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<April 2015>


Arkansas lawmakers pass religious freedom bill
Gov. Asa Hutchinson is to announce Wednesday whether he will sign a bill similar to a new Indiana law that opponents say opens the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians. FULL STORY

Airline acknowledges Lubitz mentioned depression
Years before he was at the controls of a plane that slammed into the French Alps, Andreas Lubitz told the airline that he'd had a "previous episode of severe depression," Lufthansa said Tuesday. FULL STORY

Nigeria's next president: Muhammadu Buhari
Buhari will take the helm of Africa's most populous nation at a critical time, as Nigeria grapples with the violent militant group Boko Haram. He had led the country from 1983 to 1985. FULL STORY

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Deadline passes, but Iran nuclear talks go on

Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi walks with others during a break in a meeting with world representatives seeking to pin down a nuclear deal with Iran at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne

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JUDY WOODRUFF: The nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers went down to the deadline today. But with hours to go, the State Department announced that the meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, are being extended at least a day.

We get more from Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News, who’s in Lausanne.

Indira, hello again.

So it’s midnight there. This was when it was all supposed to be wrapped up. What’s going on?

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, Bloomberg News: Yes, I was supposed to be on a plane by now, but obviously you’re seeing me here, so apparently we’re not.

We’re just a few minutes past the self-imposed deadline that the two sides set for themselves last November, when they missed their last deadline, so the idea was they were meant to come to this framework understanding tonight.

Now, clearly, the two sides have made enough progress that they feel it’s worth going into the next day, as they have told us. But not surprisingly at a time like this, you have got public posturing and messaging through the media. We had one delegation tell us that Iran had been given a make-or-break dawn deadline, that it was now or never.

Then the U.S. denied that. Iran denied that. So, you know, each of these different six powers in Iran are trying to send their own messages to try to get something done that they can go home and be happy with.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, is it possible to sort out among all these stories that are being put out there to the press which ones are reliable?


INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: I think we’re not going to know until we know, until they give us a joint declaration or until they declare failure.

But what we had been hearing earlier in the day was that it was very likely that the two sides were going to come up with major points of agreement, not on everything. That’s for sure. They still had problems over Iran’s enrichment capacity, over research and development, and over sanctions relief, and what the — what shape that was going to take.

But they were going to try to come up with major points of agreement, come up with a joint declaration and then have bullet points. Then that would still give them three more months to come up with a detailed technical accord. But, you know, I think, at this point, they’re still trying to get there.

They need to be able to have agreed on enough of the main points that Secretary Kerry can take it home to Washington, sell it on Capitol Hill, and Minister Zarif of Iran can take it home and sell it to the supreme leader and President Rouhani.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Indira, we have been told the Iranians all along have been more focused on a June deadline, when they wanted to get this resolved. Is that having an impact on what’s taken place?

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: It may be. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said that he doesn’t want a two-step final deal. He wants one step.

And the Iranians, we know, behind closed doors, have been pressuring the Americans, saying, we want a long, written accord, the final one in June. We don’t want to have to write something out now. But I don’t really think that’s what’s holding it up at this point. I think what’s holding it up is that there are some really difficult issues. And that’s why there has been a 12-year standoff between the international community and Iran over this disputed nuclear program, which Iran denies is seeking military applications, but the world believes that they have sought nuclear weapons.

So these are really tough issues to resolve. And I think that’s why we’re seeing them going into the early hours of the morning, because they haven’t come to an agreement yet simply that they can take away and both be happy with.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Indira Lakshmanan, and it sounds like you’re going to have a long night. Thank you.

The post Deadline passes, but Iran nuclear talks go on appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

News Wrap: Defense rests in Boston Marathon bombing case


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news, the Obama administration formally pledged to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent over 10 years. It’s part of a proposed global treaty. The cuts would come from vehicle and appliance efficiency standards and from limits on power plants. Some of those steps face challenges in Congress and the courts.

The defense has rested in the Boston Marathon bombing trial, without calling the accused bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to testify. His lawyers admit that he took part in the 2013 attack, but they’re trying to save him from the death penalty. They called four witnesses to show that he was influenced by his brother. Closing arguments begin on Monday.

Saudi Arabia’s growing military campaign in Yemen intensified today, on land, sea and in the air.

Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News has this report.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: After six days of Saudi airstrikes, Yemen is on the verge of total collapse. So says the U.N., which adds that over 90 civilians have been killed here in the capital in the last few days, Saudi warplanes trying to drive Shia rebels back, but making enemies in the process.

MAN (through translator): They hit us until they completely destroyed these homes, while we were sleeping at home.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: In the north, a U.N. refugee camp was hit by Saudi jets, leaving at least 40 dead. The U.N. said it was shocked. Yemen’s foreign minister blamed rebels for being there.

RIYADH YASEEN, Yemeni Foreign Minister: Houthis, they are going to places where there is some population or residential houses, and they’re trying to put their weapons there.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Last night, the Saudis hit this munitions warehouse near Sanaa. While the missiles are landing, the International Committee of the Red Cross has failed to negotiate delivering medical supplies by air, not in the midst of this burgeoning Sunni-Shia war.

The Houthis are allied with Iran. And that alliance may strengthen, as the Saudi-led Arab coalition weighs up a possible land invasion next, because airstrikes may not be enough to dislodge them, and there’s no sign of a political way out of this crisis, let alone a cease-fire.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Saudis say they mean to restore to office Yemen’s president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who’s also backed by the United States.

President Obama today released military aid to Egypt, as the Cairo government moves to form an Arab alliance against terror. The aid had been on hold since the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. It includes 12 F-16 fighter jets, plus missiles and other weaponry.

In Iraq, government forces fought their way into the center of the city of Tikrit, against Islamic State militants. Military officials said troops attacking from the south and west have recaptured at least 75 percent of the city. The Interior Ministry reported street-to-street fighting, with at least 40 Islamic State fighters killed.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi spoke in Baghdad.

HAIDER AL-ABADI, Iraqi Prime Minister (through translator): I would like to present to you the good news that our troops have raised the Iraqi flag over the provincial building.


HAIDER AL-ABADI (through translator): And they are now purging other parts of the city from the Islamic State militants.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The operation to retake Tikrit began earlier this month, with Iranian support, but it stalled. Last week, the Iraqis called in U.S. airstrikes, and the ground offensive began moving again.

The United States committed over half-a-billion dollars today to help Syrian refugees. It was part of nearly $4 billion pledged by nations at a U.N. summit in Kuwait. Almost 11 million people, half of Syria’s population, have been displaced by the war.

And back in this country, a late-day slide on Wall Street wiped out most of Monday’s gains. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 200 points to close under 17800. The Nasdaq fell 46, and the S&P 500 gave up 18.

The post News Wrap: Defense rests in Boston Marathon bombing case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Nigerians vote out a sitting government for the first time

GOODBYE GOODLUCK  nigeria  monitor flag map

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Longtime Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat today in his reelection bid in Africa’s richest and most populous nation. He lost by at least two million votes to challenger Muhammadu Buhari.

Jeffrey Brown reports.

JEFFREY BROWN: Supporters of Buhari celebrated in the northern city of Kaduna, an opposition stronghold, as word of the results spread.

WOMAN (through interpreter): I am out because I am happy about the change of government.

JEFFREY BROWN: The winner, a Muslim and former military ruler, swept the Muslim north. Crucially, he also scored well in states across Southern Nigeria, where Christians predominate and Jonathan had his power base.

The outcome stunned the ruling party, and one of its officials even disrupted the electoral commission’s proceedings, charging, “We have lost confidence in you.”

But for Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party, the results were momentous.

LAI MOHAMMED, All Progressives Congress Spokesman: We are all happy because we are witnessing history, history in the sense that this is the first time in Nigeria that a sitting government would be voted out of power using purely democratic means.

JEFFREY BROWN: Buhari initially came to power in a military coup 30 years ago, but says he became an advocate of democracy after civilian rule returned to Nigeria in 1999. He says he will draw on his past experience to stamp out the violent Boko Haram militants.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI, Nigerian President-Elect: With my background as a military man, I think we have to quickly restore the morale of the Nigerian military and the reinforcement agencies by certainly getting weapons, retraining, and reorganization.

The post Nigerians vote out a sitting government for the first time appeared first on PBS NewsHour.