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16 November

In the headlines

There is “no indication” that the missile which struck Poland yesterday, killing two, was the result of a “deliberate attack” by Russia, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg has said. It was “very likely” caused by Ukrainian air defences trying to target incoming Russian rockets, according to Polish President Andrzej Duda. Donald Trump has launched his 2024 presidential bid. In an hour-long speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, the twice-impeached president claimed he would introduce the death penalty for drug dealers and launch a mission to plant the American flag on Mars. “To paraphrase Voltaire after he attended an orgy,” says National Review, “once was an experiment, twice would be perverse.” Nasa has successfully launched the most powerful space rocket in history. Artemis 1 took off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida this morning, beginning its 25-day journey to the moon and back.

British politics

What Boris Johnson got right

Rishi Sunak’s pledge to uphold the promises of the 2019 Tory election campaign is smart politics, says Sebastian Payne in the FT. The manifesto had “far more depth and ambition” than the simple “Get Brexit Done” slogan it is remembered for. Full of bold plans for “devolution, expansion of the railways and a boost for science”, it remains the “best blueprint for fixing the country”. It is also the defining text of Boris Johnsonism: “broadly leaning left on economics, tilting right on social and culture issues”. Written with the pro-Brexit, former Labour heartlands of the Red Wall in mind, the manifesto managed to unite the wider Tory base.

US politics

Was Trump’s announcement a sign of weakness?

Donald Trump’s announcement that he is running for president in 2024 was meant to be a “show of strength”, says Ross Douthat in The New York Times. By entering the race early, he is trying to “cow potential rivals”, seize the media spotlight, and start running up endorsements and fundraising totals. He may also see it as a “pre-emptive political strike” against potential legal action – to convince Republicans that Biden’s Justice Department is coming after him “only because they want to keep him from the White House”. Really, though, his campaign launch is an “admission of weakness”. Were he in a position of strength, he could have sat back in Mar-a-Lago as rivals “exhausted themselves with futile campaigning” and the people “clamoured for their once and future king”.

Eating in

If you order a box of frozen beef croquettes from Asahiya, a family-run butcher in Japan, says CNN, it’ll take about 30 years to arrive. That’s because only 200 of the highly coveted “Extreme Croquettes” are made each day, using top-grade Kobe beef raised nearby. Launched in the early 2000s as a money-losing scheme – to prompt customers to buy the shop’s more substantial cuts of beef – the sought-after snacks soon became an internet sensation. Customers receiving their croquettes today placed their order around 10 years ago.


If Vladimir Putin decides to escalate his war in Ukraine, he may not use traditional nukes, says Roger Pardo-Maurer in the FT. He could instead opt for a tactical electromagnetic pulse (EMP): a weapon which delivers a “powerful pulse of energy” that short-circuits everything from computers and satellites to radios and traffic lights. An EMP wouldn’t destroy buildings or kill civilians – but it could permanently disable 90% of satellites over the afflicted zone, and render Nato kit including radios, GPS navigation and aerial drones totally useless.


Researchers at Tokyo University have discovered that rats have innate rhythm. Without prior training, the animals moved their heads in time with Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos, and when the track was sped up or slowed down, they adjusted their pace to match. The rhythmic rodents found it easiest to stay in time with tracks between 120 and 140 beats per minute, bobbing along happily to Michael Jackson’s Beat It and Sugar by Maroon 5.

Quirk of history

The 19th century had its own version of virtual reality, says My Modern Met. “Paper peepshows” were little books that folded out like an accordion to reveal a delicately carved scene inside. It “makes you feel as though you were promenading with the best of them in the Jardin des Tuileries at the end of the Bourbon Restoration”, says @book_historia on Instagram.


Many celebrities try to go incognito in public, says Patrick Kidd in The Times, but a famous face can be beneficial for a bit of “light hooliganism”. When the England football team were defeated by Scotland at Wembley in 1977, the Scottish fans “rampaged on to the pitch and tore down the goalposts”. Among the invaders was Rod Stewart, then at the peak of his fame. “Police were trying to stop fans going on,” the singer recalls. “I lifted my hat and when the officer saw who it was he said: ‘Oh all right, go on then.’”

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They’re an old pair of Birkenstocks worn by Steve Jobs in the 1970s, which have sold at auction for $218,000. The “well-used” brown suede slip-ons set a record for the highest price ever paid for a pair of sandals, according to the auctioneers, who added that the cork and jute footbed “retains the imprint” of Jobs’s feet. The individual who shelled out for the gross old shoes has chosen to remain anonymous.


quoted 16.11.22

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.”

Albert Camus