16 MARCH 2002, Page 8

M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister. made a strange speech,

in which he announced the 'third phase' of New Labour. 'It is about driving forward reforms,' he said. 'Alongside this, our core mission: to improve our public services.' He also said that party philosophy was based on values and principles. Mr Blair met Mr Richard Cheney. the Vice-President of the United States, at Downing Street as he began a tour of 11 Middle Eastern countries; at a joint press conference Mr Blair said, 'There is a threat from Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction that he has acquired. It is not in doubt at all'; Mr Cheney said that al-Qa'eda was 'aggressively seeking' to acquire such weapons. At the British Museum, Iraqi archaeologists announced the discovery of hundreds of gold objects in tombs from the 8th century BC at the lost city of Nimrud in northern Iraq. Mr David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, announced new procedures for police stopping people in the street; in future, even when there is no search, police will have to log a written record of the event, including the ethnic group to which the person stopped thought he belonged. The Prince of Wales, in a speech marking the 300th anniversary of the foundation of the Daily Courant, said that the media had become 'too cynical, too ready to assume the worst' with the result that 'important parts of British life have become damaged because of the failings not of the institutions themselves, but of individuals within them'. A report commissioned by Mr Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, found that the population of the city had risen by 129,000 in the past two years, half of this the result of immigration. All freight traffic through the Channel Tunnel was suspended indefinitely because of the number of asylumseekers jumping on to trains. Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, suddenly discovered that under the Act of Settlement of 1701 foreigners have no right to sit as magistrates; some have been doing so for 20 years, but have been ordered to stop. Mr Pitchu To.th, a Hungarian who works for an English circus, claimed that he was the world's shortest man at 2ft 4in after the disappearance of a 2ft 2in Jordanian.

ISRAELI forces, including WO tanks, took control of Ramallah, a Palestinian town on the West Bank, and of other Palestinian towns and refugee camps; there was heavy fighting, with 30 Palestinians killed on the first day and hundreds rounded up for interrogation. Perhaps 20,000 Israeli soldiers were involved in the most extensive operation since the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Earlier, Israeli helicopters had destroyed Mr Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Gaza City in response to two suicide bombings that killed 13 Israelis. A United Nations Security Council resolution introduced by the United States called for 'a vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognised borders'. A United States review of its 'nuclear posture' was leaked, revealing that Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya and Syria are countries against which nuclear strikes might be made if they attacked America or its allies. Mr Robert Mugabe declared himself the winner of presidential elections in Zimbabwe characterised by intimidation and vote-rigging. President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo (Brazzaville) was confirmed in office in the first presidential elections in a decade, although his two main rivals remained in exile and were barred from standing. A court in the Czech Republic ruled that it was in order for a policeman to ask for a health certificate from a gipsy before he consented to shake hands. An armed robber held up the cashier at an animal reserve at Kromdraai, west of Johannesburg, and fled, only to be mauled to death by tigers. Nordic Champion Topscore Contradiction, also called King, a poodle from Norway, became the first foreign dog to become Supreme Champion at Crufts.