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10 November

In the headlines

Russia has ordered its troops to withdraw from the Ukrainian city of Kherson, in a humiliating setback for Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin’s top commander in Ukraine said forces would be “used on other fronts”, less than two months after Putin claimed the occupied area would remain Russian territory “forever”. Nurses have voted for their first-ever national strike, meaning thousands of operations will likely be cancelled during a series of walkouts before Christmas. Health Secretary Steve Barclay says demands for a 17.6% pay rise, which would cost the government £9bn, “simply aren’t reasonable”. England’s cricketers have made it to the Twenty20 World Cup final, smashing India by 10 wickets in this morning’s semi-final. They will play Pakistan for the title in Melbourne at 8am UK time on Sunday.

US politics

The real winner of America’s midterms

The Republicans’ disappointing showing in this week’s midterms was very much Donald Trump’s fault, says David Frum in The Atlantic. The former president pushed his party to nominate “weirdos and crackpots” like the supposedly pro-life Herschel Walker, who allegedly funded his ex-girlfriend’s abortion. Trump’s focus on the wrong issues, in particular his petulant obsession with voter fraud in the 2020 election, robbed GOP candidates of the chance to “talk about the future”. But no one should be surprised. Since his shock victory in 2016, Trump has “led his party from loss to loss”: the House in 2018, the presidency in 2020 and the Senate in 2021. By handing him his most spectacular defeat yet, voters have shown they are “sick” of his antics.


Why we Indians are doing so well

Rishi Sunak’s rise to No 10 has “sparked celebrations across India”, says Shashi Tharoor in Project Syndicate. But the arrival of a “brown-skinned devout Hindu” in Downing Street points to a “broader, longer-term phenomenon”: the growing prominence of the Indian diaspora across the West. This has long been evident in business. No fewer than 58 of America’s 500 largest firms are run by CEOs of Indian descent, including Microsoft, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), IBM and Starbucks. In politics, big names include US Vice President Kamala Harris, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and Ireland’s former (and likely future) Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

Gone viral

A graphic visualising Europe’s changing power dynamic between 1500 and 2022 has racked up more than seven million views on Twitter. States and empires are illustrated as floating bubbles, their size reflecting their clout at the time. Each “bump” represents a conflict between those involved. “What the hell France?” comments one user. Watch the full seven-minute video here.


It beggars belief that Pakistan wants Britain to pay “climate reparations” because of its terrible floods, says Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. Many scientists think the main cause of the flooding isn’t climate change but deforestation, for which Pakistan has the highest rate in the world: in 1947 a third of its land was forested; now it’s 5%. That means rain “runs straight off the mountains”, causing reservoirs to overflow. Besides, the UK gave Pakistan £302m in aid in 2019/20 – not bad for a nation with “its own nuclear weapons and a space programme”. You could say the same about China, which is also seeking reparations. Yes, the same China that has “emitted more carbon dioxide over the past eight years than the UK has since the start of the Industrial Revolution”.

Quirk of history

The oldest legible sentence ever written is about headlice, says New Scientist. Etched on an ivory nit comb in an ancient Canaanite language, the inscription reads: “May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.” Archaeologists say the prehistoric pest control, found at a site in southern Israel, was probably made around 3,700 years ago.


This video of a soft-shelled turtle racing down a riverbank has been doing the rounds on Twitter. Although their appearance wouldn’t suggest it, the rapid reptiles can reach speeds of up to 15 mph when fleeing predators.

Inside politics

Gavin Williamson’s sweary WhatsApp messages to the Tory chief whip really shouldn’t have been a scandal, says Matthew Parris in The Times. When I missed a vote as an MP, one of the whips, “in a heady compound of homophobia and Tourette’s”, bellowed across a crowded room: “Darling, why are you such a c***?” I didn’t raise a stink: I deserved a dressing-down. What “delicate flowers” our MPs are today. “Alastair Campbell had a word for it: diddums.”


There are three: they’re hiding in the top-left quarter of the picture, just to the right of the patch of grass. The image, taken in Ellensburg, Washington, is from a spot-the-owl feature in Moss and Fog magazine: see how many you can find here.


quoted 10.11.22

“America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilisation.” 

French statesman Georges Clemenceau