Nation & World News

Major Power Outage Darkens Dozens Of Cities In Turkey

By Jackie Northam on March 31st, 2015 | Last updated: March 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm

A massive power outage hit dozens of Turkish cities and provinces today, bringing public transportation services to a halt, and disrupting businesses that have no backup power.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said officials are investigating all possible causes, including a terror attack, for the electricity shutoff across Turkey, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said teams are working to determine the cause of the blackout, ruling out claims that the country is suffering an energy shortage.

Yildiz released a statement saying a problem occurred with the main distribution lines and that the cut likely originated in the Aegean region, according to Hurriyet. “I also cannot say whether or not there was a cyber attack,” he said.

The Turkish newspaper also quotes officials who say a technical problem in power transmission lines led to the massive outage.

At least 44 provinces throughout Turkey were affected by the outage, the biggest in 15 years. Metro and tram services in Ankara and Istanbul and three other major cities ground to a halt, according to The Associated Press.

Reuters reports that people carrying jerry cans were lining up at gas stations to buy fuel for generators and that road intersections were clogged with traffic. The news agency said that several hours after the outage hit, power had been mostly restored in the major cities.

Meanwhile, Hurriyet reports that the hashtag #BuradaElektrikYok, which means “There is no electricity” in Turkish, climbed to the top of the global trending topics list on Twitter today.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Turkey’s power consumption has increased rapidly over the past few years and will likely continue to grow, thanks to a robust economy.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

U.S. Promises To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Up To 28 Percent By 2025

By Bill Chappell on March 31st, 2015 | Last updated: March 31, 2015 at 2:03 pm

The Obama administration is pledging that the U.S. will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent of 2005 levels over the next 10 years. The new target was submitted today to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The step largely formalizes a plan that President Obama announced last November during a visit to China, in a move that was coordinated with China’s first-ever pledge to cap its emissions.

China has not yet submitted its emissions plan to the U.N. body that is organizing efforts to forge an international treaty on climate change in December in Paris. So far, the European Union, Norway, Switzerland and Mexico have submitted their goals, in addition to the U.S. (See their plans on the U.N. site.)

“The treaty to be negotiated next December would require both developed as well as developing countries to set goals for reducing emissions,” NPR’s Christopher Joyce reports for our Newscast desk. “The previous climate treaty, drafted in Kyoto in 1997, excluded developing countries and has had only a modest effect on greenhouse gas emissions.”

Earlier this month, Obama signed an executive order that requires the federal government to “cut its emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 percent from 2008 levels within the next decade,” as we reported.

Applauding the U.S. plan, Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh said, “We are confident that the U.S. commitment can be met — and even exceeded.”

To do that, Suh said, the U.S. would need to toughen its carbon pollution standards, limit methane leaks from production processes and invest in clean transportation, to “help combat the gravest environmental threat of our time.”

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET: McConnell Criticizes Plan

The office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has sent out a statement saying:

“Even if the job-killing and likely illegal Clean Power Plan were fully implemented, the United States could not meet the targets laid out in this proposed new plan. Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal.”

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

From ‘Dragon Tattoo’ To The ‘Spider’s Web': Stieg Larsson’s Heroine Returns

By Colin Dwyer on March 31st, 2015 | Last updated: March 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Just about a full decade since the girl with a dragon tattoo was introduced to readers, she’ll be making her grand return to fiction — albeit with another author’s name on the cover. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of crime novels is set to become something more on Sept. 1, when the series’ new addition hits store shelves as The Girl in the Spider Web. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf released the book’s title and cover art Tuesday.

Of course, the series is carrying on without its original architect, replacing Larsson with David Lagercrantz, a former crime reporter from Sweden. Larsson died of a heart attack at the age of 50 in 2004, before even the first Millennium novel — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in American editions — was published in Sweden. The whole of the series has been published posthumously.

Lagercrantz, who has the blessing of the Larsson estate and Larsson’s Swedish publisher, Norstedts, has made it clear that he plans to keep continuity with the originals — including the series’ familiar stars Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.

“Stieg Larsson was a master at creating complex narratives, narratives made all the more forceful because of the journalistic authority with which they were originally written,” Lagercrantz said in a statement. “That was something that informed my approach to book four, and I’m confident Millennium readers will identify with the storylines in Spider’s Web.”

Despite Larsson’s passing, his publishers have noted that he had planned to continue the books well past the current trilogy. By some accounts, the overarching outline he had in mind included at least an additional seven novels.

Larsson’s longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson disputes this — and her recent objections have stirred controversy since the series’ revival was first announced in January.

“Everyone thinks there was some grand scheme,” she told AFP just last week, “but no, he had no plan for the first three books and when he started writing the fourth one, it was spontaneous. He still didn’t have a plan.”

And Gabrielsson hasn’t pulled punches, even calling Lagercrantz a “completely idiotic choice” to continue the series. “They say heroes are supposed to live forever. That’s a load of crap, this is about money,” she said. “It’s about a publishing house that needs money, [and] a writer who doesn’t have anything to write so he copies someone else.”

To date, the series has sold some 80 million copies around the world.

The new book, much like its characters, has been wrapped in a fair bit of intrigue. Perhaps because of the fear of leaks, Lagercrantz wrote the novel on a computer with no Internet connection, and when he delivered the manuscript to Swedish publishers, he was careful to do so by hand, according to The Guardian.

Whatever the secrecy that attended its production, when it goes public in September, it’ll go big: The Girl in the Spider Web will be published simultaneously in 25 different countries, with a first printing of 500,000 copies in the U.S. alone.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Deadline Day Arrives For Iran Nuclear Talks

By Bill Chappell on March 31st, 2015 | Last updated: March 31, 2015 at 11:03 am

The six nations that have been debating a plan to curb Iran’s nuclear program and ease economic sanctions will hit the deadline for a framework agreement at 6 p.m. ET. Ahead of that deadline, there are signs that a deal is in the works — and that it might not be a sweeping arrangement that lays out future terms.

Early Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he believed an agreement would be reached by the end of the day.

“Lavrov said the chances for a deal are high,” NPR’s Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow, “as long as none of the parties raises the stakes at the last minute.”

The Associated Press reports that the parties involved are now preparing “to issue a general statement agreeing to continue talks.” The news agency says that later today, we should expect to see a joint statement that announces a framework understanding.

At the meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, diplomats from Iran, the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, China, and Germany have struggled to resolve key issues such as how and when sanctions on Iran could be lifted, as well as how Iran’s existing nuclear stockpile should be stored.

Their goal has been to hammer out a framework arrangement on political terms. More technical and specific aspects would then be included in a separate round of talks, with a June deadline for a final agreement.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Indiana Governor Stands By ‘Religious Freedom’ Law But Promises Fix

By Bill Chappell on March 31st, 2015 | Last updated: March 31, 2015 at 2:03 pm

A new Indiana law that has set off a firestorm of criticism and threats of boycotts should be repealed or revised, says Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, whose city is hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s Final Four this weekend.

Around midday Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence said the controversial legislation will be clarified instead of being annulled. He added, “We’ll fix this and we’ll move forward.”

Titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law has drawn protests from critics who say it allows businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians. Mayor Ballard tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep that those who support the law are “missing the bigger trend.”

He added: “Everything changes over history. We have to get to a certain point where we have that balance.”

Those remarks came after Steve asked Ballard about renewed support for Indiana’s new law that has come from potential Republican presidential contenders, including Jeb Bush.

Update at 11:12 a.m. ET: Governor: ‘I Stand By The Law’

“I was pleased to have signed it, and I stand by the law,” Gov. Mike Pence said at a news conference Tuesday. But Pence also said his state’s Legislature will clarify the law, saying, “We’ll fix this and we’ll move forward.”

Pence said the new legislation could come sometime this week.

Asked if he had expected a backlash like the one his state has experienced, Pence said of the law, “I just thought it was an appropriate addition to Indiana’s statutes.”

“When this erupted last week … I was taken aback,” he said.

He later added that the bill had been hit by a “smear” that mischaracterized it as a license to discriminate.

Pence also repeatedly blamed the media for what he called its “reckless” handling of the story. But he also said he’s pleased that the reporting has recently improved.

Original post continues:

Ballard says that while the law might be seen as acceptable on its own terms, when it’s combined with Indiana’s lack of legal protections against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, “then it has a problem.” He suggested that people outside the state might not understand the situation.

“The business community is very vocal about this, as they should be,” Ballard said on Morning Edition. “And so many other people have been standing up and saying, ‘You must change the direction of all of this.’ ”

The mayor’s actions come as Indianapolis prepares to host the NCAA Final Four this weekend, and its championship game next week — high-profile events that have increased the focus on the law.

“It really is hurting the definition of the state, and by definition almost, the city also,” Ballard says of the new law. “And we just can’t have that. We spent 30, 40 years building up this reputation as a great convention city, as a great sports event city. People love coming here. And we just can’t have that hurt as much as it has been hurting.”

The mayor said of his Republican colleagues at the state House, “Sometimes, they’re having trouble understanding the breadth and the depth of what’s happening here.”

On Monday, Ballard called for the law to be either repealed or for Indiana to adopt protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Indianapolis has also asked the state Legislature to exempt the city from the new law, with Ballard signing an executive order titled a “Declaration of Non-Discrimination.”

Republican leaders in Indiana say that repealing the law isn’t an option — but they said Monday that they’re working on legislation to clarify the law and ensure that it doesn’t allow people or businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane disagrees with that approach, reports Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith.

Lanane said:

“My mother used to tell me if you bring home a bag of potatoes and you’ve got a rotten potato in there, you throw it out. You don’t let it contaminate the rest of the bag. And I think that’s what we have here — and unfortunately it’s our reputation that’s being tainted.”

Mayor Ballard says that any attempts to refine Indiana’s laws must include provisions that make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class. “There’s just no getting around that right now,” he says.

When he signed the bill into law last week, the governor said that his state isn’t alone in enacting its version of the law, citing a U.S. statute and laws in Kentucky and Illinois.

As the Two-Way noted over the weekend, “Although the law is similar to a federal one and those in 19 other states, sexual orientation is not a protected class in Indiana, leaving the door open for discrimination, critics say.”

The Indianapolis Star is devoting its entire front page to the issue Tuesday, with an editorial running under the huge headline, “Fix This Now.”

At least two states — Connecticut and Washington — have announced that they’re boycotting Indiana over the law, forbidding state-funded travel to the state.

And in Republican-controlled states such as Georgia, Arkansas and North Carolina, the backlash in Indiana has prompted leaders either to consider tweaking their versions of similar legislation or to back away from it entirely.

In other signs of fallout, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in The Washington Post that laws like the one in Indiana are “very dangerous.” Companies with roots in Indianapolis, such as Eli Lilly, Anthem, and Angie’s List, have also spoken out against the law.

The men’s basketball teams in the Final Four that will be played in Indianapolis this weekend include Duke, which issued a statement Monday saying:

“Duke University continues to stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal and inclusive world, and we deplore any effort to legislate bias and discrimination. We share the NCAA’s concern about the potential impact of the new law, and will be vigilant to ensure that our student-athletes, supporters, and indeed all citizens and visitors are treated fairly and with respect.”

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Venezuela Cuts Oil Subsidies To Caribbean Nations

By Jackie Northam on March 30th, 2015 | Last updated: March 31, 2015 at 8:05 am

Low oil prices are forcing Venezuela to cut a generous subsidy program to Cuba and a dozen other Caribbean nations.

Venezuela is Latin America’s largest oil producer, and its economy depends heavily on oil exports. It’s been been hit hard by the tumbling oil prices.

“Venezuela is in desperate straits. The oil sector has been deteriorating, and now with the slumping oil prices, they needed cash desperately,” says Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C.-based group that studies the region.

Shifter says it’s no surprise that Venezuela is trimming back a program that provides oil at subsidized, deferred payment rates to many of its Caribbean neighbors that are dependent on energy imports. Petrocaribe — an alliance of Venezuela and Caribbean nations — was created a decade ago by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. It provided subsidized oil to countries such as Belize, Haiti and Jamaica.

The subsidies helped Caribbean nations balance their budgets and finance schools, social programs and small businesses and farms.

“This was part of his broader strategy to extend his influence to consolidate support and also to curtail influence of the United States in the region,” Shifter says. But he says when prices dropped, Venezuela “couldn’t sustain this, it was impossible.”

The Miami Herald, citing a report by Barclays investment bank, says shipments of subsidized oil to Petrocaribe members are down by about half for most countries from what they were in 2012.

Caribbean nations have been bracing for the steep cutbacks in shipments of cheap crude oil, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper quotes the governor of Jamaica’s central bank saying his government is adjusting by being more cautious about what to expect from Petrocaribe.

Even Cuba — the nation most closely-aligned ideologically with Venezuela — is seeing cuts to its subsidies. The Barclays report says Cuba paid for its oil by sending doctors and teachers to Venezuela.

But IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review says ties between the two countries remain very strong.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Despite Protests From Brazil, Trial For 840-Pound Emerald Will Continue

By Eyder Peralta on March 30th, 2015 | Last updated: March 31, 2015 at 10:03 am

A trial about who owns a 840-pound emerald will continue despite international protest.

The ownership of the Bahia Emerald, as the massive rock is known, has been hotly contested for years. But in September, the stone became the subject of international controversy, when Brazil said all the ownership questions were irrelevant because the 180,000 carat, $372 million rock was illegally exported.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a judge in California on Monday, decided to continue trying to sort out its rightful owner, without rejecting Brazil’s claim.

The Times‘ reports:

“The Brazilian government last year asked a judge to dismiss the case outright or put it on hold while Brazilian officials continue negotiations with the U.S. government to secure the stone’s return.

“Brazil’s Los Angeles-based lawyer, John Nadolenco, told the judge that a decision in Los Angeles Superior Court would significantly hinder Brazil’s ongoing discussions with the federal government.

“Judge Michael Johnson made clear Monday that he was not ruling on the merits of Brazil’s claim to ownership, but instead solely on the motion to dismiss or pause current court proceedings in Los Angeles. Brazil’s motion lacked sufficient evidence to warrant halting the case, Johnson said. There was no official declaration from Brazilian officials, nor was there any indication that diplomatic efforts would prove fruitful or timely.”

Also, the judge ruled, taxpayers cannot continue to pay for the safekeeping of the emerald, so a decision has to be reached.

This all means that the Bahia Emerald will continue on a long and strange journey. Here’s how CBS News quickly recounts its tale:

“The emerald was first discovered in Brazil’s Bahia mines in 2001. It was reportedly shipped from São Paulo to northern California, then bought, sold and allegedly stolen several times in several locations. Then in 2008, a man named Larry Biegler reported it stolen from his California warehouse. Police found the emerald in Las Vegas in the possession of [Kit] Morrison, who said he bought it from Biegler.”

Who owns it is now the question before the court.

For a good read on how this rock got where it is, read Bloomberg’s account of the saga.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Pharmacists Group Votes To Discourage Members From Providing Execution Drugs

By Eyder Peralta on March 30th, 2015 | Last updated: March 30, 2015 at 9:03 pm

The largest pharmacist association in the country has voted to discourage its members from participating in executions.

The move could make executions harder for states that have been ordering their drugs from compounding pharmacies. As we’ve reported, some states like Texas turned to the pharmacies after big pharmaceutical companies — under pressure from death penalty opponents — decided to stop selling their drugs to U.S. prisons.

The American Pharmacists Association voted on the new policy at its annual meeting in San Diego on Monday.

The policy says it is discouraging its members from participating in executions because it is “fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care.”

In a statement, the association’s CEO Thomas Menighan said: “Pharmacists are health care providers and pharmacist participation in executions conflicts with the profession’s role on the patient health care team. This new policy aligns APhA with the execution policies of other major health care associations including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Board of Anesthesiology.”

The AP reports that under pressure from death penalty opponents, some compounding pharmacies had already stopped providing drugs to U.S. states. The AP adds:

“Texas’ prison agency scrambled this month to find a supplier to replenish its inventory, then found a supply from a compounded pharmacy it won’t identify. Also this month, an execution in Georgia was put off when prison authorities questioned the appearance of the compounded pentobarbital they planned to use.

“After a troubling use of a two-drug method last year, Ohio said it will use compounded versions of either pentobarbital or sodium thiopental in the future, though it doesn’t have supplies of either drug and hasn’t said how it will obtain them. All executions scheduled this year were pushed to 2016 to give the state more time to find the drugs.”

The APhA represents some 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. The AP explains that its positions aren’t legally binding, but hold the same kind of ethical sway that a pronouncement by the American Medical Association does for doctors.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Airstrikes In Yemen Intensify, Hit Refugee Camp

By Jackie Northam on March 30th, 2015 | Last updated: March 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Saudi-led airstrikes intensified against Houthi rebels in Yemen. International aid agencies say one strike hit a camp for displaced people and refugees in the north of the country, killing at least 29 people and wounding many others.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says the strike hit the Al Mazraq refugee camp in an area controlled by the Houthis. The aid agency says at least 34 people were taken to a nearby hospital, and an additional 29 people were dead on arrival.

Reuters, quoting the International Organization for Migration, says the airstrike killed at least 40 people, including three Yemeni government soldiers.

The news agency says Mazraq is a cluster of camps housing people who have been displaced by more than a decade of fighting between Houthis and Yemen’s government. More than 750 families have fled to the camps since the Saudi-led airstrikes began five days ago.

Yemen’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yaseen, blamed Houthi fighters, saying the explosion on the camp was from artillery strikes by the Shiite rebels, rather than an airstrike, according to Reuters.

The attack came on the fifth day of airstrikes as Houthi rebels advanced towards the southern port city of Aden. The Associated Press says Saudi-led naval forces imposed a blockade on Yemen’s ports in a bid to repel the advance.

The New York times reports that 10 countries are now involved in the air campaign to stop the Shiite rebels.

As NPR reported this weekend, the Arab League agreed in principle to establish its own military force designed to combat the threat from Islamist extremists in the region. The 22-member group, meeting in Cairo, said that Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemeni Shiite insurgents would continue until the rebels “withdraw and surrender their weapons.”

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Judy Woodruff Recalls Assassination Attempt On President Reagan

By Krishnadev Calamur on March 30th, 2015 | Last updated: March 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Thirty-four years ago today, John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill President Reagan.

Reagan was shot in the chest but made a full recovery. Three others, including press secretary James Brady, were wounded.

Veteran journalist Judy Woodruff, now with PBS Newshour, was then a reporter with NBC News. She tweeted her recollection of the events of the day:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
News from NPR | Leave a comment

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments