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Briefs

Oil-export sanctions against Iran working

Stringent new sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union against Iran have curbed the country’s oil exports by more than 1 million barrels of oil a day, according to new data released by the International Energy Agency.

The IEA data, released late last week as part of a little-noticed annual report, paint the first detailed picture on how hard the sanctions have hit Iran: The agency estimates the country’s oil exports have fallen by almost a third over the past three months, representing a substantial loss of income for the government.

The effect has been compounded, the agency said, because Iran’s government was apparently caught off-guard by buyers’ strict compliance with the sanctions and by new restrictions preventing shipping insurance for vessels delivering Iranian goods.

The sanctions are only getting tighter. On Monday, the European Union voted to expand measures already in place, targeting banking institutions, energy companies and shipping.

Bin Laden driver’s conviction tossed

A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out the conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden who served a prison term for material support for terrorism.

In a 3-0 ruling, the appeals court said that material support for terrorism was not a war crime under international law at the time Hamdan engaged in the activity for which he was convicted.

Hamdan was sentenced to 5 1/2 years, given credit for time served and is back home in Yemen, reportedly working as a taxi driver.

British hacker will avoid trial in US

A British computer hacker’s decade-long struggle to avoid trial in the U.S. over alleged breaches of military and NASA networks ended in success Tuesday, as the U.K. government ruled he was unfit to face charges there.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she had blocked the U.S. request to extradite Gary McKinnon after medical experts concluded he was seriously ill and likely to attempt to take his own life.

The 46-year-old unemployed computer administrator, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, was accused of one of the largest-ever breaches of military networks, carried out soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. McKinnon insists he was attempting to uncover evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Earth-like planet found next door

European astronomers say that just outside our solar system, they’ve found a planet as close as you can get to Earth in location and size.

But the planet 25 trillion miles away is so hot, its surface may be like molten lava. Life cannot survive the 2,200-degree heat of the planet, so close to its star that it circles it every few days.

The astronomers who found it say it’s likely there are other planets circling the same star, a little farther away where it may be cool enough for water and life.

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