Need To Know

Negotiations between Iran and the so-called six powers — the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany — are fast approaching their now fabled deadline of March 31. And it looks like they will be using every last minute to fine-tune the agreement.

If a deal is struck, it would be a monumental step forward for relations between Iran and the West, and could ease all kinds of tension. Or it might all fall apart in the next few hours.

The basic hope for the negotiations is that Iran will suspend for 10 years its most sensitive work and research related to nuclear development. This would calm the nerves of the West, which suspects Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran has always denied the accusation. In exchange, the West would lift the international economic sanctions now crippling Iran’s economy.

By most accounts a deal is close. But it is far from certain. There are two main sticking points. Iran wants sanctions lifted immediately after signing the deal. But the United States and others are not yet sure they could make that happen. The second point of contention, according to Reuters, is the degree to which Iran can continue researching newer generations of advanced centrifuges, which could purify uranium faster and in greater quantities than the ones it now uses in its nuclear power plants. If highly enriched, the centrifuges could also be used for weapons.

The negotiators have until midnight Tuesday to figure it out. 

Israel, meanwhile, continues to criticize the negotiations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the potential deal “very dangerous for humanity.”

Underlining the whole spectacle of these negotiations is the uncomfortable reality that — with the exception of Germany — all of the other governments working to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon have nuclear weapons themselves.

It’s hard not to wonder how these governments have navigated this key and rather awkward point during the negotiations.

Want To Know

Pope Francis was supposed to be cool. He was the hip, hopeful Pope for the social media generation. He was like 2008 Barack Obama. He was moderate. Perhaps nothing was more daring than his unveiling of a “zero tolerance” policy toward pedophile priests.

Well, much like Obama, you might say, Pope Francis isn’t keeping to the promise of his early days. There is a lot of talk but not so much action. In fact, all his fine words and gestures on the subject of sex abuse in the Church are now being called into question, because Pope Francis went ahead and appointed a Chilean bishop accused of covering up the activities of one of the Catholic Church’s most notorious child abusers. 

“The pope says he wants zero tolerance but he has not changed a single internal norm in the church regarding child sex abuse,” an Argentine lawyer who helps victims of pedophile priests told GlobalPost. “He is great at giving us inspiring words and messages, but when it comes to concrete actions, there have been none.”

Strange But True

There are few things more quintessentially Italian than pizza. Yet the country that introduced it to the world is having a hard time finding enough Italians who want to make it. It seems impossible that in a country where almost half of young Italians are unemployed, restaurants are short about 6,000 pizza makers.

Italy is also short on other manual labor jobs, including its famous tailors. In total, 150,000 manual jobs remain unfilled. While part of the problem is that fewer and fewer schools train Italians in this kind of work, it is also cultural: it’s just not as prestigious to be an Italian tailor or pizza-maker anymore.