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World in brief: Olmert will stay tough with Hamas

Israel’s prime minister said Wednesday he is “absolutely determined” to forge a peace deal with the moderate Palestinian leadership based in the West Bank, but said Israel will deal with the Hamas militants ruling the Gaza Strip in ways that will be “very painful.”

Appearing before international journalists in Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert shot down allegations that his government is not doing enough to bolster Palestinian moderates through confidence-building measures such as reducing the number of army checkpoints in the West Bank.

He also called for concerted world action to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, saying Israel is convinced Iran is attempting to develop a nuclear bomb despite its denials.

At the same time, Olmert hinted that Israel could be holding – or planning to hold – secret talks with Syria.


Crocs likely ruled seas ages ago

Pointy-nosed crocodiles may have joined sharks as the dominant predators in the world’s oceans some 62 million years ago, according to Brazilian scientists who on Wednesday unveiled one of the most complete skeletons found yet of the prehistoric animals.

Scientists called it a new species “Guarinisuchus munizi” and said it sheds new light on the evolutionary history of modern crocodiles.

The fossil includes a skull, jaw bone and vertebrae, making it one of the most complete examples of marine crocodylomorphs collected so far in South America, said Alexander Kellner of the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

“It’s a very rare find, and it gives rise to several new theories,” said Kellner.

CANBERRA, Australia

Mayor finds win in trash can

For Ed Warren, becoming mayor of the Australian Outback town of Winton was the luck of the draw from a trash can.

The cattle farming town famous as the birthplace of Australia’s unofficial anthem “Waltzing Matilda” chose its new mayor late Wednesday by drawing a name from a trash can after local elections ended in a draw.

Warren said today he was surprised by the unconventional approach used to break the 423-vote tie with rival candidate Butch Lenton.

“If I was prepared, I was going to say we’ll toss for it,” Warren told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Queensland state electoral laws allow for such ties to be decided by either the drawing of a name or tossing of a coin. Warren said a draw was used to choose the mayor in the city of Rockhampton eight years ago.

LA PAZ, Bolivia

President signs with soccer team

President Evo Morales, whose soccer skills helped launch his political career, has signed on with a minor league team in La Paz.

The 47-year-old Morales is listed as a reserve player for Litoral, an amateur second-division squad organized by the Bolivia’s national police, Renato Arellano, president of the La Paz Soccer Association’s technical committee, said Wednesday.

Litoral could eventually rise to Bolivia’s top professional league if it manages to win a long series of qualifying tournaments this year.

Since his 2005 election as Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Morales keeps in practice with regular public games with palace staffers and retired Bolivian stars.


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Trump to demand DOJ review claims of FBI spy on campaign

UPDATED: 3:23 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’ll demand that the Justice Department review whether it or the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign for political purposes and whether any demands or requests came from the Obama administration.