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New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez Indicted

As expected, Senator Robert Menendez has been indicted on federal corruption charges. The New Jersey Democrat was charged with 14 counts — eight counts of bribery, and other charges of conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements. It is not clear whether Menendez will step down from his role as ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, or how a Menendez-less committee would change the Senate's response to the Iran negotiations or a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS. 

The charges stem from Menendez's relationship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, who has donated to the senator's campaigns and has also been charged. The indictment accuses Menendez of helping three of Melgen's girlfriends obtain visas, as well as using his office to support Melgen financially.


Manhattan’s Real-Estate Market Is Finally Cooling Off

Perhaps the interminable winter is to blame, or the gradually expanding inventory. Or maybe sellers have overreached with their asking prices, lured by reports of record-breaking real-estate sales. Whatever the reason, prices for Manhattan properties leveled off in the first quarter of this year, according to reports released today by the city's brokerage firms, a sign perhaps that the market is, yes, finally stabilizing after years of staggering price increases. According to Douglas Elliman, the median price of an apartment in the borough now sits at $970,000, just slightly under what it was a year ago ($972,428). The average price, $1,732,989, fell 2.3 percent.


Switzerland Thinks John Kerry Is a Sexy Rock Star

Although the countries negotiating the Iran deal in Lausanne likely want to finish up the endless discussions as quickly as possible, it looks like Switzerland would be happy to host a certain American diplomat forever. Swiss newspaper 24 Heures called Secretary of State John Kerry a “weapon of mass seduction” on its front page yesterday, as noted by Buzzfeed. According to Tuesday's paper, Kerry has been all over town charming the locals. He went to a bike shop to buy energy bars, and he took selfies at several different spots. Even Americans in Lausanne went crazy for Kerry, screaming for the diplomat like he'd just scored a touchdown in a Harvard-Yale football game. 


East Village Explosion Victims Reunited With Their Beloved Cats

Two people died and 22 were injured in last week's East Village building explosion, which authorities now believe was caused by an illegally tapped gas line. Several of the East Villagers who have been evacuated from their apartments on Second Avenue have also been searching for the beloved cats that were in the building at the time of the explosion. According to EV Grieve, seven cats have been missing since Thursday, but today that number thankfully dropped to four.


Indiana, Arkansas, and the GOP’s Disastrous Anti-Gay Bigotry

Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. This week, the magazine asked him about the new wave of "religious freedom" laws, the new host of The Daily Show, and what to make of Andrew Sullivan's recent comments about blogger burn-out.

Just as Indiana lawmakers announce plans to "amend" their controversial religious-freedom law, the Arkansas state legislature approved a similar bill and sent it the governor's desk. In a surprise move this morning, the Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, who’d previously expressed support for the bill, asked the legislature to recall or amend it. Will the furor over what happened in Indiana extend into 2016?
That Hutchinson did this abrupt about-face is further proof of what a political disaster the Indiana law, and other, ongoing anti-gay initiatives in other red states, is for the GOP. At least 20 anti-LGBT laws have been proposed in Texas this year alone, according to the Texas Observer. Hutchinson’s reversal is one small attempt to quell these flames before they do more damage to his state and his party. But much damage has already been done. Not a single Republican presidential contender came down against the Indiana law, and most have been vocal in their support of it and the Indiana governor, Mike Pence. That unanimity cannot now be written out of the record as the GOP faces 2016.


Arkansas Governor Decides He Doesn’t Want to Be Yelled At

After watching Indiana be rebuked by other state leaders, corporations, sports organizations, nonprofits, and celebrities for two days, Governor Asa Hutchinson decided not to sign a similar religious-freedom bill passed by Arkansas's state legislature. He said that he wanted Arkansas "to be known as a state that does not discriminate but understands tolerance" and asked lawmakers to craft something new "similar to what is at the federal level" before he'll consider it. Walmart happens to be based in Arkansas, and it publicly opposed the law. 

Indiana Pizza Place Deals Crushing Blow to the Zero Gay Couples Planning Pizza-Themed Weddings

Memories Pizza, a family-owned pizza restaurant in Walkerton, Indiana, announced that it reserves the religious right to not supply pizza for weddings of same-sex couples, devastating the literally zero gay couples planning to serve pizza at their weddings. "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," Crystal O'Connor, an employee at Memories Pizza, told ABC 57. We wish anyone affected by this misfortune the best in finding pizza, a scarce resource in middle America.

Diplomats Ask for an Extension on Writing Up Iran Negotiations

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China were reportedly very close to an agreement with Iran on nuclear power yesterday, and are furiously trying to patch the remaining problems even though the deadline passed at midnight. The hope is that a deal might be reached on April Fools' Day. “I hope that we can finalize the work on Wednesday and hopefully start the process of drafting,” Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif told The Wall Street Journal. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius didn't seem as optimistic, telling Reuters"Things have progressed, but not enough ... that we can reach an immediate deal. We are firm. We want a robust deal with detailed checks."

"Fingers crossed." said British foreign secretary Philip Hammond. Another diplomat who wanted to remain anonymous, probably because of their less-than-sunny opinions, told the Washington Post that the deal didn't seem so close. 


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