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17 July

In the headlines

Two people have died in an attack on the bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula to Russia. Officials in Moscow say the explosions on Kerch Bridge, a crucial supply route for Russian forces, were carried out by Ukraine’s “terrorist regime”. Both southern Europe and the American Southwest have extreme weather warnings in place as heatwaves intensify. The mercury hit 53.9C in California yesterday; in Italy, where temperatures are expected to hit 48C this week, people have been told to stay inside between 11am and 6pm. Emmanuel Macron has led tributes to the London-born “French icon” Jane Birkin, who died yesterday aged 76. The It-girl was “canonised for her spitfire Sixties style”, says Vogue, inspiring what is perhaps the world’s most famous handbag, the Hermès Birkin.


Wildlife photographer Shaaz Jung has compiled a stunning series of images capturing the moment an animal gazes directly into the lens. The collection is “inspired by the true essence of the jungle”, says Jung. “Deep in its distant chambers, in a labyrinth of trees, the jungle is alive and always watching you.” See more of his work here.


China is the world’s leading shipbuilder by an epic margin. It has a manufacturing capacity 230 times bigger than the total space available at US shipyards – enough to build more than 23 million tonnes of vessels, compared with less than 100,000 tonnes in the US. The Dalian shipyard alone has more capacity than all seven US shipyards put together.


This is the moment 20-year-old Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz defeated 36-year-old Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon yesterday. “Alcaraz wasn’t born the last time someone who wasn’t Federer, Nadal, Murray or Djokovic won Wimbledon,” says Sam Freedman on Twitter. “Incredible.”

Eating in

The current red-hot trend among foodie hipsters is for Japanese shokupan – a kind of airy milk bread – that has a “cultural history that will make your head hurt”, says Tim Hayward in the FT. Bread was first brought to Japan in the mid-16th century by the Portuguese (the “pan” bit of shokupan comes from pão). It remained a niche culinary oddity until after World War II, when the US began supplying large quantities of wheat and powdered milk, which enterprising bakers turned into a refined equivalent of our own beloved sliced white loaves. Today, shokupan is so much a part of Japanese culture that Mitsubishi designed a high-tech toaster, RRP £230, that cooks a single slice to “rigorous perfection”.

Inside politics

George W Bush’s “home truth” – that voters back candidates they could imagine having a beer with – is still a “useful guide” to sniffing out future political stars, says Ian Martin in UnHerd. It’s part of the reason I back Wes Streeting as the next Labour leader. He once told The Guardian: “A great night out is going out with friends and getting absolutely plastered… That’s terrible messaging for the shadow health secretary, but I am a binge drinker.”


It’s an ultra-rare pink grasshopper, spotted by a gardener in Anglesey while he was pruning his dahlias. Very occasionally, says the BBC, a freak mutation turns ordinary green meadow grasshoppers hot pink, though they tend not to survive long given how easily they are spotted by predators.


quoted 17.07.23

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

US General George Patton