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21 October

In the headlines

We may soon be swamped by 100,000 daily cases of Covid, says Health Secretary Sajid Javid. It’s “tremendously reassuring” that he’s not pressing the panic button by ordering mask mandates and working from home, says the Daily Mail. But what will trigger Plan B? The government seems to have no idea, says The Times: “Bluntly, there’s a sense of drift.” The world’s biggest carbon emitters are trying to water down a UN report on climate change, says the BBC: a Saudi official has demanded that any mention of ditching fossil fuels “be eliminated” and Australia has rejected a call to shut down coal-fired power stations. Facebook is planning a name change, reports The Verge. Sure, says anti-Mark Zuckerberg congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter: “That’ll fix it 🙄”

Comment of the day




The pandemic is changing our attitude towards work, says Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Americans are quitting their jobs in record numbers and the proportion of people who envisage working beyond 62 is at its lowest since records began in 2014. We shouldn’t be surprised – crises of the pandemic’s magnitude tend to “leave an unpredictable mark on history”. World War Two “accelerated the development of penicillin and flu vaccines”. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which razed nearly 20,000 buildings, “contributed directly to the invention of the skyscraper”.


Interior designer Nicky Haslam has released his third “things Nicky Haslam finds common” drying-up cloth (not tea towel). The list includes books about Churchill, Soho House, two-bite canapés, Juliet balconies, saying “I hate having my photo taken”, swimming with dolphins, Richard Osman and art. Yours for £28. 

Gone viral

The new John Lewis insurance advert is far from sexist, says Sara Tor in The Times. With its “air of 1980s rebellion”, the ad is “pure rock and roll” – something I, for one, have “never associated with John Lewis”. Set to a Stevie Nicks song, it features a boy sporting blue eyeshadow and a dress destroying the family home as his mother and sister look grimly on. Oh come on, says Isabel Oakeshott in the Daily Mail. It’s “sexist stereotyping writ large”. No prizes for guessing “who will have to pull on the Marigolds at the end of the little darling’s rampage”. 


Quoted 21-10

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”


Snapshot answer

It’s a glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, the tallest peak in Africa at 19,340ft. A UN report has warned that climate change could melt it for ever within two decades – along with glaciers on Mount Kenya and in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda. Mount Kenya’s are likely to go first, which would make it “one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glaciers due to human-induced climate change”.