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18 May

In the headlines

Water companies have apologised for their record on sewage spills in Britain’s waterways, and pledged to invest £10bn over seven years to tackle the problem. The funds will come from an increase in customer bills. Prince Harry and Meghan have said they were involved in a “near-catastrophic car chase” in New York on Tuesday night when being pursued by photographers. But some witnesses have cast doubt on the claim, including the driver of a taxi in which the couple briefly travelled, and the New York Police Department, which categorised the journey as merely “challenging”. A 76-year-old man has been charged with the theft of a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. The shiny shoes (below) were stolen from Minnesota’s Judy Garland Museum in 2005, with one of the only clues a single red sequin left behind by the perpetrator.


Winning entries in the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition include a man selling pink candyfloss in the streets of Mumbai; a girl resting after emptying a vat of fermented grapes in Burgundy; a massive, worse-for-wear cake; and an old Chinese man “pulling sugar”. See more here.


One big fear about the transition to electric vehicles, says Noah Smith on Substack, is that we’ll run out of the minerals needed to build them. Global reserves of lithium, for example, are “worryingly close to the total that we might need to electrify transportation”. But there’s far more of this stuff than people realise. Lithium reserves are only what we’ve found and know to be easily extractable. Estimated resources, which include the amount we think is out there, are “about four times as high”. What’s more, those estimates have shot up over recent decades as miners have kept finding more deposits – and chances are they’ll continue rising. Put simply, we didn’t think we had much lithium because “we never bothered to look”.

Gone viral

The first full-sized digital scan of the Titanic has given people a never-before-seen view of the 1912 shipwreck. Created using deep-sea-mapping technology, the 3D image captures the entire ship as if the water had been drained away. You can see the two sections of the 269-metre-long vessel – the bow and stern separated as it sank and lie about 800 metres apart – and a huge debris field with items including ornate metalwork, passengers’ shoes and unopened champagne bottles. Watch a longer video here.


I think I know why Rishi Sunak can’t control his backbenchers, says Aleks Cvetkovic in Air Mail: his dodgy outfits mean he “just doesn’t look ministerial”. With his tightly cut blue suits and skinny ties, he looks less political heavyweight, more marketing guru or talent agent. And his dated “hipster” style – narrow lapels, short jacket, sharply tapered trousers, close-fitting shirts – leaves the 5ft 6in PM looking weedy. It may be an improvement on Boris Johnson’s signature “through-a-hedge-backwards aesthetic”. But we all know Sunak’s rich – the least he could do is splash out on a decent wardrobe.

On the money

The amount of money you need to be in the richest 1% varies considerably from country to country, says Bloomberg. Top, unsurprisingly, is Monaco, at $12.4m, almost double the amount needed in second-place Switzerland ($6.6m). Aussie one-percenters must have at least $5.5m, Americans require $5.1m, and Britons $3.3m. In India, you need just $175,000.


It’s an ultra-rare rainbow sea slug, which was spotted in a rock pool in Falmouth. Wildlife photographer Vicky Barlow was searching for a spider crab when she saw the multichromatic mollusc nestled under a rock – only the fourth time the species has been seen in the UK. “Like most nudibranchs, it had quite the personality,” she wrote in a blog post, “rearing up to get a better look at its surroundings and using its tentacle-like ‘cerata’… if one of our hands got too close.”


quoted 18.5.23

“Spoon-feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”

EM Forster