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8 February

In the headlines

Ten Tory MPs have demanded Boris Johnson retract his claim that Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile, after a mob hounded the Labour leader yesterday shouting “paedophile protector”. One demonstrator was carrying a noose and Starmer had to be bundled into a police car for his own protection. A source tells the BBC that the PM has no intention of apologising because “he’s got other stuff to get on with”. Pioneering technology has enabled a paralysed Italian man to walk again. The treatment works by attaching computer-controlled implants to the spinal cord, which send electrical impulses to the muscles and activate movement. Staying in bed for an extra hour can save you from consuming 270 calories, boffins have claimed. The idea is that if you’re better rested, you have less of an appetite. At last, says the Star: “A weight-loss programme we support.”

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Muslim countries have abandoned the Uighurs

The Muslim world has abandoned the Uighurs, says Yasmeen Serhan in The Atlantic. The Chinese government has forced at least a million Uighur Muslims into “concentration camps” in Xinjiang province. Yet not a single major Muslim-majority country has joined the US and Britain in a diplomatic boycott of Beijing’s Winter Olympics. While Turkey and Malaysia have offered “tepid criticism”, the likes of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates “have gone out of their way to endorse China’s policies in Xinjiang”. It’s not their usual approach – Islamic countries have come together to “speak out” on many Muslim-related issues, including Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Europe.


Spare us the media warmongering

The “war scare” around Ukraine is getting out of hand, says Andrew Bacevich in The Boston Globe. Vladimir Putin has certainly massed enough troops to capture Kiev, but it’s nowhere near enough to “occupy and pacify” the entire country. In all likelihood, he’s engaged in “hard-nosed negotiating” to get a guarantee that Ukraine won’t join Nato. And given that almost nobody in Nato wants to let Ukraine join any time soon, a non-violent resolution to current tensions is “eminently plausible”.

Global update

Emmanuel Macron has been in Moscow with Vladimir Putin trying to ease tensions over Ukraine. The exceedingly long table they met at in the Kremlin didn’t exactly signal a meeting of minds. “The French have had invasions that got closer to the leader of Russia,” says The Economist’s Matt Steinglass on Twitter.

Inside politics

The Queen is “hooked on political gossip”, says Politico. A little-known tradition of Westminster tradition is that a junior member of government writes a private daily email to the monarch “with a colourful account of what’s being going on in parliament”. Former Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, who held the post between 2003 and 2005, says that the guidance she gave him for the dispatches was simple: “that which doesn’t make the press”.

Eating in

Worcestershire sauce is all the rage in Mexico. Known as salsa inglesa – English sauce – it is slathered on everything from raw clams to grilled beef. The condiment first arrived in Mexico in the 1960s, says Giuseppe Lacorazza in Vittles, after Nestlé launched a marketing push for its Crosse & Blackwell brand in Latin America. Recipe books heavy on Worcestershire sauce were flogged to Mexican cooks and housewives, and the rest is history.


quoted 8.2

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”

Thomas Huxley, 19th-century biologist

Quirk of history

Shortly after they campaigned together for Bob Dole in the 1996 US election, George HW Bush sent a note to his fellow former president Gerald Ford. “I hope you don’t think this letter is odd and strange,” it read. “I write simply to say I am very proud to be your friend. This friendship matters a lot to me – it really does. As you and I drove across that Ohio countryside last week, it hit me like a ton of bricks, that too often we fail to tell our friends that we really care about them and are grateful to them.”

On the way back

Brown is apparently “The Hair Colour of the Moment”, says Polly Vernon in The Sunday Times. Gen Zs on TikTok have decided that blonde hair is no longer cool, and the likes of supermodel Gigi Hadid (pictured), actress Florence Pugh and singer Billie Eilish have all swapped their light locks for something darker. “Top marks to the internet for finally catching on to a truth that comes as no revelation to me, a lifelong brunette.” Brown hair requires less maintenance and less money than blonde. “Do I think it’s The Hair Colour of the Moment? Nope. I think it’s The Hair Colour of Always.”