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20 July

In the headlines

Vaccine passports are to be made compulsory for nightclubs in September, although many believe this will have to happen much sooner. Tory MPs are worried that the PM will emulate his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, who reopened nightclubs last month, saw a huge rise in Covid cases, then had to reimpose restrictions, apologising for his “error of judgement”. In an interview with the BBC last night, Dominic Cummings claimed Boris Johnson told him last October: “I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff.” He reportedly said he wanted to let Covid “wash through the country” rather than ruin the economy. The Met Office has issued its first-ever “extreme heat warning”. Parts of the UK could reach 33C today – hotter than Tenerife. 

Comment of the day




The largest wildfire in America has burnt through more than 340,000 acres of land in Oregon. Thousands of people have been evacuated and more than 2,000 are battling the blaze. This is a new style of fire, says Henry Fountain in The New York Times. It’s so large and so hot that it is changing the weather, causing 140mph winds, clouds and “fire tornados”. “Normally the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do.”


Reading past articles about Afghanistan is “illuminating”, says investigative reporter Iain Overton on Twitter. Here’s one that didn’t age well: “We won the war (in Afghanistan), using high explosives and the newest technology, with almost indecent ease.” That was Ben Macintyre in The Times on 31 August, 2002. 

Tomorrow’s world

Lab-grown foie gras made from goose and duck stem cells is proving a revelation in France, says Bloomberg. Parisian start-up Gourmey grows “remarkably good” livers in stainless-steel tanks, harvested from a single fertilised egg and made in vitro. It has raised $10m in seed funding and received state backing. The game could be up for the cruel practice of stuffing feed down a bird’s throat until its liver swells, known as gavage


American kids watched so much Peppa Pig during the pandemic, they developed British accents and started using words such as “holiday” instead of “vacation,” says The Wall Street Journal. One Californian youngster asked her mother, in a polished British accent: “Mummy, are you going to the optician?” Another in Rhode Island demanded: “Can we turn the telly on?”


Quoted 20-07

“Once Bezos is in space we are going to have just 11 minutes to change the locks on the entire planet. It’s going to be tight; we can do it.

Andrew Hunter Murray on Twitter


Oxford dons should stop “throwing tantrums” over statues and focus on addressing the inequalities of today, says Dr Marie Kawthar Daouda in the Telegraph. Making a fuss over a statue of Cecil Rhodes is a “dazzling sign of western privilege”, according to Oriel College’s only African tutor. Patriarchy in Victorian Britain was “in many ways still better than the conditions girls and women currently endure in several African countries”. 

Snapshot answer

It’s former 007 Pierce Brosnan, who is planning an exhibition of his artwork for the first time. I started painting “one dark night in 1987”, the Irish actor wrote on Instagram. Since then he has sold a portrait of Bob Dylan for £1.1m. Now he’s flogging paintings of naked women, a still life of earplugs and a portrait of a man wearing a necklace made of Swiss cheese.