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30 June

In the headlines

The government has announced “the biggest ever expansion in workforce training in the NHS’s history”, says The Times. The £2.4bn plan includes doubling the number of medical school places, training 170,000 new nurses, and possibly reducing the time it takes to qualify as a doctor from five years to four. More than 650 people have been arrested in France after a third night of riots following the fatal shooting of a teenager by police. President Macron is under pressure to declare a “state of emergency” later today, allowing him to impose a curfew and ban gatherings in major cities. Dolly Parton won’t be following in Abba’s footsteps and coming back as an AI hologram after she stops performing. “I think I’ve left a great body of work behind,” she told a London press conference, “I’ll still be around.” Besides, she says, “everything” about her is artificial already.


The National Maritime Museum has revealed the shortlist for its Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, including snaps of a solar flare erupting on the sun’s surface; a comet streaking across a rugged sunset in the Negev desert; the spiral galaxy NGC 3521 looking like a “galactic gem”; and the “jellyfish nebula”, a remnant of a supernova in the Gemini constellation. See the rest here.

On the money

There’s a thriving black market for live cheetahs in Gulf states, says Bloomberg. From 2010 to 2021, about 5,600 animals were involved in the trade, which usually involves them being “transported by boat out of the Horn of Africa”. Sales are arranged on social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp. Prices for a single cub, for which an Ethiopian poacher might receive as little as $100, reached $50,000 last year.

Quirk of history

Big infrastructure projects weren’t always cursed to run behind schedule and over budget, says The Washington Post. After the US Congress authorised the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border, it took just a year and a half to allocate water rights and settle the financing. In March 1931, the contracts were put out to bid, “a process that took a week”. By 30 September, 1935, President Franklin D Roosevelt “was being strapped into a steel frame to deliver a rousing speech at the world’s tallest dam”, which had been completed two years ahead of schedule and at a cost of less than $2bn in today’s dollars.


There’s a new warm-weather aesthetic, says Eliza: “yacht girl summer”. It basically involves looking so “classy, elegant and expensive” that people assume you spend July cruising the French Riviera – think Succession’s Shiv Roy meets Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf. Staples of the opulent wardrobe include crochet dresses for lounging on the beach, linen two-pieces to stay cool while exploring coastal towns, and a large floppy hat that keeps the rays off your face while sitting on deck. For more ideas, click here.


A looming “artillery shortfall” in the Ukrainian military has led America to consider sending Kyiv cluster munitions, says Hal Brands in Bloomberg. The weapons, which “contain small bomblets that saturate the target area”, are a “humanitarian nightmare” banned by more than 100 countries – yet the US has a sizeable stock it can donate more easily than relatively scarce conventional ammo. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is pushing strongly for the move.


The world’s largest cruise ship has taken to the water for the first time. Royal Caribbean’s record-breaking Icon of the Seas – which weighs more than 250,000 tons and measures close to 1,200 ft long – has left a Finnish shipyard for its first round of “sea trials” before its first passenger trip around the Caribbean this winter. The boat’s 20 decks can hold 5,610 passengers and 2,350 staff; onboard, there’s rollercoasters, 40 restaurants and the world’s largest waterpark at sea.


quoted 30.06.23

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re sceptical.”

Arthur C Clarke