Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

11 May

In the headlines

TransPennine Express will be nationalised due to poor service, after cancelling about a quarter of all its trains in January and February. The rail company, which operates in northern England and parts of Scotland, is the fourth to be taken into public hands in five years. The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the government’s migration bill as “morally unacceptable”, saying it risks “great damage to the UK’s interests and reputation”. Justin Welby made the comments in the House of Lords, where the bill, which will bar almost anyone entering Britain on small boats from claiming asylum, is being debated. Starbucks has opened its first café in central Rome. The American chain has established 25 branches in coffee-loving Italy since 2018 and is now “in striking distance” of Naples, says The Times, “where locals swear the water gives their espresso a unique quality”.


This year’s 100 for the Ocean campaign, which showcases wildlife photography to raise funds for conservation efforts, includes pictures of a turtle in a shoal of glass fish in Western Australia, two polar bear cubs playing with their mother in Canada, the plumage of an Edward’s fig parrot in New Guinea, and a surfer in the waves of the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. See more here.


The main argument used by anti-nuclear campaigners in Germany – which shuttered its last three atomic power plants last month – is that it’s dangerous. In fact, says Hannah Ritchie in The Washington Post, Germany’s main power source, coal, is far worse. The country relies on lignite, the “dirtiest” form of the fossil fuel, which releases sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other nasties. It’s likely that more lives have been lost in Germany due to air pollution from coal power “than from all of the world’s nuclear accidents to date, Fukushima and Chernobyl included”.

Staying young

Sleep “can be almost priceless” for passengers on long-haul flights, says Bloomberg. “Now Air New Zealand plans to sell it for around $100 an hour.” From next September, the antipodean airline will offer four-hour slots in its new “Skynest” bunk beds to economy-class travellers on flights from Auckland to New York (16 hours) and to Chicago (15 hours). The crew will “politely wake” any passengers who oversleep.


New York’s office buildings feel “eerily empty”, says The New York Times, with occupancy rates around 50% of their pre-pandemic level. Combined, the roughly 75 million sq ft of vacant office space in the city would fill 26.6 Empire State Buildings.

Inside politics

“Every prime minister has at least one guilty pleasure,” says Katy Balls in The Spectator. “Rishi Sunak has several.” The PM is often teased by colleagues for “his taste in music (Michael Bublé), television (Emily in Paris) and literature (Jilly Cooper)”. One of his favourite books is Cooper’s first “bonkbuster”, Riders, about the great and the good “frolicking in the fictional Cotswolds county of Rutshire”.


It’s a composite of ultra-high-definition images of Earth, taken by the European Space Agency’s flashy new satellite. The pioneering tech makes it possible to see certain meteorological features for the first time, including cloud vortices over the Canary Islands, snow cover on the Alps, and sediment in the water along the coast of Italy. Explore it for yourself here.


quoted 11.5.23

“Vote for Guy Fawkes. The only man to enter parliament with honest intent.”

Spotted on a poster during the 1979 general election