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15 May

In the headlines

Turkey’s presidential election looks set to go to a run-off. With most of the ballots from yesterday’s vote counted, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had secured just over 49%, compared to almost 45% for opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. If neither candidate reaches 50%, the second round will take place on 28 May. Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived at Chequers to discuss military aid with Rishi Sunak. The visit by the Ukrainian president is part of a tour of key European allies ahead of an expected counter-offensive against Russian forces. Holidaymakers will be able to fly from London to Sydney in as little as two hours within the next 10 years – by going via space. That’s according to the Civil Aviation Authority, after research found that travellers wouldn’t have to be especially fit or young to withstand the G-forces involved in suborbital travel.


For thousands of years, says Colossal, Spain has been a leading grower of olives, planted in “vast groves that stretch for miles over the undulating landscape”. For German photographer Tom Hegen, the rows and grids presented an irresistible subject. See more of his aerial photography on Instagram.

Inside politics

Rishi Sunak’s position after the local elections is “eerily similar” to that of John Major in 1991, says Gordon Rayner in The Daily Telegraph: “Tory losses of more than a thousand council seats. Labour gains of more than 500. Liberal Democrats on the march.” A new prime minister, under pressure from his own side, given “little to no chance” of winning the next general election by the pundits. “Except that Major went on to triumph at the polls the following year, confounding predictions that Neil Kinnock was destined for No  10.” Don’t write off the Tories just yet.

On the money

Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour, which kicked off in Stockholm last week, is expected to make a record £1.7bn from ticket sales, says The Sunday Times. But Queen Bey and her staff will be earning it. They reportedly booked out La Défense Arena in Paris, which is twice the size of London’s O2, just for a practice run. And because the bespoke equipment is so complicated, huge touring shows typically have two sets of everything, along with two technical teams comprising dozens of sound engineers, lighting technicians and pyrotechnics specialists. As one team dismantles the stage after a show, the other group will already be building the set at the next venue.

Quirk of history

There are 513 pubs in the UK called The Red Lion, including at least 20 in London alone, says Food & Wine. The reason there are so many is that in 1603, when James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne and became James I of England, he ordered that “all buildings of importance display the red lion of Scotland”. That included pubs, so that whenever an Englishman went for a pint he would be reminded that his king was a Scot. The next most popular names are the Crown (473 pubs), the Royal Oak (401) and the White Hart (298).


A TikTok trend dubbed “bare-minimum Mondays” has gone viral as a cure for the “Sunday scaries”, says Axios. As with “quiet quitting”, the idea is to do no more than is absolutely necessary at work, as a way of “practising self-care at the start of the work week”. But it’s probably worth practising a little self-discipline too, says Ivan Misner, boss of a networking company. “Bare minimum Monday is a great way to get fired.”


The 100 or so residents of the tiny Swiss village of Brienz have been evacuated, along with their dairy cows, because of an imminent rockslide. Locals were given just 48 hours to pack last week, after geologists warned that two million cubic metres of rock were coming loose on the mountainside above. It wasn’t the first villagers had heard of the problem – the whole place is built on land that is gradually subsiding towards the valley below, causing the church spire to lean and large cracks to appear in buildings.


quoted 15.5.23

“The real problem of humanity is that we have palaeolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.”

Biologist EO Wilson