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World Briefing

Iran: Police to monitor websites / Italy: Venetians mourn a shrinking city / Russia: 3 accused of cannibalism / South Korea: 10 die in fire at shooting range

November 15, 2009

IRAN

Police unit to monitor websites

Iran has deployed a special police unit to monitor websites for political material and prosecute those deemed to be spreading lies, Iranian media reported.

Many opposition websites are already banned. But the new 12-member unit, which will report to the prosecutor's office, seems to signal an effort to crack down harder on those who refuse to accept President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection, tainted by allegations of fraud, in June.

The protest movement initially saw thousands pouring into the streets in June and July to press claims that opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi was the rightful winner. But the movement was swept back by a harsh security crackdown. Media restrictions kept reporters from witnessing scenes in the streets.

Activists' presence on the Internet, however, kept the spotlight on the crackdown for weeks as people went online to post updates and amateur video on sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

ITALY

Venetians mourn a shrinking city

A procession of gondolas accompanied a pink coffin along the Grand Canal in Venice in a mock funeral to express dismay over the steep decline in the city's population.

Pallbearers in black capes accompanied the flower-draped coffin symbolizing the death of the "Queen of Adriatic" at the hands of rampant tourism, rising waters and housing costs, a low birth rate and a lack of services.

It was brought ashore at city hall, where a message of condolence and a poem in the Venetian dialect were read out. The protest was inspired by a report last month that the city's population had fallen below 60,000, considered a benchmark for a viable city in Italy.

SOUTH KOREA

10 die in fire at shooting range

A fire tore through an indoor shooting range in southern South Korea, killing 10 people, including at least two Japanese tourists.

Some people were on fire as they ran out of the building, Yonhap news agency quoted a witness as saying.

An official at the National Emergency Management Agency said authorities were having trouble identifying the dead because of their burns.

Nine Japanese tourists and their South Korean guide were inside the facility in the southeastern port city of Busan when the fire broke out on the second floor of the five-story building.

RUSSIA

3 men accused of cannibalism

Police arrested three homeless people suspected of eating a 25-year-old man they had butchered and selling other bits of the corpse to a local kebab house.

Suspicions were raised when human body parts were found near a bus stop on the outskirts of the Russian city of Perm, 720 miles east of Moscow.

The three homeless men, who have criminal records, were arrested on suspicion of setting upon a man with knives and a hammer and then chopping up his corpse, investigators said.

It was not immediately clear from the statement whether any of the remains had been sold to restaurant customers.

-- times wire reports

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