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14 September

In the headlines

Anti-vax groups are targeting schools with leafleting and letter-writing campaigns, says Nick Duffy in the I newspaper, in anticipation of Covid jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds beginning next week. Former union boss Len McCluskey has accused Keir Starmer of breaking a private promise to readmit Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour Party. Starmer can’t be trusted and is leading Labour to electoral ruin, McCluskey says in The Guardian. Boris Johnson’s mother Charlotte Johnson Wahl has died age 79. When she was heavily pregnant with Johnson, a Russian called Boris Litwin bought her a plane ticket from Mexico to New York, where the family lived at the time, so she wouldn’t have to take the bus – hence the PM’s distinctive name.

Comment of the day

The glass ceiling

Helping women? No you’re not Alice

Terribly sorry, says Claire Foges in The Times, but I’m not going to write much today. I have to knock off early – “the baby needs her tea at four and my son’s got his first dentist appointment at five”. Is that reasonable? Of course not. And nor was the award of £185,000 by an employment tribunal to former estate agent Alice Thompson, who wanted to permanently cut short her working hours so she could collect her daughter from nursery. Now employers know they must grant flexible working hours, said Thompson, “because the penalties are harsh” if they don’t. Rules, penalties, threats … it’s enough to make you never want to hire a woman again!


Capitalism is booming in eastern Europe

Once feted as the “cradle of new democracies” after the fall of the Soviet Union, eastern Europe is now widely panned as an “incubator of reactionary populism”, says Ruchir Sharma in the Financial Times. But the political backsliding makes its economic progress all the more intriguing. Of the last 10 countries to be classed as “advanced” economies, six are ex-communist countries in the Eastern Bloc, including the Czech Republic and Lithuania. Poland, Hungary and Romania are likely next in line.


When Salman Rushdie moved to New York, he got off to a rocky start. “I was walking down a street in Midtown Manhattan when another Indian gentleman, very well dressed in an expensive camel coat and a brown fedora, stopped me on the sidewalk and asked me if I was me,” he says in his weekly newsletter Salman’s Sea of Stories. Rushdie confirmed he was and the man looked pleased. “‘Very good,’ he replied, in a soft, courteous voice. ‘I just want to tell you that V.S. Naipaul is a ten times better writer than you.’” Then he raised his hat and walked away.


French winemakers will produce almost a third less wine than usual this year, after vineyards were struck by frosts, poor weather and disease during the spring and summer. Wine output in the country is predicted to tumble by 29% this year compared with 2020, the lowest level in decades, while champagne production is expected to plummet by 36%. The Burgundy-Beaujolais region, hit by frost, hail and disease, will produce only half the amount of wine it made last year.

Gone viral

Tennis sensation Emma Raducanu scored a last-minute invitation to New York’s coveted Met Gala, which saw guests “torn between baring all and going incognito”, says Vogue. Kendall Jenner wore a see-through Givenchy gown, while Kim Kardashian’s black Balenciaga bodysuit hid her entire face. “Have to say that’s the first thing Kim Kardashian has ever worn that I think would suit me”, says Suzanne Moore on Twitter. Meanwhile, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (above) teased her fellow guests at the $35,000-a-ticket event in a white wedding dress graffitied with the slogan “tax the rich”.

Snapshot answer

It’s a close-up photo of an oak leaf, magnified 60 times. The photograph, which shows two white trichomes and purple stomata on the leaf of a southern live oak, was the winning image in the 2021 Nikon Small World photomicrography competition.


quoted 14.9

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”