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30 August

In the headlines

Flash floods triggered by Pakistan’s “monster monsoon” have left a third of the country under water, says The Guardian. Record rainfall since June has led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people and caused $10bn of damage. Ukraine’s military claims it has broken the Russian front line in a counter-offensive to retake the Kherson region. Officials say 13 Russian command posts and three ammunition depots have been destroyed; President Zelensky has warned occupying soldiers to “flee for their lives”. Britain could be overrun by abandoned venomous snakes and spiders this autumn, says the Daily Star, because hard-up owners can’t afford to keep their expensive heated tanks. “Bitemare.”

Ukraine war

Russia’s new message: a “war of civilisations”

When Russia invaded Ukraine six months ago, Kremlin propaganda rested on a few “basic arguments”, says Stanislav Kucher in Grid. In the words of popular TV anchor Vladimir Solovyov, Moscow’s goals were “the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine” and ending the “genocide” of Russians in Donbas. The message that the war was about Ukraine, and Ukraine only, was “pounded relentlessly” by the Russian propaganda machine. But in recent weeks, there has been a frightening shift. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov now says the war is “not about Ukraine at all… it’s about the world order”.


Why are successful women so miserable?

Whenever I’m walking along “a little too happily”, says Camilla Long in The Sunday Times, I wonder: is it ok that I feel contented as a woman, or should I be “more self-hating, cringing and sorry”? Because all around me, I see hundreds of “successful, lucky women” moaning about how awful their lives are. Take Emily Maitlis: not the “soaring, fulfilled” journalist you previously imagined. In a lecture last week, she described spending 20 years at the BBC “more or less as a political prisoner”, forced to interview people with slightly different political beliefs to her own. “Can you imagine?” Serena Williams was just as pathetic on Meghan Markle’s new podcast: not the “confident, awesome goddess” we all admire, but a “quivering victim”, afraid even of the word “retirement”.


For Meghan Markle, says Steerpike in The Spectator, “it’s been a long walk to freedom”. In a truly bonkers interview with The Cut, the Duchess claims a South African told her in 2019 that when she married Harry, “we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison”. Yep, “seems legit”. In another “bizarre” section, during a “not at all premeditated” drive with the interviewer, Meghan produces a brand-new backpack containing peanut butter crackers and granola bars – which she gets her bodyguard to give to a homeless man. She says it’s something she and Harry do to teach their son Archie that “some people live in big houses, some in small, and that some are in between homes”. Read the full interview here.


Russia is burning off $10m worth of natural gas every day instead of exporting it to Europe, says BBC News. According to officials in Germany, the “flaring” at the Portovaya plant, close to the Finnish border, is part of the Kremlin’s efforts to starve Europe of energy supplies before winter. “They don’t have other places where they can sell their gas,” says Miguel Berger, Germany’s ambassador to the UK, “so they have to burn it.”


Gone viral

This video of a runaway tent wreaking havoc at a Leeds Festival campsite – and nearly swooping into innocent bystanders – has racked up more than 5.5 million views on TikTok. “Aspire to the wicked and pernicious energy of the Leeds gazebo,” says one Twitter user.


Jennifer Lopez may have got back from her second honeymoon just hours ago, says Olivia Truffaut-Wong in The Cut, but she’s already got “a lot of Virgos to answer to”. According to dancer Heather Morris, J Lo once ended a long day of auditions by asking if any of the aspiring backing dancers were Virgos – and immediately dismissing those who were. Maybe it has something to do with her ex, Marc Anthony, having a September birthday. Or maybe she doesn’t have anything against Virgos at all, “she just needed an easy way to whittle down a group of talented dancers”.


Teenage orcas have fashion trends, says Helen Lewis in The Bluestocking. In the past six months, there have been at least 40 reported incidents of the whales smashing the rudders of sailboats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal. In 1987, at least three groups of the aquatic mammals inexplicably began wearing dead salmon as hats.


It’s artist Michael Heizer’s City, a mile-and-a-half-long complex of mounds and geoglyphs in the Nevada desert that is thought to be the largest contemporary artwork on the planet. Inspired by ancient Mesoamerican metropolises and Egyptian pyramids, the $40m compound has been under construction since 1970. Just don’t expect to see it in person any time soon – for its opening year, City will host only six guests a day.


Quoted 30.8.22

“Shoes don’t stretch and men don’t change.”

Amy Dalley, American country singer