WASHINGTON — Radio host Rush Limbaugh said his apology to the Georgetown law student he called a “slut” was sincere but also joked that he, too, got a busy signal Monday when he called the show to join the growing roster of advertisers abandoning it.

The student, Sandra Fluke, said Limbaugh’s apology did nothing to change the corrosive tone of the debate over health care coverage and that Americans have to decide whether they want to support companies that continue to advertise on his program. AOL and Tax Resolution Services Co. on Monday became the eighth and ninth advertisers to leave Limbaugh’s three-hour show and at least one rad io station dropped the program as he sought to stem the exodus of advertisers and fellow conservatives declined to offer him support.

“I should not have used the language I did, and it was wrong,” a rarely contrite Limbaugh told listeners.

Callers to the show urged him not to give in to critics, which Monday included Republican leaders in Congress and those seeking the GOP presidential nomination. He blamed the media for the pressure.

Meanwhile, Limbaugh is poised to be added to the Hall of Famous Missourians in the state Capitol. Speaker Steven Tilley, who is responsible for naming recipients, said Monday he decided to honor Limbaugh months ago.

Limbaugh’s show has lost nine advertisers since his remarks last week.

Netanyahu tells Obama Israel may attack Iran alone if necessary

WASHINGTON — Highlighting their different views of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, President Barack Obama insisted Monday that diplomacy still has time to halt the effort, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reasserted Israel’s right to take unilateral military action, saying the Jewish state must remain “the master of its fate.”

Obama spent two hours in discussion with Netanyahu that was dominated by the crisis over the nuclear program that Iran claims is for peaceful purposes and that the United States, Israel and other powers charge is covertly developing the capability to build nuclear weapons.

A new report by a former U.N. nuclear inspector said that it is unlikely that Iran will move to build a warhead this year. But the report added that Iran could now build a crude bomb and that only a “negotiated long-term diplomatic resolution” can ensure that it doesn’t break out of the international treaty designed to halt the spread of nuclear arms.

Riot police break up anti-Putin protest in Moscow

MOSCOW — An attempt by Vladimir Putin’s foes to protest his presidential election victory by occupying a Moscow square ended Monday with riot police quickly dispersing and detaining hundreds of demonstrators.

The harsh crackdown could fuel opposition anger and bring even bigger protests of Putin’s 12 years in power and election to another six, but it also underlined the authorities’ readiness to use force to crush such demonstrations. The government’s response Monday night was fast and decisive. Lines of officers in full riot gear marched into tree-lined Pushkin Square and forced protesters into waiting police buses. About 250 people were detained around the city, police said.

For Putin, the opposition move raised the specter of the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, where demonstrators camped on Kiev’s main square in massive protests that forced officials to throw out a fraud-tainted election victory by the Kremlin-backed candidate.

Iran’s Supreme Court orders retrial of ex-Marine

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s Supreme Court has ordered the retrial of an ex-U.S. Marine who was sentenced to death on charges of working for the CIA, a news agency reported Monday.

Amir Hekmati, 28, was sentenced to death in January, the first American to receive a death penalty since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Hekmati was born in Arizona. His parents are of Iranian origin.

Iran accuses Hekmati of receiving special training while serving at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for an intelligence mission.