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9 November

In the headlines

The predicted “red wave” of Republican victories in yesterday’s US midterm elections has turned out to be a “ripple”, says Edward Luce in the FT. With results still coming in, the Democrats have a “better-than-even chance” of retaining control of the Senate, though will likely lose the House of Representatives. The “thumping re-election” of Ron DeSantis is “ominous” for Donald Trump: the Florida governor is Trump’s “most plausible rival” to be the GOP’s presidential candidate in 2024. Gavin Williamson has resigned as a Cabinet Office minister after a string of bullying allegations. He lasted two weeks in post, or as one Twitter user put it: “0.37 Kwartengs”. The biggest lottery jackpot in history – $2.04bn – has been won by a ticketholder in California. The US Powerball hadn’t had a winner for 40 consecutive draws, hence the huge payout.

World leaders

Sunak and Macron are kindred sprits

There’s often a décalage – a mismatch – between the British and French leaders of the day, says Robert Zaretsky in Politico. The “affable and agreeable” Harold Macmillan was paired with the “arrogant and confrontational” Charles de Gaulle; the “unturnable” Margaret Thatcher with the more cooperative François Mitterrand. But with Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron, the fit seems “as tight as the tailored skinny blue suits” they favour. Both are the products of elite education: in Sunak’s case, Winchester and Oxford; for Macron, the Lycée Henri IV and École Nationale d’Administration. And both are the youngest leaders in their nation’s postwar history: Sunak is 42, and Macron was 39 when he became president in 2017.


Putin’s successor could be a lot worse

As Russia’s lacklustre military performance in Ukraine drags on, Putin’s cheerleaders have settled on an age-old explanation, says Owen Matthews on the Battleground: Ukraine podcast: “the good tsar and the bad advisers”. Loyalists like Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner mercenary group, have criticised Russia’s generals, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, for their shoddy strategy. No one has yet dared criticise Putin himself for his army’s failures.


“It’s official,” says Claire Carusillo in Gawker: gloves are having a moment. At a fancy, Gucci-sponsored dinner in Los Angeles this week, almost all the A-listers turned up with their digits covered. Olivia Wilde opted for a fetching pair in red pleather; Billie Eilish sported sheer, netted mitts; and Kim Kardashian wore silky black ones which blended in with her gown. “Glove to see it, gurls!”

On the money

Germany isn’t as economically dependent on China as people think, says Luke Patey in Foreign Policy. Berlin only does about 9.5% of its international trade with Beijing; for South Korea, Japan and Australia, it’s between 20% and 30%. Only a handful of big companies, such as Volkswagen, are financially reliant on China – they’re the ones pushing the “China-dependency narrative” that has made Berlin cosy up to Beijing. And while a “sharp decoupling in trade” would certainly be damaging, at €48bn a year it’s less than the €55bn Germany loses each year from industrial espionage – “coming largely from China”.


When pigs fight, their friends step in to break it up. So says a new study from Turin University, which also found that whichever porcine pugilist comes off worst in the bout is often approached and seemingly comforted by a piggy pal. Ill-feeling between the pugnacious porkers doesn’t last long: after a cooling-off period, they tend to reconcile by rubbing their noses together and lying down next to each other.

Outside politics

Matt Hancock’s introductory video for I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! has been doing the rounds on Twitter, ahead of him joining the show today. “I don’t think I’ve got any fears or phobias, but I’m about to find out,” said the former health secretary, before unleashing a hysterical laugh. One user described the maniacal cackle as “more stomach-turning than any bushtucker trial I’ve ever watched”. See the full clip here.


Barack Obama mixes a strong martini – as Bono found out first-hand during a boozy night at the White House. In his new book, the U2 crooner recalls “slipping out for a kip” in the Lincoln Bedroom, before being woken up by Obama himself. The singer claims the snooze was brought on by his allergy to salicylates, a chemical common in many alcoholic drinks. But the president wasn’t having any of it. “He doesn’t for a minute believe I have this allergy… he tells people he can drink me under the table.”


It’s a Sonoran desert toad, which US national park officials are urging people to stop licking. The seven-inch amphibians have prominent parotoid glands that secrete “a toxin unlike any other found on the planet”, says The New York Times. Some call it the “God molecule”, a hallucinogen “so potent it is often compared to a religious experience”. Others warn that smoking the substance – which is a decades-old custom, unlike licking it – can lead to sickness and sometimes death.


quoted 9.11.22

“When God created France He found it so perfect that, to comfort those who couldn’t live there, He invented the French.” 

Old saying