Portrait of the week aged 79. Fifty-eight per cent of people living in the West Midlands were found to check their mobile telephones every 10 minutes.
In her 58th speech at the state opening of Parliament, the Queen said: ‘My government’s legislative programme will be based upon the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility.’ Among the 22 bills proposed were provisions for a ‘significant acceleration’ in the reduction of the annual state deficit, to be achieved mainly by less spending rather than by more taxation; a ‘significant increase’ in personal income tax allowances in the emergency Budget next month; establishment of state-funded schools outside local authority control; abolition of identity cards and of the National Identity Register; referendums on any future European Union treaties; a referendum on the Alternative Vote system for election to the House of Commons; fixedterm five-year parliaments, with a vote by 55 per cent of the Commons being required to secure an earlier dissolution; a reduction of the number of constituencies and an equalising of their sizes; the drawing up of plans this year for a ‘wholly or mainly elected’ Upper
House, chosen by proportional representation; the public election of commissioners to oversee local police forces; an annual limit ‘in the tens of thousands’ of migrants from outside the EU; maintenance of the nuclear deterrent; the transference of City supervision from the Financial Services Authority to the Bank of England; partial privatisation of the Royal Mail and the retention of post offices in public ownership; limits to the holding of innocent people’s DNA and the use of closedcircuit television cameras; a requirement for public bodies to publish online the salaries and expenses of senior officials; and ‘fair and transparent’ compensation for policyholders in Equitable Life. Mr George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had earlier outlined cuts of £6.2 billion for the current year, with £1.2 billion coming from local authority grants, £320 million from withdrawal of the so-called Child Trust Funds, and £200 million from universities. Mr Don Wales set a world speed record for a lawnmower of 87.833mph at Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire, after cutting some grass to prove his eligibility.
T he Bank of Spain intervened to save Cajasur, an Andalusian savings bank strained by property investment. BP made an attempt to plug an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, having succeeded only in drawing off 40 per cent of the 5,000 barrels a day leaking into the sea. Mr Dennis Blair resigned as director of US national intelligence after arguing that it was no longer necessary to spy on France; President Barack Obama apparently did not agree. The Pentagon has ordered an expansion of covert missions by US special operations forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, according to the New York Times. A teacher at the Lumpkin County High School, Georgia, United States, was suspended after getting pupils to dress up in Ku Klux Klan robes for a history project. Paul Gray, the bass player with the heavy metal band Slipknot, popular for their album All Hope Is Gone, was found dead, aged 38.
S outh Korea cut off trade with North Korea, which an international report had blamed for torpedoing a South Korean corvette in March, killing 46 sailors; North Korea then announced it was severing all relations with the South. Visiting Seoul, Mrs Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said that North Korea should stop its ‘policy of belligerence’. Jamaica declared a state of emergency and dozens of people died in shootings when the government sought the extradition to the United States on drug charges of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. In Trinidad the governing party, the National People’s Movement, was defeated after the prime minister called a snap election. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front won elections that were criticised for intimidation. Five men arrested in the Gulf of Aden last year went on trial in Holland accused of piracy. CSH
S trikes by British Airways cabin crews belonging to the union Unite lumbered on. Sarah, Duchess of York, was filmed by the News of the World accepting $40,000 in cash as a down payment on £500,000 for arranging to introduce someone to her former husband; ‘I can open any door you want,’ she said. Two boys, aged 10 at the time, were convicted at the Old Bailey of the attempted rape of a girl aged eight, even though she changed her evidence in court. Teenagers should stockpile the morning-after pill, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The General Teaching Council found that a teacher, who was a BNP activist and had posted comments online saying that Britain was a ‘dumping ground for the filth of the Third World’, was not guilty of racial intolerance. Ray Alan, the ventriloquist, died,
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