The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 20 August 2005

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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British Airways flights to and from London Heathrow were brought to a standstill for a day, and disrupted for days afterwards, by unofficial strikes by ground staff in sympathy with 700 staff sacked by a company supplying airline meals. Leaked documents showed that the Brazilian man shot dead at Stockwell in London by police seeking suicide-bombers had not vaulted over a barrier at the station, nor had he been wearing a baggy jacket. Mr Omar Bakri, a radical Islamic cleric who had left Britain after 20 years to visit his mother, he said, in Lebanon, was barred from returning by Mr Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, who declared his presence in Britain ‘not conducive to the public good’. Police held four people in Manchester under the Terrorism Act 2000. The Most Reverend Robert Eames, the Primate of All Ireland, called for an end to sectarian violence after several nights of attacks on Catholic houses and a chapel at Ahoghill, Co. Antrim. Retail sales for July in London were 9 per cent down on a year before. Alcohol was listed as the primary cause of 6,544 deaths in England and Wales last year, compared with 5,525 in 2000, a rise of 18 per cent, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The government began a period of consultation about human fertility legislation, with suggestions that the welfare of the child conceived need not be a criterion. A higher proportion of candidates than ever passed their A-levels. Newspapers and broadcasters agreed not to report the whereabouts of Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, during his family holiday, for reasons of security. Mrs Victoria Beckham, the singer and model, who is married to Mr David Beckham, the footballer and model, said, ‘I haven’t read a book in my life. I don’t have the time. I prefer listening to music, although I do love fashion magazines.’ Police seized 1,000 cannabis plants in a raid on a warehouse in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. More than half the 147 chickens on sale in shops sampled by a BBC television programme were infected with antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria.

More than 40,000 Israeli police and soldiers oversaw the removal of 7,500 Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip. Iraqi politicians failed to meet a deadline to agree on a constitution and gave themselves another week. Mr Lakshman Kadirgamar, the foreign minister of Sri Lanka, was shot dead, and rebel Tamil Tigers were blamed. A Boeing 737 from Larnaca, Cyprus, bound for Prague crashed near Athens with the loss of all 121 aboard, including 21 children. An aeroplane from Panama bound for Martinique with 160 aboard crashed in Venezuela. Seventeen Spanish troops died in Afghanistan when their helicopter crashed in the desert near Herat. Spanish police found more than 100 would-be immigrants, two of them dead, adrift off Tenerife in a boat that had been at sea for weeks. A 45ft boat, built over two years from 15 million ice-lolly sticks by Mr Robert McDonald, a film stuntman, was launched in Amsterdam; he hopes to sail it to America. The Pope made his first foreign visit, to his native Germany, where he was greeted by hundreds of thousands of young people at a congress. Brother Roger, the Swiss Protestant founder of the ecumenical Taizé community, was stabbed to death in front of thousands of worshippers; he was 90. Malaysia declared an emergency around its largest port, Port Klang, because of a smoky haze from land-clearance in neighbouring Indonesia. The rap singer once known as Sean Combs, but more recently as P. Diddy, shortened his name to Diddy. Turkish police seized more than 5cwt of heroin in raids in Istanbul, bringing the year’s total seized in Turkey to two and a half tons. Cases of avian influenza were reported from the Urals, and officials feared that migratory birds would spread it to European Russia.