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Iran and six world powers have agreed on a framework for a nuclear deal, following days of negotiation and several missed deadlines. The framework deal includes a commitment by Iran to limit its nuclear enrichment capabilities in exchange for, in part, an immediate lifting of economic sanctions from Western powers. Officials announced on Thursday that they will now begin negotiations for a final nuclear deal, with a deadline at the end of June. President Obama emphasized that the deal was not done yet and work still needed to be done to reach a concrete agreement.
Iranians took to social media to celebrate the nuclear deal progress. And for the first time anyone can remember, Iran’s state media carried President Obama’s speech in the Rose Garden live, with instant translation into Farsi. This led to some Iranians taking selfies with their screens of the historic broadcast. Hayes Brown for BuzzFeed / via Twitter
And a little extra. We asked BuzzFeed News’ Rosie Gray, who’s been reporting from the talks in Lausanne, two quick questions about the framework deal with Iran.
Why is this a big deal? What's at stake?
GRAY: There's several reasons why it's a big deal. One, if this potential deal does prevent Iran from going nuclear, then it will have resolved the single most pressing arms control issue of the modern era. If President Obama is right, the U.S. will have laid the groundwork for diffusing a 40-year enmity between the U.S. and Iran that dates back to the Islamic Revolution.
The nuclear negotiations with Iran are the Obama administration's top foreign policy priority, and this potential deal will likely be looked back on as the president's signature international accomplishment — whether it works or not. But if Obama's critics are right, and the deal does not prevent or even accelerates Iran's path to the bomb, then this could be looked back on as a mistake of historic proportions.
This framework deal with Iran, as well as U.S. cooperation with Iran against ISIS on the battlefield, could also signal a new set of U.S. alliances in the Middle East. Traditional U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are very worried about this — Israel's prime minister even told Obama on Thursday that if this framework is enacted as a final deal, it will threaten Israel's survival. The administration is walking a fine line here with its existing allies, and these negotiations are part of the reason why the U.S.-Israel relationship is in crisis.
For Iran itself, this could change everything. If there is indeed a deal and Iran complies with the restrictions, it will be relieved of the crippling sanctions that have kept it largely isolated from the world economy.
And what's expected to happen between now and June 30?
GRAY: Both Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S., plus Germany) will continue negotiating in the next three months. It's important to keep in mind there is no deal yet. This is merely a framework that sets the parameters of what a final deal will look like. They still have to figure out a lot of the details, and a lot of the issues still at stake could be very contentious. It's too early to say whether this deal will become a reality.
Somali extremist group al-Shabaab have killed at least 147 people in an attack on a university in Kenya. The attack was carried out by gunmen who stormed the university grounds, took hostages, and killed people indiscriminately. The gunmen were eventually killed by Kenyan security forces. Al-Shabaab, one of the most violent groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility, and an al-Shabaab spokesperson told Reuters that the gunmen singled out Christian students from Muslim students for execution.
The attack on Thursday comes just days after President Obama announced that we would visit Kenya in July for a conference on economic development in Africa. This would be the president’s first trip to his father’s homeland since taking office.
Al-Shabaab has a significant history in Kenya. The extremist group was behind the 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi, the country’s capital, which killed at least 67 people. Many Kenyans see the Westgate attacks as the culmination of an increasingly intense conflict between the Kenyan government and al-Shabaab, according to the New York Times. The conflict began when Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to fight the group, following years of attacks and kidnappings carried out by the extremists.
The university attack fits a wider trend of terror groups, like al-Shabaab, growing from being a local rebellion into a regional threat, as The Atlantic’s David Graham writes. The other major example of this trend is Boko Haram, which is based in northeastern Nigeria but has grown to cause trouble in neighboring Chad, Niger, and Senegal.
Indiana and Arkansas have approved revisions to their “religious freedom” bills, chiefly to clarify that they can’t be used to deny service to LGBT customers. The bills sparked a national uproar when they were first passed by lawmakers, as many critics say they allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. Indiana’s revision explicitly adds protections for LGBT people into the law, while Arkansas’ amendments makes its law nearly identical to the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act — which is narrower and less dangerous than the original bill — but does not directly provide explicit LGBT protections, according to the New York Times.
However, some believe that the revisions fell short of fully appeasing LGBT-rights advocates, who say the new laws should explicitly ban discrimination. In Indiana, the NCAA has expressed approval over the revisions, but the online consumer ratings company Angie’s List, which is a major local business, considers the new law “insufficient” for preventing discrimination, as IndyStar’s Jeff Swiatek reports. Meanwhile, Arkansas’ revised law is seen to still be fairly ambiguous, and advocates fear that the ambiguity will lead to similar legal battles in the future.
WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
Last night was the first seven-way TV election debate in British political history. Following months of negotiations, the UK’s political parties finally agreed to hold a single debate involving seven different party leaders. The debate is the only time frontrunners David Cameron of the Conservative Party and Ed Miliband of the Labour Party will be on TV together ahead of the national election on May 7.
What’s next? Opinion polls suggest there was no clear winner of the debate but it was ‘the highlight of the election so far,” BuzzFeed News UK’s Jim Waterson writes. “Just another five weeks of this to go until polling day.”
Investigators have recovered a second black box in the Germanwings crash site. Flight recorder data from the box shows that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz accelerated the plane as it descended into the mountain. Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin, who is leading the investigation, told reporters the box was found buried in a ravine near the downed plane.
What’s next? The box, found nine days after the plane went down in the Alps, could possibly reveal more details about the crash. Voice recordings from the first black box had provided evidence first suggesting that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had deliberately crashed the plane.
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
Three people in New York were charged with terrorism. Two women, Queens residents, reportedly had several propane gas canisters and instructions on how to fashion them as explosives. In an unrelated incident, a third person was charged with providing support for terrorists seeking to kill U.S. citizens abroad on Thursday.
Johns Hopkins University is being sued for $1 billion over an unethical STD study. More than 780 people are suing the university over its experiments led by the U.S. government in the 1940s that deliberately infected over a thousand Guatemalans with syphilis and other STDS without their knowledge or consent.
In a first, the New York Boy Scouts hired an out gay man. The move sets up a potential conflict with the organization’s national policy, BuzzFeed News’ Chris Geidner reports. Although the national Boy Scouts of America changed its membership policies in 2013 to allow out gay youth members, it has maintained its ban on openly gay adult members.
A death row inmate in Alabama will be released today after 30 years in prison. The inmate, Anthony Ray Hilton, was convicted in 1985 for two murders in separate robberies. On Wednesday, prosecutors at Hilton’s retrial — started after the U.S. Supreme Court sent his case back last year — determined that there is no forensic evidence proving that the bullets found at the crime scene came from the gun found at Hinton’s home. His release is scheduled for this morning.
If you use Venmo, turn on multi factor authentication. The company has rolled out the new security feature more than a month after Slate first published an investigation exposing the mobile payment app’s glaring lack of basic security features. The new feature is automatically turned on for any Venmo user with the latest version.
Quick things to know:
Stanford University is making tuition free for families earning less than $125,000 a year. (Vox)
France bans super-skinny models in its fight against anorexia. (Reuters)
Instagram deleted body-positive photos of women for violating community standards, and people are not happy about that. (BuzzFeed News)
The Sacramento Kings have signed the first player of Indian descent in NBA history. (ESPN)
Even computers are unsure about their March Madness brackets. (The Atlantic)
How well you do know what was happening in the news this week? Take the BuzzFeed News Quiz!
We have a special guest today. Anita Badejo, BuzzFeed News’ Assistant Features Editor, shares two stories she enjoyed from this week.
Mary H.K. Choi felt like she needed a vacation from being an adult, so she turned to the drug of your youth — ecstasy. In this fantastic essay for Matter, she explores what it means to grow older, to forge connections, to reconcile what you thought your life would be with what it has become, and to realize that as much as we all change, in some ways we'll always stay the same.
Though far from a household name, to industry insiders Hollywood casting director Allison Jones is nothing short of a revolutionary. Responsible for assembling the casts of some of the most successful comedic films and shows today — Bridesmaids, The Office, Superbad — she's also helped launch the careers of actors like Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill. In this great profile for the New Yorker, Stephen Rodrick explores how Jones has been quietly changing the face of American comedy, one nerd at a time.
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Kevin Blandford from Louisville, Kentucky, won a free vacation to Puerto Rico, but his wife couldn’t join him so he made a hilariously miserable photo album. “Not a single second of fun in Puerto Rico” was the album’s title. But who took the photos?? Anyway. We hope you, dear reader, have some fun this weekend and make a fun photo album.