· by MONITOR PRESIDENT Bush's decision to nominate Ben Bernanke, a leading monetary-policy expert, to succeed Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board was warmly received in the United States and abroad; the job is sometimes said to be more important than that of the Chief Justice of the US. However, Mr Bush's choice of Harriet Miers for a vacancy on the Supreme Court was less successful; it drew mockery and hostility and she withdrew her nomination. As Commander-in-Chief, Mr Bush spoke to the wives of servicemen in Iraq, telling them that America's enemies wee trying to establish a “totalitarian empire”. His speech coincided with the news that the 2'000th US serviceman had lost his life in Iraq. At the end of the week the Special Prosecutor appointed to look into the release of the name of a covert CIA agent said that the Vice-President's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby would be indicted on five charges. Mr Tony Blair chaired an “informal” meeting of heads of government of the European Union at Hampton Court Palace outside London. Little progress was made on outstanding EU issues such as the next budget and the meeting was marked by a strong coded attack on Mr Blair's policies by the former German Chancellor Gerhard Shroder who attended the meeting even though he lost his office at the recent election. Mr Blair also announced changes in Britain's educational system designed to give parents more say in what schools provide; critics said the policy was virtually a return to the grant-aided schools established by the last Conservative government and abolished in 1997 by Labour. An interim UN report on the death last February of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, accused top figures in the Syrian government and intelligence services; the Security Council passed a resolution urging the Syrians to be more open and co-operative with the UN in the next stage of the inquiry. The Security Council also agreed unanimously to condemn the speech made by the new Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he said that Israel should be “wiped off the map”. Poland will be governed by identical twin bothers; following the success in parliamentary elections of Jaroslav Kaczynski, Lech Kaczynski won a victory for the presidency.

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