The Spectator

Portrait of the Year

A speedy round-up of the year's news

JANUARY Mr Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said it was all right to kill burglars ‘honestly and instinctively’. Iraq held elections. Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, the al-Qa’eda leader in Iraq, said, ‘We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy.’ The numbers killed by the deadly wave that devastated the fringes of the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004 was put at 178,000. Mrs Adriana Iliescu, aged 67, gave birth to a baby girl in Bucharest. China decided to measure Mount Everest, amid reports that it had shrunk by four feet.

FEBRUARY Members of the IRA murdered Robert McCartney, a Catholic, at a Belfast pub, provoking demonstrations by hundreds after his sisters protested. Miss Ellen MacArthur sailed single-handed round the world in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds; she was made a Dame. Mr Mahmood Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, and Mr Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, declared a ceasefire at a meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. The Shiite party, the United Iraqi Alliance, did best in the Iraqi elections. Bremerhaven zoo was bombarded with protests when it encouraged six Humboldt penguins, said to have homosexual tendencies, to mate with females from Sweden.

MARCH Amid wrangling, the Prevention of Terrorism Bill was passed, providing for house arrest of those suspected of terrorism. Mr Howard Flight was stopped by Mr Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, from standing in the election, after something he said at a dinner was misrepresented. Lord Callaghan, prime minister 1976–79, died the day before his 93rd birthday. Among a steady series of deadly bombings in Iraq, a suicide car bomb killed 115 in the Shiite city of Hillah, south of Baghdad. Syria began to withdraw troops from Lebanon.

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