The world at a glance . . . Europe
Conservatives trounce Labor: The Conservative Party swept Britain’s local elections last week, in a severe blow to Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labor Party. Nationwide, the Labor Party fell to third place, taking 24 percent of the votes for council seats, compared with 44 percent for the Conservatives and 25 percent for the Liberal Democrats. It was Labor’s worst showing in local elections in 40 years. “I feel responsible,” said Brown. “There are no excuses on my part at all.” He blamed rising gas and food prices, as well as his recent decision to raise the tax rate on the lowest income bracket from 10 percent to 20 percent. Brown, who is serving out ex–Prime Minister’s Tony Blair’s term, will have to face voters within the next two years.
Fritzl was convicted rapist: Austria is considering changing its laws on sex offenses after it emerged that deviant extraordinaire Josef Fritzl had been allowed to adopt children despite a previous rape conviction. Fritzl, who kept one of his daughters imprisoned in his basement and fathered seven children with her, served 18 months in prison for raping a nurse in 1967, when he was 32. But since Austrian law removes rape convictions from criminal records after 10 years, authorities did not know of his past when they allowed him custody of some of his daughter’s children, who he claimed had been left on his doorstep. The owner of a brothel frequented by Fritzl said this week that many prostitutes refused to take him as a client because he was often violent and asked them to pretend to be dead.