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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

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The annual rate of inflation turned negative in April, for the first time since 1960, with deflation of 0.1 per cent as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, so that a basket of goods and services that cost £100 in April 2014 would have cost £99.90 in April 2015. But, measured by the Retail Prices Index, inflation continued at a rate of 0.9 per cent. Marks & Spencer reported its first rise in annual profits for four years. Police trying to find the gang that broke into safe-deposit boxes in Hatton Garden last month arrested nine men. A botanist claimed unconvincingly that Shakespeare was depicted in the frontispiece of Gerard’s Herball dated 1597. Greggs, the baker’s, stopped selling loaves in many of its shops.

Jim Murphy resigned as the leader of the Scottish Labour party, declaring that Len McCluskey, the leader of the Unite union, could be ‘the kiss of death’ for Labour. Yvette Cooper, who served in the Labour shadow cabinet for the whole of the last parliament suddenly said it was time to ‘wipe the slate clean from the past five years’. Of the other likely candidates to lead the party, Chuka Umunna threw in the towel after three days, and Dan Jarvis gave his support to Andy Burnham, who called for a referendum on EU membership to be held by next year. Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, wrangled with Douglas Carswell, its only MP, but the pair appeared together for the cameras beneath an umbrella. Patrick O’Flynn resigned as Ukip’s economics spokesman but apologised for calling Mr Farage ‘snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive’. John Bercow was re-elected as Speaker of the House of Commons without a dissenting voice.


During a visit to Ireland, the Prince of Wales (whose great-uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma was murdered by the IRA at Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, in 1979), slopped his tea while shaking hands with Gerry Adams, the President of Sinn Féin, in Galway. Victorino Chua, a nurse at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, was given 25 life sentences for murdering patients with insulin. Shaukat Ali Cheema, aged 59, a steward with Pakistan International Airlines, was jailed for five years at Birmingham Crown Court for smuggling forged passports into Britain in his underpants. Ashers Baking Company, in Co. Antrim, paid £500 damages after a Belfast court found it had discriminated against a man by refusing to make a cake bearing the slogan ‘support gay marriage’.

Abroad

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant captured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. After the Iraqi army had run away, Iranian-backed militiamen gathered outside the city. A Saudi-led coalition resumed air strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen after a five-day ceasefire; more than half a million people in the country had fled the violence. In Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood politician whose presidency was overthrown in 2013, was sentenced to death. French troops said they had seized 1.5 tons of drugs after stopping a convoy of militant Islamists in the desert in north-eastern Niger.

Thousands of migrants from Burma and Bangladesh were abandoned at sea by people-smugglers when Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia refused to accept them, then temporarily relented. A Russian rocket carrying a Mexican satellite burnt up over Siberia soon after being launched in Kazhakstan. Residents of Tashkent complained when the tenth bus in two years burst into flames in the street. The Pope canonised two nuns who lived in 19th-century Palestine. Greece contemplated payments due in June that it has no money to make. French teachers went on strike in protest against a reduction in Greek and Latin classes.

A United States jury sentenced to death by lethal injection Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, who murdered three people by setting off a bomb at the Boston Marathon in 2013. A shoot-out between rival biker gangs at the Twin Peaks restaurant, Waco, Texas, left nine dead; police charged 170 people. President Barack Obama banned the federal government from giving military equipment such as grenade-launchers to local police forces. In Brazil about 42,000 people were found to have been shot dead in 2012, the highest figure for 35 years. B.B. King, the blues guitarist and singer, died, aged 89. Soldiers made bread in La Paz when Bolivian bakers went on strike for two days in protest against the scrapping of subsidies on flour. CSH


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