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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

25 August 2012

6:00 AM

25 August 2012

6:00 AM

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After being granted asylum by Ecuador, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, addressed a crowd of supporters from a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, to which he had fled in June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over allegations of sexual assault. The Foreign Office had annoyed Ecuador by drawing attention to the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, which might allow police to enter the embassy to arrest Mr Assange. George Galloway, the Respect party MP, said that what Mr Assange was accused of ‘might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape’. Asil Nadir was found guilty on three counts of theft totalling £5.5 million by a jury at the Old Bailey; the former Polly Peck tycoon had fled to north Cyprus in 1993 and returned voluntarily in 2010. Jackie Powell, the mental health advocate of Ian Brady, the murderer, was arrested and questioned by police investigating a claim that Brady had written a letter giving the location of the grave of Keith Bennett, killed in 1964, aged 12. The boy’s mother Winnie Johnson died a day later, aged 78. Brady has been on hunger strike since 1999 but is forcibly fed on the grounds of his insanity.

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Downing Street backed a report by Policy Exchange recommending that councils should sell off higher value houses when they became vacant in order to build more public sector housing in less expensive areas. The £4.5 billon a year raised would pay for between 80,000 and 170,000 social homes, the think tank estimated. The government borrowed £600 million in July, compared with a repayment of £2.8 billion in July 2011. The Duke of Edinburgh spent five nights at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with a bladder infection, a complaint that put him in hospital for five nights in June. Tesco and Asda were found to be selling water from the mains at 17p for two litres.

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The proportion of A-level students gaining A* or A grades fell a smidgeon for the first time in 20 years to 26.6 per cent, though the proportion passing rose again for the 30th year to 98 per cent. Tony Scott, aged 68, the British-born director of Top Gun, died after jumping 200 feet from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles. A shop worker from Crumpsall, Manchester, was jailed for 30 months for attempting to claim a £1 million prize from a lottery ticket that a married couple aged 80 and 78 had checked at his shop.

Abroad

President Barack Obama of the United States said that if he saw Syria moving chemical weapons he would intervene. Fighting between Sunnis and Alawites spread to Tripoli in Lebanon. To thwart attacks by al-Qa’eda and the Taleban, Pakistan closed down mobile phone networks in several cities over the busy period of Eid. Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, in power since 1991, died, aged 57. Abune Paulos, the Patriarch of the 40-million strong Ethiopian Orthodox Church since 1992, died, aged 76. Three members of Pussy Riot, the anti-Putin protest group who sang an obscene and blasphemous song in the cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, were sentenced to two years in jail. Dom Mintoff, the Prime Minister of Malta from 1971 to 1984, died, aged 96. Bermuda laid plans to slaughter 30,000 feral chickens, half of them cocks, descended from fowl set free by Hurricane Emily in 1987.

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South African police shot dead 34 striking miners at the Marikana platinum mine owned by Lonmin. The price of platinum rose. Gu Kailai, the wife of the disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, was given a suspended death sentence for the murder of the British businessman Neil Heywood last November. Thousands protested in Chinese cities against Japanese claims to the Senkaku islands (which China calls the Diaoyu islands) in the East China Sea. Six died on the Japanese island of Hokkaido from pickled Chinese cabbage contaminated by Escherichia coli bacteria.

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Greece asked for more time to implement austerity measures, as the deadline approached for it to meet a batch of debt repayments. Fire destroyed 16,000 acres of forest on the Greek island of Chios. Shares in Facebook lost more than half of their value at their public offering three months ago. Apple attained a market value of $623 billion, outdoing Microsoft’s record of $620.58 billion set in 1999. Phyllis Diller, the comedian, died, aged 95. To kill mosquitoes spreading West Nile fever, from which ten people have died this year, aeroplanes sprayed insecticide over Dallas, Texas.


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