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9 May

In the headlines

Vladimir Putin says he was forced to invade Ukraine to prevent an “absolutely unacceptable threat” against Moscow from the West. The Russian president was speaking at the country’s annual Victory Day celebration marking the defeat of Nazi Germany. Devoid of any nuclear threats, it was an “only moderately sabre-rattling” speech, says the FT’s Max Seddon on Twitter. Keir Starmer has cancelled a public appearance planned for today amid growing pressure over “Beergate”. The Labour leader has repeatedly insisted that the curry and beer he enjoyed with colleagues during lockdown was not premeditated, says The Sun, but a leaked memo shows that the meal was in his itinerary for the day. He’s facing “the prawn baltimatum”. Britain is set to have its hottest summer ever, says the Daily Star, with five “sizzling heat waves” on their way. Temperatures could hit 27C within days – warmer than Italy.



America’s left is scared of democracy

To say that the leaked Supreme Court draft ruling to overturn Roe v Wade prompted an “elite meltdown” would be a gross understatement, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. “This was a culture war 9/11.” The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer, “always the subtle one”, announced that by reversing Roe the court had abolished the entire 20th century. New York Magazine’s Rebecca Traister confessed that her teeth were chattering: “Like, not euphemistically – actually chattering.”

UK politics

Starmer: if not now, when?

Given the “wild ride” British politics has been on for the past few years, says Camilla Cavendish in the FT, you might think now was a perfect moment for a “dogged, fastidious lawyer”. After 12 years of Tory rule, “time for a change” ought to be a powerful draw. But change to what? Keir Starmer might have turned Labour’s “post-Corbyn poll chasm” into a narrow lead, but he sounds more like he’s running an NGO than running for office. The Labour leader is “cautious to the point of dullness”, and his party’s policy documents are just “blasts of gumpf” about “world-class services” and “safer streets”. The country is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, with a prime minister fined by the police for breaking his own Covid rules. “If Labour can’t do better now, then when?”

On the way up

“Magnet fishing” is booming in Britain, says Vice. The hobby is simple: lower a strong magnet fixed to a rope into a body of water – typically a canal – and see what’s attached when you bring it back up. One hobbyist, Phil Styles, has pulled up more than 80 knives, 40 guns and two live hand grenades. Another, William Nixon, has found two Second World War knives and a cannonball from the 1700s. But magnet fishers have to be careful about posting videos of the weapons they discover on social media: the criminals who disposed of them sometimes get in touch with death threats.

The great escape

Condé Nast Traveller has drawn up its latest list of the best new hotels in the world. The 96 winners include the Ritz-Carlton in the Maldives (the spa is “an architectural masterpiece”), a 700-year-old converted fort in India, and a chateau in the grounds of Versailles. At the latter, guests can request a “king’s wake-up call”, where they are roused from their slumber with classical music, a bubble bath and crystal glasses of orange-scented milk. Have a look at the full list here.


It’s Ncuti Gatwa, the star of Netflix’s Sex Education, who’s just been announced as the new Doctor Who. The 29-year-old Rwanda-born Scot had the “very last” audition for the role, says Russell T Davies, Doctor Who’s writer. “We thought we had someone, and then in he came and stole it.” Gatwa will make his debut next year.

Gone viral

People are obsessing over the “midtown uniform” of hedge-fund types, says The Oldie. The look, “a smart-casual import from New York’s financial district”, consists of fitted chinos (beige or dark blue), a shirt (white or pale blue), and “the signature item”, a padded gilet. It’s a hit on Instagram. One account, dedicated to photographing the sleeveless financiers in the wild, has racked up 175,000 followers.


A letter to The Times:

Sir, If able-bodied actors may not play Richard III, as the outgoing head of the Royal Shakespeare Company has suggested, then surely neither may commoners, because they do not have the relevant “lived experience”. Only a disabled member of the monarchy will do.

Roderick Shaw, Edinburgh

Quirk of history

When the Victorian writer John Ruskin was particularly busy, he would issue a standard reply to any written requests that came his way, says Letters of Note. It read: “Mr J Ruskin is about to begin a work of great importance and therefore begs that in reference to calls and correspondence you will consider him dead for the next two months.”


quoted 9.5

“I still miss my husband, but my aim is improving.”

Old joke