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- Swift, Trump and a daft conspiracy theory
Swift, Trump and a daft conspiracy theory
☀️ Solar close-up | 🐟 Cary’s fave | 🧮 Bill Payable
The manhunt for the suspect in a chemical attack near Clapham Common that left 12 people injured has continued into a third day. Police say 35-year-old Abdul Ezedi, who was convicted of a sex offence in Newcastle in 2018 but later granted asylum, was last seen in north London on Wednesday night displaying “significant injuries” on his face. Labour is planning to ditch its flagship policy pledge to spend £28bn a year on green investment, says The Guardian. Sources say the party will effectively cut its green ambitions by about two-thirds, after the government argued that the plan would amount to a big tax rise. A pigeon detained by Indian police on suspicion of being a Chinese spy has been released. The covert columbid was captured near a port in Mumbai last May carrying what appeared to be a message in Chinese, but an investigation concluded that it was just a racing bird from Taiwan. 🕊🕵
Swift with Travis Kelce after a game on Sunday. Patrick Smith/Getty
Swift, Trump and a daft conspiracy theory
Of all the crazy conspiracy theories pushed by the Trump right, says Ross Douthat in The New York Times, the reaction to the romance between Taylor Swift and American football star Travis Kelce takes some beating. Basically, they think the whole relationship is some sort of “carefully crafted political propaganda” – that the couple are only together so they can help Joe Biden get re-elected, presumably with some sort of mega-endorsement. Former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has even suggested that the NFL will rig the Super Bowl next weekend so that Kelce’s team wins, to make the anticipated endorsement that much more impactful.
The whole thing is obviously bonkers. Swift endorsed Biden in 2020, and some of the madder Trumpists clearly still haven’t forgiven her for it. But it also speaks to something much larger. The Swift-Kelce romance is exactly the sort of “normal and wholesome and mainstream” relationship that the right claims to love. It’s practically an “allegory of conservative Americana” – the famous pop star who, after years of unsuccessfully dating “Hollywood creeps and angsty musicians”, finds true love “in the arms of a bearded heartland football star”. But the Trump purists “don’t want it”. Swift is by their definition a liberal, so she isn’t on their side, so she must be rejected. It’s totally self-defeating – and a perfect illustration of conservatism’s inability to just be normal, “even for a minute”.
🎶 🤯 If Donald Trump ends up in a spat with Swift, says Madison Hall in Business Insider, it could be “the biggest mistake of his 2024 campaign”. The pop star’s fan base is easily as obsessed with her as the MAGA movement is with him. And polling suggests there are around 60 million “Republican Swifties” out there. Of course, not all of them would choose her over him. But given Joe Biden won nine states in 2020 by fewer than 100,000 votes, it would only take a “small fraction” of them to defect to help Biden secure a second term.
Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy has created a massive 400-megapixel image of the Sun, says My Modern Met. Made from over 100,000 individual photos, The Star of System Sol provides an “unparalleled view” of the luminous orb, from the solar flares leaping around its edges to the black sunspots that dot its surface.
George Osborne “bagged his 13th job” this week, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph, joining the cryptocurrency firm Coinbase as an adviser. The former chancellor, who also chairs the British Museum and works for an investment bank, looks set to follow Tony Blair’s example of “getting seriously rich as a result of politics”. This never used to happen. After his time as PM, Jim Callaghan worked as an MP until he was 75; Ted Heath continued until he was 84. Rather than turning their “clout into cash”, they spent their post-No 10 days “lending their experience to the House and their constituents”.
Airbnb has revealed its most-liked listings on Instagram. They include a cabin overlooking Quintay Bay in Chile; a treehouse in the Tuscan countryside; an eco-friendly bamboo house on a riverside in Indonesia; and a three-level ocean view villa in Costa Rica. Have a look at the full listings here.
An Israeli tank on the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Henri Bureau/Sygma/Corbis/VCG/Getty
Israel’s days of isolation are over
It’s hard for people below a certain age to appreciate just how “diplomatically isolated” Israel used to be, says Edward Luttwak in UnHerd. In 1967, when Egypt, Jordan and Syria were “openly” threatening war, neither Europe nor America provided any support. France was the only nation willing to sell weapons to Israel, but its then president, Charles de Gaulle, put a stop to that as soon as the fighting began. In Italy, the authorities even refused to allow a shipment of gas masks to be exported to Tel Aviv. It was the same in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Israel suffered “10 times as many casualties as in all of the Gaza fighting to date”. The US agreed to airlift urgent supplies – but neither the UK nor France nor Spain would allow the planes to fly over their airspace. In both conflicts, the UN Security Council sat on its hands until Israel began winning – whereupon it immediately demanded a ceasefire.
Fifty years later, “it has all been very different”. The US, the UK and the EU didn’t try to stop Israel launching its counter-offensive. While Russia and China have “ceremonially” declared their support for the Palestinians, neither has done anything to directly impede the Israelis. Not one of the Arab countries with whom Israel has diplomatic relations has “interrupted” them in any way. And the Saudis have made it clear that they still want to normalise ties with the Israelis – a crucial development, given Iran’s main goal for Hamas’s horrific attack on October 7 was to scupper that very relationship. For all the mounting pressure on Israel to call a ceasefire, “its days of isolation are over”.
Hollywood legend Cary Grant may have frequented some of the world’s finest restaurants, says The Guardian, but one of his favourite haunts was a chippy in Bristol. The actor – real name Archibald Leach – was born in the West Country city in January 1904. Whenever he was in town, he would always head back to Rendezvous Fish Bar for a bag of fish and chips, before eating them in his Rolls-Royce.
In 1831, says Tom Holland on The Rest is History, the first act of violence in the Peasants’ Revolt was against a tax-collector. His name? William Payable.
It’s Chicago’s newest tourist attraction, says The New York Times: a rodent-shaped hole imprinted in a pavement. The unimaginatively named “Chicago Rat Hole” is thought to have been formed – by one of the namesake creatures, or possibly a squirrel – decades ago. But a tweet about it went viral at the start of this year, prompting hoards of Chicagoans to visit the site for themselves. Some made offerings, including candles, coins, flowers, toy rodents and “a small tomb with a photo of a rat”. At one point someone filled in the hole with plaster or concrete, but residents immediately scraped it out and restored it to its full ratty glory.
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”