7 Days

Eco-warrior Lord Melchett, head of Greenpeace, led a dawn raid on a genetically modified plantation in Norfolk. He and 16 other activists were arrested for digging up a six-acre plot of GM maize, amid violent scenes in which bystanders' cars were damaged by a digger.

Granny power Tony Blair met his match this week in the shape of 82-year-old Miriam Lewis. The Prime Minister, launching his government's annual report in Homerton Hospital, east London, was interrupted three times by the formidable Lewis. When Blair told healthcare workers that it would take time to improve the health service, she replied: "Well, hurry up! Not all of us have got as much time as you."

A new England The left-wing musician Billy Bragg accepted an invitation this week from Lord Wakeham to discuss his ideas for reforming the House of Lords. His submission included the suggestion that peers be selected by proportional representation, based on the result of a general election.

Finding your roots Thousands of test-tube children were told this week that they would be given legal powers to track down their biological parents. In vitro fertility (IVF) treatment using donated sperm and eggs now accounts for 2,000 births a year in Britain.

A toilet apart A slanging match has broken out this week between west and east Germany. A leading west German criminologist, Christian Pfeiffer, claimed that, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, east Germans remain a nation apart in their attitudes to democracy because of their regimented potty-training at communist creches.

Poll axed Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the wild man of Russian politics, was barred this week from standing for the post of governor of a key region in the Urals. Officials said that they had found more than 2,000 forged signatures in his nomination papers.

This article first appeared in the 02 August 1999 issue of the New Statesman, America says: never again!