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14 December

In the headlines

Rishi Sunak has pledged to clear the backlog of 140,000 asylum claims by the end of 2023. The PM’s five-point plan includes a deal to return thousands of Albanians home on weekly deportation flights, and for the 40,000 migrants living in hotels to be moved to empty holiday camps and disused military sites. UK inflation has “probably passed its peak” after dipping to 10.7% in November, says the FT. Cheaper petrol helped lower the rate from its 41-year high last month, despite prices rising in restaurants and pubs. A border collie in Wales has crashed his owner’s Jeep after jumping into the driver’s seat and knocking the handbrake off, says the Daily Star. “Bloody bark-seat drivers!”


What Ben Stokes can teach us

Something went down in Rawalpindi, Pakistan last week “that we can all learn an awful lot from”, says Giles Coren in The Times. England’s Test cricket team beat Pakistan, in Pakistan, for only the third time in more than 60 years. It’s because the England captain, Ben Stokes, inspired his men to play to win rather than to draw, even though this risked an embarrassing defeat. Stokes knows all about courting disaster: in 2017, he beat up someone outside a Bristol nightclub, risking his entire career, because the man was threatening a gay couple. Stokes was dropped from the England team, “cleared of affray, came back, rose again”.


Has Qatar been bribing the EU?

The arrest of four EU officials and insiders on corruption charges is a disaster for the bloc, says the FT. Among those ensnared in the Qatar-linked “cash-for-favours” probe is Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who was one of the European Parliament’s 14 vice-presidents. It’s a terrible look for a body that presents itself as the EU’s “moral conscience”. And it’s particularly embarrassing given that Brussels has noisily threatened to withhold €7.5bn of funds from Hungary over its misuse of EU money. The Hungarian PM, Viktor Orban, has been quick to mock. “And then they said the EP is seriously concerned about corruption in Hungary,” he tweeted, alongside a picture of politicians rolling with laughter. Respect for the law is “pivotal to how the EU defines itself”. Without this, as Orban’s taunting shows, it loses its ability to “hold others to account”.

Gone viral

Cubefield is a simple but very addictive game: using only the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard, you have to guide your craft through a field of cubes at an ever-increasing speed. The longer you last, the higher your score. Try it out here.


Sculptor Veronica Ryan becoming the oldest ever winner of the Turner Prize, at 66, bucks an annoying trend, says Martha Gill in The Observer: too many arts awards going to the young. Of course, “25-year-old prodigy” is a much easier sell than “60-year-old striver”. But the imbalance is “doing both a disservice”. Countless twentysomethings wilt under the “red-hot beam of media interest”: Lena Dunham has been struggling since Girls; Sally Rooney moans about the “hell” of fame. And aside from the odd genuine wunderkind, “years of honing are how great artists are made”. Van Gogh’s early work isn’t much good. Philip Pullman is so ashamed of his first novel, The Haunted Storm, published when he was 25, that he asked for it never to be reprinted.


Colder weather is a perfect time to embrace “Ephroncore”, says Vogue: “the millennial urge to romanticise Nora Ephron’s work and fictional characters”. Specifically, it boils down to “anything categorically cosy” – a warm pillow, toasty winter coats, “a sofa with the optimum amount of squish”. The acclaimed filmmaker behind iconic romcoms such as When Harry Met Sally… and You’ve Got Mail has developed an almost cult-like online following, with fans gleefully welcoming the arrival of “her season”.

Love etc

Olivia Wilde has had a miserable year, says Allie Jones in Gawker. Her ex, Jason Sudeikis, served her custody papers live on stage; her film Don’t Worry Darling flopped; and then Harry Styles dumped her. But the 38-year-old may just have made up for it all – by taking her kids to Disneyland. Any divorce lawyer will tell you that visiting a theme park with your children is “one of the most important things you can do” during a custody battle. It screams: “I am a great mum. My kids want to spend time with me. I’m also totally fun and let them have churros.” Sudeikis is going to have to get the children “backstage at an Olivia Rodrigo concert” to top her.

From the archives

This video, shot by the Lumière brothers in 1897, is thought to be the first ever recorded snowball fight. It took place on a wintry street in Lyon. See the full short here.


It’s a mob of skiing Santas in the US state of Maine. The annual charity event drew more than 300 attendees on Sunday, says AP News, all dressed in red “with white beards and Santa hats flapping in the breeze”. A skiing Grinch and Christmas tree also “joined the party”.


quoted 14.12.22

“God shows his contempt for wealth by the kind of person he selects to receive it.”

American author Austin O’Malley