News briefs: Iran convicts former U.S. Marine, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, sentences him to death
Content Item Caption: A frame grab of Amir Mirzaei Hekmati in a You Tube posted video from Iranian TV Dec. 18. (Iran Television/You Tube)
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- An Iranian court has convicted an American man of working for the CIA and sentenced him to death, state radio reported Monday, in a case adding to the accelerating tension between the United States and Iran.
Iran charges that as a former U.S. Marine, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati received special training and served at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for his alleged intelligence mission. The radio report did not say when the verdict was issued. Under Iranian law, he has 20 days to appeal.
The 28-year-old former military translator was born in Arizona and graduated from high school in Michigan. His family is of Iranian origin. His father, a professor at a community college in Flint, Michigan, has said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.
His trial took place as the U.S. announced new, tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington believes Tehran is using to develop a possible atomic weapons capability.
Iran, which says it only seeks nuclear reactors for energy and research, has sharply increased its threats and military posturing against stronger pressures, including the U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's Central Bank in attempts to complicate its ability to sell oil.
Hope, sorrow mingle as a confident, recovering Rep. Giffords leads Tucson shooting remembrance
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- After a year of struggling to re-learn how to walk and speak, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords confidently climbed the steps on an outdoor stage on Sunday and led a crowd of hundreds in the Pledge of Allegiance, her words ringing out on a cold Tucson night just one year after she survived a gunshot to the head.
The remembrance at the University of Arizona culminated a day of events, some filled with sadness and regret, others with hope and joy.
Many wept at an afternoon event as two 10-year-olds remembered their best friend, Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed in the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting, along with five others.
Some danced in celebration after Giffords' husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, told the crowd at the candlelight vigil that the 13 survivors who emerged from the shooting showed that "alongside human frailty there is also strength."
And they chanted -- "Gabby! Gabby! -- when Giffords limped to the podium, and, after months of intensive speech therapy, recited the pledge with the audience, head held high and a smile on her face as she punched each word.
Time running short to stop Romney in NH, rivals make final appeals in first primary state
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Time is running short for Mitt Romney's Republican presidential rivals to derail him -- at least in New Hampshire.
On the final full day of campaigning before Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary, the GOP front-runner's opponents -- and fiercest critics -- were to make final appeals to Republican voters unenthused with the idea of the former Massachusetts governor as the party's nominee.
The candidates were all but tripping over each other Monday, concentrating their appearances in the southern half of the state known for holding town-hall style meetings in real town halls. Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman all planned to visit Nashua at some point during the day. Hudson, Bedford, Manchester, Dover, Salem and Concord also proved to be popular stops, with at least two candidates planning events in each.
Knocking Romney off his perch before Tuesday won't be easy.
He has spent the better part of two years essentially adopting the state as his own and now holds a comfortable lead in pre-primary polls as his rivals essentially battle for second place.
For Newt Gingrich, a strategy of sharper attacks on Mitt Romney come with a risk