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22 November

In the headlines

Keir Starmer has told business leaders that Britain must end its “dependency” on migrant workers. In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry, the Labour leader committed to a points-based immigration system and said the days of “low pay and cheap labour” were over. Cutting-edge treatments could double the life expectancy of people with advanced cancer. The techniques, set out in a new paper from the Institute of Cancer Research, include using AI to formulate precise drug combinations and dosing routines. A woman in Oregon has given birth to the world’s “oldest” babies, says CNN. Rachel Ridgeway had twins via IVF from embryos that were frozen by a donor 30 years ago, when George HW Bush was president.


Why shouldn’t Qatar host the World Cup?

Ignore the “indignant pundits”, says The Economist. Qatar is a “perfectly good choice” to host the World Cup. Yes, its migrant workers are often mistreated, and yes, there is less sexual freedom than in the West. But the same is true of Russia, the previous hosts, and China, which put on the most recent Olympic Games last winter. And unlike those countries, Qatar is moving towards democracy rather than away from it: the previous emir introduced elections “of a sort” and set up a news channel, Al Jazeera, that is much more outspoken than its Arab rivals. Compare that to Moscow and Beijing, where “no peep of political dissent” is tolerated. Hell, “the Argentine junta that hosted the World Cup in 1978 threw critics out of helicopters”.

British politics

Starmer is wrong about the Lords

It’s easy to see why Keir Starmer wants to replace the House of Lords with an elected body, says Paul Waugh in the I newspaper. It’s a way to fend off charges he would simply be a “managerialist prime minister” and inject a “frisson of radicalism” into an otherwise bland manifesto. But his plans risk “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. Starmer will quickly run into the problem all reformers have encountered: how to prevent creating a powerful rival to the Commons. Look to the US, which is a case in point of how two elected chambers almost always end up “stuck in gridlock”.

Staying young

At an age when most men are “letting out the belt loops and eyeing up knitwear”, says Stephen Doig in The Daily Telegraph, 54-year-old Daniel Craig is “slipping into a slinky pair of jeans and gyrating the night away”. Part “Russian Mafia henchman”, part “Mediterranean gigolo”, Craig’s new look (in an advert for Belvedere Vodka) is not for everyone. But he “still looks damn good”. Watch the full video here.

Inside politics

The number of people who graduate from British universities with Chinese degrees has fallen to just 300 a year, says Yuan Yang in the FT. Of the Foreign Office’s 17,000-odd staff, only 41 are fluent in Mandarin. This blind spot is a genuine “threat to the nation’s security”. The concentration of China expertise in the hands of such a tiny group carries all kinds of dangers, from CCP influence to political fads and groupthink. And with such a limited understanding of how China works, how can we avoid getting duped in trade deals, let alone conduct delicate diplomacy?


Step aside, naked dresses, says Alice Cary in Vogue. It’s time for “naked shoes”. Think less strappy sandals, more transparent PVC and gauzy mesh that show off your whole foot: “big toe, little toe, and everything in between”. Net-a-Porter reported a 400% increase in searches for “transparent heels” after brands including Valentino and Loewe debuted glassy footwear during fashion month. The only drawback? They fog up whenever your feet get sweaty, meaning “wet wipes are a handbag essential”.

On the money

How I love this picture of Sam Bankman-Fried talking about “effective altruism” with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, says Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph. With his trainers, white socks and baggy shorts, the 30-year-old founder of the now-bankrupt crypto giant FTX is “like the creation of a satirist”. There is a “clever arrogance” in dressing like this in the company of other rich and powerful figures. “You make Blair, Clinton et al, who feel they must dress conventionally, feel inferior. Like some yogic Indian guru, you appear to possess arcane wisdom.” My advice to investors? “Don’t entrust your money to a man who exposes his legs at business meetings.”


How I miss the old hell-raisers like Richard Harris, says Carol Midgley in The Times. As a new Sky documentary reminds us, the actor once went out for a newspaper and disappeared for eight days. On returning home to his furious wife, he joked: “Why didn’t you pay the ransom?” Another time, he drunkenly drove a truck under a low bridge, “lifting it clean off its pillars”. When the police arrived, he said, “Sorry officer, I’m just delivering this bridge to Limerick.” Today’s actors are so boring by comparison. Mark Wahlberg’s daily routine involves getting up at 3.30am to pray and work out, several hours of fasting, and going to bed at 7.30pm. Anne Hathaway had a baby and declared that she wouldn’t “touch alcohol again until he is 18”.


It’s a drivable office chair that can reach speeds of over 12mph. Built by Volkswagen’s Norwegian branch to promote the firm’s electric cars, the fast-moving furniture is equipped with a horn, seatbelt and music system, and can be controlled by two pedals at the sitter’s feet. It’s available for test drives at VW dealerships across Norway.


quoted 28.10.22

“You have to be efficient if you’re going to be lazy.”

Shirley Conran