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Handcuffs

Iran Slams US Government for Scientist Arrest

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Iranian professor Mojtaba Atarodi
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman has blasted the recent arrest of an Iranian professor in the United States for allegedly buying high-tech American lab equipment.

Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday the US government's measures against Iranian scientists aim to hamper the country's scientific progress.

"Such measures are in line with the inhuman policy of assassinating Iranian scientists and reveal the deceptive nature of Washington's allegations against the Iranian nation," he added.

A number of Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in the past two years as tension escalates between Tehran and Western countries over Iran's nuclear program.

In the latest instance, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, an official at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, was killed in Tehran when a bomb was stuck to his car by operatives working for Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad.

V

Thousands March in Poland Over Acta Internet Treaty

Thousands of protesters have taken to Poland's streets over the signing of an international treaty activists say amounts to internet censorship.

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© AFPThe government says protesters will have their say before the treaty is ratified in Poland
Prime Minister Donald Tusk's government signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in Tokyo on Thursday.

The treaty, known as Acta, aims to establish international standards to enforce intellectual property rights.

But critics say it could curb freedom of expression, and government websites have been hacked in protest.

Later on Thursday, hundreds of people took to the streets of the eastern city of Lublin to express their anger over the treaty.

Several marches had taken place in cities across the nation on Wednesday, says the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw.

Crowds of mostly young people held banners with slogans such as "no to censorship" and "a free internet".

Health

Bin Laden Raid: Will CIA's Secret Doctor Face Treason Trial?

Shakil Afridi
© unknownDr. Shakil Afridi
Pakistan is re-examining the fate of the Pakistani doctor who allegedly helped the CIA gather information on the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination program after a top U.S. official publicly confirmed his secret spy operation.

Officials with the commission investigating the May 2 Navy SEAL raid that took the life of America's most wanted terrorist in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told Pakistan's The News they've ordered Dr. Shakeel Afridi to face trial for treason and said he will not be turned over to the U.S. Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Gilani, also said Sunday Afridi would be tried.

Another senior Pakistani official, however, said that the commission does not give the final say on Afridi's fate and that the Pakistani government has yet to decide whether to try him.

Pakistani officials have called for a treason trial previously, but the commission's new order comes just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly confirmed Afridi's key role in the Bin Laden mission.

Stop

Joe Biden Advised Against the Osama Bin Laden Raid

Joe Biden
© unknown
Vice President Joe Biden confessed this weekend that he advised President Obama not to launch the mission that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden last spring.

During remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat this weekend, Biden explained that when it came time to make the final decision, he had some lingering uncertainties about whether the 9/11 mastermind was in the suspected compound in Pakistan.

When the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Biden said.

"Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51," Biden said, as he offered the unsolicited details of the decision-making process.

Dollar

Audit: U.S. Defense Department can't account for billions for Iraq

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© Getty

The U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses and is not providing Iraq with a complete list of U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, according to two new government audits.

The reports come from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The Iraqi government in 2004 gave the Department of Defense access to about $3 billion to pay bills for certain contracts, and the department can only show what happened to about a third of that, the inspector general says in an audit published Friday.

Although the Department of Defense (DoD) had "internal processes and controls" to track payments, the "bulk of the records are missing," the report says, adding that the department is searching for them.

Other documents are missing as well, including monthly reports documenting expenses, the audit says.

"From July 2004 through December 2007, DoD should have provided 42 monthly reports. However, it can locate only the first four reports."

Airplane

Iraqi officials outraged by use of US drones: report

Iraqi officials have expressed outrage at the United States' use of a small fleet of surveillance drones to help protect the US embassy, consulates and American personnel in Iraq, The New York Times reported.
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© Unknown

The newspaper said the State Department began operating some drones in Iraq last year on a trial basis and stepped up their use after the last US troops left the country in December.

The US government plans to take bids for the management of drone operations in Iraq over the next five years, the report said.

The State Department drones carry no weapons and are meant to provide data and images of possible hazards, like public protests or roadblocks, to security forces on the ground, the paper noted. They are much smaller than armed drones.

But the US government needs formal approval from Iraq to use such aircraft there, the paper noted, citing unnamed Iraqi officials.

Such approval may be hard to get given the political tensions between the two countries, The Times said.

A senior American official said negotiations were under way to obtain authorization for the drone operations, but Ali al-Mosawi, a top adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki; Iraq's national security adviser, Falih al-Fayadh; and the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, all said in interviews that they had not been consulted by the Americans, the report said.

"Our sky is our sky, not the USA's sky," Asadi is quoted by the paper as saying.

Dollar

Secrets of the Zionist Billionaire Backing Gingrich's Shot at the White House

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© Matt Rourke/APThe billionaire Sheldon Adelson is backing Newt Gingrich.
Sheldon Adelson is not running for office - but his cash could swing Tuesday's Florida primary

Abraham Foxman, the amiably chatty director of the Jewish civil rights group, the Anti-Defamation League, has a story to tell about his friend, the 78-year-old multi-billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson, who is America's eighth richest man and has given millions of dollars in support of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, was having dinner with Foxman in Las Vegas several years ago. Foxman let slip that he was having to miss an invitation to the White House from the then president, George W. Bush. Foxman explained it was impossible to get a commercial flight. Adelson replied: "If the president of the United States asks you to go, you go." Then he gave Foxman the use of his private plane.

Foxman asked Adelson if any condition was attached to the spontaneous act of generosity. "The condition is that you tell President Bush that is how you got there," said Adelson. Foxman made it in time to meet the president.

It is a classic vignette to describe the power and style of Adelson, a man who has given scores of millions of dollars to Republican and Jewish causes over the years but who only now - by backing Gingrich - is becoming known to the wider public. It shows the reach of great wealth and how it mixes with the most powerful people on earth. It also shows Adelson's willingness to use that wealth for causes and people he believes in.

Bad Guys

Americans Oppose War: But Does Government Care?


With harsh US rhetoric and tensions around Iran's nuclear program snowballing by the hour, American polls nonetheless show that most Americans think a war with Tehran would be a grave mistake. But do the leaders care?

­Despite Iran's recent consent to return to negotiations over its atomic work, the Obama administration says war with Tehran is still on the table. Even harsher statements come from some of Washington's hawks like Newt Gingrich, who spoke of breaking the Iranian regime within a year.

The calls however appear to find little support with the ordinary people. Online and telephone surveys by one of the country's online companion polls show the majority of Americans do not back the government's talk of war against Iran.

The residents of one American city went even further and took the matter to their City Council. The legislative body of Charlottesville in Virginia passed a resolution, believed to be a first in the country, opposing the launching of a war on Iran, as well as calling for an end to current ground and drone wars engaged in by the US.

Star of David

Israel Warns Time is Running out Before it Launches Strike on Iran

Ehud Barak
© Getty ImagesEhud Barak
Growing body of opinion suggests that Iranian response to an attack would be muted

Economic sanctions by the European Union and the United States can only be allowed a limited time period to prevent Iran from attempting to acquire a nuclear arsenal before a military strike must be contemplated, Israeli leaders have declared.

The tough public stance from Tel Aviv comes amid conflicting reports on the readiness of the Israeli military establishment to carry out an attack on Iran.

One account claims that Israel's security agencies have concluded that the turmoil predicted from a strike, and the likely response from Tehran, has been widely exaggerated. However, a senior British official told The Independent that the hierarchy of the intelligence service, Mossad, and the armed forces continued to have deep trepidation about conflict in the region.

Speaking at the Davos economic summit yesterday, the Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, yesterday warned that a situation could be rapidly reached when even "surgical" military action could not block the Tehran regime from getting the bomb. "We will know early enough whether the Iranians are ready to give up their nuclear weapons," following measures such as the recently announced EU oil embargo, he said.

Chess

Asia Challenges US, Europe Over Iran

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© EPA
China, India and Turkey have warned that they won't support a ban on Iranian oil imports and will try and prevent the US from blocking Iranian oil supplies. Japan and South Korea are planning to follow suit. Europe introduced an embargo on Iran oil imports this week. The Voice of Russia's Konstantin Garibov reports.

The new package of sanctions against Tehran which was approved by EU foreign ministers on Monday provides for a gradual ban on the import of Iranian oil and oil products. The EU plans to stop purchasing oil from Iran by July 1st . Until recently, the main buyers of Iranian oil in Europe were Greece, Italy and Spain, who bought 600,000 barrels a day.

Europe decided to buy itself some time so that it could find alternatives to Iranian oil imports. Yevgeny Satanovsky of the Institute of the Middle East says:

"Europe will have no problems replacing Iranian oil with oil from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, or Kuwait. The Gulf Cooperation Council has already made it clear that it will recoup the losses."