7 Days

Straw decides Jack Straw finally brought to an end weeks of nail-biting drama over the fate of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile. "The UK's obligation," the Home Secretary said on Wednesday, "is to extradite Senator Pinochet to Spain consistently with the European Convention on Extradition." Pinochet is charged, under Spanish law, of genocide, attempted murder and torture.

Martyr or extremist? Animal rights activist Barry Horne, who is protesting against the government's failure to establish a promised royal commission on the use of animals in experiments, neared death. Ominously he has said: "People must do what they think is right in response to my death." Activists have promised "not to mourn his death quietly". Police are on the alert after the Animal Rights Militia released a hit list of ten vivisectors.

Happy birthday This week marked the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To celebrate, Britain has pioneered a joint EU initiative to eliminate the death penalty and is promoting ratification of the Convention Against Torture. Meanwhile the UN is looking forward to the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court.

Here we go again Boris Yeltsin emerged from hospital for three hours - long enough to dismiss four members of his administration - and then promptly returned to his sick bed.

Cancer breakthrough The Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, promised to secure funds to introduce a new technique that will increase the reliability of cervical smears. Although clinical trials will not begin for another 18 months, preliminary results were excellent.

Political meltdown? Violence has erupted in the West Bank, putting increasing pressure on the political future of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. The opposition Labour Party withdrew its support after Netanyahu suspended implementation of the American-brokered Wye agreement. He now has two weeks to decide whether to form a national unity government or call an early general election.

Postman Pete The Trade and Industry Secretary, Peter Mandelson, unveiled his plans for the Post Office this week. The PO will enjoy new commercial freedoms, including the ability to invest, price commercially and borrow. It remains committed to delivering letters throughout the country at a standard price. Mandelson called these plans "the Third Way in action". As easy as TNT, perhaps?

This article first appeared in the 11 December 1998 issue of the New Statesman, Plato rules, OK?