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22 September

In the headlines

Joe Biden has poured cold water on the idea there will be a swift trade deal with the UK. What do you expect, said Democratic congressman Brendan Boyle on Twitter: “About 30% of US trade is with Canada and Mexico … As for the UK, it’s 2.5%.” Boris Johnson asked for a show of hands from world leaders at the UN yesterday on who had read his Churchill biography – up went the Costa Rica premier’s. “It’s very good,” said Carlos Alvarado Quesada. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro admitted it was on his shelf but he had yet to break the spine. The taxpayer is to prop up a major carbon-dioxide supplier (whose American boss earns £6.5m a year) to avoid “farmageddon” and keep British supermarkets from running out of meat, beer and bagged salads. These bailouts are “all starting to look a bit more Edward Heath than the Iron Lady”, says The Times.

Comment of the day


We can’t expect ‘moral perfection’ from our leaders

Progressives ought to love Justin Trudeau, says Omer Aziz in The Atlantic. Since 2015, the Canadian PM has got a lot done. He has raised taxes on the rich, legalised marijuana, reduced child poverty to the lowest level in decades and resettled tens of thousands of refugees. Still, this week his Liberal party limply won the general election by a hair. It’s no surprise. When I worked for Trudeau almost everyone I talked to doubted him. No matter how much he claimed he was a feminist or anti-racist, something about Trudeau rang false. When pictures of him in blackface at a party in 2001 emerged, everyone, left and right, took it as proof of his hypocrisy.

Abraham Accords

Trump’s Middle East deal has been a big success

On September 15, 2020, Israel, Bahrain and the UAE met at Donald Trump’s White House to sign the Abraham Accords peace agreement. Sudan and Morocco joined shortly afterwards. One year on, the agreement is holding strong, says Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. In much of the Arab world, Jewish relations are thriving. We’ve seen the emergence of Dubai’s “secret synagogue” and the spectacle of hundreds of Jews in December “dancing around a giant menorah” at the foot of the Burj Khalifa to celebrate Hanukkah. Kosher food is now on the menu at restaurants in Dubai and for in-flight meals on the airline Emirates. Israel is even hosting a pavilion at the Dubai Expo, which opens next month. Words like “historic” and “sea change” get thrown around a lot but Trump can hold his head high for this.

On the money

Maya Ruiz-Picasso, the 86-year-old daughter of Pablo, has settled an inheritance tax bill by giving nine of his artworks to France. The six paintings, two sculptures and sketchbook, whose dates range from 1895 to 1971, could together be worth tens of millions of pounds, says John Reynolds in The Times.


Presenter Holly Willoughby has launched a new wellbeing website, taking on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. Wylde Moon offers everything from “meditation to crystals to manifestation”, a celebrity-guest podcast called By the Light of the Moon and even lists the moon as a member of staff (head of “guidance and intuition”). “Is she paying the moon?” asks comic Sarah Keyworth on Twitter. “Is it on a salary? Does it take holiday?”


The National Gallery has an unlikely business partner – My Little Pony. Using a new app, gallery-goers can scan horse paintings by the likes of Stubbs and watch a prancing cartoon pony be superimposed onto artworks. What a farce, says Laura Freeman in The Daily Telegraph. The gallery boasts about its snazzy “augmented reality” technology, but isn’t a painting already reality augmented? “Somewhere in the great artistic garret in the sky, Anthony van Dyck, George Stubbs and Joshua Reynolds must be smashing their palettes.”

Quirks of history

Did James Joyce invent oak milk, wonders Mariah Kreutter in Gawker. In his 1922 novel Ulysses, Joyce’s literary alter ego Stephen Dedalus remembers drinking cocoa “with the oatmealwater for milk” – decades before Rickard Oste, founder of Oatly, started selling his own oat-based dairy substitute in the 1990s. But Dedalus reusing water that oatmeal had been soaking in mainly signifies his poverty, rather than any prescient trendiness.

Snapshot answer

It’s an underwater sinkhole, or cenote, in Quintana Roo state, Mexico. Located 40ft below the Mayan jungle, it’s part of a network of ancient rivers that was formed when sea levels rose during the last ice age. Speleothems – sinister-looking, finger-shaped mineral deposits – have emerged from the surrounding limestone. Martin Broen won exploration photographer of the year at the 2021 Ocean Photographer of the Year awards for the image.


quoted 22.9

“Reality is something you rise above.”

Liza Minnelli