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Morning Briefing: Iran says U.S. 'holding gun' to its head on nuclear talks

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei greets election officials as he presents his identification papers to cast his ballot in the parliamentary election in Tehran.

Caren Firouz/Reuters

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on Feb. 7, 2013.

U.S. 'holding gun' to Iran's head

Iran's supreme leader rejected the idea of direct talks with the Americans over Tehran's nuclear program. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rebuffed U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden's proposal to hold discussions, saying Washington was "holding a gun" to his country's head – a reference to the tightening of economic sanctions against the Islamist state.

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Oil crunch hits Ottawa

The weakness in the oil patch is making life more difficult for Jim Flaherty as budget season looms. The Finance Minister admitted Wednesday that the slide in western crude prices is cutting into federal revenues – though he insists he will reach the goal of balancing Ottawa's books before the 2015 election without having to "slash and burn." The discount on land-locked crude out of western Canada has increased recently, pushing Alberta into the red.

CIA nominee faces grilling

The controversy over the Obama administration's use of unmanned drones to attack suspected militants is expected to take centre stage today as John Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, faces a Senate confirmation hearing. The White House Wednesday ordered the release of a classified report supporting drone strikes against American citizens working with al-Qaeda overseas. Mr. Brennan is considered the architect of Mr. Obama's drone policies.

Carney faces questions over new gig

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney took his first step onto the public stage for his next gig as head of the Bank of England. Mr. Carney testified before the Treasury Committee today, being tested by British MPs on everything from inflation targets to the independence of the institution. He begins his new job on July 1. Here is our live coverage from The Globe's Paul Waldie.

Harper hockey book reveal looms

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been quietly working away on a book for years and other than the topic – his beloved game of hockey – not a lot is known. But that should change, as early as today, as details of the upcoming book are released.

Russian jets violate Japan airspace: reports

Amidst increasing territorial tensions with China, Japan has now been forced to counter another incursion on its territory. Japan scrambled jets today after it said Russian jets entered airspace off the island of Hokkaido. Russia denied the incursion, which came after Japan's PM Shinzo Abe made public references to need to settle a long-standing dispute with Russia over a chain of islands in the Pacific.

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