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8 June

In the headlines

Three days of rail strikes are set to “paralyse Britain”, says the Daily Mail. Unless the dispute over pay and jobs is resolved, up to 50,000 RMT staff will walk out on 21, 23 and 25 June – and shift patterns mean services will “effectively be off limits for almost a week”. Cabinet ministers have told Boris Johnson he must slash taxes to save his premiership. But anyone claiming the PM is “toast” is wrong, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. The rebels are a “disparate, rudderless faction”. And under Tory rules, Johnson is now safe for a year, by which time Partygate will “no longer be front of mind”. High levels of pollen whipped up by stormy winds could cause “Saturday night thunder fever” for allergy sufferers later this week, says the Daily Star. “Ah ah ah ah tissue!”


The high-heeled king who shaped France

The reason “France is France”, says John Lewis-Stempel in UnHerd, is almost entirely down to Louis XIV. In his 72-year-long reign, the “Sun King” turned the country into the world’s leading tourist destination that we know today. There’s the obvious stuff like culture (Louis supported Molière, danced in ballets, and founded the Académie d’Opéra) and architecture (he transformed Versailles from an “obscure hunting lodge” into “the most imposing gaff in the world”). But, inadvertently or not, the monarch’s opulent taste transformed French industry too.

North Korea

Kim Jong-un’s cry for help

After two years of claiming it had no Covid cases, says Jean Lee in The New York Times, North Korea has finally acknowledged the inevitable. State media reported last month that an unspecified fever was spreading “explosively” across the country, and the nation promptly went into lockdown. Already, more than four million cases have been documented, as well as dozens of deaths. “But bad news does not escape North Korea without a reason.” Publicising the Covid situation is Kim Jong-un’s cry for help.


After this week’s no-confidence vote, Tory MP Greg Hands spotted a strange coincidence at a bus stop outside Parliament. It serves the 211 and 148 buses – the exact number of votes cast for and against Boris Johnson. That isn’t the only numerical quirk in recent days. On Sunday, England cricketer Joe Root reached 10,000 Test runs at the age of 31 years and 157 days – which is exactly how old his former teammate Alastair Cook was when he reached the landmark in 2016.

Inside politics

The union behind the transport strikes, RMT, is packed full of “Putin puppets”, says Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail. In 2015, assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey travelled to war-torn Donbas and posed for pictures with pro-Russian separatists. His predecessor, Steve Hedley, has worn Soviet-style fur hats and a Ribbon of St George – a notorious symbol of Russian nationalism. But the union’s president, Alex Gordon, might be the worst. A senior figure in Britain’s Communist Party, Gordon has led anti-Ukrainian demonstrations in London, claims Kyiv is run by “neo-Nazis”, and publicly described Stalin’s famine as a “myth”.

Staying young

Kim Kardashian says she would try “anything” to stop looking older – and she does mean anything. “If you told me that I literally had to eat poop every single day and I would look younger, I might,” the 41-year-old told The New York Times. “I just might.” The aging-averse billionaire was promoting the first nine products in her new skincare range. “To my knowledge,” says Mia Mercado in The Cut, “none of them includes human faeces.”

Gone viral

This video of cowboys bringing a runaway cow under control on a highway in Oklahoma City has racked up more than 12 million views on Twitter. As one user said: “I thought this only worked in cartoons.”


There’s a new “roadmap to fashion success”, says Kelly Conaboy in Gawker: a heady combination of “large underwear and mesh”. Megan Fox attempted it last September, but “we can now formally announce its status as le style officiel”, thanks to three separate reality TV stars turning up in the look to Sunday’s MTV Movie & TV Awards. It’s the style answer we’ve been looking for, “presented as clearly as the large underwear it comprises – which is quite clear indeed”.


It’s the world’s oldest tree – possibly. Arboreal boffin Jonathan Barichivich says the ancient alerce in Chile may be around 5,400 years old. The current record-holder, a gnarled bristlecone pine in California called Methuselah, is thought to be a relatively youthful 4,853. But the finding is unconfirmed, says Science magazine. Unlike Methuselah, the Chilean challenger’s estimated age is based on statistical analysis rather than a full count of its annual growth rings.


Quoted 8.6.22

“It is a wonderful and necessary fact of political biology that we never know when our time is up. Long after it is obvious to everyone that we are goners, we continue to believe in our ‘duty’ to hang on, with cuticle-wrenching tenacity, to the perks and privileges of our posts.”

Boris Johnson in 2006