Portrait of the week
Mr David Trimble was re-elected as as leader of the Ulster Unionists by the party’s council by 57 per cent of the vote against 43 per cent for his challenger, the Revd Martin Smyth. Proceedings began at a public inquiry in Londonderry into the events of Bloody Sunday there in 1972, when 14 people on an illegal march were shot dead by British soldiers. The nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield struggled to cover its costs in the face of a threatened coalition between Ireland and Denmark to oppose its future operation, and of sabotage by an unknown member of staff who cut cables on a robotic arm. The Independent Schools Information Service warned schools that they could be sued if they ban homosexual relationships between pupils aged over 16 after the Human Rights Act comes into force in October. Following a defeat in the Lords for the government’s compromise legislation on the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act (1988), dealing with homosexuality, the government’s Care Standards Bill was rejected in the Lords (the tenth such defeat this session) over its provision for National Health Service hospitals and private ones to be regulated by two separate organisations. Mr Tom Winsor, the railways regulator, said that Railtrack was much to blame for delaying improvement of the west coast route on which Virgin was meant to run trains at 125mph by 2002. Anthony Powell, the novelist, died, aged 94. Ian Dury, the pop singer, died, aged 57. Alex Comfort, the author of The Joy of Sex, died, aged 80. Two portable defibrillators were bought for 5,000 by the House of Lords for use on peers who suffer heart attacks. Mr Peter Stothard, aged 49, took a sabbatical from his editorship of the Times, being replaced by his deputy Ben Preston, aged 36. Oxford won the Boat Race after seven wins by Cambridge.
MR Vladimir Putin, the former head of the Russian secret police, and before that a spy for the Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti in Germany, won the election for President of Russia, gaining just over 50 per cent of the vote and easily beating Mr Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist candidate. The Pope visited the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel and expressed deep sorrow at the Nazi murder of millions of Jews in the second world war; he visited Nazareth on the feast of the Annunciation and the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and left on a piece of paper tucked into the Western Wall a prayer asking God’s forgiveness for anti-Jewish acts. Ugandan police found another 200 bodies in mass graves presumed to have been the work of the sect called the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, 500 of whose members perished in a fire in a locked church at Kanungu, in the south-west of the country. President Bill Clinton of the United States and President Hafez Assad of Syria met in Geneva and shook hands sitting down. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries considered reversing its action a year ago that limited production and sent prices up from $10 to $34 a barrel. In elections in Iraq all 165 candidates of the ruling Baath party won seats, 55 more seats went to independents, and 30 were allocated without polls to delegates for the war-torn region of Kurdistan; President Saddam Hussein’s son Uday won his seat with 99.99 per cent of the vote. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe postponed elections due in April until May as thousands of squatters supporting his Zanu-PF party continued to occupy farms owned by white people. DaimlerChrysler, the US-German motor-car manufacturer, bought 34 per cent of Mitsubishi and became the third largest international vehicle makers. The Swedish army introduced a uniform for pregnant officers.
Copyright Spectator Apr 1, 2000
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