Feature

The week at a glance...Europe

Europe

Liège, Belgium
Rampage: A gun-crazy ex-convict went on a rampage in Belgium this week, hurling grenades and shooting into crowds of commuters and Christmas shoppers in downtown Liège, where he killed at least three people and injured more than 120 others before killing himself. Police later found that he had also shot a cleaning woman to death earlier in the day. Nordine Amrani, 33, had been sentenced to three years in prison in 2008 for possession of weapons, including an AK-47 and a rocket launcher, and for growing thousands of marijuana plants. Released in late 2010, he was scheduled to check in with police the day of his spree. “I saw a lot of blood splashed over parts of the square,” said witness Jean-Marie Deprez. “It looked like thousands of people were trying to flee the square, and a lot of them were running toward the River Meuse to save themselves.”

Oslo
Butter shortage: A crippling shortage of butter in Norway has sent the price soaring as the Christmas baking season gets under way. Online retailers are charging desperate cooks more than $400 a pound. Authorities blame the shortage on poor grazing conditions for cows this summer, as well as on the current low-carb, high-fat diet fad sweeping the nation. Importing butter isn’t so easy, since the country has huge tariffs on dairy products, so a black market has sprung up. One Russian man was arrested last week trying to smuggle hundreds of pounds of butter into the country from Sweden. The government now says it will temporarily lift the tariff—but it’s doubtful whether enough butter will arrive in time for everyone to make Christmas cookies.

Geneva
God particle: Scientists in Europe have found tantalizing but inconclusive evidence that the subatomic “God particle,” the Higgs boson, exists. The Standard Model of particle physics maintains that the Higgs boson is what provides all other particles with their mass, but the tiny particle has yet to be detected. Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva performed two different types of experiments, and they said this week that both indicated the presence of the Higgs boson, at nearly the same mass. Fabiola Gianotti, a physicist who led one of the experiments, said that while “it’s too early to draw definite conclusions,” the results “built a solid foundation” for more research.

Bucharest, Romania
‘Black site’ found: One of the “black sites” where the CIA allegedly tortured al Qaida detainees has been found in the middle of the Romanian capital, German media reported last week. The CIA prison where 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was interrogated was in a government-owned building in Bucha­rest. The building’s basement is equipped with prefab cells, each with an arrow on the wall pointing toward Mecca. According to the Associated Press, which worked with German media on their investigation, the prison opened in 2003, after the CIA closed its black site in Poland. A similar facility was located in Lithuania. Romanian authorities denied the report; the CIA refused to comment.

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