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Freddy Gray

Six more years: how long can Biden go on?

The presidency of the United States is hard work, everybody knows that. It’s also a pretty sweet gig for should-be retirees. The 80-year-old Joe Biden and First Lady Jill just spent six days holidaying on St Croix in the Caribbean. Biden’s critics have been quick to point out that he has so far spent some

The age of AI diplomacy 

We’ve long known that computers can beat us at chess, so does it matter if they have started to beat us at more verbal and collaborative games such as Diplomacy? It certainly does, and suggests a future in which artificial intelligence may begin to play a growing role in the whole spectrum of international affairs,

The rise and fall of agony aunts

What better barometer of the nation’s psyche could there be than the questions in an agony aunt’s postbag – and the answers they receive? ‘My transgender brother is furious over my choice of baby name’, ‘My Remainer husband is refusing to get a new passport’ and ‘My leftie wife is condescending and annoying’ are just

Simon Clarke: What the PM can learn from Liz Truss

After Liz Truss’s spectacular fall from power, it was hard to find Tories who were happy to admit to having supported her. ‘Trussonomics’ became a punchline. Most of her plans were scrapped, including, this week, her childcare proposals. But among the wreckage of the Truss experiment, there is one survivor who is willing to defend

The intellectual legacy of Pope Benedict XVI

For reasons too complex to go into, while completing a doctorate in the German College in Rome in the 1990s, I shared breakfast with the then Cardinal Ratzinger every Thursday morning for nearly three years. Those breakfasts were often initially awkward because, although the Cardinal was always gracious, he had no ‘small chat’ at all

How worried should we be about falling sperm counts?

Here’s a jolly thought to start the year: humanity is on its way to extinction due to a drastic decline in sperm counts. Men’s reproductive health is in such a parlous state that it won’t be long until nobody can conceive a child unassisted. That, anyway, is the argument that’s become a perennial: every year

Notes on...

It’s time to tuck into Twelfth cake

This week we get to Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, when the wise men finally make it to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Properly, the feast starts the night before, so Twelfth Night is the evening of the 5th, which in some parts of Europe is the climax of the Christmas season. And, as with