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15 July

In the headlines

The Amazon rainforest is now emitting more CO2 than it’s absorbing – mostly due to fires to clear land for beef and soy production. A new report on the British diet proposes taxing salt and sugar and prescribing vegetables on the NHS. Boris Johnson has cast doubt on it, saying he’s “not attracted” to the idea of extra taxes “on hard working people”. Britney Spears has won the right to choose her own lawyer, as she fights to end the 13-year conservatorship that controls her business and personal life. She posted a video of her cartwheeling on social media.

Comment of the day

Climate change

The Tories need to go green

The Earth is in trouble and “if we don’t act now, an entire way of life will be destroyed”, says Tim Stanley in The Telegraph. Saying that will lose me friends, but just look at Canada: hundreds have died in the extreme heat the country has been experiencing and most of the town of Lytton recently burned to the ground. It’s true that politicians and big business are acting to tackle man-made climate change, but we’re doing “too little too late”. And as we fight a rearguard action here, the Conservatives need to get their act together. Otherwise, they will lose to a green-left alliance that uses environmentalism to redistribute power and money. “If you want to save capitalism, you’ve got to go green.”


You’re right not saving Haiti, Mr Biden

The best thing the US can do for Haiti, says Bret Stephens in The New York Times, is “as little as possible”. Thankfully, Joe Biden’s instincts seem to be right. Washington has agreed to help find out who was responsible for last week’s assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, but that’s it. There’s undoubtedly a US link: two Haitian Americans were caught up in the plot, and a Haitian-born doctor based in Florida has been arrested in Haiti, accused of ordering the killing so that he could become president. Some members of the 28-man hit squad have claimed they were hired by a security firm based near Miami.


According to his partner Emma Freud, British film director Richard Curtis once received a text from their son Jake: “Dad, can you pick me up from school today?” Curtis promptly responded: “I have been in America for the past eight days. I am so sorry you have not noticed.”

Tomorrow’s world

Glow-in-the-dark bacteria could pinpoint the position of old landmines, researchers have shown. They have been using genetic engineering to turn each bacterium into “a miniature firefly” when in the presence of a particular chemical associated with the devices, Shimshon Belkin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told the New York Times. There are an estimated 110 million anti-personnel landmines worldwide. In 2019 they killed or injured more than 5,500 people.


quoted 15.7

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

Gore Vidal

Gone viral

Kevin Parry is a Canadian animator whose video wizardry has been foxing the internet. “I (would like to think I) know how this s*** is done,” tweeted the American director Ed Solomon, but “I have no f***ing idea.” It’s simple – Parry says that for his banana video he filmed his best impression of the falling fruit (onto some cushions out of shot), followed by “about 100” attempts at rolling the banana until one of them lined up with his fall. Then he spliced the videos together, visually “smearing” his dark hat into the banana’s stalk.


Among Euro 2020’s “main contenders”, Italy’s 26-man squad was the only one that didn’t feature a single non-white player, says The Economist. Young sportsmen and women of colour aren’t nurtured in Italy, partly because those born to immigrant parents are usually unable to apply to become Italian until they’re 18. Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, the leaders of two Italian hard-right parties that together are polling at 41%, support the policy. They both tweeted images of their team celebrating their win on Sunday. “It will do neither politician any harm that none of those faces was black.”