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Russian lawmakers cite
US rights abuses

MOSCOW — During a day of old-school America-bashing in the Russian Parliament on Monday, a series of lawmakers took the podium to catalog rights violations perpetrated by Americans over the years, including waterboarding, Ku Klux Klan lynchings and the abuse of children adopted from Russia.

Monday’s parliamentary hearing, titled “On Problems in the Observation of Human Rights by the United States of America,” was the first of its kind since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and comes as Russia’s leaders employ progressively colder rhetoric toward the United States.

The shift in tone is equal and opposite to one that took place in 2009, when President Barack Obama was making overtures to Russia and perceptions of the United States began to warm up.

These days, hawkish commentators are back on the air, accusing Washington of supporting political forces opposed to President Vladimir Putin. Monday’s hearings were reminiscent of Soviet days, when the Young Communist League organized rallies in support of Angela Davis, the radical activist.

—Ellen Barry, The New York Times

Italy convicts seven for

ROME — Seven prominent Italian earthquake experts were convicted of manslaughter Monday and sentenced to six years for failing to give adequate warning to the residents of a seismically active area in the months preceding a fatal earthquake that killed more than 300 people.

Speaking in a hushed courtroom in L’Aquila, the city whose historic center was gutted by the earthquake, the judge, Marco Billi, read a long list of names of those who died or were injured in the disaster before he handed down the sentences to six scientists and a government official.

The defendants, who said they would appeal the decision, will also have to pay court costs and damages of $10.2 million, and are banned from pursuing public office.

The seven, most of them prominent seismologists and geologists, were members of a National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, which met shortly before the quake struck but did not issue a safety warning, even after a period of heightened seismic activity in the area.

—Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Iran’s president levels an attack against a rival official

TEHRAN, Iran — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran aimed an unusual verbal attack against the government’s highest judicial official on Monday, signaling a new phase in deteriorating relations between top Iranian leaders as the country’s economic conditions and isolation over the disputed nuclear program worsen.

Ahmadinejad was responding to the head of Iran’s powerful judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who on Sunday denied the president access to Tehran’s Evin prison, where Ahmadinejad’s top press adviser has been held since September on charges of publishing offensive material and insulting the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A judiciary spokesman said Ahmadinejad was told that his planned visit to the imprisoned adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, would be “inappropriate” and divert attention from Iran’s economic problems, which Ahmadinejad’s political rivals in the government blame more on what they call his mismanagement than on the effects of the harsh Western sanctions on Iran over the nuclear program.

—Thomas Erdbrink, The New York Times