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News Wrap: Yemen Protesters Demand Military Be Restructured

March 2, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: There were mass protests across Yemen today. Crowds turned out in 18 of the country’s 21 provinces. They demanded that officers loyal to the country’s ousted leader be purged from the armed forces.

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power to Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi last month after a year’s worth of violent protests. Saleh’s son and nephew remain in charge of the powerful Republican Guard and central security forces.

In Iran, parliamentary elections took place in a vote that’s expected to reinforce the rule of Islamic hardliners. People waited in voting lines in the country’s first major election since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a disputed reelection in June of 2009. That outcome led to widespread protests and a crackdown. The outcome of today’s voting was not expected to change Iran’s nuclear program or other key policies.

The prime minister of Israel warned the world today against resuming nuclear talks with Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in Canada, ahead of his weekend arrival in Washington. He argued that Tehran would use nuclear negotiations simply as a stall tactic.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli prime minister: It could do again what it’s done before. It could pursue or exploit the talks, as they’ve done in the past, to deceive and to delay, so that they can continue to advance their nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running the clock, running up the clock, so to speak.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Netanyahu also defended Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian nuclear attack, possibly by a preemptive strike.
Meanwhile, President Obama warned that no one should underestimate U.S. opposition to Iran going nuclear. In an interview, he told The Atlantic magazine, “As president of the United States, I don’t bluff. When the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”

The president also weighed into a furor involving a college student and birth control. Sandra Fluke had appeared before congressional Democrats to urge that insurers be required to cover contraceptives. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh then branded Fluke a slut who wants to be paid for having sex.

Today, the president telephoned Fluke to voice his support. A spokesman said he considers Limbaugh’s remarks reprehensible.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost two points to close at 12,977. The Nasdaq fell 12 points to close at 2,976. For the week, the Dow lost half-a-percent; the Nasdaq rose about half-a-percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.