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8 July

In the headlines

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has been shot dead while giving a campaign speech. The 67-year-old’s assassination is particularly “shocking”, says The Washington Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee on Twitter, because Japan has some of the world’s strictest gun laws. It’s a “wide open race” as Tory hopefuls begin launching leadership bids, says Politico. So far only Attorney General Suella Braverman and backbencher Tom Tugendhat have announced that they’re running, but more than 10 candidates are expected to follow suit. The bookies’ current favourites are Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and former chancellor Rishi Sunak. Classic lullabies are dying out because millennial parents don’t know the words, says The Sun. Nearly half of mums and dads aged 26 to 41 can’t recall the nursery rhyme Rock-a-bye Baby – some serenade their tots with the Rolling Stones or Kanye West instead.

US-UK relations

How I envy Britain’s “quaint” politics

As an American liberal, the schadenfreude of watching Boris Johnson’s collapse “is mixed with envy”, says Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. A still-functioning democracy dispatched its “bombastic populist leader” because his amorality and dishonesty grew simply too much. Johnson and Donald Trump shared “certain parallels”: an appeal to disaffected working-class voters, contempt for truth, and of course “poufy yellow hair”. But the countries they operated in are very different. The UK’s parliamentary system is “generally more effective” than America’s presidential model; British people are still capable of being shocked by sexual harassment and shameless lies; there is no powerful, heavily armed faction that regularly threatens violence. The country’s government is falling apart “precisely because its society is not”.


The grim choice between climate and human rights

Western governments are stuck with a grim choice, says William Schneider in The Wall Street Journal: “climate change or human rights”. As the US, UK and other global do-gooders ramp up “solar energy, batteries and electric vehicles”, they are exposing themselves more and more to “forced and child labour”. Take lithium batteries, currently the only technology on the market that will make rapid uptake of electric cars possible. Chinese firms have bought up mining facilities around the world to produce not just lithium but also cobalt, a crucial ingredient in battery anodes. Some 60% of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, “notorious for the use of child labour”.


Godfather actor James Caan, who died on Wednesday, was an unlikely Twitter star, says Alan Siegel in The Ringer. The “wise-ass octogenarian” accumulated more than 120,000 followers via his cutting one-liners, all of which would finish with the phrase: “End of Tweet.” In 2020 I wrote an ode to Caan’s tweets, and a few weeks letter, his assistant emailed asking for my address. “Soon a package arrived at my apartment. Inside was a baseball cap emblazoned with three words: End of Tweet.”


“Eating local” won’t make much difference to your carbon footprint, says Tom Chivers in the I newspaper. Transporting food usually contributes only a fraction of its overall carbon output – 6%, according to one analysis of several studies. The carbon saved by eating less meat far outweighs any savings made by sticking with home-grown produce. Indeed, it’s often more efficient to ship in things like tomatoes from warmer countries, “rather than growing them in a UK winter under heating and lights”.

Love etc

Wimbledon isn’t all about the tennis, says The Upshot. During the tournament locals get so annoyed with well-refreshed visitors bonking in the nearby woods that they put up signs begging them to refrain. This year’s poster, which was pinned to a tree, began: “Game Sex and Match NO THANKS.”

On the way back

New York has welcomed some unexpected new immigrants, says The Wall Street Journal: bottlenose dolphins. The marine mammals are likely pursuing their favourite fishy snack, Atlantic menhaden, which are congregating in the area thanks to the East River getting cleaner. State officials say New York’s waters are now less polluted than at any time since the Civil War.

Inside politics

The next PM should make Boris Johnson ambassador to Ukraine, says the writer Ed West on Twitter. He’s tremendously popular there – and, “since it’s placed 120th on Transparency International’s corruption index, he’ll fit right in”.


It’s an Atlas-F missile silo in Nebraska, which has been converted into a one-bed property now on the market for £460,000 (thermonuclear warhead not included). Located 174ft below ground, the unlikely home comprises a single, circular room, containing a toilet, bathtub, twin bed, fridge, and microwave. Put your offer in here.


quoted 8.7.22

“If you can keep your head while everyone is losing theirs, then maybe you don’t understand what the hell is going on.”

Old Wall Street saying, according to former FT editor Lionel Barber