The week at a glance...Europe


Swansea, U.K.

Measles outbreak: Hundreds of British children have come down with measles since November, thanks to parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids. An outbreak in Wales has sickened more than 600 children, while another in northeast England has stricken about 200. Many British parents still believe the discredited research by British scientist Andrew Wakefield, who in 1998 wrongly posited a link between vaccines and autism based on a study of just 12 children. The paper was retracted, and subsequent, much larger studies show no such link, but the belief lingers. “We cannot emphasize enough that measles is an illness that can kill,” said Welsh health official Dr. Marion Lyons.

Lisbon, Portugal

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Austerity is illegal: Portugal’s Supreme Court has ruled more than one fifth of the government’s austerity budget unconstitutional, putting the country’s bailout in jeopardy. Portuguese lawmakers had voted to cut the pay of government workers, but the court said that would violate a clause that requires public- and private-sector workers to be treated equally. Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said he would instead have to cut from welfare, education, and health care. Rating agency Fitch said that if the ruling means Portugal can’t make any spending cuts that affect civil servants, then its already mediocre BB+ rating could drop even further.


Should Germany pay? A secret Greek government report leaked to the press says that Germany owes Greece some $200 billion in World War II reparations—nearly enough to solve the Greek debt crisis. The report, commissioned by the Finance Ministry, calculates the value of property and other damage suffered by Greece during the war, as well as the zero-interest loans Greece was forced to give the Nazi regime. The major Greek daily To Vima carried a summary of the findings with the splashy headline “What Germany Owes Us.” Most independent analysts, though, believe those claims are not valid under international law.

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