Lauren Frayer

A statue of a merchant from the 17th century towers over the main square in Bristol, in southwest England. It's a tribute to Edward Colston, described on a small plaque as "one of the most virtuous and wise sons" of this city.

Around town, there are numerous reminders of Colston, Bristol's most famous philanthropist: Streets, schools, a concert hall and an office tower are all named after him. A big stained glass window in Bristol Cathedral is dedicated to him. Even a local delicacy bears his name — the Colston bun, a sort of fruit strudel.

When Erich McElroy takes the stage at comedy clubs in London, his routine includes a joke about the first time he went to see a doctor in Britain.

Originally from Seattle, McElroy, 45, has lived in London for almost 20 years. A stand-up comedian, he's made a career out of poking fun at the differences in the ways Americans versus Britons see the world — and one of the biggest differences is their outlook on health care.

At her home in Dublin, actress Tara Flynn recalls how, 12 years ago, she learned she was pregnant. It was not planned.

"I was 37. I was single. I wasn't working very much, and I didn't want to be a parent," Flynn says.

She didn't want to have a baby and give it up for adoption, either. But with abortion illegal in Ireland, her only option at the time was to leave the country to end her pregnancy.

When the new president of Sinn Fein took the podium at a recent political rally, she acknowledged she'll never fully replace her predecessor and mentor.

"The truth is, my friends, I won't fill Gerry's shoes," Mary Lou McDonald told a crowd in Belfast last month. "But the news is that I brought my own."

Four months after Catalonia's independence referendum triggered a cascade of political events, independentistas are once again rallying outside the Catalan parliament in Barcelona. Catalonia's deposed president is still on the run. And Spain's renegade northeast region may be heading for fresh elections — yet again.

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