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12 December

In the headlines

It’s “Arctic Monday”, says MailOnline, after heavy overnight snowfall wrought havoc on Britain’s roads, railways and runways. Dozens of trains and flights have been cancelled, and hundreds of schools closed. The National Grid has fired up two coal power stations to cope with energy demand. American scientists have made a major breakthrough in nuclear fusion, says the FT. A US government laboratory in California used the world’s biggest laser to achieve “net energy gain” in a fusion reaction, producing 20% more energy than was put in. It raises the prospect of “limitless, zero-carbon power” – if the experiment can be replicated and scaled up. England’s footballers aren’t coming home completely empty-handed, says the Daily Star: Manchester City stars John Stones and Kyle Walker are adopting a stray cat called Dave that they befriended at the team hotel in Qatar. “Kit’s coming home.”


The difference between Harry and Meghan

Watching Harry and Meghan’s new Netflix series, “I reflected that there are two types of celebrities who detest the press”, says Janice Turner in The Times. The first wish to remain utterly private: they pull on baseball caps, resent publicity obligations and “are livid when scandal pulls them into the news”. Among them are Hugh Grant and “noted recluses” like JD Salinger. Then there are celebrities who hate the media “because it does not say exactly what they want”: it snaps them drunk and “points out shortfalls between lofty views and personal deeds”. This camp, which includes Steve Coogan and much of Hollywood, craves “maximum exposure with minimum scrutiny”.


Why is it illegal to be rude on the internet?

When Britain went into lockdown in March 2020, says Bagehot in The Economist, the 99-year-old World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore began doing laps of his garden on a Zimmer frame to make money for charity. He ended up raising £33m and the Queen gave him a knighthood. But the oddest part of the story came a year later, after he died. Joe Kelly, a Celtic fan from Glasgow, tweeted: “The only good Brit soldier is a deed one, burn auld fella, buuuuurn.” For that tweet, which was online for 20 minutes before he deleted it, Kelly was charged, threatened with jail, and eventually sentenced to 150 hours of community service. The Communications Act of 2003, which stipulates that anyone sending a “grossly offensive” or “indecent” message could face prison, effectively makes it “illegal to be rude on the internet”.


Once a “symbol of ‘yob’ culture”, hooded garments are becoming a glamorous go-to, says Vogue. A steady stream of It-girls have modelled the look at recent red-carpet events: from Simone Ashley’s crystal-bedecked number at the British Fashion Awards, to Bella Hadid’s striking Schiaparelli look at Qatar’s Emerge Gala. Fashion houses including Halpern and Yves Saint Laurent recently sent elegantly shrouded models down the runway – “a worldwide co-sign that hoods are the new chic”.


China operates more than 100 unofficial “police stations” in at least 50 countries around the world, says The Guardian. Security officials reportedly use the outposts, in cities including London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona and Sydney, to harass and intimidate dissidents into returning home. Italy, which has the most stations, even has a scheme under which Chinese police patrol Italian cities to “assist” Chinese tourists.

Inside politics

One under-appreciated factor behind Liz Truss’s downfall, says the FT, is coffee. An aide says the former PM, who is notorious for her love of double espressos, was “over-caffeinated” when she and her team were putting together their disastrous mini-Budget. “She was in this mode where everything had to be done immediately,” recalls a cabinet minister. “I was worried she was going to blow up.”

Tomorrows world

The world’s first solar-powered electric car just went into production, says Robb Report. Dutch startup Lightyear’s sleek “0” model is lined from nose to tail with solar panels, providing it with up to 44 miles a day of range. That “may not sound like that much”, but in the Netherlands drivers who cover roughly that distance per day could easily go two months between charges in the summer. If you live somewhere sunnier, like Portugal, it could be as long as seven months. Prices start at €250,000; order yours here.

Snapshot answer

It’s an ultra-close-up picture of a snowflake. When the right weather hits, says The Washington Post, Colorado photographer Jason Persoff places a black wool sock outside his studio and waits for it to catch enough falling flakes. He then “holds his breath” and snaps away. See more of his snowy pics here.


quoted 12.12.22

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde