The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 1 February 2003

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, decided to fly to Camp David for talks with President George Bush of the United States about the war against Iraq. Mr Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: 'The Iraqi regime is responding to resolution 1441 not with active co-operation but with a consistent pattern of concealment and deceit.' The Financial Times-Stock Exchange index of the top 100 companies fell on 11 consecutive days of trading to its lowest for seven years, losing 49.8 per cent of its value at the peak reached on 30 December 1999. The banking group Cazenove postponed plans to float on the London Stock Exchange. The Fire Brigades Union held another 48-hour strike; Mr John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said he would introduce legislation to enable him to specify pay and conditions for the firemen. A London Underground train was derailed at Chancery Lane station on the Central line when a motor became detached; more than 30 were injured, though none seriously, but 625,000 passengers a day found that line and the Waterloo and City line closed indefinitely. Catholic schools discovered to their alarm that behind their backs an agency of the Bishops' Conference had agreed with the Department for Education and Skills that applicants to the schools should not in future be interviewed. Lord Dacre of Glanton, the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, who wrote for The Spectator under the name Mercurius Oxoniensis, died, aged 89. Mrs Claire Tomalin won the Whitbread prize with her biography of Samuel Pepys. A new study in the British Journal of Cancer found that the carcinogenic chemical acrylamide, which Swedish scientists last year found in dangerous levels in crisps, seems not to increase the risk of cancer.

Mr Hans Blix, head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, said in a report to the UN Security Council that Iraq had not accounted for its banned weapon: 'Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.' He said of Iraq's failure to co-operate as demanded by resolution 1441 of the United Nations: 'It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of catch as catch can.' Dr Mohamed El-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in his own report that 'no prohibited nuclear activities' had been identified. In his State of the Union speech, President Bush said that Mr Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, would provide more intelligence to the UN Security Council on 5 February. 'The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving,' he said. 'It would take just one phial, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.' Earlier, Mr Javier Solana, the European Union's high representative for common foreign and security policy, had said, with reference to Iraq: 'Europeans in big numbers think that the last-resort moment has not arrived.' The Turkish armed forces agreed to an initial deployment of 20,000 United States troops there. Israel raided Gaza City with 50 tanks and helicopter gunships, killing 12, two days before its general election, which Mr Ariel Sharon's Likud party won easily, though it will have to form a coalition. Gianni Agnelli, the man behind the Fiat car group, died, aged 81. Mr Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, invited President Robert Mugabe to visit Paris for the Franco-African summit on 19 February, one day after the expiry of a European Union ban on politicians from Zimbabwe visiting EU countries. Riots met the return of President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast from peace talks in Paris that gave leaders of two insurgent movements places in a new government, including the defence and interior ministries. France passed a law against insulting its flag or national anthem, punishable by a six-month sentence. The European Commission reduced the level allowed in livestock feed of canthaxanthin, a pigment widely fed to farmed salmon, trout and laying hens, lest it blur vision by depositing crystals on the retina.