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27 October

In the headlines

Fortified by a Twix and a can of Sprite, Rishi Sunak is delivering his Budget this afternoon. It’s “not quite the spending spree” it seems, says Kate Andrews in the Telegraph: much of the cash, including more than two-thirds of the £6.9bn pledged for transport, has been announced before. The Covid booster programme is “gathering pace”, says the FT, and one government source says there’s a “less than 20% chance” that Plan B restrictions will be needed. But masks are probably on the way back in schools, says Kate Ferguson in The Sun, to combat “rocketing Covid rates in teens”. Joanna Lumley wants to bring back rationing to save the planet, with a points system for luxuries such as flights. It’s “a load of Bolly, darling”, says the Daily Star. 

Comment of the day


No longer a pariah state?

All of a sudden Israel feels like a place of “buoyant optimism”, says Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times. The divisive former PM Benjamin Netanyahu is out of power and on trial, and there’s now a broad coalition government that includes an Arab Israeli party. The country leads the world in Covid vaccinations and it’s riding a tech boom – 10% of the world’s “unicorn” start-ups (those valued at $1bn or more) are Israeli, and its per capita income is higher than the UK’s.

Middle East

Turkey’s water war on the Kurds 

“Thirsting and starving enemy populations in order to annihilate them” is as old as war itself, says Patrice Franceschi in Le Figaro. But it isn’t just history. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is using this “terrifying and forgotten weapon” to wage a war of attrition against the Kurds. The Turkish mountains are the “water tower” of the surrounding region – they’re where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers begin before they “irrigate Syria and Iraq”.




Americans pronounce Van Gogh “Van Go”, rhyming with no, and the British pronounce it “Van Goff”, rhyming with toff. “Needless to say, both are wrong,” says Craig Brown in The Daily Mail. The Dutch, who surely know best, say “Fun Khokh”, with each “kh” pronounced as in “loch”. 

On the money

Tesla has become the second fastest company in history to hit a $1 trillion valuation – only Facebook, which has since dipped below the 13-figure mark, was faster. The electric carmaker is now worth more than the next nine largest auto manufacturers in the world combined. As for its founder, Elon Musk, his personal wealth is “rapidly approaching” $300bn, says Jordan Valinsky in CNN. That’s more than the market value of ExxonMobil, the US flag-bearer for “the fossil-fuel industry he’s seeking to destroy”.

Tomorrow’s world

The futuristic XTurismo hoverbike was unveiled yesterday and could be yours for £500,000. The drone-like machine, created by Japanese start-up Ali Technologies, can fly for up to 40 minutes at up to 60mph. Orders are being taken now for delivery next year. 

Love etc

Last week a Spanish police chief said King Juan Carlos’s sex drive was so irrepressible that he had to be injected with female hormones. Between 1976 and 1994 the (married) monarch reportedly slept with 2,154 women – that’s one every three days. Still, says Michael Deacon in the Telegraph, he’s “positively monk-like” compared to the Belgian novelist Georges Simenon. As well as writing almost 500 books, the creator of Maigret claimed he had bedded 10,000 women before his death at 86. “Forget injecting him with female hormones. They would have had to station a vet by his bed with a tranquilliser gun.”

Climate change

Norway is often held up as a leader in renewable energy, with more than 90% of its electricity coming from hydroelectric power. But its nose is far from clean, says Aaron Bastani on Twitter. The oil and gas it exported last year would have emitted about 450 million tons of carbon dioxide elsewhere in the world – nine times Norway’s recorded emissions in 2019. 


Quoted 27-10

“Believe nothing until it has been officially denied.”

Journalist Claud Cockburn

Snapshot answer

They belong to Rishi Sunak. The photoshoot for the Chancellor’s Budget preparations included a snap of him wearing white socks with £95 sliders from the Los Angeles brand Palm Angels, usually the choice of tattooed skateboarders. One Sunak ally sent Politico a magazine article entitled: “Wearing socks with sandals is officially cool forever.”