Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

13 May

In the headlines

In a “tetchy” phone call to Brussels, Liz Truss has warned she may have “no choice” but to rip up a chunk of the Brexit deal. The Foreign Secretary wants a re-write, says The Sun, to remove any checks on goods between Britain and Northern Ireland. More than 90,000 jobs will be axed in a civil service “bloodbath”, says the Daily Mail, after Boris Johnson revealed plans to slash its headcount by a fifth. The PM says the public sector has become “swollen” during the pandemic and reckons the cuts will save £3.5bn a year. Arguing with Coleen Rooney is like “arguing with a pigeon”, says Rebekah Vardy at the Wagatha Christie trial. “You can tell it that you are right and it is wrong, but it’s still going to s*** in your hair.”

Get The Knowledge in your inbox

signup box

We scour the world’s media sources and bring you the best – all in one place. Sign up to our five minute daily newsletter here.



The “tinderbox” on Ukraine’s border

If Russia’s war crept further into Europe, it would start in Transnistria, says Monika Pronczuk in the Slate podcast What Next. The sliver of land, which shares a border with Ukraine, is technically part of Moldova, but it feels more like Moscow. Transnistria gets Russian-language TV, the locals speak Russian, its currency is the rouble, and its flag is emblazoned with a hammer and sickle. Last month a series of mysterious explosions rocked the area. The Russians blamed the Ukrainians, the Ukrainians blamed the Russians, and the Moldovans didn’t blame anyone – “because they are trying to walk this very delicate line”.


We Americans should count our blessings

This is the age of American pessimism, says Bret Stephens in The New York Times. There is progressive pessimism that the country is tilting towards Make-America-Great-Again “fascism”. There is conservative pessimism that institutions “from primary schools to the Pentagon” have been captured by wokeness. There is “Afro-pessimism” that black people are being held back by “systemic, ineradicable racism”. And there is the pessimism of the white working class that their country is being hijacked by “smug, self-dealing elites” who view them with contempt.


For all the Ukrainian army’s modern weaponry, some of its soldiers are still using a 112-year-old machinegun, says The Economist. The Maxim M1910 – introduced, as the name suggests, in 1910 – first entered service “when Ukraine was part of a Russian Empire ruled by a tsar”. It has been mocked by Russian media as an antique, but its water-cooled barrel means it can fire for longer than modern weapons. A Ukrainian soldier interviewed in 2016 said he wouldn’t dream of swapping it for a newer model.


Son Doong Cave in Vietnam is the biggest in the world, says the adventure magazine Moss and Fog. It’s more than five kilometres long, 200 metres high and 150 metres wide – a 747 jumbo jet could fly through it without the wings touching the sides. Its stalagmites grow 10 storeys high, and an entire New York City block could occupy the interior, “skyscrapers included”.

Gone viral

Boris Johnson – or, at least, a painted figure that looks strikingly like him – has been spotted in Bridgerton. A video exposing the cameo, which appears on a painted ceiling in one of the series’ lavish sets, has racked up more than a million views on TikTok.


Before Disney made Snow White, the writing team put together a long list of potential names for the seven dwarves, says the newsletter Lists of Note. Bashful, Grumpy, Sleepy and Sneezy were among those which made the cut. Discarded ideas included Chesty, Dumpy, Jaunty, and Awful.

Staying young

Japanese people consume, on average, twice the recommended amount of salt, says Leo Lewis in the FT. An “experimental pair of electrified chopsticks” developed by drinks company Kirin aims to solve the problem. The sticks “deliver an extremely mild, computer-controlled electrical current” to the user’s mouth, which boffins say makes food taste “roughly one and a half times saltier than it really is”. The effect was “extraordinary” when I tried them: normally salty dishes “tasted like seawater”, while those with 30% less salt tasted almost like the real thing.


It’s Bob Dylan’s largest-ever sculpture, a welded iron version of a railway carriage which has been installed on a vineyard at Château La Coste in Provence. Dylan has form with trains, says Ben Beaumont-Thomas in The Guardian: they regularly crop up in his lyrics as heralds of change. The 80-year-old singer also knows iron: “I was born and raised in iron ore country,” he once said of his upbringing in Minnesota. “You could breathe it and smell it every day.”


quoted 13.5.22

“Follow your heart but take your brain with you.”

Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Adler