by MONITOR l WITH a week to go before local elections in Britain, three Labour government ministers were embarrassed in different ways.
The Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott admitted to an affair with a member of his office; the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt was heckled and slow-handclapped at two conferences of National Health Service staff; the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke acknowledged that almost two thousand foreign criminals released from jail had not been deported or kept under surveillance despite several warnings that the system was not working. l After weeks of street protests in Nepal the king announced that parliament would be recalled following a suspension that had lasted for four years.
Maoist rebels said they would observe a three-month cease fire but called for new elections and a new constitution. l The 20th anniversary of the disastrous explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was marked in Ukraine and widely recalled and analysed in media worldwide. l At the Enron trial in the United States, the former chairman and chief executive Ken Lay blamed the firm's former chief financial officer Andrew Fastow for the fraud that led to the company's collapse; Mr Fastow has struck a plea-bargain deal with the prosecution. l In Japan the car manufacturers Nissan and Honda reported record net profits for the year ending 31 March. In the US General Motors reported its sixth successive quarterly loss and Ford revealed its biggest quarterly loss in four years. l As his approval rating slipped again to 32 per cent President Bush continued to change his White House staff; Tony Snow, a broadcaster with the right-wing Fox News was made press spokesman. In a speech in California, Mr Bush again urged Congress to pass a Bill giving official status to illegal immigrants.