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Portrait of the week

Mr Iyad Allawi (backed by the Sunni minority), and Mr Nouri Maliki, the caretaker Prime Minister (backed by a Shia alliance), to form some coalition, four months after elections that left Iraq with no government. Suicide bombers struck at the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore, where a Sufi saint is buried, and killed 42 people, injuring about 180. Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a central figure in the founding of Hezbollah, died in Beirut, aged 74. The French parliament debated a bill to outlaw the wearing of a niqab or burka in public. In Iran the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance issued rules on men’s haircuts, outlawing ponytails and mullets.

The coalition government contemplated legislation to reduce Civil Service lay-off payments in prospect of large redundancies. The Public and Commercial

Services Union predicted strikes. Mr George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was accused by the opposition of scare tactics after asking ministerial colleagues to prepare plans for departmental cuts of 40 per cent. Mr Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said that 715 school reconstruction schemes under Labour’s programme called Building Schools for the Future would not go ahead. Mr Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, encouraged ‘better off’ people with free bus passes to pay their fares. The BBC is to close its Asian Network radio channel but reprieve 6 Music. A referendum on the Alternative Vote system is scheduled for 5 May 2011. Mr David Cameron, the Prime Minister, would vote against the change, and Mr Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, campaign in favour of it. Serena Williams won the women’s title at Wimbledon, overtaking Billie Jean King to rank sixth in historical ratings; Rafael Nadal won the men’s. Cocoa reached a price of £2,635 a ton, its highest in 33 years.

B ritish forces in Sangin, Afghanistan, where 99 soldiers have been killed, are to hand over to American forces. Mr Cameron announced in Parliament that Sir Peter Gibson, an Appeal Court judge, would hold an inquiry into claims that MI5 and MI6 were complicit in the torture of terror suspects. The people of Rothbury, Northumberland, stayed indoors while policemen with guns searched for a man who had shot one man dead, and left a woman and a policeman with serious bullet wounds. The US Supreme Court ruled that two men from Iran and Cameroon have the right to asylum in Britain on the grounds of their homosexuality. Mrs Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, said that the government was giving ‘consideration of whether civil partnerships should be allowed to include religious readings, music and symbols’. Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, was among clergy nominated for the bishopric of Southwark, which provoked new controversy in the Church of England, because he had contracted a civil partnership in 2006 and the Anglican Communion has agreed to a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual bishops. Madame Tussauds unveiled a waxwork of Mr Cameron, but didn’t bother with one of Mr Clegg.

T he Queen addressed the United Nations in New York, as she had in 1957, and said that ‘the waging of peace is the hardest form of leadership’. The German government planned spending cuts of E11.2 billion for next year. Mr Bronislaw Komorowski, of the ruling Civic Platform party, was elected President of Poland, beating Mr Jaroslaw Kaczynski, of the main opposition Law and Justice party, whose identical twin brother, Lech, the former president, died in a plane crash at Smolensk. A tanker fitted up to skim oil from the water began tests in high seas in the trail of Hurricane Alex in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil has been leaking at between 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day since 22 April, when a BP rig exploded. Pirates captured the tanker Motivator in the southern Red Sea, with a crew of 18 Filipinos. Strikes were held in much of India against a rise in petrol prices of 6.7 per cent, after the government removed fuel subsidies in a programme to reduce a budget deficit. At least 230 people were killed when an overturned oil tanker, from which people were collecting spilt fuel, exploded and set fire to houses in the village of Sange in the Democratic Republic of Congo. CSH

M r Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, met President Barack Obama of the United States in Washington, and said afterwards that Israel was ‘serious’ about peace with the Palestinians. Mr Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said that Turkey would break off diplomatic ties with Israel unless it apologised or acknowledged an impartial inquiry into the raid in May on a flotilla bound for Gaza, in which nine Turks were killed. General David Petraeus took command of Nato forces in Afghanistan, where 102 foreign troops were killed in June. Vice-President Joe Biden of the United States visited Baghdad and urged www.spectator.co.uk

THE SPECTATOR 10 July 2010 9