Editor charged: Rebekah Brooks, the tabloid editor who rose to head all of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers, was charged this week with obstruction of justice by police investigating phone-hacking and other wrongdoing. British police have made more than 45 arrests in the year-and-a-half-long probe, but until now none had resulted in formal charges. Brooks was accused of trying to hide or destroy files last July, when revelations that reporters had hacked into people’s voice mail led to her resignation as head of News International and to the closure of the News of the World tabloid, which she had once edited. Brooks’s husband, her assistant, her driver, and two others were also charged. She called the case against her “an expensive sideshow.”
Bad omen: The first meeting between new French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel got off to an inauspicious start this week when lightning struck Hollande’s plane after takeoff in Paris and the plane had to turn around. After reaching Berlin on a second try, Hollande, a Socialist, downplayed differences with the conservative Merkel, who authored the strict EU fiscal pact he campaigned against. He refused to say whether he still wanted the pact renegotiated, but did say the EU should underwrite Greek debt by issuing euro bonds, a step Merkel fiercely opposes. Merkel is under pressure at home: This week her party’s candidate for governor of North Rhine-Westphalia got a record low share of the vote.
Caught in a bribe: Czech police charged an opposition lawmaker with abuse of EU funds and bribe-taking this week after he was nabbed with a shoebox full of more than $350,000 in euros. David Rath, a leftist former health minister famous for his vicious rants against the center-right government, was arrested just after allegedly accepting the bribe, leading some to speculate that the operation may have been a sting. Seven others were also arrested. When police later searched Rath’s home, they found another $1.5 million in cash stashed under the floorboards. Rath said he thought the shoebox contained a gift of wine.