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World in brief: Iranian minister dismisses threats

Wed., July 2, 2008

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tuesday that prospects for a military attack by either the United States or Israel on the Islamic republic before the end of the Bush administration are “almost nil,” and he dismissed a recent Israeli military exercise and warnings from Washington as “psychological warfare.”

“Even at the peak of the psychological warfare, we were saying that we don’t believe that this war will happen,” Mottaki said. “It’s one thing to say whether such an act is plausible, which we wouldn’t negate. What we negate is the chance that such a desire to go to war will be met,” in part because U.S. public opinion is opposed to another war.

In a long interview with American journalists, Iran’s top diplomat also indicated a readiness to pursue negotiations over a U.S.-backed proposal to end the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran is “seriously and carefully examining” it, Mottaki said.

Mottaki said he will write a formal response within the next “couple of weeks.”


Premier pledges Naples cleanup

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi pledged Tuesday to end the garbage crisis in Naples and the surrounding area by the end of July.

Berlusconi said during a visit to the southern Italian city that the government is “very close” to signing deals with private companies to store and process garbage in areas outside Campania, the region that surrounds Naples.

Tons of stinking garbage began piling up in December when collectors stopped picking up trash because dumps were full.

The situation was somewhat eased by reopening some old dumps and shipping garbage to Germany in train convoys, but the buildup of trash, now rotting in the summer heat, still plagues many Naples areas, particularly in the suburbs and surrounding towns.

Shanghai, China

Man kills five police officers

A man stormed into a police building Tuesday and stabbed five officers to death, Shanghai police said. Several other officers were injured.

The attacker, who was apprehended, was initially described on the Shanghai police Web site as a 28-year-old unemployed man from Beijing who took revenge against authorities because he was being investigated for stealing bicycles. However, this information was deleted from the site later in the day.

Shanghai authorities declined to comment.


Catfish chokes on soccer ball

A massive catfish has apparently choked to death after trying to chow down a soccer ball in a Bavarian canal.

German police say the unfortunate two-yard-long fish was found dead Monday, floating on the surface with a blue-and-white ball in its mouth.

“He tried to eat the ball and it got stuck,” police spokesman Karl-Heinz Kuberlein said Tuesday.

Did the Euro 2008 soccer championship final on Sunday – where Germany lost 1-0 to Spain – have anything to do with it?

“Whether the fish was caught up in football fever in the aftermath of the European championship and hence snapped at the ball can unfortunately not be determined,” police said in a statement.


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