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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

18 August 2012

6:00 AM

18 August 2012

6:00 AM

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The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, watched by an average of 22.9 million people in Britain, included a mixed choir of deaf and not-deaf children singing: ‘Imagine there’s no heaven/ It’s easy if you try’; Pete Townshend (67) and Roger Daltrey (68) singing ‘My Generation’, omitting the line ‘Hope I die before I get old’; and Eric Idle, surrounded by Welsh women in national dress, Scottish pipers and rollerskating nuns, singing: ‘Life’s a piece of shit when you look at it.’ David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that the primary school curriculum would in future include competitive sport; but requirements for schools to provide stipulated space for playing fields were relaxed. Great Britain and Northern Ireland had finished with a total of 29 gold medals (10 more than in Beijing), 17 silver and 19 bronze, third in the tables after the United States (with 46 gold) and China (with 38). Mo Farah added a gold in the 5,000 metres to his gold in the 10,000. Charlotte Dujardin added a gold in individual dressage to her gold in team dressage. Nicola Adams won a gold in women’s boxing in the first year of its introduction. Thirteen million viewers in Britain saw Usain Bolt of Jamaica add the 200 metres gold medal to his gold for the 100 metres, but 10 per cent of the population managed to watch less than 15 minutes of the Olympics on television. NBC’s viewing figures of 219 million made it the ‘most-watched television event in US history’. No terrorist outrages took place and there was wide praise for the cheerful helpfulness of 70,000 volunteers and  18,200 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.

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Virgin lost the West Coast rail franchise to a bid from FirstGroup, which runs Great Western. Rail fares in England will go up in January by at least 6.2 per cent for ‘regulated tickets’, more for others. The rise was governed by the annual rate of inflation, which rose to 3.2 per cent from 2.8 (as measured by the Retail Prices Index), or to 2.6 per cent from 2.4 (by the Consumer Prices Index). The owners of Manchester United raised £150 million in a share offering on the New York Stock Exchange. A married couple from Haverhill, Suffolk, won £148,656,000 in the Euromillions lottery.

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Standard Chartered agreed to pay $340 million to New York state in settlement of accusations of breaching US trade sanctions against Iran. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said he would look at the effects of the relaxation of Sunday trading laws. The Office of Fair Trading said that government plans to impose a minimum price for alcohol will encourage supermarkets to sell more. Unemployment fell by 46,000 to 2.56 million. The Jaguar Land Rover factory at Halewood went into 24-hour production to meet demand for its Range Rover Evoque. D.C. Thomson said no decision had been made on the future of The Dandy, founded in 1937.

Abroad

The economy of the eurozone shrank by 0.2 per cent from the first quarter of the year to the second quarter. The commercial property sector in Spain fell by more than 90 per cent between the first and second quarter, with only three transactions recorded. Rioters in Amiens burnt cars, a leisure centre and a school, and threw things at police. Wild fires swept over more than 10 per cent of the area of the island of La Gomera in the Canaries.

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President Mohamed Mursi of Egypt dismissed Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the minister of defence and the chief of the armed forces, and his no. 2, General Sami Annan. In Afghanistan 48 were killed and scores wounded in a series of bombings in one day. Fighting continued in Syria. Nepal prohibited women under 30 from taking jobs as housemaids in the Middle East.

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Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, seeks a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities before the United States elections in November, according to suggestions in the dailies Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth. Two earthquakes 11 minutes apart killed more than 300 and left 16,000 homeless in northern Iran. Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan for his Republican running mate. Australia decided to deport asylum seekers to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. A 17ft 7in Burmese python, blamed for eating opossums, was killed in the Florida Everglades. CSH


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