by MONITOR l PROTESTS by Muslims about cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad which had appeared in European newspapers spread throughout the Islamic world and also led to much self-questioning by Western media about the limits, if any, on the freedom of the press. The manager of the French newspaper France Soir was sacked by its owner for his decision to print the cartoons which had originally appeared in a Danish newspaper. l In his annual State of the Union speech in Washington, President Bush returned to his theme of the importance of spreading democracy and liberty round the world. On domestic matters he proposed some low-key initiatives in health care and scientific research and said that America must end its addiction to oil within the next twenty years. Among those atending Mr Bush's speech was Samuel Alito who had just been confirmed by the Senate as a member of the Supreme Court; a threat by the Democrats to block the confirmation came to nothing. l Violence erupted when Israeli police destroyed nine buildings in an unathorised West Bank settlement. The clashes between one thousand youths and the security forces were more serious than any experienced during the evacuation of 25 settlements in Gaza in 2005. Meanwhile, in the Palestinian territories the newly elected Hamas party continued negotiations with President Abbas on the formation of a government. Israel said it would withold payments to the Palestinian Authority until Hamas renounced violence against Israel; there were also doubts about whether Western aid donors would continue their essential support while Hamas failed to clarify its position on the recognition of Israel. l On his last day as Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, after 18 years in the job, Alan Greenspan announced a one-quarter per cent rise in the key interest rate to 4.5 per cent. Later in the same day it became known in London that Mr Greenspan had accepted an invitation from Mr Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to become an unpaid adviser to the Treasury on the development of the global economy. l Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, visited the two Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla; he was the first Spanish leader to pay such a visit for twenty-five years.