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26 November-2 December 2021

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Behind the headlines

Kyle Rittenhouse

The teenage gunman who walked free

If I’d been a jury member in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, “I might also have acquitted” him, says David Aaronovitch in The Times. In a case that has gripped America, the fresh-faced teenager was charged with shooting dead two men and injuring a third during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse, then 17, had travelled to the city to “protect” property with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. When one man chased and tried to disarm him, he shot him dead. Another man then attacked him with a skateboard, so he killed him too. And when a third man pointed a handgun at him, he fired again, this time non-fatally. Rittenhouse obviously shouldn’t have inserted himself, armed, into such a volatile situation. But under Wisconsin’s laws, he had a right to self-defence if he felt his life was in danger.

The Channel

Only France can defuse the migrant crisis

Perhaps it was too much to hope that the deaths of 27 people in the Channel would change the tone of the migrant debate. Instead, says The Times in an editorial, this “sadly unsurprising tragedy” has only sharpened the cross-Channel war of words. Boris Johnson says France must do more to crack down on “sophisticated, highly lucrative” people-smuggling gangs, and more robustly police its beaches. Emmanuel Macron says Britain isn’t doing enough to address the “pull factors”, including the large “black economy”, that encourage migrants to risk the dangerous crossing.

Global Update


noted nft 26.11

NFT is Collins Dictionary’s word of the year. It defines the notoriously confusing acronym – short for non-fungible token – as “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible”. Other new words for 2021 include “crypto”, “metaverse” and “pingdemic”.

Inside politics

Maybe I shouldn’t have backed Brexit

I’m beginning to think I was wrong to back Brexit, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. I voted leave in the hope that we could “swap a parochial European policy for a world of ‘Global Britain’” – we could cut the Brussels red tape, “strike bold trade deals” and establish a fruitful relationship with Europe. So “where are these sunlit uplands”? Our service exports to the EU are “falling twice as fast as those to the rest of the world”. Our relationship with the bloc has been hammered by “the vaccine wars and Northern Ireland rows”. And the new trade deals enthusiastically promoted by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are just “rolled-over EU agreements”. The proposed Australia deal is being phased in over 15 years, “as if free trade is a huge threat from which Britain needs to be protected”.


Church isn’t really about God

For the first time in 69 years, the Queen did not speak at the Church of England’s annual General Synod, says Matthew Parris in The Times. There was something melancholy about her absence, and about the Archbishop of York’s concession that the Church is dying. His speech, like a foghorn in an advancing fog, only reinforced the shudder. “Let our death be a grand operatic death,” he said. “Let it be something fantastic. Let’s not crawl into a corner.”


quoted Milland 26.11

“The British public has a deep and abiding love of personal liberty. But mainly for themselves. Other people? Not so much.”

Former No 10 adviser Gabriel Milland on Twitter


Jennifer Lawrence

I hated snogging Timothée Chalamet

Jennifer Lawrence feared for her life when her private jet malfunctioned in 2017. “I know, flying private, I deserve to die,” she tells Karen Valby in Vanity Fair. The plane’s two engines failed and it nosedived towards the runway. “I started leaving little mental voicemails to my family, you know, ‘I’ve had a great life, I’m sorry’.” Despite a bumpy emergency landing, nobody was hurt – and Lawrence, after a large pill and several mini bottles of rum, boarded another plane.

Gary Stevenson

The City geezer who made loadsamoney

Gary Stevenson used to gaze at the shining towers of Canary Wharf as a poor schoolboy in Ilford, east London, with a paper round that paid £12 a week. “I saw it on the horizon,” he tells Anoosh Chakelian in The New Statesman, “and thought: ‘That will be a place where I’ll get a job and make money. Why shouldn’t it be me?’” So it turned out. After winning a banking job in a card game at the height of the financial crisis, Stevenson took home £400,000 in his first year, having just turned 23. By 2011 he was Citibank’s most profitable trader.


noted covid 26.11

I have Covid, says Sophia Money-Coutts in The Sunday Telegraph. At first I thought it was just a cold. But after three days of sniffles, I made a piece of toast for lunch, spread it with hummus and couldn’t taste a thing. “I might as well have been chewing on Amazon packaging.” The penny dropped. “Is this the most middle-class way anyone’s discovered they have coronavirus?”

Staying young

Real men don’t cry – but they should

Crying offers “near-magical benefits” for mental and physical health, says Tanner Garrity in Inside Hook. All of us – particularly men – should do it more. Women cry five times more often than men, and they cry for longer, typically six minutes per blub compared to just three for men. Crying releases oxytocin, a natural pain reliever that makes us feel calmer and more content. It also dials down the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, tears are “swimming with stress hormones”, which get flushed out during a good cry.

After Hours


quoted mance 26.11

“Nick Fletcher MP, who spent [Thursday] complaining that everywhere women are replacing men, won his seat in 2019 from a woman, Caroline Flint.”

Journalist Henry Mance on Twitter

The country house

Four-bedroom Tanlaw House is a mile from Kelso, a market town in the Scottish Borders, and an hour’s drive from Edinburgh. It has a heated indoor pool, views of the Tweed Valley and the Cheviot Hills, and a hen house in its two acres of gardens. £750,000.

The pied-à-terre

On the second floor of a Grade II* listed mansion in Greenwich, southeast London, this two-bedroom flat has glorious views, an open-plan layout and access to a large garden. Greenwich Park is within walking distance and it’s a 10-minute ride to London Bridge from Greenwich station. £800,000.

The cottage

Set in rolling countryside in Inkpen, West Berkshire, this Grade II listed cottage has two bedrooms, an Aga in the kitchen and wooden beams throughout. French doors lead to the terrace and garden, where there’s a shed and a garage. Nearby Kintbury station has direct trains to London. £550,000.

The townhouse

You’ll get marvellous views of the Gloucestershire countryside from this honey-stone Georgian house near the centre of picturesque Painswick. It has five bedrooms, including a self-contained annexe, and a pretty courtyard garden. It’s a 90-minute train ride to London from Stroud station, four miles away. £850,000.

The hideaway

Set in two acres of tropical gardens on the swanky Sandy Lane Estate, in Barbados, Aurora has seven bedroom suites and large open-plan living spaces. There’s a pool, a gazebo and a tennis court – and the price includes one of Sandy Lane’s coveted private beach cabanas. $5.95m.


noted genome 26.11

The government plans to offer genome sequencing to every baby in the country, says Wired. It is funding a research pilot that will map the genomes of between 100,000 and 200,000 babies. The idea is to identify and treat rare genetic diseases earlier, as well as to upload infants’ genomes to a national research library, where the data can be used to develop treatments and diagnostics.

Five of the best


El Peñon de Guatape, Colombia

Thought to be 65 million years old, this enormous rock east of Medellín was once worshipped by the indigenous Tahamí people. It took three men five days to climb El Peñon in 1954, but visitors can now walk up 649 steps to the summit.

Chand Baori, India

This 9th-century well in the Rajasthani village of Abhaneri is one of the deepest in India, with 3,500 narrow steps. The air is 6C cooler at the base of the well, 64ft below the surface.

Melk Abbey, Austria

The library in this 18th-century Benedictine abbey overlooking the Danube inspired Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose. A baroque spiral staircase leads from the main library to a further set of 12 rooms containing 100,000 books.

Livraria Lello, Portugal

Opened in 1906, this Art Nouveau bookstore in Porto has a winding crimson staircase that gave JK Rowling the idea for the library at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. The neogothic bookshelves feature panels carved with Portuguese literary figures.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Built in the 5th century AD, this fortress is on a 660ft-high rock near the town of Dambulla. To see its wonderful frescoes, visitors must climb 1,200 narrow steps and pass through a giant pair of lion’s paws.


noted Austria 26.11

Germany and Austria’s Covid woes are partly down to “cultural suspicion” towards science, says Katja Hoyer in The Spectator. One recent survey showed that 29% of Austrians believe scientists are dishonest. And when I visit family and friends in Berlin, I often “stumble upon men (and it is usually men) with ‘cloud cannons’ in the park”. They aim to destroy poisonous “chemtrails”, supposedly spread by planes, that contain psychoactive chemicals to make whole populations “compliant like sheep”.


From the archives

Morecambe and Wise

A long-lost episode of Morecambe and Wise will be screened this Christmas for the first time since 1970. The BBC thought the footage was gone for good, but thankfully Eric Morecambe’s son Gary found a recording of it in his attic. Here’s the comedy duo performing their Christmas show in 1978.

Quirks of history

quirks of history anti-vax 26.11

When the British government made smallpox vaccination compulsory in 1853, it kick-started the global anti-vaccination movement, says the I newspaper. The decree alienated the working class “living under the brutalising regime of workhouses”, leading to riots in industrial towns such as Leicester. “Anti-vaccination leagues” published pamphlets, held rallies and “communicated with kindred spirits abroad”. The Anti-Vaccination Society of America was founded in 1879, following a visit by British anti-vaxxer William Tebb.


 18 Nov: Oruro, Bolivia, 22C ⛰

22 Nov: Srinagar, Kashmir, 12C ☁️

19 Nov: La Paz, Mexico, 29C 🌖

22 Nov: Tervuren, Belgium, 7C 🍁

18 Nov: Valladolid, Mexico, 29C 👙

23 Nov: Wiejki, Poland, 0C 🐄

24 Nov: Yichun, China, 19C 🌾

22 Nov: West Kirby, Merseyside, 10C 🌅

22 Nov: Jimunai, China, -7C ❄️

19 Nov: Kabul, Afghanistan, 20C 🎈