The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 19 October 2002

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, told the House of Commons: 'Some say that we should fight terrorism alone and that issues to do with WMD [weapons of mass destruction] are a distraction. I reject that entirely.' The Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended and government of the province was resumed by Westminster a week after three men connected with Sinn Fein were charged with offences to do with the Irish Republican Army spying on the Northern Ireland Office. An inquiry by Mr Mike Tomlinson, the former chief inspector of schools, found that 1,945 A-level candidates had been unjustly deprived of the grades they deserved and more than 150 had lost places at their preferred universities because the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA board had arbitrarily lowered grades. Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist behind the cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1997, said he hoped to clone human beings so that embryos could be used as a source for stem cells for research; but he did not want to bring the embryos to term. An appeals panel ruled that a school at Ewell, Surrey, must take back two 15-year-old boys it had excluded for making 44 death threats to a master over a ten-week period; Miss Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education, intervened to say that the boys should go elsewhere, but their mother said the ruling remained legally binding. The stairwell in Peckham, south London, where the ten-year-old Damilola Taylor was found bleeding to death in 2000 was demolished. More than 60 patients in hospitals in Kirkcaldy, Fife, developed vomiting and diarrhoea in a fortnight; three elderly women died. Carlton and Granada agreed to merge, to form, they hope, a single ITV, if regulatory authorities permit. An electrician from Gosport, Hampshire, won £121,157 in the national lottery four months after winning £194,501; the odds against this were said to be 2,330,636 squared.

Bombs at Kuta beach in Bali killed about 200, including more than 100 Australians and more than 30 Britons. The bomb that did the most harm went off shortly after 11p.m. at the Sari night club; another bomb went off outside the American consulate. The Indonesian minister of defence and President George Bush of the United States said that al-Qa'eda was the prime suspect. Authorities in Yemen admitted that the explosion that had ripped open an oil tanker a week before was the work of terrorists, presumably al-Qa'eda too. A sniper with a high-powered rifle shot dead nine people, one by one, over a fortnight around Washington DC. The Nobel peace prize was awarded to Mr Jimmy Carter, the former president of the United States; the committee chairman said it should be seen 'as a criticism of the policy that the current US administration has adopted in relation to Iraq'. President Vladimir Putin of Russia said during a joint press conference with Mr Tony Blair, at Zavidovo outside Moscow, that he was not convinced that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. A referendum to confirm President Saddam Hussein of Iraq in power for another seven years was backed by 100 per cent of the 11,445,638 eligible to vote. The Serbian presidential elections were annulled because fewer than 50 per cent of the electorate voted in the second round; a new election is to be held by December. In the Pakistan elections Islamist parties won 45 of the 272 seats, while candidates backed by President Pervaiz Musharraf gained 77 seats and those supporting Miss Benazir Bhutto won 66. In Kenya, after President Daniel arap Moi appointed Mr Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor, the Kanu party split, leaving the ruling faction without a majority for the first time in 40 years of the nation's independence; a general election is expected in December. Sir Garfield Todd, a former prime minister of Southern Rhodesia known for his liberal views but later a critic of President Robert Mugabe, died, aged 94. The Queen toured Canada.