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22 November

In the headlines

Riots are sweeping Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Croatia and Switzerland as European countries impose fresh lockdowns to contain a “lightning” wave of coronavirus. Austrian anti-vaxxers tried to burn a police officer alive, while police in Brussels turned tear gas and water cannon on thousands of protestors furious about the new restrictions. A car ploughed into a crowd at a Wisconsin holiday parade yesterday, killing five people and injuring more than 40. Police told CBS News they do not think it was a terror attack “at this time”; they believe the SUV was fleeing another crime scene. Monarch butterflies are rebounding, says The Guardian. After years of decline, the species have been seen coating eucalyptus trees in California “like orange lace”.

Comment of the day


What happens when you “disappear”

As a child, Peng Shuai was told by doctors that she’d never play tennis professionally because of a heart defect, says Luke Mintz in The Sunday Telegraph. Unperturbed, she underwent heart surgery and by 15 was part of the national tennis scene. Fighting off attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to take two-thirds of her earnings, by 27 she had won doubles titles at Wimbledon and the French Open. But on 2 November the 35-year-old described in a long blog how, years ago, she was forced into sex by a former vice president of the politburo, Zhang Gaoli, while a guard stood watch outside the door.


Flounce away if you like, Monsieur Bern. Paris will lure you back

France’s best-known heritage conservationist is quitting Paris because he thinks it’s become a “rubbish bin”, says Giles Coren in The Times. “‘C’est une poubelle!’ I can imagine super-rich Stéphane Bern squealing as he swivels on his handmade shoes, slams the door of his chi-chi flat in Pigalle, and flounces off up country” to the military school he has renovated in northern France. Bern, thought to be the world’s richest journalist (net worth £100m), doesn’t like the ugly cycle lanes put in by “horrid” socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo, or the “feminist” benches that have replaced the old wrought-iron ones (to “encourage women to sit together” – yes, it does sound daft). The city is noisy and dirty, says Bern, and it’s getting uglier.



Inside politics

Why is Dominic Cummings so vehemently anti-establishment? The answer lies in a Durham nightclub, he told The Weekly Dish in a podcast. The club, called Klute, was once owned by his family; Cummings used to work there during the summer holidays while a student at Oxford. It made him realise that ordinary people thought about politics very differently to the educated set at Oxford and Westminster.


Fed up with rambling professors, students are watching lectures online at twice the normal speed, says Laura Spinney in The Guardian. And it works, according to Canadian psychologist Evan Risko, who found speed-watching had little negative impact on students’ memories. Woody Allen felt differently. He once joked that he’d taken a speed-reading course and got through War and Peace in 20 minutes. When he tried to summarise it, all he could say was: “It’s about Russia.”

Tomorrow’s world

It looks like meat, it smells like meat, but the Israeli company Redefine Meat’s 3D-printed steak is 100% plant-based: it’s made from soy, pea protein, beetroot, chickpeas and coconut fat. It was unveiled at restaurants in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Tel Aviv last week – Marco Pierre White, who is serving the “meat” in London, says it’s “the cleverest thing I’ve seen in my 45 years in the industry”.

On the way out

The shuffle button on Spotify, which Adele says is ruining albums. “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason,” she said, asking the streaming giant to hide the option to listen to her tracks in a random order. “Anything for you,” tweeted Spotify – which promptly obliged. 


Kamala Harris became the most powerful person in the world on Friday – for an hour and 25 minutes. The US Vice President took control of the country while Joe Biden, 79, was under anaesthesia for a colonoscopy. Donald Trump refused to go under when he had a similar procedure because he didn’t want to hand over power to Mike Pence. 

Snapshot answer

It’s Peanut Butter and Jelly, the turkeys who were pardoned by Joe Biden in the White House Rose Garden on Friday. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition for the President to spare the lives of two turkeys every year, and the Indiana-raised birds stayed at the Willard hotel in Washington DC before the ceremony. 


Quoted 22-11

“Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.”

Ogden Nash