Rishi Sunak has met Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel as part of a two-day visit to the region, telling him “we will stand with you in solidarity” and “want you to win”. Egypt has agreed to reopen its border crossing with Gaza, while the Israelis say they “will not thwart” deliveries of food, water and medicine. A rare “risk to life” alert has been issued in Scotland, where Storm Babet is expected to bring more than a month’s worth of rain today. Angus and Aberdeenshire have been given a red weather warning for rainfall, the first in the UK for three years. A new ancient British king has been discovered after an amateur detectorist found a coin bearing his name in a field in Hampshire. Dating from around 50BC and smaller than a fingernail, the gold coin is stamped with the name Esunertos – a previously unrecorded Iron Age ruler who has now been added to the list of British monarchs.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in London on Saturday. Mark Kerrison/In Pictures/Getty
Israel, America and the left
The terror attack on Israel has been a revealing moment for the identity-obsessed left, says Helen Lewis in The Atlantic. Chicago’s Black Lives Matter chapter posted a picture of a paraglider, appearing to celebrate the gunmen who descended on a music festival from the air. Groups like Queers for Palestine have had to be reminded that being queer in Palestine is “difficult and dangerous”. Progressive activists often denounce policies they dislike as “violence”, even “genocide”. But confronted with “real violence by genocidal terrorists”, many are sticking up for Hamas. The problem is that the “intersectional” left has morphed into a “crude tallying of oppression points” and a belief that social justice struggles “fit neatly together”, with the marginalised on one side and the powerful on the other. This cartoon morality cannot deal with the complexity of real life, where we are all, in Jean-Paul Sartre’s phrase, “half victims, half accomplices”.
There’s something else going on, says Mary Harrington in UnHerd. Leftists view Israel as “a proxy for American geopolitical hegemony” – and, more specifically, as the purest possible example of the failures of Washington’s “nation-building”. To some extent, they’re right. The US was instrumental in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and has since provided it with considerable financial assistance. As such, the Jewish homeland stands as the most potent symbol of America’s “strange cocktail of high idealism, reach and ruthlessness” – and its ability to “reshape the world in its own image”. So when you hear Jeremy Corbyn and friends complaining about Israel’s “settler colonialism”, they’re really talking about the US. They think “a defeat for Israel is a defeat for America” – and if a great many Jews have to be “sacrificed in pursuit of that noble goal”, so be it.
Around 11,000 years ago, says Brian Klaas on Substack, cheetahs almost became extinct. Scientists think that at one point, there were as few as seven of the spotty species alive across the whole world. As a result of this so-called “population bottleneck”, their descendants today are extraordinarily similar genetically – so much so that you can graft skin from one cheetah on to another, and the recipient’s body will accept the new cells as if they are their own.
Europe’s cocaine market is exploding in size, says The Guardian. In 2021, the EU seized 306 tonnes of the white stuff, five times more than a decade ago. Antwerp, Rotterdam and Le Havre, the continent’s key north-western ports, are now a hive of organised crime as South American traffickers link up with European gangs. Dockers are being bribed and their families intimidated to make them comply with the trade; in one incident “reminiscent of Mexico or Colombia”, heavily armed criminals stormed a high-security warehouse in Le Havre “to liberate their stash”.
Celebrities and billionaires are battling to join New York’s “most Instagrammed gym”, says The Daily Telegraph. Membership of Dogpound – established by the trainer who bulked Hugh Jackman up for Wolverine – costs up to £30,000 a year, and has been granted to fewer than 100 people, including Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. But thanks to a seven-year hold-up with building regulations, there are no showers and only two loos. The owner says he wanted “chic but rough”, but admits “I don’t know if that means not showering”.
Netanyahu’s days are numbered
Benjamin Netanyahu “cannot remain” as Israeli PM, says Nehemia Shtrasler in Haaretz. We saw this last weekend, when, “pale and wan despite a ton of makeup”, he stood in front of the microphone and delivered a “weird, empty speech”. How can he lead our nation in the war he has declared against the “Nazi monster called Hamas” when it is also a war for his own “personal salvation”? Over the past nine months, the controversial judicial reforms of Netanyahu’s far-right coalition have torn the country apart and destabilised the PM’s own grip on power. But since Hamas’s attack, his opponents have joined an emergency wartime government and provided him with “a lifeline soaked in blood”.
Though Netanyahu blamed the atrocity on the failings of Israel’s security services, he is “the person primarily responsible”. The army has been “thinned out” around the communities near Gaza and steadily transferred to protect “hyper-religious nationalists” in the West Bank, his extreme government’s main constituency. “If a child in a [West Bank] settlement goes out to an after-school ceramics class, a squad of soldiers accompanies him.” Until this week, Bibi had never visited the (mostly secular) Gaza border towns during all his years in power; indeed, in 2014 the government defanged the area’s security services by taking away their bullet-proof vehicles and reducing their allocation of rifles. “This delivered a mortal blow to their ability to defend themselves at the start of the Nazi massacre.” These kibbutzim “were abandoned for political reasons. They didn’t count.” And now tragedy has struck.
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The latest TikTok craze is the “giant woman” trend, says Bustle. Just as the name implies, it involves using tricks of photography and perspective to make people look huge without any photoshopping. To achieve the warped effect for yourself, use tiny props and a wide-angle lens, available by selecting the “0.5x option” on an iPhone camera.
ChatGPT could be better at treating depression than human GPs. A study published in the British Medical Journal compared treatment plans prescribed by 1,249 French médecins généralistes with those cooked up by the AI chatbot. The computer prescribed therapy to 97.5% of hypothetical patients with symptoms of mild depression – in line with clinical guidance – while GPs offered the treatment to just 4.3% of the same patients, often dosing them with unnecessary pills instead. And whereas human quacks prescribed significantly fewer antidepressants to women than to men, and were more likely to suggest therapy to white-collar workers than blue-collar workers, the rule-abiding platform showed no biases at all.
It’s a bale of straw dangling from London’s Millennium Bridge, part of an ancient tradition to warn river traffic that repair work is going on. The 900-year-old City Bridge Foundation, the charity responsible for looking after London’s river crossings, explained on X (formerly Twitter) that the longstanding practice was demanded by Port of London Thames Byelaws, adding, “we’re not making this up, honest”. And they’re not. Clause 36.2 requires that during maintenance work, the person responsible must suspend “by day a bundle of straw large enough to be conspicuous and by night a white light”.
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