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AROUND THE WORLD

> IRAQ

Cleric al-Sadr urges vote on prime minister

BAGHDAD (AP) -- An anti-American Shiite cleric called Tuesday for a referendum on who will be Iraq's prime minister, a proposal that was almost certain to fail but that added more turmoil to an already tense and uncertain postelection period.

The firebrand cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads a Shiite religious party that won 39 seats in the March 7 parliamentary election, will likely be a kingmaker in the effort to form a governing coalition.

A referendum would run counter to Iraq's constitution, under which the president appoints a premier-designate to come up with a government within 30 days.

The referendum call comes as the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is challenging the right of former prime minister Ayad Allawi, who had the most votes, to form the government and take the top job.

Al-Maliki has called for a recount and for disqualification of several elected candidates from Allawi's party for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's regime.

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> BRITAIN

Panel clears scientists of tainting climate data

LONDON (AP) -- The first of several British investigations into the e-mails leaked from one of the world's leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved.

The House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee said today they saw no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data to exaggerate the threat of global warming.

The committee said that, as far as it was able to ascertain, "the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact," adding that nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mails, or the controversy from their publication, challenged scientific consensus that "global warming is happening."

The probe is one of three launched after the November dissemination of e-mails and data stolen from the research unit. The e-mails appeared to show scientists berating skeptics in sometimes intensely personal attacks and discussing ways to keep skeptics' research out of peer-reviewed journals.

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