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12 July

In the headlines

President Zelensky has denounced the “absurd” decision not to give Ukraine a firm timeline for joining Nato. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the country’s future is in the defence alliance, but not until certain “democratic and security sector reforms” are made. Jeremy Vine has called on the BBC presenter at the centre of the explicit photos row to “come forward now” to stop his colleagues being falsely accused. The Sun has published more allegations against the still-unnamed star, including that he broke lockdown rules to meet a 23-year-old. A handwritten note found under a sofa belonging to Aretha Franklin can be used as her legal will, a Michigan jury has ruled. The 2014 document, which the soul singer signed with a smiley face, takes precedence over an earlier-dated draft discovered in a locked cabinet at her Detroit home.

Global update

This volcano, around 20 miles outside Reykjavik, has been spewing lava since Monday. Experts say the “low-intensity” eruption poses little risk to Iceland’s residents – but it has made for some remarkable footage of magma tearing through the volcano’s 300m long fissures.

Inside politics

Boris and Carrie Johnson raised eyebrows with the announcement that their newly born third child, Frank, has the middle name Odysseus. The former PM is “keen to be thought of as a scholar of the classics”, says The Guardian. “In Greek mythology, Odysseus leaves behind his wife and child to seek adventure, encountering many other women along the way.”


This famous four-bedroom home, on San Diego’s Mount Helix, has a 5,100 sq ft second floor that rotates a full 360 degrees. The swivelling storey allows residents to follow the sun during the day, or just change their view if they fancy looking out over a different part of the city. The property has a whole load of other hi-tech features, including automated climate control and an integrated entertainment system. £4m.


On the way out

Dinner parties are passé, at least according to Nigella Lawson. Despite the culinary coquette regularly sharing tips for hosting “fabulous, fairy-lit” soirees on her TV shows, says The Times, her own gatherings are much more informal. “I’m very happy for a friend to come over in their pyjamas,” says the 63-year-old. That laid-back approach extends to her menu too. “I recently served Twiglets as a starter,” she says. “There were some Americans there and I felt it my duty to introduce them.”

Nice work if you can get it

Influencers have found an innovative way to make money in the casino, says The Wall Street Journal: let people watch them lose. Brian Christopher shelled out a whopping $300,000 last year on slot machines, but he earns so much from videos of him gambling that he has been able to turn the hobby into a full-time business with 10 employees. The key to entertaining his 612,000 YouTube subscribers and 707,000 Facebook followers, he says, is including them in the action – especially on the rare occasions when he beats the house. “It’s not, ‘I won a jackpot.’ It’s, ‘we just won a jackpot.’”


It’s a birds’ nest made from anti-bird spikes. The metal and plastic deterrents are used in cities around the world to keep pigeons and the like off statues and balconies, but Dutch researchers have found that crows and magpies are now using them to protect their eggs. It shows amazing adaptability, biologist Auke-Florian Hiemstra tells the BBC. “They are incredible fortresses – like a bunker for birds.”


Quoted 12.07.23

“If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.”


American playwright Wilson Mizner