News Monkey: A simian slant on last week's news ...

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The Independent Online
n BLAIR VISITS SICK. The Prime Minister's efforts to relaunch himself as the People's Prince backfired a bit after it was reported that instead of rescuing a drowning man, he'd only been bothering a swimmer. This week the campaign was back on track, visiting hospitals in the dead of night and curing the sick with policy initiatives. Still no counter-

do-gooding from rival Gordon Brown, but one imagines he'll be ballroom dancing with old people before the week is out.

n IMPEACHMENT BEGINS. The Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton started off on a soothing note, sending several senator-jurors straight to sleep. There is, of course no reason to think that it's always going to be this boring: over the course of the next three months we can expect plenty of passionate speechmaking, hours of titillating testimony and lots and lots of air strikes.

n WE'RE ALL MIDDLE CLASS. According to Tony Blair everybody now belongs to one gigantic middle class, which is broad enough to include John Prescott, Sophie Rhys-Jones and all those people who turn up on Changing Rooms. It may be nice for Mr Blair to think that we're all of us chasing after the same bottle of olive oil, but let's not forget that this new lumpenbourgeoisie is the same uncontrollable mob who suddenly ran out and bought every egg in Christendom because Delia said they were nice. With the Government targeting its only natural predators, the working classes and the House of Lords, the new middle class is breeding out of control, and becoming a danger to itself.

n CHILD RIOT. There's cuteness afoot down at Britain's first child jail, Group 4's Medway secure training centre, where the unauthorised use of neck locks is the only way to get them ready for bedtime. The innovative idea for having prisons just for kids, inspired no doubt by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or maybe Lord of the Flies, looks set to continue, with plans for four more jails on the horizon. A docusoap is no doubt in the works.

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