Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Iran: Sanctions make US nuke talks futile Pentagon hoped to arm Syria rebels UK finds more horsemeat in food Asteroid to buzz Earth next week
TEHRAN, Iran -- American proposals for direct talks with Iran are pointless while Washington is "holding a gun" to the country through sanctions, Iran's supreme leader said Thursday, quashing a possible breakthrough in contacts with the West over the nuclear standoff.
The message from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all major decisions in Iran, was reiterated by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a news conference in Cairo later in the day.
Their dismissal of one-on-one dialogue raises the stakes when wider negotiations between Iran and world powers, including the United States, resume this month.
Another dead-end round -- after three stalemated sessions last year -- could fuel accusations by Israel and others that Iran is using the talks as a stalling tactic while it gets closer to having the capabilities to build a nuclear weapon.
WASHINGTON -- Top Pentagon leaders said for the first time Thursday that the Defense Department backed the idea of providing arms to opposition groups in Syria.
Until Thursday, the Pentagon had only said publicly that U.S. policy is to give only humanitarian assistance to rebels battling President Bashar Assad's regime. Providing arms has been the subject of ongoing internal administration debate.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Barack Obama made the final decision against arming the rebels.
"Obviously there were a number of factors that were involved here that ultimately led to the president's decision to make it nonlethal," Panetta said. "I supported his decision in the end."
LONDON -- Some beef lasagna products recalled from British stores contained more than 60 percent horsemeat, U.K. food safety authorities said Thursday. It was the latest revelation in a growing scandal surrounding the use of horsemeat and the mislabeling of meat products in Europe.
Frozen-food company Findus recalled the beef lasagna meals earlier this week after French supplier Comigel raised concerns that the products didn't "conform to specification." The U.K. Food Standards Agency said the lasagnas were tested as part of an ongoing investigation into mislabeled meat.
Eighteen beef lasagna products were tested by Findus, which found that 11 contained horsemeat in the 60 to 100 percent range, the Food Standards Agency said. It would not say if any of the meals were 100 percent horsemeat.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A 150-foot-wide asteroid will come remarkably close to Earth next week, even closer than high-flying communication and weather satellites. It will be the nearest known flyby for an object of this size.
But don't worry. Scientists promise the megarock will be at least 17,100 miles away when it zips past next Friday.
"No Earth impact is possible," Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object program at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said Thursday.
Impossible to see with the naked eye, the asteroid is considered small as these things go. By contrast, the one that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was 6 miles wide.