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5 May

In the headlines

Ukrainian military commanders say they are fighting a second day of “difficult bloody battles” with Russian forces inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant. The sprawling 4 sq mile complex is the last pocket of resistance in the besieged port city. Hundreds of Tory candidates in today’s local elections are distancing themselves from the Prime Minister, says HuffPost. Conservative hopefuls in Hartlepool pleaded with voters not to “punish” them for “mistakes made in Westminster”. The shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored his infamous “Hand of God” goal against England at the 1986 World Cup has sold at auction for £7.1m, smashing the previous record for sports memorabilia. More like “Hand of Wad”, says Metro.

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Trans dogma weakens the battle for abortion

Something has gone wrong with American feminism, says Hadley Freeman in UnHerd. Abortion is, unambiguously, a women’s rights issue. But when it emerged this week that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v Wade – the ruling that gives women the right to have an abortion – many liberal commentators couldn’t actually bring themselves to use the word “women”. One right-on congresswoman tweeted that “birthing bodies have the right to freedom”, somehow overlooking the rather crucial point that the “bodies being fought over here don’t want to give birth”. The avowedly pro-choice American Civil Liberties Union couldn’t bear to “say the dreaded W word” in its own response. Why the reticence? Because saying “women” might make trans women feel left out.


Putin is winning the war at home

The Kremlin hasn’t made much headway in its invasion of Ukraine, says The Economist. “But in its simultaneous imposition of near-totalitarian control in Russia, it has been far more successful.” Since the start of the war, Vladimir Putin’s regime has been “vigorously suppressing dissent and demoralising opponents, turning a relatively open country into a complete dictatorship”. Gregory Asmolov, an expert on Russian information warfare, says this is the Kremlin’s biggest achievement in the conflict: “You couldn’t even imagine this straightjacketed political reality a few months ago.”

Gone viral

When an egg is cracked open underwater, it doesn’t “dissolve into a gooey mess”, says Mental Floss. Instead, the pressure of the sea keeps the delicate material intact. As it drifts around, “the strands of egg whites resemble a jellyfish’s tentacles”.

Quirk of history

A terrible experience on holiday can set you against a country for life, says The Fence. This was certainly true of the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. After his son Hannibal was arrested in Geneva in 2008 for beating servants, the Libyan leader unsuccessfully proposed, at the following year’s G8 summit, “to have Switzerland partitioned between Italy, France and Germany”. He also later banned Swiss watches from Libya’s capital, Tripoli.

Staying young

A 100-year-old man has broken the Guinness World Record for the longest time working at a single company. Walter Orthmann, from the Brazilian city of Brusque, began working for the textile firm ReneauxView in 1938, when he was just 15 years old. Now a sales manager, he says the office is still his favourite place to be – even after 84 years.


The veteran American paparazzo Ron Galella, who has died aged 91, had, in Andy Warhol’s words, the knack of being “in the right place at the wrong moment”. He was impertinent enough for Marlon Brando to punch him in the mouth in 1974, knocking out several of Galella’s teeth, says The Times. The actor’s fist then became infected and he spent three days in hospital – something Galella proudly attributed to his “paparazzi germs”.


It’s the world’s only set of nonuplets, celebrating their first birthday. Halima Cissé, a 26-year-old from Mali, gave birth to the record-breaking brood in Morocco last May. The five girls and four boys were delivered by caesarean section around 10 weeks prematurely, each weighing only between 1lb 1oz and 2lb 2oz. Only two other sets of nonuplets have ever been born, but neither survived beyond a few days. “It’s not easy but it’s great,” Cissé tells BBC Afrique. “Even if it’s tiring at times, when you look at all the babies in perfect health… we forget everything.”

Tomorrows world

Engineering boffins in Germany have invented “smart screws” that can tell you when they need to be tightened, says Gizmodo. Sensors in the screw heads measure the pressure being applied, and if, over time, the screw comes loose, the pressure decreases and a wireless warning signal is sent out.


quoted 5.5.22

“The first sign of a politician in dire straits on either side of the Atlantic is that he either compares some modern foe to Hitler or pleads Churchill’s shade in his own cause.”

Max Hastings