Three Shot as Italy’s New Government Is Sworn In
An unemployed man shot two military police officers and a passer-by on Sunday in a crowded square outside Palazzo Chigi, in Rome, where the government of new Prime Minister Enrico Letta was being sworn in. The shooting was captured live by RAI, the state broadcaster, and a man identified as Luigi Preiti, from Calabria, was arrested. “What did I do? I don’t know. I can’t explain it. I couldn’t support my son, I was desperate. I’d like to say I’m sorry to everyone, particularly to the two police officers and their families. I wanted to make an impressive gesture in an important day, I hate no one, but I am desperate”, said the shooter when interviewed by Italian authorities. “I heard seven or eight shots. I was pushed back into Palazzo Chigi. The police were screaming ‘it’s an attack, it’s an attack’, said RAI anchor Enrica Agostini, interviewed by the New York Times. The swearing-on ceremony continued undisturbed and ministers were not told of the shooting until it ended. One officer was shot in the neck and was in critical condition on Monday, while another was shot in the leg. The woman who was passing by was not seriously injured.
Greece Passes Measure Eliminating 15,000 Public Sector Jobs
The Greek parliament voted on Sunday night to approve the termination of approximately 15,000 public sector jobs by the end of 2014, effectively ending the custom of jobs-for-life in the civil service enshrined in the country’s constitution. The permanence had been guaranteed by successive Greek constitutions since 1911 as a way to prevent employees from getting fired whenever the government changed hands. The new law circumvents this guarantee by ensuring that all terminated jobs are in state agencies or autarchies that are to be liquidated. The measure, passed by 168 votes to 123, also lowered the country’s monthly minimum salary to €490. Its passage guaranteed the payment of €2.8 billion in overdue rescue loans which will be used, according to Greek Finance Minister Yoannis Stournaras, to settle backdated wages and pensions. Another €6 billion installment could be approved next Monday and should settle government bonds held by the European Central Bank, which will mature on May 20.
Powerful Blast Shakes Central Prague
A powerful blast ripped through Divaldeni Street, in central Prague, injuring up to 40 people and trapping an undetermined number under debris on Monday morning. Police spokesman Tomas Hulan said the cause was not known, but said it could have been a natural gas explosion. The blast was heard as far away as Prague Castle, nearly two kilometres away, and nearby buildings such as the Czech National Theatre had to be evacuated. Those injured suffered “mostly light injuries, cuts, bruises, injuries from glass. We estimate no more than four seriously injured, but this is preliminary information”, said Zdenek Schwarz, chief of the city’s paramedics. “I was sitting quietly in my flat, making coffee. Then there was an incredible explosion. I thought the building would collapse. I looked out the window, and there was only dust everywhere”, said Venceslava Sehnotkova, a pensioner, interviewed by the Reuters news agency.
Russia and Japan Agree to Discuss Disputed Islands
Russia and Japan have agreed to hold talks that could end a territorial dispute over four islands north of Japan’s Hokkaido island, which have prevented both countries from signing a treating formally ending World War II. Japan calls the islands its Northern Territories, while Russia refers to the them as the Southern Kuril islands. Russia has controlled the islands since Soviet troops landed on them at the end of World War II. “The talks on a peace treaty agreement in the last few years have been in a state of stagnation. We managed to agree that we will renew these talks and we will speed up this process. I consider this a great result of this meeting”, said Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a state visit to Moscow on Monday. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the talks did not signify “that we will solve everything tomorrow if the problem has not been solved for the past 67 years”.