Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

26 October 2013

9:00 AM

26 October 2013

9:00 AM

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The government agreed a guaranteed price for electricity that persuaded a consortium led by the French-owned EDF Energy and including Chinese investors to agree to build the Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset. The strike price agreed was £92.50 per megawatt hour (compared with a current wholesale price of £45). Following an energy price rise by SSE of 8.2 per cent, British Gas said it was to raise prices by 9.2 per cent and NPower by 10.4 per cent. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that this was ‘extremely disappointing news’. Sir John Major, a former prime minister, helpfully suggested a windfall tax on energy profits. The Daily Mirror suggested that Mr Cameron was advising people to wear jumpers. Downing Street issued a statement: ‘It is entirely false to suggest the Prime Minister would advise people they should wear jumpers to stay warm.’ A small tornado damaged 100 houses on Hayling Island, Hampshire.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said that the National Health Service could collect an extra £500 million a year from foreign visitors. Teaching at Al-Madinah free school in Derby was found to be inadequate by an Ofsted inspection, although there was ‘no evidence during the inspection of boys and girls being treated unequally’. Elizabeth Truss, the Conservative education minister, disagreed with Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, when he said free schools should employ only qualified teachers and adhere to the national curriculum. The Dean Academy, in the Forest of Dean, closed after an outbreak of venomous false widow spiders.


At a conference in London, Britain and the United States urged Syria’s moderate opposition to attend talks in Geneva next month. The Ministry of Defence is to set up a Joint Cyber Reserve Unit of army and reservist computer experts. Two men arrested in London a week earlier were charged under the Terrorism Act. Police warned several British Muslim commentators who had criticised jihadists that they had been named in a video posted online by supporters of the Islamist terrorists al-Shabab. Facebook began adding warning messages to videos on its site showing decapitations, after David Cameron had tweeted that the company ‘must explain its actions to worried parents’; it then decided to remove footage of a woman being beheaded. The DNA of hairs said to be from yeti in the Himalayas matched that of prehistoric polar bears from Svalbard, Norway, according to Professor Brian Sykes of Oxford University.

Abroad

In Syria, the al-Nusra Front, which is linked to al-Qa’eda, set off a lorry filled with a ton of explosives at a government checkpoint on a busy road in Hama, killing at least 30. Nine Lebanese Shia hostages held in Syria since May 2012 were released in a complicated deal that also saw the release of two Turkish pilots held hostage in Lebanon. In Iraq a suicide bombing killed at least 37 in a cafe in a Shia district of Baghdad. One of the gunmen in the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi was found to be a Norwegian citizen. A Combined Maritime Forces task force, commanded by a Royal Navy officer, arrested nine suspected Somali pirates and destroyed their two skiffs, following an attack on a supertanker and a Spanish fishing vessel. The singer Rihanna was asked to leave the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi after posing there in a photo shoot.

J P Morgan, the US investment bank, negotiated a $13 billion fine to settle Justice Department investigations of its sale of securities based on dubious mortgages. Google shares rose above $1,000 for the first time after better company profits than expected. Tito’s third wife and widow, Jovanka Broz, died, aged 88. An American Scout leader toppled a 170 million-year-old rock balanced in a Utah state park.

President François Hollande of France told US President Obama of his ‘deep disapproval’ of claimed US National Security Agency monitoring of millions of French phone calls. M Hollande said that a 15-year-old Roma girl deported to Kosovo could come back to France, as long as she didn’t come with her family. Greek police seized a little girl with blonde hair from a Roma settlement when it was found her DNA did not match her purported parents’. Irish police seized a seven-year-old blonde girl from a Roma family in Dublin. A fire at Santos, Brazil’s largest port, burnt 180,000 tons of sugar, sending up world prices.           – CSH

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