Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

7 February 2015

9:00 AM

7 February 2015

9:00 AM

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MPs voted by 382 to 128 to make Britain the only country to allow genetic modification of embryos to prevent mitochondrial flaws: this could be done by the removal of the nucleus of a donor’s fertilised ovum and its replacement by the nucleus of two parents’ fertilised ovum, thus giving a child three parents. William Hague, the Leader of the House, outlined his plan for resolving the West Lothian question: ‘Before a Bill or parts of a Bill affecting only England was put to its final vote in the House of Commons, the English MPs would meet separately in what would be called the English Grand Committee and decide whether they agreed on it.’ Sir Martin Gilbert, the biographer of Churchill, died, aged 78. Two bronzes of naked men riding panthers, attributed to the Dutch sculptor Willem Danielsz Van Tetrode, were identified by Cambridge experts as the work of Michelangelo.

The Russian ambassador was asked by Britain for an explanation after Typhoon fighters had to be scrambled to escort two Russian Tu-95 Bear H bombers from the Channel. The Election Court — part of the High Court — convened to hear a challenge to the election last year of Lutfur Rahman as mayor of Tower Hamlets. Harry Redknapp resigned as manager of Queen’s Park Rangers. Queensway and South Wimbledon became the first London Underground stations to have their ticket offices permanently closed. The roof of a number 91 bus was ripped off when it hit a tree in Kingsway, central London.


A record number of 18-year-olds, 592,290, applied to university, with a higher number than ever from poorer areas, according to Ucas, the admissions service. Headteachers blamed the government for dropping recognition of IGCSE exams, taken by pupils at schools such as Eton and Harrow, which plummeted in league tables. Stefano Pessina, the chief executive of Boots’ parent company, said that if Labour ‘acted as they speak, it would be a catastrophe’. In response, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, blamed Mr Pessina, who does not live in Britain, for ‘avoiding his taxes’. On Newsnight, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, could not remember the name of Bill Thomas, a business supporter of Labour. As many as 890,000 people faced a £100 penalty for failing to file their online self-assessment tax returns on time. Ocado, the online grocer, reported its first full-year pre-tax profit since it began in 2000. A new biography of the Prince of Wales revealed that he does not like overheated rooms.

Abroad

Islamic State released a video of a Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, being burned alive. Jordan’s immediate response was to hang two convicted terrorists, one of whom had been in jail for nine years. Earlier Isis had killed Kenji Goto, a journalist and the second of two Japanese hostages to be murdered, and sent a video message, delivered by a now familiar militant with an English accent, accusing Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, of a ‘reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war’. Egypt freed Peter Greste, an Australian journalist for Al-Jazeera, after 14 months in prison. A court in Egypt upheld death sentences on 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters over an attack on a police station near Cairo in 2013. China executed two members of the Church of the Almighty God (which believes God has returned to earth as a Chinese woman) for murdering a woman in a McDonald’s in Shandong. A derangement of the Atlantic jet-stream sent temperatures in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, soaring to 11˚C.

Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister of the new Syriza government of Greece, toured European countries, including Britain, where he met George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and tried to renegotiate the terms of its bailout by the EU and the International Monetary Fund. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, said that she did not want Greece to leave the eurozone but declared: ‘I do not envisage fresh debt cancellation.’ Germany fell into deflation with its first fall in prices since 2009. War in eastern Ukraine erupted again, with the pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko saying they hoped to increase their forces to 100,000 men.

Workers went on strike at nine US refineries after unions failed to agree a new national contract with oil companies. An American, Troy Bradley, and a Russian, Leonid Tiukhtyaev, set new records by flying in a helium balloon from Japan 6,646 miles to the coast of Mexico in six days 16 hours and 37 minutes. Harper Lee, aged 88, is to publish a sequel, written in the mid-1950s, to To Kill a Mockingbird.           CSH

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