7 Days

Hot potato Confidence in genetically modified foods was undermined following questions in the Commons from William Hague. Concerns over a toxic potato were taken with a pinch of salt by scientists, but cynicism was fuelled by the revelation that a so-called "Frankenfood" patent may be owned by Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, via a blind trust.

Off the ropes After four years and countless millions of dollars, the Republican crusade to impeach Bill Clinton finally ran into the ground, with both charges voted down. With her husband no longer posing a liability to her political career, Hillary could now consider her chances of office more seriously.

Not King Coal Unrest followed the sentencing in absentia of the Romanian miners' leader, Miron Cozm, to 18 years' imprisonment for his part in ousting the government of 1991. Charges included "undermining state authority" and "jeopardising railway traffic" - miners had commandeered trains to reach the capital, securing concessions including a 35 per cent pay rise. A critical IMF loan is thought to be at stake.

Kite-flying Jack Straw tested the waters for a new wheeze, to lock up dangerous people before they commit crimes, plugging a loophole which returns known psychopaths to the community. Liberty's John Wadham described the idea as "shocking" - a word one might think it prudent not to utter near the Home Secretary as he re-engineers the penal system.

Kurds away Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK, was captured by Turkish special forces while nominally under the protection of Greek diplomats in Kenya. Greek embassies around the world, including London, bore the brunt of dramatic Kurdish protests.

Big budget First hints of a munificent Budget hit the City after January's figures on government finances showed a record surplus. Analysts expected that the surplus, due in the main to underspending, would permit Gordon Brown to make tax cuts, or to boost spending, while sticking to tight fiscal rules.

This article first appeared in the 19 February 1999 issue of the New Statesman, We are richer than you think