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

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    Cuba's President Raul Castro (C) holds up his left fist as his Panamanean and U.S. counterparts Juan Carlos Varela (L) and Barack Obama (R) wave before the inauguration of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City April 10, 2015, in this handout photo provided by the Presidency of Cuba. The presidents will be holding a meeting for the first time in more than 50 years. Photo by Presidency of Cuba/Handout via Reuters.

    Cuba’s President Raul Castro (C) holds up his left fist as his Panamanean and U.S. counterparts Juan Carlos Varela (L) and Barack Obama (R) wave before the inauguration of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City April 10, 2015, in this handout photo provided by the Presidency of Cuba. The presidents will be holding a meeting for the first time in more than 50 years. Photo by Presidency of Cuba/Handout via Reuters.

    President Barack Obama declared his refusal to refight the Cold War battles of the past on Saturday while Cuban President Raul Castro rallied to his defense, absolving Obama of fault for the U.S. blockade in a stunning reversal of more than 50 years of animosity between the United States and Cuba.

    Castro, in a meandering, nearly hour-long speech to the Summit of the Americas, ran through an exhaustive history of perceived Cuban grievances against the U.S. dating back more than a century – a vivid display of how raw passions remain over American attempts to undermine Cuba’s government.

    Then, in an abrupt about face, he apologized for letting his emotions get the best of him. He said many U.S. presidents were at fault for that troubled history – but that Obama isn’t one of them.

    “I have told President Obama that I get very emotional talking about the revolution,” Castro said through a translator, noting that Obama wasn’t even born when the U.S. began sanctioning the island nation. “I apologize to him because President Obama had no responsibility for this.”

    In a remarkable vote of confidence from a Cuban leader, Castro added: “In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man.”

    Castro and Obama were expected to meet later Saturday on the sidelines of the summit – the first substantial meeting between a U.S. and Cuban president in more than five decades. The flurry of diplomacy was aimed at injecting fresh momentum into their previously announced plan to restore normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

    Speaking just before Castro, Obama acknowledged that deep differences between their countries would persist. Yet he said he was uninterested in getting bogged down in ideology, instead casting the thaw in relations as an opening to create “more opportunities and resources for the Cuban people.”

    “The United States will not be imprisoned by the past,” President Barack Obama said. “We’re looking to the future.”

    Raising the stakes even higher for the two leaders was mounting speculation that Obama would use the occasion of the summit taking place in Panama to announce his decision to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a gesture that for Cuba holds both practical and symbolic value.

    The U.S. long ago stopped accusing Cuba of conducting terrorism, and Obama has signaled that he’s ready to take Cuba off the list. On Thursday, he suggested an announcement was imminent when he revealed that the State Department had completed its lengthy review of the designation.

    Obama arrived at the summit Saturday morning for a day of marathon meetings with leaders from across the Western Hemisphere, gathered around a massive oval table with two birds of peace in the middle. He was also to take questions from reporters before returning to Washington.

    A successful relaunch of U.S.-Cuba relations would form a cornerstone of Obama’s foreign policy legacy. But it’s an endeavor he can’t undertake alone: Only Congress can fully lift the onerous U.S. sanctions regime on Cuba, and there are deep pockets of opposition in the U.S. to taking that step.

    The post Obama, Castro vow to pursue new future for US and Cuba appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A police investigator works at a crime scene where five suspected gang members were killed in the town of Chalchuapa April 7, 2015. The five suspected gang members were killed by armed men after they were taken from their homes during the night, simulating a police raid and executed, according to local media. Photo by REUTERS/Jose Cabezas.

    A police investigator works at a crime scene where five suspected gang members were killed in the town of Chalchuapa April 7, 2015. The five suspected gang members were killed by armed men after they were taken from their homes during the night, simulating a police raid and executed, according to local media. Photo by REUTERS/Jose Cabezas.

    El Salvador is on track to become the deadliest peacetime country in the world.

    Despite no formal war taking place on its streets, 481 people were murdered in March — roughly 15 murders a day in the country of six million people — which became the deadliest month on record in more than a decade.

    Already, there have been 73 murders during the first five days of April.

    Many of the victims were killed as a result of escalating gang violence that is overrunning the country, and the homicides show no sign of subsiding.

    Should the killings continue, El Salvador could soon surpass Honduras as the deadliest peacetime country in the world.

    Last fall, PBS NewsHour Weekend traveled to El Salvador to investigate the gang violence, which has been attributed to a breakdown of a truce between gangs and government forces. The rise of gangs in El Salvador has been traced back to their origins in the United States.

    Watch the report here:

    The post El Salvador set to become deadliest peacetime country in the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    UPDATE: WASHINGTON — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.

    The man died after shooting himself on the west front of the Capitol building just after 1 p.m., Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said. No one else was hurt.

    Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said the man had a backpack and a rolling suitcase, triggering an hours-long lockdown, and a sign that said something about “social justice.”

    Robert Bishop of Annapolis, Maryland said he was biking near the steps of the Capitol when the suicide happened.

    Bishop didn’t witness the suicide but said there were about 60 people in the area, and that some of them did, including a girl and her mother who immediately began crying afterward.

    Bishop said another witness told him and a police officer that the man who killed himself held up a protest sign about taxation just before pulling the trigger.

    No one was allowed to leave or enter the Capitol or the visitors’ center during the lockdown on a busy day for tourists, and some streets around the area were closed.

    After being allowed to leave the Capitol, Bishop said he saw authorities taking clothes out of the suitcase the man had.

    During the lockdown, about a dozen police cars, black SUVs and an ambulance congregated at the bottom of the west steps of the Capitol, which overlooks the bustling National Mall.

    Police appeared to take measurements as bomb squad members searched the area. Nearer the mall, visitors gathered around trying to figure out what was going on.

    The lockdown came during Washington’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which attracts thousands of tourists during Washington’s busy season.

    Congress has been on spring recess for two weeks and lawmakers are set to return to work Monday.

    The post Lockdown lifted at US Capitol after man fatally shoots himself appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama smiles during a meeting with Cuba's President Raul Castro, who listens to a translator, during the first plenary session of the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama April 11, 2015. Obama and Castro shook hands on Friday at the summit, a symbolically charged gesture as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTR4WY36

    U.S. President Barack Obama smiles during a meeting with Cuba’s President Raul Castro during the first plenary session of the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama April 11, 2015. Obama and Castro shook hands on Friday at the summit, a symbolically charged gesture as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes. Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    PANAMA CITY — The leaders of the United States and Cuba held their first formal meeting in more than half a century on Saturday, clearing the way for a normalization of relations that had seemed unthinkable to both Cubans and Americans for generations.

    In a small conference room in a Panama City convention center, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sat side by side in a bid to inject fresh momentum into their months-old effort to restore diplomatic ties. Obama said he wanted to “turn the page” on old divisions, although he acknowledged that significant differences between the governments would remain.

    “This is obviously a historic meeting,” Obama said shortly after the two sat down. “It was my belief it was time to try something new, that it was important for us to engage more directly with the Cuban government.”

    “And more importantly, with Cuban people,” the president added.

    Castro told the U.S. president he was ready to discuss sensitive issues including human rights and freedom of the press, maintaining that “everything can be on the table.” But he also cautioned that the two countries also have “agreed to disagree.”

    “We are willing to make progress in the way the president has described,” Castro said.

    The remarkable gathering played out on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, which this year included Cuba for the first time. Although the meeting wasn’t publicly announced in advance, White House aides had suggested the two leaders were looking for an opportunity to meet while in Panama and to discuss the ongoing efforts to open embassies in Havana and Washington, among other issues.

    In brief remarks to reporters at the start of the meeting, Obama acknowledged that Cuba, too, would continue raising concerns about U.S. policies. Earlier in the day, Castro launched into an exhaustive history of perceived Cuban grievances against the U.S. in his speech to fellow leaders attending the summit.

    Castro, for his part, said he agreed with everything Obama had said – a stunning statement in and of itself for the Cuban leader.

    “We are disposed to talk about everything – with patience,” Castro said in Spanish. “Some things we will agree with, and others we won’t.”

    And nothing is static, he added, noting that disagreements today could turn into areas of agreement tomorrow.

    The post In historic meeting, Obama and Castro vow to turn page on relations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the United Nations in New York in this March 10, 2015 file photo. Clinton is making her second presidential bid. Her campaign will focus on boosting economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the United Nations in New York in this March 10, 2015 file photo. Clinton is making her second presidential bid. Her campaign will focus on boosting economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    CHICAGO — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign will center on boosting economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families, while casting the former senator and secretary of state as a “tenacious fighter” able to get results, two senior advisers said Saturday.

    They provided the first preview of the message that Clinton planned to convey when she launches her long-anticipated campaign on Sunday with an online video. Until now, the former first lady has offered only hints of what would drive her if she were to run a second time for the White House.

    The strategy described by Clinton’s advisers has echoes of President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. He framed the choice for voters as between Democrats focused on the middle class and Republicans wanting to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led to the 2008 economic collapse.

    The advisers said Clinton will argue that voters have a similar choice in 2016. Clinton also intends to sell herself as being able to work with Congress, businesses and world leaders.

    That approach could be perceived as a critique of Obama, Clinton’s rival for the nomination in 2008. He has largely been unable to fulfill his pledge to end Washington’s intense partisanship and found much of his presidency stymied by gridlock with Congress.

    The Clinton advisers spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss her plans ahead of Sunday’s announcement. People familiar with the plans say Clinton will travel to Iowa and other early-voting states to hold small events with residents in the days after the video’s release.

    Clinton is not expected to roll out detailed policy positions in the first weeks of her campaign. Advisers said she planned to talk about ways families can increase take-home pay, the importance of expanding early childhood education and making higher education more affordable.

    It’s not yet clear whether that will include a noticeable break with Obama on economic policy. The GOP has hammered Obama’s approach as anti-business and insufficient in the wake of the recession. The White House says the economy has improved significantly in recent years.

    The unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in March, but manufacturing and new home construction slowed, cheaper gas has yet to ignite consumer spending and participation in the labor force remains sluggish.

    Clinton will enter the race as the overwhelming favorite for her party’s nomination. Still, her team has said her early strategy is designed to avoid appearing to take that nomination for granted.

    The early events will include discussions at colleges, day care centers and private homes, and stops at coffee shops and diners. After about a month of such events, Clinton will give a broader speech outlining more specifics about her rationale for running.

    In 2008, Clinton followed a video announcement with a large rally in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Clinton’s husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, are unlikely to appear at her early events. Bill Clinton, the former two-term president, said recently that he wanted to play a role as a “backstage adviser” in his wife’s campaign.

    Advisers said Bill Clinton has been engaged with his wife in some of the policy discussions leading up to this weekend’s rollout.

    To prepare for the campaign, Clinton has spent months meeting with economic policy experts, including Heather Boushey, whose research focuses on inequality, and Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and retirement policy expert. The policy development process has been overseen by aides Jake Sullivan and Dan Schwerin.

    In the days before her announcement, Clinton has been holding lengthy meetings with her staff, sometimes joining them at her crowded personal offices in midtown Manhattan and other times participating by phone.

    Clinton’s growing team of staffers began working out of a new campaign headquarters in Brooklyn on Friday.

    She is expected to reach out to donors in the coming weeks, but does not plan to headline many fundraising events over the next month.

    The post Clinton campaign to center on economic security, opportunity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Barack Obama and Raul Castro shake hands as Ban Ki-moon looks on, before the inauguration of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more about the Summit of the Americas and the changing U.S.-Cuban relationship, we are joined now by Carla Robbins. She is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

    So, why was this meeting so important?

    CARLA ROBBINS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it was the first time in 50 years that there was a direct conversation between two — a Cuban president and an American president. Of course, obviously, the first time since communist rule came to Cuba and it is going to be the beginning of a new and beautiful friendship.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. So, what came out of the meeting? What didn’t?

    CARLA ROBBINS: Well, we don’t know exactly what came out of the meeting just yet, but President Obama said he wants to normalize relationships. They want to open embassies. Right now, there are intersections both in Cuba and the United States. And so, it’s the beginning of normalizing relations, but the embargo is not going to be lifted yet.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. The embargo is not going to be lifted, and there’s also a big catch Cuba is very interested in, is getting off the list of state sponsors of terror. They’re still on there.

    CARLA ROBBINS: They are still on there and Castro has said that they are not even going to open the embassies until that happens. The president was very coy this week. He said he got his recommendation from the State Department but he hasn’t said what it’s going to be. We all know that’s going to happen. Whether it’s going to happen today or it’s going to happen in a few weeks, it’s definitely going to happen.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And this has a ripple effect because obviously businesses don’t want to be doing business with a country that’s on that list.

    CARLA ROBBINS: More importantly, it’s the banking sanctions issue that they’re very sensitive. Cubans say they can’t even use a credit card. But more than anything else, American companies and particularly the telecom companies, which is what President Obama hopes is going to go in there because that’s the whole point of the opening, they don’t want to do — get on the wrong side of the Treasury Department.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, when Castro was allotted his eight minutes, he went for 48 minutes and decided to give the entire audience a history of Cuba-U.S. relations.

    CARLA ROBBINS: Listen, 48 minutes is very short for a Castro to speak.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Right, right. And in there, I mean, he railed against U.S. policy but actually spared Obama.

    CARLA ROBBINS: He apologized to Obama. He said, “Youngster, you’re not responsible for this one.” And he’s really — obviously, this is — this is a moment, an extraordinary moment on both sides for the two of them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And compare that to the head of Venezuela, the head of Ecuador making very bombastic statements against current U.S. policy as they were speaking.

    CARLA ROBBINS: On the other hand, this was a sort of an extraordinary moment in the sense that Obama was very, very deeply embraced by the — by everyone else there because they had been insisting for the last two summits that the U.S. get rid of this relic of the Cold War, which is the embargo — sorry, the end of this relationship.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: None of this happens in a vacuum. This is happening at a time when we’re still in conversations with Iran, and kind of paint those connections for us. Why does one affect other?

    CARLA ROBBINS: Well, because, you know, Iran, obviously, is the bogeyman but Cuba was the bogeyman for a very long period of time. And this negotiation with Iran and the sanctions on Iran is the number one issue, the number one legacy issue, and obviously, the number one national security issue because of the nuclear relationship and great concern there.

    And the same people are opposed to lifting — you know, improving relations with Cuba are very, very much opposed to lift anything sanctions on Iran.

    And the president has to be very concerned about this notion that somehow he’s soft on dictators.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And this is, of course, in the context of at least a couple of people announcing their presidential campaigns tomorrow and the day after.

    CARLA ROBBINS: Marco Rubio —

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: — Marco Rubio very concerned about that right now. And we’re going have a hearing on this legislation in which the Congress is insisting that it’s going to have to have a voice on the lifting of the sanctions and that’s going to happen on Tuesday.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Carla Robbins, from the Council on Foreign Relations, thanks so much.

    CARLA ROBBINS: Thanks for having me.

    The post Staying power? How durable are improved relations with Cuba? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland, February 27, 2015. Rubio is set to announce his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland, February 27, 2015. Rubio is set to announce his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — If Marco Rubio launches his presidential campaign as expected Monday, the first-term Republican senator from Florida may have to answer this simple question. Why now?

    The 43-year-old Rubio, a rising star on Capitol Hill, could wait four more years, even eight, and still be a relatively young candidate.

    Some party officials want him run for governor or try to hold his Senate seat, which could be crucial to continued GOP control of the chamber. By training his sights on the White House, Rubio also sets up a head-to-head competition with Jeb Bush, a mentor with whom he has many overlapping supporters.

    But the window to run for president can close as quickly as it opens.

    Then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois seized an opportunity in 2008 and won. Donors clamored for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to run in 2012, but he declined and now heads into the 2016 campaign in a decidedly weaker position.

    “There’s no telling that (Rubio’s) opportunity will be better four or eight years from now,” said Fergus Cullen, the former New Hampshire Republican chairman who is yet to throw his support behind a candidate.

    Rubio’s advisers know all about the fickle preferences of the electorate. Rubio was a beneficiary of the 2010 tea party wave that swept dozens of conservative lawmakers into Congress just two years after Obama and Democrats won big.

    Rubio was expected to announce his candidacy Monday in his hometown of Miami, which would put him in the shadow of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton’s highly anticipated announcement Sunday of a second White House run.

    But Rubio’s team sees an opportunity to answer the “why now” question and argue the country’s pressing problems require a new generation of leaders, not a return to the 1990s.

    Rubio is about to step into a field that is shaping up to be crowded and competitive.

    He won’t be the only senator in the race.

    He won’t be the only tea party-aligned candidate.

    He won’t even be the only Floridian, the only Cuban-American or the only candidate claiming foreign policy expertise.

    Some are better known – Bush, for one.

    But it is early, and Rubio’s advisers say they are playing a long game. “Campaigns are won at the end, not at the beginning,” said Alex Conant, Rubio’s spokesman.

    Miami’s Freedom Tower was picked as the expected backdrop for Rubio’s campaign announcement. The landmark was once the federal processing center for tens of thousands of Cuban exiles arriving in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Rubio’s parents left Cuba in 1956, shortly before Fidel Castro took power.

    The senator plans to make his family’s immigrant past and his own success story a central part of his campaign. He also intends to play up his hawkish foreign policy views and experience on two powerful national security-focused Senate committees as he tries to sell his qualifications to be commander in chief.

    Rubio was expected to return to Washington in time for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday on Iran. Like his Republican presidential rivals, Rubio has been sharply critical of Obama’s deal-making with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

    Rubio will headline fundraisers in New York and Boston later in the coming week. He was a strong fundraiser for Republicans in the 2014 elections and a popular draw in their campaigns, though he will be competing with Bush for some high-dollar Florida donors. Rubio supporters recently announced the formation of a super PAC to bolster his candidacy.

    Rubio is set to make his first campaign stop as a presidential candidate Friday in New Hampshire. He’s also expected to visit Iowa, South Carolina and possibly Nevada by the end of the month, aides said.

    When Rubio’s campaign set Monday at its launch date, aides knew Clinton could be looking at the same window. The team weighed the risks of Clinton’s announcement upstaging Rubio’s event, but decided to move forward.

    Lin Bennett, the first vice chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, said Rubio could set himself apart in the Republican field by getting the first shot at rebutting Clinton’s candidacy.

    “It would be a plus for him that I hope he’ll take advantage of,” said Bennett, who is unaffiliated in the Republican primary.

    The post Rubio weighs how to position himself in 2016 Republican race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro shook hands on Friday at the Summit of the Americas in Panama April 11, 2015, a symbolically charged gesture as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes. President Obama must now gain Congress's approval to move forward with his foreign policy agenda in both Iran and Cuba. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro shook hands on Friday at the Summit of the Americas in Panama April 11, 2015, a symbolically charged gesture as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes. President Obama must now gain Congress’s approval to move forward with his foreign policy agenda in both Iran and Cuba. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    WASHINGTON — After triumphs abroad, President Barack Obama is finding stern challenges at home to his foreign policy breakthroughs, facing hard sells to skeptics over U.S. shifts, first on Iran and now Cuba.

    Obama returned to Washington early Sunday still basking in the attention from his historic meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro at a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders. But Obama is certain to find a less appreciative crowd in Congress than the one he left behind at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

    To complete a nuclear agreement with Iran, Obama must deal with resistance in Congress and the unpredictability of the Iranian leadership, which has a distinctly different interpretation of what the sides have settled on so far.

    Cuba and Iran offer Obama, whose term ends in early 2017, the potential for legacy-crowning achievements. Iran may prove a greater challenge than Cuba, but together they are subjecting Obama’s foreign policy to the kind of scrutiny that most international issues, short of war, rarely draw.

    Obama made clear in a closing news conference late Saturday in Panama City that he believes he can handle the twin trials. The American public is on his side on Cuba, the president said, and he had tough words for Republicans defying him on Iran.

    Both have their roots in decades of grievances. Both have had constituencies in the U.S. deeply mistrustful of the governments with which Obama is dealing. Pro-Israel Americans cannot fathom a deal with an Iran that will not recognize Israel’s existence. And for long, Cuban-Americans who escaped Fidel Castro’s revolution could not imagine a U.S. government not committed to ousting the Havana government.

    On the flip side, Cuba is hardly the threat Iran could be. Public opinion no longer demonizes Cuba. In the end, Obama’s efforts to re-establish normal relations looks like the lesser burden.

    When it comes to Cuba, “the American people don’t need to be persuaded,” Obama said.

    Still, there are signs that not all the barriers are falling.

    Castro, a lengthy speech at the summit, recited a litany of objections to past U.S. policies. The room where Obama and Castro met displayed no flags, as is traditional in bilateral meetings, and offered a stark reminder of the absence of diplomatic relations.

    Obama’s next step is removing Cuba from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism. Such a decision, recommended by the State Department, could come in days. Obama would have to notify Congress. Lawmakers do not have to ratify the decision, but they have 45 days to disapprove it.

    Such a vote, if attempted, probably would not succeed. But the issue is percolating just as 2016 presidential candidates are jumping into the race.

    Florida, once the center of anti-Castro activism, is a pivotal presidential state, and some Republican candidates will try for a political upper hand by accusing Obama of weakening America’s place in the world.

    “President Obama’s foreign policy has been one appeasement toward autocratic dictators, thugs, and adversaries after another,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican toying with a presidential run, said amid news Obama was to sit down with Castro.

    The White House hardly appears worried about the politics of Cuban diplomacy, given that support for ending more than 50 years of U.S. isolation of the island nation crosses party and geographic lines.

    “”Perhaps the most important difference is that while Iran is inherently a security issue, today Cuba is the opposite,” said Carl Meacham, a former senior Republican aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who now is a director at the Center for Security and International Studies. “If he removes Cuba for the list of state sponsors of terror, President Obama will demonstrate that the United States can no longer reasonably look at Cuba as a threat to our own security.”

    Obama perceives the Iran deal as far more fragile.

    Iran and the world powers negotiating the deal have until the end of June to reach a final deal. Congress is angling to assert authority over the final agreement, and even some of Obama’s Democratic allies support that.

    But Obama reserves most of his frustrations for Republicans and he singled out Sen. John McCain of Arizona, his 2008 presidential rival, for specific scorn during Saturday’s new conference.

    McCain last week declared a major setback in the nuclear talks after Iran’s supreme leader demanded that sanctions against Tehran had to be lifted immediately after a deal went into place.

    Obama cast McCain’s criticism as an assault on the credibility of Secretary of State John Kerry.

    “Now we have a senator suggesting that our secretary of state is purposefully misinterpreting the deal and giving the supreme leader of Iran the benefit of the doubt in the interpretations,” Obama said. “That’s not how we’re supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who is president or secretary of state.”

    The post Can Obama sell both Iran and Cuba plans to Congress? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a Gates Foundation event in New York, March 9, 2015. Clinton, Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton are hosting global and community leaders for the release of the "No Ceilings Full Participation" report, pushing for equal opportunities for women and girls.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4SMRA

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a Gates Foundation event in New York, March 9, 2015. The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state was expected to make her 2016 effort official Sunday with an online video. Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    CHICAGO  — What will drive Hillary Rodham Clinton’s second bid for the presidency?

    To start, strengthening economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families. Those are issues her campaign says will be promoted by a results-oriented “tenacious fighter.”

    The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state was expected to make her 2016 effort official Sunday with an online video, followed by small events with residents of early-voting states over the days ahead.

    The campaign’s opening strategy was described ahead of the announcement by two senior advisers who requested anonymity to discuss her plans.

    Clinton’s strategy sounds familiar. In 2012, President Barack Obama framed the choice for voters this way: Democrats focused on the middle class versus Republicans wanting to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led to the recession.

    Clinton intends to sell herself as being able to work with Congress, businesses and world leaders, the advisers said Saturday. That approach could be perceived as a critique of Obama, who has largely been unable to fulfill his pledge to end Washington’s intense partisanship and found much of his presidency stymied by gridlock with Congress.

    Ahead of the expected announcement, Republicans tried to link Clinton to Obama, a regular focus of GOP criticism.

    “We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential Republican candidate, in a video Sunday.

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign last week, pointed to the Clinton family’s foundation, saying it was hypocritical for the Clintons to accept from Saudi Arabia, which places public restrictions on female movement and activity.

    “I would expect Hillary Clinton if she believes in women’s rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia,” Paul said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Instead, she’s accepting tens of millions of dollars.”

    Clinton was not expected to roll out detailed policy positions in the first weeks of her campaign. Advisers said she planned to talk about ways families can increase take-home pay, the importance of expanding early childhood education and making higher education more affordable.

    It’s not clear whether that would include a noticeable break with Obama on economic policy. The GOP has hammered Obama’s approach as anti-business and insufficient in the wake of the recession. The White House says the economy has improved significantly in recent years.

    The unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in March, but manufacturing and new home construction slowed, cheaper gas has yet to ignite consumer spending and participation in the labor force remains sluggish.

    Clinton is seen as the overwhelming favorite for her party’s nomination. Still, her team has said her early strategy is designed to avoid appearing to take that nomination for granted.

    The early events were expected to include discussions at colleges, day care centers and private homes, and stops at coffee shops and diners. After about a month of such events, Clinton planned to give more specifics about her rationale for running.

    Clinton’s husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, are unlikely to appear at her early events.

    Bill Clinton, the former two-term president, said recently that he wanted to play a role as a “backstage adviser” in his wife’s campaign. Advisers said Bill Clinton has been engaged with his wife in some of the policy discussions leading up to this weekend’s rollout.

    To prepare for the campaign, Clinton has spent months meeting with economic policy experts, including Heather Boushey, whose research focuses on inequality, and Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and retirement policy expert. The policy development process has been overseen by aides Jake Sullivan and Dan Schwerin.

    Clinton’s growing team of staffers began working Friday out of a new campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. They gathered Saturday to hear from campaign manager-in-waiting Robby Mook, who told them the campaign would value teamwork, respect, diversity, discipline and humility.

    A memo distributed by Mook, “We are Hillary for America,” said the campaign “is not about Hillary Clinton and not about us – it’s about the everyday Americans who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families.”

    A Democratic official in attendance described the meeting on condition of anonymity because it was a private strategy session. The memo was first reported by Politico.

    Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post What will drive Hillary Clinton’s second bid for president? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Solar panels fill the roofs of mausoleums at the cemetery in Santa Caloma de Gramenet, near Barcelona in 2008. Spain got 47 percent of its electricity in March 2015 from renewable sources like solar power. Credit: Gustau Nacarino/REUTERS.

    Solar panels fill the roofs of mausoleums at the cemetery in Santa Caloma de Gramenet, near Barcelona in 2008. Spain got 47 percent of its electricity in March 2015 from renewable sources like solar power. Credit: Gustau Nacarino/REUTERS.

    Solar panels sit angled atop mausoleums in the northern Spanish city of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, harnessing the power of the sun to provide electricity to some of the city’s residents.

    In March, 47 percent of Spain’s electricity came from renewable sources, Inside Climate News reported earlier this month.

    The majority (22.5 percent) came from wind, according to the country’s grid operator. Wind turbines dot most of Spain’s open landscape and wind was the top source of electricity in 2013, the Guardian reported.

    Spanish households do pay some of the highest prices for electricity in Europe. In the first half of 2013, the cost of electricity for homes in Spain ranked sixth in the European Union behind countries like Denmark, Germany and Cyprus, according to Eurostat.

    The high prices are due to an electricity deficit that has ballooned over the years, El Pais reported. Subsidies to promote the use of renewables, the perpetuation of poor policies to keep rates low for consumers amid supply cost surges and the failure of the current government to enact reform to right the debt, all have contributed to its growth.

    Outside of the expansive plains though, officials in cities across the country have had to get creative when it comes to finding places to house renewable energy equipment.

    In 2008, Santa Coloma – on the outskirts of Barcelona – placed 462 solar panels on top of the grave niches in its main cemetery, after running out of alternative locations to house a solar farm in the crowded working-class city, Time reported.

    The solar cemetery idea has crossed the Atlantic and in 2012, a cemetery in East Hanover, New Jersey installed solar panels to help power the cemetery itself, local media reported.

    In Long Island, NY, a 2014 proposal to place solar panels on the 114-acre property of St. John’s Annex Cemetery in West Babylon, will soon enter the permit process with the Town of Babylon, Randy Van Yahres of the Catholic Cemeteries of Brooklyn and Queens said in an email to PBS NewsHour.

    The panels would occupy unused, non-burial land and the electricity produced there would benefit Long Island communities.

    Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional information about the cost of electricity in Spain.

    The post Nearly half of Spain’s electricity came from renewables last month appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Amazon has officially won the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval to test delivery drones in the United States.

    In a letter posted on the agency’s website, the FAA gave the green light as long as the drones fly within the height and speed requirements: No higher than 400 feet and no faster than 100 miles per hour.

    Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Public Policy, hailed the announcement:

    We’re pleased the FAA has granted our petition for this stage of R&D experimentation, and we look forward to working with the agency for permission to deliver Prime Air service to customers in the United States safely and soon.

    The approval is a major victory for the e-commerce giant which has previously expressed frustration with the FAA’s slow pace in approving commercial drone testing.

    Drones for delivery have been criticized by opponents concerned about potential threats to public safety and privacy.

    FAA administrator Michael Huerta told PBS NewsHour’s Miles O’Brien in January that the agency is moving slowly because of the safety challenges posed by commercial drone use.

    “A bedrock principle of aviation is see and avoid. And if you don’t have a pilot on board the aircraft, you need something that will substitute for that, which will sense other aircraft, and we can ensure appropriate levels of safety,” Huerta said. “We have the opportunity to do it quickly, or we have the opportunity to do it right. We’re very focused on doing it right, so that we don’t in any way compromise safety.”

    Amazon’s last request for drone tests in the US was in limbo for over six months and the company subsequently developed a test site in Canada. When the FAA issued approval in March, the company stated that the prototype drone had already become obsolete, Reuters reported.

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first announced the drone-delivery venture in 2013. Amazon’s Prime Air service seeks to use self-piloted drones to deliver packages to its customers over distances of 10 miles or more within 30 minutes.

    What do you think of the idea of delivery drones? Share your thoughts in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.

    The post Feds OK Amazon’s delivery drone tests (for real, this time) appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    SAN ANSELMO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  A bottle of antiretroviral drug Truvada is displayed at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California. A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that men who took the daily antiretroviral pill Truvada significantly reduced their risk of contracting HIV. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    SAN ANSELMO, CA – NOVEMBER 23: A bottle of antiretroviral drug Truvada is displayed at Jack’s Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California. A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that men who took the daily antiretroviral pill Truvada significantly reduced their risk of contracting HIV. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    On PBS NewsHour Weekend Sunday, we travel to San Francisco, where city public health officials have set an ambitious goal, called “Getting to Zero,” to eliminate new HIV infections. One of the main pillars of the plan relies on use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada.

    Truvada can be used for what is called “PrEP,” short for “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” the controversial practice of using antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infection.

    Read on to learn 8 things you may not know about Truvada.

    1. Truvada has been used to treat HIV for a decade

    Truvada is a combination of two medicines, emtricitabine and tenofovir. It has been used for ten years as part of a drug regimen that suppresses HIV in people already suffering from the virus.

    Truvada works by blocking an enzyme called reverse transcriptase, which HIV uses to copy its genetic material and reproduce. In addition to suppressing HIV in people who have already been infected, Truvada can also prevent the virus from infecting people in the first place.

    In 2012, it became the first drug to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in preventing HIV-negative people from getting HIV through sexual intercourse.

    2. PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90 percent if used properly, but is far less effective if not taken as recommended

    PrEP is recommended for people at high risk of HIV infection. In practice, this mostly applies to gay or bisexual men who have had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the past six months. But it also includes intravenous drug users who share equipment and heterosexual men and women who don’t regularly use condoms during sex with high-risk partners.

    One major study of men who have sex with men, called iPrEx, found that HIV-negative men prescribed Truvada for daily use were 44 percent less likely to contract HIV than those who took a placebo. That figure may be misleading, however, since many of the trial participants did not take the drug, or failed to take it as frequently as recommended.

    The study showed that all of the men who were prescribed Truvada but still became infected either had not taken the drug at all or had taken it less frequently than instructed. The study’s conclusion was that proper use of Truvada can reduce the risk of infection by 92 percent; subsequent statistical analysis has indicated that the drug may be up to 99 percent effective when taken daily.

    3. Some fear widespread use of PrEP could contribute to the spread of other STDs

    PrEP has been criticized by some public health experts, most notably AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, who has called Truvada “a party drug,” arguing that it will encourage irresponsible sexual practices.

    Weinstein and other critics fear that Truvada will provide people with a false sense of security, leading to decreased condom use, riskier sex and an increase in the transmission rates of STDs like syphilis and gonorrhea. Critics also fear that people will not take the medication reliably, as is required for maximum protection.

    Truvada is intended to be used along with condoms, not in place of them, and doesn’t protect against other sexually transmitted diseases.

    PrEP proponents argue that many men who might benefit from Truvada already don’t use condoms, making the drug a pragmatic tool for preventing HIV infection. PrEP should complement established safer sex techniques, these proponents argue, and provide protection that is currently lacking for those who do not use condoms.

    Dr. Albert Liu, director of HIV Prevention Intervention Studies at San Francisco's Department of Public Health, holds a Truvada pill in San Francisco, California, August 8, 2006. The drug is the basis of a controversial HIV-prevention technique called PrEP. Photo by Kimberly White/Reuters

    Dr. Albert Liu, director of HIV Prevention Intervention Studies at San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, holds an antiretroviral pill in San Francisco, California, August 8, 2006. One such drug, Truvada, is the basis of a controversial HIV-prevention technique called PrEP. Photo by Kimberly White/Reuters

    4. PrEP has not been as widely adopted as public health officials expected

    When PrEP was first declared a viable treatment, many public health officials expected a stampede of people demanding the drug.

    As Dr. Robert Grant, the lead scientist of the 2010 National Institutes of Health study that demonstrated Truvada’s efficacy in preventing HIV transmission, told The New Yorker:

    The evening before we announced, we had meetings with the leadership of public health in California, and they were thinking, as we were, that there was going to be a rush, that everyone was going to descend on the clinics.

    But despite the fact that an estimated half million Americans could be good candidates for PrEP treatment, relatively few actually take Truvada.

    The drug’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Inc., says that in reviewing records from about half of U.S. pharmacies that dispensed Truvada between January 1, 2012, and March 31, 2014, it found that only 3,253 people had started the PrEP regimen during that period.

    Various factors have been cited as contributing to the low numbers of people using PrEP, including  criticism from groups like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the drug’s high cost and the fact that Gilead hasn’t actively marketed the drug for use in preventing HIV.

    5. Truvada use has been stigmatized by some members of the gay community

    Another possible reason for Truvada’s limited use is that PrEP users have been criticized by some in the gay community, who have labeled them “Truvada whores.”

    These critics argue that many who use the drug see it as en excuse to engage in unsafe sexual practices, and that encouraging people to use PrEP is tantamount to giving them permission to have sex without condoms.

    6. Truvada is expensive — it costs about $1300 per month, but it is covered under most insurance plans and the drug’s manufacturer offers payment assistance

    Without insurance, PrEP costs about $1300 per month, plus the added expenses of office visits and lab work. But most insurance providers cover at least part of the drug’s cost, since it is generally cheaper to pay for prevention than to cover the costs of treating people infected with HIV.

    Gilead offers payment assistance for those who don’t have insurance, or who have unaffordable co-pays.

    7. Truvada has some negative side effects

    Truvada can have a number of adverse side effects, including lactic acidosis, a dangerous buildup of lactic acid in the bloodstream, liver problems, kidney issues — including kidney failure — and bone density loss.

    So far, no evidence of bone density loss had been found in people taking Truvada to prevent HIV, though it has been seen in those who take it to suppress the virus.

    A bowl of free New York City condoms are seen in a lobby at the AIDS Service Center of New York City (ASC/NYC) lower Manhattan headquarters July 3, 2012. Picture taken July 3, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH) - RTR3557S

    A bowl of free New York City condoms are seen in a lobby at the AIDS Service Center of New York City’s lower Manhattan headquarters July 3, 2012. Picture taken July 3, 2012. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar

    8. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has advocated for PrEP use 

    Gov. Cuomo has made PrEP use a central part of his plan to end the state’s HIV epidemic by 2020, making him one of the first high-profile U.S. politicians to advocate its use.

    New York has made good progress in reducing HIV infection rates among most high-risk groups, including drug users. But progress in reducing infections among gay men has been slow.

    Encouraging condom use has been the cornerstone of New York’s past risk-prevention efforts. And while the state will still aggressively encourage condom use, the promotion of PrEP may be intended to help prevent infections in people who refuse to use condoms, or who use them irregularly.

    Asked by The New York Times why Gov. Cuomo decided to make PrEP part of his anti-HIV efforts, an unnamed top administration official said, “Some people use condoms, some people don’t. You can’t offer condoms to people who don’t want them.”

    The post 8 things you didn’t know about Truvada appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in support for Senate candidate, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) during a campaign event in New Orleans, Louisiana November 1, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR4CGTX

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in New Orleans on Nov. 1, 2014. The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state planned to enter the 2016 Democratic race with an online video posted on social media on Sunday. Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, announcing her much-awaited second campaign for the White House. “Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion,” she said.

    As she did in 2007, Clinton began her campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination with a video. But rather than follow it with a splashy rally, she instead plans to head to the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, looking to connect with voters directly at coffee shops, day care centers and some private homes.

    “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey,” Clinton said at the end of a video, which features a series of men, women and children describing their aspirations.

    This voter-centric approach was picked with a purpose, to show that Clinton is not taking the nomination for granted. Only after about a month of such events will Clinton will give a broader speech outlining more specifics about her rationale for running.

    The former secretary of state, senator and first lady enters the race in a strong position to succeed her rival from the 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama.

    Her message will focus on strengthening economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families. The campaign is portraying her as a “tenacious fighter” who can get results and work with Congress, business and world leaders.

    Clinton’s strategy, described ahead of the announcement by two senior advisers who requested anonymity to discuss her plans, has parallels to the approach Obama took in 2012. He framed his re-election as a choice between Democrats focused on the middle class and Republicans who sought to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led the country into recession.

    Clinton will face pressure from the progressive wing of her party to adopt a more populist economic message focused on income inequality. Some liberals remain skeptical of Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street donors and the centrist economic policies of her husband’s administration. They have urged her to back tougher financial regulations and tax increases on the wealthy.

    “It would do her well electorally to be firmly on the side of average working people who are working harder than ever and still not getting ahead,” said economist Robert Reich, a former labor secretary during the Clinton administration who has known Hillary Clinton for nearly five decades.

    The GOP did not wait for her announcement to begin their campaign against her. The party’s chairman, Reince Priebus, has outlined plans for a broad effort to try to undermine her record as secretary of state while arguing that her election would be like giving Obama a “third term.”

    Republicans have jumped on Clinton’s use of a personal email account and server while she was secretary of state, as well as her handling of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in his own online video, said Sunday: “We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies.”

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who launched his presidential campaign last week, also pointed to the Clinton family’s foundation, which has drawn criticism from Republicans for raising money from foreign governments.

    Paul said it was hypocritical for the foundation to accept money from Saudi Arabia, which places public restrictions on the movement and activity of women, while Clinton carries forward with her long-standing effort to improve in women’s rights.

    “I would expect Hillary Clinton if she believes in women’s rights, she should be calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia,” Paul said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” `’Instead, she’s accepting tens of millions of dollars.”

    Clinton is the first Democrat to get into the race, but there are some lower-profile Democrats considering challenging her, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

    The party’s nominee will have to overcome history to win election. In the last half-century, the same party has held the White House for three consecutive terms only once, during the administrations of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

    The 2016 campaign is likely to be the most expensive in history, with total spending on both sides expected to well exceed the $1 billion spent four years ago. This weekend, Clinton campaign fundraisers escalated their outreach to Democratic donors, who largely back her bid, with a flurry of phone calls urging them to donate as soon as possible.

    Clinton’s formal entrance into the race also triggered the start of more aggressive fundraising by Democratic outside super political action committees such as Priorities USA Action that have been reorganized to promote her campaign.

    AP White House correspondent Julie Pace in Chicago contributed to this report.

    The post Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Iran and world powers arrive for nuclear talks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (Ecol Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has asked opponents of the Iran nuclear deal to "hold their fire" until they see a final agreement later this year.  Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Pool/Reuters.

    Iran and world powers arrive for nuclear talks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (Ecol Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has asked opponents of the Iran nuclear deal to “hold their fire” until they see a final agreement later this year. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Pool/Reuters.

    WASHINGTON– Secretary of State John Kerry is urging congressional opponents of an emerging nuclear deal with Iran to “hold their fire” until they see a final agreement later this year.

    Kerry said Sunday that he will brief lawmakers over the next two days as part of the Obama administration’s effort to beat back a move among lawmakers to require congressional approval to ease sanctions on Iran.

    The administration should be free to negotiate without interference until the June 30 deadline for a final agreement, Kerry said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

    “We’ve earned the right to be able to try and complete this without interference and certainly without partisan politics,” Kerry said.

    He will hold private meetings with members of the House on Monday and senators on Tuesday. Kerry delivered a similar message on ABC’s “This Week.”

    Also Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to debate a bill by Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee chairman, and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey that would give Congress a say on any deal. Republicans and some Democratic critics of the Iran negotiations are trying to erect obstacles to a deal, while most Democrats are aiming to give negotiators more leeway.

    Menendez said on “Fox News Sunday” that it’s a “congressional duty to review whatever agreement comes about.” Menendez had been the committee’s senior Democrat until he voluntarily stepped aside from the role after he was indicted on federal corruption charges on April 1.

    Under the bill as currently written, Obama could unilaterally lift or ease any sanctions that were imposed on Iran through presidential action. But Congress could block the president from providing Iran with any relief from congressional sanctions.

    Senators on both sides of the issue have introduced more than 50 amendments to the legislation.

    The post Kerry tells opponents of Iran nuclear deal to ‘hold their fire’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In a video posted to YouTube on Sunday, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her official run for president in 2016.

    “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in the video. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

    An e-mail sent to supporters and donors by top aide John Podesta also confirmed Clinton was entering the race. In it, Podesta described an upcoming “kickoff event” next month.

    Read more: Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016

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    Scientists at Stanford University say they have developed an ultrafast aluminum battery that can be charged in as little as one minute.

    Researchers say the long-lasting and inexpensive prototype could also become a safer alternative to other batteries in wide use today, such as environmentally unfriendly alkaline batteries or lithium-ion batteries, which are flammable.

    “Our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life,” said Stanford chemistry professor Hongjie Dai, in a press release. “Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”

    The prototype is also bendable, meaning pliable electronic devices could become a possibility.

    The technology for making the commercially viable aluminum battery, something that has eluded scientists for decades, was discovered when scientists paired graphite with aluminum.

    This resolved a key durability issue, allowing the Stanford battery to last 7,500 charging cycles without weakening.

    Past aluminum batteries developed in other laboratories died after only 100 charging cycles, and lithium-ion batteries, which are used in the majority of electronic devices, typically last only 1,000 cycles.

    The post A battery that could charge your phone in one minute? Ask Stanford. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    china

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: China’s official growth rate is one of those statistics that people around the world pay close attention to. After all, it’s the second largest economy in the world.

    But some question the numbers.

    And Bloomberg reporter Ken Hoffman, who just returned from China, says he has plenty of anecdotal evidence that the economy there is in greater trouble than can be seen by the numbers.

    He joins us now.

    So, you focus on metals and mining. When you went through the countryside, what did you see?

    KEN HOFFMAN, Bloomberg Intelligence: Well what I saw was sort of what the government said it was going to do at their Third Plenum. So, the new government came in about four years ago.

    About two years ago, they had a meeting called The Third Plenum, where they really decide the company’s — country’s future over the next 10 years.

    And what people were telling me on the outside was, wait, this is a completely different China. They are really going to change everything about what China does.

    And this was the first time I witnessed that change, which is, instead of, you know, China consumes about half of the world’s metals and mining, cement. I think, it’s every 12 days, they consume an entire year’s worth of U.S. cement demand.

    Now what you are seeing is, the country saying, enough is enough. You have heard the “Under the Dome” documentary about pollution. And they’re really moving towards sort of upgrading the economy with — and it’s going to have big implications to the world.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you saw, what, basically that the thrust on manufacturing has slowed?

    KEN HOFFMAN: Well, first of all, the thrust on real estate has slowed.

    One of the things people have said is, the localities really were pushing this big growth engine. And there’s something that — the localities, if you put all up their plans together, plan to build homes for 3.4 billion people. Well, they only have 1.2 billion people.

    So, there was massive overgrowth. And what I saw was a lot of empty buildings, a lot of taxi drivers sort of saying, through our interpreter, hey, you know, my aunt lost money in this or my uncle lost money in that place.

    It has all sort of just stopped.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, given all this, why do you see such a burst of energy in the Chinese stock market?

    KEN HOFFMAN: Well, that makes all the sense, because instead of investing in real estate, the Chinese people have turned all their income towards the stock market.

    And so you have seen just an incredible amount of money leave the real estate industry and go into the stock market, and the stock market there has doubled over the last year or so.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what are the ripple affects if the Chinese economy slows significantly more than what we are predicting or what the world markets are predicting?

    KEN HOFFMAN: Well, the Chinese government is really on a tightrope here.

    What they are really trying to do is change the economy, upgrade the economy, go higher value added. And the question is, can they do it?

    I really have to give credit for the government. They’re being very, very brave. There’s a lot of entrenched interests against that, one that — really going after what’s been really the growth engine of the country for the last 20 years.

    They’re changing that now. And whether they can succeed or not will mean a lot for not only China and their people, but the world economy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Ken Hoffman, thanks so much for joining us.

    KEN HOFFMAN: Thank you.

    The post What do the numbers say about trouble for China’s economy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a Gates Foundation event in New York, March 9, 2015. Clinton, Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton are hosting global and community leaders for the release of the "No Ceilings Full Participation" report, pushing for equal opportunities for women and girls.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4SMRA

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For more about Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency, we are joined now from Washington by one of the nation’s top political reporters, Dan Balz, a chief correspondent of The Washington Post.

    So what is the vision that Hillary Clinton wants to lay out?

    DAN BALZ, Chief Political Reporter, The Washington Post: Based on everything we know about Hillary Clinton’s life and life story, she’s going to talk a lot about middle class, middle-class income security, economic mobility, income inequality, but not in a hard-edged way.

    We know that that was the focus certainly of the eight Clinton years when her husband was president.

    Everything she said in the run-up over the last 18 months as she has gotten ready to become a formal candidate points in that direction. So, I think that’s part of it.

    And then I think the second is, she has always had a more muscular foreign policy than some others in the Democratic Party.

    And I think that is one of the questions, given all of the turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere, how she will address that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there a difference now, I guess eight years later, than the Hillary that was running against Barack Obama and perhaps a different strategy, where, at that time, maybe she had different goals in mind of establishing her credibility, versus now, she’s kind of got that? She was the secretary of state.

    DAN BALZ: When she ran eight years ago, one of the things that one of her advisers suggested was she needed to be — to project kind of a Margaret Thatcher image, you know, the Iron Lady image from Thatcher’s days as prime minister in Britain.

    I don’t think she’s in that position today. She has been secretary of state, as you say.

    And I think that, at this point, everything suggests that what she needs to do or wants to do is project a different kind of personality and persona on the campaign trail, warmer, friendlier, more — closer to the ground.

    Her first trip to Iowa, which will take place in a couple of days, is likely to feature almost entirely small events, intimate gatherings, not big rallies, no presumptiveness on the campaign trail and I think that she wants to be able to suggest to people, to voters, that she is accessible, that she understands them.

    That this is not kind of a privileged march through a coronation, but something in which she’s going to get her hands dirty trying to connect with voters.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And Iowa was one of the places that she didn’t necessarily connect with voters last time.

    DAN BALZ: No, absolutely.

    And I have been in and out of Iowa half-a-dozen times over the last year and talked to people, including a lot of Democratic activists.

    And they remember that campaign with very mixed views, the sense that both Secretary Clinton and, in fact, a lot of the senior staff from the national campaign around her didn’t pay proper attention, did not campaign in the way Iowans like.

    Iowans expect a lot of hands-on campaigning. And she didn’t do that very well. She did not like the caucus process, which is a bit of an arcane process. She came away with that with a bad taste in her mouth. I think she wants to erase a lot of those feelings that she has a disdain for Iowa or Iowans or the Iowa process.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    Tomorrow, we’re expecting Marco Rubio to announce his intention for the candidacy.

    So, she has already been getting critiques from Republicans and conservatives before she even launches. And at the same time, she’s also taking a little bit of heat or lack of support from progressives, who think, perhaps, she’s not left enough.

    DAN BALZ: I think it will be very difficult for her ever to quite satisfy the progressives in the party.

    She’s probably not going to go as far as they would like.

    She will tip somewhere in their direction. I think she is somewhat to the left of her husband in their views on economic policy issues.

    But she will also very much be the target, as you suggest, of all of the Republican candidates. They will tie her to the criticisms they have been making already of President Obama’s foreign policy.

    They will talk about things she has or hasn’t done as secretary of state.

    They will try to hold that record up to great scrutiny. She’s going to get a ton of criticism. I mean, she stands very — you know, significantly in the political landscape as, in many ways, a dominant figure.

    And she will draw attacks from all sides.

    And within her own party, she won’t be able to satisfy everybody. And among the Republicans, they will — they will tee off on her, as they have already indicated they’re planning to do.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Dan Balz of The Washington Post, thanks so much.

    DAN BALZ: Thank you, Hari.

    The post What’s Hillary Clinton’s vision for her presidential bid? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Marine Le Pen (L), France's National Front political party leader, and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen attend their party congress in Lyon, November 29, 2014. Marine Le Pen has called on her father to leave politics following his recent controversial comments. Photo by Robert Pratta/Reuters.

    Marine Le Pen (L), France’s National Front political party leader, and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen attend their party congress in Lyon, November 29, 2014. Marine Le Pen has called on her father to leave politics following his recent controversial comments. Photo by Robert Pratta/Reuters.

    It’s a tale of dynastic melodrama — long-simmering tensions between the father and daughter who lead France’s far-right political movement threaten to escalate into a full-blown schism, endangering their party’s ascendency.

    Marine Le Pen, the current leader of France’s National Front party has sometimes found herself at odds with her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the 86-year-old firebrand who founded the party in 1972. Earlier this month, the tensions surfaced and have dominated the French news cycle following recent comments made by the elder Le Pen.

    On April 2, he repeated a past statement that Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail of history.” Four days later, he said that he didn’t view Marshal Philippe Petain, the Vichy leader who collaborated with Nazi occupiers during World War II, as a traitor and pejoratively referred to France’s Spanish-born prime minister, Manuel Valls, as an “immigrant,” saying he’d only been in France for 30 years.

    Marine Le Pen responded quickly to her father’s comments, saying in a statement that he “seems to have descended into a strategy somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide,” according to a New York Times translation.

    Le Pen also called on her father to leave politics and said she would block his candidacy to run the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, instead supporting her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen in the December elections.

    Jean-Marie Le Pen responded the next day. He told French radio that “It’s possible that Marine Le Pen wants me dead and gone – but she shouldn’t bank on me going along with that,” according to Reuters, adding that the National Front would “implode” if he was forced out.

    The elder Le Pen’s statements come at an unfortunate moment for his daughter. She has tried to transform the National Front from a fringe group into a credible mainstream party capable of governing, and has made significant progress.

    But by discrediting her father, Marine Le Pen risks alienating the National Front’s base, many of whom still identify with him.

    “He has real power to cause harm both in the press and politically, and above all financially,” Joël Gombin, a National Front expert, told France 24.

    The National Front made major gains in recent local elections, running on an anti-European Union, protectionist and anti-immigration platform popular with the French working class. Marine Le Pen is seen as a contender in the 2017 presidential election.

    The post Family feud may threaten France’s far-right party appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Before vaccines, parents used to host chicken pox and measles parties to expose their children to the viruses at an early age, when the illPhoto by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Parents who do not vaccinate their children stand to lose more than $11,000 in childcare benefits per child from the Australian government. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Parents who do not vaccinate their children will lose more than $11,000 a year per child in childcare benefits, the Australian government announced today.

    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed on Monday that the new law, due to take effect in 2016, will remove the ability for parents to opt their children out of vaccinations by stating that they are “conscientious objectors.” By removing government childcare benefits for the parents of unvaccinated children, the government hopes to provide a financial incentive for children to be immunized.

    “The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments,” Abbott said in a joint statement with Social Services Minister Scott Morrison.

    “This is essentially a ‘no jab, no pay’ policy from this government.”

    Current exemptions based on medical or religious reasons will remain, but Abbott added that religious opt out guidelines would be tightened.

    Though Australia currently holds a child immunization rate of more than 90 percent, the government estimates that more than 39,000 children under seven years of age have not been vaccinated due to parental objections.

    The post Australia: If you don’t vaccinate your kids, we’ll cut your benefits appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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