Big day

In what could represent an historic diplomatic breakthrough, negotiators reached a framework agreement to impose curbs on Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for a relaxation of economic sanctions.

Despite widespread optimism at the end of a lengthy and often fraught  talks process, work remains to be done on details and the potential deal now faces its next deadline on June 30th, with subsequent domestic scrutiny before it can be implemented.

Nevertheless President Obama said the potential agreement was “a good deal…that meets our core objectives. This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.”

(UpTakeVideo)

It was reportedly the first time a US President’s speech was carried live on Iranian state TV – a fact greeted by selfies – as many Iranians came out to celebrate, and bypassed the state’s strict internet filter system, to post pictures on social media using the hashtag #IranTalks.

As official details of the agreement emerged, reaction from world leaders and US domestic politicians was largely as expected. Potential GOP Presidential candidates criticized the deal, while The Washington Post writes:

Congress greeted news of a framework agreement to curtail the Iranian nuclear weapons program much as it has reacted to the months of negotiations that preceded it — with criticism from most Republicans, optimism from most Democrats, and a strong desire from both sides to play a direct role in the deal.

Some, though, were less restrained in their opposition.

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* WORLD * In a horrific, and heartbreaking, attack in northern Kenya, at least 147 people were massacred by Al-Shabab Somali Islamist terrorists in a day-long siege at the campus of a public university. The AFP reports:

Hurling grenades and firing automatic rifles, the gunmen had stormed the university in the northeastern town of Garissa at dawn as students were sleeping, shooting dead dozens before setting Muslims free and holding Christians and others hostage.

 

The second black box was located from the Germanwings Alps crash, as yet more disturbing details were reported about the alleged behavior of the co-pilot. Meanwhile, stories are emerging on how some of the airline’s pilots have been going above and beyond to reassure passengers flying under  their charge.

With California Governor Jerry Brown having announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water use restrictions following the recent unprecedented drought – “The idea of your nice little green grass that gets water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past” – CNN reports on how the state’s 914 golf courses are dealing with the challenge.

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leaders(image: ITV/The Guardian)

* BRITISH ELECTION * In a set resembling a cross between a low-budget daytime game show and Princess Elsa’s ice palace from Frozen, seven party leaders went back and forth on the economy, the NHS, immigration and other issues likely to sway voters on May 7th. The ITV show lasted two hours, which at times felt like all five remaining weeks of the campaign.

Stuart Heritage at The Guardian called it a “long, slow, claustrophobic mess that nobody could possibly win.”  Questions from the studio audience were mostly a bit GCSE-“write-all-you-know-about-Mussolini’s-foreign-policy”-ish, with the leaders’ answers similarly rote.

In one brief unscripted moment, Prime Minister David Cameron was heckled, but overall there was plenty of not very much – although the three  women leaders were acknowledged to have performed well – with the inevitable blanket horserace coverage as a result.

Meanwhile, if you live outside the UK and aren’t sure how the British press will line up for the remainder of the campaign, let Private Eye mark your card:

electionEye(image: Private Eye via RedMolotov T-Shirts)

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* CULTURE * An excellent lineup was announced for Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival at the end of the month. On the bill is the wonderful Camille O’Sullivan. If you get a chance, go and hear her.

(YouTube/Feenish Productions)

Finally, Thursday was the 101st anniversary of the birth of Alec Guinness. Turns out he wasn’t the biggest fan of what was likely his most lucrative role.

guinness(image: Letters of Note)

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There’ll be a few changes to The Overnight Note from this weekend, as I experiment with a slightly different structure – the Note will generally be shorter, with fewer items and less narrative, but with greater  encouragement for readers to click through to the selected articles.

I’ll also try to not just rehash the big stories of the day – although each news cycle is naturally defined by its “top” story – but pass along more that you might have missed and highlight some good reads and worthwhile investments of your time.

When I was in London last week, a friend and reader said the Note was an I-read-the-papers-so-you-dont-have-to concept. I’m not sure that’s what I’m going for, from a straight news perspective anyway. The big stories you’ll know about already; the quirky offbeat stuff, or the debate-starting opinion piece you might not – so maybe the Note would be more valuable pointing you to those, rather than just comparing how the bigs cover the same ground.

I don’t know. I’ll make a few tweaks and lets see how it goes.

 

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