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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

20 April 2013

9:00 AM

20 April 2013

9:00 AM


With the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the 2,300 invited to attend Lady Thatcher’s funeral in St Paul’s cathedral included the three surviving former prime ministers, members of her cabinets, the leader of the opposition, F.W. de Klerk, June Whitfield, Joan Collins, Dame Shirley Bassey and Sir Terry Wogan. Mikhail Gorbachev did not attend, because of ill health, Lord Kinnock because of a previous funeral engagement, the Argentine ambassador for an unstated reason and Sally Bercow, the Speaker’s wife, because she didn’t want to. Much time had been spent discussing whether the BBC should play on its singles hit chart programme ‘Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead’, which had been downloaded by those who held the memory of Lady Thatcher in disdain. The chimes of Big Ben were silenced for the funeral.

Tony Blair, the former Labour prime minister, criticised the state of the party in the New Statesman. ‘The guiding principle should be that we are the seekers after answers, not the repository for people’s anger,’ he wrote. The London School of Economics unsuccessfully demanded that the BBC should not show a Panorama programme presented by John Sweeney, who had covertly joined a student group visiting North Korea. The annual rate of inflation in March remained the same, at 2.8 per cent, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, but rose to 3.3 per cent from 3.2, as measured by the Retail Prices Index. Unemployment rose to 2.56 million in December to February, 70,000 higher than in the previous three months. The national minimum wage for adults is to rise by 12p an hour to £6.31 from October. James Harding, the former editor of the Times, was appointed as the BBC’s director of news. Sir Colin Davis, the conductor, died, aged 85. The Premier League commissioned Hawk-Eye to provide it with goal-line technology.

Haroon Aswat, accused of trying to establish a training camp in Oregon with Abu Hamza, should not be extradited from Britain to the United States, the European Court of Human Rights ruled, as it might make his paranoid schizophrenia worse. The trust that runs Stafford Hospital was put into administration by the health regulator Monitor. Cases of measles in the outbreak in Swansea rose to 765; temporary clinics immunised 2,500 children but 5,000 were thought to remain unimmunised. Double yellow lines were painted along an alley in Swindon, leaving a gap of 13 inches.


North Korea was expected to test a missile, after weeks of bellicose language. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, visited Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing for talks. The foreign ministers of the G8 group of nations said that, if North Korea ‘conducts another missile launch or nuclear test, we have committed ourselves to take further significant measures’. Cases of H7N9 avian influenza in China rose to 60, with 13 deaths. A Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground on the Tubbataha reef in the Philippines was found to be carrying 400 boxes of dead pangolins.

Two bombs near the finishing line at the Boston marathon killed three people and wounded more than 170. The bombs were made from pressure-cookers filled with bits of metal. ‘Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror,’ President Barack Obama commented. A letter containing ricin, 1,000 times more poisonous than cyanide, was sent to a Republican senator. Golfing authorities at Augusta declined to disqualify Tiger Woods from the Masters despite his admitting that, contrary to the rules, he had made a penalty drop, after his ball bounced into the water, two yards from the place he had played the ball before. The cost of a bailout for Cyprus rose to €23 billion, meaning that it would have to raise €13 billion to secure aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, instead of the €7.5 billion expected. Gold fell by 13 per cent in two days, its sharpest fall for 30 years.

Three times as much opium was produced in Helmand last year as when British troops went there in 2006, and the UN predicted that this year’s crop would be even bigger. Five UN agencies appealed to world powers to end the ‘cruelty and carnage’ in Syria, where 70,000 had died since the conflict there began. Iran was struck by an earthquake measuring 7.8, with its epicentre 50 miles from the desert city of Khash, near the Pakistan border. Nicolas Maduro was elected President of Venezuela in succession to his mentor Hugo Chavez. In 4,144 EU tests on beef products, 193 were found to contain horse DNA, a rate of 4.66 per cent.

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