Peter Rhodes on cloning wolves, destroying pipelines and getting egg on your face

I suggested back in April that relying on underwater pipes and cables for your nation's energy and communications is “fine and dandy - so long as we don't fall out with a global superpower that possesses large numbers of nuclear submarines equipped with cable-cutting devices.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss - left with egg on her face? Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire
Prime Minister Liz Truss - left with egg on her face? Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

It may be some weeks before the experts can establish whether the leaking gas pipelines on the bed of the Baltic Sea were deliberately damaged by a serious of mysterious explosions. If so, it's a fair bet that the Russians were responsible, either to jeopardise gas supplies to Europe or to give the world a demonstration of the damage its submarine forces can inflict.

War by massive acts of vandalism rather than by slaughtering people takes us into new rules of military engagement. At what stage does destroying infrastructure without causing deaths merit a lethal response? For example, if you detect an enemy submarine in the act of cutting your vital internet cable, do you sink it?

Liz Truss's fumbling performances on local BBC radio stations confirm what some of us suspected all along. The bizarre and long drawn-out voting process, designed to select the best candidate to be leader of the Conservative Party, has actually selected the worst one. Can you imagine Tom Tugendhat, Rishi Sunak or Suella Braverman making such a hash of it, long silences and all? (Actually, Truss's long silences were the best bits).

Makes you wonder whether Truss saw “local media” on her diary and relaxed, assuming this would be a succession of easy-peasy questions from second-class hacks. A lot of politicians venture into the provinces with that mind-set, and return home with free-range provincial egg on their faces.

And yet who knows what the Tory Conference might produce? If the pound magically strengthens, pension funds soar and Putin surrenders, Liz Truss might emerge from Conference looking like a leader. I wouldn't bet on it.

Maya, the world' s first cloned wolf, is pictured in the global media frolicking with its surrogate mother, a beagle. The beagle playfully bites the three-month-old wolf's ear. And the look on the wolf's face says: “In another three months, Mum, I'll be biting you.” Before long the puzzled mother will be contemplating her offspring and thinking: “Big teeth for a beagle . . .”

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