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The fight between Republicans and President Obama over Iran's nuclear program escalated today; 47 GOP senators issued an open letter to Iran's leaders.
In it, they said — quote — "We will consider any agreement not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. They added that means it could be modified or revoked at any time. But the president dismissed the threat.
PRESDIENT BARACK OBAMA:
I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition.
I think what we're going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal or not. And once we do, then we will — if we do, then we will be able to make the case to the American people.
Republicans and some Democrats are demanding that Congress vote on any nuclear deal with Iran. But since it wouldn't be a treaty, the White House is not obliged to submit it for congressional approval.
The president slapped new sanctions on Venezuela today. The targets are seven top security officials accused of corruption and human rights violations in a crackdown on dissent. Venezuela's socialist government has long been at odds with Washington. Last week, it ordered an 80 percent cut in the number of U.S. diplomats there.
The governments of Chad and Niger have sent troops into Northeastern Nigeria to fight Boko Haram militants. Locals said today that hundreds of soldiers and vehicles began crossing the border on Saturday. The war with Boko Haram has spilled over into Nigeria's neighbors in recent months.
The University of Oklahoma today closed a fraternity chapter linked to a racist video. It showed members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon using racial slurs and sing about lynching and vowing never to admit black students.
Today, university president David Boren called the behavior disgraceful.
DAVID BOREN, President, University of Oklahoma: It will not be tolerated. That is why that house is immediately closed. That is why those gentlemen will have to have their belongings out of the house by midnight tomorrow. And, as they pack their bags, I hope they think long and hard about what they have done.
Boren said the university is looking into a range of other punishments for the students, including expulsion.
There were new protests in Madison, Wisconsin, today over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. Some 2,000 students, including classmates of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, marched to the state capitol. They demonstrated inside the rotunda, chanting, "Black lives matter."
Police say an officer followed Robinson to his apartment Friday after reports of a battery. They say the officer was struck in the head, and then fired.
The Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reconsider a case on contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The University of Notre Dame objected to the requirement on religious grounds, but lost. Today, the Supreme Court cited its own decision in favor of corporations with similar objections.
Wisconsin is now the 25th so-called right-to-work state. Republican Governor Scott Walker signed the new policy into law today. The statute bars requiring private sector workers to pay union dues. Four years ago, the state effectively ended collective bargaining for public sector employees.
Wall Street shook off its worries today over a potential interest rate hike. The Dow Jones industrial average gained almost 140 points to close back near 18000. The Nasdaq rose 15 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.
And a Swiss-made plane set off today on the first attempt to fly around the world powered solely by the sun.
Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News filed this report.
On the ground, it's barely faster than a bicycle, but it has the wingspan of a jumbo jet. And it's planning to fly 22,000 miles around the globe without a drop of fuel.
Solar Impulse lumbered up towards the source of its own power this morning, its carbon fiber structure embed with over 17,000 solar cells. There's room for only one pilot. These two will take turns from airports along the route, flying at a top speed of just 87 miles an hour. Crossing the Atlantic and Pacific will require five or six days of solo flying. So, though it's intended to show advances in clean technology, this plane also reveals that technology's limits. And there was an electrical fault at the start.
BERTRAND PICCARD, Solar Impulse Pilot:
When everything was ready, we had to reopen the cockpit and reopen the instrument panel to check a connector giving a false alarm. So, everybody was just hoping the airplane would go. Now, the adventure has started.
You're watching live pictures of what will be the first landing.
Tonight, the plane completed its first leg, flying in the dark, thanks to its four batteries. The journey of just a few hundred miles from Abu Dhabi to Oman took 13 hours. After a pilot swap, it flies on to India and then China, with the round-trip expected to take five months.
Among the stops the plane Solar Impulse plans to make along the way are Hawaii; Phoenix, Arizona; and New York.
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