AstraZeneca’s board rejected an increased takeover bid of £63 billion by Pfizer. Commenting on the bid in Parliament, Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, said: ‘We see the future of the UK as a knowledge economy, not as a tax haven.’ A second strike by RMT union members on the London Underground was suspended after talks. Jeremy Paxman is to leave Newsnight next month after 25 years. Jeremy Clarkson was given a warning by the BBC for mumbling the counting-out rhyme, ‘Eeny, meeny, miney, mo. Catch a nigger by his toe’, in footage never broadcast. Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, tweeted: ‘Anybody who uses the N-word in public or private in whatever context has no place in the British Broadcasting Corporation.’ Lord Patten resigned as chairman of the BBC Trust after major heart surgery. A man meant to undergo minor urological surgery at Royal Liverpool Hospital was given a vasectomy by mistake.
Gerry Adams, the president of the Sinn Féin, was questioned for four days by police investigating the murder in 1972 of Jean McConville, a widow and mother of ten children abducted in Belfast in front of her family after wrongly being denounced as an informer for the British Army. ‘I do know the names of the people,’ said Michael McConville, one of her sons, who recounted his own abduction and beating by IRA men after his mother was taken away. ‘If I told the police now a thing, me or one of my family members or one of my children would get shot by those people.’
Max Clifford, aged 71, the public relations man, was jailed for eight years for several indecent assaults against girls and young women. Constance Briscoe, a barrister and recorder, was sentenced to 16 months’ jail for perverting the course of justice by lying to police about Chris Huhne, who, like his former wife Vicky Pryce, was given an eight-month sentence. Stuart Hall, 84, the former BBC presenter, is to go on trial accused of 15 rapes and five indecent assault offences against two young girls, allegedly between 1976 and 1981. Freddie Starr, the comedian, 71, learnt he would not be prosecuted over sex crime allegations despite spending 18 months on bail; he said: ‘I’m not feeling well, really.’ An inquest into the death of Peaches Geldof, 25, was told by a policeman: ‘Recent use of heroin and the levels identified were likely to have played a role in her death.’ Bob Hoskins, who starred in The Long Good Friday, died, aged 71. China banned the import of British cheese, ostensibly on hygiene grounds. George Eustice, the farming minister, said: ‘British cheese is the best in the world.’
Things went from bad to worse in Ukraine. Pro-Russian militants seized government buildings in a dozen or more cities in eastern Ukraine. In Odessa at least 40 died, most of them in a fire in an occupied building. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, blamed Russia for engineering the unrest and the security forces for failing to prevent bloodshed. A third Ukrainian helicopter was shot down at Sloviansk, and four Ukrainian soldiers were killed there on one day. Russia resisted further international peace talks.
The Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram said that it would sell 230 girls, mostly aged 16 to 19, that it kidnapped from their school at Chibok, in the northern state of Borno, on 14 April. ‘By God, I will sell them in the marketplace,’ said Abubakar Shekau, the Boko Haram leader, in a 57-minute video. Eight more girls were kidnapped in Borno state. When protestors complained of Nigerian government inaction, Patience Jonathan, the President’s wife, had two of them arrested. President Barack Obama of the United States said he hoped the incident would ‘mobilise’ the world to deal with Boko Haram. At a circus in Rhode Island, eight women billed as ‘Hairialists’, suspended by their hair, survived after falling 35ft on to a dancer when a rig collapsed. Uruguay imposed a maximum price of $1 a gram for marijuana.
Two buses were bombed in Nairobi, killing three people, and a grenade thrown into a bus in Mombasa, killing four, in response to action against the al-Qa’eda-linked group al-Shabab. Hundreds of people were buried in a mudslide in Afghanistan. Samsung was ordered by a US court to pay $120 million for infringing two patents belonging to Apple, which had asked for $2 billion. Gene Robinson, whose ordination as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 split the Episcopal Church of America, said he was to be divorced from the man he married in 2010. Villagers in Chilaw, Sri Lanka, delightedly ate hundreds of little fishes that fell alive in a rainstorm. CSH
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