, known to play a major role in shaping male sexual behavior in most species, including humans.

    The injections resulted in rats with female physical traits behaving like male rats.

    The animals’ behavior was recorded and evaluated by the researchers, who did not know whether each rat was male or female.

    Nugent remembered noticing that there were many more rats behaving in a male sexual manner than were not. “It was pretty remarkable,” she said in an email to PBS NewsHour.

    Rats typically experience sexual differentiation in the brain between the 18th day of prenatal development and just over a week after being born. Similarly, the fetal brains of humans develop in the male or female direction during the second half of pregnancy.

    “It was thought that once established, sexual differentiation could not be undone,” Nugent said. “Our work shows that sex differences in brain and behavior are epigenetically regulated, meaning that sex differences are not hardwired in our DNA but programmed during development.”

    Nugent began studying the neuroscience of sex differences in 2008 with Margaret McCarthy, chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which collaborated with the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York on this study.

    Currently, Nugent is at the University of Pennsylvania investigating the different ways prenatal stress affects male and female brains.

    The post Brain ‘gender’ more flexible than once believed, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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