Some Ominous Developments In Europe

For now, these are isolated incidents. But in Europe events of this kind have an unpleasant tendency of recurring just when it is darkest...

In Greece:

A 70-year-old man has been arrested after opening fire with a shotgun inside an Athens tax office.


Shortly after 11am, the man arrived at the entrance of Agia Paraskevi tax office and started shooting, causing only material damage. He then entered the building but did not threaten any of the officials.


Police rushed to the scene and succeeded in arresting the man, about an hour later, after encouraging him to drop his weapon.


The perpetrator is now being held in a police station, where police are carrying out a preliminary investigation. (Athens News)

And in France:

A man on a scooter opened fire outside a Jewish school in Toulouse in southwestern France on Monday, killing two children and one adult, a police source said.


Five people were injured in the attack, which occurred as students were arriving for morning classes at the Ozar Hatorah school, a city official said.


The attack comes after three soldiers were killed in two separate shootings in the same region by a man who escaped from the scene on a scooter.


French Interior Minister Claude Gueant broke off a visit in northeastern France to head for Toulouse, the police source said. French media reported that security was being tightened at all Jewish schools in the country.

Then, even odder, there is this:

Tuberculosis is often seen in the wealthy West as a disease of bygone eras - evoking impoverished 18th or 19th century women and children dying slowly of a disease then commonly known as "consumption" or the "white plague". But rapidly rising rates of drug-resistant TB in some of the wealthiest cities in the world, as well as across Africa and Asia, are again making history.


London has been dubbed the "tuberculosis capital of Europe", and a startling recent study documenting new cases of so-called "totally drug resistant" TB in India suggests the modern-day tale of this disease could get a lot worse.


"We can't afford this genie to get out of the bag. Because once it has, I don't know how we'll control TB," said Ruth McNerney, an expert on tuberculosis at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


TB is a bacterial infection that destroys patients' lung tissue, making them cough and sneeze, and spread germs through the air. Anyone with active TB can easily infect another 10 to 15 people a year.


In 2010, 8.8 million people had TB, and the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that more than 2 million people will contract multi-drug resistant TB by 2015. The worldwide TB death rate currently runs at between two and three people a minute.


Little surprise, then, that the apparently totally untreatable cases in India have raised international alarm.


The WHO has convened a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether the emergence of TB strains that seem to be resistant to all known medicines merits a new class definition of "totally drug-resistant TB", or TDR-TB. If so, it would add a new level to an evolution over the years from normal TB, which is curable with six months of antibiotic treatment, to the emergence of MDR-TB, then extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).


What's so frustrating about that progression, says Lucica Ditiu of the WHO's Stop TB Partnership, is that all drug-resistant TB "is a totally man-made disease".