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Iranian authorities close two opposition publications

The Iranian authorities on Monday closed two major opposition publications, among the last to remain in circulation as the government has suppressed its opponents’ communications in recent months.

Earlier, the authorities had blocked most opposition Web sites inside Iran and slowed the Internet to a crawl to prevent protesters from organizing demonstrations.

Both of the opposition publications, the daily newspaper Etemad and the weekly magazine Iran Dokht, were linked to Mehdi Karroubi, the outspoken opposition leader who challenged the government last week by calling for a referendum on the government’s popularity.

The muzzling of the opposition publications follows a ruling last week by the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Karroubi and another opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, have no place in politics.

The two men were candidates in last summer’s presidential election, which they say was stolen by the government.

On Monday, Jaras, an opposition Web site, reported that four journalists and a university professor were released after two months in detention.

Vice Chairman of Fed to retire

WASHINGTON — The vice chairman of the Federal Reserve announced on Monday that he would retire in June, giving President Barack Obama an expanded opportunity to put his stamp on the central bank as it faces a difficult balance between heading off inflation and addressing high levels of unemployment.

The departure of the vice chairman, Donald L. Kohn, a 40-year Fed veteran, means that Obama has three seats to fill on the Fed’s seven-member board of governors at a time when the central bank is weighing how aggressively to reverse the easy-money policy it pursued during the financial crisis and recession.

The vacancies are likely to spur debate over the Fed’s priorities. With unemployment near 10 percent and projected to remain high for years to come, there is sure to be pressure on the administration, especially from liberals, to nominate Fed governors willing to adhere not just to the central bank’s mission of price stability but also its mandate of full employment, a goal that has effectively taken a back seat to inflation fighting over much of the last three decades.

Greece urged to make more budget cuts, tax increases

ATHENS — The commissioner for monetary affairs at the European Union, Olli Rehn, said Monday that austerity measures announced by the Greek government to stave off a mounting fiscal crisis were “in the right direction” but not adequate to reduce a bloated budget deficit by 4 percent this year and tackle a debt crisis threatening the euro zone.

After talks with government and central bank officials in Athens, Rehn reassured Greece of the European Commission’s support for its efforts to revive the reeling economy, but he stopped short of offering an emergency aid package.

He also called for additional austerity measures, in addition to the wage freezes and tax increases already announced by the Socialist government in Greece, but he did not specify what form these measures should take. “I want to encourage the government to announce additional measures,” he said.

“Either you control your debt, or your debt will control your economy,” he added.