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17 September

In the headlines

The new defence pact between the UK, US and Australia has “supremely cheesed off” the EU, says Politico’s Esther Webber. France has lost a $55bn contract to build Australia’s submarines and the EU’s new Indo-Pacific strategy has been upstaged. But China is apoplectic. Its state-run Global Times says Australians are “likely to be the first batch of western soldiers to waste their lives in the South China Sea”. Expensive PCR tests are to be scrapped for double-jabbed travellers returning to England, as part of today’s travel rule overhaul. Boris Johnson wants to reinstate imperial measurements.Yes,” says the Financial Times’s Henry Mance on Twitter. “Can’t wait to be able to go to a pub and order a pint again.”

Comment of the day

Arc de Triomphe

How can the covering of monuments be art?

The Arc de Triomphe has been wrapped in fabric as a tribute to the late artists Christo (1935-2020) and Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009), who imagined doing just that in 1961. “It’s public indecency,” says Mikaël Faujour in Marianne. And it’s definitely not art. Certainly the piece doesn’t add anything to the world or produce symbolic value. Beyond an ugly list of figures reeled off by the fawning media – 25,000 square metres of fabric held in place by 3,000 metres of red rope at a cost of €14m – what is there actually to say about it?


There’s nothing cosy and warm about the ‘new’ Taliban

Since the Taliban seized Kabul last month, there’s been a tendency to play down the jihadists’ behaviour, says America’s former national security adviser HR McMaster in The Sunday Times. One British general called them “country boys” who “happen to live by a code of honour”. Others now say “Taliban 2.0” – “as if it’s a company after a brand refresh”. It’s delusion. We know exactly who they are and why they’re so dangerous.

Gone viral

An indigenous woman living in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has become an unlikely TikTok star, says The Washington Post. Cunhaporanga Tatuyo, 22, gained more than 6 million followers after posting a video of herself eating a “wriggly, thick beetle larva” – everyday food to her. She posts scenes of life in her village, home to the Tatuyo people, on her iPhone7. A video of her little brother twerking has racked up 42.4 million views so far.

Tomorrow’s world

Chinese scientists have dreamt up a way to connect future Martian colonies: hypersonic drones. A 500kg drone with jet engines burning fuel made from Mars’s abundant magnesium deposits could reach speeds of 3,800mph, say Beijing’s boffins, thanks to the planet’s low gravity and thin atmosphere. China hopes to establish colonies on the planet in the 2050s.


THE HIDEAWAY The Beatles tried to buy the guitar-shaped Greek island of Ethereal in 1967 and Haile Selassie is known to have spent some time there. Surrounded by aquamarine waters and ringed with beaches, this slice of paradise has olive, pistachio, pomegranate, apricot and peach trees and comes with a four-bedroom house, two guest houses, a chapel, a boathouse and a dock – and all for less than the price of some London homes. Athens airport is a 15-minute helicopter ride away or a one-hour drive and short boat trip. £6.36m.

Quirks of history

Yesterday marked the 101st anniversary of the Wall Street bombing – at the time the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil. Windows shattered up to half a mile away after a horse-drawn wagon loaded with dynamite was detonated in front of the headquarters of JP Morgan, killing 38 people and seriously wounding 143. No one knows who carried out the attack and no perpetrators were ever caught (though Italian anarchists were suspected). Damage from the blast is still visible at Number 23 Wall Street, as JP Morgan refused to have it repaired.

Snapshot answer

It is believed to be the bronze ship’s bell that rang out on board the Santa Maria when Christopher Columbus first sighted the Americas in 1492. The bell is set to be auctioned in the coming weeks in Miami, with a starting price of £4.3m. Italian diver Roberto Mazzara discovered it in the wreck of a ship that sank in Portuguese waters in 1555 while returning from America laden with objects related to the discovery of the continent.


quoted 17.9

“I think age is a very high price to pay for maturity.”

Tom Stoppard