The world at a glance . . . Europe
Explosive planted in luggage: A Slovak man unwittingly carried a hidden explosive on board a flight to Dublin, after a Slovak airport-security test went awry. The 49-year-old electrician, who lives in Dublin, was arrested at his apartment, but was released after Slovak security officials alerted their Dublin counterparts to the screw-up. Slovak officials had surreptitiously placed different bomb components in the check-in luggage of nine passengers to see if security screeners would spot the contraband. One of the bags, containing 3 ounces of explosive, got through. Ireland’s government is now investigating why Irish airport screeners didn’t find the explosive. Slovak authorities expressed “profound regret” to Ireland, but insisted that the plane had been in no danger, since the explosive contained no detonators.
What did you call me? France may soon make it a crime for couples to insult each other. Prime Minister François Fillon said this week that his government was drafting a law banning “psychological violence” between married or cohabiting couples. “The creation of this offense will allow us to deal with the most insidious situations—situations that leave no visible scars but which leave victims torn up inside,” Fillon said. French officials said verbal abuse often leads to physical abuse. They hope the new policy, which could go into effect within six months, will prevent domestic violence by catching potential abusers before they move from words to fists. Critics called the measure—which could result in jail time, fines, or electronic monitoring—a “gimmick” that would be impossible to enforce.
Buried in the Alps: Two avalanches in the same area of the Swiss Alps claimed the lives of seven people this week. The first one hit a group of skiers, leaving two dead under several feet of snow. After rescue workers and dogs arrived in eight helicopters, another avalanche struck, killing four more skiers as well as a doctor who was part of the rescue team. Experts at the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research are investigating what triggered the snow slides, which occurred when the avalanche risk was rated as only moderate. Some speculated that the second slide was touched off when the rescue helicopters landed on the snow. Each year, an average of 25 people die in avalanches in Switzerland. Forecasters expect more avalanches this winter because of unusually heavy snowfall and extremely cold temperatures.