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2 August

In the headlines

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by a US drone strike on Sunday, Joe Biden has announced. The 71-year-old terrorist was hit when he stepped out on to a balcony at his safe house in Kabul, says the Daily Mail. The CIA used two precision “Ninja” missiles, which use “pop-out swords” to “mince” targets. A new poll has Liz Truss only five points ahead of Rishi Sunak among Tory members. Sunak’s camp says it shows a lot of people are still “making up their minds”. England’s Lionesses are the “Pride of the nation”, says the Daily Mirror, after thousands of fans packed Trafalgar Square to celebrate with the team yesterday. Sunday’s win was watched by 17.4m Britons; when England’s women last reached the Euros final, in 2009, just 1.4m tuned in.

UK politics

What’s missing from this Tory contest

The “confetti of promises” being strewn around by the two Tory leadership candidates is missing one thing, says Melanie Phillips in The Times: conservatism. Rishi Sunak gives little sign of caring about anything beyond economics, “limply flapping his wrist in the direction of the NHS” or Channel migrants. Liz Truss has cooked up the “utterly impractical gimmick” of automatic Oxbridge interviews for every student with three A*s at A-level, and wants to criminalise catcalling, exactly the kind of “state micro-interference” she supposedly abhors.

Energy crisis

Big Oil isn’t ripping us off

News that energy firms are making monster profits has prompted the usual “shrill complaints”, says Ian King on the Sky News website. It’s important, though, to put these earnings in context. Take Shell. The oil giant made a record $11.5bn between April and June. But that’s what happens when energy prices are so high – in 2020, when the oil price collapsed, Shell lost nearly $20bn. Finding and extracting fossil fuels requires “vast sums of capital”, so a decent proportion of this year’s bumper earnings will be ploughed straight back into the business. As for the idea that the company is taking advantage of British motorists, that’s for the birds. “UK consumers account for a negligible part of Shell’s overall global profitability.”

On the way back

The BBC is reviving 1990s TV gameshow Gladiators, says The Guardian. A new set of “professionals” has already been selected to replace the likes of Wolf, Blaze and Falcon, who harassed contestants during “demanding tasks” like the Gauntlet, Powerball and Danger Zone. Prepare for “Lycra, perms and pugil sticks” (above).

Love etc

Boris and Carrie Johnson’s wedding bash sounds like it was “much of a muchness” with other English country weddings, says Rebecca Reid in the I newspaper. There were a few non-traditional touches: South African braai chicken rather than grey poached salmon; rum punch rather than just “slightly warm white wine”. But with outdoor hay bale seating, a choreographed first dance to Sweet Caroline, and even a token gate crasher (the top-hatted “Stop Brexit Man” Steve Bray protesting outside), the wedding followed a tried and tested formula. Johnson has spent his career trying to pretend he’s just like us, “and by throwing a wedding in a tent in a very brown English field, for one brief shining moment, it was actually sort of true”.


Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman went to impressive lengths to keep her players happy at the Euros, says The Times. She enlisted a sleep specialist to help them get the best kip possible. She encouraged team bonding by creating a fake campfire in a room at the training facility, “with toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate”, and getting players to “share their journeys both on and off the pitch”. And to keep the Lionesses entertained between matches, she arranged games of hide-and-seek “where the staff dressed up as foxes”.


North West, nine-year-old daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, is bringing her “emo aesthetic” to her dad’s brand Yeezy, says The Cut. Kardashian shared some “exceptionally creepy” drawings by North on Twitter, featuring alien faces wearing Yeezy sunglasses. Even more worrying is the hair – “synthetic or human, who’s to say?” ­– stuck on the aliens’ heads and mouths.

Inside politics

Donald Trump has announced that “Eric” has his “Complete and Total Endorsement” in the Republican primary election for Missouri senator. The problem is that there are no fewer than three Erics vying for the Republican nomination. Two of them, Eric Greitens and Eric Schmitt, have both assumed they’re the lucky Eric and tweeted their thanks to the former president.


No one knows. The neat line of holes is one of around a dozen such markings spotted on the ocean floor off the coast of Portugal. But scientists can’t work out what’s causing them, says The New York Times. “The holes look human made,” says the US government’s Ocean Exploration project, “but the little piles of sediment around them suggest they were excavated by… something.” Current theories include a submarine, aliens, or a “deep-sea creature that buries itself under the sand”.


quoted 2.8.22

“Follow your dreams, not your boyfriends.”

Gillian Anderson