Feature

The week at a glance ... Europe

Europe

Milan, Italy
Paying for it: The government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was rocked this week by new allegations that he paid prostitutes for sex. Prosecutors alleged that Berlusconi had sex with “a significant number” of young prostitutes, setting some of them up in apartments and giving others cash and jewelry. In particular, prosecutors are investigating allegations that the 74-year-old prime minister had sex with a Moroccan showgirl named Karima el Mahroug—aka “Ruby Heartbreak”—before she turned 18, a charge she denies. Berlusconi insisted he never paid for sex, and said prosecutors were “jealous’’ because they weren’t invited to his parties. He said their investigation was an attempt to “subvert the fundamental rules of democracy.”

Windermere, Britain
Sheep rustlers: With the price of lamb at an all-time high, incidents of sheep theft have skyrocketed across Britain. More than 10,000 head of sheep were reported stolen in 2010, double the figure from the previous year. The surge in lamb prices reflects higher world demand as well as decreased production in New Zealand. Farmers are beginning to install security cameras. “I’d see people parked at the roadside and looking at the lambs, and I’d chat with them, quite proud of the sheep myself,” farmer Paul Taylor told The Washington Post. “Now when people drive past, you take their license-plate numbers down.”

Warsaw
Was Columbus a Pole? Christopher Columbus might have been Polish rather than Italian, the Polish version of Newsweek reported this week. Citing new research by the Portuguese historian Manuel Rosa, Newsweek Polska said Columbus could have been a son of the Polish King Wladyslaw III, rather than of a Genovese weaver. The king was long believed to have died fighting the Ottoman Turks, but Rosa has presented evidence that Wladyslaw actually found refuge on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where he married a local woman and, the scholar contends, fathered Columbus. In support of his theory, Rosa points out that Columbus had red hair, blue eyes, and fair skin—traits more common among Poles than Italians.

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