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21 June

In the headlines

“Britain runs into the buffers,” says The Times, with only a fifth of rail services operating today as strike action begins. Labour, attempting to “steer a middle course”, hasn’t condemned the walkouts but has banned frontbenchers from picket lines. The government says the unions’ pay rise demands will only worsen inflation. But No 10 isn’t as bothered about soaring salaries in the City, says Paul Waugh in the I newspaper: a leaked memo shows that the PM’s chief of staff wants to ease restrictions on bankers’ bonuses in order to show “the benefits of Brexit”. As part of a crackdown on misbehaving tourists, the Spanish city of Vigo is imposing a £645 fine on beachgoers who urinate in the sea, says The Sun. It isn’t clear how exactly the “not pee sea” rule will be enforced.



When bees are fish and protests cure pandemics

Last month a California court ruled that “bumblebees are actually fish”, says Andy Kessler in The Wall Street Journal. The reason is benign – designating the insects as sea-life means they can be protected by existing laws – but it’s pretty silly. Rather like when the Environmental Protection Agency tried to claim jurisdiction over drainage ditches by defining them as “navigable waters”. Meanwhile we have oat milk and almond milk, “even though they obviously aren’t milk”, and the similarly oxymoronic “plant-based meat”. China and Venezuela sit on the UN Human Rights Council. Bit by bit, we’re being trained to believe that “anything can be anything”.


America, not Europe, is Ukraine’s true friend

When it comes to helping Ukraine, “the might and commitment of the US are indispensable”, says Max Hastings in Bloomberg. The trouble is that plenty of Americans are already losing interest. They think their country is staking too much in Europe when China is the more dangerous adversary. And after two decades of US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, sceptics don’t want to see Washington commit to another “messy struggle in a faraway country that costs blood and treasure” for little glory.


According to the new Elvis biopic, the king of rock’n’roll really wanted to be a great actor but was forever being stymied by his controlling manager. Iconic roles he missed out on include Tony in West Side Story, consigliere Tom Hagen in The Godfather, the seedy hustler in Midnight Cowboy that earned Jon Voight an Oscar nomination, and Willy Wonka.

Love etc

Football fans will have to be very well behaved at this year’s World Cup in Qatar, says the Daily Star. Extra-marital sex is illegal in the conservative Gulf state, and randy supporters have been warned that “boozy bunk-ups” could land them in prison for seven years. Unless you are husband and wife, said one police source, “sex is very much off the menu”.

Inside politics

The big auction prize at last night’s Tory summer ball was a dinner with Theresa May, David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Yes, says Eleni Courea in Politico, “all together”. It went for a whopping £120,000, much more than the African safari trip (£65,000), straightforward shooting weekend (£37,000) and wine tasting (£30,000). Apparently most ministers ducked out early, presumably “so as to be fresh to discuss the cost of living at Cabinet this morning”.


Brad Pitt has a new side hustle: flogging cashmere shirts for around $2,000 a pop. The pricey threads are 100% cashmere and feature seven gemstone buttons down the front, one for each of the chakras. The 58-year-old actor has called his brand God’s True Cashmere, says Gawker. “Would God want us to be spending $1,980 on cashmere button downs? Time will tell.”


Ukrainians have taken to using the term Макронити, meaning “Macronite”, says Politico. Inspired by the French president, it describes someone “who makes a big show of being very concerned about something but refuses to do anything tangible to help”.


They’re practising yoga at a park in China’s northern Hebei province ahead of International Yoga Day, which is today. Namaste.


quoted 21.6

“Everyone wants to live on the peak of the mountain, without knowing that the real happiness is in how it is scaled.”

Gabriel García Márquez