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18 July

In the headlines

It’s “hotter than the Sahara”, says The Sun, as Britain is forecast two consecutive days of record-breaking temperatures: 39C today and 41C tomorrow. The country will be warmer than 98.8% of the planet. The five remaining Tory leadership hopefuls face a third round of knockout voting today, with Tom Tugendhat likeliest to be “out on his ear” this evening, says Politico. Results are at 8pm. We’re “drinking the bar dry”, says the Daily Mail, after new research found almost a third of pub visits are now alcohol free. Health-mad youngsters in particular are snubbing booze to protect their “wellness”, with 26% of those aged between 16 and 24 completely teetotal.


Why Putin is stronger than ever

After nearly five months of war, says Andrei Kolesnikov in Foreign Affairs, “Russians have moved on”. In a credible independent survey, half of respondents said the supposedly crippling Western sanctions would actually “strengthen the country and stimulate development”. Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has settled above 80%, about 10 points higher than pre-war figures. Anyone hoping the economic cost of the invasion would be a deterrent has misread the Kremlin’s relationship with its citizens. In the words of Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, “we are all imperialists and militarists”.

Tory leadership

The last thing we need is a smaller state

The ghost of Margaret Thatcher is haunting the Tory leadership contest, says Clare Foges in The Times. The contenders cannot resist echoing her cry to “roll back the frontiers of the state”. Perhaps this is music to the ears of Tory members, but the “ideological obsession” with shrinking the state is the last thing Britain needs. Have the candidates tried to get a driving licence or passport lately? Ambulance crews are taking an average of 51 minutes to reach heart attack and stroke victims; autistic children are “waiting five (yes, five) years for a first appointment”; police are solving their lowest proportion of crimes ever. Right now, the “imperative” isn’t to shrink the state, but to make it work properly.


On Thursday 7 July, “a crack opened in Earth’s magnetic field”, says My Modern Met. It lasted nearly 14 hours, allowing solar winds to rush into the atmosphere. This happens fairly often: according to a space scientist who helped discover the phenomenon back in 2003, “our magnetic shield is draughty, like a house with a window stuck open”. Luckily, this recent “geomagnetic storm” doesn’t seem to have caused any power outages or knocked out any satellites. Instead, the leaked solar winds produced beautiful, supercharged northern lights in the US and Canada (above).

Inside politics

Rod Liddle’s ode to the Tory leadership contest, from The Sunday Times:

Rishi’s too loaded,

Liz is a joke.

Tom’s vote’s eroded,

And Penny’s too woke.

Kemi’s selection

Won’t happen, I fear.

So the general election

Will be won by Sir Keir.

On the way back

This morning, says The Guardian, for the “first time in thousands of years” wild bison are roaming the British countryside. Three of the gentle giants have been released into Blean Woods in Kent, in the hope that their natural behaviour will transform a dense commercial pine forest into a vibrant natural woodland. The theory is that their taste for bark will kill some trees, letting light spill on to the forest floor, while their love of rolling around in dust baths will create more open ground. All this should allow new “plants, insects, lizards, birds and bats” to thrive.


Chesil Cliff House is a sprawling waterfront home nestled on a cliffside in Croyde, North Devon. Its creation inspired the “saddest ever” episode of Grand Designs, says the Daily Star, which finished with the hapless owner Edward Short £4m in debt, his marriage in ruins, and the build abandoned. Eleven years after he first broke ground, Short has finally finished. The completed house features an infinity pool, a four-storey glass tower, and a circular bedroom with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. If you fancy a quick dip, there’s a staircase which leads directly from the grounds to the seafront below. £10m.

Eating in

Subway in the US is facing a lawsuit over accusations that its tuna sandwiches “partially or wholly” lack tuna, says NPR. The plaintiff says that when a marine biologist analysed samples from 20 different outlets, 19 contained “no detectable tuna DNA sequences”.


It’s a new Barbie doll celebrating 88-year-old British chimp expert Jane Goodall. The plastic figure, depicting Dr Goodall towards the start of her career, comes with a “separate David Greybeard chimp accessory”, says Sky News, in honour of the primate Goodall studied in Tanzania more than sixty years ago.


quoted 18.7.22

“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.”

American futurist John Naisbitt