The University of Birmingham will be hosting debates for the BBC, Sky News and The Guardian over the next 8 days.Written by James Phillips on 20th April 2015
Redbrick on the week
Cameron reshuffles the Cabinet Prime Minister David Cameron performed his first cabinet reshuffle after two years as Britain’s Premier
Cameron reshuffles the Cabinet
Prime Minister David Cameron performed his first cabinet reshuffle after two years as Britain’s Premier. While such important posts such as Chancellor, home secretary, foreign secretary and education secretary remained untouched, while transport secretary Justine Greening was replaced by Patrick Mcloughlin who is believed to be far more in favour of Heathrow expansion plans than his predecessor. In addition, health secretary Andrew Lansley was replaced by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt who has come under fire in the past few months for his handling of the BSkyB takeover. Another key move involved justice secretary Ken Clarke demoted to minister without portfolio and replaced by Chris Grayling.
Prince begins tour of duty
Prince Harry has begun his four month tour of duty as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan. Harry began his campaign by arriving in Camp Bastion in the Helmand province. This is the second time Captain Wales, as Harry is known in the military, has served in Afghanistan having previously been deployed in 2007-08. That tour was cancelled earlier after a media blackout of his deployment was broken by foreign media. There is no blackout for this tour as Harry is flying Apache helicopters which the MOD believes puts him out of danger unless there is a mechanical failure.
Britons killed in French Alps
A British family have been attacked and several family members killed while on holiday in the French Alps. The father, mother and grandmother were all shot dead in the head while one of their daughters was shot in the shoulder and another escaped injury by hiding under her mother’s skirt. The man was named as Saad al-Hilli, an Iraqi-born businessman and the family lived in Claygate, Surrey. A French cyclist was also killed at the scene and the crime was found by a retired RAF veteran. The accuracy of the killings has led French police to believe the shootings were carried out by a professional. French detectives will travel to England to search the family home and interview Saad’s brother.
Riots in Belfast
Police in northern Belfast endured three consecutive nights of violence and rioting which erupted when loyalists from the Protestant community attempted to disrupt a march by Catholic republicans. On all three nights, loyalists and republicans gathered in the Carlisle Circus area in Belfast and pelted police with stones and fireworks as they tried to keep the two groups apart. The first two nights of the rioting left more than 60 police officers injured while hostilities eased on the third night. Attacks from the rioters included stones, bottles, fireworks, rocks and petrol bombs and even a hijacked van. Police responded with water cannon and baton rounds. Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr was angry with the rioters and insisted he was proud with the reaction of his officers.
New UN envoy begins role as Syrian violence continues
Lakhdar Brahimi began his role as UN envoy to Syria, replacing Kofi Annan after his resignation. As Brahimi said his mission to stop the fighting is ‘nearly impossible’, 25 people were killed by an air strike in al-Babb, Aleppo. Opposition activists also said 100 were killed elsewhere including five killed by a bomb in Damascus. The 78-year-old Algerian Brahimi said he plans to sit and hold talks with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad but admitted that at present he had ideas but no formal plan yet to reach a conclusion the violence that has blighted Syria for close to 20 months. Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi said peace talks would collapse as long as foreign countries were supporting and arming the rebels.
Democratic Convention takes place
President Barack Obama was formally named as the Democratic nominee for the 2012 election as the Democratic National took place in Charlotte, North Carolina. Obama was praised at the convention by one-time critic and former president Bill Clinton whose speech was thought to hold strong influence among voters. The final day of the Convention saw the celebrities take centre stage as figures such as Foo Figheters, Scarlett Johansson, Mary J Blige and Eva Longoria displayed their support. President Obama outlined the difficulties he faced with fixing the economy, saying it could take more than a few years, in a speech watched by 35.7 million viewers.
South African Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius began the week with an angry outburst after coming second in the 200m final, branding the race unfair as Brazilian winner Alan Oliveira’s blades were longer. Pistorius later apologised and won gold in the 400m. Elsewhere, British 17-year-old Ellie Simmonds won two gold medals and one bronze, smashing world records in the process. Britain also won gold in sailing and discus while being competitive in several events. As the closing ceremony approaches, Britain sits in third place in medals table, winning 33 gold medals, 42 silvers and 43 bronze behind China and Russia and in front of Ukraine and Australia.