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13 November

In the headlines

David Cameron is returning to frontline politics as foreign secretary. The former PM replaces James Cleverly, who has been appointed home secretary after the sacking of Suella Braverman this morning. Cameron, who will take a seat in the House of Lords, is the first ex-leader to return to the cabinet since Alec Douglas-Home 53 years ago. Gaza’s largest hospital is no longer functioning, according to the World Health Organisation. The UN agency says at least 2,300 people are sheltering inside al-Shifa, which is without power and water. Nigel Farage has arrived in Australia amid speculation he has accepted a £1.5m offer to appear on this year’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! As one user on X (formerly Twitter) points out: “He’ll be able to get himself a Coutts account with that.”

Quirk of history

Star forts first emerged more than 500 years ago “in response to the growing power of cannons on the battlefield”, says The Atlantic. The polygonal structures, which typically have sloped walls and angled bastions, were designed to give defenders better coverage above attackers. Examples include Fort Bourtange, which surrounds a small village in the Netherlands; the Citadel of Jaca in Spain; the fortified town of Palmanova in northeastern Italy; Manjarabad Fort in India; and the Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort near Elvas, Portugal. See more here.

Inside politics

Angela Merkel always “detested” Donald Trump, says Politico. According to Jonathan Karl’s new book, Tired of Winning, the then US president boasted to a congressman that Merkel had privately complimented him on the size of his rallies, telling him there was “only one other political leader who ever got crowds as big”. The congressman said he wasn’t sure whether Trump knew she was comparing him to Hitler.

Food and drink

Home décor doesn’t just affect our moods, says Indy100, it can also change the taste of wine. Booze boffins measured how people’s experience of wine changed across three styles: “relaxed” spaces full of natural materials; “neutral” rooms with barely anything in them; and “energetic” interiors full of colours, shapes and patterns. The last of those – so-called “dopamine décor” – significantly boosted the vividness of participants’ sensory experiences, leading drinkers to award higher scores to the wine they tried. Vibrant decoration also made tipplers think their wine was more expensive. Hosts, take note.

Nice work if you can get it

British petrolheads want a crack at the world land speed record using the Bloodhound supersonic car, says the BBC. But they’re short of one crucial thing: a driver. To be in the running, candidates will need to prove they can withstand travelling at more than 800mph, and ideally have a major sponsorship deal already lined up. The Bloodhound has been sitting in Coventry Transport Museum since Covid, which stymied a previous attempt despite several blistering test runs in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert in 2019 (above). Reviving the project is expected to cost around £12m, so being a big name, and a decent fundraiser, would help.


A new app that listens to you recite tongue-twisters can tell how drunk you are with 98% accuracy, says The Daily Telegraph. Built by Stanford University squares, the tipsiness test asks users to recite rhymes like “She sells sea shells” and “Woodchuck”, before analysing their voice patterns. The study included only 18 adults, in various states of inebriation, so the sobriety service will go through further testing before being made public. 🥴💬


It’s Kealia Pond in Maui, Hawaii, which for some reason has turned bubblegum pink. Scientists don’t know for sure what has created the bright, Barbie-ish hue, says the BBC, but they suspect it’s to do with high salt levels prompting the growth of halobacteria. Despite the pond’s colourful look, people are being warned not to get too close, or – under any circumstances – to drink the water.


Quoted 13-11-23

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Amelia Earhart