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1 September

In the headlines

Liz Truss has promised there will be “no new taxes” if she becomes PM on Monday. Speaking at the final hustings before voting closes tomorrow, she also promised to look into scrapping the current 70mph speed limit on motorways. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau says he’ll “follow up” on claims that one of his country’s spies smuggled Shamima Begum into Syria in 2015. Mohammed al-Rashed reportedly spirited the then 15-year-old and two other London schoolgirls across the border from Turkey to join Islamic State. Campaigners in India are hooking men up to period cramp simulators in a bid to normalise conversations around menstruation. They say women “don’t even flinch” when the machine is ramped up to pain level nine out of 10, whereas men “find it hard to make it past four”.


Was Gorbachev really a hero?

The West’s “amnesia” about Mikhail Gorbachev really is something to behold, says George Will in The Washington Post. The former Soviet leader has been hailed as a “visionary” for opening up the USSR to the world, precipitating its collapse. In reality, much like Christopher Columbus, he “stumbled into greatness by misunderstanding where he was going”. Gorbachev desperately tried to preserve the Soviet Union’s political system with a series of reforms. But these didn’t work because he failed to anticipate the whirlwinds that would be unleashed by his policy of glasnost (openness). Some visionary. It’s no wonder, as the political scientist Graham Allison has observed, that “when Xi Jinping has nightmares, the apparition he sees is Mikhail Gorbachev”.


We’re being abandoned by the police

A friend recently had seven bikes stolen from her shed, says Janice Turner in The Times. When she phoned the police, they gave her a “crime reference number”. But when she later found one of the bikes and asked if they wanted to take fingerprints, “no one came”. That’s only the latest crime on her street. Her camper van has been torched; neighbours have been burgled; expensive deliveries stolen from her doorstep. This isn’t a rough neighbourhood – it’s “leafy” Dulwich in south London, “where Boris Johnson is apparently house hunting”. Sick of being ignored, my friend’s neighbours are clubbing together to install CCTV.

Gone viral

South London rapper Splinter Sales says he “thought he was dreaming” after waking up to find Boris Johnson storming his flat with the police. In a video of the raid, which the outgoing PM had joined as an observer, Johnson can be heard asking “how are you doing?” after the man called out “wagwan Boris” and burst out laughing. Watch the full video here.

On the money

Nosy French bureaucrats have found thousands of undeclared private swimming pools using AI, says The Guardian. The system, developed by Google and French tech firm Capgemini, identifies pools on aerial images and cross-checks them with land registry databases. Launched as an experiment a year ago in nine French départements, it has uncovered 20,356 illicit pools, landing owners with tax bills totalling around £8.6m. Merde.

On the way out

“Male pop stars are going extinct,” says Olivia Craighead in Gawker. There used to be an abundance of uber-famous singers – the likes of David Bowie and George Michael – who had so much sex appeal women would lose their voices from screaming at their concerts. Currently, the closest we have is Ed Sheeran: a man with absolutely “no charisma behind his tiny eyes”. The Weeknd might be super famous, but his music is too dark and “so much of it is about cocaine”. Other than Harry Styles, it’s slim pickings out there. “Men who sing need to get their asses up and work.”

Love etc

Leonardo DiCaprio, 47, has split from his 25-year-old girlfriend Camila Morrone, continuing the actor’s long history of never dating a woman over the age of 25. One Twitter user notes that Titanic will turn 25 this year, “at which point I assume Leonardo DiCaprio will no longer want to be in it”. Another points out that if the pattern holds, “the girl Leonardo DiCaprio will dump when he’s 72 was born today”.

On the way back

Office life, according to the New Statesman’s Will Dunn on Twitter, because soaring energy prices will make working from home too expensive. From October, “central heating will cost at least £3.60 an hour”, running a computer will cost £1.25 a day, and boiling a kettle will cost more than 10p.


She’s lying on a Spanish street covered in crushed tomatoes during the annual “Tomatina” festival. The famous tomato fight attracts thousands of tourists to the eastern town of Buñol and made its comeback yesterday after two years off because of the pandemic. Around 20,000 people took part, with 130 tonnes of very ripe tomatoes as ammunition.


quoted 1.9.22

“There are three stages in scientific discovery. First people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.”

Alexander von Humboldt