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The world at a glance . . . Europe

Europe

LondonNew sketch in Maddie case: The parents of missing British girl Maddie McCann this week released an artist’s sketch of a man they say could be involved in their daughter’s disappearance. Maddie, 4, was allegedly abducted from a Portuguese resort last May when her parents left her and her 2-year-old twin siblings alone in a hotel room while they ate dinner. The parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, who are themselves suspects in the disappearance, said witnesses had spotted the scruffy, dark-skinned man pictured in the sketch hanging around the resort at the time of Maddie’s disappearance. But Portuguese police said they investigated those sightings months ago. They accused the McCanns of seeking to divert attention from their own possible involvement.

BarcelonaTerrorist plot uncovered: Spanish police arrested 14 people this week on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in Barcelona. Most Islamist militants previously active in Spain—including the perpetrators of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 191—have been North Africans from Algeria or Morocco, but 12 of the 14 arrested this week were from Pakistan. The detainees “belonged to a well-organized group that had gone a step beyond radicalization,” said Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. He said the men had bomb-making material and timers.

BrusselsNATO’s nukes: NATO should be prepared to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes to prevent enemies from using weapons of mass destruction, a top group of military officials said this week. NATO asked the group, which includes former head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvilli and former British defense chief Peter Inge, to review its engagement policies. The group said first-strike use of nuclear weapons should not be ruled out. “The risk of further proliferation is imminent and, with it, the danger that nuclear war fighting, albeit limited in scope, might become possible,” the report said. “The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.” NATO will consider the recommendations at a summit in April.

FlorenceShould David be moved? A proposal to move Michelangelo’s famous statue of King David from a downtown museum to the outskirts of Florence has Italy in an uproar. Paolo Cocchi, culture minister for the Tuscany region, recommended moving David from the Galleria dell’Accademia to a new arts center outside town to reduce congestion in Florence’s city center. The city gets about 11 million tourists a year, all cramming to see sights within less than half a square mile. The lines to see David alone are “unsustainable,” Cocchi said. Art experts unanimously condemned the idea of a move as too risky to the statue, while politicians and journalists treated it as sacrilege. “It would be like moving the Mona Lisa from the Louvre to the outskirts of Paris,” said Il Giornale della Toscana.

Minsk, BelarusEditor sentenced for Mohammed cartoons: The deputy editor of a Belarusian newspaper was sentenced to three years of hard labor this week for running controversial Danish political cartoons, one of which depicted the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban topped by a lit fuse. Alyaksandr Sdvizhkov approved the reprinting of the cartoons—which were first published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in December 2005—in his newspaper, Zgoda, in early 2006. President Alyaksandr Lukashenko ordered the paper shut down, saying the publication of the cartoons was “a provocation against the state.” The cartoons sparked riots in Muslim countries, but not in Belarus, which is overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian. Lukashenko’s opponents said he simply used the cartoons as an excuse to silence Zgoda, which was frequently critical of his authoritarian policies. Sdvizhkov fled abroad after his paper was closed; he was arrested last fall when he returned to Belarus for a visit.

Belgrade, SerbiaSerbian nationalist surges: An ally of late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic won the first round in Serbia’s presidential election this week, raising fears that the Balkan country could lurch back toward isolation. Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolic took 38 percent of the vote and will face a runoff against incumbent Boris Tadic, who took 30 percent. Both men are opposed to independence for the province of Kosovo, which is expected to secede next month. But Nikolic takes a much harsher line on the issue, threatening trade sanctions against countries that recognize Kosovo. Tadic, by contrast, wants to bring Serbia into the European Union.  

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