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4 November

In the headlines

Britain is the first country in the world to approve a pill to treat Covid. Molnupiravir, taken twice daily, reduced the risk of hospitalisation by half in trials. Boris Johnson woke up this morning to “the front pages from hell”, says Politico, as the tabloids piled into the government for blocking the suspension of a Conservative MP. “What a rotten, nose-peggingly putrid place Parliament can be,” said the Mail’s Henry Deedes. Tory MP Owen Paterson had faced suspension for breaking lobbying rules; his defence that he was alerting consumers to dangerous foods was rejected by the parliamentary standards committee. Faced with an outcry, the government this morning performed what the Mirror calls a “massive U-turn” – the vote will now be held again. 

Comment of the day


Climate change will not destroy us

President Biden declared climate change an “existential threat to human existence as we know it” at the Cop26 summit. He’s wrong, says Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post. “Climate change is not a meteor hurtling toward Earth to destroy humanity.” Rather, it is a condition we can manage. Take hunger: experts think climate change will increase deaths from malnutrition, which is true. “But it is also true that malnutrition has plummeted over the past three decades, and is expected to continue plummeting in the next three.”


Cancel Pitt and you might as well cancel history

The latest target in “our current bout of national self-flagellation” is Britain’s youngest-ever prime minister, says Doug Stokes in The Daily Telegraph. A statue of William Pitt the Younger has been earmarked for possible removal by Edinburgh council’s Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review group because of his supposed links with slavery. Pitt was certainly a “complex character”. His disastrous attempt to seize French-owned St Domingue – modern-day Haiti – in 1793 was driven in part by a desire to bolster the slave economy.



Gone viral

Gucci is just showing off, says Max Berlinger in the Financial Times. Last night the Italian fashion house shut down an entire block of LA’s Hollywood Boulevard to host a catwalk show – “during rush hour, no less”. The crowd was stacked with A-listers (Gwyneth Paltrow was in the front row, wearing an old suit from the 1990s), as was the runway (actors Macaulay Culkin and Jared Leto both modelled). Better still, it lasted about 15 minutes. Most brands could never afford such luxury. What a “power play”. 

Tomorrow’s world

Nasa is preparing to smash a spaceship into a passing asteroid at 15,000mph, to see if it would help divert one heading for Earth. The threat might be small, says Tortoise, “but low odds didn’t help the dinosaurs”. 

Staying young

Leaves from the matalafi plant, found in Samoa, could be as effective as ibuprofen in reducing inflammation and treating cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s, according to a peer-reviewed study. The plant is common on the Pacific island, and for centuries traditional healers have squeezed juice out of its chopped leaves to drink or rub on patients.


Quoted 04-11

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

Sci-fi author Arthur C Clarke

Snapshot answer

It’s Nessie, a giant inflatable Loch Ness monster that was seized by police yesterday before a Cop26 protest. More than 50 officers surrounded the 13ft-tall beast and dragged her away, minutes before the anti-poverty campaign group Jubilee Debt Campaign unleashed her on the River Clyde. If the intention was to kick up a fuss, says The Washington Post, “then the giant sea creature arguably achieved her goal”. 

On the way out

Linacre College, Oxford, which is changing its name to Thao Collage after a £155m donation from Vietnam’s richest woman, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. Linacre currently calls itself “one of the greenest colleges in Oxford”, says Ed Hodgson in The Tab Oxford. That might need to change, given that Thao made her fortune from air travel and oil and gas exploration.