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Heroes and villains

Jamie Oliver | Strasbourg | The Economist

Jamie Oliver outside Downing Street in May. Dan Kitwood/Getty

Jamie Oliver, says Carol Midgley in The Times. I used to slate the TV chef’s “messianic zeal” and “mediocre food”, but “I take it all back”. On Radio 4 this week, he talked more sense in three minutes “than the entire Cabinet, to my knowledge, ever has”, calmly explaining that making sure enough children have free school meals will lead to a healthier, more productive population and a “more profitable country”.

Ukrainian Railways, which is maintaining a decent service despite Vladimir Putin’s invasion. On Monday, railway boss Oleksandr Kamyshin apologised for 42 trains being delayed amid a bombardment of Russian cruise missiles. His attitude is “humbling”, says Gillian Tett in the FT. In Britain, services are scuppered by “leaves on the line”.

Strasbourg, which is imposing very un-festive requirements on its 500-year-old Christmas market. The city’s Green-run council has decreed that crucifixes must be made in Europe and can only be sold as “JC crosses”. Champagne is also banned, in favour of local sparkling wine, as are popcorn, umbrellas, ponchos, and Christmas costumes for pets.

The Economist – if you’re a party animal. The magazine has come out in favour of legalising cocaine to break the grip of the criminal gangs which produce the drug in Latin America. Legalisation helps users too, it argues: regulated cocaine would contain fewer dangerous additives, and money saved from scrapping the war on drugs could be used for treating addiction.