As talks opened in Baghdad today, "diplomats from six world powers offered Iran new proposals Wednesday to ease international concerns about its nuclear program, but appeared to reject Tehran's appeals to ease economic sanctions to help move along talks," The Associated Press reports.
Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped in the hunt for Osama bin Laden by trying to collect DNA from the al-Qaida leader and his family members, has been convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison, according to reports from Pakistan.
"This is definitely the big event" on Egypt's way toward its own form of democracy.
That's how NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson summed up the news earlier on Morning Edition as she reported from Cairo about the opening day of the first free presidential elections in a nation that just a little more than a year ago was in the throes of a revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak's regime.
Nearly two years ago, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered that gun-toting private security companies in his country be brought under state control. But the Afghan force to replace the foreign-funded contractors is off to a rocky start.
According to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the new force will increase security costs for USAID projects and could even shut some of them down, at a loss of about $899 million. USAID in Kabul disagrees, and the dispute has gone public.
Sanctions have not often worked to get governments to change their behavior, but Iran may prove to be an exception. The country depends on income from oil sales, and the oil sector is highly vulnerable to sanctions.
The United States has stopped buying Iranian oil, and the European Union is set to do so at the end of next month. There are sanctions on Iran's central bank and punishments for companies that help Iran ship its oil.
Jamie Webster, an oil market analyst at PFC Energy, says Iran's oil exports — normally about 2.5 million barrels a day — are in serious jeopardy.