Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, told the Commons that a no-fly zone over Libya was ‘perfectly deliverable’. Next day, G8 foreign ministers meeting in Paris failed to agree to one. Britain, France and Lebanon put a resolution to the United Nations. Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, said ‘We should not rush to judgment’ on nuclear energy in Britain in light of the damage in Japan. An emergency meeting of the British Medical Association called on the government to withdraw the Health Bill and start again. Tickets for the Olympic Games in London next year went on sale. An Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square stopped.
Lord Hutton of Furness, in his second report on public sector pensions, proposed later retirement, higher contributions and lower pensions. Will Hutton, in a government-commissioned Fair Pay Review, said that senior public servants’ pay should be performance-related, but not subject to a cap. Mr Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition, said another tax on bankers’ bonuses could raise £2 billion. The Bank of England left interest rates unchanged at 0.5 per cent. Unemployment rose to 2.53 million. The number of new mortgages to house buyers in January fell by 29 per cent from the level in December. Galloway appealed to astronomy tourists by advertising how dark its skies are.
Two men found guilty of helping Raoul Moat, who shot three people in July 2010, were jailed for life, with minimum sentences of 20 and 40 years. ITV suspended Brian True-May, the producer of the fantasy crime series Midsomer Murders, after he told the Radio Times: ‘We just don’t have ethnic minorities involved, because it wouldn’t be the English village with them.’
Abroad An earthquake struck Japan, at magnitude 9 the most powerful recorded there, with its epicentre 60 miles offshore, and provoked a 30-foot tsunami that killed uncounted thousands and destroyed settlements near the north-east coast of Honshu. The wave smashed houses and left cars dotted about fields amid acres of wreckage. The coastline in the region moved 13 feet eastward. Two million people were left without power or fresh water in freezing temperatures and 500,000 were made homeless. Aftershocks continued. Rotating blackouts were initiated because nuclear power stations were put out of action. At Fukushima nuclear power station, a reactor building exploded on Saturday, another on Monday and another early on Tuesday, followed by an explosion and fire at a fourth. The power company said the containment walls around their radioactive cores were unbreached. Radioactivity was detected outside, and 185,000 people within a radius of 12 miles were evacuated and those within 20 miles told to stay indoors. The Japanese central bank injected 15,000 billion yen (US$ 184 billion) into money markets on one day. ‘The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of the second the spectator | 19 March 2011 | www.spectator.co.uk world war,’ said Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister. Hiromitsu Shinkawa, aged 60, was found two days after the tsunami clinging to the floating roof of his house nine miles out to sea.
TheArab League called on the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to ease the position of rebels against Colonel Gaddafi its ruler. Forces loyal to Gaddafi pushed east along the coast, retaking towns from rebel control. The oil town of Brega changed hands several times. Government tanks shelled Zuwara and Misrata in the west. Thousands of migrant workers remained stranded at Tripoli airport. Hundreds more Tunisians landed at the Italian island of Lampedusa. Iran decided to take part in the 2012 Olympics after all, despite having detected that the official logo spelt out the word ‘Zion’.
Athousand troops from Saudi Arabia arrived in Bahrain at the invitation of the Sunni king, after Shia protesters clashed with police. Demonstrators were forcibly removed from the centre of Manama. In Yemen, police attacked anti-government demonstrators in the centre of Sanaa, killing six and injuring many. The murder by night of a family of five Jewish settlers in the West Bank, including children of 11, four and three months, was condemned by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. The Dalai Lama announced he was to step down from his position as head of the Tibetan government in exile. A red Tibetan mastiff was bought by a Chinese coal magnate for 10 million yuan (£945,000). CSH