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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

17 March 2012

7:00 PM

17 March 2012

7:00 PM

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, on an official visit to the United States, joined President Barack Obama in declaring that their relationship was not just special but ‘a unique and essential asset’. The Queen began her Diamond Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom at Leicester, with the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cambridge. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, put his mind to new government bonds of 100 years or more. In the face of government proposals to introduce marriage between people of the same sex, the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark wrote a joint letter read out in pulpits about the Catholic ‘duty to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost’.Water companies imposed hosepipe bans in the south-east from 5 April. Magnetic storms swept the Earth after the Sun spewed out two great flares.

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Darrell Desuze, aged 17, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a man trying to put out a fire in Ealing during last August’s riots. A judge jailed Beau Isagba, aged 18, for seven years for breaking the jaw of a Malaysian student during the riots. Eric Joyce, the Labour MP for Falkirk, was fined £3,000 and banned from pubs for three months after he admitted assaulting three MPs in the politicians in Strangers’ Bar at the House of Commons; he resigned from the Labour party. Lord Hanningfield, now out of jail and having repaid £30,254 of wrongly claimed expenses, is to return to the Lords next month. Venus was seen to come very close to Jupiter.

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Police investigating the illegal interception of voicemails arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the Sun, her husband Charlie, the racehorse trainer, and four others. Liberal Democrats at their spring conference voted against reforms to the National Health Service advocated by Nick Clegg, the party leader and deputy Prime Minister. Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour party, cancelled a speech to a rally against the NHS reforms at midday on Saturday because he was not well, but went to a football match in the afternoon. Players for Rangers, which is in administration, accepted large pay cuts to secure its fixtures. The Ministry of Defence hatched plans to install surface-to-air missiles at Blackheath and Shooters Hill during the Olympic Games.

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Abroad

Greece persuaded most private holders of 172 billion euros of its debt to forgo up to 74 per cent of repayments, in order to secure a bailout from the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The creation of 227,000 jobs in February kept the US unemployment rate at 8.3 per cent. Kenya sacked 25,000 nurses on strike for better pay. The economy of Brazil overtook that of the UK as the world’s sixth largest. The Argentine transport minister resigned a fortnight after a train crash killed 51 in Buenos Aires. Janaka Basnayake, aged 24, a Sri Lankan policeman, died after trying to beat his personal best of six hours being buried alive.

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Six British soldiers died when an explosive device hit their armoured vehicle in Afghanistan, bringing the number of our dead to 404. A US soldier shot dead 16 people, nine of them children, near Kandahar. A British and an Italian engineer died in an attempt by the British Special Boat Service and Nigerian forces to release them from captivity in Sokoto in northern Nigeria, where they had been held by militant Islamists since May. Men from al-Shabab, the Islamist group, ambushed an Ethiopian base in Somalia and both sides claimed dozens of casualties. A grenade attack at a bus station in Nairobi killed six. Vietnam sent six Buddhist monks to the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by six different countries.

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President Bashar al-Assad of Syria called parliamentary elections for 7 May. He had earlier held talks with Kofi Annan, as a UN envoy. The UN said that 230,000 had fled their homes in the past year. It was reported that mines had been laid on the borders with Lebanon and Turkey. The Taleban threatened more attacks in Pakistan if the three widows of Osama Bin Laden were not released from house arrest in Islamabad. ‘Our system of integration is working increasingly badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory,’ President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said during a television debate. Fire swept through Krasna Horka castle in Slovakia. Wild fires burnt thousands of acres in Aragon and Catalonia. CSH


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