Retail sales enjoyed their fastest July growth in seven years, thanks to demand for beer, sun cream, swimwear and barbecue food. Manufacturing output rose by 1.9 per cent in June, following declines in both April and May. Lloyds Banking Group announced profits of £2.1 billion for the first half of the year and António Horta-Osório, its chief executive, said he expected it to pay out 70 per cent of profits in dividends by 2015. Sir Ian Andrews resigned as the chairman of the Serious Organised Crime Agency after failing to declare a directorship in a management consultancy firm. A report by Professor Don Berwick, a former health adviser to President Barack Obama, called for criminal charges when ‘wilful or reckless neglect’ harmed patients, but he stopped short of proposing a duty of candour under which all mistakes must be admitted to patients. The Duke of Edinburgh is to resume public engagements on 12 August, two months after an operation on his abdomen.
Admiral Sir John ‘Sandy’ Woodward, who commanded the carrier battle group Task Force 317.8 during the Falklands war, died, aged 81. Rain stopped play in the third Ashes Test, giving England a draw and ensuring it retained the Ashes. The first burger made from protein grown in the laboratory from the cells of a dead cow was eaten in London. The Little Chef chain was bought for about £15 million by the Kuwait-based Kout Food Group. A fatberg the size of a bus and weighing 15 tons was found in a sewer at Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.
Rolf Harris, aged 83, the entertainer, was arrested for the second time this year by police investigating allegations of sexual offences, and bailed again until later this month. Hannah Smith, from Leicestershire, was found hanged after experiencing anonymous taunts on the Latvian-based website ask.fm. A 64-year-old man died after being knocked down in a fight in the disabled parking area at Asda in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire; a 65-year-old man, arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, was bailed. Peter Capaldi, who played the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, became the 12th Doctor in Doctor Who.
Twenty-one US embassies and consulates, from Libya to Mauritius, were closed on 4 August, because of the danger of attacks from affiliates of al-Qa’eda. America then flew embassy staff out of the Yemen while the Yemeni government deployed hundreds of armoured vehicles in the capital Sanaa. Britain closed its embassy in Yemen sine die, and advised against all travel in the country. At least 40 people died in a rocket attack on a government arms dump in Homs, which the rebel Free Syrian Army said it carried out. The rebels said they had also taken an airfield in Aleppo province. Mullah Omar, the Taleban leader in hiding since 2001, said in a message for Eid that he wanted Afghanistan to have ‘an inclusive government based on Islamic principles’, but called elections a ‘deceitful charade’. A big fire closed Nairobi airport.
José Manuel García-Margallo, the Spanish foreign minister, said that Spain was considering charging for entry to Gibraltar. Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, said that was ‘the type of statement you’d hear from North Korea’. Despite being told to grant it by the European Commission, Malta refused permission to dock a tanker that had rescued 102 African migrants from a boat off the Libyan coast; Italy took them in. Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy, had a prison sentence for tax fraud upheld by the country’s highest court, although, being aged 76, he is unlikely to have to go to jail. Robert Mugabe, aged 89, won a seventh term as president of Zimbabwe, claiming 61 per cent of the vote, against 34 per cent for Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister. In Uruguay, the lower house of parliament passed a bill to legalise cannabis; and a law legalising gay marriage came into force.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, agreed to buy the Washington Post for $250 million. Edward Snowden, the American on the run after leaking state secrets, was granted temporary asylum in Russia. Radioactive groundwater was found to be leaking from the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. Walt Disney warned that its Lone Ranger film would lose it at least $160 million. A seven-stone African rock python was blamed for strangling to death two boys, aged five and seven, sleeping above a reptile shop at Campbellton, New Brunswick. CSH
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