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15 September

In the headlines

Inflation has soared to 3.2%, its highest level in nearly a decade. “It’s a serious squeeze on living standards” and leaves egg on the Bank of England’s face, says the Financial Times. The biggest leaps are in food, furniture and restaurant prices. Shamima Begum, the British schoolgirl who ran away to join Islamic State, has begged for forgiveness and to be allowed to come home from Syria. “I regret every, every decision I’ve made since I stepped into Syria and I will live with it for the rest of my life,” she told ITV this morning. The Queen’s 32 horse-race winners have earned her more than £460,000 in her best racing season. “Long to rein over us,” says The Sun.

Comment of the day

Met Gala

How clever of AOC to weaponise her wardrobe

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows exactly what she’s doing, says Molly Roberts in The Washington Post. On Monday, New York’s socialist congresswoman attended the glitzy Met Gala in a white dress with “TAX THE RICH” emblazoned on the back. Tickets for the event cost upwards of $35,000. For some, AOC was an “anti-capitalist queen, infiltrating the ranks of the despised elite to thrust her message where they can’t ignore it”. For others, she was a filthy hypocrite, “playing a game whose rules she purports to disdain”. None of that really matters. The result of AOC’s dress is this: “People who usually wouldn’t talk about the Met Gala are talking about the Met Gala.” And the people who would usually talk about the Met Gala, are talking about AOC.

US politics

Give Biden a break: he’s trying to heal America

Europeans can’t figure Joe Biden out, says Luc de Barochez in Le Point. Afghanistan was an avoidable disaster. He isn’t the heir to Obama we were expecting. Far from being the “anti-Trump”, he refuses to open the borders, cosy up with China or talk up free trade. On the other hand, Biden is doing many things right. To prevent Donald Trump – or another like-minded populist – from being elected in 2024, he must bring America together. This is why he thinks it’s more urgent “to vaccinate Americans and rebuild bridges in Pennsylvania” than to defend women’s rights in Kabul. It’s America, not the Middle East, where he “must first make democracy work”.

Inside politics

America’s most senior military commander was so worried about Donald Trump’s “serious mental decline” after the 2020 election he took action to limit the president’s ability to order a military strike. General Mark Milley told Pentagon officials not to carry out a nuclear launch without him being part of the “procedure”, according to a new book, Peril, by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. He acted after Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, rang him, saying: “If they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?” Milley allegedly replied: “Madam Speaker, I agree with you.”

On the way out

Cookery programmes. All the best chefs post on YouTube now, Jamie Oliver tells the Radio Times. So does he – the most popular video on his own YouTube channel, a spaghetti carbonara tutorial featuring Antonio Carluccio, has 18 million views. Just don’t tell the producers of Oliver’s new Channel 4 series Together, which started this week.

Gone viral

China reduced 15 skyscrapers to dust in a matter of seconds last week, after they sat empty for eight years because nobody wanted to live in them. Construction on the buildings in Liyang, eastern China, worth one billion Chinese yuan (£110m), started in 2011 but was halted several times after multiple building firms either gave up or ran out of cash. According to China’s state-run Xinhua News, 4.6 tons of explosives were placed at 85,000 points in the buildings, creating a blast area of 500,000 square metres, China’s biggest demolition.


Birds migrating south for the winter soar as high as 26,000ft, says scientist Sissel Sjöberg in The Conversation. She discovered the great reed warbler and great snipe regularly fly between 16,000ft and 20,000ft on their journey from Sweden to sub-Saharan Africa, much higher than the 6,000ft previously thought. Constant flapping and warmth from the sun apparently raise their body temperatures so much they are forced to fly to colder, higher altitudes.

Snapshot answer

It’s Boris Johnson’s mother Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who died on Monday aged 79. The artist often painted her four children; this work is entitled Johnson Children with Daisies. Of the four, one, Rachel, is a journalist, another, Leo, works for PwC, the accounting firm. The other two – Boris and Jo, a former minister – are stalwarts of the Tory party, though Charlotte once admitted that she had “never voted Tory in my life”.


quoted 15.9

“People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.”

Bill Watterson, author of Calvin and Hobbes