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1 November

In the headlines

Suella Braverman is “still under fire” a week after her controversial reappointment as home secretary, says Politico. She was criticised yesterday for describing the migrant crisis as an “invasion”, and insists she “never ignored legal advice” about transferring migrants out of the vastly overcrowded Manston processing centre in Kent. Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are planning “sweeping tax rises for everyone” to plug the £50bn “black hole” in the country’s finances, says The Daily Telegraph. This will include “stealth” increases by freezing the thresholds for different income tax rates, rather than raising them with inflation. Taylor Swift has become the first musician in history to claim all top 10 slots on America’s Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. All the songs are from the 32-year-old’s latest – and appropriately, tenth – album, Midnights.

British politics

Britain’s “Obama moment”

It is “simply a remarkable fact”, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish, that Rishi Sunak, a “proud Hindu” and grandson of Indian immigrants, now runs the former colonial power. “Imagine what Gandhi might have thought of that. Or Churchill for that matter.” It’s become obscured in the “incredible mess” of recent Tory politics, but staring us in the face is a historic shift – a kind of “Obama moment” for Britain. This underlines something that many liberals have forgotten: the US and UK, nations of alleged “white supremacy”, have less racism than almost anywhere else in the world.


Lula isn’t the hero people think he is

Liberal commentators have greeted news of Brazil electing left-winger Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva to the presidency with glee. They’re living in a dream world, says The Wall Street Journal. There is nothing to cheer in Latin America’s largest country “gambling again” on the left-wing populism that has failed so often in the past. When he is inaugurated in January, South America will “largely be run by socialist governments”. Not just Lula’s old friends in Cuba and Venezuela, but everywhere from Argentina to Mexico is now run by leftists. “Economic misery seems to want company.”


Wikipedia’s “list of common misconceptions” is an enlightening read, says The Browser. Eskimos, for example, do not have a disproportionate number of words representing snow. The Great Wall of China isn’t visible from space; there is no real benefit to stretching before or after exercise; and the Bermuda Triangle has no more shipwrecks or spooky disappearances than any other patch of sea. The famous “red telephone” hotline between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War was neither red nor a telephone: it was a teleprinter and then a fax machine, and today they just email. See the full list here.

On the way up

Thefts of car number plates, says The Spectator, with more than 53,000 stolen in the UK last year alone. They’re “veritable gold” to crooks: if your stolen plates are clocked on a vehicle involved in any criminal activity – from trivial offences like speeding, to serious offences like theft – the police are directed not to the offender’s door, but to yours. According to the DVLA, 1,105 drivers reported that their vehicles had been wrongly linked to crime in March 2020, up from 656 a year prior. Equally annoyingly, you have to cough up £40 for replacements – money that would be better spent heating your home “for about five minutes this winter”.

Gone viral

“Have you ever been, like, corrected for, like, using ‘like’ like this?” asks artist Abraham Piper on Twitter. Well, you have 500 years of linguistic history on your side. Using the word “like” for emphasis or to hedge a statement became common in the 1950s, and really took off in the 1960s thanks to “jazz musicians, beatniks and hippies”. But the first documented use was back in 1513. In a poem from that year William Dunbar wrote: “Yon man is lyke out of his mynd.” “Replace ‘yon’ with, like, ‘the’ or something, and it’s perfectly modern.”


Collins Dictionary has chosen its (rather gloomy) word of the year: “permacrisis”, defined as “an extended period of instability and insecurity”. Other terms selected by the publisher to define 2022 include “quiet quitting”, which means “doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do”, and “splooting”, when an animal lies flat on a cold surface with their limbs outstretched in order to cool down.


More than 4,200 photographers entered the Golden Turtle Festival Competition, a Russian contest celebrating the beauty of wildlife. Some category-topping submissions include a shot of an eagle ensnared by a snake by Minqiang Lu, Nathalie Houdin’s Zebr’abstraction, and an ethereal portrait of a bobtail squid by Luc Rooman.


It’s the “Sand Rover” – a specially adapted Land Rover that keeps train lines clear of autumn leaves. The vehicle, which has gone into operation across Devon, is fitted with wire brushes that “sweep slippery leaf mulch off the rails”, says the BBC. It also coats the track in dry sand to help trains grip in wet conditions.


quoted 1.11.22

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Otto von Bismark