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  • This is the guy that is REALLY forcing Indiana to fix its scary law

    Marc Benioff MSNBC

    For the past week, the boom has lowered on the state of Indiana after it passed a controversial law that could encourage discrimination against members of the LGBT community.

    Gov. Mike Pence went from standing firm in support of the law to saying he was now going to encourage lawmakers to "fix" the law.

    Proponents of the law insist it was meant to protect business owners from being forced to do things like cater a gay wedding if gay marriage violates their religious beliefs, and that it would not cause widespread discrimination. 

    But after the bill was signed, some lawmakers admitted that business would be allowed to post “No Gays allowed” signs in areas within Indiana.

    For the past week, outrage poured out across the country from people condemning the law:

    But for all the words of outrage, it was really one company, one guy, that sent the first real wallop to the state: the CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff.

    Salesforce is the largest tech employer in Indiana. For weeks before the law was passed, its top executives warned there would be a price to pay if the law was signed.

    And when it was signed, Marc Benioff kept his promise and immediately cancelled all events being held in Indiana, and he said employees would not be asked to travel there. Last year, one Salesforce.com conference alone brought in between $8 and $9 million to the city of Indianapolis, MSNBC reported. He also said Salesforce would reduce its investment in the state.

    Benioff, a hugely influential figure in the Valley tech industry, then ramped up a TV and social media campaign encouraging all of the other outpourings of condemnation.

    Since then, a few other companies have followed through with more substantial reactions. For instance, Angie's List this week announced it has halted indefinitely the $40 million expansion on its Indianapolis headquarters.

    On Tuesday, Benioff appeared on Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC news show saying that he's not happy with the governor's promise.

    He is waiting for action real action before he reinstates events and investment.

    "This is a bad law and it needs to change," he said on MSNBC. "He [the governor] has not made the statement that we're waiting for. We want to make sure employees and customers are protected. We are the largest tech employer in Indiana and we bring thousands of customers to Indiana and we want them to have a great experience," Benioff said. "This law, though, is just brutal."

    Benioff wants them to fix the law to "make it crystal clear that if you an LGBT member and you're walking into a cafe, there isn't going to be a sign there that says, 'No gays allowed.' You saw those legislative leaders basically make a statement yesterday saying it was ok to have a sign that says 'No gays allowed.' That's not ok."

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  • The US is restoring military aid to Egypt that its withheld since 2013

    egypt army tanks

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday said he would ask the US Congress for $1.3 billion per year in military aid for Egypt and said he would lift holds on aircraft, missiles and tanks for Cairo in place since October 2013, the White House said in a statement.

    Obama also said that the United States would discontinue starting in fiscal 2018 Egypt's use of cash flow financing, a financial mechanism that allows Egypt to buy equipment on credit, the White House said.

    Obama spoke with his Egyptian counterpart, former general Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, on March 31st and informed him of the decision.

    The US suspended some of its military assistance to Egypt after Sisi deposed elected president Mohammed Morsi during a wave of popular protests in July of 2013. Although US officials have never referred to Sisi's takeover from the Muslim Brotherhood leader as a "coup," Obama withheld a planned delivery of F-16s, tanks, Harpoon missiles, and budgetary assistance the following October.

    The suspension signaled US displeasure at Sisi's crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood members and supports, which included two massacres in Cairo in August of 2013. Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act also prevents the US from providing military aid to a government that takes power from the previous "duly elected" leadership by coup, although this principle is inconsistently applied.

    The situation in the Middle East has changed since then Sisi's takeover. Under Sisi, Egypt has carried out military operations against Islamist groups in Libya, stepped up its security efforts along the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and faced an ISIS-linked insurgency in the Sinai. And last week, Egypt joined in the Saudi-led operation against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and even raised the possibility of launching a ground invasion.

    Egypt has increasing defense needs and is a lynchpin in a military operation led by one of the Middle East's wealthiest and most powerful states. In restoring aid, Washington may be reassuring its partners in both Cairo and Riyadh — at the same time it's negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran what might be making those same allies nervous.

    Here's the full readout of Obama's conversation with Sisi:

    Screen Shot 2015 03 31 at 4.29.20 PM

    SEE ALSO: A former military dictator just won Nigeria's landmark presidential election

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  • Indiana's governor seems to have a long history of opposing gay rights

    RTR2CNR5

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) apparently previously advocated far more controversial positions on gay rights than his state's controversial new "religious freedom" law.  

    BuzzFeed reporter Andrew Kaczynski noted on Tuesday that the internet archiving site archiving site Wayback Machine captured Pence, a former congressman, opposing efforts to protect gays from discrimination and supporting "assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior" in 2000.

    "Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual's as a 'discreet and insular minority' entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities," his website stated under the headline: "The Pence Agenda: A Guide To Renewing The America Dream." 

    Pence is under intense scrutiny since last week, when he signed the "religious freedom" law. Critics say the bill aims to legalize discrimination against same-sex couples, and a number of businesses and governments have since announced economic boycotts of the state. Pence dismissed these accusations, but in a defiant Tuesday press conference, he said he now wants to change the law to fix its "perception problem." 

    Pence's old campaign website contained several other controversial claims about the gay community.

    He apparently advocated ending the military's former "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy that allowed gays to serve if they did not disclose their sexuality. The text on his site indicated the rule was problematic because gays should not be allowed in the armed forces under any circumstances.

    "In addition to defense spending, Congress should lead a national debate on reforming the military by .... bringing an end to the 'don't ask/don't tell' policy of permitting homosexuals to serve in the armed forces. Homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion," his agenda stated.

    He also seemed to advocate government funding for organizations that encourage gays to renounce their homosexuality.

    The "Pence Agenda" supported "an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus."

    "Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior," the site said.

    Pence's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on the old campaign website. 

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  • Obama commuted the sentences of 22 federal drug offenders

    obama

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 people serving time in federal prison.

    The White House says that many of these individuals — all of them convicted of various federal drug crimes — would have already served their time and paid their debt to society had they been sentenced under current laws and policies.

    But because many were convicted under now-outdated sentencing guidelines, the White House says they served years longer than individuals convicted of the same crimes today.

    The White House says the commutations are in keeping with Obama's commitment to make the justice system more fair.

    With Tuesday's action, the White House says Obama has granted a total of 43 commutations.

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  • The House Benghazi committee just asked Hillary Clinton to testify

    RTR3CUX0

    The House committee on Benghazi has officially summoned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify.

    The committee's chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), sent a letter to Clinton's lawyer on Tuesday expressing dismay at Clinton's failure to hand over her personal email server so it could be reviewed by a neutral, third party.

    "We continue to believe Secretary Clinton's email arrangement with herself is highly unusual, if not unprecedented," Gowdy wrote. "The decision to delete these records during the pendency of a congressional investigation only exacerbates our need to better understand what the Secretary did, when she did it, and why she did it."

    Clinton, the presumed Democratic presidential front-runner, has been engulfed in controversy since March 2, when it was revealed she exclusively used a personal email address to conduct official business during her tenure at the State Department.

    Republicans and others have said Clinton could have left sensitive communications vulnerable to foreign hackers and may have violated federal recordkeeping regulations. However, Clinton insisted she simply used the personal email as a matter of convenience. She also said she deleted around 30,000 personal emails unrelated to her government work. 

    Gowdy is leading the House committee dedicated to investigating the 2012 attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which occurred while Clinton was secretary of state. He requested she testify before his committee by May 1 and suggested a private, transcribed interview instead of a public hearing that would protect Clinton's privacy.

    "The Committee believes a transcribed interview would best protect Secretary Clinton's privacy, the security of the information queried, and the public's interest in ensuring this Committee has all information needed to accomplish the task set before it," he wrote. 

    However Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill told the Associated Press that Clinton had previously told Gowdy she was willing to appear before the committee at a public hearing. 

    "It is by their choice that hasn't happened. To be clear, she remains ready to appear at a hearing open to the American public," Merrill said. 

    The Benghazi committee's ranking Democratic member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), issued a similar statement on Tuesday calling for a public hearing.

    "Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview," he said, according to The New York Times, "the committee should schedule the public hearing, make her records public, and refocus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi."

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  • Congressional leaders awkwardly read mean tweets about themselves

    pelosi tweets

    President Barack Obama isn't the only leader in Washington willing to publicly read mean tweets about himself for humorous effect. 

    A video published last week for the 2015 Radio and TV Correspondents Association dinner features a number of top congressional leaders reading their snarky and nasty Twitter criticism.

    "This man cries more than me, and I'm a friggin' wreck most days," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said while quoting one tweet. 

    At another point, Boehner appeared slightly confused by a tweet comparing him to the fictional orange characters from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." 

    "Speaker Boehner looks like an angry Oompa Loompa, I presume he bribes his constituents with promises of chocolate and Gobstoppers," he said. "Whatever the hell that means." 

    Watch the full video below, via NBC News:

    SEE ALSO: Watch Obama read mean tweets about himself on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'

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  • China is not going to let North Korea into its new Asian development bank

    kim jong un skilift

    China is leading an initiative to start a new development bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

    North Korea very much would like to join that development bank.

    China's response? No way.

    According to EmergingMarkets.org, China rejected North Korea's proposal to join the development bank after the latter country would not provide sufficient evidence of the state of its finances.

    North Korea has never revealed much about its finances to the world, but according to Emerging Markets:

    "[North Korea] saw membership of the new China-led development bank as a realistic ambition, sources said, given that China regularly and unilaterally lends money to the isolated DPRK regime in return for uranium and other mineral ores." 

    The development bank, however, will make commercial loans and have many members, including various European countries. 

    SEE ALSO: Here are the countries that generate most of their power from oil

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  • A former military dictator just won Nigeria's landmark presidential election

    Buhari

    One of the biggest democratic elections in the world is over. President Goodluck Jonathan has called Muhammadu Buhari to concede in Nigeria's presidential election. Buhari, who briefly served as a military dictator between 1983 and 1985, is once again in charge of the nation of 176 million after a close election threatened by a controversial delay and potential violence.

    For months, there have been serious doubts as to whether Nigeria would be able to pull this vote off peacefully. The jihadist group Boko Haram has been waging one of the world's deadliest insurgencies in a remote northeastern corner of Nigeria and killed nearly 7,000 people in 2014 alone. Security concerns prompted Jonathan to delay the vote, which was originally scheduled for February — although some observers suspected that Jonathan was simply worried about losing and wanted to buy himself additional time.

    Nigeria is a relatively new democracy and only transitioned out of military rule in 1998. It has never had an incumbent president lose an open election and then agree to relinquish power. The peaceful and democratic transfer of power under the specter of Boko Haram could be a turning point not just in Nigeria's development, but in a generally democratizing region where a handful of autocrats have nevertheless managed to hang onto power for decades at a time. As scholar Martin Plaut notes, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang, Angola's Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe have held onto power for a combined 104 years.

    Nigeria recently passed South Africa as Africa's largest economy and has the world's 10th-largest proven oil reserves. Buhari's win after a closely fought campaign adds some much-needed political stability to a country whose prospects are improving, despite Boko Haram.

    SEE ALSO: The Iran nuclear talks may blow through a crucial deadline

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  • What life is like in Dearborn, Michigan — deemed the Arab capital of North America

    Salwan Georges, "finding freedom" photo project

    More than 30,000 Arab people call Dearborn, Michigan, home.

    The Detroit suburb is the kind of place where Arabic speakers can walk into their local grocery and be spoken to in a language they recognize. The markets, businesses, mosques, and Islamic schools surround residents with reminders of the countries they left behind.

    Student-photographer Salwan Georges and his family fled Iraq 10 years ago and relocated to the US. In 2014, Georges began photographing the people of Dearborn to capture their traditions. We've republished some of his photos here with permission, and you can find more on his website.

    Located just outside of Detroit, the city of Dearborn is home to the nation's most densely populated Arab community.

    Source: US Census



    When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Middle Eastern families began to flee their war-torn countries in search of safety and prosperity. Many came to Dearborn, where a Lebanese enclave formed after the first Gulf War.



    Today, over 30% of Dearborn's 98,000 residents are of Arab descent. While intolerance occasionally crops up among local protesters and bloggers, the community finds strength and solidarity in numbers.

    Source: US Census, Detroit Free Press



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider






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  • The mystery of Jeb Bush's media diet

    RTR4SFV3

    Does former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) actually read The New York Times? 

    The likely presidential candidate raised a few eyebrows last week when he claimed he doesn't read The Times during a Fox News Radio interview.

    "I don't read The New York Times to be honest with you," he said when asked about a Times report on the religious right's unhappiness with his candidacy.

    If Bush doesn't read The Times, it would appear he changed his reading habits since 2009, when he told Esquire magazine that The Gray Lady was part of his daily routine. Politico first called attention to the Esquire piece on Tuesday. 

    "I read The New York Times. I read The Wall Street Journal. I read the Sayfie Review, which is about Florida politics," Bush is quoted saying about his "every day" reading activities. 

    However, Bush would hardly be the first likely GOP presidential contender to distance himself from The Times, which has a left-leaning editorial board. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) joked last month that he was giving up the paper for Lent. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said last week that a Times story skeptical of his chances was a badge of honor

    "When The New York Times says that the Washington elites despise me, my only question is whether I have to disclose that to the FEC as an in-kind donation," Cruz said. "Frankly, I can't think of a better ground to run on.”

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  • USC's athletic director is boycotting Indiana: 'I am the proud father of a gay son'

    Pat Haden University Southern California Athletic Director USC

    University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden announced Tuesday that he will be boycotting Indiana following the passage of a controversial "religious freedom" law that critics say would allow businesses in the state to discriminate against same-sex couples.

    Haden said on Twitter he would not travel to Indiana this week in honor of his son, who is gay. The USC AD was set to attend a meeting in Indianapolis this week for the College Football Playoff selection committee, according to his Twitter.

    Here's his full message denouncing Indiana's new law:

    Haden has a long history with USC, graduating from the university in 1975. While a student, Haden was a quarterback on the Trojans football team, playing in three Rose Bowl games and leading the school to two national championships. After USC, he went on to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

    Haden has been USC athletic director since 2010.

    SEE ALSO: Indiana governor now wants a 'fix' to controversial 'religious freedom' law

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  • A Georgia mayor who left $1 million to Sweet Briar in her will wasn't told the school was about to close

    Teresa Tomlinson Mayor Columbus Georgia Sweet Briar

    The Commonwealth of Virginia filed a lawsuit Monday to halt Sweet Briar College's plans to close, and the state claims the all-women's college kept on accepting gifts even as it was planning to shut its doors at the end of the semester.

    The lawsuit specifically mentions a $1 million estate gift from Teresa Tomlinson, who's mayor of Columbus, Georgia and a Sweet Briar alumna.

    "By including Sweet Briar in your estate plans, you have made a significant commitment to future generations of young women and to all that Sweet Briar can mean in their lives," College president James Jones said in a note to Tomlinson sent in February.

    Two weeks later Jones announced the school would be closing for good.

    "My husband and I don't have children and I don't have nieces and nephews and so we have long planned on this being our legacy, our gift to Sweet Briar College, because we wanted it to go forward and continue with its great mission of educating women leaders," Tomlinson said to Business Insider.

    Letter Sweet BriarBut even after her $1 million gift, Tomlinson says she was never notified that the college was in financial distress, or that Sweet Briar had already started the process of closure. She found out in the same way as everyone else, after President Jones held an assembly to break the news.

    Tomlinson doesn't believe there have been well-organized fundraising efforts to save the school by the administration, even though there are many able donors who are willing to step up with their support.

    Sweet Briar sent Business Insider the following statement Monday afternoon after Virginia announced their lawsuit: "Our legal counsel has just received the complaint from the Amherst County Attorney and will respond appropriately after a chance for careful review and analysis."

    The college did not have additional comments on Tuesday.

    SEE ALSO: Virginia's imploding Sweet Briar College may have just been rescued

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  • What deadline? It looks like the Iran nuke talks will just keep going and going

    kerry zarif

    Iran and a group of countries consisting of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (called the P5+1) are in danger of missing a major negotiating deadline.

    According to the Associated Press, the P5+1 and Iran will issue a joint statement on March 31st committing the sides to negotiate a nuclear agreement by June 30th, when an extension to the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action expires. The JPOA is an interim nuclear agreement meant to set up a negotiating framework for an eventual final accord.

    That statement "is to be accompanied by additional documents that outline more detailed understandings, allowing the sides to claim enough progress has been made thus far to merit a new round" of talks according to the AP, citing diplomatic sources. By early evening in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the negotiations are taking place, Iran had not committed to signing those documents yet, according to the AP.

    The arrangement would not be fatal to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, reports the AP. Although the sides committed to reaching a "political framework" by March 31st, 2015, the JPOA doesn't mention this intermediary step. The framework agreement was first raised after the JPOA  was extended for a second time in November of 2014.

    At that point, negotiations had dragged on for a year without any apparent progress. Agreeing to work towards a middle step created the appearance of growing consensus and gave the sides a realistic path to a final accord. It did so without asking the P5+1 and Iran to assume any additional risk: The November extension still remains in place even if they miss today's deadline for a political framework. None of the parties are obligated to pull out of the talks and technically speaking, there's little difference between reaching a framework agreement today and reaching one a week or even a month from now.

    Even if they miss the political framework deadline, Iran must still adhere to the limits on its nuclear program imposed under the JPOA — and the P5+1 has to continue the sanctions relief granted under that agreement.

    At the same time, they'll have missed a benchmark that was contrived at a low-point in the negotiations, precisely so that the sides would have an attainable short-term goal to work towards. In November of 2014, it was thought that the March deadline actually gave the sides months of unneeded leeway.

    "Several of the parties expressed an intention to complete the negotiations on a political agreement in a shorter time frame," an Arms Control Association issue brief from December 23, 2014 explained. "Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on November 24 that a deal could be reached in a matter a days. British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said that two to three months was a realistic goal."

    It turns out that wasn't the case. Despite reported P5+1 concessions on uranium enrichment, disclosure of weaponization activities, and enrichment activity at the once-hidden Fordow nuclear facility, there's still distance between the sides on sanctions relief, uranium stockpile regulations, and nuclear research and development.

    As Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Congress and one of the top US-based advocates for closer relations between Washington and Tehran tweeted on March 31st, "When the two sides started, they had more than a hundred differences. Now, only 3 to 4 seem to remain."

    The remaining questions are fundamental to the nuclear issue's resolution, and after 18 months the sides still haven't decided when and how sanctions will be phased out, or how much of its low-enriched uranium stockpiles Iran should have to ship to a foreign country.

    Any one point of disagreement could prove fatal to the negotiating process and to President Barack Obama's biggest second-term legacy item. As Olli Heinonen, the former chief of safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated on a March 31st conference call, "nothing is agreed before everything is agreed." Even with a "political framework," there's no guarantee of the P5+1 and Iran reaching a final deal. But without one, there will be valid questions of what the sides can get accomplished at all under the JPOA framework — even if they still have another 3 months to reach a landmark nuclear agreement.

    SEE ALSO: Obama's press secretary made a startling admission about what the administration wants in Yemen

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  • Indiana governor blames 'reckless reporting' for fueling 'religious freedom' controversy

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    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) came out firing at the "very sloppy" and "ridiculous" national media during a Tuesday press conference on his state's controversial new "religious freedom" law.

    "I have to tell you that the gross mischaracterizations about the bill early on — and some of the reckless reporting by some in the media about what this bill was all about — was deeply disappointing to me and to millions of Hoosiers," Pence declared.

    Pence has been under intense pressure since he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week. Critics said the bill would give businesses "license to discriminate" against gays and lesbians, such as a florist who refused to provide services to a same-sex wedding. A number of businesses and other leaders vowed to boycott Indiana in response.

    Pence said if the bill worked as some media reports described it, he would have the same concerns as his critics. However, Pence said that characterization was completely false and the law only provides "a balancing test" for the state to decide when a governmental interest should override a person's religious beliefs. 

    "This law does not create a license to discriminate. And this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone," Pence said. 

    Pence said, although the "religious freedom" law doesn't pave the way for discrimination, the state now has a "perception problem" that needs to be fixed. He claimed legislative leaders will move forward with a new bill this week to clarify that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow for discrimination. 

    Despite his criticism of the media, Pence told the local Indiana press they did a fine job addressing the controversy. 

    "I don't want to let the Indiana press off the hook here, but I will anyway. I think the Indiana press has had this right from early on. But some of the national reporting on this has been ridiculous," he said. 

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  • What it's like inside the 'Alcatraz of the Rockies,' America's toughest prison

    ADX supermaxMore than 40 US states run "super-maximum security" prisons for particularly violent or ill-behaved convicts. But the federal government runs only one "Supermax:" the notorious US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado.

    More widely known as the ADX or the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," it's the highest-security prison in the entire country. There, every inmate spends roughly 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, The New York Times reported in a lengthy article over the weekend.

    The ADX was designed for “a very small subset of the inmate population who show absolutely no concern for human life," Norman Carlson, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has said, according to The Times. The ADX currently houses 422 inmates, including some of the world's most infamous names, like the Unabomber. 

    The Times described their daily life like this:

    Inmates spend their days in 12-by-7-foot cells with thick concrete walls and double sets of sliding metal doors (with solid exteriors, so prisoners can’t see one another). A single window, about three feet high but only four inches wide, offers a notched glimpse of sky and little else. Each cell has a sink-toilet combo and an automated shower, and prisoners sleep on concrete slabs topped with thin mattresses. Most cells also have televisions (with built-in radios), and inmates have access to books and periodicals, as well as certain arts-and-craft materials. Prisoners in the general population are allotted a maximum of 10 hours of exercise a week outside their cells, alternating between solo trips to an indoor “gym” (a windowless cell with a single chin-up bar) and group visits to the outdoor rec yard (where each prisoner nonetheless remains confined to an individual cage). All meals come through slots in the interior door, as does any face-to-face human interaction (with a guard or psychiatrist, chaplain or imam). The Amnesty report said that ADX prisoners “routinely go days with only a few words spoken to them.”

    Click here for photos »

    In 2012, Michael Bacote, an illiterate inmate with an IQ of 61, along with a handful of other inmates, sued the government, alleging the ADX violated their basic rights by placing them in such deplorable conditions. It's the largest lawsuit ever filed against the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

    “This place is not designed for humanity,” Robert Hood, the warden from 2002 to 2005, told the Times. He also described the facility as a "cleaner version of hell" to "60 Minutes" back in 2007. 

    Built for $60 million on 600 acres of land donated by Colorado residents, the ADX succeeded another Supermax facility in Marion, Illinois after a wave of guard killings shut it down. 

    An Amnesty International representative toured the facility in 2001 and allowed Business Insider to reprint her photos.  Between then and now, the prison only granted access one other time.

     

    A typical cell in a General Population Unit (gen pop).

    Source: Amnesty International



    Another angle of the cell.

    Source: Amnesty International



    Prisoners spend 22 to 24 hours a day confined to these rooms.

    Source: Amnesty International



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider






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  • Indiana governor now wants a 'fix' to controversial 'religious freedom' law

    RTXUOBZ

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), humbled but defiant, held a press conference on Tuesday to defend his state's controversial new "religious freedom" law. Though he also said he wants to "fix" the bill through the state's legislature.

    "Let me say first and foremost, I was proud to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act," he said. "This law does not give anyone license to discriminate." 

    Pence ignited a firestorm last week after he signed the legislation, which aims to protect the right of religious Indiana residents from unreasonable government intrusion.

    Critics, however, said the law would allow for businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. A wide range of celebrities and business leaders condemned the bill and some technology companies even threatened to roll back their investments in Indiana.

    Pence appeared pained by the controversy and he repeatedly panned the "sloppy reporting" surrounding the issue. 

    "It's been a tough week in the Hoosier state but we're going to move forward," he said.

    Pence nevertheless admitted his state has a "perception problem." Accordingly, he said the state's legislative leaders would "boldly" move forward with another bill to "fix" and clarify that the law does not endorse discrimination against gays and lesbians.

    "We've got a perception problem here because some people have a different view. And we intend to correct that. After much reflection and in consultation with leadership in the general assembly, I've come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone. I think it would be helpful," he said.

    Pence also admitted that he didn't do the best job of explaining the new law in recent days.

    "I could have handled that better," he said of his difficult Sunday interview on ABC.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Iraqi prime minister says forces have wrestled away Saddam Hussein's birthplace from ISIS

    Iraqi government forces keep watch from a position on the southern outskirts of Tikrit, on March 30, 2015, during a military operation to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) jihadists

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Tikrit, a city of 260,000 and the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has been retaken from the Islamic State group.

    Abadi's claims have not been independently verified. And earlier reports that Islamic State militants were dislodged from key parts of the city turned out to be untrue. On March 12, militia leaders erroneously claimed to have retaken most of Tikrit.

    The Tikrit operation is the biggest Iraqi ground offensive so far against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and the Iraqi government and its militia partners are greatly invested in its success.

    If Abadi's claim turns out to be true, it would mark the first time in which a majority-Sunni Iraqi city has been wrested away from the control of the jihadist group.

    Sunnis are a minority in Iraq, and some members of the country's Sunni community view ISIS as the most capable defender of the sect's interests. If Tikrit has been retaken, it would prove that anti-ISIS ground forces — which mostly consist of Shi'ite militias aided by the Iraqi army and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — are gaining ground on ISIS in areas in which the group is strongest.

    Earlier, AFP reported that the Salaheddin provincial government headquarters in the city had been retaken from ISIS, citing various government officials. Iraqi state television is also reporting that the city has been retaken.

    The spokesman for the Badr militia, a Shi'ite militia group and political party allied with the Iraqi government and assisted by the IRGC's Quds Force, told AFP that members of the Popular Mobilization units — pro-government paramilitary forces dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias — took part in the fighting after some froze offensive operations last week in response to US-led airstrikes.

    "Iraqi forces cleared the government complex in Tikrit," an army major general said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    "The government buildings have been under our control" since Monday.

    It is the most significant advance in Tikrit since pro-government forces launched an operation to retake the city on March 2, their largest since ISIS led an offensive that overran much of the country's Sunni Arab heartland in June.

    Pro-government militias and the Iraqi military began shelling Tikrit in early March, and they moved an estimated 20,000 fighters to the city. They reportedly sustained heavy losses and have had difficulty taking the city, and the offensive had reportedly stalled by mid-March.

    Qassem Suleimani, the head of the IRGC's Quds Force, also traveled to Tikrit during the campaign, highlighting its importance to anti-ISIS ground forces.

    map iraq study of warSalaheddin Gov. Raad al-Juburi confirmed that the government headquarters had been retaken, saying that Iraqi flags now flew over various recaptured buildings in the city.

    Badr spokesman Karim al-Nuri also said the government headquarters was recaptured and that Popular Mobilization members fought alongside federal police in the operation.

    Key Shiite militia forces said they were halting Tikrit operations when a US-led anti-ISIS coalition began airstrikes in the area after weeks in which Iran was the main foreign partner in the operation.

    The coalition strikes started Wednesday, angering Shiite militiamen who accused Washington of attempting to hijack their victory.

    The Pentagon conditioned its intervention on an enhanced role for regular government forces and on Friday hailed the withdrawal from the fight of "those Shiite militias who are linked to, infiltrated by, (or) otherwise under the influence of Iran."

    Suicide bombing

    The coalition said it carried out three strikes in the Tikrit area from Sunday to Monday, in its most recent statement on the air campaign.

    After giving themselves political cover by declaring that they did not want to work with each other, both sides continued to take part in the Tikrit operation.

    The main militias in the Popular Mobilization forces have played a key role in successful operations against ISIS in multiple areas north of Baghdad, but they have also been accused of abuses including summary executions and destruction of property.

    During a visit to Baghdad on Monday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Iraq must "bring volunteer armed groups fighting in support of the government under government control."

    Tikrit

    "Civilians freed from the brutality of Daesh should not have to then fear their liberators," Ban said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

    Security in and around Baghdad has improved markedly during the battle, in large part because the jihadists have been occupied with fighting elsewhere.

    But attacks still occur, such as a suicide bombing that targeted a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims on Tuesday in the Taji area, north of the capital.

    The blast killed at least four people and wounded at least 11, security and medical officials said.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suicide bombings are a tactic almost exclusively employed in Iraq by Sunni extremist groups including ISIS, which consider Shiites to be apostates and frequently target them.

    SEE ALSO: Iran says a US drone has killed 2 of its advisers in Iraq

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  • Elizabeth Warren: 'I'm not running, I'm not running'

    RTR4VJ4D

    There doesn't appear to be anything Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) can say to stop the questions about her presidential ambitions.

    "You didn't think you'd get away with this interview without me asking point-blank: Are you going to run for president?" the "Today" show's Savannah Guthrie asked Warren on Tuesday morning.

    "No. I'm not running and I'm not going to run," Warren said.

    Guthrie pressed Warren.

    "I'm not running. I'm not running," the senator insisted.

    Her initial reply is almost identical to what she said the day before, according to The New York Observer. Warren visited a Manhattan bookstore to promote the paperback release of her memoir, "A Fighting Chance," and an audience member asked about the 2016 race.

    "No, I am not running for president, I'm not going to run for president. I am working my fanny off every single day on the key issues that I think matter in this country," Warren reportedly said. "I'm doing it every day. I have this place now in the Senate, this opportunity to get out there and fight."

    These questions continue despite the fact that Warren definitively ruled out a presidential campaign last January. Many of her supporters are unhappy with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who does not have any top-tier challengers in the Democratic presidential primary. Some liberals accuse Clinton of being too close to Wall Street and Warren, with her frequent attacks on Wall Street abuses, is an appealing alternative.

    Guthrie also asked Warren if she thinks Clinton is the "right messenger" for the senator's populist economic agenda. Warren said she was adopting a wait-and-see approach.

    "Well, I think we need to give her a chance to decide if she's going to run," Warren said. "And to lay out what she wants to run on. I think that's her opportunity to do that."

    Watch Warren's "Today" interview below:

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    SEE ALSO: Elizabeth Warren Just Actually Ruled Out Running For President In 2016

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  • China's new development bank is becoming a massive embarrassment for Obama

    Obama Chinese flag US

    China's new development bank, which was announced just five months ago, is becoming a massive headache for the US. 

    Try as it might, the US government can't persuade its allies to stop joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

    The bank will be a bit like the World Bank, providing loans to developing countries in Asia for infrastructure projects.

    Unlike the World Bank, China will hold the reins of the AIIB. The US administration is publicly worried that the institution will not meet high governance standards, but it really seems opposed to the move because it signals a growing Chinese influence in the region and in global politics.

    The US has already endured a series of embarrassments over the bank. It might have been expected that some European countries with a cooler relationship with the US would join, which they did. India and Singapore, however, were quick to sign up despite having decent relationships with the US. And several other countries have started joining, leaving the US almost completely isolated in its position.

    Britain is one of the US' closest allies, but the government has been pursuing an unashamedly warmer relationship with China for several years and was one of the first countries to say it wanted a role in the AIIB

    The front page of the Financial Times the next day, in which anonymous White House sources attacked the British government for "constant accommodation" of China, might have been intended as a warning to others, but it doesn't seem to have worked.

    South Korea has applied, and America's other major allies in the region, Japan and Australia, have been warming to the idea of joining

    Tuesday, however, brought the most embarrassing event of all. Taiwan, which has no formal relationship with mainland China, is a former enemy of China, and basically survived the 20th century with its independence only through assistance from the United States, applied to join the AIIB

    The infrastructure bank isn't going to be a massive boom for the UK economy, or even for nearer nations like Japan, and the US will not retaliate. The point is that the UK is willing to take a very modest improvement in economic and political ties with China in exchange for a small deterioration in ties with the US. Pretty much every country has decided that this is the right move. 

    The AIIB is a part of the wider "new Silk Road" initiative by China to deepen trade and investment both in the rest of Asia and the wider world. According to Barclays, it could actually be a positive thing for the region's stability:

    We believe through the building of interdependent relationships based on shared economic interests, this New Silk Road plan should deepen political linkages, improve mutual understanding and foster long-term stability in the region. The agreement to set up the AIIB by countries that have territorial disputes with China suggests potentially lower geopolitical risks and lower probability for military conflicts, in our view.

    But the move goes beyond that — it's a major PR push for China, which the American administration has positioned itself opposite from. So far, that strategy is failing spectacularly for the US.

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  • All of the ways US intelligence thought Hitler may try to disguise himself

    hitler

    Fearful that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler would attempt to flee Germany, US intelligence tried to predict what the Führer would like if he altered his appearance.

    The Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, hired American make-up artist Eddie Senz to alter Hitler's portrait in various guises.

    Senz's altered images were circulated among Allied forces before the D-Day invasion in June 1944.

    The pivotal Normandy invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults and predicting Hitler's reaction was part of the Allied forces' extensive planning.

    During the 1990s, German news magazine Der Spiegel first published Senz's photos to the public. 

    Here are Senz’s head shots of ‘Der Führer’ in numerous guises:

    hitler

     Here's Hitler without hair or his infamous mustache:hitler

     Hitler with glasses, a thicker mustache, and a widow's peak hairstyle:hitler disguise

    Hitler with a beard:hitler disguise

    Hitler with a thinner mustache, thick-rimmed glasses, and a slightly new hairstyle:hitler disguise

     Hitler without a mustache and a widow's peak hairstyle:hitler disguise

    SEE ALSO: Here's what US intelligence thought Hitler would do next

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