Feature

The week at a glance...Europe

Europe

London
Are we related? A British sperm bank founder apparently used his own sperm to fertilize many of his clients’ eggs and may have fathered as many as 600 children. Austrian-born biologist Bertold Wiesner ran a London clinic from the 1940s to the 1960s, helping couples have some 1,500 children. His subterfuge was revealed when Canadian filmmaker Barry Stevens set out to find his biological father and discovered through DNA testing that it was Wiesner; at least a dozen other children have been identified. It’s unclear how many more kids Wiesner spawned, as he died in 1972 and his clinic’s records have been destroyed. But another of his progeny, British barrister David Gollancz, has launched an investigation and found that Wiesner made 20 donations a year and probably fathered 300 to 600 offspring who were passed off as those of other men. 

Oslo
Breivik was sane: A new psychiatric evaluation of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has found him sane enough to face trial and a possible jail term. Last July, Breivik set off bombs in the Norwegian capital to distract police, killing eight, then went to an island that was hosting a retreat for left-wing youths and gunned down 69 more people, mostly teenagers. An evaluation last November determined that he was psychotic at the time of the attacks, but both the survivors and Breivik called for a second opinion. “To send a political activist to an asylum is more sadistic and more evil than killing him!” Breivik said. After the trial and verdict, the court will weigh both evaluations in deciding whether to send him to prison or a mental hospital.

Athens
Public suicide: Greeks have made a shrine in the Athens square where an elderly man shot himself in the head last week to protest the government’s harsh cuts to his pension. “I see no other option for a dignified end before having to scavenge through the garbage for my food,” Dimitris Christoulas, 77, wrote in a note found on his body. Demonstrators heaped flowers onto the spot where the retired pharmacist died. Suicides have increased by 45 percent in Greece over the past year, since the debt crisis forced the government to take radical austerity measures. “The government has to understand that it has to bring back optimism to Greeks’ lives,” said Konstantinos Lourantos, a friend of the deceased. “We were always optimists, and loud, and enjoyed life. If they take that away, it’s like taking away life itself.”

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