The world at a glance...Europe



Billionaire pleads guilty: Hans Rausing, one of Britain’s richest men, pleaded guilty this week to “preventing the lawful and decent burial” of his American wife, Eva, whose decomposing body was found last month, wrapped in clothes and garbage bags, in their London mansion. An autopsy showed that she had been dead for two months and had cocaine in her system, but the cause of death could not be determined. Rausing, heir to the multi-billion-dollar Tetra Pak drink-carton fortune, said he did not “have a very coherent recollection” of his wife’s death. Her body was discovered only after Rausing was arrested for driving while high. “I do not feel, with the benefit of hindsight, that following her death I acted rationally,” he said. The Rausings met in rehab 25 years ago and continued to have drug addiction problems.

Gers, France

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Foie gras for all: French President François Hollande has expressed outrage over California’s ban on foie gras and vowed to fight it. The French delicacy of fatty liver is produced by mechanically force-feeding geese and ducks until their livers swell to 10 times the normal size. California’s ban on the product, on grounds of animal cruelty, took effect on July 1. “Foie gras is a great French product which honors the farmers who devote their lives to it,” said Hollande. “I will not allow any challenge to foie gras exports.” He said he would present every American leader he meets with a gift of foie gras.

Bucharest, Romania

President survives: Romanian President Traian Basescu barely survived a referendum aimed at removing him from office this week. More than 87 percent of those who participated voted to oust him, but turnout was shy of 50 percent of eligible voters, a threshold necessary to make it binding. To suppress the turnout, Basescu had called on his supporters to boycott the vote. The government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, which instigated the referendum, attempted to remove the minimum-turnout rule, but backtracked after EU officials expressed alarm that Ponta was undermining Romanian democracy by ignoring the rule of law in trying to unseat the president.

Belgrade, Serbia

Milosevic crony elected: The party of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic is back in power, and his former spokesman is the new prime minister. Three months after elections failed to produce a clear winner, the parliament approved a coalition government headed by Ivica Dacic of the Socialist Party, who is known for railing at the West during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Dacic said he hoped to lead Serbia into the EU and would not dwell on the past, which includes his former boss’s indictment for genocide and other crimes against humanity. The reformist parties that ousted Milosevic in 2000 and are now in opposition urged the EU to tread cautiously. “Serbia is the only place in the world where someone destroys the country and can just change a tie and move on,” said Liberal Democratic leader Cedomir Jovanovic. The Yugoslav wars, instigated by Milosevic, killed some 200,000 in the worst fighting in Europe since World War II.

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