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Tuesday, Mar 03rd

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Phased US-Iran nuclear deal taking shape

US and iran negotiationsThe United States and Iran are working on a two-phase deal that clamps down on Tehran's nuclear program for at least a decade before providing it leeway over the remainder of the agreement to slowly ramp up activities that could be used to make weapons.

Officials from some of the six-power talks with Iran said details still needed to be agreed on, with U.S. and Iranian negotiators meeting Monday for the third straight day ahead of an end-of-March deadline for a framework agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined the negotiations after arriving Sunday.

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Rent walkouts point to strains in U.S. farm economy

farmer rent walkoutsAcross the U.S. Midwest, the plunge in grain prices to near four-year lows is pitting landowners determined to sustain rental incomes against farmer tenants worried about making rent payments because their revenues are squeezed.

Some grain farmers already see the burden as too big. They are taking an extreme step, one not widely seen since the 1980s: breaching lease contracts, reducing how much land they will sow this spring and risking years-long legal battles with landlords.

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Egypt imprisons pro-democracy activist, blogger for 5 years

Egyptian activist jailedAlaa Abdel Fattah, a pro-democracy activist and blogger, was sentenced to five years imprisonment by an Egyptian court for allegedly organizing a protest without permission and for assaulting a police officer.

Abdel Fattah is a member of the "No to Military Trials for Civilians" movement and the charges relate to a protest the group held in November 2013 demanding that a provision allowing military trials for civilians be removed from the constitution.

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Activists launch 'debt strike' against college chain; refuse to pay loans

College activists refuse to pay debtsThe debt forgiveness movement born out of Occupy Wall Street has entered a new stage in its activism around student loans. On Monday, a wing of the campaign known as Debt Collective announced a “debt strike” by 15 former students of the for-profit college chain Corinthian Colleges Inc.

The former students have said they will not repay any more of their student loans, in protest of what they describe as predatory lending practices on the part of both Corinthian Colleges and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Organizers working with Debt Collective said the coordinated action was a test run for larger debt refusal actions.

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The Innocence Project May Have Framed A Man For A Crime He Didn't Commit

Alstory SimonFor years, investigative journalist Bill Crawford hounded the powers that be in Chicago telling anyone who would listen, and shouting at those who wouldn’t, that an innocent man was in prison, framed for a crime he didn’t commit. So Crawford should be celebrating now. After more than 15 years behind bars, Alstory Simon was released last October when his conviction on a double murder charge was overturned by the state of Illinois. Instead, Crawford says, “There’s a goddamn sinister thing going on here.”

There’s no doubt that Crawford is glad to see Simon free and his own work on the case vindicated. But that feeling is tempered by his doubt that the people ultimately responsible will ever pay for their role in Simon’s imprisonment.

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Feds predict 10 fuel trains could derail per year

trains could derail at ten per yearThe federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S.

The projection comes from a previously unreported analysis by the Department of Transportation that reviewed the risks of moving vast quantities of both fuels across the nation and through major cities. The study completed last July took on new relevance this week after a train loaded with crude derailed in West Virginia, sparked a spectacular fire and forced the evacuation of hundreds of families.

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US experts join companies protesting FAA commercial drones proposals

Dron rules challengedThe United States is lagging behind Europe in the commercial exploitation of drones, forcing a growing number of companies to consider relocating their operations across the Atlantic, experts in unmanned aircraft have told the Guardian.

Several commercial operators have begun aggressively adopting the technology in France, Germany, the UK and other European countries where regulations governing the use of drones are less onerous than in the US. Small drones are being used for delivery services, precision agriculture and inspection of infrastructure such as power- and pipelines.In the US, by contrast, proposed new rules from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for commercial drone use impose stringent safety controls that businesses say will tie their hands at a time when European competitors are tearing ahead.

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Jeb Bush’s private investments in fracking dovetail with public advocacy

Jeb BushIn the summer of 2013, well before he became an all-but-declared presidential candidate, Jeb Bush spoke to conservatives gathered in New York. He talked up the promise of education reform, immigration and policies to boost America’s economy — standard lecture circuit talk for which the former Florida governor often commanded $40,000 a speech.

Still, the part about “a patriotic energy policy” was especially timely, coming amid heated debate over whether Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should lift the state’s moratorium on the controversial oil and natural gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing.

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Bill O'Reilly's CBS Colleague Says Buenos Aires Was Not A 'Combat Situation' After Falklands War

Bill O'ReillyBuenos Aires was neither a “war zone” nor a “combat situation” after Argentina surrendered to Britain in the Falklands War, says one of Bill O’Reilly’s former colleagues at CBS who was with him in the capital at the time.

“It was an ‘expense account zone,’” writes Eric Jon Engberg, a retired CBS correspondent, in a Facebook post. “We -- meaning the American networks -- were all in the same, modern hotel and we never saw any troops, casualties or weapons.”

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