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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

31 December 2011

12:00 PM

31 December 2011

12:00 PM

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The Duke of Edinburgh, aged 90, left Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire four days after arriving by helicopter for an emergency operation to fit a stent in a blocked coronary artery. ‘It is tragedy that often draws out the most and the best from the human spirit,’ the Queen said in her Christmas broadcast, recorded earlier. In an interview with RTE, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that the Queen’s visit to Ireland in May had been a ‘game-changer’ in Anglo-Irish relations. The body of Christopher Hitchens, who died aged 62, was donated for medical research. Kauto Star won an unprecedented fifth King George VI Chase at Kempton.

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Mr Cameron said that he supported minimum pricing for alcohol. In a broadcast message to the Falkland Islands, Mr Cameron said: ‘We will never negotiate on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless you, the Falkland Islanders, so wish.’ A few days earlier, Mercosur, a trading bloc including Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, said it would close its ports to ships flying the Falkland Islands flag. Thirty-three per cent of those on Jobseeker’s Allowance were found to have a criminal record. In the Boxing Day sales, a young man was stabbed to death outside Foot Locker, a trainer shop, in Oxford Street, and another was later stabbed in the thigh. Aslef held a strike on Boxing Day on the London Underground.

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Revised figures showed an increase in GDP of 0.6 per cent, not 0.5 per cent in the three months to September, as the Office for National Statistics had earlier thought; but in the three months to June there was no growth at all. Brazil overtook Britain as the world’s sixth largest economy, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. Bernard Gray, the chief of defence materiel, said that he was presenting to the Ministry of Defence three options to reform its procurement, all of which involved hiring outside contractors. Save the Children said that British people had given it £7 million for the victims of drought and famine in East Africa since July, the most ever raised in such an appeal.

Abroad

Lee Hee-ho, the widow of President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea, and Hyun Jung-eun, the chairwoman of Hyundai, travelled to North Korea to give their condolences to its new leader Kim Jong-un on the death of his father Kim Jong-il earlier this month, aged 70. Mr Kim has been made the head of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party and supreme leader of the armed forces. The Pope sent a message and Lech Walesa joined world leaders for the funeral in St Vitus’s cathedral, Prague, of Vaclav Havel, the playwright, dissident and President of Czechoslovakia after the fall of communism, who had died aged 75. China jailed the human rights activist Chen Xi for ten years. Jacques Chirac, the former President of France, aged 79, was given a two-year suspended sentence after being convicted of diverting public funds.

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A group of 50 observers from the Arab League arrived in Syria the day after 30 people were said to have been killed by fire from government armoured vehicles in Homs. The United Nations said that about 5,000 people had been killed since protests against President Bashar al-Assad began in March. In Iraq at least 68 people were killed and nearly 200 injured as bombs went off in 16 separate locations in Baghdad, mostly Shia. The atrocities came three days after American forces withdrew from Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq, a Shia, issued an arrest warrant against Tariq al-Hashemi, the vice-President, a Sunni, who fled to the Kurdish-controlled region. Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia, dismissed calls for a review of disputed election results despite demonstrations by tens of thousands. A man dressed as Father Christmas shot dead six relations and himself at Grapevine, Texas.

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On Christmas Day in Nigeria a bomb outside a church near Abuja killed 35, a policeman died in an explosion in Jos and four people in another at Damaturu. Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group, said it was behind the killings. Thousands of women demonstrated in Egypt against brutal treatment by the military after television footage showed a woman demonstrator having her clothes torn off. Iran said it would close the Straits of Hormuz to oil tankers if economic sanctions against it went ahead. The European Central Bank received record cash deposits of €412 billion over Christmas from banks too frightened to lend to each other. Medellin in Colombia installed a £4.5 million, 1,260ft escalator to the poor hillside neighbourhood of Comuna 13. CSH.


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