Noontime News is a snapshot of the news from the past 24 hours.

Iran dismisses Barack Obama’s claim that sanctions prompted nuclear talks

Iran has said comments in Barack Obama‘s State of the Union speech about how sanctions linked to its nuclear programme had forced Tehran to the negotiating table were “unrealistic and unconstructive”.

US economy grows 3.2% in fourth quarter of 2013

The US economy grew at a 3.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter on the strength of the strongest consumer spending in three years, an encouraging sign for 2014.

James Clapper calls for Snowden and ‘accomplices’ to return NSA documents

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has issued a blistering condemnation of Edward Snowden, calling the surveillance disclosures published by the Guardian and other news outlets a “perfect storm” that would endanger American lives.

Republicans meet to hammer out compromise on immigration reform

Republicans were bracing for a fractious debate over the future of America’s 11 million undocumented workers as they gathered at a secluded retreat on the coast of Maryland to reconcile long-standing differences over immigration reform.

Syria wiping neighborhoods off the map to punish residents – rights group

The Syrian government has demolished thousands of buildings, in some cases entire neighbourhoods, in parts of Damascus and Hama, as part of a collective punishment against residents of rebel-held areas, Human Rights Watch has found.

Atlanta ice storm: mayor under fire as thousands stranded

A rare ice storm has turned Atlanta into a slippery mess, stranding thousands for hours on frozen roadways and raising questions about how city leaders prepared for and handled the cold snap that slammed the US south.

Ukraine’s president Yanukovych takes sick leave amid calls for resignation

Ukraine‘s embattled president, Viktor Yanukovych, is taking sick leave as the country’s political crisis continues with no sign of resolution.

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