Political MoJo

Nearly 1 in 10 Americans Have Serious Anger Problems—and Can Easily Get Guns

| Wed Apr. 8, 2015 4:00 AM EDT

In the United States, most people diagnosed with mental illness are allowed to buy guns. While state laws vary, federal law prohibits only those who have been committed to a psychiatric hospital or adjudicated as "mental defectives" from owning firearms.

In most states, even people who have committed violent misdemeanors or have had restraining orders issued against them for domestic violence are allowed to own guns.

But researchers at Duke University suspect that the law is ignoring a group of Americans who could make for potentially dangerous gun owners: people with a history of angry, impulsive outbursts. In a study published this month in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law, the Duke team looked at more than 5,500 interviews conducted in a landmark survey of mental illness by Harvard researchers. From the interviews, they extrapolated that 1 in 10 adults in the United States has an anger management problem—and access to firearms.

One caveat: While it makes intuitive sense that angry people and guns would be a volatile combination, it's important to note that there is no data yet on whether people with anger problems are more likely to commit violent crimes. Still, lead author Jeffrey Swanson believes that the finding is worrisome. "Probably the strongest predictor of violence is previous violent behavior," says Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke Medicine.

Swanson points to the recent shootings of three students near the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The alleged shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, had a history of threatening behavior. "People who knew him said that he was very angry; they were scared of him," says Swanson.

And yet, in most states, even people who have committed violent misdemeanors or have had restraining orders issued against them for domestic violence are allowed to own guns.

Meanwhile, people with the types of severe psychiatric problems that lead to involuntary commitment, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, commit just 4 percent of violent crimes in the United States. Most people with those acute conditions are not prone to violence.

However, Swanson doesn't believe that isolated incidents of anger should prevent people from buying guns—everyone gets angry once in a while. But "the group that we focus on goes far beyond regular anger," he says. "These individuals are off on the extreme." They often get into physical fights and break or smash things when they become upset.

Some states have tried to address the problem with laws that allow police to temporarily seize weapons from people whom a court deems immediately dangerous based on testimony from those who know the individual and his or her behavior. Currently, just three states—California, Connecticut, and Indiana—have versions of these laws.

In most places, a history of violence isn't enough to make authorities think twice about whether an individual should be allowed to own a gun. "The way the law is set up now, it's missing a lot," says Swanson. "The most volatile people are slipping through the cracks."

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Rand Paul's Announcement Video Pulled Over Copyright Issues

| Tue Apr. 7, 2015 7:45 PM EDT

This morning Rand Paul announced that he was running for president. There was a crowded auditorium and they were going wild and then he strode on up to the podium and music was blaring and it was all going great and he gave a speech and the crowd ate it up and they cheered his name and then he finished and they clapped and cheered and the campaign uploaded the video of the speech to YouTube so that the world could clap and cheer and...YouTube bots automatically pulled the video for unlicensed use of copyrighted material.

Womp womp.

Warner Music Group, the official owner of John Rich's "Shutting Detroit Down," a song about how much it sucks that rich corporations own things, has now shut Rand down.

Both Billboard and The Washington Post have reached out to get to the bottom of this and neither Warner or YouTube have commented on the situation.

The campaign's video has now been deleted from YouTube (C-PSAN's remains) but you can still enjoy the song in its entirety if you play it through John Rich's YouTube page, where you can also admire WMG's copyright claim in plain view:

The lesson, kids, is: if you ever run for president be sure to get permission to use copyrighted material before using it in your announcement speech. Otherwise the dream could end before it ever really begins.

Let These Adorable Children Show You Just How Insane the NRA's Fear-Mongering Is

| Tue Apr. 7, 2015 3:25 PM EDT

Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president and perhaps the gun lobby's most visible figure, has a penchant for invoking fear and paranoia in order to convince people that gun ownership is key to physical safety—despite an increasing number of studies that prove the very opposite.

Ahead of the NRA's annual convention this weekend, Everytown, the gun-safety coalition backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has released a video to demonstrate just how ridiculous LaPierre's signature fear-mongering tends to get. The video, which features kids adorably rattling off a handful of the NRA executive's quotes, is part of the group's larger effort to expose the lobby's tactics coined "Stop Crazytown."

Watch below:

For more of Mother Jones' reporting on guns in America, see all of our latest coverage here, and our award-winning special reports.

 

Rand Paul Just Announced That He's Running for President. Here's His Speech.

| Tue Apr. 7, 2015 1:28 PM EDT

Rand Paul just announced that he is running for president. He said some weird things, and some stupid things, and some okay things, and some smart things, and a lot of meaningless things.

Politics!

Here's the transcript, courtesy of TIME.

I have a message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our country back.

We have come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank, the special interests that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare.

The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives must be stopped.

Less than five years ago I stood just down the road in home town in Bowling Green and said those same words. I wasn't supposed to win, no one thought I would.

Some people asked me, then why are you running? The answer is the same now as it was then. I have a vision for America. I want to be part of a return to prosperity, a true economic boom that lists all Americans, a return to a government restrained by the Constitution.

A return to privacy, opportunity, liberty. Too often when Republicans have won we have squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. That's not who I am.

That's not why I ran for office the first time just a few years ago. The truth is, I love my life as a small-town doctor. Every day I woke up, I felt lucky to be able to do the things I loved. More importantly, I was blessed to be able to do things that made a difference in people's lives.

I never could have done any of this, though, without the help of my parents who are here today. I'd like you to join me and thank my mother and dad.

With my parents' help, I was able to make it through long years of medical training to become an eye surgeon. For me there is nothing that compares with helping someone see better. Last August I was privileged to travel to Guatemala on a medical mission trip together with a team of surgeons from across the U.S.

We operated on more than 200 people who were blind or nearly blind from cataracts. I was grateful to be able to put my scrubs back on, peer into the oculars of the microscope, and focus on the task at hand, to take a surgical approach to fix a problem.

One day in Guatemala, a man arrived and told me that I'd operated on his wife the day before. His wife could see clearly for the first time in years, and she had begged him to get on the bus, travel the winding roads and come back to our surgery center. He too was nearly blind from hardened cataracts.

After his surgery, the next day, his wife sat next to me. As I unveiled the patch from his eyes, it was a powerful emotional moment for me to see them looking at each other clearly for the first time years to see the face they loved again.

As I saw the joy in their eyes, I thought, "This is why I became a doctor."

In that moment, I also remembered my grandmother, who inspired me to become an eye surgeon. She spent hours with me as a kid. We would sort through her old coin collection, looking for wheat pennies and Indian heads. But as her vision began to fail, I became her eyes to inspect the faintness of the mint marks on the old weather-worn coins.

I went with my grandmother to the ophthalmologist as she had her corneas replaced. I was also with her when she received the sad news that macular generation had done irreparable harm to her eyes.

My hope… my hope that my grandmother would see again made me want to become an eye surgeon, to make a difference in people's lives.

I've been fortunate. I've been able to enjoy the American Dream.

I worry, though, that the opportunity and hope are slipping away for our sons and daughters. As I watch our once-great economy collapse under mounting spending and debt, I think, "What kind of America will our grandchildren see"?

It seems to me that both parties and the entire political system are to blame.

Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration.

And it's now tripling under Barack Obama's watch. President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous presidents combined.

We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security.

We can wake up now and do the right thing. Quit spending money we don't have.

This message of liberty is for all Americans, Americans from all walks of life. The message of liberty, opportunity and justice is for all Americans, whether you wear a suit, a uniform or overalls, whether you're white or black, rich or poor.

In order to restore America, one thing is for certain, though: We cannot, we must not dilute our message or give up on our principles.

If we nominate a candidate who is simply Democrat Light, what's the point?

Why bother?

We need to boldly proclaim our vision for America. We need to go boldly forth under the banner of liberty that clutches the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other.

Washington is horribly broken. I fear it can't be fixed from within. We the people must rise up and demand action.

Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so. Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a constitutional amendment.

I have been to Washington, and let me tell you, there is no monopoly on knowledge there.

I ran for office because we have too many career politicians. I believe it now more than ever.

We limit the President to two terms. It's about time we limit the terms of Congress!

I want to reform Washington. I want common sense rules that will break the log-jam in Congress.

That's why I introduced a Read the Bills Act.

The bills are thousands of pages long. And no one reads them. They are often plopped on our desks only a few hours before a vote.

I've proposed something truly extraordinary — Let's read the bills, every page!

———
Many Americans, though, are being left behind. The reward of work seems beyond their grasp. Under the watch of both parties – the poor seem to get poorer and the rich get richer.

Trillion dollar government stimulus packages have only widened the income gap.

Politically connected cronies get taxpayer dollars by the hundreds of millions, and poor families across America continue to suffer.

I have a different vision, an ambitious vision, a vision that will offer opportunity to all Americans, especially those who have been left behind.

———
Liberal policies have failed our inner cities. Let's just get the facts straight. They have failed our inner cities. Our schools are not equal and the poverty gap continues to widen.

Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as "two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side."

In one America, people experience the opportunity of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the other America, people experience a daily ugliness. …

My trips to Detroit, Appalachia, and Chicago have revealed what I call an ‘undercurrent of unease.'

I want all our children to have the same opportunities that I had. We need to stop limiting kids in poor neighborhoods to failing public schools and offer school choice, not just for the privileged, but for everyone!

It won't happen, though, unless we realize that we can't borrow our way to prosperity.

———

In my vision for America, freedom and prosperity at home can only be achieved if we defend against enemies who are dead-set on attacking America.

The enemy is radical Islam and not only will I name the enemy, I will do what ever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind!

We need a national defense robust enough to defend against all attack, modern enough to deter all enemies, and nimble enough to defend our vital interests.

But we also need a foreign policy that protects American interests and encourages stability, not chaos!

I envision an America with a national defense unparalleled, undefeatable, and unencumbered by overseas nation building!

I envision a national defense that promotes, as Reagan put it, "Peace through Strength."

I believe in applying Ronald Reagan's approach to foreign policy to the Iran issue.

Successful negotiations with untrustworthy adversaries are only achieved from a position of strength.

We brought Iran to the table from strength, through sanctions I voted for.

Now we must stay strong. That's why I co-sponsored legislation that insures that any deal between the U.S. and Iran must be approved by Congress.

Not only is that good policy, it is the law.

I will oppose any deal that does not end Iran's nuclear ambitions and have strong verification measures. I will insist that any final version be brought before Congress.

The difference between President Obama and myself-he seems to think you can negotiate from a position of weakness.

———
We must realize, though, that we do not project strength by borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan.

Let's quit building bridges in foreign countries and use that money to build some bridges here at home!

It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting death to America in countries that receive millions of dollars of our foreign aid.

I say it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America!

———

Today begins the journey to take back America, to rescue a great country, now adrift.

If you love liberty, stand with me!

If you want to defeat the Washington machine, stand with me!

God bless you. God bless America.

 

Feds Say Georgia's Treatment of Transgender Prisoners Is Unconstitutional

| Fri Apr. 3, 2015 4:36 PM EDT
Ashley Diamond before entering prison

For three years, the Georgia Department of Corrections allegedly has denied transgender inmate Ashley Diamond medical treatment for gender dysphoria, causing her such distress that she has attempted on multiple occasions to castrate herself, cut off her penis, and kill herself. In February, Diamond filed a lawsuit against GDC officials, and on Friday the Department of Justice dealt the GDC a major blow, claiming that the state's failure to adequately treat inmates with gender dysphoria "constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment."

The DOJ weighed in on Diamond's case via a statement of interest, which offers recommendations for how the district court in Georgia should rule in the case. It focused on Georgia's so-called freeze-frame policy, which prevents inmates from receiving hormone therapy for gender dysphoria if they were not identified as transgender and referred for treatment immediately during the prison intake process. "Freeze-frame policies and other policies that apply blanket prohibitions to such treatment are facially unconstitutional because they fail to provide individualized assessment and treatment of a serious medical need," DOJ officials wrote, adding that similar policies have been previously struck down in Wisconsin and New York.

Chinyere Ezie, Diamond's lead attorney, says the defense has until next Friday to submit briefs in response to the complaint, which may include a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The first hearing for the case is scheduled for April 13. You can read the DOJ's entire statement below, and check out our earlier coverage of Diamond's case.

 

Chelsea Manning Just Started Tweeting From Prison

| Fri Apr. 3, 2015 3:41 PM EDT

Chelsea Manning has joined Twitter from inside the walls of Kansas's Fort Leavenworth prison, where she is currently serving a 35-year sentence for providing classified material to Wikileaks. Using the handle @xychelsea, the account has already amassed over 12,000 followers.

"She is committed to having a voice and engaging with the public and will try to be present on Twitter as much as she is able to connect with people on the outside," ACLU attorney Chase Strangio told Politico.

In February, the military approved a request from Manning, who was born a male and formerly went by the name Bradley, to undergo hormone therapy in order to transition into a woman. That same month, the Guardian announced it had hired Manning to write from prison as a contributor on topics of gender and war.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Obama Just Announced a Historic Nuclear Agreement With Iran

| Thu Apr. 2, 2015 3:38 PM EDT

Speaking from the Rose Garden on Thursday, President Obama addressed a preliminary agreement reached earlier in the day that seeks to limit Iran's controversial nuclear program. The deal, which includes the participation of European allies, is expected to lead to a final phase of negotiations before a set June 30 deadline.

"I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final compromise deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer," Obama said on Thursday. "This has been a long time coming."

Obama said that any "backsliding" on Iran's part would lead to the deal's collapse. In the press conference, the president also reaffirmed his commitment to protecting peaceful interests in Israel and the Middle East. Prior to Obama's address, both sides, although optimistic, noted key differences still remained.

Watch the full press conference below:

For the text on the preliminary agreement, read the document here. Here's the transcript of Obama's press conference courtesy of the Washington Post below:

Today, the United States, together with our allies and partners, has reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As president and commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people, and I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer. This has been a long time coming.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades. By the time I took office, Iran was operating thousands of centrifuges, which can produce the materials for a nuclear bomb. And Iran was concealing a covert nuclear facility.

I made clear that we were prepared to resolve this issue diplomatically, but only if Iran came to the table in a serious way.

When that did not happen, we rallied the world to impose the toughest sanctions in history, sanctions which had a profound impact on the Iranian economy.

Now, sanctions alone could not stop Iran's nuclear program, but they did help bring Iran to the negotiating table. Because of our diplomatic efforts, the world stood with us, and we were joined at the negotiating table by the world's major powers: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China as well as the European Union.

Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today's framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran's nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.

And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, that we could not verify their compliance, and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended. Iran has met all of its obligations.

It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material, inspections of Iran's program increased, and we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.

Today, after many months of tough principle diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal. And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.

This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. So this deal is not based on trust. It's based on unprecedented verification.

Many key details will be finalized over the next three months. And nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. But here are the basic outlines of the deal that we are working to finalize.

First, Iran will not be able to pursue a bomb using plutonium because it will not develop weapons grade plutonium. The core of its reactor at Arak will be dismantled and replaced. The spent fuel from that facility will be shipped out of Iran for the life of the reactor. Iran will not build a new heavy water reactor. And Iran will not reprocess fuel from its existing reactors, ever.

Second, this deal shuts down Iran's path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that its installed centrifuges will be reduced by two thirds. Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its Fordo facility. Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least the next 10 years. The vast majority of Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized.

Today, estimates indicate that Iran is only two or three months away from potentially acquiring the raw materials that could be used for a single nuclear bomb. Under this deal, Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Even if it violated the deal, for the next decade at least, Iran would be a minimum of a year away from acquiring enough material for a bomb. And the strict limitations on Iran's stockpile will last for 15 years.

Third, this deal provides the best possible defense against Iran's ability to pursue a nuclear weapon covertly, that is in secret. International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran's nuclear program, from uranium mills that provide the raw materials to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.

If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. Iran's past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed.

With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. So, this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.

There will be strict limits on Iran's program for a decade. Additional restrictions on building new facilities or stockpiling materials will last for 15 years. The unprecedented transparency measures will last for 20 years or more. Indeed, some will be permanent. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.

In return for Iran's actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions. Our own sanctions and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This relief will be phased, as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.

Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.

Now let me re-emphasize, our work is not yet done. The deal has not been signed. Between now and the end of June, the negotiators will continue to work through the details of how this framework will be fully implemented and those details matter.

If there is backsliding on the part of the Iranians, if the verification and inspection mechanisms don't meet the specifications of our nuclear and security experts, there will be no deal.

But if we can get this done and Iran follows through on the framework that our negotiators agreed to, we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security and to do so peacefully.

Given the importance of this issue, I have instructed my negotiators to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance the deal. And I welcome a robust debate in the weeks and months to come.

I am confident that we can show that this deal is good for the security of the United States, for our allies and for the world.

But the fact is we only have three options for addressing Iran's nuclear program. First, we can reach a robust and verifiable deal, like this one, and peacefully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The second option is we can bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, thereby starting another war in the Middle East and setting back Iran's program by a few years. In other words, setting it back by a fraction of the time that this deal will set it back. Meanwhile, we'd ensure that Iran would raise their head to try and build a bomb.

Third, we could pull out of negotiations, try to get other countries to go along and continue sanctions that are currently in place or add additional ones and hope for the best. Knowing that every time we have done so, Iran has not capitulated, but instead has advanced its program. And that in very short order, the breakout timeline would be eliminated and a nuclear arms race in the region could be triggered because of that uncertainty.

In other words, the third option leads us very quickly back to a decision about whether or not to take military action because we'd have no idea what was going on inside of Iran. Iran is not going to simply dismantle its program because we demand it to do so.

That's not how the world works. And that's not what history shows us. Iran has shown no willingness to eliminate those aspects of their program that they maintain are for peaceful purposes, even in the face of unprecedented sanctions.

Should negotiations collapse because we, the United States, rejected what the majority of the world considers a fair deal, what our scientists and nuclear experts suggest would give us confidence that they are not developing a nuclear weapon, it's doubtful that we could even keep our current international sanctions in place.

So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world's major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East? Is it worse than doing what we've done for almost two decades with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections?

I think the answer will be clear. Remember, I have always insisted that I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and I will.

But I also know that a diplomatic solution is the best way to get this done and offers a more comprehensive and lasting solution. It is our best option by far. And while it is always a possibility that Iran may try to cheat on the deal in the future, this framework of inspections and transparency makes it far more likely that we'll know about it if they try to cheat, and I or future presidents will have preserved all of the options that are currently available to deal with it.

To the Iranian people, I want to reaffirm what I've said since the beginning of my presidency. We are willing to engage you on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.

This deal offers the prospect of relief from sanctions that were imposed because of Iran's violation of international law. Since Iran's supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, this framework gives Iran the opportunity to verify that it's program is, in fact, peaceful. It demonstrates that if Iran complies with its international obligations, then it can fully rejoin the community of nations, thereby fulfilling the extraordinary talent and aspirations of the Iranian people. That would be good for Iran, and it would be good for the world.

Of course, this deal alone, even if fully implemented, will not end the deep divisions and mistrust between our two countries. We have a difficult history between us.

And our concerns will remain with respect to Iranian behavior so long as Iran continues its sponsorship of terrorism, its support for proxies who destabilize the Middle East, its threats against America's friends and allies, like Israel.

So make no mistake, we will remain vigilant in countering those actions and standing with our allies.

It's no secret that the Israeli prime minister and I don't agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue. If in fact Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option.

And I believe our nuclear experts can confirm that.

More importantly, I will be speaking with the prime minister today to make clear that there will be no daylight, there is no daylight when it comes to our support for Israel's security and our concerns about Iran's destabilizing policies and threats towards Israel.

That's why I've directed my national security team to consult closely with the new Israeli government in the coming weeks and months about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and make clear our unshakeable commitment to Israel's defense.

Today, I also spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia, to reaffirm our commitment to the security of our partners in the Gulf. And I am inviting the leaders of the six countries who make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain to meet me at Camp David this spring to discuss how we can further strengthen our security cooperation while resolving the multiple conflicts that have caused so much hardship and instability throughout the Middle East.

Finally, it's worth remembering that Congress has, on a bipartisan basis, played a critical role in our current Iran policy, helping to shape the sanctions regime that applied so much pressure on Iran and ultimately forced them to the table.

In the coming days and weeks, my administration will engage Congress once again about how we can play -- how it can play a constructive oversight role. I'll begin that effort by speaking to the leaders of the House and the Senate today.

In those conversations, I will underscore that the issues at stake here are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace. And they should be evaluated based on the facts, and what is ultimately best for the American people and for our national security. For, this is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran. This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America and the major powers in the world, including some of our closest allies.

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

The American people understand this, which is why a solid majority support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. They understand instinctively the words of President Kennedy, who faced down the far greater threat of Communism, and said, "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate." The American people remembered that at the height of the Cold War.

Presidents like Nixon and Reagan struck historic arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous adversary, despite the fact that that adversary not only threatened to destroy our country and our way of life, but had the means to do so.

Those agreements were not perfect. They did not end all threats. But they made our world safer. A good deal with Iran will do the same. Today I'd like to express my thanks to our international partners for their steadfastness, their cooperation.

I was able to speak earlier today with our close allies, Prime Minister Cameron and President Holland and Chancellor Merkel, to reaffirm that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this effort. And most of all, on behalf of our nation, I want to express my thanks to our tireless -- and I mean tireless -- Secretary of State John Kerry and our entire negotiating team. They have worked so hard to make this progress. They represent the best tradition of American diplomacy.

Their work, our work, is not yet done and success is not guaranteed. But we have a historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. We should seize that chance. Thank you. God bless you. And god bless the United States of America.

BREAKING: Iran Nuclear Deal Reached

| Thu Apr. 2, 2015 1:43 PM EDT

Wow.

The U.S. and other international negotiators reportedly have agreed to the outlines of an understanding with Iran that would allow for a final phase of nuclear talks.

The Associated Press, citing officials, reported on the agreement, while noting that negotiators are still in a dispute over how much to make public.

A press conference is about to begin to announce the details (WATCH HERE), but according to Reuters it looks like Iran has agreed to suspend much of its nuclear program.

UPDATE: Here is the White House fact sheet on the deal:

 

 

Arkansas Governor Asks For Changes to Religious Freedom Bill

| Wed Apr. 1, 2015 3:21 PM EDT

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called for changes in the state's controversial religious freedom bill on Wednesday, amid mounting criticism from businesses, local leaders, gay rights advocates, and even members of his own family. 

"This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial," Hutchinson told reporters. "But these are not ordinary times."

Hutchinson said in a press conference that he would not sign the bill as presented to his desk and asked state lawmakers to change the bill's language to "mirror" the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Twenty other states, including Indiana, have similar religious freedom legislation

"This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial," Hutchinson told reporters. "But these are not ordinary times."

In a press conference on Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, whose state has also faced a barrage of criticism from businesses, celebrities and athletes alike, called on lawmakers to clarify Indiana's religious freedom bill that "makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone."  

Though Hutchinson had once said he would approve the bill with amendments, the governor shifted his stance after receiving backlash from local leaders and businesses, including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who called on the governor to veto the bill. 

"Today's passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold," McMillon said in a statement. "For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation."

Hutchinson told reporters that the controversial legislation, which critics say would allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians, hit home. His son, Seth, a labor organizer with the Texas State Employees Union, asked him to veto the legislation. "I love my dad, and we have a good, close relationship," Hutchinson's son told the New York Times. "But we disagree a lot on political issues. This is just another one, but a lot of families disagree politically. But we stay close."

"The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions," Hutchinson said. "It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue."

The Arkansas General Assembly has not yet agreed to recall and amend the bill. The governor declined to say whether he would veto the bill if it returned to his desk unchanged. 

Indiana Pizzeria Says It Will Not Cater Gay Weddings

| Wed Apr. 1, 2015 10:23 AM EDT

Catering pizza to your wedding guests might sound unconventional, but it does happen. Oh, does it happen.

But if you're gay and in Indiana, don't call Memories Pizzeria in Walkerton: They won't help you make your wedding memories. The owners of the family-run business say it will refuse to serve slices to gay or lesbian weddings, joining a chorus of those who cite opposition to marriage equality in support of their state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Crystal O'Connor, who runs the business, told local news outlet ABC57, "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," because it was not reflective of their Christian values.

In doing so, O'Connor insisted such a move would not be an act of discrimination, as many critics of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act have argued. "I do not think it's targeting gays," she said. "I don't think it's discrimination. It's supposed to help people that have a religious belief."

O'Connor's father, Kevin, also appeared in ABC's report telling the reporter being gay is a choice. "Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?"

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana claims that outrage over the new law, which was passed last Thursday, is the product of "mischaracterization," and that the law's intent was simply to protect religious liberties. Yesterday, he acknowledged the mounting criticism and said he would be seeking a "legislative fix" to the law.

Despite the national backlash to Indiana's law, the Arkansas state legislature followed suit yesterday by passing its own religious freedom bill.

ABC57 News - See the Difference Michiana