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24 March

In the headlines

King Charles’s planned state visit to France next week has been postponed, as protests over Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the pension age intensified. More than a million people joined demonstrations across the country yesterday; in Bordeaux, rioters set fire to the town hall. The BBC has reversed its decision to scrap the BBC Singers chamber choir after a petition to save the group topped 140,000 signatures. The broadcaster said “a number of organisations” had suggested different ways to fund the 99-year-old institution. For the first time in history, ordinary Britons will be allowed to stand on the 755-year-old mosaic where monarchs are crowned. Westminster Abbey’s Cosmati Pavement, a 25ft square of marble, glass and gemstones, has until now been trodden on by only kings, queens and cardinals. But between May and July, visitors will be able to pay £15 to step on it – provided they’re wearing socks and take their shoes off.

Eating in

Forget the “cronut” (a croissant-doughnut hybrid) and the “cruffin” (a croissant-muffin), says Sophie Morris in The Times. The latest trendy pastry is Le Deli Robuchon’s cube-shaped croissants. The London patisserie’s Le Cube Robuchon, a £6.95 flaky block piped full of chocolate, vanilla or matcha cream, usually sells out by mid-morning – one acolyte describes the queue as a “real-life Hunger Games”.

Inside politics

Ron DeSantis is the Theresa May of US politics, says Janan Ganesh in the FT. Because May was a mild-mannered Remainer, when she got into No 10 she was forever straining to show the right of the party she was “one of them”. The result was “textbook overcompensation”: ultra-hard Brexit, “bellicose advisers” stalking Downing Street, equivocation when High Court judges were “under tabloid siege”. “Try-hard” Ron DeSantis is the same. Because he arouses mistrust among Donald Trump voters, he is always striving to prove his credentials: saying Ukraine isn’t a “vital national interest”; waging his “rolling war on woke”. History shows that “true believers” aren’t the only ones who cause damage. Pretenders like May and DeSantis are just as scary – “they have too much to prove, and to the wrong people”.


Brian Cox swears almost as much as his Succession character Logan Roy (catchphrase: “f*** off”), says Laura Craik in the ES Magazine. During the photoshoot accompanying our interview, the 76-year-old complained about being “stuck in a f***ing traffic jam for three f***ing hours”. When asked if he was an art collector, on account of all the paintings and sculptures in his flat, he replied: “What do you f***ing think?!” And when he found the clothes rails needed for the shoot, he said: “Jesus Christ! What are all these f***ing clothes doing in my bedroom?!”

Gone viral

This clip of Spanish cyclist Sergi Llongueras bouncing on his bike’s back wheel between blocks in a pond has racked up more than 70,000 views on Twitter. “Gold medal for this artist,” comments one user. “Olympic Committee take notice!” Watch the full clip here.


It’s hard to get your head around the scale of TSMC, Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor manufacturer, says Wired. It produces a third of all the world’s silicon chips – used in everything from toasters to space rockets – including 92% of the highest-grade versions found inside nuclear weapons, submarines and hypersonic missiles. Every six months, just one of its 13 fabrication plants “carves and etches” a quintillion transistors just for Apple. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. The industry as a whole “churns out more objects in a year than have ever been produced in all the other factories in all the other industries in the history of the world”.


It’s a lock of Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair, which scientists have used to sequence his DNA nearly two centuries after he died. Cambridge researchers say the German composer’s genome shows that he was genetically predisposed to liver disease, which killed him aged 56.



“You really can’t trust anybody with a beard like that.”

Saddam Hussein on Osama bin Laden