MONEY energy

These Americans Are Being Hurt By Low Oil Prices

Low-cost oil is making more and more drilling operations unprofitable, leading to heavy U.S. job losses.

TIME States

Arkansas Governor Asks for Changes to Controversial Religious Freedom Bill

His own son signed a petition against it

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called Wednesday for the state legislature to make changes to a religious freedom bill that prompted an angry outcry from prominent businesses and activists who say it could lead to discrimination against gays.

“I’ve asked the leaders of the General Assembly to recall the bill so that it can be amended,” Hutchinson, a Republican, announced in a news conference Wednesday morning.

Hutchinson had promised last week to sign the bill into law when it reached his desk, and on Tuesday the Arkansas state House affixed its final approval to the measure. But as a backlash over a similar bill built against Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Hutchinson reconsidered his decision.

MORE: Uproar Over Religious Freedom Law Trips Up Indiana Governor

Noting that his own son signed a petition urging a veto, Hutchinson urged the Arkansas state legislature to tweak the language of the statute to make it mirror the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law with bipartisan support by then-President Clinton.

“This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial. But these are not ordinary times,” Hutchinson said.

Pressure had mounted on Hutchinson to reject the legislation, as powerful corporations publicly exhorted the Republican governor to reverse his decision. On Tuesday evening, the Arkansas-based retail giant Walmart posted a statement on Twitter arguing the bill undermined the state’s “spirit of inclusion” and asking Hutchinson to veto it.

“My responsibility is to speak out on my own convictions,” Hutchinson said, “and to do what I can, as governor, to make sure this bill reflects the values of the people of Arkansas, protects those of religious conscience. But also, minimizes the chance of discrimination in the workplace.”

TIME relationships

Here’s What One Woman Learned From Taking a Year Off From Her Marriage

Lessons from a year spent sowing wild oats

Robin Rinaldi did what many women dream of but few actually do: she took a year off from her marriage and made an agreement with her husband that they could both sleep with other people for a set period.

Rinaldi’s book, The Wild Oats Project, is a summary of what she learned during the year she spent in an open marriage. The idea came to her when her husband got a vasectomy after a long battle over whether they would have children — she wanted them, he didn’t. Faced with a future without a family, Rinaldi made a decision: “I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers,” she wrote, “If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”

That’s when she embarked on the Wild Oats Project. Rinaldi and her husband had three rules: no serious relationships, no sex with mutual friends and no sex without condoms. Both broke multiple rules over the course of the year, and it eventually took a toll on their relationship, but Rinaldi says the project wasn’t as much a choice as “a calling.”

“It was unlike me to act that way,” she says. “I had always been a very cautious and somewhat anxious person, I had always played by the rules. It was something instinctual, and something very female driving me to do this. It wasn’t really planned and strategized as much as felt.”

Still, Rinaldi found that, while many of her friends were supportive, some people thought her project was threatening, even terrifying: “The tale of a woman giving up security, even in an above-board way and allowing her husband to do the same thing, giving up all that security in pursuit of passion and adventure, is a scary idea for a lot of people,” she says. “I certainly didn’t write it to intentionally push anyone’s buttons.”

And ultimately, for Rinaldi and her husband, this was their last chance at saving their marriage. “We knew how risky it was, and we might not make it through, but it was really the only choice we had,” she says. “So we both agreed, two consenting adults, to try this first.” Ultimately, she and her husband went their separate ways, but Rinaldi says the project taught her much more than a simple divorce would have.

The biggest thing Rinaldi says she learned from the Wild Oats Project is that she was putting too much pressure on her husband. “Expecting your spouse to provide passion and security and purpose, it’s a lot,” she says. “I was asking too much of that one person… So now, as a result, I don’t look to someone else to kind of unfairly provide all of those things. That’s the biggest thing I learned from it, and I couldn’t have learned it unless I actually went through it.”

She also learned a lot about sex, and about her own body. Rinaldi spent much of the project in new-age sexual workshops and orgasmic meditation classes, so she came away a greater awareness of her sexuality. “The sex was the classroom, but the sex was not the lesson,” she says. “Your body has wisdom, that is very powerful and can kind of show you your path, and you don’t always have to think it through or necessarily act based on other people’s rules.”

Still, Rinaldi wouldn’t necessarily recommend that other women take exactly the same path she did. Instead, she’d advise younger women to “sow your wild oats before you settle down — that’s a no-brainer.”

TIME Culture

Jim Norton: Trevor Noah Isn’t the Problem. You Are.

We're addicted to the rush of being offended

People say that Americans trends are transient, but the one activity we never seem to tire of is being outraged. Boy, do we love it! We simply can’t seem to get enough of that rush we feel when something offends us. It’s like the dopamine drip we get from that first drink or the first drag of a cigarette after getting off a cross-country flight. And what is our favorite thing to be outraged over? Well, it’s certainly nothing petty, like homelessness, or the fact that every single person we elect to public office is a manipulative, groveling, poll-obsessed liar. Nope. We’re not stupid enough to waste our energy on such nonsense. We save our collective outrage for the really important stuff, like things comedians say.

Which brings us, of course, to Trevor Noah, our guest star on this week’s edition of Manufactured Outrage. When Comedy Central named Trevor as Jon Stewart’s successor, our trusty, tireless brigade of social-justice warriors immediately went to work digging through his tweets and stand-up to find something, anything to be upset about. Much to their relief, Trevor didn’t disappoint. Being a working comedian, he’d made plenty of jokes over the years that a susceptible person could pick up, blow the dust off and aim at themselves to achieve martyrdom.

Trevor, while tweeting things with the intention of being funny, had gone … yes, you guessed it – over the line! (Click here for dramatic organ music.) In his rush to be funny, he had broken what has become the new golden rule in American public life, which is to never say anything (or, God forbid, joke about anything) that may be deemed even remotely offensive or upsetting by any segment of the population for any reason. Trevor forgot that in the new millennium, there is a seemingly endless checklist of subject matter that has been deemed inappropriate to address with humor. And by no means is that checklist final; it’s constantly changing and morphing and contradicting itself without warning.

He also neglected to take into account that Western culture as a whole has become an increasingly reactionary mob of self-centered narcissists who all have their own personal lines drawn in the sand. A comedian is fine unless he crosses their particular line, which, of course, in the mind of a self-centered narcissist, is the only line that matters.

Being outraged and upset and feeling bullied or offended are not only things we enjoy, they’re also things we have become thoroughly addicted to. When we can’t purposefully get our feelings hurt by a comedian, we usually find another, albeit less satisfying, source of indignation. A few of the old stand-byes are sports announcers, radio hosts, Twittering athletes and paparazzi-hating actors. These are always great sources to look to when we need to purposefully upset ourselves. And make no mistake about it: Upsetting ourselves on purpose is exactly what we are doing. At least that’s what I hope we are doing. Because the other alternative is that Americans have collectively become the most hypersensitive group of whining milksops ever assembled under one flag. I find this second choice to be particularly humiliating, so I opt for the first. I choose to believe that we are addicted to the rush of being offended, the idea of it, rather than believing we have become a nation of emasculated children whose only defense against an abyss of emotional agony is a trigger warning.

The image people have of comedians staring defiantly over a stationary line of good taste is simply inaccurate. We don’t approach this line, put our toes over it arrogantly and then scamper back to safety. The line doesn’t exist. The correct image for people to have is one of a circle, with a comedian standing in the middle of it, surrounded by a myriad of races, religions, social beliefs, sacred cows and political ideologies. And in these groups are endless numbers of sub groups and personal boundaries. There is simply no way to consistently do the type of comedy that addresses these things without upsetting somebody. No matter which direction you turn to aim the joke, someone is getting hit. And while the person who has been hit jumps up and down and exaggerates their injuries, everyone else in the circle is telling them to shut up and learn to take a joke. Until they themselves get hit.

Trevor Noah is a great, relevant young comic, and Comedy Central is smart to stand by him. I read the tweets he was “under fire” for, and some were funny, some weren’t. The thread that connected them all for me is the embarrassment I feel for anyone claiming to be offended by them. They weren’t vicious or written to be harmful. And everyone reading them knows that. But knowing his tweets weren’t intended to be harmful isn’t important when people who list ‘victim’ as their occupation smell blood in the water. Because their outrage is a lie and their motives are transparent. They are simply using his tweets to get their dopamine drip.

TIME Smartphones

MS-DOS Is Back and It’s On Your Smartphone

Nice April Fool's Day prank, Microsoft

Microsoft rebooted its old and unimproved MS-DOS interface for mobile phones on Wednesday, touting it as the “simplest OS yet” in what may be the company’s most elaborate April Fool’s Day prank ever.

Fans of the monochromatic interface that put Microsoft on the map 34 years ago can download MS-DOS as a free app from the Windows Phone store, then struggle to execute jargon-laden commands to access files and launch primitive apps.

The app launched with a slickly produced promotional video on YouTube, in which executives offer deadpan praise for a “beautifully simple OS,” that, perhaps thankfully, is a thing of the past.

 

TIME Television

Aasif Mandvi: Controversy Over Trevor Noah Tweets Is ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

The Daily Show correspondent says he trusts Jon Stewart's judgment on the hire

Trevor Noah hasn’t even stepped onto the job as the new host of The Daily Show yet, but thanks to some controversial old tweets, everyone already has an opinion about the comedian. But his new colleague, Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi, says the uproar is “much ado about nothing.”

“I trust Jon Stewart,” Mandvi told The Hollywood Reporter. “Jon seems to want him to take over, so I trust that. I think the only way we’re gonna know is once he does the job.”

He also has some advice for the new host: Take a hint from Jon Stewart and stay off social media. He recounted his boss telling him, “I don’t need to be on Twitter or Facebook because I’m on television four nights a week.”

Hopefully Noah will use those four nights a week wisely when he takes over the host seat.

 

TIME Television

Watch Ethan Hawke and Jimmy Fallon Sing Lullabies in the Style of Bob Dylan

Just sleep tight, it's alright

He wowed critics in Boyhood and just directed a documentary, but now Ethan Hawke is showing off another, completely different talent: impersonating Bob Dylan on The Tonight Show.

Hawke, like host Jimmy Fallon, is a father to young children. And sometimes, when your kids don’t go to sleep when they’re supposed to, you have to get a little creative—perhaps by singing classic songs in the style of the folk icon. “I’ve heard there’s scientific research that points to this,” Fallon says. “Oh, it’s proven,” Hawke answers before the two break out their guitar gravelly-voiced renditions of “Rock-a-bye Baby” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Watch the full clip below:

 

TIME Iran

Iran Nuclear Talks Resume After Missing Deadline

Asked how high the chances of success were, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "I cannot say"

(LAUSANNE, Switzerland) — Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program resumed here Wednesday but were almost immediately beset by competing claims, just hours after diplomats abandoned a March 31 deadline to reach the outline of a deal and agreeing to press on. And as the latest round hit the week mark, three of the six foreign ministers involved left the talks with prospects for agreement remaining uncertain.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister told reporters that the lead negotiators would release a joint statement by the end of the day declaring that progress had been made but containing no specifics. A senior western official quickly pushed back, saying that nothing about a statement had been decided and that Iran’s negotiating partners would not accept a document that contained no details. The official was not authorized to speak to the negotiations by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Those comments came shortly after the end of the first post-deadline meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, his British and German counterparts and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in the Swiss town of Lausanne. They and their teams were continuing a marathon effort to bridge still significant gaps and hammer out a framework accord that would serve as the basis for a final agreement by the end of June.

Eager to avoid a collapse in the discussions, the United States and others claimed late Tuesday that enough progress had been made to warrant an extension after six days of intense bartering. But the foreign ministers of China, France and Russia all departed Lausanne overnight, although the significance of their absence was not clear.

After the talks last broke in the early hours of Wednesday, Zarif said solutions to many of the problems had been found and that documents attesting to that would soon be drafted. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said before leaving that the negotiators had reached agreement in principle on all key issues, and in the coming hours it will be put on paper.

But other officials were more skeptical.

Asked how high the chances of success were, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “I cannot say.” And British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Iran might still not be ready to accept what is on the table.

“I’m optimistic that we will make further progress this morning but it does mean the Iranians being willing to meet us where there are still issues to deal with,” Hammond told British reporters. “Fingers crossed and we’ll hope to get there during the course of the day.”

Although the Chinese, French and Russian ministers left their deputies in charge, Kerry postponed his planned Tuesday departure to stay in Lausanne, and an Iranian negotiator said his team would stay “as long as necessary” to clear the remaining hurdles.

Officials say their intention is to produce a joint statement outlining general political commitments to resolving concerns about Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, and their intention to begin a new phase of negotiations to get to that point. In addition, they are trying to fashion other documents that would lay out in more detail the steps they must take by June 30 to meet those goals.

The additional documents would allow the sides to make the case that the next round of talks will not simply be a continuation of negotiations that have already been twice extended since an interim agreement between Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany was concluded in November 2013. President Barack Obama and other leaders, including Iran’s, have said they are not interested in a third extension.

But if the parties agree only to a broad framework that leaves key details unresolved, Obama can expect stiff opposition at home from members of Congress who want to move forward with new, stiffer Iran sanctions. Lawmakers had agreed to hold off on such a measure through March while the parties negotiated. The White House says new sanctions would scuttle further diplomatic efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear work and possibly lead Israel to act on threats to use military force to accomplish that goal.

And despite the progress that diplomats said merited the extension of talks into Wednesday, officials said the differences notably included issues over uranium enrichment, the status of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles, limits on Iran’s nuclear research and development, and the timing and scope of sanctions relief.

The U.S. and its negotiating partners are demanding curbs on Iranian nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons, and they say any agreement must extend the time Tehran would need to produce a weapon from the present several months to at least a year. The Iranians deny such military intentions, but they are negotiating with the aim that a deal will end sanctions on their economy.

 

TIME

Watch How the Makers of Furious 7 Created the Best Scenes of the Series

'It was one of the most exciting moments I've had in my life — ever'

The Fast and Furious franchise has made its name — not to mention more than $2.5 billion — by featuring show-stopping stunts that defy the laws of both physics and logic.

The upcoming Furious 7, which hits theaters on April 3, is no exception. The film sees gearheads played by Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and the late Paul Walker (who was killed during the a break from the film’s shoot in 2013) travel all over the world in pursuit of lethal assassin (played by Jason Statham) who has a vendetta against them.

In one of the film’s most jaw-dropping sequences the crew parachutes into a remote mountain region in Azerbaijan — all while sitting in their souped-up cars. So just how did the makers of Furious 7 manage to film five cars falling from an aircraft at 12,000 feet? Very carefully.

Watch the video above for a break down of the making of the scene.

TIME Philippines

Philippines on High Alert as Supertyphoon Approaches From the East

The storm is currently a Category 5 — the highest possible level — although its intensity may reduce once it reaches land

The Philippines on Wednesday warned its citizens and visiting tourists to be prepared for a high-intensity supertyphoon that looks set to hit within the next three days, with troops placed on standby and supplies of food and medicines readied as a precaution.

The typhoon, christened Maysak, is currently hovering over the Pacific Ocean with winds up to 155 m.p.h., Reuters reported. The Category 5 storm, the highest possible rating, is expected to make landfall on the Southeast Asian country’s east coast.

On Wednesday, the Micronesian state of Chuuk declared a state of emergency after Maysak reportedly claimed at least five lives and caused extensive damage as it tore across the central Pacific.

Experts do anticipate that Maysak will reduce in intensity to around Category 2 once it hits the Philippines, though, with British agency Tropical Storm Risk expecting winds to reduce to 110 m.p.h.

“But this will still be typhoon intensity so it will bring strong winds when it makes landfall on the eastern coast,” Esperanza Cayanan, an officer at the Philippines’ weather bureau, said in a televised briefing.

Although the typhoon could damage crops in the country’s central and northern regions, the damage is likely to be minimal thanks to the conclusion of a major rice harvest in February.

The biggest challenge for authorities will be ensuring the safety of Filipinos and foreigners celebrating the long Easter weekend, the national disaster agency’s executive director Alexander Pama explained.

“Because of our holiday mode, some of us may not give proper attention to the warnings,” Pama said.

[Reuters]

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