From NPR news in Washington, I'm Barbara Klein.
The Obama Administration is beefing up the nation's missile defenses on the west coast. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the move follows threats from Iran and North Korea.
Chuck:" North Korea particular has recently made advances its capabilities and engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations."
Hagel says 14 additional interceptors will be added to the 30 already in place in California and Alaska to shoot down incoming missiles.
President Obama says Iran is only about a year away from being able to build a nuclear weapon. He offered the estimate for the first time in an interview with Israeli television ahead of next week's visit to Israel. As NPR's Tom Gjelten reports the prediction coincides with others made recently by technical experts.
"For Iran to build a nuclear weapon it would need a stockpile of uranium enriched to weapons-grade purity. It doesn't have that stockpile right now. The US Intelligence Community this week in its annual assessment of global security threats reported that Iran in the last year became better positioned to produce that weapons-grade uranium showed it choose to do so. But it felt to the president to actually say how long it would take, a year or so would give the US and Israel time to review options should they want to block any bomb-building effort in Iran. In his interview with Israeli television Obama said obviously we don't want to cut it too close. "
Tom Gjelten, NPR news, Washington.
The Vatican is strongly denying accusations that Pope Francis was silent about human rights violations during Argentina's military dictatorship in the 1970s. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports the Vatican says the charges stem from a leftist anti-clerical campaign.
"Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi clearly and firmly denied the accusations. He said they are part of campaign by a publication he did not name, but which he claimed it's known for its defamatory methods. Human rights activists in Argentina have accused Jorge Mario Bergoglio the head of the Jesuits of remaining silent over Catholic church complicity with the military junta. From 1936 to 1983, the junta kidnapped and killed some 30,000 people. Lombardi said there is no credible charge against Pope Francis, adding that when he became bishop, he promoted reconciliation in the church Argentina, a church whose reputation had been severely tarnished by its relations with the junta. "
Sylvia Poggioli NPR news, Rome.
The most restrictive abortion law in the US is one step away from being enacted. North Dakota senators approved the bill today that would ban abortions when a fetal heart beat is detected, usually by six weeks in pregnancy. If the governor signs the measure would also ban abortions based on genetic defects.
On Wall Street just before the close, the DOW was down 25, the NASDAQ off 10, the S&P down 2.
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Nearly half of all first births in the US now take place outside marriage, according to a new study.
NPR's Jennifer Ludden has details.
"The report by the National Marriage Project finds that by age 25 just 38% of women have married, but 44% have had baby. For women as a whole, 48% of first births are outside wedlock. The project and two co-authors of the report seeked the strength in marriage or reduce unplanned pregnancies, but their study reflects a growing body of research that finds an increasing gap the vast majority of births outside marriage are to those without a college degree. The report warns of growing inequality since such children on average are more likely to experience turmoil and trouble in school compared to those of married parents. "
Jennifer Ludden , NPR news.
Industrial production is up more than expected, output by factories, mines and utilities climb 0.70% in February, the biggest increase in three months. It's been fueled by manufacturing of things like business equipment, cars and trucks, which rose 0.80% last month. Meanwhile, consumer prices also rose 0.70% in Februady mostly because of higher gas prices.
Another Carnival cruise liner is having problems, the second one this week. The company says a technical issue that affects the sailing speed of its carnival legend is forcing the cruise to end early. And passengers aboard Carnival's dream cruise liner are flying home after problems with on-board generator. The incidents come a month after the Carnival triumph was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for five days without power.
I'm Barbara Klein, NPR news in Washington.