by MONITOR
l Mr Tony Blair launched his “Respect” campaign, saying that “spitting at an old lady on her way to the shops” should incur an on-the-spot fine of 100 pounds and that “nuisance neighbours” should be evicted from their homes for up to three months. l On the future leadership of the Labour Party Mr Blair said that Mr Gordon Brown had the “weight and experience and strength and power” to succeed him. In a speech to the Fabian Society, Mr Brown proposed that Britain should have a day to celebrate its national identity and urged Labour supporters to ”embrace the Union flag”. In a further Conservative Party policy change Mr David Cameron said he would no longer seek more grammar schools. l After two years of on-off negotiation with Britain, France and Germany, Iran resumed nuclear “research” activity at its Natanz uranium enrichment plant. The United States said the time had come for the International Atomic Energy Authority to refer Iran's activities to the UN Security Council. The Iranian government said that if that happened it would ban IAEA inspectors from its plants. l In Israel, the condition of Mr Ariel Sharon showed little sign of improvement. Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, the newly elected leader of Likud, told members of his party still serving in the cabinet of what had been a Sharon-led coalition government to withdraw. Mr Ehud Olmert, a long-standing associate of Mr Sharon's, became acting prime minister and was expected to lead the new Kadina party in the general election on March 28. Meanwhile, Israeli police reported that crime had fallen by 50 per cent in the five days after Mr Sharon was taken ot hospital. l Elsewhere in the Middle East, Bashar Assad, the president of Syria, visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia to shore up support for his regime but he refused a United Nations request to interview him in connection with the murder last year of a former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri. In Saudi Arabia, hundreds of Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death on the last day of the haj at Mecca. l Mexico and nine other Latin American countries agreed to collaborate to defend their emigrants in the United States following a new law making illegal immigration a felony and plans for a 700 miles long border fence.

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