The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 9 July 2005

A speedy round-up of the week's news

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The G8 leaders (of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia) assembled in Gleneagles to discuss Africa, climate change and that sort of thing. The Live 8 concert for 200,000 in Hyde Park, intended to attract attention to poverty in Africa, passed off without incident. About 225,000 people walked through Edinburgh in a similar cause. The next day police arrested 100 in violent clashes with anarchists. Around Gleneagles 3,000 police, some from England, gathered; there was fighting in Stirling and nearby Auchterarder was overwhelmed. London was chosen as the venue for the Olympic Games in 2012. The government admitted that about half a million illegal immigrants lived in Britain, quite apart from the hundreds of thousands whose applications for asylum had been rejected, but who had not been expelled. Public support for identity cards has fallen to 45 per cent, according to an internet opinion poll by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph. Mr David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, opened a special labour exchange to recruit 9,000 workers for the redevelopment of the derelict Battersea Power Station. The income of dry-cleaners has shrunk by 10 per cent since 1999, and their number has dwindled from 5,300 to 4,500. Christopher Fry, the author of The Lady’s Not For Burning and other plays, died, aged 97. Documents found in the National Archives, purporting to show that Richard Ingrams’s father was asked to assassinate Himmler, were found to be forgeries. Prince William of Wales laid a wreath in New Zealand for the dead of the second world war. Roger Federer won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon and Venus Williams the women’s. More restrictions on water use were imposed. Brushes and combs were removed from MPs’ washrooms in the Palace of Westminster lest they spread human immunodeficiency virus.

President Jacques Chirac of France made a series of jokes at the expense of Britain at a café in Kaliningrad, Russia, over coffee with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany. ‘You can’t trust people who cook as badly as that,’ he said. ‘The only thing they have ever given European farming is mad cows.’ Mr Putin called for the creation of a state monopoly in vodka, ostensibly to reduce the thousands of deaths in Russia from bootleg liquor. Mr Ihab el-Sherif, the Egyptian ambassador to Iraq, was kidnapped in Baghdad. Diplomats from Bahrain and Pakistan were wounded by gunmen in Baghdad in separate incidents. Tribal leaders in Husaybah, Iraq, who had supported the insurgency against America, attacked followers of Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, who support al-Qa’eda, after a sheikh was murdered for inviting senior American marines to lunch. Saudi Arabian forces killed Younis Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hayyari, a Moroccan, who they said was the leader of al-Qa’eda in their country. Mr Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli defence minister, said that 45,000 soldiers and police would evict 9,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, starting next month. India has more than five million people with human immunodeficiency virus, a UN conference in Kobe, Japan, on Aids heard. Spain passed a law allowing people of the same sex to marry and acquire the right to adopt children. Seven hundred people ran through Pamplona, Spain, some in their underwear, to protest against bullfighting; they had planned to run naked but had failed to obtain the correct permits from the town hall. After a voyage of 268 million miles since its launch on 12 January, the washing-machine-sized spacecraft Deep Impact succeeded in plunging into the comet Tempel-1 at a relative speed of 23,000mph, its effect being photographed by its mother ship 300 miles away.

CSH