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23 November

In the headlines

Boris Johnson made a “Peppa Pig’s ear” of his speech to business leaders yesterday, says Metro. He praised the cartoon character at length, compared himself to Moses and imitated the noise of a car engine. His opponents are “sharpening their knives” after the debacle, a government source tells The Times. But the PM “was on to something”, says Alex Brummer in the Mail: Peppa Pig is “one of the UK’s greatest export success stories”. Britain should “escape the worst” of Europe’s new Covid wave, says the BBC’s Nick Triggle. We opened up and had our “exit wave” in the summer – combined with booster jabs, this means we have a good level of immunity built up. The estate of JRR Tolkien has won an intellectual property dispute with a Lord of the Rings-themed cryptocurrency named JRR Token

Comment of the day

Middle East

Don’t sing for the Saudis, Justin

A little more than three years ago, my fiancé, journalist Jamal Khashoggi, walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up some documents for our wedding, says Hatice Cengiz in The Washington Post. He never returned. “He was instead murdered inside the consulate by operatives acting on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.” There are no doubts about the circumstances of his murder – the UN has called it an “international crime” for which Saudi Arabia is “responsible” and the US intelligence community has placed the blame on MBS.


Two Maoist revolutions – and one’s in America

Raising my Chinese son in the US has left me “mystified”, says Habi Zhang in The Wall Street Journal. Schools in China are run like “boot camps”: it is a core belief in Chinese society that talent can be trained, so schools should be tough on children. Result: Chinese students come top in international maths and science tests. “This is not a philosophy shared by American schools.” On Friday night my son came home “in bewilderment” that he didn’t have any homework. So what do the “therapeutic comforts America showers on its youth” portend for a growing competition with China?



Tomorrow’s world

Nike has “taken a leap into the metaverse” by creating a virtual world called Nikeland in a Roblox video game. It’s a new form of advertising, says Jessica Golden in CNBC: users dress their avatars in Nike clothing, which helps the company to test products. “If they know a bunch of kids are wearing it on Nikeland,” says analyst Sam Poser, “they will then come out with it in the physical world.” 


When Ricky Gervais pitched The Office to the BBC two decades ago, the corporation had its doubts, says Patrick Kidd in The Times. The commissioning editor, Jon Plowman, was unconvinced by the TV show’s fictional boss, David Brent. “If he’s so terrible at his job,” asked Plowman, “how does he keep it?” Gervais replied: “Let’s take a little walk around the BBC, shall we?” The series was promptly approved. 

On the money

Two people have been arrested after grabbing wads of cash that flew out of an armoured truck on a California highway. A video posted by influencer Demi Bagby shows drivers and passengers scrambling to get their hands on the bills. “This is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. Someone dropped money all over the freeway,” Bagby says as she picks up handfuls of notes and throws them in the air. Officers arrested a man and a woman at the scene after they locked themselves out of their car with cash in hand. 

Quirks of history

According to The Oldie’s column “Quite Interesting Things about… December”, during the whole of December 2017, the sun shone in Moscow for just six minutes.


Quoted 23-11

“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know that it is.”

Oscar Wilde

Snapshot answer

It’s a long-lost Roman mosaic that was made for one of Caligula’s ships. The infamous emperor was no stranger to luxury – he had a marble stable built for his horse. But until recently the precious mosaic was being used as a coffee table by a pair of New Yorkers. Art dealer Helen Fioratti bought it from a noble Italian family in the 1960s, but didn’t realise its value, so converted it into a table. It is now on display at the Museo delle Navi Romane in Nemi, near Rome.