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28 June

In the headlines

A Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine, hundreds of miles from the country’s main battlegrounds, has killed at least 18 people and wounded 59. More than 1,000 shoppers were inside the building in Kremenchuk at the time of the attack, which G7 leaders have branded a “war crime”. British doctors are threatening to go on strike unless they get a pay rise of up to 30% over five years, says The Guardian. “Years of pay freezes” mean they now earn 30% less, in real terms, than in 2008. A “mystery rocket” has crashed into the Moon, says The Daily Telegraph. Nasa spotted a “large double crater” on the lunar surface, but “no one on Earth” is claiming responsibility.


Roe v Wade

Trump’s abortion problem

In public, Donald Trump has heralded the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade as a personal victory, say Maggie Haberman and Michael Bender in The New York Times. But behind closed doors, the former president is much less thrilled. His concern is that the landmark ruling will lead to a backlash against Republicans in the midterm elections in November. Banning abortions, Trump reckons, will anger suburban women, a key voting demographic “who helped tilt the 2020 race” in Joe Biden’s favour. Texas tightened its abortion laws last year, a move Trump privately labelled as “so stupid” for this very reason.


Soaring food prices could trigger mass unrest

Man does not live by bread alone. Nonetheless, says The Economist, “its scarcity makes people furious”. The last time food prices spiked as badly as they have today, back in late 2010, it kicked off the Arab Spring uprisings that ousted four presidents and sparked horrific civil wars in Syria and Libya. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the global markets for both grain and energy, creating “the most excruciating form of inflation”. Historically, soaring food and fuel prices have been strong indicators of “mass protests, riots and political violence”.


However Rafael Nadal performs at Wimbledon, one thing’s for sure, says Pilita Clark in the FT: he’ll do his usual “baffling series of tics and quirks”. Lining up his drink bottles so the labels face the court. Not walking on certain lines between points. “Best of all” is his service routine: “a flurry of face-taps, nose-pulls and shoulder-touches – and a solid tug at the back of his shorts”. Watching Nadal “dealing with stress” may help explain why he is so popular. Recent research has found that the more we show mild stress, “the more likeable we seem to be”.


Olfactory boffins in Israel have found that friends smell alike, says The Economist. Using an “electronic nose” and specially recruited human “smellers”, they showed that this is because people pick pals at least partly on the basis of smell, “rather than the body odours of people who become friends subsequently converging”. One of the researchers speculates that there may be “an evolutionary advantage in having friends that are genetically similar to us”, although he wasn’t quite able to say what it was.

On the money

Microsoft Excel spreadsheets have become an unlikely TikTok trend, says Air Mail – and the undisputed star is Kat Norton, known as “Miss Excel” to her 840,000 followers. The 28-year-old American fell in love with the deadly dull software while finishing an MBA in 2016, and makes irreverent tutorials featuring dances to rap music alongside explanations of keyboard shortcuts. Norton says she now rakes in $250,000 to $300,000 a month by giving private courses in Excel. “Her record is making $105,000 in just 24 hours.”


Brad Pitt is on the front cover of GQ this month, to accompany a bonkers 3,000-word interview with the novelist Ottessa Moshfegh. Topics include Pitt’s haunted house, how all his friends have switched to drinking “room temp” water, and his constant “quest for meaning”. At one point, the 58-year-old actor declares: “I am a murderer. I’m a lover.” Other interviewers might have been tempted to press Pitt on this confession. Moshfegh deems it “profound”. Equally mad is the cover photo itself, says journalist Ben Machell on Twitter. Pitt “looks like a salon owner from Harrogate who works his way into the wills of his elderly clientele”.

Inside politics

Say what you like about Boris Johnson trying to secure his wife Carrie a plum government job, says Catherine Bennett in The Observer – he’s not the only one. More than 80 MPs employ family members on the taxpayer’s dime. These so-called “connected parties” include “a son convicted of supplying drugs and a wife penalised for drink driving”. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who has “spoken passionately” about stamping out nepotism, used to have two of her daughters on the payroll, and still employs one.


It’s a tiny, 15mm-long “robot fish”, says The Independent. Eco engineers in China have designed the light-activated contraptions to help clean up the world’s waterways – the robots, made from a substance modelled on mother-of-pearl, absorb polystyrene microplastics harmful to marine life.


quoted 28.6

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison