Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

20 September 2014

9:00 AM

20 September 2014

9:00 AM

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People living in Scotland voted in a referendum that asked: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ A great deal of ill feeling had been generated as the referendum campaign went on. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, was told by backbench Conservative MPs that he faced a ‘bloodbath’ for joining the United Kingdom leaders of the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party in offering continued high levels of funding for Scotland. Two days before the vote, Inigo Mendez de Vigo, the European affairs minister of Spain (which faces demands from the region of Catalonia for independence), contradicted Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, by saying that an independent Scotland would have to wait at least five years to join the European Union, and would then have to adopt the euro. Sixty dogs died in a fire at Manchester Dogs’ Home; within 24 hours, £1 million had been donated.

The Islamic State, also known as Isis, posted online a video purporting to show the beheading of David Haines, a British aid worker who had been taken captive in Syria in March last year. The murderers said that he had to ‘pay the price’ for David Cameron’s promise to arm the Kurds. The extremists threatened to kill another British hostage, Alan Henning. Lord Bannside, better known as the Revd Ian Paisley, who had died aged 88, was buried in County Down. Sir Donald Sinden, the actor, died, aged 90. Jim Dobbin, the Labour who chaired the All-Party Pro-Life Group, died aged 73. Shaun Wright resigned as the Police and Crime Commissioner of South Yorkshire so that, he said, the ‘important issues’ outlined in a report which found at least 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 to 2013 could be discussed ‘without distraction’.


The annual rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, fell to 1.5 per cent from 1.6 the previous month; as measured by the Retail Prices Index, it fell to 2.4 per cent from 2.5. The prices of food and non-alcoholic drink fell by 1.1 per cent, the sharpest fall in a decade. House prices in southern England and the Midlands rose above the level they had reached before the financial crisis of 2008; house prices in London rose 19.1 per cent over their level a year before. The Phones 4U chain of shops went into administration, putting in doubt 5,596 jobs at 720 outlets.

Abroad

In an attempt to build a coalition to counter Isis, John Kerry, the American secretary of state, visited Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He said he had secured support from ten Arab countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. He resisted offers of help from Iran and Syria. In Paris, the foreign ministers of 30 countries approved ‘appropriate military assistance’. America began bombing. Australia announced that it would send 600 personnel, initially to the United Arab Emirates. Rob Ford, the colourful mayor of Toronto, announced that he had been found to have an abdominal tumour and he would not be standing for re-election.

Some 500 migrants drowned when their ship was rammed by another off Malta; a survivor said that people-traffickers had done it deliberately. Off Libya a boat with 250 on board sank, drowning 200. The International Organisation for Migration said that about 2,500 had drowned in the Mediterranean this year. Speaking at a war memorial in Italy where more than 100,000 soldiers who died in the first world war are buried, Pope Francis said that today, ‘Perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.’ The Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See said that Isis wanted to assassinate the Pope. The Pope set off for a visit to Albania, which has a Muslim majority.

Ebola fever had killed 2,461 people in west Africa this year, the UN said, out of the 4,985 who had caught it. The United States is to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to help contain the disease. A judge found Oscar Pistorius, the disabled athlete, guilty of culpable homicide in having shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp from behind a closed door. Ukrainian MPs voted to grant self-rule to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and an amnesty to pro-Russian rebels there. At least 3,000 people had been killed in the five-month conflict in Ukraine, the UN said. The sun sent out a flare that caused a display of the aurora borealis, under which the volcano Bárðarbunga in Iceland continued to erupt.      CSH

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